Dear Alexandre Burrows,

Thank-you, hardly seems enough for what you gave this city for 12+ years, but I’m going to try. First things first, please know that you never once for a second ever let me down.

Fans from across the league never really knew just how lucky Vancouver Canucks fans were to have you as a part of the team. The road wasn’t any easy one, but you stayed the path. From a ball hockey champion, to the Quebec Major Junior League, to the AHL to the NHL. From a rookie looking to make his mark to a seasoned veteran, you did it all and you did it with incredible grace.

822 games over the last 12 years in Vancouver, you have embodied everything that it meant to have the heart of a Canuck. You were never meant to make it to the NHL, let alone play on the top line for an extended period or score a franchise dragon slaying goal or become a pillar within the community and mentor for the younger players.

At the beginning no one was sure of what kind of impact you could or would go on to have in an NHL lineup. Most people saw you as tenacious with innate ability to get under the skin of your opponent and didn’t see the potential beyond that. Somehow, I think both Marc Crawford and Alain Vigneault always knew, and when AV made that seemingly crazy decision one fateful February day, to put you on a line with the Sedins, it gave people pause. And the rest as they say, is history. He was right, they were wrong, and you continued to prove all your critics wrong every single day.

You never let the negativity in. You rose above it all, every step of the way. You always did whatever was asked of you by the coaches or management. You were and are the consummate professional on and off of the ice. And when called upon to help carry on Rick Rypien’s legacy with mindcheck and help raise awareness about the importance of mental health, you were there. You gave everything you had with every shift on the ice and every moment you gave to the community in your tenure with the Vancouver Canucks.

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you and thank-you again for 12 incredible years of dragon slaying, the ever persistent pursuit of your dreams, and inspiring so many more to never give up. I wish you all the best in Ottawa, but remember, that you will always be our dragon slayer. You made Luc Bourdon proud. You made your coaches proud. You made your teammates proud. You made this city and Canucks fans around the globe proud.

And to THIS fan, you will always and forever be a Canuck. When I have felt like giving up, all I have had to do was think of how you always kept pushing forward despite the odds and I would be reminded that when you tune out the negativity, anything is possible. Thank-you doesn’t seem quite enough but it’s what I have to offer. Thank-you for everything, BURR.

Sarah E.L.

SHH…it’s a hockey game.

Saturday night was a tale of three periods on the ice, but also for me in the stands while attending the Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames game at Rogers arena.

The first period was all kinds of entertainment. The anthem was top notch as always when led by Mark Donnelly. We were in a great section with fans cheering for the team straight from puck drop. I love it when the arena is loud and completely in unison showing support for the team and grief for the refs. Our section felt like it was completely in sync(or so I thought, more on that later). The goal from Eagle may not have been how the team drew it up and yes most nights a shot from centre ice does not end up in the back of the net, but it got the arena up on their feet and the opening goal for the home team.

And then as enjoyable as the game began, it was suddenly not at all. It went slightly downhill during the first intermission when a fan in front of me turned around to let me know how to showcase proper etiquette: “Shh…it’s a hockey game. Please do not cheer so loudly, we are watching the game. Thank-you.”

Umm…no, why thank-you, I was not aware that this was a hockey game or that nearly 18,000 fans were meant to be silent. I was unaware that we were watching two different games. Or more accurately, I was unaware that I am not allowed to cheer for my team in their own arena along with the other fans in our shared section. Suddenly this game went from fun to being silenced in the stands. Ryan Miller made save after save and I was forced to merely observe, not allowed to actively participate in any of the activity that makes hockey games an experience. I was present but it felt as though I was ¬†And you know what, watching the game in silence, not being a part of the voices ringing out in the arena is no fun whatsoever.

By the time, the second intermission hit, I was completely out of sorts. This was not how the game was supposed to go. Attending a hockey game is not supposed to make me feel like an outsider unwelcome.

Cue the third period and overtime. By the start of the third period, I was feeling a little lost being a place that has always felt like home but on this night was made to feel like a bit of an outsider. Just when I was beginning to wonder if maybe the problem was me and my cheering for the team, a fellow female fan sitting next to us turned and started talking to us about the game. A life long Canucks fan, but this was her first game in nearly 3 years and she told us that our cheering was not a disturbance but rather helped make her feel like she did when she came games when she was a kid. Pretty soon we were talking about all things hockey and Canucks. Together, we cheered loud for the rest of the game and yes when that buzzer beater went in to the send the game to overtime, we were in a state of slight disbelief and annoyance and excitement for the impending overtime. This was also the first time that she had ever witnessed the craziness that is 3-on-3 overtime and what a game for Chris Tanev to score that game winning goal.

To the fellow kindred spirit who shared the third period with us supporting the team, thank-you for completely turning the night around and turning the hostile environment back into the one that felt like home. It made all the difference and really helped make the night memorable for all of the right reasons. So glad that you got to see a home win! Thank-you again and welcome back to the rink, I hope you guys get to make it to more games now!

And to the stranger who felt the need to try to teach me the proper etiquette of attending a hockey game, guess what? You’re right that we were indeed at a hockey game but that does not give you the right to tell me or any other fan how and when to cheer for THEIR team. And perhaps you enjoy watching the game in silence, but for me that’s not in my nature to be silent especially when it comes to watching hockey live. I will not apologize for showing support for my team while in their arena and I will no longer be silenced or made to feel uncomfortable. I guess you missed the memo that hockey is for everyone.

