Here on CHB we have had the privelige of profiling Canucks fans from all over the world during the 2010-2011 playoffs, including fans from the hometowns of the Sedins and Jannik Hansen.
Now we profile a fan from the country of defenceman Christian Ehrhoff. Meet 31-year-old Sören “Madayar” Assmann (yes, that’s his real name, and Sören realizes how funny this is in English).
Sören is from Friesing, a town near Munich in Germany where he works as a tech supporter. He first fell in love with hockey back in 2002, thanks to NHL computer games and a family link to Ontario.
“I first went for the Maple Leafs,” Sören admits, “But the Canucks actually won me over. I started watching NHL online in Hamburg from 2004 forward, and quickly found out that while I was always rooting for Canadian teams first, the Vancouver Canucks were just the most fun to watch and the most entertaining club. I never looked back since.”
His all-time favourite Canucks is Markus Naslund “no questions asked,” but when he thinks about it, Sören has the fondest memories of the West Coast Express line.
“Then again,” he adds, “The Canucks always get lucky with the Swedes. The Sedin twins and Samuelsson for example. Them and Burrows and Luongo are of course everybody’s favourites nowadays, but frankly, I value two other players higher – my countryman Christian Ehrhoff and another Swede Alex Edler.”
“They are the backbone this season, two stalwart defenders that can both be trusted and thus let the offensive line be freer in their actions. And both are extremely dangerous in front of the goal, too.”
(Uh oh, no one tell Sören that Ehrhoff is a minus-7 right now. It could break his German heart).
Like other fans who favour their countrymen as players, Sören patriotism is easily understood.
“Ehrhoff is Germany’s best defender of all time, and Germany’s hockey is getting better in the process of more young players looking into the NHL. We just beat Russia in our 30-what attempt!”
Sören thinks he brings bad luck to teams he likes, as well as to women he likes, but apparently that’s different matter altogether. Pretty much every time he watches any of his favourite teams play, they lose.
“So I stopped watching,” he says, confused about his luck, “But why can’t teams I love win trophys? How can Vancouver win three in a row, and when I start watching, they lose three by 16 goals?”
I don’t know, Sören, but if you watched Game 5 on Saturday I hope you don’t watch Game 6. They need to win and give their injured players a break!
Preparing for the worst, though, is part of Sören’s playoff routine.
“I’m European,” he says. “The whole pllayoff thing is seriously annoying me, for it makes three quarters of the regular season a waste of time. It’s a money-making scheme, and the best regular season team gets nearly nothing for it and has to start anew. I think it’s an unfair setting.”
Sören watches game online at home, not live for the most part since games start at 4 in the morning, but like most overseas fans, the playoffs are a different matter.
“During working days that is blatantly impossible most of the time. Although when the games get really tough, especially late in the playoffs, I actually do get up early for the games.”
“Replays are watched, of course, online, and sometimes a buddy is there to watch them with me.”
Originally Sören anticipated the worst for the Canucks in the playoffs, thinking they would be eliminated in the first round, but beating Chicago in Game 7 showed him that the Canucks play like one of his favourite soccer teams – “Sometimes brilliant, dominant, and highly entertaining.”
“Sometimes they make me lose all hope in humanity, and my hair gets grayer by the minute,” he says. “The first round overdid it. 16 goals in three games after leading 3-0 – that’s horrible even for my Canucks. Still, as long as they’re in it and occasionally produce shutouts, they can win it, even if they were a worse team than they are.”
“But with their offensive power and defensive stance fuelled by Edler, Ehrhoff and Luongo in goal, they are still my favourite to win it all. If they can get their concentration up, that is. It’s only a mental question if the Canucks can win it or not.”
That and injuries…
Despite his German patriotism, Sören expects more out of the blueline in the playoffs, including his fellow countryman Ehrhoff, admitting they haven’t been brilliant as of late. He also knows the Sedins are underperforming and need to put their foot on the gas.
But like every Canucks fan, Sören is anxiously waiting for his team to get through Nashville and make it to the Western Conference final. The sooner the better to give everyone a bit of a break, fans included.
“How do I say ‘Go Canucks Go’ in my native language?” he asks. “Literally it would be ‘Vorwärts, Canucks, vorwärts!’, but more fitting – in clutch situations, as these playoffs, for example – would be ‘Kämpfen, Canucks, kämpfen!’ – Fight, Canucks, fight!”
Let’s hope they hear your chants all the way from Germany, Sören, because more fight is exactly what they need.