For long-time readers of this blog, you’ll know that my family has a soft spot for Nolan Baumgartner.
This started during one memorable April weekend in 2003. I was
coerced convinced by friends to join them for a night out at the Cellar. Don’t get me wrong. I quite enjoyed the scandalous nature of the Cellar back then (and maybe it’s still as scandalous today), but I wasn’t feeling up to snuff that night. Plus, I had tickets to the Canucks’ last regular season game of the 2002/2003 season the following day, and the game started at an unusually early time.
While at the Cellar, I met a woman named Tracy. She was blonde, beautiful, smart and obviously intoxicated. We talked, we drank, we danced, and we drank some more. Afterwards, we went to a local coffee shop and continued our conversation. And then before we parted that night, she gave me her email address and a wrong phone number.
The following day – or a few hours later, I suppose – I met my sister and we went to GM Place to watch the Canucks play the Los Angeles Kings.
It was Fan Appreciation Day and the Canucks were finishing off a storybook season. They had won 45 games – at that time, a franchise record. A win and they would’ve won the Northwest Division. A couple of points and Markus Naslund would’ve won the Art Ross Trophy. Instead, the Kings, who won only 33 games that season and missed the playoffs altogether, shut out the Canucks, and Naslund would say two words that still have a prominent place in Canucks lore, “We choked”.
During the game, they drew out seat numbers of about 25 lucky fans who would receive the jersey off a player’s back; to my shock and surprise, mine was one of them.
I don’t usually win in raffles like this so I was speechless. On the other hand, my sister was as excited as a teenage girl at a Justin Timberlake concert so with a few minutes left in the game and the Canucks down 1-0 on Mikko Eloranta’s goal, I gave her my ticket and she went down to the Olympia tunnel to wait with the other winners.
As soon as the game ended, she strolled on to the ice and opened an envelope containing a Canuck player’s name. It said Nolan Baumgartner. Moments later, Baumer, wearing a sharp suit, came out and handed her his jersey.
A few days later, Tracy and I went on our first official date – game 1 of the Canucks’ first round series against the St. Louis Blues. She had never been to a hockey game before. So of course, the Canucks treated her to a 6-0 shutout playoff loss.
Regardless, we started dating and got married three years later. But a few months before the wedding, we gave ourselves a wedding present – a Shih-Tzu/Bichon Frise we named Baumer, and who is still very much a part of our family today.
We still remember that first date like it was yesterday, and we reminisced about it last Sunday when we took our now two-year old daughter, Mia, to her first ever Canucks game.
The Canucks beat the Islanders 4-1, and while the game itself was mostly uneventful and certainly didn’t have the playoff atmosphere like that game against the Blues, defensive depth defenseman Aaron Rome had a career game. Rome, who was kicked out of the Ducks game only a couple of days earlier for a high hit, scored a goal and added 2 assists. His 3 goals in 4 games this season already equal his combined career total from 152 previous regular season and playoff games; his 5 points to date already matches the career-high he set in 56 games last year.
In all likelihood, Mia won’t remember this game or that she was clapping, cheering and dancing every time they played the Canucks goal song.
But Tracy and I will definitely remember taking her.
And who knows? If we get another puppy in the future, maybe we’ll name him Romer.