I am now officially a Canucks fan — like thousands of others I am firmly planted on the bandwagon. I grew up in a Montreal Canadiens household, my father being from Montreal and all. Hockey night in Canada on Saturday nights was a tradition in our house. One of my brothers is still very much a Habs fan but is lending his support to the Canucks because they are a Canadian team and it is so great to have the land of hockey in the finals.
My brothers played minor hockey, we played on the pond when we lived on the farm, even at our school on a frozen pond, and street hockey in front of our house because that’s where the street lights were. Our hometown had a Junior B team and I attended many games, enjoying the game and the intensity with which some fans responded to the action.” Is Mr. Marshall’s face going to burst from all that screaming? Do you think he is going to have a heart attack?”
As a young woman I lived in Los Angeles for a couple of years and for one hockey season my room mate was Doug Smith, who played for the L.A. Kings. He was this great young guy: 20, from Nepean, near Ottawa, living his dream, playing hockey with people he grew up admiring, and driving to the arena in a silver Porsche. He gave me tickets to all the home games — see Marcel Dionne, Bernie Nicholls. It was so much fun and such a great experience to see all those games in the Forum. Doug was injured early in the year and then was able to finish out the season; it was great insight into professional sports and all the hooplah around it in 1982/83. The previous season had been a big year for the Canucks.
My darling is a die-hard Canucks fan. I have watched the games with him casually over the years, and then more so this year as they started climbing up through the levels. “We have to go — if they get to the finals we have to go.” “We’ll see,” he replies. Are you crazy, I think, you love them! Don’t you want to be there in the arena when they are playing, to see them live?” I can see them really well on the big screen.
So my darling is in Vancouver for business during the opening game of the finals, I join him and we are going to try to get tickets. The excitement in Vancouver that day was incredible! People smiling, wearing their blue and green and as we got closer to 5 o’clock the positive energy was building.
He says “I am not paying a dime over my budget.” Within 10 seconds he is willing to pay over his budget, maybe seeing the ticket, the face value cost, changed his mind and we were in the arena and at way less than the original pie-in-the-sky price. The energy was incredible!
The grin on his face throughout the game — well, there were a few times when he was screaming, and not grinning — was priceless!
The singing of the national anthem still brings tears to my eyes, it was so powerful, people standing singing so loudly and proudly, it was beautiful. We could see the game well and enjoy the camaraderie of the fans around us. “The real fans sit up here,” a big fellow announces.
The enthusiasm was incredible, and when Torres scored the goal it was electrifying, people leaping to their seats and cheering. Afterwards out on the streets, everybody smiling, basking in their team’s win.
And this week mourning their losses.
Sports fans have been studied by psychologists for years. What I see is that you choose a team that you feel a connection to. That connection comes with a sense of community you share with other Canucks fans. You develop a loyalty and you always believe that some day your team will achieve the highest level of success. The Stanley Cup.
I love to see the kids playing on the street wearing hockey jerseys, each of them wearing a different player, someone they can identify with. I used to buy them at VV boutique or the Sally Ann for when the boys played road hockey, the kids would carefully select a team or player. Hoping the players’ skills would seep through the cloth through their little hands as they guided the puck down the road, seeing ice, not gravel, and imagining the roar of a crowd as they fired one into the net.
You have to believe.
Michele Blais is a Vernon realtor and longtime columnist with The Morning Star and was for many years the executive director of the Family Resource Centre.