Life is Just a Fantasy

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Check it. It’s written by yours truly to Twitter, the night before the Habs were due to play in Vancouver.

And GUESS FREAKING WHAT.

I know, it’s been two weeks, and I really should have blogged about March 10th, the night the Habs played in Vancouver, the night I look forward to all year, way before now. However, mama’s been busy, like way busier than usual even, and then it seemed like old news and way too late to blog, but then the Habs won in regulation last night for the first time since March 10th, and I saw a tie-in opportunity, so here we are.

So I voiced my private fantasy to Twitter, that my very favourite player on the Habs who I have this (un)secret thing for, would play for the first time in 16 months on the very and only night I could be present to see him. And oh, Andrei. Didn’t you just.

Of course I’m no sort of clairvoyant, Andrei had been travelling with the team and rumours had been running rampant the whole road trip, and I could never decide if the rumours made my heart sing, or break. And then, the day or two before the game in Vancouver, no one was talking much about it, and I thought “it’s too quiet”. I felt something was up. And then I tweeted my tweet. It was met with the usual “dream on” and Mr. Injury Prone responses, but I held onto my dream.

The next morning the rumours were back, and I told everyone to can it because my heart couldn’t take it. And then, the Habs confirmed it. Andrei had been taken off the injury list. He wasn’t confirmed to play, however, just off the injury list. I said to myself, “self, you’re going to see Andrei on the ice tonight. And you will be there. And he will be there. And you’ll BOTH BE THERE.” As if they’d make that big announcement if they had no intention of playing him. I even took  the trouble to post it to Facebook, which I’m never even on anymore.

I was actually ill with excitement and anticipation. Well, I was also just ill. I’d been hit with a sledgehammer of a cold or bronchitis or the plague or something just a few days earlier and was still feeling awful but no longer like I was dying and I was popping Benylins like popcorn because there was no way I was staying home and missing the Habs play in Vancouver and there was NO WAY I was missing Markov’s return.

I was also faced with a dilemma. I had said I was wearing my #67 jersey for the game, had actually been planning to ever since I’d acquired it the previous summer. Max Pacioretty, a prince among men, had recovered from a murder attempt exactly 1 year and 2 days earlier, and had rebounded way beyond anyone’s expectations, scoring his THIRTIETH goal of the season just 2 days earlier, on the anniversary of the hit that could have ended his life, let alone his career. Max. Max knows how I feel about him and I decided if I made a last minute wardrobe decision and wore the Markov jersey, he would understand. Anyone who can forgive the man who tried to kill him would forgive me for wearing my #79 jersey in honour of Andrei’s first game back.

I have one in red, and one in white. I wanted to make extra-sure they’d be in their away jerseys that night (last year they wore red) because I wanted to match, and once it had been confirmed to me by various Twitter friends, I laid my white one out, got ready, and went downtown early so I could grab a good spot down at ice level for warmups.

This is how early I got there.

And I got a pretty good spot.

I also got some video of when they took to the ice for warmup:

It was magic. The guys skating right by me, mere inches from where my face was practically pressed against the glass. Oh and guess what? Remember how last year when I went, Max shot pucks right at me from across the ice? Well, this year, I was sitting there furiously trying to tweet out a really great picture that I got, and the lady beside me poked me in the ribs and said, “I think Max is saying hi to you.” And once again, there he was, shooting pucks at me. You guys.

When the guys skate by, they’re all professional and focused on warming up and pretend they don’t see zillions of fans in the CH gawking and picture taking. The next time Max skated by, I grinned and waved furiously at him. And I swear, he looked.

There won’t be a game recap, but it was a beauty. Markov was back for the first time since November 2010, Price was on FIRE, Staubitz fought, White tried to get into a few skirmishes, Subban got a goal, and Vancouver only got to celebrate ONCE. It was more than I could have ever asked for.

When the 3rd started and we got another goal right away, the Canucks faithful started leaving in droves. I hmphed. Even 3 years ago when the Habs got spanked 7-1, I still stayed until the very end. I did this time too, and was treated to the triple low five and the 3 stars…all Habs. Of course.

I recorded the game so I could re-watch when I got home, with commentary. Damn, Habs fans are loud. I’ve set the game to delete “never”. Never ever.

Life is just a fantasy.

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Les Boys et Moi…One Magical February Evening

Haven’t blogged in nearly 2 months. You know how when you have that thing you have to do and then you don’t do it and the more you don’t do it the more you feel bad but you still don’t do it and then it just gets worse and worse? Blogging is like that for me. No one is obligating me to do it but I feel bad when I don’t do it. I actually have a reader or two. I feel better after just starting this paragraph. But I just didn’t have anything bloggable to share. Until now, I mean.

