I know it’s been almost 20 years, but I just can’t get over 1994. During the Stanley Cup finals that year my grade 5 class went on a camping trip. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, we had to listen to the games on the radio. As the final seconds counted down, three of my classmates exploded in celebration as the New York Rangers took game 7 from the Canucks and won the Cup. They weren’t Rangers fans, they were just big Gretztky fans who cheered only to cheer against the Canucks. Furious, I decided to start my own riot that day on the street hockey court. I took about 25 slap shots as hard as I could and the trauma clouds my memory, but I believe I may have even thrown my stick.
The Canucks had it all that year: Bure, Linden, Cliff Ronning, the Russian Rocket, Kirk Maclean in goal, Pavel Bure, Patt Quinn on the bench, oh, and did I mention Pavel Bure? Yeah, ok, I was a huge Bure fan. So much so that I even taught myself to shoot left instead of right because, well, he shot left. I trained myself chasing a tennis ball around my living room with an upside down baseball bat. I’d recreate Bure goals; deeking out an imaginary goal tender and firing the puck (a tennis ball) into the goal (my couch). (And my mother said I never had much of an imagination) Years later, convinced that I’d have a better slap shot if I shot right, my father tried to coach me back. It was too late. I had been forever altered.
I’m sorry to say it, but since that year, I’ve never been able to truly get back into the Canucks. Or any sporting event for that matter. I tried to return to fandom the following couple seasons, but the fervor didn’t boil within me any longer. My friends tell me that I’m just putting up walls because I don’t want to get hurt again, and they’re probably right, but I have my reasons. I can get emotionally entrenched in a sporting event within moments. One minute I have no idea what teams are playing and the next I’m either cheering uncontrollably or biting my nails with anxiety. Yesterday, for example, I walked in on the highlights from the other night’s 3-1 Canuck’s win against the Kings and I swear my heart nearly skipped a beat when Schneider saved that penalty shot. The devil on my shoulder urging “take them back, it’ll be different this time” and the angel on the other side reasoning “they can’t be trusted, remember what happened last time!?”
The emotional risks are just so high, my friends. I have a weak heart for sports and I just don’t know if I’m ready to commit just yet.
But by george if Kesler and those Sedins come out blazing Sunday morning there’s no saying where my heart will go.