TORONTO CANADA - FEBRUARY 19: Retired Leaf ( and Canuck )Tiger Williams waves to the ACC during a pre-game ceremony to honour the Canadian Armed Forces ...sorry, could not find a picture I am allowed to publish of one of the true leaders in 1982. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
It is of course tough to watch another team win the Stanley Cup when Canuck fans honestly feel that we deserve it. Its been over 40 years now, and close but no cigar has been the order of the day for our long suffering fanbase.
Nonetheless, my favorite moment is two. Well, three, actually. They are the runs in 1982, '94, and '11, of course.
All three had a different flavour and a different feel, both for me as a fan and I am sure for the teams.
In 1982, I was an 18 year old who had just moved to the Lower Mainland from what folks who live here call "the boonies". As a Canuck fan from their birth, I had no problem enjoying the team having some success. I remember a few things from that run. I remember how Richard Brodeur just stopped almost everything. I remember him getting the Hawks so angry they tried to run him several times. In those days, that brought a definite response, let me tell you. I remember the birth of Towel Power.
At the time, there was no retailers selling towels. Rather, it was use whatever white towel you had, go to Army and Navy and buy a cheap one, or get one from the enterprising folks who suddenly popped up around Pacific Coliseum with towels for sale.
It was such a different vibe, that magical first run. People talk about hating the Blackhawks in recent history, but there was plenty to hate in '82. They tried to bully the Canucks, but forgot that there were just as many tough guys on the Vancouver team. Tiger Williams lead the charge in that regard, King Richard held fast in net, and the fans immediately embracing Towel Power was just too much momentum for the Hawks to handle. Lastly, I remember not even being that upset when the Canucks were swept in the Final by a dynastic Islanders team.
In 1994, the opponent may have been highly rated, ( the Rangers were amongst the elite in that era ), but there was definitely no feeling of "glad to be there", this time. I remember the city being on fire that summer. Living downtown at the time, this run was one spent with many friends in many various establishments where alcohol was consumed. Thus, the memories are a little hazy, but here are a few that stuck in my mind.
Beating the Flames in that epic first round. The fact that they came back from a 3-1 deficit was pretty impressive, but the fact that all three of those wins were in overtime only notched up the emotion in that magical season. I remember the weather being so great for most of that whole run, and running around like a loon, rather than a 30 year old professional. Here are some memories from the folks that actually played a bigger part.
I remember I was a lot more angry after Game 6 than at any time previous as a sports fan. Mark Messier would have been suspended for games and games for his actions at the end of Game 6. No matter what the man did before or after in hockey, he will always be a punk ass to me for the way he tried and succeeded in injuring Trevor Linden.
That anger may have fueled the madness that followed after the Game 7 loss, but for me, after Nathan Lafayette hit the damn post, it was more just disappointment for me. First, the team, and then, the people that flooded downtown. The riot that followed was not started by people intent on starting something like the one that followed 17 years later. It was more a bunch of ill trained policemen panicking and getting the ball rolling with rubber bullets. That is not to excuse the folks that climbed on power lines, broke windows, and rampaged through my neighborhood.
Luckily for me, I took Smithe home instead of Robson. But the faint whiff of tear gas that greeted me as I dragged my hungover butt to work the next day was as much a reminder of the idiocy of groups of people as the disappontment of not winning the Cup.
Lastly, the memories of 2011 are fresh for a lot of fans of all generations, so I won't get too particular there. You all have your own individual memories. For me, I honestly thought that the team was going to win the Cup after they won Game 5 at home. That they didn't was a sad occasion, but for me the sadness was what unfurled on the streets afterwards.
You could see the folks in black pushing their parked vehicle to the centre of the street to start a fire. You could see the instigators getting it going. You could also see the people that so easily threw away their decorum and respect for their fellow citizens because they were "drunk" joining in. My main memory of that run was the pride I felt in the team. But the longer lasting memory is one of anger at these punks and anarchists that just wanted to burn things.
The team is one of the elite now. Back to back President Trophies is not a fair to middling accomplishment. That it has not translated into the final accomplishment is what drives the team and the fans. But my lasting hope is when ( not if ) the Canucks win the Stanley Cup, that proud citizens not throw away their dignity to break a window or two. That the police and the city not trust us to do that and put out more law officers to ensure safety.
Because its going to happen. Soon. ( perhaps as soon as the cases from the last riot are finally adjudicated! ) The Hockey Gods would not be so cruel as to deny us the right to the Cup. That will be my favorite memory after a lifetime of fandom, that soon to come justification of our faith. But until then, of the three listed above, I would have to pick the 1982 run. It was so pure and honest.
And there was no rioting in the streets afterwards!