Vancouver Canucks: First Game Magic

Some hockey nights are more special than others, sometimes it’s about more than the game itself but rather the people who are with you. This one in particular will always be on that stands out. This past weekend, we took my 90-years young Grandpa to his first ever Vancouver Canucks game.

When he planned his visit a few months back, he said that it would be really fun to attend a hockey game together while he was here. And you know me, there was no convincing need on my part! So we took a look at the team’s schedule to plan out which game to attend together. We gave him the choice of games that would be available to him during his stay: Boston, Washington and Pittsburgh.

He chose Boston, as they are an original six franchise. And as you can imagine, as a Canucks fan, it may not have been my first choice of rivals to watch BUT it was not about my choice. It was his choice. And it was a great choice in the end but more on that later.

First things first, once the he made his choice we had to find tickets for the four of us that would be attending the game: my Grandpa, my dad, my sister and myself. Once we secured the four tickets, the next step was making sure he would be properly outfitted in Canucks attire for the game.

Up next was the long awaited game day! We made the trek to the arena all geared up and ready to take in all the sights and sounds, ready cheer on the home team!

It’s no secret that I’m ALWAYS going to root for the Canucks despite whatever the odds may tell me prior to any given game. This game was no different, I was told many times that this may not be best the game to bring Grandpa to as many did not expect the Canucks to put up much of a fight against a resilient Boston Bruins team. The expectation from them was a guaranteed loss with little or no push back. I learned long ago, that just because there is an expectation or certain odds, when it comes to hockey(and most sports), you can’t always go by the odds. Sometimes the odds go to the wayside and that team that everyone wrote off, just happens to surprise you.

The lights went down, the arena began to fill and the magic was just about upon us. Anthems were song and the puck dropped and the cheers began. Amidst our cheering, we talked about the team, the game progressing pretty well on both sides and taking in the sheer magic that is 18.000+ fans all taking in the moment together.

There’s the pure joy of opening the scoring early in the game. There’s the annoyance in unison at the refs/linesmen in the game. There’s the intensity of the game back and forth as the Canucks tried to seal it and the Bruins relentlessly not giving up. There was the unexpected fight from Bo Horvat that only had fans convinced even more so that he’s potential captain material. There was the moment Boston’s relentlessness paid off as they tied to game. There was the moment late in the final frame that Markstrom made a glove save out of the air to keep the game tied, and made for an exhilarating frenzied finish to regulation.

As overtime was about to begin, all I could think about was how much I really didn’t want to witness a shootout not because I thought either team was more favoured in that contest but because if passed regulation, I’d rather watch continuous overtime over a shootout any day. There’s a certain intensity that comes with 3-on-3 OT and overtime in general that just cannot be matched in a shootout.

And just as I was having those ‘please no shootout’ thoughts without taking my eyes off of the ice, it happened almost in slow motion and then all at once. Brock Boeser stole the puck, had a give and go with Bo Horvat ending with a perfectly placed Horvat shot for the game winning goal. The crowd went wild and we left the arena with an everlasting family hockey memory.

Sometimes hockey is about more than just the game itself, it’s about the people. It’s making memories of a lifetime that will long live on. And just in case there’s any doubt, Grandpa has officially dubbed himself a Vancouver Canucks fan.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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Vancouver, You Are Better Than THIS.

Truthfully, I was in the middle of writing a completely different post but had to stop because I saw this tweet emerge on my timeline:

It broke my heart a little AND this needed to be said.

Vancouver, you and me, we are better than this. We are better than sending harassing messages to an opposing player and his family. Yes, we all hated the hit and ensuing injury to Elias Pettersson but that does NOT in any way justify the treatment that has been directed towards Matheson and his family. It also does NOT in any way justify the hate that has also been slung towards Canucks players by “fans” of the team for their response or lack of response to the aforementioned hit depending on how you look at the situation. Either way, those messages of hate and death threats being directed at Matheson and Canucks players are all kinds of wrong.

We are better than sending harassing messages and threats to players on an opposing team and we are better than sending harassing messages to players on our own team. That is a whole new level of wrong that I cannot even begin to fathom. It’s heartbreaking.

Social media can be a great tool for fans of the game to connect with each other and share that bond. It’s also a great tool that can connect fans with their team and players from their team. But that fun is gone instantly when someone takes it too far sending threats and continual harassment that can cause real harm. It affects more than those who send the tweet and those who receive the tweet/messages, and very quickly can spiral farther than ever intended. Words are a powerful thing and can leave an indelible mark.

Do we want that mark from fans in Vancouver to be one that drives players away from ever wanting to play here knowing that the fans will treat them this way? Or do we want that mark to one to be one that creates a bond between the fans and the team that is strong, drawing players to want to be here? I know which one I’m aiming for.

