During the miserable night that was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, Canucks fan Pauline Lee was in an Ontario bar surrounded by Boston Bruins fans.
With five minutes to go in the game and the ugly score of 4-0 looming on every TV around her, Pauline couldn’t stand anymore.
“I got up and dragged my depressed self out the door and just walked,” she says, recalling that June 15th night. “I couldn’t bear to see my team cry or the Bruins hoist what should’ve been ours.”
It was close to midnight in St. Catharine’s when Pauline, a student of Brock University, hit the streets.
“I walked aimlessly for a bit, just in utter disbelief at what happened. I was so angry and I wanted to hit or throw something. I was holding my phone so I chucked that. Luckily, it landed in the grass and no real damage was done.”
Pauline’s feeling to hit or throw something might have been a general Canucks fan reaction to the loss. As Pauline walked in a numbed state of shock around St. Catharine’s, Canada’s worst hockey riot was breaking out on the West Coast.
“I can’t really say I was surprised that riots broke out, after what happened in ’94 when the Canucks lost to the Rangers, and after the numerous riots that broke out in Montreal,” Pauline says. “I was still shocked though that people hadn’t learned from past events. And to shame the team, the city, and our country like that? I don’t think I’ve ever expressed such disappointment in my life.”
Pauline’s reaction to the riot isn’t a rare one, but what is rare is her. She’s a very uncommon Canucks fan. Why? Because she was born and raised a Leafs fan in Ontario with zero Canucks fans in her circle, yet somehow she grew into a Canucks fan on her own.
She’s the first to admit that she became a Canucks fan in a rather shallow way back in 2002, when the sight of Ed Jovanovski and his “crib” aired during a 2002 Winter Games special on CBC. Regardless, that night she and her sister decided that a few Canucks were cute enough to start watching Canucks games, and that’s how she was lured in.
“Sounds ridiculous right?” she asks. “Well let’s just say that were it not for our shallow tendencies, I probably wouldn’t be a Canucks fan.”
Now, however, you can’t confuse Pauline for a puck bunny. She knows her stuff (seriously) and she’s committed to the Vancouver Canucks in a way that would silence any critic. Like me, her love for the Canucks began at the height of the West Coast Express era, so Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund remain her two favourite players. After all, they’re the reason she likes the Canucks in the first place. With the depth of today’s Canucks roster, Pauline can’t pinpoint a favourite player, but she definitely speaks highly of the Sedins.
“Which Canucks fan doesn’t love them?” she asks rhetorically. “They make great plays, score highlight-reel goals, and are just amazing guys!”
Like many Canucks fans outside of B.C., Pauline feels rather far from Canucks Nation and alone in her love of the team. She has three sisters, all who cheer for different teams.
“A lot of my girlfriends aren’t into hockey and my sisters would cheer for the opposite team,” she says about her experience during the playoffs. “So the only way I could connect with Canucks fans was through Twitter. There were many times where I’d whine and complain about wishing I was in Vancouver so I would be surrounded by people who understood what I was feeling. My girlfriends tried to sympathize with me but it just wasn’t the same. They knew it too. They were constantly saying how I needed to be in Vancouver.”
But being surrounded by Leafs fans isn’t as bad as it seems.
“I’m pretty sure Leafs fans have accepted the fact that most teams are better than theirs, so they can’t really chirp [me],” Pauline says, laughing.
She watches every game she can, and if she has to stream them online due to blackouts, she does. Pauline has all the sites bookmarked. At times her fingernails (and sometimes her eyes) are painted in Canucks colours to match her favourite pair of earrings, and when meeting new people she usually starts conversations with, “Are you into hockey?” This would hopefully turn into her favourite subject to talk about: the Canucks.
There’s no doubt that Pauline Lee is a super fan. She bleeds blue and green and says that since she was introduced to the Canucks, her priorities have been completely out of order. But out of order to HER? Hardly.
Pauline was asked to complete this sentence: “For me, the Canucks are _______.”
She answered: “My life… If I have homework to do, guess what? Canucks first.”
“Who knows, maybe I am a crazy fan. What can I say? I love my team and I’m not afraid to show it! Canucks fan until the day I die!”