Canucks Nation has bigger borders than we think.
We know the Canucks have one of the biggest followings in the NHL, and we see this at every away game – no matter where it seems to be, Canucks fans stand out in any arena, sometimes outnumbering the home fan base.
But it seems the Canucks have touched a lot of people beyond the continent; this isn’t surprising when you think about the exciting history the team has had.
And so during the playoffs, Canucks Hockey Blog will be honouring these international fans by profiling a few of them from around the world.
You’d be surprised at what we found.
You’d never expect to find a hardcore Canucks fan in Scotland, the land of mist, constant rain, haggis and William Wallace. But alas, there’s Steve Johnston, a 43-year-old ice hockey fan who schedules his life around Canucks games, likes a good ale and loves Todd Bertuzzi (can you see why I like this guy yet?).
“I’ve been a Canucks fan for about 13 years,” Steve said. “I’ve been a hockey fan for about 20 years, but started supporting the Canucks after visiting Vancouver to see family.”
After his introduction to the Canucks, Steve was hooked, although as he said, he’d been a hockey fan for years already, cheering on the English Premier Ice Hockey team, the Milton Keynes Lightning.
However, becoming a Canucks fan was quite the sacrifice for a fan living in the UK.
“With Canucks home games starting at 3 a.m., it means some very late nights and early mornings,” he said. “Owning my own business gives me an advantage that I can decide to have a lay in after watching a game. East coast games are a bonus, as they usually start at about midnight.”
Living here it’s hard to imagine having to wake up at 3 a.m. to catch a Canucks game, but it’s something many overseas fans don’t mind doing – they’re just as hardcore as anyone else here in Vancouver.
“As you can imagine there aren’t many local Canucks fans around my area, although you would be surprised how many Canucks fans there are here in the UK,” explained Steve.
“The wonder of Facebook and Twitter keeps us all in contact, not only during the season, but after it too. I’ve also had the great pleasure of meeting quite a few at UK games too.”
Aside from the time difference and proximity to the team’s home city, Steve has similar practices as most Canucks fans. He has no specific superstitions, but believes if he lived here he might since he has a few for the Lightning in the UK.
He also has some typical playoff rituals.
“I will always be wearing something team related,” he said. “So with the Canucks it will be a jersey or a t-shirt, or my LB or 16 pin. It just makes me feel closer to the team.”
As for a playoff beard? (This is where Chris starts paying attention).
“I tried growing a playoff beard a few times, but it grows in about four different hair colours, so I gave up on that one!”
Me too, Steve. But for different reasons.
In terms of players, Steve’s current and all-time favourites are the same as my own, which makes him even cooler.
“My first all-time favourite was Todd Bertuzzi,” he said. “I loved his presence and skill on the ice. I had the privilege of seeing Bert play for the Ducks when they played in London a few years ago.”
“My second is Trevor Linden. I could write a book on my thoughts about Trev. I think he’s the best player ever to put on a Canucks jersey, and one of the best ever in the NHL.”
As for this season, Steve thinks Kesler and Ehrhoff have both raised their game to become very solid, reliable players, which are important factors when it comes to the playoffs.
“Quite a few players have had breakout seasons. I think a few players have proved their fans and media critics wrong. Lou raised it even further than he already has this season, and I think Kes will prove to be a playoff hero.”
More importantly, as we approach the first game of the Canucks’ playoffs, what are Steve’s Scottish predictions for his team in the postseason?
“Do I think the Canucks can go all the way?” he asks. “Damn right I do! I think this year, more than most, we have the ability, confidence and belief to lift the Cup. We have had a record-breaking season. We just need to keep it going for a little bit longer.”
And I think no matter where you live, any Canucks fan can agree with that.
Follow Steve on Twitter: @SteveCanuckUK