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Why the Canucks’ Stanley Cup run was the highlight of my life

For once, everyone seemed to love hockey as much as me

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Image Credits: Zachary Chan

For those unfamiliar with me, you could be forgiven for thinking that the title of this Editor’s Voice is a bit over-the-top — but you’d be dead wrong. I’m referring to the two-month period between April 13 and June 15 of 2011, when the Vancouver Canucks almost did the impossible: win the Stanley Cup.

Heading into the season, I had a feeling that the Canucks would have a good team. They’d just come off a second-round loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, but had added players such as Dan Hamhuis, Manny Malhotra, and Keith Ballard.

By January, they had the best record in the NHL, and at that point, it should’ve simply been about coasting into the playoffs. I hoped for an easy first-round matchup against Dallas — a team that the Canucks had outplayed throughout the season. Imagine my dismay when the Chicago Blackhawks became their opponents.

While significantly weaker than the year before, the Blackhawks were still the defending champs. The Canucks easily won the first three games, and I distinctly remember bragging that the Canucks would sweep them and destroy in game four.

Boy, was I wrong. Game four was a 7–2 drubbing, and the Canucks lost the next two games, forcing a game seven.

I’d never been so tense watching a hockey game. If the Canucks lost, it would’ve been the cherry topping of the shit sundae that was the team’s soul-crushing defeats. No Canucks fan would ever live down their team becoming one of few to blow a 3–0 series lead.

Of course, they won thanks to Alex Burrows’ “dragon slayer” goal — in my mind, the greatest goal in Canucks history. From then on, I was obsessed. I started planning my whole life around the playoffs. Homework? Not a chance. Family engagements? Maybe some other time. If I had to go, I always made sure a TV was nearby.

My excitement on June 1 was palpable. I’d finally be able to see the Canucks in the finals. They won two games before getting destroyed in Boston, setting up for a crucial game five. I headed downtown with a few friends to watch it right outside the CBC building.

After the Canucks won, I almost died from the number of high-fives I gave while walking around the downtown core. I was so sure they’d win the cup; after all, they only had to win one of two games. How hard could that be? I headed downtown once again for game six, but the dream of the cup died after a four-goal first period for the Bruins.

Heading downtown to watch the seventh game, I distinctly remember my friend saying, “We’re either going to be there for the biggest party this city has ever seen, or a riot.”

Boy, was he right. After the loss, my friend, who wasn’t a big hockey fan at the time, needed some Subway. So there I was, the most heartbroken and disappointed I’d ever felt, while my friend nonchalantly munched on a veggie delight.

After that, it was chaos. I remember chairs being thrown through a nearby coffee shop. People would randomly start fighting, fuelled by a mixture of frustration and alcohol. At one point, someone was dancing atop a portapotty. We spent the next two hours running with the crowd so we wouldn’t get trampled over, before we took one of the last SkyTrains out of there.

What I miss most about those two months is how it was the topic to discuss during that time. Even people who weren’t into sports were discussing it. And for the record, I still haven’t watched the highlights from game seven.

 

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