This Is What We Live For: Vancouver’s Obsession with Hockey
Those of you with the misfortune to be friends with me on Facebook or to follow me on Twitter will be well aware that I have developed somewhat of an addiction to hockey. In particular, the Vancouver Canucks. To avoid any confusion at the outset, I’m not talking about the kind of hockey I used to play on a muddy field with the other girls at grammar school. Far from it. Think more large bearded men with oversized jerseys slamming each other into screens, ice and each other.
There is more to hockey than fighting of course. Sometimes there’s even a puck involved. Stereotypes aside, when watching my first hockey game in our local bar I was surprised to see how much more there is to hockey than fists and fights. It’s a super fast game and the players are incredibly talented. So much can happen in a minute, thirty seconds or even 10 seconds, and the tension felt by fans in the final moments of a crucial game cannot be explained with words.
Although the UK heat wave and the Royal Wedding are trying to convince me otherwise, I seem to have come to Vancouver at a great time after all. The regular NHL (National Hockey League) finishes in April and is immediately followed by the playoffs, which end in the ultimate East vs West competition: The Stanley Cup final. The playoff structure is complex to say the least, and involves seeded teams competing in up to four series, each of which is decided by best of 7 games. And there’s me thinking that the second leg of a football game was unnecessary. I never fail to be impressed with the dedication of hockey fans as teams in the playoffs are in action nearly every 48 hours for up to 6 weeks, and that’s after finishing a regular season of 82 games in 6 months.
The Vancouver Canucks were officially the best team in the league this year and have the Presidents’ Trophy (the league cup) to prove it. We’re currently playing the Nashville Predators in series two of the playoffs, having narrowly beaten the Chicago Blackhawks (Vince Vaughn’s homies) in the seventh game of series 1. It’s a big year for hockey in Vancouver, and there’s no escaping the city’s obsession with its idols. This is what we live for. We are all Canucks. The atmosphere on game day is like nothing I’ve ever seen (and that’s not even inside the arena), for the sole reason that hockey does to a community what football never can: it brings people together. Everyone in Vancouver is a hockey fan during the playoffs, and that team spirit is heart warming, inspiring and above all refreshing. Football is ultimately a divisive sport, with most major cities hosting two or more teams and fierce rivalries across the country. Throw alcohol into the equation and it’s not hard to see why us Brits have a (often deserved) reputation for hooliganism. Hockey is the complete opposite. When walking round Downtown in my Canucks jersey I don’t feel the need to hide it under a coat like I would with a football shirt, as there is no Everton, Man City or Aston Villa here. Everybody in Vancouver is a Canucks fan, and even if they’re not, they still are.
As I type this the Canucks have just scored the winning goal in the second period of overtime in game three against the Nashville Predators. We’re now 2-1 up in the series, and only need two more wins to get through to the next round. It’s nailbiting, albeit emotionally draining, stuff, and I can’t wait to watch us progress through this series and the next, hopefully all the way to the Stanley Cup Final and beyond. This Is most definitely What I Live For. Go Canucks Go!