True Blue 2017 (Part Two)

It’s summer or more accurately the NHL’s off-season and you know what that means at NUCKSAID! It’s time once again, for True Blue and to put the spot light on you, Canucks fans. This year, it’ll be a little different than my past summer series. No questionnaire, but a more free form in which you can share whatever you’d like about your hockey/Canucks fandom, or focus on just one moment in particular in the team’s history that really shaped how you view this game or an experience with other fans that influence your view of the game now or really it’s up to you what you’d like to say. If you’d like to be featured/share the story of your hockey fandom or the moment that’s shaped how you view the game, send me an e-mail to: nucksaid@gmail.com & we will set it up!

Without further ado, this is Chris and HIS True Blue story:

“Why do I support the Vancouver Canucks? Why as a British person, am I even into ice hockey at all?

True, it’s not in our nation’s DNA to take to the ice, we prefer grass sports with sports like Field Hockey, Cricket, Rugby, and most of all football (or Soccer, if you prefer); though Ice Hockey is the most popular indoor spectator sport within England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, even beating our Basketball despite the country producing a respectable number of NBA players! Even with it’s small slice of popularity, the British ice hockey scene is almost non-existent when compared to our reputation as a footballing country.

This hasn’t always been the case, however, back in the 1930’s the British national hockey team were one of the most formidable in the World! Often competing and beating the modern day powerhouses of: Canada, USA, Russia, Sweden etc., with the crowning achievement being winning the 1936 Olympics and World Championships as well as various continental titles. Even with this success, British ice hockey has very much fallen to the wayside, making it unlikely that you will ever run into another genuine hockey fan in day to day life.

This is why I am so grateful for things like Twitter and Facebook that have helped bring about the Canucks Nation. A collection of Canucks fans from all different backgrounds, nations, religions and cultures. The sport knows no creed, only what team you support. Fans of the Vancouver Canucks often get a bad name, whether it’s about them being fickle, rioters, bad losers…anything bad you can think of, the Canucks fan base has been accused of it.

Sure, we have our idiotic element, what sports team doesn’t? What people don’t tell you, is the good things our fan base achieves. For a few years from around 2009 to only last year, I suffered badly with depression and anxiety, and this was also at a time that I lost my Grandad and shortly after, my Grandma. I received messages from Canucks fans from all around the world, some in the UK, some in Canada, some in the US and some from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand. People that I had never met in person, who wanted to see if I was okay, not because they had to but because I’m a Canucks fan. That simple. When I was at my absolute worst, I always knew I had the backing of the Canucks Nation, whether it was them giving me an ear to moan into or whether they just sat up with me chatting all things hockey and life. The Canucks Nation are whiners, the Canucks Nation are idiots is what we hear. The Canucks Nation saved my life is something I don’t hear, the Canucks Nation made me feel like I wasn’t alone is something you don’t hear but they did just that for me.

The Canucks Nation aren’t just the best fans in the NHL, but some of the best people in the world.

When I was a child, I wasn’t massively into sports but I was into video games one of favourite games was NHL 99 on the PlayStation. And my favourite team was actually the Detroit Red Wings! I had no affiliation to the city of Detroit or the team, they were just really good! To say I supported them would be generous, I more just played as them on the game and said I supported them. In reality, I couldn’t tell you a single player who wasn’t on the starting line-up on the game.

In 2001, I went to BC for the first time and who else was in town? The Detroit Red Wings…and because of my slight fascination with them, my dad got us tickets to the game. That game was a 3-0 win for the Canucks but that wasn’t to be a disappointing result for me as little did I know, walking into GM Place that my life was about to change forever.

As I first walked out of the concourse into the stands, I was taken aback by the noise and colours all around me, the Dark Blue, Red and Silver, everywhere. The announcers enthusiasm and just the sheer numbers of people all stuck with me. It was unbelievable, I’d never seen such a mad crowd! I instantly fell in love the the home team and quickly dropped any “love” I may have held for the Red Wings. I was hooked.

