Vancouver Canucks: Thank-HUGHES

Dear Canucks,

Another season has officially come to a close but it was one that will be remembered for a LONG time.This season has been an absolute emotional roller coaster, and I’m feeling all of the emotions but mostly incredibly grateful to have been able to witness run that was never supposed to happen if we had believed all the “expert” predictions prior to the start of the official Return to Play or those at the start of the regular season. This entire season was one with more optimism from start to finish than there has been surrounding the franchise in nearly a decade. It was incredible to witness.

The promise from the start was that this team wanted to get back to the playoffs and have a real taste of winning important games. Then came COVID putting a halt on what had been a promising season and no idea when things would pick up again or if this season would even have a chance to be officially completed. Then came the Return to Play plan and with it the bubble life. It could not have been an easy decision to make leaving your families behind and being isolated but you did something incredibly special as a team that this entire fan base will never forget. You gave us a semblance of normalcy during a time when it felt that normal was impossible. You gave us something that evoked hope and pride all at once and for that I’m eternally grateful. If you had told me the ending before it even began, I’m not sure how many people would’ve believed it possible that this team would play 17 games in the post-season.

First up was the task of facing the Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round. A best of 5 series that would require a full team effort and one that most experts said would end in the Wild’s favour and those voices got louder after Minnesota took the first game of the series. What happened next was a young team finding that next gear, their competitive drive and earning every inch of the ice over the next two games as the excitement from the fans was growing louder with each game. Game 4, down a goal in the third, it was the captain coming through with a timely goal to force extra time and an opportunity to clinch the teams first post-season series since 2011. It was the perfect script, win and it would mean the team’s first playoff berth in 5 years or it would have social media buzzing about other possible draft outcomes had this postseason format had never occurred. 

Well…it happened with the better than perfect script ending…11 seconds into overtime and just as we all predicted(or so we wish!), TANNY came through with the series clinching goal.

Look at that toothless grin and that look of pure joy? THAT is a goal that we will long remember as the one that clinched your first postseason series win in 9 years and the one that clinched the team’s first playoff berth in 5 years!

Next up was a first round match up with the St.Louis Blues was their reward for winning the qualifiers. Taking on the defending champs was not for the faint of heart but an exciting challenge for this young core to be taking on. To be the best, you have to beat the best. Opening with a thrilling 2-0 series lead that featured a touching tribute from Stecher to his dad and a human highlight reel Horvat was more than Canucks fans could have hoped for against a tough St.Louis team.

And we all knew that the Blues as the defending Stanley Cup champions wouldn’t go down easy, and before you knew it, the series was tied 2-2, setting up a best of 3. Game 5 started with a Motte short-handed goal before St.Louis took control with a 2-goal lead and looked to continue their series momentum. Or at least that’s how it seemed until you flipped the script by storming back with 3 unanswered goals, with Marky closing the door to steal game 5. From a tied series to putting the defending champs on the brink, it was electric.

Game 6 exceeded any and all expectations as far as elimination games go with a full 60 minute effort from the entire team. Just like that you were winning your first PLAYOFF SERIES in 9 years! I only wish that you could have heard all of us in more than just video or through social media, Rogers Arena would have been rocking during and after game 6. Congratulations on a spectacular series, it’s one that I will remember for always.

Success brings on new challenges…this time in the form of the Vegas Golden Knights. A team that since entering the league has had your number and one that nearly everyone expected to make this series a short one.

A tough opening game was followed by a much better game 2 to even up the series and further ignite a spark on both sides. After games 3 and 4, most experts thought the series was over with you trailing 3-1, but they didn’t realize you had a secret weapon still to be unleashed: Thatcher Demko.

The questions were raised if he could rise to the occasion after not having started in a playoff game yet, and not played a full game since March. Every question was answered with sensational save after sensational save as he brought the team back from the brink.

The level of which Demko was able to lift his game when called upon was incredible and nearly helped you sneak into the next round. If you had told us at the start of the season that you’d end up in a thrilling 7-game series against Vegas, I’m not sure how many would have believed it possible and yet, YOU DID.

17 games. 11 wins. Priceless experience for a team like that. Experience that will pay dividends for years to come for this young core. Here’s to taking a moment to appreciate everything you’ve been through, taking time to rest with your families and to preparing for the future that has arrived far sooner than many expected.

Thank-you, hardly seems enough for what you gave us during this crazy chaotic time of uncertainty and it meant more than you could possibly imagine. This was a unique moment in time in which you gave up a lot so that we could have a sense of normalcy amidst the chaos, and that did not go unnoticed.

Thank-HUGHES for the magic that was this past season even if it didn’t have the ending you hoped for, know that you gave hope to all of us during this crazy pandemic time. It was quite a ride, and I’m so grateful for every single second of it and can’t wait for the new season just around the corner.

Until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.