Guess what I did this week? I saw the Habs play in Vancouver. I mean, I was THERE. They only come here once per season and I’ve been to see them before but this time was really awesome. Really really truly.

The Habs were coming off a craptastic western road trip, losing in Edmonton to the crappy Oilers, and badly, and then losing at the much ballyhooed Heritage Classic outdoor game in Calgary. I mean, they got shut out. What a sad game that was to watch.

That is the reason I thought I was actually in for a treat when they stopped in Vancouver. The guys would definitely want to bring it after 2 such terrible games, and especially playing against the Canucks who have a great winning record. And especially in Vancouver, where Habs fans always (seem to) outnumber Canucks fans in the Vancouver arena.

I used to go to all the Habs games in Vancouver, and in fact was at the last game in Vancouver when the Habs won. In the year TWO THOUSAND. After that, they went on a losing streak when playing in Vancouver, and thankfully I missed 8 of those games because since having kids I could not afford to spend the outrageous sums demanded for ticket prices. And I’m talking the regular priced tickets, too.

But for the past few years, I’ve had a generous benefactor who makes sure I can go see the Habs when they play here, giving me tickets either for Christmas or my birthday, etc. Isn’t that awesome? And a good thing too, since the past 2 times the Habs played here before this year, they lost badly, in particular last year, they lost REALLY badly. Glad I never paid for those games. It was embarrassing, sad and awful to be surrounded by Canucks fans who jeered at me all game, then jeered at me for the days that followed.

The hate for the Habs is an interesting phenomenon, and the hate for Habs fans more so (for me). I mean, every team has douchey fans but I’m certainly not one. But the fascination of cheering against the Habs and then going out of one’s way to make Habs fans feel miserable always bemuses me. I would not want to make a fan feel bad when their team is doing badly or their team has just lost a game, because I know how awful it already feels for that fan. You know? I mean, Evil Canuck Fan Co-Worker excepted, as he is such a specific breed of evil that when I get a chance to take a dig at him, I probably will about half of the time. But I don’t enjoy it. I mean, I do a little.

It started in November, when I got my tickets. My friend from Twitter, known as @TheAbraxasCo, and I got our tickets, club seats no less, for the game in February. That’s a long time to wait, but we were excited-excited-excited. When the year turned, I started counting down the weeks, then the days. Getting to see my boys in person, and this time with a fan as rabid as I (the past couple of years I went with Canucks fans – never again) was something that had me giddy! I didn’t care how they’d done in Edmonton and Calgary, I was going to be there with them and had a good feeling.

So, it got to be Tuesday, February 22nd in Vancouver. The boys were here in town, I could feel them. I had a lot of work to do at the office that day, and I mean loads, and it was so hard to concentrate I can’t even describe it.

The work day finally came to an end and I went to meet @TheAbraxasCo at our customary place for a pre-game drink (or two); where we always watch Habs games together when we can. We were both excited and looking forward to a win. This is what I love about her: she’s my kind of Habs fan, not the kind who bitches and moans and predicts a loss and that we’re not contenders and won’t even make the playoffs. No. She’s optimistic, and the eyes shine with visions of a win, no contemplation of another scenario, and plus she LOVES our boys, never ever doubted Carey, etc. Peas in a pod.

We made our way to Rogers Arena to be in place for the pre-game warmup. The air was electric, and on the way we saw just as many Habs’ jerseys as Canucks’.  I’ve had the good fortune of being able to go to lots of NHL games here, but nothing, nothing, NOTHING compares to the atmosphere when the Habs are in town. NOTHING. We wait for this day once a year, like Christmas, or your birthday, but it’s SO MUCH BETTER. Gone are the memories of lost games past, and the anticipation of the magical feeling of simply being in the same building as the Habs is huge! And @TheAbraxasCo had not seen our boys live before…twice as exciting!!

We got there, found our seats in the SEVENTEENTH ROW and promptly made our way to the opposite end of the ice where the sea of Habs jerseys were congregating before the warmup. How they knew what end to be at, I don’t know, but I’m so glad. We made our way up to the glass and then…the boys came out. Squeeeee! They started by skating around in circles and every time someone passed me I screamed “Careeeeey!!!! P.K.!!!!! Max!!!” They didn’t look at me but I know it’s just because they were in game mode. Very professional, our boys. AS IF they couldn’t hear me, I was pressed right up to the glass and making a general spectacle of myself. Actually, perhaps they were afraid. Pacioretty actually shot a puck right at me, then a minute later, he did it again. RIGHT at me. Me, me, me! I KNOW it was his way of saying hello.

