Anybody but Them

This dawned on me today. I’ve lived in 3 countries, countless cities, something like 25 different homes. And I’ve lived in Vancouver for 16 years now. It’s the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. But I never really considered it home.

I landed here by myself, moved here having never visited before, straight from the bustling, sunny metropolis of Santiago, Chile. In JANUARY. It rained for 5 straight months, and I wanted to shoot all the locals who’d quip, “Well at least it’s not snowing and 20 below!” I scoured the city for the restaurant district, the nightlife district, history, ANYTHING that could justify my choosing Vancouver other than because my older brother lived here and I had a place to crash until I found work (which took me 9 days).

I came up with nothing. People said, “but Vancouver’s so beautiful!” It’s really NOT, I would argue, perhaps the surroundings are, but what do I care about gorgeous mountains and the ocean when you can’t even see them because of all the stupid grey skies and rain?

Those of you who know me for real know that I’m not a pessimist and a complainer. But I firmly became one of the legions of people who, despite living here, derided Vancouver every chance they got, smugly reminding the locals about REAL cities like Montreal.

This vehemence waned over the years, having terrific jobs, beautiful friends, giving birth to my 2 favourite British Columbians, and stuff like that. This place has provided me with all that wealth. But I STILL didn’t consider myself “from here.”

One of the biggest examples of this is my hockey team. I lived in Montreal at an early age, so of course my hockey team is the Habs. Something that could never change. I don’t even have a second favourite team, which I’ve never been able to understand. I can’t even muster affection for different teams. Including the local team, the Canucks. Almost ESPECIALLY the Canucks.

I’ve had to put up with a lot of crap here because of my choice of NHL teams. And there is a lot of unbridled hatred here for the Habs. We all know why. 24. Twenty Four. And it annoyed me no end how the Canucks faithful would make a point to harass me over my team at every opportunity. Um, the opposite of love is indifference. It made me feel better to know just how in their heads Habs history is. I couldn’t care less about the Canucks, they made no difference to me in my life whatsoever, and on Hockey Night in Canada, my TV switched channels after 7pm local time.

I am a fan of my team. 90% of the Canucks fans I know watch maybe 30 games a year, because they won’t pay to get the channel to watch their team. I myself watch 82 games per year that the Habs play, subscribing to RDS to get all the games that HNIC won’t show because the Leafs are playing. And it’s the crappy RDS too (some of you will argue, is there an UNcrappy RDS? I’ll explain!) – being that it’s not offered in HD out west (oooooh ok, you get it now). I watch EVERY GAME. Whether live or recorded. People here say that makes me a crazy fan, and I have to laugh, because any real Habs fan knows that it just makes me a normal Habs fan. I’ve even done a terrific job, if I say so myself, of raising 2 Habs fans, not easy in Vancouver. One of the first books I read to each of them was The Sweater. Our home is decked with Habs paraphernalia, including a seat from the Forum. They have their own jerseys and foam fingers, and have been taught all kinds of Habs history, and even love the movie The Rocket even though they don’t yet understand French.

Anyway, a funny thing happened on the way to the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.

My beloved team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the disgusting Boston Bruins. The filthy Bruins, who, true to form, played their dirty style and got away with egregious crap, and had the officiating not been blatantly biased towards the Bruins, they’d all be golfing right now. They were hardly able to beat our decimated team and unclassily crowed about it and took cheap shots at the Habs even after their elimination. I’m still very disappointed in Tim Thomas’s mom, who did a terrible job teaching her son manners. The effing Bruins.

The series against the Flyers isn’t even worth mentioning. A team of my grannies would have beat them. Tampa was then our only hope. Mr. Tim-Vezina-Candidate-Thomas was a sieve against them, and yet the Bruins still somehow managed to make their way to the Finals. I was almost sick. Watching Lucic’s post series interview, smiling and smugly saying he never expected overtime in the final game made me want to shoot my TV Elvis-styles.

So. The Bruins are in the finals. Normally, if the Habs are no longer in the playoffs, I stop caring about the playoffs. But this year, I care. I REALLY CARE. Because no matter who would play against the Bruins, I would cheer against the Bruins. ANYBODY BUT THE BRUINS.

It so happens Vancouver is playing the Bruins. QUANDARY. The oddest thing happened. I started paying attention to these Canucks. And it helps that they acquired 2 ex-Habs, Higgins and Lapierre, so I felt like it could be easier to get to know them. And I started listening to local sports radio, and reading the local papers. And I noticed something.