I’m going to say this plain and simple: harassing ANYONE online let alone a hockey player is NEVER a good idea. And I get that there will be chirping back and forth but taking it the level of death threats and sending harassing messages is not chirping or in good fun.

Vancouver, you are better than this. We are better than this.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Adios Preseason…

Adios preseason and hello hockey season! Bring on all the hockey and drop that dang puck already!

The Vancouver Canucks regular season is just days away and already the doomsday headlines are spinning out of control before even one game has been played. I’ve been informed in no uncertain terms more than once that this will most certainly be the worst Canucks season on record. And as such a poor season is expected, I’ve also been told that there’s no point to partaking in watching the games as it’s all down hill from before the start of the season.

Well I got some bad news for you, whether it’s a terrible season (potentially their worst on record) or a good season statistically, I’ll by standing by for every single step of the season. I know that the odds are very much against them heading into this season. Yes, I’ll be watching all the games, even the ones that seem like a nightmare from start to finish. And yes, I’m well aware of how disastrous this season could be but that doesn’t mean that I will stop supporting my team or hoping for them to tank.

It goes against the grain for me to even think about tanking as a possibility especially when it comes how unpredictable the draft lottery tends to be. More than that though, I can’t process the idea that players purposely go out on a nightly basis to lose or increase their team’s odds in that area. Seems a bit far fetched to me.

Regardless of how the season unfolds, one thing is certain: I’ll be there to witness every step along the way. Maybe it will be the worst season in the Canucks history books, maybe it’ll even be catastrophically bad but then again maybe it won’t. Maybe they’ll finally win that draft lottery or maybe just maybe they might even surprise people.

For now, I’m looking forward to attending the Canucks home opener on Wednesday (despite the impending disappointment that I’ve been told to expect). See you at the rink!

Drop. The. Puck. Already.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

Hockey’s BACK…!

Here we go, say it with me now, “HOCKEY IS BACK”. Yes, technically we are in the thick of the preseason, but it still counts! The NHL preseason is officially in full swing as the league prepares for the official start of the season on October 3rd.

Now begins the over analyzing of seasoned veterans as they compete to maintain their roster spots, while younger players and prospects are vying to snag or steal a roster spot and reveal those that still need time to develop.

For Canucks fans, it means a lot of of different things with a new season about to begin.

It means that we are getting a chance to finally witness the finesse on the ice of Elias Pettersson in a Canucks uniform. Is he the real deal, are we right to be excited for his future? Was his season last year in Sweden a one off or an indication of what lies ahead for his NHL career?

Will other prospects like Adam Gaudette. Petrus Palmu or Jonah Gadjovich thrive in the preseason?

Can Nikolay Goldobin find that much needed consistency to his game, can Elias Pettersson help him get there as they’ve shown to have a bit of chemistry in the preseason?

How will Brock Boeser follow up his successful rookie season? Will we see a sophomore slump or will all that hard work he put in over the summer pay off?

Will this be Jake Virtanen’s breakout year? He put in the work all summer, will it pay off on the ice and silence his critics?

With the Sedins now officially retired, who will step up into a leadership role and their scoring ways? Will the team go ahead and name a captain this season or elect to have co-leaders, waiting to name a captain until next season? Who will pick up the mantle of points they consistently put up each season?

Perhaps the biggest question for the Canucks is, will the team be able stay healthy for the season? If yes, perhaps they just might surprise a few people.

Preseason or not, NHL hockey is back and it feels OH SO GOOD. Enjoy the rest of the preseason as every roster edges closer to being finalized for puck drop on opening night.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Hockey Thoughts: What’s in a Game?

A new hockey season is nearly upon us and I’d thought I take a look at what is about this game that pulls us all in.

What is it that keeps bringing us back? Is it a favourite on ice or off ice moment that you can recall every second of? Is it your favourite team or your favourite player? Or is it a pure simple love for the game? Or is it all of that combined?

I know that the hockey world is far from perfect but there is something magnetic about this game when it captures your heart., there’s no going back.

I can still remember clear as day, seeing a glimpse of Sedinery when it was just beginning. I can still see that 72-save performance in game one of the 2007 playoffs against the Dallas Stars and hear that echo of the crowd when Henrik scored in the fourth overtime. I’ll never forget Alex Burrows emotional first game after Luc Bourdon had passed, and each goal he scored thereafter dedicated to LB with an arrow to the sky. No goal from Burrows was bigger than the one that finally slayed the dragon against the Chicago Blackhawks, it still gives me chills. And then coming oh so close to seeing the team finally hoist the cup in 2011, the heartbreak was real and deep…but rather than deter me from supporting the team, it made my support of them unbreakable. And then the moment more heartbreaking than witnessing the on ice heartbreak, just a few months later when I was reminded that hockey is more than a game, Rick Rypien lost his battle with mental health. It shattered my heart and reminded the hockey world once more that there was and still at times is a stigma when it comes to mental health awareness.