Going forward, I have only been able to see a handful of games like due to a gap of roughly 7,300 km between me and Vancouver. Despite this, my love of the Canucks was born that cold December night at GM place. I’m from a town in England called Stockport, about 20 minutes away from Manchester. Within the neighbouring Manchester; I managed to quench my thirst for hockey with the Manchester Storm, following their dissolution, the Manchester Phoenix, and as much as I loved those nights at the Manchester Evening News Arena, nothing had ever come close to that night in Vancouver.

Back in the early, 2000’s, streaming live sports wasn’t easy, so I had to rely on a weekly TV show we had that would give a weekly round-up of the league’s main talking points and some short highlights. It sounds daft now but back then I would make sure that nothing got between me and my weekly hour-long hockey fix.

As the internet evolved, so did my love for the sport and the team. All of a sudden watching a game was easier than ever but more importantly, so was connecting with fellow fans from around the globe. Though as I transitioned into adulthood, I could no longer stay up all night watching games and sadly I was restricted to weekend games.

This changed in 2009, this is when I first started battling my own mind. I often couldn’t sleep and would find myself inadvertently staying up all night long with nothing to show for it except a headache and uncontrollable yawning. This is when I truly learned what it meant to be a part of a family other than my own, the Canucks family.

As I was up all night anyway, I would watch the games online and suddenly my online habits went from searching for the best way to fall asleep to searching about the next big prospect that “the Canucks HAVE to draft”. From dreading waking up the next day to actively being exciting for the day to come and go, just so I could watch the Canucks again.

The weirdest time in my life came in 2011, that is when I was at my lowest point; without trying to be too much of a bummer, that is when on another day, things could have gone terribly out of hand with how was I feeling. Who saved the day? Kevin Bieksa

The worst night of my life, quickly turned into the best. It was Game 5 of the 2011 Western Conference Finals: Canucks vs. Sharks. As I’m sure we all know, the Canucks went from a 1-0 lead early on to trailing 2-1 with just seconds left before Ryan Kesler snatched a goal at the death to send the game into OT and then into double OT. It was during the second overtime that “the goal” happened. The goal that defied physics and logic, the goal that sent the Canucks to the Stanely Cup Finals, the goal that saved my life.

Once the Bruins series came along, I had started receiving professional help, a step that I may never have taken if not for that night.  When we lost Game 7, I was devastated, but most importantly, I was here. Since that summer things haven’t  gone overly well for the Canucks but it was around this time I started socializing more with Canucks Nation. I’ve made some truly great friends, both online and in real life thanks to the boys in Blue and Green; sometimes we just moan about how badly the team is doing, sometimes we just like to talk. Whether you’re a diehard season ticket holder or a casual fans who’s only ever seen highlights, everyone is made welcome into the family that is Canucks fans.

I had managed to keep my mental health in check for the most part until 2015 when I lost my Grandad. I run a Canucks fan page on Twitter and I’ll generally just chat with other fans and sometimes live tweet games. I made a quick apology for an absence due to losing my Grandad. It wasn’t for any other reason than to let people who’d tweeted/messages me that I wasn’t ignoring them. Within an hour, I’d had nearly 100 messages from people all around the world; they didn’t know me personally, some didn’t even know my real name, all they knew is that I was a Canucks fan going through a hard time and it was literally overwhelming how nice everybody was about it.

It’s experiences like this that mean even when I can’t watch as many live games as I’d like to, the incredible community of Canucks fans is something that not only do I hold very dear to my heart, it’s something that is now and will always be a part of my life.

So to answer the initial question I posed myself, why am I a Canucks fan? Because the Vancouver Canucks saved my life. – Chris.”

Thank-you for your bravery and for sharing your story with all of us, Chris! It’s not an easy task speaking up but it ALWAYS makes a difference. Once a part of Canuck Nation, you are always be a part of the Canucks family!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

True Blue 2017

As we edge deeper into the Vancouver Canucks off-season and the local media focus on all of the decisions that will or will not be made, here on NUCKSAID, it means that it’s time to put the spot light on YOU, the fans. The summer tradition continues. What exactly is the True Blue tradition, you ask? Allow me to explain.

