I was living with a few friends at the time, one of whom was a rabid Vancouver Canucks fan. We would get off of work from the video store which we both worked in, drink beer and drive his girlfriend absolutely nuts. I am actually ashamed to say it now but she fled to their bedroom while us guys hooted and shouted urging the Canucks on.
We hatched a plot, if the Canucks made it to round three of the playoffs we would be there. We didn’t have a car or any money, but then again sober and intelligent is no way to plan an epic road trip. We had a couple of cases of beer, a team to follow and a dream.
It so happened that my roommate Chris, whose family’s video store I worked at inparents had a car that would probably get us over the Rocky Mountains and back. If we could snag the car and finagle an advance on our pay AND get tickets we would be well on our way.
Luckily we also had allies we could count on in this reckless adventure. My dear friend Sandi who just happened to live in Vancouver could be counted on to snag tickets as soon as they went on sale and give us a floor to sleep on. My Aunt Marilyn lived in Chilliwack, B.C. and could be counted on to let us sleep at her place and feed us for a night or two.
The playoffs were a struggle for the Canucks, many games went into overtime. The first round vs the Calgary Flames found the Canucks’ goaltender Kirk McLean standing on his head blocking shot after shot with every body part available including his skate tips. Game 7 went into triple overtime and Pavel Bure finally scored the series winner to advance to the second round against the Dallas Stars.
Against all odds we plead our case to Chris’s parents we had tickets, we had secured advance wages from the store to fund our trip all we needed was their car. Much like #16 and the Canucks advancing, somehow the deal was done.
Another buddy, Tequila Neil, piled in at the last moment getting us all a bed in Calgary. The N.B.C. Vancouver or Bust Tour was born.
Three against the world we set off towards the prairies like Hobbits from our own shire. We had the road trip of our young lives. Electric Avenue and Lake Louise fell beneath our heels. The Rockies yielded to our advance.
The third round of the playoffs and Vancouver greeted us like a warm embrace after a long winter shivering in the cold. We came from the home of the opponent Maple Leafs, but we cheered for the Canucks. No one could believe our moxie. We carried signs calling for the neutering of Felix Potvin. Interviewed by the Vancouver Sun cheering on our team and mocking Don Cherry.
The Canucks were victorious in the series vs the Maple Leafs, the two games we saw showcased the stick and the fist. Pavel Bure was on fire as was the backbone of the team Captain Trevor Linden. To be honest Kirk McLean didn’t see too much action in the 2-0 and 4-0 shut out victories but played his heart out just the same.
When I watch the NHL Playoffs this year and see the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel in action with Roberto Luongo I get shivers. The same shivers I got in 1994 watching Pavel Bure rocketing up the ice and scoring at will.
The 94′ Canucks went to game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals vs the New York Rangers to lose to Mark Messier and his prophetic promise of delivering the cup to Manhattan. I’ve listened to the wind for another such promise and I haven’t heard one yet, but that strange wind rushing over the Rocky’s again this year and it’s singing Oh Canada.
- You: The road to the Stanley Cup goes through Vancouver (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- Sunday’s NHL preview (thehockeynews.com)
- 2011 NHL Playoffs: Vancouver Canucks Game 2 Preview (bleacherreport.com)
- Centre Ryan Kesler happy with role as Canucks prepare for Game 3 of playoffs (thehockeynews.com)
- Vancouver Canucks: Raffi Torres Can Return from Suspension, May Miss Game (bleacherreport.com)