The Evolution of a Canucks Fan – Full Circle
Here's a post from September 5, 2007.
Here’s my rendition of the evolution of a typical Vancouver Canucks fan based on experiences with some of my friends who’ve followed this team with fervor and undying devotion. Some of the exploits might even be mine.
The Never Had A Chance Years (0-5)
These are the formative years filled with mini jerseys, Canucks pajamas, bibs and sippy cups. Poor kid never even had a chance. Mom’s and Dad’s adorn their little ones with Canucks colors and push their little tots around the city in their strollers, proudly showing off their newborns alleged early blooming fanaticism.
Parents think it’s cute because their kids are already supporting their team, but they fail to realize they might be actually inflicting a lifetime of permanent sports dysfunction that will most likely manifest itself during the teenage years when little Johnny Canuck climbs a lamppost to elude the cops and ultimately gets thrown into the drunk tank during a Stanley Cup riot on Robson Street.
The intentions of the parents are good – but they may want to consider periodically using a Toronto Maple Leafs soother so their offspring never forgets the Leafs suck. A Calgary Flames bubby will work in this situation, too.
The Be Like Mike Years (5-10)
It’s usually during these times a kid will put on his/her first pair of skates or even attend their first Canucks game and still be able to remember it years and years later. These moments mean absolutely nothing at the time, but 20 years later you’ll be grateful your Dad kept the ticket stub because it’ll fetch a few bucks on eBay.
By now the arsenal of Canucks gear has expanded to sweatpants, bed sheets and posters of admired players who shine down from the walls like superheroes and who sound like they’re actually talking directly to you when they magically appear on TV. Trevor Linden could tell you to “eat your vegetables and drink your milk” and you’d happily oblige by dunking your brussels sprouts in your plastic Canucks cup because that’s clearly what Trevor does.
Kids struggle on their skates with bent ankles and the hilarious inability to raise the puck off the ice on their slap-shots, kinda like Markus Naslund. Meanwhile, proud mamas and papas are in the stands with video cameras documenting every move with the hopes of their footage going into the archives of the Hockey Hall of Fame somewhere down the road.
The Golden Years (10-16)
These are the best years. The timeless tradition of road hockey becomes a regular fixture of everyday after school and on weekends. Nothing else in the world matters but pretending to be your favourite Canucks player scoring an overtime goal to win the Stanley Cup or to beat the Flames – both hold nearly the same significance. In between periods of Vancouver games on TV, you’ll break out the PS2 and continue your complete season of Canuck games, and then turn the game back on channel 22 just in time to see Dan Murphy’s faux-hawk on Rogers Sportsnet.
In 10 years you’ll look back on these precious days and wish time could have stood still because pretty soon you’ll be introduced to salary caps, collective bargaining agreements and girls – each of them more difficult to figure out than the other.
The Lean Years (16-21)
Your parents might force you to get your first job. It’ll be a minimum wage gig delivering pizza or bussing tables, but it’ll give you enough coin to buy tickets for a Canucks game with your friends or a teddy bear for your new girlfriend on her birthday. Just be sure you make the right choice.
When you get back from the Canucks game you’ll immediately go onto message boards and join the game day threads while ignoring the incessant cellphone messages and emails from your jilted first love who obviously doesn’t understand the passion instilled in you since you were a wee child (see the never had a chance years above).
Eventually you’ll give in to her demands and pay less and less attention to the Canucks and more and more attention to the pretty girl who has the ability to make you lose your grip on a hockey stick. The wise man will find a girl who wore the same Canucks bib as you did when she was a child – but if not – expect to stray from your team for at least a few years. But don’t worry because these years probably won’t be spent with the same girl.
The Rejuvenation Years (21-31)
After backpacking around Europe and moving from job to job, you’ve finally re-embraced the Canucks because you’ve moved into a dorm at university or college and the walls are plastered with Canucks flags, signed jerseys and drinking games during Vancouver broadcasts that call for a shot of tequila every time Bob Cole mispronounces Bieksa or calls Markus Naslund, Mats.
You may not have opted for post-secondary education, but the same rules apply because you’ve most likely moved into an affordable apartment with two or three of your best friends, all of whom are die-hard Canucks fans.
Even though you’ve been introduced to salary caps and CBA’s, you gain a greater appreciation for professional athletes because you’ve had the occasion to run into a few of your beloved Canucks players at local drinking establishments and they seem like great guys – even though they’re the ones getting drinks for free while earning millions of dollars per year. But that’s OK, at least you got to clink glasses with a hockey player.
You’ll eventually graduate from school, become gainfully employed with a reasonable salary and consider adding your name to the wait list for seasons tickets, vowing not to be one of the white collar stiffs in the lower bowl who add as much ambience to a hockey game as Donald Trump does to TV.
The Cynical Years (31-37)
Things are definitely different now. You no longer play PS2 and you’re still on the damned waiting list for ducats. Single game ticket prices continue to escalate almost every year while your salary remains the same. You openly lambaste and criticize the Canucks management and players on talk radio shows because you can’t justify how a person can earn millions of dollars playing a sport! You’re also very thankful almost every game is on TV.
And remember that mini jersey and sippy cup from your childhood? Forget about them. They no longer apply. The team you’ve followed for 37 years who hasn’t even won a Stanley Cup yet decided to ignore their tradition and embrace a corporate whale as their permanent logo. But you choose not to let it bother you for longer than a week because you’re a loyal Canucks follower who bleeds blue and one minor misguided executive decision can’t spoil a lifetime of cheers.
Your passion for the Canucks hasn’t diminished, you just have other more important things to spend your hard earned money on other than team merchandise. Jerseys and posters become a thing of the past, at least until the day in the foreseeable future when your wife tells you she’s expecting – and deep down inside you know the evolution of a new Canucks fan will begin all over again.
I wonder what happens next.