My story as a Canucks fan starts many many moons ago (23 years ago to be exact). In 1989, at the age of 4 (it's weird to think I was not much older than Lynden is now when I discovered hockey. He's almost 3 and loves hockey too), my sister and I were being watched by a woman who had teenage kids. Her son was 16 (I think) and was a huge Canucks and Trevor Linden fan (I can still remember the poster of #16 on his wall) and every day after he got home from school we would play hockey in his room. He was the goalie, using his open closet doors as the goal posts, and I was the forward. He influenced my views on hockey, as he was my first real introduction to the sport.
My dad and grandpa are big hockey fans as well and they helped reinforce my love for the game. My dad and I didn't have the greatest relationship when I was younger and I used hockey games on our weekends together to bond with him (although he is an Oilers fan., I used to call them the Aliens).
My grandparents took me to my first hockey game in 1992 against the San Jose Sharks. I still remember walking up the path under the awning heading towards the Coliseum (not knowing where I was going) and realizing where we were when we walked up the stairs and finally seeing the ice. A couple got married at centre ice before the game and after the warm up my sister promptly asked if it was done and if we could go home now. We beat them 2-0. My fate as a Canucks fan was sealed that day.
I was 10 in 1994 when the Canucks made it to the finals against the forever hated New York Rangers. I don't remember a lot of the run for the cup, being 10 and all. I do very much recall being sent to bed after the first overtime in game 5 against Toronto. I begged my mom to let me stay up for the next overtime, but she stood her ground and sent me to bed. She told me the next morning she wishes she had let me stay up since the overtime hero, Greg Adams, scored 14 seconds into the second overtime.
I can still recall sitting in the computer lab the morning of game 7 against the Rangers and arguing with a classmate of mine about who was better, Linden or Bure. After the devastating loss that night my silver lining was the fact that Linden scored the 2 Canucks goals and Bure scored none.
In 1997 when Linden was traded I was devastated, I'll admit I cried. My good friend, who lived 30 seconds from me, can attest to that. She still reminds me that she thought someone had died when I called her.
I managed to survive the horrific reign of Messier and Keenan (oh, how I hate Mike Keenan) and stood by my team when they sucked (a huge understatement) for what felt like an eternity in the late 90's. Every year, for many years, I was given tickets to a Canucks game every year for my birthday. If the Rangers came to town, it was to that game and if not it was the last home game of the year. In the years that Linden played for other teams I opted to go to games that brought him back to Vancouver. Eventually, the Canucks out priced themselves and I switched to Giants games.
The Vancouver Giants games are a lot of fun and a great chance to see up and comers. Sadly, we had moved to the Okanagan the year they won the Memorial Cup. But I was glued to the TV that final game and cheered loudly when they won, probably the only person in the Okanagan who cared. Now that we're back in the lower mainland (and my grandparent's have season tickets) we'll start going to Giants' games again. It's an affordable way to enjoy a hockey game and Lynden (who has already been to 3 games - 1 that he remembers) can start to learn the game from a young age.
I know a lot of Vancouver fans don't like Brian Burke much anymore, but he did a wonderful thing for our hockey city. He built a team that gave us hope (granted, they choked, many times over) and started the foundation for the team we have today.
In 2008 Trevor Linden retired, he played his final game 5.5 months before Lynden was born (yes, he was named after our beloved captain) and his jersey was retired 2 weeks afterwards. I always said I was going to be at the game when they retired his jersey but Danny didn't approve of my plan to take a 2 week old to a hockey game. He wasn't impressed with my second suggestion of me just going for the ceremony and leaving (I would have done it). I'm not thrilled he decided to retire in 2008 as I've known I was going to name my first son Lynden since I was 16 and with his retirement there was another wave of boys named after him (as there was in 94).
Since Lynden's birth I haven't had as much time to watch hockey as I once did. As he's gotten older I have been following it less and less, most nights not even knowing there was a game on (games start at 7, which is when I start Lynden's bedtime routine, get him in bed around 8, do what I need to do and remember around 8:30-9 there's a game on and by then the third period has started (or half over) which isn't enough time to get involved in the game.
But that has not stopped me from being beyond excited about the playoff run this year and the very real potential about the Canucks ability to win the Stanley Cup (in hindsight 1994 was never going to happen since they were the cinderalla team and they never win). I was nervous about Chicago (the last Canucks game I was at was against the Blackhawks), skill wise we were the better team but it was a mental game and that scared me. I wasn't worried about Nashville (the only team I don't have a side story about). San Jose was a concern (my first Canucks game ever was against them) only because they are another team that wants the cup as much as we do. In theory Boston shouldn't have been a problem (after Trevor Linden was traded back to Vancouver I was given tickets to the home game following my birthday. Linden hadn't scored a goal as a Canuck yet and I kept saying he was waiting for the game I was going to. Instead, he scored against Boston on my actual birthday) but Tim Thomas is proving to be more spectacular than we were expecting him to be (seriously, are we sure he's human?). I do believe we will beat them, in 7 games (which scares the bejesus out of me). Then I will go to the parade and check another item off my Bucket List.
Until next Wednesday I will watch the final 2 games, biting my nails, cringing at every shot the Bruins take and waiting with anticipated breath every chance the Canucks get on net. After that my team will be the 2010/2011 Stanley Cup Champions!