The True Blue series takes the spotlight off of the angst that is off-season rumour mills and puts it on YOU the fans and YOUR stories. It has become a favourite summer tradition of mine to feature during the off-season. As we count down to the new season around the corner, it is time to share your Canuck stories and how you became a fan of this team, the game and what keeps drawing you back year after year. Over the past three 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.

Here’s a summary post from the first summer of TRUE BLUE to give you more of an idea of just how special this summer project is:

https://nucksaid.com/2014/09/23/true-blue-thank-you/

This year, I’m calling out to ALL Vancouver Canucks AND Utica Comets fans to share their stories. Whether you live in Canada or the USA or across the globe, I would love to feature YOUR story as a part of this year’s series.

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 another 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 2017, simply send me an e-mail to: nucksaid@gmail.com with the subject line: TRUE BLUE.

I look forward to hearing and sharing as many stories as you are all willing to share and have read by many more throughout the summer. Here’s to making the long off-season a little more enjoyable by sharing all kinds of hockey stories!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

True Blue 2016: Kelsy.

Welcome to the latest edition 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. No two stories are the same, everyone has their own unique story. If YOU would like to join the tradition and have YOUR Vancouver Canucks or Utica Comets story featured, simply send me an email to nucksaid@gmail.com with the subject line: TRUE BLUE.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Kelsy Wright (soon to be Roberts)! This is her TRUE BLUE story in her own words: [Pictures also provided by Kelsy]

Kelsy“How did I become a Vancouver Canucks fan? Well…I’ve got my wonderful father to thank for that! I started watching Canucks games with him when I was only 3 months old! I know some people say: “that doesn’t count, you’re not old enough to decide for yourself.” I have to disagree with that because I’ve been watching the Vancouver Canucks ever since! Through thick and thin, through every win and every loss!

Almost 22 years as a Canucks fan, and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have changed it for the world! I don’t care whether they win the cup or not. I know that’s “every hockey teams’/players’ end goal” but everything happens for a reason and the day that they DO in fact hoist Lord Stanley over their heads, the victory will be just that much more wonderful!

Over the years I’ve seen some of my favourite players moved, time and time again -and it never gets any easier. I said I was done when they traded Bertuzzi and Jovanoski. Then I said I was done when they traded Alex Auld and Markus Naslund signed with New York. Then I said I was done when Mitchell and Ohlund left. Then I said I was done when they let Mason Raymond and Max Lapierre go. Then I said I was done when they traded Schneids and Lou. Then I said was done when they traded Kesler and Bieksa. THEN, I said I was more than done when they traded Eddie Lack…

But, here I stand, still behind my boys in blue and green! I guess I stick to hockey so truly because it was the one thing that always connected my dad and I! He moved to Calgary six years ago, and I felt absolutely broken for the first two years without being able to see him every weekend! — Hockey kind of turned into something that I could sit down and watch, and feel like myself. Through the years I had MANY people bully me, and judge me, all because I was such a die-hard fan. But it also gave me some of my closest friends!

Year after year, I wished and wished that I would get to attend a LIVE Canucks game, but year after year, that wish never came true. UNTIL this year! On January 6, 2016…I FINALLY got to step foot into that glorious hockey arena[Rogers Arena] and I FINALLY got to see some of the guys I had spent YEARS watching on television and dreaming about seeing in person. — But the ONE person, I had been dying to see in person more than anybody else in the National Hockey League was Eddie Lack. Though he may have only been on the team for a couple short years, that man made such an impact on me (and many others) so quickly, that I knew he had a very bright future ahead of him. So, to see that wonderful man, with such a contagious smile in person this past January, I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning! I’m willing to admit that he made me cry, happy tears of course! He’s one of the VERY few ‘celebrities’ that have ever interacted with me, especially over Twitter! Seeing him in person on the ice, was an absolute dream come true, and I left the arena in tears knowing he was heading back to Carolina.

(Below are pictures from both Canucks games that I attended during the 2015-16 regular season):

I sit here and think about all the years that I’ve spent cheering on this wonderful team and can’t help but smile knowing that my 2-year old son is on the same track that I was on. He’s only two years old and can already pick out the Canucks logo from every other NHL logo out there. He loves everything to do with hockey and I couldn’t be more proud! When he was younger and teething, he would spend all day fussing and crying but as soon as I’d turn on the Canucks game, he would instantaneously quiet down and completely zone into the game. He knows to cheer when the Canucks score and hasn’t missed a goal yet! It’s amazing knowing that I’m going to have this connection with my son, as I had with my father!