Witnessing Henrik Sedin score his 1000th NHL point on home ice in Rogers Arena, the entire crowd on their feet, the cheers were thunderous. One final act of Sedinery when the Sedins played their final home game and closed it in style with the overtime winner…a moment that was heartbreaking and breathtaking all at once. It was the end of an incredible era that spanned nearly two decades. And as one era ends, a new one begins lead by Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser.

There are moments that will always be a part of defining how or why I am a fan of the game and my team. Moments that I can recall so clearly. Moments that took my breath away and moments that have broken my heart. Moments that have pulled me in, in moments when I needed a break from reality. Moments that have pulled me into being a part of a family that spans the beyond my own city around the world, because as hockey fans, we are all united as one.

I asked on twitter, what is about the game that pulls YOU in, and here are responses that you sent in:

Yes, the hockey world isn’t perfect and there will always be those who say that different views mean that I’m not a “real” fan or possibly naive about the game or try to explain how to really be a fan. And that’s fine, no one said we have to agree on how to be a fan.  And you know what’s louder than those voices? Fans from far and wide, who yes maybe we don’t always have the same view BUT we have a respect for each other and even once in awhile teach one another new facets of this game that unites us. We all have our own reasons and definitions for how and why this game has pulled us in. Maybe it’s one moment, a series of moments, a favourite player, or a simple pure love of the game, or maybe it’s all of those things combined but one thing is certain; hockey is magnetic and there’s no going back once it draws you into the fold.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

One Last Time, Thank-you, BURR.

I knew this day was coming and yet it still hurt my heart to learn the news that Alex Burrows has officially retired from the NHL. Heart and soul every shift on the ice and off of the ice in the community.

When I used to tell people that I loved hockey and specifically the Vancouver Canucks and that Alex Burrows was my favourite player, I would get sneers of derision and without a doubt the followup question was always: “how can you root for such a pest? How can Canucks fans possibly root for a guy like Burrows?”

The answer is simple. How could I not root for him? An example of pure determination, constantly working towards his dream and achieving it despite the odds. Undrafted and never meant to make it in the NHL, forever left an indelible mark with a franchise with memorable goals and a massive heart.

From the outside, his opponents and opposition fans merely saw a pest but in Vancouver we saw him as an inspiration. Burrows defied the odds. Never drafted, worked his way up from the ECHL to the QMJHL to the AHL to the NHL. Even when he finally made it, NO ONE could’ve predicted what would occur. Most thought he’d simply be a 4th liner/pest to his opponents for the entirety of his career at best. I doubt anyone even considered that he’d become a first line player or have multiple +25 goal seasons.

There was tons of negativity that came his way from the media and fans that didn’t see what Canucks fans saw on the daily. And he handled it with grace, never let it get to him, rising above it on every occasion. From a rookie to a seasoned veteran mentoring young players, he did it all.

No one could have predicted that he would become the one of the best line mates to skate along with the Sedin twins or score some of the most memorable goals in franchise history. People say that the twins made Burrows and there may be some truth to that BUT no one ever opened up space on the ice for the twins like Burrows. He was also vital in their successes as well. There’s a reason why he was at times considered the “third Sedin”, he seemed to read their passes almost as well as they did and seemed to almost always anticipate the place they passed the puck. For years it was absolute magic.

So while many on the outside remember Burrows for his on ice antics or being a pest, Canucks fans will always remember him for his heart and soul. He gave everything from his humble beginnings of working his way up to the league, to his rookie days to his successes as the Sedins winger to his work off the ice in the community and for using his voice to raise awareness for the importance of mental health.

822 games with the Vancouver Canucks, 913 regular season games overall, not too shabby for a guy who was never drafted. He embodied what it meant to have the heart of a Canuck from the beginning to the end of his career.

So while thank-you hardly seems enough, it’s what we have to offer Alex Burrows. He made Luc Bourdon proud. He made his coaches and teammates proud. He made Canucks fans near and far, endlessly proud. And yes, we will always think fondly of that dragon slaying goal or the goal that ended and 11-game winless streak

And to THIS fan, he will always and forever be a Canuck. I’ve said it before, but it still remains true; when I have felt like giving up, all I have had to do was think of how he always kept pushing forward despite the odds and I would be reminded that when you tune out the negativity, with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible.

Thank-you doesn’t seem quite enough but one more time, it’s what I have to offer. Thank-you for everything, BURR.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

Vancouver Canucks: True Blue 2018 (Part 1)

As has become an annual tradition, it’s time to put the spot light on YOU the fans and YOUR hockey stories! This is open to ALL Vancouver Canucks fans AND Utica Comets fans!

