When people find out that I’m a hockey fan, and a Vancouver Canucks fan in particular it’s met with a myriad of responses. One of the most common is: “Really, you like hockey? And you root for the Canucks? Are you sure you are a hockey fan, you know they’ve never won the Stanley Cup, right? Sure, they had that great run in 2011, but they came up short, why keep supporting them? If you do, that must mean you’re on team tank, right?”
So, let me settle this once and for all. Am I aware of who I’m rooting for? Yes. Do I know that they’ve never won the cup before? Yes. And no, I don’t need you to tell me the stats of my team or attempt to talk me out of rooting for them. Yes. that 2011 run was absolute magic and I really thought that would be their year, when it wasn’t it broke my heart completely but it didn’t end my being a fan of the team. And whether or not they are in the playoff hunt now or in April, I will never EVER be on team tank, rooting against my team goes against the grain for me. That said, everyone defines for themselves what being a fan means, and having a different perspective doesn’t make either of us wrong.
Falling in love with the game was slow and sudden all at once. Before you knew it, I was learning not just the current stats and roster players but learning all I could about the team’s history and the game itself. It was seeing the return of Trevor Linden, the rise of the West Coast Express followed by the emergence of the Sedins, Kesler, Burrows, Bieksa and the impeccable play of Roberto Luongo that completely captured my heart. From Naslund and Bertuzzi dominating to the Sedins making seamless plays that took the league by storm, there was no looking back.
I know that even so, many will point out that the Canucks have never won a cup and maybe even throw a few jabs at some former players. Trust me, I’ve heard all the insults/jabs/below the belt comments about my team, it’s nothing new. And no, while I haven’t been lucky enough to see my team hoist the Stanley Cup, just yet, I’ve still been pretty lucky to witness some incredible hockey moments and players over the years.
The West Coast Express of Naslund, Bertuzzi and Morrison helped launch this team into a competitive upswing that inspired players and fans. Every time they were on the ice, you could anticipate an exciting rush or play was upcoming, it was electric.
Alex Burrows, known to most around the league as a pest and agitator but in Vancouver, we defined him as the heart and soul of our team. His determination and tenacity was something truly special. He went from a fourth liner to his bond with Luc Bourdon to him honouring his friend with every goal he scored to eventually becoming an “honourary” triplet when playing on the top line with Henrik and Daniel. Never drafted, he defined what heart meant to this city with his knack for timely goals and will forever be our dragon slayer.
Kevin Bieksa may not get as much recognition because he never won the big NHL awards but he was a tenured blue liner for this team. He was loyal and fiercely competitive and his interviews were ALWAYS gold. Perhaps his biggest triumph is his fight for the importance of mental health awareness in honour of Rick Rypien and those who continue to battle their issues every day. Some things are bigger than hockey.
Ryan Kesler. Yes, these days he gets some of the loudest boos when hes in town but there was a time when he too was a part of the heart and soul on this team. He thrived on helping the team with some big goals while being a pest to his opponents and we all know he loved a good chirp. He may be seen as the enemy by many these days but there’s no denying that he did A LOT for this team while he was here.
Roberto Luongo. A player who often took the heat when it wasn’t always fair or deserved. He didn’t need people to tell him it was his fault on an off-game or series, he almost always took the blame even if it wasn’t always true. His on ice compete level is almost as impressive as his work off the ice in the community. He’s a fierce competitor that lead this team to the playoffs in 6 of his 8 seasons here, including that incredible 2011 run. Let’s not forget that he’s still the leader in most wins in Canucks history. His time here may have ended on a bit of a sour note, but regardless of what some will argue, he’s one of THE best goalies to have ever played for the Canucks
The Sedins, where do I even begin?! The Sedins gave EVERYTHING they had to this city for 18+ years. Sure their first couple of years were tough but they took it all in stride and will go down as two of the greatest players to ever suit up for the Canucks. To those on the outside, you never really got to fully appreciate what we saw on a daily basis, two brothers redefining hockey plays left and right. The way they could read each other on the ice was something truly amazing to witness. Back to back scoring titles, and each surpassing 1000 NHL points, along with their incredible community work, the Sedins left behind a legacy that will always be appreciated. A future call from the Hockey Hall of Fame seems to be not too far down the line for these two Swedish dynamos.
And now, we are getting a glimpse at the future with a new young core is emerging. Bo Horvat, as the (unofficial) team captain seems to have picked up where the Sedins left off with being a leader on and off of the ice. He spent the last four seasons being mentored by the Sedins and it’s showing in his play, his dealing with the media daily, his interactions with the fans and his work within the community. And if you somehow haven’t yet seen the Brock and Petey show on display this season, let me enlighten you. Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson have reignited a fire in Canucks fans this season with their dynamic play and Sedin-like vision on the ice when playing together. And can we talk about the pure magic that is Elias Pettersson’s rookie season?!
Yes, it’s true that this season hasn’t been perfect BUT that in no way means that I’ll stop supporting them this season or beyond. They’ve got my heart 24/7/365. And I know that may make me seem a little crazy to some or naive but I assure you it doesn’t. I’m more than aware of the current state of my team and their stats, all it means is that we may have a different perspective on them and the game itself.
I can still remember what it was like to be in the arena for the first time, from anthems to puck drop to the final buzzer, I remember it all; it was magic. I can honestly say, that I still feel that same magic every time I’m at the rink.
As always, until next time, nuck said.