I honestly don’t know what I would do without our boys in Blue! I was born a Canucks fan, and I’ll most definitely die a Canucks fan!

-Kelsy.”

First, Kelsy, a BIG thank-you for taking the time to share your #TrueBlue Canucks story with me and allowing me to share it with everyone else! I’m with you 110% on the fact that trades of favourite players or when they sign elsewhere never gets any easier, no matter how often it happens. For me, it was the Luongo trade that was an absolute heart-breaker. There’s something about this team that keeps me coming back every season.

No matter how a season ends…win or lose, playoffs or no playoffs, I will still be supporting the Vancouver Canucks every single year. And when the day does finally come that the Canucks win their first cup, it will be an incredible moment to experience.

In case you missed it, here’s the link to the first edition of #TrueBlue 2016:

https://nucksaid.com/2016/05/04/true-blue-2016-nucksaid/

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

True Blue 2016: NUCKSAID.

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 nucksaid@gmail.com 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.

Sarah E.L.

HERE’S JOHNNY…

It’s true that the last few weeks have not been the Canucks most memorable on record, at least not for the win column. If they can get a string of wins together before Christmas, who knows what might happen, it could be the catalyst that drives them forward the remainder of the season. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played and it’s not panic time just yet BUT every game’s importance has increased as their division begins to tighten. For this moment, let’s forget about the ins and outs and everything else just for a few minutes.

I’ve got a special post to share with you, Canucks fans. I had an idea a few months back to feature a story about the story of THE Johnny Canuck. I thought it would be really fun to share with all of you. All I had to do was ask him if he’d be willing to share said story with all of us and hope that the answer would be YES. As you can probably guess by the title of this post, he did indeed say YES. Together, we spent some time talking all things hockey and Johnny Canuck inspiration.

His name is JOHNNY CANUCK, my name is Sarah and THIS is our interview of sorts:

JC3Sarah: How did you become a hockey fan?

Johnny Canuck: Inherited genetics, I’d say. My Dad loved watching the Canucks, we watched games together AND he knew a few of them, years ago. I remember being a kid when my Dad introduced me to Harold Snepts and Richard Brodeur. Snepts said to my Dad, “He looks tough”. That meant a lot at the time and has stuck with me. At the time, I had a blonde bowl cut like my sister, so after he told me that, I felt different, more powerful, more superhero. I bumped into Snepts at a game last year and I thanked him. He was shocked, it was awesome.

S: That’s a pretty incredible memory to have come full circle with Harold Snepts! I have not been lucky enough to meet him yet BUT I did attend the game when he was inducted into the Canucks “Ring of Honour” a couple of years ago.

How did being a fan of the game inspire the evolving/transformation of Johnny Canuck?

JC: I don’t think I could make these films unless I loved the Canucks, hockey, Canada, movies and my friends. Johnny lives the life of the Canucks and personifies Canada. That’s why I made the first movie: to make my friends laugh and get back into making movies after being primarily focused on video-games for many years.

It’s funny how popular media is starved for real human emotions and reactions nowadays. Sports is one of the last frontiers where you can still see humans acting naturally in instinctively reactive ways, it’s a great place to draw some inspiration from. I designed Johnny’s characters out of Canucks I watched over the years. Pat Quinn as the mentality, Bertuzzi as the brute, Linden as the gentleman and Luongo was the original inspiration with Johnny on his mask for years.

Hockey games are so much like movie story structures as well. Three acts, roughly ninety minutes of action and one small moment early in the game can be the emotional journey for the rest of the game. I love the similarities and how each platform speaks to the raw human in everyone.

S: I love the comparison of hockey to film structure, it’s a unique way to look at the game from frame to frame. As you said, the smallest of moments in both platforms can impact the entire journey.

JC1What’s the BEST part of BEING Johnny Canuck?

