10:55 p.m. Numbness. Shock.
Give me credit for writing this, or at least attempting to. My brain can’t comprehend it, because my heart hasn’t caught up.
I must apologize in advance for a couple of things… a couple of things I will write, that is. First off, my entire insides are scrambled, and my writing will reflect this. Not everything I say will make sense, and I will use a lot of hyphens and “…”s to cover my tracks. Second, I’m not sure what I think of the game, because – as I said (hyphen) – I’m in shock. Quite frankly.
All I can say is that I’m happy this game was essentially done by the end of the 2nd period. By the time the final horn sounded, it wasn’t a surprise.
But, it was hazy. It was confusing. It felt like a really bad dream… a long, crazy trip where the destination was not I had hoped. Watching the Bruins pile onto the ice –watching the Stanley Cup hoisted high above his head by a guy that’s already 6’9 – I didn’t really care what I was seeing. I was happy to stay there, in my seats in 109 at Rogers Arena, to watch the “celebration.” That said, it was all a blur… all a blur.
All a blur.
I sat there like I have at a few funerals in my life. I tried to cry, tried to feel emotion. I tried to feel sad, but it didn’t happen. I guess that’s what “shock” is. Nothing made sense. It will tomorrow.
And, yet, that’s hockey. As a fan, you feel like the final win – that 16th win at the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs – will never come. It’s too far away. After all, if there was any year it could happen for us, it was this year, right? Wasn’t it? President’s Trophy? 3-2 lead in the Final? Everything going for us, the best team in hockey?
And, yet, that’s hockey.
In the end, the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper. Then again, if you count the riots… it ended with a big bang.
I wanted this Stanley Cup for a lot of people. I wanted it for the couple that has sit in front of me and my season’s tickets for the last 10 years – Dave and Diana – who have owned those seats in 109 for twice as long as we have.
I wanted this for my brother, and my mom, and for Steve Nash.
I really, really wanted this for myself and my dad. It was always our thing, the Canucks. What am I saying? It still is our thing. They’re not dead. There was no funeral. There was just a “see ya later.” There was an anticlimactic loss – as there often is in these kinds of games – and there was a celebration by a team that fully deserved this win, at least from Game 2 on.
Now? Who do I feel for now?
Well, let’s be honest. I feel for those players… I feel for our Canucks.
I love this team, as the few who are as proud and loyal as I do. I feel for Henrik – perhaps the league’s most underrated captain – who leads by earning a massive amount of assists and appears to be one of the kindest, honest, and most polite professional athletes you’ll ever see. He leads by example, he leads with a Hart Trophy, and he leads quietly.
Some will call this “passive” and disappointing… they’ll say that a Swede can’t be a leader, but let’s be clear: Custer was loud. He lost pretty bad. You don’t need Roman Candles and an Al Pacino speech to be a leader, or to be a winner.
You just need to win. And, when Henrik does – and my heart goes out for him – he’ll prove himself to be what I think of him – and what I’m sure Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara thinks of him. He is, of course, our captain, our leader, and one of the best players to ever play this game.
My heart goes out to his brother, Daniel, who does nothing but create chances, convert chances, and put his heart on his sleeve. In all fairness, whether they played poorly in this series or not, the Sedins worked this series to a point that it was in their hands. They took it to Game 7 at home… who wouldn’t take that?
It came down to one game, and we were only there because of a couple of brothers who were drafted in an ingenious 1999 Draft by former GM Brian Burke. For those who have lost faith, shut up, sit down, and renew your cable… because 2012 starts in a few months.
I feel for Ryan Kesler… oh boy, do I ever. It was he who made us believe, he who pushed us through Chicago, and Nashville, and San Jose. It was he who tipped that Henrik shot home to send Game 5 to overtime, he who made it possible for Kevin Bieksa to catapult the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final. It was Kesler’s dad who said, “My son wants nothing more than to win a Stanley Cup for the city of Vancouver.”
How can you stand to listen to that… how can your heart not break?
I feel for Alex Burrows, the uber-talented, under-rated and overly maligned warrior from Quebec who could have won this for his best friend, Luc Bourdon. I feel for Christian Ehrhoff, the slick German defenceman who makes passes from his apartment and keeps our transitions in check. I feel for Kevin Bieksa, who turned his game into nothing short of miraculous for the last eight months, who gave us a chance to compete for this. Thank you, Whitby, Ontario. I feel for Tanner Glass, the local boy who could have lifted the Cup in front of family, friends, and followers. I feel for Dan Hamhuis, who’s injury-plagued year ended in predictable fashion, but who kept countless pucks out of our net. I feel for Sami Salo, who may never get this chance again. I feel for Mason Raymond, who no longer has a back but has a hell of a spine. I feel for Aaron Rome, who missed the final four games of the Final because he delivered a body check. I feel for Raffi Torres who, tonight, lost in the second Stanley Cup Final Game 7 of his career. I feel for Jannik Hansen, the hardest working player in the NHL who won’t be able to take the Cup back to Denmark, who would have been the first player to do so. I feel for Jeff Tambellini, who could have lifted not only Lord Stanley’s grail but also the weight of his critics. I feel for Cory Schneider, who was nothing but valiant in his short time played and may not be a Canuck for much longer. I feel for Mike Gillis, who built a team and built a contender. I feel for Alain Vigneault, whose magic ran short at the wrong time, and not for the first time. I feel for Maxim Lapierre, who is a truly great player – an offensive force – that won’t get his due. I feel for Manny Malhotra… who came back from one of the most horrific injuries you’ll ever see (just this side of Raymond, mind you) and didn’t get the grand prize at the end of the raffle (and, the Stanley Cup playoffs is certainly a raffle). I feel for Chris Tanev, the cool and collected customer who (I can only assume) is not feeling that way right now. I feel for Keith Ballard, who got one shot, didn’t deliver, and didn’t get to redeem himself. I feel for Andrew Alberts, who had a bounce-back year – a great year – and couldn’t do enough. I feel for Chris Higgins, who gave this city and this province only a few months of hard work, effort, and clutch goal scoring… only to be known as a “deadline day deal.” I feel for Alex Edler, our best defenceman (end-to-end) whose back is worse than Mason Raymond’s right now.
… I feel for Roberto Luongo, who will never get the credit he deserves until he gets the Cup he deserves… the man who has an Olympic Gold and three Vezina nominations, but rarely any respect… the man who recorded two shutouts in this series, but will be remember for the losses… the man who has given this city so much – despite receiving so little from us – and has never turned his back, never wavered, never left.
I really feel for Roberto.
I feel for all these players. They’re the Canucks – they’re our Canucks – and they didn’t deserve to have it end this way.
We think 40 years is long… as a fan? We can’t imagine what they’re feeling. We can’t imagine what it’s like. We’ve all dreamt of a Stanley Cup, but they live it. This is their life. This is their job. This is their passion.
They fell short. Be respectful. This is your team. Be proud – you should be.
Then again, there are all these stories and then some coming from Boston. If Vancouver had won, we wouldn’t listen to Thomas’s story, or Lucic’s story, or Horton’s story. We would just say, “maybe next year.”
It’s a game. We’re fans. Draw the line. Put it in the sand and don’t step on it.
The Canucks deserve our support, they deserve your heart.
They gave it to you.
Now, give it back.