8 bazillion, 57, whatever, something like that.

We went back to our seats. I noticed some fine folks bringing food and drinks down on trays to people seated in our section. I yelled out to one of them, “What? We can order stuff and you bring it to us?” This lovely person replied, “Yes!” and I was all, “Seriously? Can I order two drinks at a time? YES?! I’ll have two Mike’s Lemonades! Run a tab!” It was wonderful.

The game was about to start. Two guys, who weren’t wearing Canucks jerseys but were Canucks fans, made their way to the 2 seats beside me. They looked nice enough. I felt bad for them for what I was likely about to put them through.

THE BOYS CAME OUT ON THE ICE. After a couple of misstarts, the opening faceoff took place, and we were off to the races! We started shouting “GO HABS GO!” and when I watched the game back later on PVR, I heard we really did ourselves proud. We were LOUD.

I was tingling. Carey was in net, I was wearing his jersey, and he was playing in front of his “hometown” crowd. I couldn’t have been happier for him! 6 minutes in, David Desharnais scored the first goal and we leapt out of our seats, screaming at the top of our lungs, so much so that I wound up having a coughing fit. I explained to the guys next to me, “I’m really sorry if I seem at all obnoxious, I get to see these guys just once a year!” They kind of grumbled, “Whatever.” Don’t worry, I totally grew on them by the end of the game.

You know how when you’re at a game, you stand up if there’s a rush, you stand up when there’s a bad call, you stand up when there’s no call, you stand up when there’s a goal, etc.? Yeah, me too. I had my camera and wallet on my lap and they went flying every time. I had all these nice Canucks fan folks crawling around under their seats to retrieve my belongings every time, until @TheAbraxasCo finally grew annoyed enough to insist she put my stuff into her pockets. Which was really nice of her.

You know what happened about a minute after Desharnais scored? Gio scored! On a rebound from a BEAUTIFUL shot by P.K.! Nomez even picked up an assist! Wooooo woop woop woop! I was on my feet and swinging my arms around and loving every minute. Oh and P.S. guess what? We saw those goals right in front of us since we were at Luongo’s end for periods 1 and 3. Watching the guys gather to celebrate mere metres from us was soooooo thrilling!

After the first period, I made my way up to the rafters to meet a couple of other Twitter friends for the first time, @torrievenoit and @misscarboncopy. It was great finally meeting them! I also ran in to two of my real life friends, totally by coincidence. In a building full of 18,000+ people that’s quite the feat. Fellow Habs fans, too. Awesome.

In the 2nd, poor Carey got delay of game penalty and one of the Sisters scored. Big bummer. The Canucks fans surrounding me quite enjoyed rubbing my nose in it, but it was all in good fun. We were old friends by now. The brothers (yes, they were brothers, I asked them, we had some good chit-chat) next to me started saying, “it’s time for the comeback, another Canucks power play is coming, we can feel it,” etc. No worries, Andre Kostitstyn scored and then we were up by 2 again! My neighbour’s prediction was correct, there were 3 more Canucks’ power plays in the 2nd, but the Canucks didn’t score again til the 3rd.

We stayed in our seats for the 2nd intermission, but the conversation was so good and we were having so much fun that this was my only tweet during the game:

The 3rd wound up being really thrilling, because the Canucks scored again and the place got really excited, everyone was screaming, but that was all it would be, we saw our Habs win here for the first time in nearly ELEVEN years, Carey got his win, the guys went to hug him and he was grinning from ear to ear. And you guys. I got to see the triple-low-five between him and P.K. in person. I was hugging onto @TheAbraxasCo’s arm in anticipation, saying, “we’re gonna get to see the triple-low-five! We’re gonna get to see the TRIPLE LOW FIVE!!!!!!” and we DID. We did we did we did!!

What was interesting to me was that with about 10 seconds left to play, the Canucks fans started clearing the building. Last year, when the Habs lost here SEVEN TO ONE, I stayed until the bitter end, and didn’t make my way out of the building until I was sure the last Hab had left the ice. I guess you are more blasé about it when you have tons of opportunities to watch your team, although I can’t imagine I ever would be. We stayed firmly in our seats until the stars came out, and guess who got the first star? Carey. I can’t even.

That was it, it was over until next season. It was an AMAZING night. I close my eyes, and I relive it. I love my Habs so much. And now, our latest memory of their visit to Vancouver is of a WIN. A WIN!!! And a brilliantly played game that we TOTALLY deserved to win. Thanks so much, Habs, from the bottom of my heart, for an experience I will never, ever forget. Can’t wait to see you again!

P.S. And next time, Carey, I WILL get you to look at me. 🙂

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