JC: Oh goodness, many moving parts. I like making people happy with movies, whether it’s strangers or family or friends. Kids think I’m a living cartoon. I get to make short films that premiere to a live audience of 19,000 people. That’s CRAZY! I get to meet legends of hockey. The season pass in press row. Creating content that succeeds without slandering others. The cool and kind people who work for the Canucks who have now become friends. Doing a job that nobody in the world has, so it’s all a mystery unraveling.

JC2S: Sounds like an incredible adventure. I like the live cartoon comparison! And having been in that 19,000 live audience, when one of those films has premiered, I can tell you it’s a unique experience. I can still remember when the first, “My Name is Johnny Canuck” video was released and feeling like it would become more than a viral video. What was it like for you, after that first video was released and now that it has since inspired many more?

JC: The first movie was such a surprise and a blur. Honestly, I didn’t anticipate much attention and then suddenly within a few hours, chaos ensued. I did seventeen interviews in the three days that followed, slept maybe two hours, had the movie featured on Entertainment Tonight, National news among the internet features and local media. I know my movies aren’t perfect and they are half ridiculous, so seeing that many people get excited about it was a beautifully implosive feeling.

Now, it’s still very much the same emotion, but maybe less chaotic. This year, the Canucks have really embraced the Johnny movies and we’re aiming to have something broadcast at every game this year. In the last few months, I’ve filmed: Clydesdale horses, carriages, 20 extras, steam trains, goalie outfits made of wood, Uncle Sam, little Johnny’s birthday party in snow, rain and sun, ALL with new cameras and drones. It rules and MOST of the season still remains.

S: From the behind the scene photos you’ve shared on social media, I can honestly say all the upcoming films look to be just as awesome as the ones already released.

Ever have any crazy fan interactions? (aside from that time that I punched you during the social suite night last season…).

SocialSUITE3JC: Haha, my jaw still aches! For the most part, no. Almost everyone is incredibly kind, even Bruins fans, surprisingly. The craziest ones were probably marriage proposals which were still very sweet, I declined but still have regrets to this day.

S: Sorry about the jaw! I agree wholeheartedly that hockey fans, and yes even Bruins fans are pretty spectacular across the boards. Thank-you AGAIN for sharing your story with me AND allowing me to share it with everyone else!

And for those of you lucky enough to be at the game tonight, CHEER LOUD and ENJOY the NEW JOHNNY CANUCK FILM that is premiering tonight!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

True Blue 2015 (Part THREE)

True Blue continues! Just like last year, it is time for the spot light to be on my favourite part of hockey: the fans and their stories! Hockey is so much more than a game in a rink, it is a passion that unites fans across the globe. There is still time to have your story featured, – if you are interested in finding out more details, simply send an e-mail to nucksaid@gmail.com with the subject line: TRUE BLUE 2015. **Anyone who has already signed up or signs up BY SEPTEMBER 25 is entered to win a 2015-16 #Pharmasave Canucks For Kids Calendar. The winner will be announced on September 23rd. Even if your story is featured after the 26th, as long as you are signed up by the 22nd, you will be eligible to win the calendar.**

Today, allow me to re-introduce you to someone you all met during last year’s True Blue series: Justin Lai. This is his True Blue story continued in his own words:

Justin04“A long time ago there was a young boy. Growing up he always loved sports but his favourite memory was watching a game played on ice that would forever change his future going forward. Every week, he would sit by the TV watching fascinated at this game in which players zoomed along the ice with sticks to direct a puck into opposing goals. As he grew up he fell in love with the game of hockey and the rest was history.

Growing up, he watched a team known as our Vancouver Canucks and absolutely adored them. As a child, I always played ball hockey in my basement, and dreamed of growing up to be a hockey player for the Canucks and scoring the game winning goal in overtime to win the Canucks their first Stanley Cup. Yes, I know it is unlikely now, BUT it was a childhood dream and even though I might never be an NHL player, I still love my Canucks and the game of hockey. I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember.

