Natatlie North: To the children of Canucks diehards

Never touch a Canucks fan’s playoff shrine.

Never, under any circumstances, comment on the outcome of a game before the last seconds have ticked from the clock. And whatever you do, never, ever challenge a diehard fan to justify their undying love of the team. Such action will only result in a lifelong grudge against you.

Besides, anyone who has grown up under the rule of a hardcore fan knows there’s no real justification for any of it. Team allegiance, group bonding, the euphoria of watching a goal with just 18 seconds left in a scoreless playoff game or 11 seconds into overtime – these experiences cannot be properly put into words.

Respect the madness. I do. And I suspect other West Coasters who witnessed their father’s dreams shatter during Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals might as well.

My dad gripped the arms of his chair in front of an ’80s wood-cabinet Zenith TV, stacked high with Canucks flags, calendars, clippings and autographs.

On his back, he wore a jersey, but his foot revealed a more obvious sign of his commitment: a Canucks bottle-opener keychain looped around his baby toe for good luck. At 10, I chronicled in my diary every night the team’s rise to the top alongside my father’s descent into playoff-induced hysteria. I wanted the team to win so much because, let’s face it, every pre-teen girl had at least a little crush on Pavel Bure at the time. But more importantly, Dad’s happiness was riding on the cup.

Seventeen years later, we’ve all gone mad again. During Vancouver’s first game against San Jose, my friend leaned over to me as she asked sheepishly: “So, uh, what do you think of this Kesler guy?”

She’s not the only one with Ryan Kesler on her radar. People are mowing Canucks symbols into their lawns, pub owners are counting their cash from the influx of game night patrons and Kesler’s abs are driving the ladies crazy.

If I wasn’t surrounded by fans, I probably wouldn’t invest my time absorbing hockey trivia or decoding Scott Oake’s smooth interview moves – look at their eyes, not their mouths, man! I watch these games to foresee how my future interactions will transpire.

Here’s another good rule: never call a fan for a favour 10 minutes after the Canucks have suffered an 8-1 beatdown. Wait until the next day, when the devotee will have had time to prepare a statement on how an at-home cup win will be that much sweeter. It’s true.

Like many, I don’t watch hockey during the regular season. I’ve got better things to do and I’m not afraid to admit it.

I’ll also admit there’s something downright magical that takes place when a room of friends erupts with screams of victory and jumping high fives. Like the gold medal hockey game last year, the quest for Stanley has delivered joy to the people.

With the image in my mind of my father, stunned after the Canucks lost to the Rangers in 1994, I hold onto hope for the future – for the sake of all offspring of diehards. No one should be subject to the emotional scarring left by another montage of highlights set to Mariah Carey’s “Hero” that ends with the opposing team parading around the ice with the cup, while Pops empties out the Kleenex.

Here’s hoping this series ends with more ungrammatical father-daughter text messages like the one I received after game 1 against the Bruins: “Woo we win we win!”

I sure hope so Dad, but hey, there’s always next year.

Natalie North is a reporter with the Saanich News.

nnorth@saanichnews.com