Perhaps next season, I will have to make sure to be in that newly minted supporter’s section for all of the games that I attend?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E L.

BURR Is The Word.

He’s a pest. He’s an agitator. He’s a fourth liner. He’s a penalty killer. He’s a grinder. He’s spent time as the third Sedin. He’s loyal. He’s a leader on and off the ice for his teammates. He irritates his opponents and drives opposing fans crazy. He’s stolen the hearts of Vancouver Canucks fans near and far. He’s the dragon slayer. He’s Alex Burrows.

Is this the end? Going back to mid-season last year, countless media and “experts” have either been calling for an Alex Burrows trade or announcing that his career is near it’s end. To be completely truthful, most never thought he would make it this far: 817 games in, 384 NHL points and all with the Vancouver Canucks.

Undrafted, ball hockey champion and a near unmatched absolute determination paved the way for a hockey career that no one could have predicted. From his willingness to play wherever called upon in the lineup to his tenacity to his timely goals to his determination every step of his career thus far, he has cemented himself in the Vancouver Canucks history books.

His determination to keep pursuing his dream is part of what drew me to loving this team and this game. Those who don’t follow the Canucks regularly do not fully understand Alex Burrows.

And last night in Buffalo, he reminded everyone league wide just how influential he can be in the lineup for his team. He led the charge getting under the skin of his opponents, spearheading the French connection and getting the game winning goal. It was vintage Burrows, playing like it was 2010 or 2011.

I know just how real the possibility is that he could be traded this year or moves on to join another team in the off-season. I know that hockey trades happen every year and are a part of the business side of the game.

Yes, he may very well end his career on another team but right now, he is still very much a part of the Vancouver Canucks. And I plan on enjoying every moment that he has left with Vancouver whether that means up to the deadline, the end of the season or a different day. These may be the final days of his time with the Vancouver Canucks but that will not deter me from supporting him every step wherever his career leads him.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Vancouver Canucks: Don’t Stop Believing.

“How disappointed are you by the Vancouver Canucks this season?”, is the most common question I have heard since before the puck even dropped on the season. Nearly every single day, without fail, someone asks me that same question. Do you want to know the truth?  I’m disappointed that some of these moments feel like I am being attacked for choosing to support my team through the good, the bad and everything in between. The truth is that no I am not disappointed in the team. Yes, sure I’d love if they had a few more wins and less losses on the season but their record does not and will not dictate when or how I will show my support.

The disappointment for me this season has not come from the Vancouver Canucks but rather the local media covering the team. Yes, it is their job to write about the facts but it is not their job to dictate how or when the fans should support the team. There is more happening than just the negativity that they seem intent on focusing on for every single headline.

Yes, it is true that this is hardly their best season on record but it is also hardly their worst. And yes they need to start picking up more wins on the road if they want to be playoff bound come April. Do I wish they had less injuries? Of course, but injuries happen to every single team league wide.

Do you know what I have noticed? That yes, while there are A LOT of negatives out there, there are also A LOT of positives out there as well.

Yes their road record definitely needs some work especially if they hope to be playoff bound, but their improved home ice play this season has been fun to see develop.

As of late, as a team, they have been playing some pretty solid hockey, picking up points in 15 of their last 20 games and posting a 11-5-4 record in that span.

Ryan Miller has stepped up his game of late and in 11-game stretch since Christmas he has posted a 7-2-2 record that includes two shutouts. It’s no secret that Miller was struggling at the start of the season with his combined October + November record being a less than stellar: 4-8-0. Since that struggling start, Miller has been impressive to say the least posting a 10-4-3 record in the 17 games that have followed. His season’s average save percentage of 0.920 is his best since joining the Vancouver Canucks.

Bo Horvat continues to evolve into future captain material as he follows the leadership example of Henrik Sedin both on and off the ice. His first NHL all-star game appearance was just the beginning, stay tuned Canucks fans, the future is just around the corner.

Troy Stecher came into training camp with one goal in mind: make the team. His impression from the start forced the team to take a long look before sending him to Utica. Injuries hit the blue line and Stecher found himself being called up and quickly earning a permanent roster spot with his strong play on the ice. Local kid makes good.

Nikita Tryamkin was the conundrum that no one could solve at the beginning of the season. He refused to be sent down and there was not yet a spot in the lineup, but he held his ground that he was going to stay. Just when some were ready to give up on whether or not Tryamkin could be a difference maker, opportunity knocked as injuries began to take a toll on the Canucks blue line.

There have been learning curves along the way but each game both Stecher and Tryamkin continue to grow, proving why they deserve roster spots helping to stablilize the Canucks on the back end.

Henrik Sedin hitting his incredible feat on home ice was a moment Canucks fans will never forget. That game, the arena was insanely electric from start to finish and as a fan, it made me love this game even more. We could potentially see another milestone Sedinery moment before season’s end or in the very least very early into next season when Daniel hits 1000 points.

32 games remain in the 2016-17 season and the team sits just 1-point out of a playoff position. There is no easy way to get into the playoffs and the Canucks have a long way to go if they want to be post-season bound come April. It’s never an easy grind but if they continue on their recent improved play they’ve had since Christmas, they definitely have a shot at getting there. It may be a slim chance and the odds may be stacked against them, but it’s still a chance. Playoffs or no playoffs, win or lose, this team is still my team.

So if you ask me how disappointed I am in my Vancouver Canucks, be prepared to hear that while I am aware of the season at hand, that does not now, nor will it ever dictate how or when I will support my team.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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