The Vancouver Canucks and I have been in a relationship for a long time. It hasn’t always been easy or fun. And, I’ve been neglectful at times. I’m going to address that negligence now.
Every year, hockey gets a little harder and a little easier. It gets harder to care about the Vancouver Canucks and easier to enjoy their games. Most long-term relationships are like that. Actually, that might be exactly backwards. I’m not sure.
The point stands — relationships are hard.
Sometimes, they need a spark.
Sometimes, you need to choose to love them a little more.
This year, I am using a hockey pool as my spark. I chose Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin in all my hockey pools. I selected them in my longest-running hockey pool. It’s an old fashioned, pen and paper, snake draft with people I actually know in real life. And, I selected them in the online Yahoo auction, keeper pool with my newest friends, scattered all over the continent.
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It’s going to help during this metaphorically long year.
I don’t want to argue whether the glass is half full, or half empty for the Vancouver Canucks. This is a stupid question. It’s not a question of perspective, either. I don’t know why people always get that wrong. It’s a question of process. Are you filling the cup up? Yes, then it is half full. Are you draining the cup? Yes, then it is half empty.
The Vancouver Canucks are filling their cup. It’s not half full yet. And it’s not the Cup, obviously. We are a long way from that dream. But the rebuild is on. And, to honor the past and two of the best players the organization has ever had, I am going to cheer for the Sedins every single game.
I don’t care about outcomes.
I don’t care about playoffs.
I don’t care about legacies.
I only care about one more year of Daniel and Henrik magic.
I might be overcompensating.
(This is not the first time).
But, Daniel and Henrik are not perfect ideals in my hockey imagination. I am late to this party. I’ve always known they are good. I realized they were great a few years ago. But, I’ve been stubborn in my willingness to measure them against the all-time Vancouver Canucks greats. I’ve placed them in that amorphous category of ‘borderline greatness’ I use to acknowledge the great and take childish shots against.
They are not my ideal of hockey glory. That is Brendan Shanahan. He was the perfect hockey player.
(You are probably noticing an age bias here).
They also aren’t Roberto Luongo or… actually, this was supposed to be a love story.
It took a long time to accept great players who didn’t defend themselves. I bought into the silly notion that hockey was the Wild West and the players were gun slingers. Any slight, real or imagined, was cause for ruckus in my estimation.
I’ve gotten older, and know this is silly. Although, I still wish Daniel had ripped Brad Marchand apart in the 2011 Cup Final. Pavel Bure lashed out at Churla. Trevor Linden tried to defend himself. Harold Snepts kicked the hell out of Wendell Clark. (No, seriously). None of this matters to the game, or to the outcome. Fighting is almost always a stupid idea.
But it is so satisfying from the stands.
I’m finally ready to let that go, too. I’m in. I’m all in on Daniel and Henrik’s greatness. They are sure-fire, first-ballot hall of fame players. They are top-five Vancouver Canucks of all time. They are always the best skaters on this team. They are a magical combination never seen before in the NHL and, likely, never seen again.
I’m sorry it took this long. I’m sorry I wanted to see you bleed. Culture is a hard thing to recognize and reflect upon. It makes itself known through feelings and misunderstandings. It is never an easy set of rules to understand and judge. The days of Gordie Howe and Brendan Shanahan are gone. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin are stoic against violence, but brave in the face of everything. They are tough and skilled and the best of what hockey has to offer.
And I will love them for it every game this year.