Getting over the Canucks

OK I admit it. I’ve been hiding in a bit of a funk since the Canucks lost in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. I was just so sure they were going to win. I even had champagne in the fridge and the beginnings of a celebratory post ruminating in my head.

But then they lost. And then there was that embarrassing, horrifying, ugly riot. And I just couldn’t write about that. I had been at Game 7 with my husband where the evening was an utter love fest, for fans and players alike. And although there were no Gary Bettman fans there, the crowd cheered vehemently for the Canucks and gave Tim Thomas and the Bruins a standing ovation. We had no idea that cars were burning outside until we were safely home.

It kind of ruined hockey for me, and for awhile, writing. I had all these great posts in mind, about how being a hockey mom is more Canadian than maple syrup, but I just didn’t care anymore.

But I’m back. I’ve just spent the last three days camping in the rain, hanging around the fire with my boisterous boys, feeding them s’mores and Jiffy pop and I feel great.

Thanks for waiting.
Love Lucie

If you’re superstitious and you know it…

Very superstitious. Writing’s on the wall.

You don’t have to be a fan of Stevie Wonder to know that the professional sport is where the weirdest superstitions live, and fans are not exempt from this rule. I’m pretty sure accountants don’t wear the same underwear through tax season. But you only have to look at the decline in razor blade sales in the Vancouver and Boston this June to know that something is up. Even my husband has grown cheek fur for this Stanley Cup playoff run, and I’m not lying when I say if I could grow a beard, I would too.

If these behavioural eccentricities are considered normal in professional sport, then hockey’s netminders are the “normalest” of the bunch. Ever since Patrick Roy was just a rookie with the Montreal Canadiens, he seemed to get a lot of favourable bounces and the puck often hit the goalposts. According to Roy, that’s because he talks to his posts during the game. “They are my friends,” he said. Unusual, n’est-ce pas?

Hockey Fans are no less eccentric when it comes to supporting their teams. I have heard of pre-game rituals involving rubbing horseshoes or rabbit’s feet, lucky meals, lucky beers, sitting in the same spot, not washing your jersey, and no sex on game day (the last two may be related). My sister believes that she best helps the Canucks when she points all 10 fingers at the TV screen at a 90 degree angle, sending her energy to her beloved Canucks. She looks crazy, especially when in a bar, though I guess no more crazy that Roy talking to his goal posts.

Probably the most common way to “represent” and support your team is to festoon your body in team colours. Luckily for us fans, the Vancouver Canucks are no longer look to Halloween for their style inspiration. These days you will find fans bleeding blue, green & white – tattoos, bellies, hair and of course, their beloved jerseys. Thank goodness hockey owners have finally caught on that women love hockey too and that jerseys aren’t all that flattering on us. The wave of great new t-shirts designed to enhance the ‘twins’ (and I’m not talking about the Sedins) have made the local Dog’s Ear and Bang On the hottest businesses around town these days.

In this playoff run, I have bought 3 Canucks t-shirts. The first one I bought to celebrate the Vancouver Canucks sweeping (their nemesis) the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 1 of this Stanley Cup Playoffs. Except we lost Game 4. And Game 5. And Game 6. Then I threw out the t-shirt and we won Game 7!

For the series against San Jose, Canuck fever had really taken hold of Vancity and I couldn’t show my face around town without some cheer gear on, so I bought another Canucks t-shirt. I had it on for Game 5 and we were down the entire game. With just 20 seconds left, Coach V. called a time out and I whipped off my unlucky shirt. As I watched the remainder of the game in my bra (luckily we were watching at home), Kesler scored 7 seconds later and Boom-Boom Bieksa put the Sharks away for good in 2nd OT.

My husband got tickets to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final and I had to get a new lucky t-shirt to represent and support my team. I searched for 2 hours before I found this beauty. I truly believe my shirt helped to ruin the Bruins.

Game 3 was just a small setback. I’ve washed the bad luck off my t-shirt and we’re good to go for Game 4! But if we don’t win tonight, I’ll be back in the market for another by Friday!

Yours in superstition,
Love Lucie

A Canucks fan is born

I fell into hockey like most Barbie loving girls of my generation, I had a mad crush on a boy who ate, drank and slept hockey. I found that the only way to register on his radar at all was to casually drop a comment about last night’s hockey game. This was 1981, when I was in Grade 8 and those Vancouver Canucks skated in those electric-orange Halloween-inspired costumes. I used to study those games, shushing my little sisters so that I would be able to recite some of Jim Robson’s insightful colour commentary or mimic Tiger Williams’ post goal antics the next day in Industrial Ed. I learned to distinguish the referee from the linesmen, the Blue Line from the Face-off Circle, and Richard Brodeur from Harold Snepts. While seeming to appreciate the conversation, the boy never did ask me out, but I transferred my crush onto Marc Crawford and along the way became a diehard Vancouver Canucks fan. The twelve year old franchise’s first-ever playoff run beyond the first round took them all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1982. Our beloved Canuckleheads surprised and pleased everyone, but much like new parents appreciating a toddler’s first steps, I don’t think anyone actually believed the Canucks were going to go all the way. And they didn’t.

Fast forward through high school and more heartbreaks on and off the ice. My sisters and I would watch the games, together if we were all home, alternating fervent prayer with pointing all 10 of our fingers at the screen to send the Canucks our energy when their plays seemed depleted. We developed mad crushes on a variety of hockey greats and argued over who was going to marry Trevor Linden.

In May 1994, I took a break from packing, having just finished grad school in London, Ontario to head to the Ceeps and watch a first round Game 7 between my Vancouver Canucks and their arch-rivals the Calgary Flames. I sat next to a classmate who was a diehard Calgary Flames fan. Just as my hockey knowledge had impressed the boys before him, I have to say it finally worked – we’ve been together ever since Calgary lost to Vancouver’s Bure/McLean that night. That magical playoff run also ended with an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. While the 1994 Canucks were a much more worthy team than the 1982 crew, the stronger New York Rangers were able to close out their 54 year Stanley Cup drought at our expense. Unfortunately, the fans expected more of our boys in blue this time and took out their Game 7 frustrations on the merchants of Robson Street. Carnage and mayhem ensued and beautiful Vancouver looked like sore losers.

You don’t need to know high level math to know that 2006 was supposed to be our year (1982/1994/2006) with 12 years between Cup Finals appearances. But we didn’t even make the playoffs that year. It was tough going for awhile for us diehard fans.

Add to that some Olympic sized karma – when Montreal hosted the Olympics in 1976, their Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in 1977. Similarly, when Calgary hosted the Olympics in 1988, the Flames won the Cup in 1989. As we all know, Vancouver hosted a fabulous Olympics just last year in 2010, do we really have to wonder who’ll be drinking out of the Stanley Cup this June?

As a mother to 3 young boys now, my love for the Canucks has necessarily mellowed as I can no longer be shouting profanities at the ref through the TV or passing along my zany superstitions but this year, this team cannot be beaten. The 40 year-old franchise and it’s loyal fans want, deserve and need the Cup. We’re the best team Vancouver has ever had the privilege of cheering for – we’ve got the President’s Trophy, the Art Ross winners Daniel & Henrik, the Jennings trophy, the Green Men, and Olympic Gold meal winner Luongo all on our team. Not to add to the pressure already on your big broad shoulders (Bieksa), but if not now, then when?

I’ll be one of the lucky 18,900 fans there cheering you on tonight. I’ll be in my lucky shirt, drinking my lucky drink, screaming at the top of my lungs, “We are all Canucks! Go Canucks Go!”

Love Lucie