Fast forward to today, where my love for the Canucks have grown to more of a diehard fanatic stage and sometimes an obsession. For as long as I can remember the game of hockey has been ingrained in my heart from a young age and no matter what my team is always the Canucks first. My second favourite team is Pittsburgh and before anyone accuses me of being a bandwagoner or how could I have two favourite teams, let me explain. Pittsburgh is my second favourite team because they have had such amazing players who played for them. From the likes of Jagr, Lemeiux, Straka and now Crosby, Malkin and Letang. There’s that reason but the MAIN reason why Pittsburgh is my second favourite team is the Canucks connection of course. I’m talking about the Markus Naslund trade from Pittsburgh to Vancouver that helped Naslund become one of the most beloved Canucks in history today.

Anyways for those who haven’t gotten to know me, my name is Justin. I am a diehard Canucks fanatic and although I might never dress up and play for the Canucks, I do have the privilege of currently working for them now in their hospitality division. My dream job would be to work in the Marketing Department for the Canucks, combining my love of social media, marketing and Canucks into one amazing job. I’m known to my fans as the most diehard fan they know, owning lots of Canucks merchandise, jerseys and always talking about the Canucks. I’m always in some sort of Canucks gear, so it’s easy to pick me out from a crowd.

As for my thoughts on the team and the upcoming season, I know that win or lose, I’m going to be rooting for my Canucks ALL year long. Everyone says they are in a rebuild and yes its a youth movement direction that we’re going in BUT it doesn’t mean that it won’t be successful. Anything can happen in this crazy game of hockey and it’s just as much about bounces and hard work as it is about skill. My friends always ask why I cheer for the Canucks, year after year when they only disappoint and break my heart. I tell them that it is what the love of my team and the game is all about, being a real fan through the good, bad and ugly times. I know that one day when they persevere to win it all, the journey of being a true fan who always stuck with them will make that cup win sweeter and not just because of one year when they are doing well.

There’s lots of favourite memories of mine and every season brings new ones BUT personally my fave so far is winning the Canucks 25th Million Fan twitter contest. I won tickets to the game, got to be interviewed on the scoreboard, had Kevin Bieksa pick my entry and WON Daniel Sedin’s game worn autographed jersey on the ice after the game. It was a dream come true.

Justin01I know we have a relatively new leadership team in place with Linden, Benning and Desjardins BUT I think they can do an exceptional job with their vision shaping this team to be successful on AND off the ice which is probably why I love this team so much. It’s not really about the wins and losses on the ice but that this team is winners off the ice in the community, always giving back and that is something I truly value and admire about the Canucks. They inspire me to always be a better person when the opportunity arises and even when it doesn’t because it makes the world a better place.

I am going to head into this season with no expectations other than for the Canucks to keep doing what they always do. Play hard but win or lose, always represent the front of the jersey with pride on and off the ice. I’ll be rooting all year even if they finish dead last in the league or if they surprise all the naysayers wrong AGAIN and go on a playoff run. They sure surprised people last year. No one expected them to compete for a playoff spot but they finished with a successful regular season: 2nd in the tough Pacific Division and this was with a rookie and new players on the team with a new leadership team as well. This year anything can happen but no matter what I’m always going to be a loud and proud Canucks fan.

My favourite all-time players would have to be Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure because of the the leadership and skill that they played with. Other players I admire include the Sedins for their skill and involvement in the community, Markus Naslund and Alex Burrows because his story of hard work and perseverance to make it to the NHL despite being undrafted always inspires me to never give up on my dreams either. I’m most excited about Bo Horvat as I see him as the future captain after Henrik Sedin calls it a career.

Justin02For those who want to connext with this crazy Canucks fan on social media, find me on Facebook and twitter (@justinlai01) and follow my NEW personal Canucks blog I am starting this year on twitter and Facebook (@TheCanucksBuzz).

Go Canucks Go!!!!

-Justin Lai.”

First, thank-you for sharing your story with all of us! Second, I am totally envious of you meeting Daniel Sedin. I’m 100% with you about supporting the team through the good, the bad and everything in between every year and that the impact the team has goes far beyond the game on the ice. I look forward to hearing more about your upcoming blog and encourage others to also follow along! Welcome to the Canucks blogging community!

Go Canucks Go!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E. L.