In 1994, sitting in the very back row of the nosebleeds at the Pacific Coliseum, I watched my first Canucks game where we beat the Leafs in overtime. I won my tickets off the Talking Yellow Pages by answering a “skill-testing question” about whose jersey number 12 was hanging from the rafters with the aid of my dad’s friend, Mr. Small. I will never forget Stan Smyl‘s jersey and number (it’s 12) and I look at his banner fondly at every game. 1994 is also the last time the Canucks made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
This year we thought it might be our time. I was at the first game of this season celebrating 40 years as Canucks and I was also at the last game of the season: Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. I could feel the density of emotions in the air as the Bruins scored their first goal and by the time they scored their third goal most people knew how the game would end. My brother and I watched and waited. I remained hopeful until there were only 12 minutes left and by watching the way my favourite men in the city were playing, I knew we wouldn’t be the winning team in the end. It was sad that we lost that one game, but it is important to remember that it was just one game. Sadly, it was that one game that determined the winner of the cup. The Bruins were the winners. They are a solid opponent and played very well. Their fans were respectful in the crowd and everyone showed sportsmanship.This one game, Game 7, was won fair and square by the Bruins. For that win they win the cup and for that I congratulate them.
While I congratulate them for playing well in that last game of the 2011 playoffs, I still wish it could have been my Canucks holding the Stanley Cup in the air. They gave me a fantastic season and I have been lucky enough to go to many games this year and the past few years as well. I love the Canucks. They will always be my favourite team. I have seen them lose many games, but that doesn’t make me love them any less. Yes, it is frustrating, but that level of emotion just shows how passionate we are about our favourite team.
What I saw inside the arena was a couple of idiots throwing beer at the ice when the Bruins won the cup and an otherwise respectful, loyal crowd. We stood; we cheered for our Canucks (with towels waving) and we thanked them for their hard work. While it would have been nice to win, I am proud of the way the majority of people in the arena handled themselves. I witnessed Canucks fans shaking hands with Bruin fans and congratulating them on their win and discussing which Bruin players they thought were outstanding. Tears were shed, but overall it was an appreciation for the hard work of both teams and a love of the game.
I am heartbroken to have left the stadium, where I had a very positive experience, to see smoke rising up into the Vancouver skyline. My brother’s bike had been stolen while we were watching the game and I had many friends texting me to check that I was safe and out of downtown. I had no idea what they were talking about until I asked around and learned about the burning cars. Once I saw the riot police I realized it was not a good situation and got on my bus and left downtown. Getting home I saw on the news the situation downtown and it angers me that people are calling it a Canucks riot. The true fans were not rioting, they were depressed. They didn’t have the energy to go and set things on fire and they were not angry, just disappointed.
What you see on the news is not what I experienced at the arena. Through our loss, we joined together and discussed our love of the Canucks. I had great conversations with fans of all ages after the game while the “wrong” team was on the ice with the Stanley Cup. The downtown riots are not representative of the Canucks, their fans, or our beautiful city and its citizens. Game 7 was an emotional night and for those of us who were there, despite the sadness, it was a positive experience. Hockey is still my favourite sport, the Canucks are still my favourite team, and I still believe. This is still what I live for.
I will be moving to Colombia in August, so for my last hockey season in Vancouver the Canucks sure gave me a terrific run! I will likely not be able to watch many (if any) games while I am in Bogota, so I will cherish the fond memories of this 40th season for the years to come. Once a Canuck, always a Canuck. Don’t let those idiots who used this as an excuse to riot tarnish our team. GO CANUCKS GO!
I ran into a friend of mine, Serinda Swan, on the street after the game. We have been friends since we were 8 (we lived across the street from each other). We both still love our Canucks even though she lives in LA and I will soon live in Bogota! Like I said: once a Canuck, always a Canuck.