The commercials may say otherwise but in reality, history has already been made. I’m not sure how many of us have stopped to think about it but we are witnessing an important point in time. Regardless of whether we win or lose, this magical playoff run of the 2010/2011 Vancouver Canucks will be spoken of for generations. I can see myself now, an old man chatting with my equally old friends, telling our grandchildren of this illustrious time of our youth.
“Where were you when Burr gloved that puck down and scored to beat the Hawks?”
“You remember when Juice was the only one in Rogers Arena that knew where that bouncing puck off the glass was and sent us to the Stanley Cup Finals?”
“Game 1 was a thriller where Raffi Torres scored with 18 seconds left and Lu shut the Bruins out!”
“11 seconds! That was all it took for Burr to win us game 2!”
“Man, how awesome was Luongo when he bounced back after two awful games with a shutout in game 5?”
This will be especially true for those of us who weren’t born in ’82 and were a little too young to fully-comprehend how important ’94 was. I was 11 in ’94, and while I followed the whole run and idolize guys like Linden, Bure, and McLean, I’d be lying if I said my memories weren’t hazy and greatly supplemented by highlights in the 17 years since. I remember the way I felt, I remember that our boys gave it their all and came a goal post away from sending that epic series into overtime, but specifics about the times or where my life was? That’s all a little much for my 11 year old brain to remember.
But this time is different. I can tell you exactly where I was for almost every goal. I can tell you things I said at specific times.
I can tell you that I called Chris Higgins (I call him “Chiggins”…) to score the double-OT goal in game 5 against the Sharks and swore at the very moment that he got on that breakaway that if he scored, I would run outside and buy a jersey with his name across my back.
I can tell you I actually jumped for joy when I watched Burr pot that wraparound goal only 11 seconds into overtime of game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, spilling my beer and immediately high-fiving any and all around me, including several other bloggers here at Canucks Hockey Blog, most of which I met in person for the first time.
I can tell you I did not see the twins before a friend said “Wait a minute…” and pressed rewind. No, I am not talking about the Sedins.
Just like I can tell you where I was when we won gold in 2002 and when Crosby scored The Golden Goal in 2010. I’m sure I’m not the only one that will remember where I was not only in terms of location but where I was in life at this particular moment in time. If that isn’t making history, then someone needs to bring me a dictionary. I know it’s recent but there are things you don’t forget. For me, that’s things like this… and the lyrics to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Will we win? Let me be the first to tell you that winning when we’ve come so far together… it isn’t irrelevant but it isn’t everything. This is a very results-orientated business and a highly-critical city but here on the cusp of something so great, we really should remember what we love about our team.
While bandwagoners and naysayers will only look at results, what most true Canucks fans want is to see is a real effort. Real fans are different in that way. I won’t say it’s a uniquely Canadian quality or unique to hockey. It’s something about sport and true fans of it. We want to see our team give it their all, to leave every last bit of themselves on the ice, to show us what they’re really made of. If they give us that, then a positive result is a bonus. A huge bonus but a bonus. We remember and revere ’94 and ’82 because that’s what we got from our team, an effort.
We love Roger Neilson because he would never surrender. We love Kirk McLean because we could count on him to make that save. We love Pavel Bure because we could count on him to score. We love Trevor Linden because even if he was on crutches… we knew he would play.
Look at our franchise’s greatest heroes. Not a Stanley Cup ring among them… at least not while they were on our team. If the Canucks win it all this year, will we forget about Stan Smyl? Gino Odjick? Geoff Courtnall? Cliff Ronning? No, because they’re not heroes because they won. Their bodies were bruised and perhaps a few bones were broken but their hearts would never give up. They are our heroes because they littered the ice with their sweat, tears and Canuck-colored blood.
A loss would hurt. No one would think otherwise. I mean, have you heard this city? It erupts when we score. You can hear all of Vancouver telling the refs they suck. We are invested. A loss would in all likelihood end with me in the back of a police car or so drunk out of my mind, I will actually appear in The Hangover 3 despite not being cast in the movie. (Ed. note: Hyperbole people. Relax.) But afterwards, we can’t help but look back fondly on the days we supported our team for over two months after the last regular season game. Oh, how long and awful those scraggly playoff beards were on our otherwise handsome face-parts, we will say. Even bad memories will eventually get a laugh or two. Have you heard anyone speak of Nathan Lafayette in anger? Probably not. It isn’t as if he didn’t try. He just missed. Even Gretzky can miss. People are probably more pissed at the post – that bastard.
If this, then, is how Vancouver speaks of those who haven’t brought home the big prize, then what sort of praise do our boys deserve if they do? To be honest, I have no idea. Congratulations sound empty. Clapping or cheering seems unworthy. I wouldn’t even know what to say if the Canucks get their name engraved on that trophy and in turn, engrave themselves into the memories of millions of us Canucks around the planet. It would be part of our city as I’m sure a day, park, statue, bridge or whatever else we can find will be named in their honor. Minstrels will write songs in their praise…well, more of them anyways. It wouldn’t be enough. As those would have won before will tell you, there are no words.
I would tell the players to make Vancouver proud but the reality is, we are already proud. Proud that we’ve made it this far. Proud that the Canucks wear our city’s name on your chests like Supermans (…Supermen?) and that we can proudly wear their names on our backs.
Thank you, Canucks. Thank you for this historic season. Thank you for being our team. Our Canucks.
It seems like the cool thing to do these days is to claim that what you’ve written is unbiased and objective. I, instead, will claim the exact opposite. Alright, boys… we got a Cup to win.
Go Canucks Go!