Welcome to the official beginning of True Blue 2016! The tradition that puts the spot light on YOU the fans and YOUR stories! One of my favourite things about hockey is talking to other fans about how and when they became a fan and hearing them light up about their favourite hockey memories. If YOU would like to join the tradition and have YOUR Vancouver Canucks or Utica Comets story featured, simply send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: TRUE BLUE.
And since I am asking all of you to share your stories, It seems only fair that I do the same for you. Where does my Vancouver Canucks story begin? How did I get here? After all this time, what keeps drawing me back to this team?
It’s hard to really pinpoint exactly when this crazy game took hold of my heart other than to simply say it was around the time I turned 17. Growing up watching sports was never a priority in our house and I never really understood how anyone could possibly get so emotionally involved with a sport let alone any particular team. It was just a bit of a foreign concept to me until slowly and then all it once as this game stole my heart completely and there was no turning back.
It started slowly as quietly before you knew it, I was watching more and more games until suddenly I was never missing one. Suddenly, watching the pre-game program was just as important making sure to be home in time for puck drop. Suddenly I had every name on the roster memorized and was spouting team statistics to anyone who would listen. I was always looking for someone to talk to about this sport and this team and attempt to get more fans on board. It reached a point where I needed an outlet to share my love of this game and this team, and so began the journey of creating NUCKSAID.
As with any sports team there have been highs and there have been lows since the Vancouver Canucks completely stole my heart. There have been incredible runs and heartbreaking losses and everything in between along the way. There have been countless players, coaches, goals, saves and playoff moments that I will never forget.
There are a few players in particular that will always stand out for me personally. From former captain Markus Naslund, to Trevor Linden, Roberto Luongo, Luc Bourdon, Rick Rypien, to the Sedins and Alex Burrows.
There will be trades that break your heart as a hockey fan and for me that was when the gauntlet finally dropped on the Roberto Luongo trade. It was the trade that was impossible for nearly two years and was suddenly done overnight. No matter where you stand on the Luongo debate, he will without a doubt remain one of the all-time greatest goal-tenders in Vancouver Canucks franchise history. He took on the weight of an entire city’s expectations and led them within ONE game of a Stanley Cup victory, won TWO Olympic goal medals and set a few franchise records along the way.
Alex Burrows is the definition of pure heart and determination for a player that was never drafted or expected to ever play on a top line. I still remember everything from his first game when he was recalled from Manitoba, to his first goal, his PK stability, his streak breaking goal versus Carolina, the dragon slaying goal versus Chicago to the possibility of his final Vancouver Canucks game this last season. Whatever happens with Burrows in the off-season, I will always appreciate everything he has done for the franchise and his heart for the game.
And there are those players who were taken from this life much too soon and remind us all that life is too short. Luc Bourdon and Rick Rypien will always be remembered by Canucks fans for their love of the game and for inspiring many players past and present the savour each moment of their dream in the NHL as life can change in the blink of an eye. Nothing can be taken for granted.
Truthfully…I could keep going with my list of players that have fully captured my love of this game, but we’d be here all day or longer!
Looking at seasons past and the most recent season…no season will be perfect from start to finish, some will come close and some will be nowhere close. Some seasons will raise our expectations and some seasons will fall short. No matter how a season begins or ends, one thing will remain true: my support for my team will not waiver but rather grow stronger with each passing year. And that’s that.
The Vancouver Canucks 2015-2016 season is long over. And yes, it is true that this season was far from perfect in most every sense when looking at the fact that they missed the playoffs BUT an imperfect season does not mean there were not amazing moments sprinkled throughout the year. Daniel Sedin’s franchise record setting goal versus Boston will forever remain one of my favourite highlights of the year.
For as long as I have been a fan of this crazy team and game, it has been a dream of mine to become a Vancouver Canucks season ticket member in some capacity. This past season that finally became a reality. It was always just out of reach and 100% not affordable within my budget…that is until the option to become a partial season ticket holder became a possibility.
This year, as a partial season ticket holder, I was privileged to attend 13 games and experience some one of a kind moments.
Previously the most games I’ve attended in one season was 4 or 5. It does not matter how many games I have been to over the year but the magic of seeing a live game will never get old. Arriving and seeing the arena set for the game, the quiet before the storm of warmups and anthems sets the tone for the battle that will follow. The lights go down, the entire arena sings the anthem in unison, the puck gets dropped and before you know, you’ve got the entire arena on their feet cheering for the home team for every save, every block and every goal; getting louder for as the possibility of a win gets closer. Like I said, there is something special about seeing a game live and that never changes no matter how many games I have been to over the years.
No matter where this long off-season takes the Vancouver Canucks, I look forward whatever magic the upcoming season has in store for us come October. I know that the road for the future of the team is not one to instant success, that they will have to work hard in an increasingly difficult division and that it will take time to develop their youth. There will continue to be growing pains as the young players learn from the veterans and from their own mistakes. There will be highs and there will be lows BUT you know what? I will be there every step of the way supporting them through all of it, the good and the bad. Whether they win or lose, whether they make the playoffs or not and no matter what the media may try to tell me…the Vancouver Canucks are my team and there is 100% no changing my ways.
“Is it October yet? No not just yet, but I can hear the echoes just around the bend.”
As always, until next time, nuck said.