Hockey is back…and so am I! It’s been over a month since my last post as there’s been a lot going on recently; some good, some less so. I’ve been spending some time this week thinking about the right story for my 2013 blogging comeback, and this is most definitely it.
Two fans were removed from Rogers Arena this week after spending the first period of the game against Minnesota Wild cheering, chanting and standing. The people in question were part of the infamous Southsiders group of Whitecaps FC supporters who are known for their loud enthusiasm during soccer matches. It seems that the behaviour that has turned them into Whitecaps FC legends at BC Place is not welcome at Rogers Arena, as they were approached by security during the first intermission and asked to stay seated for the remainder of the game. There was some backchat involved, one thing led to another and two of the group were asked to leave the stadium.
Unsurprisingly, this news was reported with humour by media outlets and received with surprise by sports fans. Headlines included ‘Fans tossed out of Canucks game for cheering’ and ‘Southsiders stand firm on stadium behaviour’. I took to Facebook and Twitter to mock my adopted country’s national sport and my British friends found the whole saga hilarious. Some Canadians buds had a slightly different view, instead pointing out the Canucks’ no-standing policy and general fan etiquette. So, who is right?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week, you’ll have seen Vancouver and the biggest hockey game of the year hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Wednesday night was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, with the Vancouver Canucks hosting the Boston Bruins in an all-or-nothing battle for the Cup. Game 7’s are always going to be tense, but when the Stanley Cup is the prize the stakes are most definitely raised. Add the constant reminders of the riots that took over the city last time the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup final in 1994, and you can pretty much guarantee that Wednesday night was never going to end well.
I watched the game with a group of friends on the outdoor screens in the gated area of the CBC Plaza. It started at 5pm, and the seating area was full of fans soaking up the sunshine from lunchtime. At 5pm capacity had been reached, the gates were closed and queues of people were turned away. At 5:20pm the puck dropped, and thousands of fans followed tradition and sat down on their blankets and lawn chairs to watch the action. Except hundreds more people remained standing at the front, angering those who could no longer see the screens. There was shouting, there was throwing things, there was more people standing up to get a better view. And then the gates re-opened and yet more people spilled into the plaza, taking up every available space. Every available space included roofs of buildings, billboards, trees and the tops of porta-potties. The walkways running through the seating area were quickly blocked with people, and the CBC security guards soon gave up trying to shift them and started taking photos instead.
Today has been one of those days where I’ve been having some of those moments. The ‘oh right, I live in Canada now’ kind of moments.
It’s easier than it sounds to forget that on any given day I’m over 4700 miles from home as I’m not only settled inVancouver, but firmly established in my own work/life routine. I often find myself sitting on the bus checking Facebook on my phone (nothing new there) when I’ll see that it’s a friend’s birthday, or an annual event I used to go to, and I’ll suddenly realize that I’m travelling down West Broadway, in a hockey jersey, on my way to work at Canada’s only national cancer charity. Crazy. Six months ago I left my old life in Southampton so excited but completely unable to imagine what my new life inVancouverwould be like. Now I know, and I love it. Here’s a little taste of a day in the life of me:
6:30am – The alarm goes off, it’s time to get up.
7:40am– Leave for work. My daily commute involves a 10 minute walk to the bus stop, a 20 minute bus ride, a wait for another 10 minute bus ride, and a 10 minute walk to work. But hey, at least I’m not sitting on the tube.
8:30am – Arrive at work. I work for the Canadian Cancer Society BCY (British Columbia& theYukon) and the Greater Vancouver Regional office is on the border of Vancouver and Burnaby, another city to the East. My job as aVolunteer Engagement Coordinator involves attracting, recruiting and managing volunteers, as well as working with the rest of the team to improve the volunteer experience and make us the charity of choice in BCY. My day can include everything from interviewing volunteers and designing training modules to discussing campaign progress with our Revenue Development teams and organizing a volunteer recognition event. Yes, I’m a geek. But I love it!
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.