Here we go...I'm going to take a stab at 5 reasons I love the Canucks. When I try and bang out those reasons from the far reaching dust bunnies inside my head, I always come back to the original reason...
1994. Not much more to say here. I will forever remember the joy I felt when Pavel Bure spun his stick in the air and flung it into the Calgary crowd after that game 7. I still get chills when I see that highlight (what a pass!!) and I would really like to do that at work sometime when I do something really good that makes me happy. The other enduring memory of that series was game 6 of the finals. Two equally matched teams that wanted IT. But, that game was destined to be the Canucks game. The late goal by the Rangers, only to be called back because the Canucks had scored and the referee didn't see it...destiny. I still tell people that was the last great Stanley Cup finals series...bar none. And then, we were treated to a lock out the next season...
Trevor Linden. Everything that embodies a professional. I saw him play once as a junior on his way through Portland with the Medicine Hat Tigers...never thought much about him at that time. But, oh, each and every playoff series he played, did he ever force me to take notice. When I grow up, I'd like to be like Trevor Linden.
Mark Messier and the Dark Years. These years are truly dark for me. I moved to China in 1996 and hockey disappeared off the radar for me. I remember when they signed Messier and thinking it was an interesting trade...but then the trade of Linden sort of turned me off completely and I ignored the Canucks until my re-entry into the USA in 2001.
Markus Naslund and the West Coast Express. When I returned to the USA, I got my satellite TV and then hooked up with NHL Center Ice...again, not much in terms of hockey love in Portland, OR. Of course, with the Center Ice package, I could pick a team to follow...and I gravitated back to the Canucks, after 5 years of darkness. And what I found gave me goosebumps...hockey the way it was meant to be played, in a league of clutch and grab, the Canucks were high speed, offense first and Markus Naslund led that charge. Smooth skating, soft spoken and honest (we choked!) almost to a fault, Nazzy was the class of the Canucks and the league for that period of time.
Cam Neely. Bear with me. You see, in the early 1980's I was introduced to hockey by a high school friend. First, we played street hockey outside his house, then he invited me to attend a Portland Winterhawks v New Westminster Bruins game in 1979...and I was hooked. Fast forward to 1983 and the powerhouse Winterhawks team that blew through the regular season, slept through the playoffs and dominated the first 4 team format Memorial Cup tournament as 'host' team in Portland, Oregon (the first to be held outside of Canada). That team was led by a lanky18 yr old; Cam Neely. After the 1983 season, Neely was drafted by the Canucks in the first round. My connection with the NHL was virtually non-existent at the time, with a passing fancy in the St. Louis Blues, who sported former Winterhawks Perry Turnbull, Wayne Babych and Tony Currie at the time. Aching for a team to follow, I made it the Canucks when they made Neely a part of the team. But the rest, as they say, is history.
As an added bonus, and with my limited exposure to actually watching games, here are the moments in time which are etched in my memory that I will never forget about the Canucks:
- Bure's game 7 goal against Calgary, 1994
- Nathan Lafayette's post against NYR, 1994
- The punch, 2004
- Lidstroms center ice goal, 2008
- Chubby, spitting out a chicklet on the bench, 2009
Now, I am back in the USA...I am back to having games LIVE on the TV...no more one day delays and hiding from the results during the playoffs...I can now enjoy real time hockey with that rest of yas.