Winners either way

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LORI WELBOURNE / Guest Columnist

Back in the 1970s, my parents were huge fans of their city’s new hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks. My little brother and I were not.

As Mom and Dad hooted and hollered at the TV in the living room, Jeremie and I would play in our bedroom. It didn’t matter to us if our folks seemed happy or distressed about what was going on with the game, our interest wasn’t piqued until the intermission, when Peter Puck made his appearance. At that point, we’d run out and watch the short cartoon with delight and then retreat back to our room when it was over.

And then one hockey season the unexpected happened: my brother walked into the living room and never came back. Two and half years younger, Jeremie had started playing hockey himself and became an even bigger Canucks fan than our parents.

Now, as my entire family cheered on their favorite team for countless games each season, I was left to play on my own. I would have attempted to join in on their fun but I simply couldn’t muster up any kind of interest in what they were watching. For the life of me I couldn’t understand what was exciting about trying to follow a little black puck up and down the ice in the hopes of it ending up in the other team’s net.

In 1994, I finally understood.

I was working at a newspaper in Vancouver at the time and the Canucks were playing well. After unexpectedly witnessing an exciting first round culminating in an overtime win in game seven, I became swept up in the fan frenzy.

I went to every home game they played in rounds two, three and four and was devastated when they lost to the New York Rangers by one goal in game seven. If a brand new fan like me could feel such disappointment, I could only imagine what the longtime fans must be feeling, let alone the players themselves.

Seventeen years later the Canucks are playing once again in the Stanley Cup Finals and at the time of writing this column, the outcome of the series between Vancouver and Boston is not yet known. What is known is that while I’m hoping the Canucks will win, my cartoonist Jim Hunt is hoping they don’t.

“I’ve been waiting just as long as you have for my team to win the Stanley Cup,” he told me about his home team after learning we’d never won it. “We haven’t won the cup since the early 1970s.”

With him and his family on the East Coast cheering for the Boston Bruins and me and my family on the West Coast cheering for the Vancouver Canucks, we talked about how the series could go either way. But no matter what happens, there’s a huge sense of pride for both of us that our home teams have made it all the way to the last round of the Stanley Cup Finals.

As disappointing as it will be for the city who comes in second, the pride in its home team’s tremendous accomplishment should never be forgotten and their amazing efforts should always be applauded. Champions or runners up – the Canucks will have my respect. Here’s hoping they’ll also have the Stanley Cup.

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