The Bruins have one party line. I thought that it was just against the Habs, but it’s apparent that no matter whom their opponent is, their opponent is “cheap” and “dive artists.” It’s like the yada-yada-yada I’ve heard from Beantown all my life about the Habs, but the trash talk is their personality. And it’s now directed toward the Canucks, and the “worst fans in the league.” Welcome to the club, Canucks fans!

I still cannot say I’m a “Canucks fan,” but one thing is certain – I am firmly behind them in this quest for the Cup, which they are now one win away from hoisting, despite the best efforts of the refs in this series. Although I never dreamed that the Canucks would be the next Canadian team so close to it, and of course I always thought it would be the Habs, I am for it. Bringing the Stanley Cup back to Canada, the birthplace of hockey. At long last. And it’s not because I like the Canucks. It’s because I HATE THE BRUINS. I can think of nothing more poetic, that this team that no one can believe has come this far, who of course would not have save for the refs who turn a blind eye to all the crap they pull, that they could miraculously get this close only to see their dreams crushed. I am crossing my fingers.

Also, as I tweeted the other day, in a year that saw Winnipeg get the team back that should never have left in the first place, the rightful return of Stanley to Canada would be a wonderful addition to Gary Bettman’s annus horribilus speech.

So, LOSE BRUINS LOSE!!! And…Go Canucks Go. There. I said it. Having the Canucks win the Cup over the Bruins will be a beautiful thing, and even worth all the yapping I’ll get next year from Canucks fans. One is still a far cry from 24. And, I’m used to it. Besides, the more chirping I hear out of Boston, the more the previously unfathomable is coming true. I’m developing an affection for the local hockey team. And their fans have been very gracious in accepting me on their temporary bandwagon. And to think, they have the Bruins to thank.

Canucks for the Cup!

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Comments

  1. That says everything right there: “Anybody, but them.”

    And you know, I’ve never been a 2-team person. I cheered for the Jets. They left, and I cheered for the Habs. I thought it would be tough to become a 2-team person, now that Winnipeg has a team again, but you know, it’s not as hard as I thought. 1 Jets jersey. 1 Habs jersey. Such an easy solution!

    Anyways, Go Canucks Go! Boo Bruins Boo! Anybody, but them.

  2. I feel the same way for whomever is playing against the Chicago Cubs and the NY Yankees!

  3. The Canucks became my West Conference team in ’97 when I visited Vancouver for a cousin’s wedding in Seattle. I won’t be sad to see them win either.

    However, more than anything, I too can’t wait until the Bruins are finished. I’ve been withholding wearing any of my red, white, and blue around campus because, well you know how Bruins fans are with their chirping (however I found it utterly hilarious on Twitter yesterday when someone suggested that Bruins fans in Montreal do a pubcrawl for last night. As I said, their team is in the Finals, but their fans are still stuck in the Conference Quarterfinals. Even if they won the Cup, apparently their fans would think the season’s biggest accomplishment was knocking out the Habs.).

    Boston born, Hartford raised, Habs fan for life. Glad to see you’re raising your kids the same. Keep up the good work………

    • Thanks, Spencer! I LOVE the part about last night’s tweet. You’re right – we’re in Boston’s head, too!

    • Oh cripes, not another one. Let me guess…if the Whalers were still around, you split your allegiances between them and the Habs, right? Sorry; just cannot help myself.

      I’d also like to apologize for the letdown, but truly, the Cup was more important to us than beating your Habs. Yet we, as Bruins fans, well know that being a Habs fan means being a self-aggrandizing, arrogant, insufferable blowhard. Guess you just can’t help yourself, and apparently, nor can this author.

      Nice to know the Bruins are firmly in your mind, however, and I think from now on, we always will be.

      Cheers!

      • Been a Habs fan since I was 5. Could have cared less that the Whalers left. In fact, Hartford could never sustain a team, to boot.

        The Bruins will be as firmly in my mind as will be a Cup-winning Leafs team.

      • Thanks for the reply, Noelle. Hope you are enjoying your summer and that you are revelling in your team’s Stanley Cup win. As for your apology, I was just wondering, is this your first apology? Started right, and then, ooooh I see what you were doing. Regardless, best wishes to you.

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