1: Robson St, spring time 1994. I wasn't born into Canucks fandom like many of you; I didn't grow up here and didn't even really like the Canucks all that much. I moved to Vancouver in 1993, a die hard Oilers fan from the get go, having been born and raised in central Alberta. In high school and shortly after I was lucky enough to see the Gretzky Oilers break all kinds of records, and that was a bit of a hockey spoiler for me. When I was a young kid, it was the Cournoyer and LaFleur era Canadians, cuz with the CBC being one of two tv channels, it was the Habs or the Leafs and I hated the Leafs. No idea why, but obviously I was a smart kid.
In 1979 the Oilers joined the NHL and I had a local team to support. And what a team it was; in retrospect, having that team to follow actually stunted my hockey fan growth. A team playing with heart and desire was never part of the picture there; the Oilers just out-talented everybody. It was the invention of modern hockey, and from 1986 til 1990 I worked for a company that had seasons tickets, and us poor folk in Red Deer got them a few times a season. The last Oilers game I saw live was the game when Gretzky (playing for the kings at the time) passed Gordie Howe's all time points record (1990 season I think?). What an experience.
So I came to Vancouver as an Oil fan with kind of spoiled impressions of hockey. And then Vancouver came from behind to beat Calgary in the playoffs. Being an Oilers fan and an Albertan with a brain and disdain for country music, hating the Flames was very easy. So I was already cheering for the 'nucks. But that series...so much heart!!! I lived in the west end and a friend of mine worked at the Blenz on Robson and Bute, so we all went there to hang after the game. What a vibe, and there wasn't even any craziness yet, that came later in the run...just happy people and honking etc. The seed was planted. And then the Dallas and Toronto series'... Again, TL and the Canucks showed sooooo much heart and soul. The penny kinda dropped during that run for me;
hockey was just as (if not more) enjoyable when a beautiful team effort with crazy amounts of desire and heart wins out over the favorite. And of course, Robson St. With each game the buzz got bigger and crazier, and it was all friendly. That final series...I'll never forget Jim Robson talking about TL and how he'd play with a broken leg in game 7.
I made my post game ritual of going to hang and people watch after every game...except the riot. Lucky me, my band had a gig that night, and although I rushed home after, I didn't go down to Robson cuz it was pretty ugly out. I was so bummed when I heard the Canucks lost, and I hadn't even watched the game, and suddenly I was torn; was I becoming a Canucks fan??? I guess I was.
2: Mark Messier for Trevor Linden. Say what you will about the Moose/Keenan years; at the end of it all it was his acquisition that tipped me over from a two team supporter to full on Canucks fan. The Oilers were in disarray, and didn't seem to give to squirts anyways, and the Canucks had shown so much heart and soul and the city was really behind them. And then they brought in one of my heroes from the early days. I was bummed to see Linden go, but come on! This was Messier! How could they not win now? Ahem. Oops.
To top it all off, I had season tickets! I worked for a large multinational telecom manufacturer and I had two seats row 15 section 119. I did have to give a certain number of tickets to my customers, but I saw 20 games that year. And I think we lost all but one of them. :( But still, I was there, cheering, loving it all. I was so disappointed in that team though, and I was not impressed with what Messier had become. It was an awakening year, and the time that I realized that 'hey, I actually am a diehard Canucklehead, cuz I'm still cheering for them and they stink!' By the way: Fuck you messier. And Keenan? You're not even worth those two words.
3: TL Comes back and the WCE. Also Jovo in the box. Ah run and gun hockey. I was so happy to see Messier run out of town and Linden back, but more than that, we had what I still think was the most exciting line in hockey for those years. Until THE INCIDENT, the West Coast Express was as joyous to watch as the old Gretzky/Kurri/Anderson line had been. That team as a whole was just so enjoyable, and the peak moment of that era for me was Jovanoski in the penalty box, seconds left in the third period of a deciding playoff game, and Naslund passes to Cooke and he scores. Jovo jumping up and down in the penalty box was an iconic moment for me; still one of my greatest memories as a Canucks fan. It was doubly good cuz it was the hated Flames it was against. Reallllllly sucked when we lost the game.
4: Post lockout, the terror twins. The West Coast Express was done. Naslund was a shell of his formal self, Linden was older and out of favour and the first two lines of the Canucks were inconsistenly ok. But the 2006-2007 season had one really bright spot for me on the PK. Burrows and Kesler showed up every single night, played with their hearts on their sleeves and were such good penalty killers. The next year they were the shutdown line from hell, and of course we all know the history after that. The Sedins are magic and Luongo is a headstanding rock, but to me, this era of the Canucks will always be remembered for Burr and Kes being the heart and soul. Without a doubt, they're the two players I'm most glad we have. I've come around as a hockey fan to the point where heart is more entertaining to me than pure skill, and these two are the poster boys. It helps that they're hilarious sound bite kings too.
I wasn't pissed at Kesler for his olympic comments, I accepted it for what it was: him doing the thing that makes us all love him on our team. And of course Burrows...what a great story his career is. Unfortunate that around the league other fans don't see what we love about him so much. He will forever be under rated, even as the guy who scores more shorthanded goals than anyone and still produces on the top line without seeing much power play time. He's a unique story in hockey and we're so lucky to have him.
5: Community and community service. All of those things which were events or teams that made me a Canucks fan are trumped by this organizations' commitment to the community. All NHL teams are involved in community service, but this team goes beyond most of them. From Canucks Place to the various charities they support to Canucks for Kids Telethon, this is an organization that responsibly takes the gifts their given by their fans and gives back in a big way to the community. As a Vancouverite and a fan, I am more appreciative of this than anything else the team gives (although watching Burrows and Kesler drink from Lord Stanley's mug might come close to tie-ing that). I hope that regardless of future ownership changes the Canucks organization never loses this spirit; it's something that makes me very proud to be a fan of the team and resident of this city.
Secondary to that is the Canucks fan community, as Gucci discussed in her 3 Reasons post. I've seen NHL hockey games in several different cities, and I think our reputation might be a bit unfounded. You go to a game in any city in Canada, and it doesn't matter who the home team is playing, there will be some doucherocket in a Leafs jersey being an asshole in the beer line or bathroom line; I can't say I've ever seen anyone in a Canucks jersey doing the same. Having said that I've never been to a Canucks game in another city, so who knows, maybe we are like that. Canucks fans are very passionate, and we do have a sense of camaraderie as GC mentioned, and in addition to that we have these very strong communities. Nucks Misconduct is a fantastic community of knowledgeable individuals with a common cause, and some other Canucks fan communities I've been to are very similar. And of course, there's always CDC, which is also a great community for the people that hang out there even if it seems the opposite of our little stomping grounds.
There u go...my 5. Gucci Cowgirl said way better than I could the feelings generated by the Canucks' organization response to tragedy, so I left that out.