Amman, Jordan – one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Since 10,000 BCE people have lived at this Middle Eastern site, and only in the last century has the town grown into a city due to the adoption of Palestinian refugees.
Amidst the hustle and the bustle of Jordan’s culturally diverse capital lives Canucks fan Ramzi Ghurani, a marketing and brand strategy consultant who moved from Vancouver to the Middle East 10 years ago.
“I fell in love with hockey when I first moved to Vancouver during the ‘88 playoffs when I saw Gretzky beat Mike Vernon with a slap shot over his shoulder to have the Oilers top the Flames in overtime,” he says. “I was like ‘this is awesome!’”
And then he was hooked.
“I’ve basically been a Canucks fan since the 88-89 season, and my earliest memory of the Canucks is that playoff series where they almost beat the Flames. Of course the Canucks lost to an Otto kick and the Flames went on to win the Stanley Cup.”
Ramzi’s hoping that, this time around, it’s the Canucks who make it all the way.
After living in Vancouver for most of his life, Ramzi found watching his favourite sport to be quite the challenge once he moved overseas.
“It really affects me,” he says about the time difference. “I get up at 5 am to watch Canucks home games, not every game of the regular season but every game in the playoffs.”
“It’s a passion I have and I get up to watch the games; the problem is getting to work the next day. But things become easier when they win, but extra tough for me to do anything when they lose — I was flying high after that game 7 win!”
You weren’t alone there, that’s for sure.
Ramzi’s first favourite Canuck was #1 goalie Kirk McLean, but as the years passed a certain Swede eventually grabbed his attention.
“My all-time favourite by far is Markus Naslund,” he says. “He simply resurrected the Canucks from mediocrity, and his number being retired is justified.”
“Currently I’m a fan of Luongo. People might say he’s not a big-time goalie, but after the ‘06 season the Canucks were a hairline away from entering mediocrity again, and I credit him for putting the Canucks into a winning frame of mind.”
When it comes to the playoffs, Ramzi thinks the first-round win over Chicago has propelled Vancouver’s momentum for the second round.
“They just overcame their biggest hurdle – beating the Hawks,” he says. “I really think that this is their playoffs now. Nashville will be tough, but not nearly as tough as the Hawks on all levels. Plus I think they learned a lesson. The only team that I think may be able to knock them out is San Jose, but that would be a dandy of a series and another nail biting epic series.”
And who has pleased Ramzi all the way across the Atlantic? Who needs to step up?
“Before game 6, I thought Kesler and Burrows needed to step it up – I can safely say they raised their level,” he says.
“I actually think the Sedins really need to show more. If you have these 4 players playing at a reasonably high level, the Canucks will be very fine!”
And for our favourite part here at CHB: How to say “Go Canucks Go!” in another language.
“Um, I’ve never done it,” Ramzi admits, “but if I were to, it would be Yalla Canucks Yalla!”