The story of a lifelong Canucks fan: When I was 11 years old, I watched my idol Trevor Linden take my team on the emotional roller-coaster of the ’94 Stanley Cup playoffs.
I remember everything. Every call. Every goal. Every emotion.
I remember the way you could walk down the street and get a high-five from someone you didn’t know just because you were wearing a jersey. I remember sitting with my Mom, Dad and brother in our living room, watching Pavel Bure blow by the Calgary defense and score the goal that I would later emulate on the driveway of our townhouse with a worn-down hockey stick and a tennis ball.
I remember the call.
“This is the greatest moment in Vancouver Canucks’ history.”
Seventeen years. Seventeen years since Pavel scored that goal. Seventeen years since Kirk McLean made “the save.” Seventeen years since Greg Adams scored the OT goal to propel us into the Stanley Cup final. Seventeen years since the jubilation of Game 6, and 17 years since the dejected emotional pain of Game 7.
We were so close.
The pain of coming that close and not winning stays with you.
For 17 years.
Last week Kevin Bieksa scored a goal that set off a trifecta of emotions. The first was the shock of seeing a game-winning goal in double overtime, in a Western conference final.
The second was complete joy and excitement. We did it! We are going to the Stanley Cup final!
High-fives all around, people yelling so loud that it hurt, explosions of confetti, and 18,000 fans screaming in unison: “We want the cup!”
And finally the realization that we did it. And I was there to see it. To experience it.
Years from now people will tell many stories of the Stanley Cup run of 2011. They will talk about Alex Burrows Game 7 winner against Chicago. They will talk about the hilarity of the Green Men. They will talk about Ryan Kesler carrying the team on his back right through to the conference final.
They will talk about the Sedins utter dominance against the Sharks. They will talk of Bobby Lu’s 54-saves performance in Game 5. They will talk about Kesler scoring the tying goal with 13 seconds left to send the Canucks to overtime.
And of course they will talk about the bounce off the glass that ended up on the stick of boom-boom Bieksa.
Years from now I will be telling my son that the year he was born, I bought a Canucks playoff ticket for three times face value and didn’t even think twice about it. I will tell him about the thousands of fans who gathered outside the rink hours before game time to celebrate their team and all its accomplishments. I will tell him about towel power. I will tell him about the shinny games outside the arena and that no matter how old you get you are never too old for a game of street hockey.
I will tell him about the atmosphere inside the arena when they brought out the Western Conference championship trophy, and I will tell him that I was in attendance to watch the single greatest team in the history of the Vancouver Canucks win passage to the Stanley Cup finals.
If any Vancouver Canuck player reads this, please do me a favour.
Go out there and win that cup. Win it for every member of the ’82 and ’94 teams that came within inches and went home empty-handed. Win it for Luc Bourdon. Win it for every single fan that has ever bought a ticket, a jersey, a car flag and for every fan that has stood on the corner of the road with a flag in hand just to hear the honking cars go by.
But most of all win it so when my son is born, I will have a bedtime story to tell him.