What does that mean? It means featuring YOU, the fans on the blog ALL summer long.  As we count down to the new season around the corner, it is time to share your Canucks/hockey stories and how you became a fan of this team, the game and what keeps drawing you back year after year. Over the past four summers, I have had the absolute pleasure of connecting with Canucks fans from all over the world and sharing their stories with all of you.

This year, I’m calling out to ALL Vancouver Canucks AND Utica Comets fans to share their stories. Whether you’ve been fan your whole life, or only a little while, whether you grew up in British Columbia or across the country or in the USA or across the globe, I would love to feature YOU and YOUR story as a part of this year’s series. Everyone has a different story of how this game captured them but through them we are all connected.

Fan stories and experiences are some of my favourite hockey stories to share!

Without further ado, here’s the first edition of True Blue 2018, brought to you from John Donato. This is his TRUE BLUE story, in his own words:

“Here are some of my hockey experiences. My daughter and I have been Utica Comet season ticket holders for the past 2 seasons. I have been a hockey fan since I was old enough to know what hockey was and throughout the years have attended hockey games at the Utica AUD going back to when the Mohawk Valley Comets played at the AUD in the 70’s and continuing through the Utica Devils and now with the Comets. We have made many friends that also attend the Comets games and share our passion for hockey. We frequently stay after the games and wait for the players to come up from the locker room to get their autographs and to take our picture with them. We have found them to be very friendly and always willing to pose for a picture. There are several players that we seem to chat with more often inlcuding: Carter Bancks, Michael Carcone and Richard Bachman. We seem them not only as athletes but also as people because we have gotten to know a little bit about their personal lives. We have met Carter’s girlfriend, Michael’s parents and we see Rich’s wife and children at many of the games. An interesting side note is hat during a conversation I was having with Michael’s dad, I discovered that he has relatives that live in Utica and his dad’s uncle used live right up the street from where I live. We have have also run into many of the players at the grocery store, the mall or at the gas station. We try to respect their privacy but almost always at least say hello to them. We ran into Michael Chaput at a Rite Aid drug store a few days before Christmas, shortly after he was returned to the Comets by Vancouver. Jalen Chatfield was waiting in the care in the parking lot so we knew that there was another player in the store and we spotted Michael in the card section. We went up to him and said hello, welcoming him back to Utica and the Comets. He was very friendly and thanked us for welcoming him back and said he was looking for a Christmas card for his mother. We chatted with him for a few minutes and my daughter asked if she could take a picture with him. He posed for a picture with him and we thanked him, wished him a Merry Christmas. The Comets were playing the next night at home so I had the picture printed so my daughter could get it autographed after the game. We waited after the game and when he came up, my daughter asked if he would sign the picture. He looked at us and said, “wow that was quick”, as he knew the picture had been taken the night before.

Myself with Nikolay Goldobin & Alexis D’Aoust

My daughter Nicole & Michael Chaput.

The Comets send a few players each week to the mall to sign autographs during the months of November and December. Through that experience, we have shad some interesting conversations with some of the players ranging from who their favourite hockey team was when they were growing up to what they think of the city of Utica. Nikolay Goldobin is my favourite Utica Comet, the night he was at the mall, he and I became engaged in conversation about his favourite hockey team and his favourite player. I asked him what he thought about our city and he said it was too small for him as he is used to his hometown of Moscow where it is very busy with a lot of people and traffic. I told him what my favourite hockey team was and he grunted and shook his head. We both laughed and exchanged some jabs at each others favourite team.

November of last year, my daughter and I took a bus trip to Madison Square Garden to see the Rangers against the Canucks. We had 2 buses loaded with Comets fans and we found out on the way down that the Canucks had recalled Nikolay and he arrived at the Garden just before the pre-game skate but was a scratch for the game. I was hoping that he was going to play as did come out for the pre-game skate but as previously mentioned, he was a scratch. It was quite a thrill for me to see him on the ice at the Garden. It was a my daughter’s first time at the Garden and also quite a thrill for us to see some of the former Comets playing for the Canucks including: Markstrom, Gaunce and Virtanen. The first game after the Canucks returned Nikolay to the Comets, I told him that we were at the Garden for the game and got to see him in Canucks uniform.

–John.”

Thank-you, John for sharing your story and some great Comets stories! Fan stories and experiences are some of my favourite hockey stories to share with you and since I’m asking for your stories, I will share a part of my story as well. Is this the year, that you and your story will be featured? Or do you know someone who would like their Canucks story featured? If you’d like more details on how YOU can be featured in True Blue 2018, simply send me a message on twitter (@nucksaid) OR send me an e-mail to: nucksaid@gmail.com with the subject line: TRUE BLUE 2018.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.