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Canuck for a day

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

When Michael Bublé performs in front of soldout arenas worldwide, he transforms normal people into screaming fanatics.

Give Bublé hockey equipment and the opportunity to skate with his team, the Vancouver Canucks, and the shoe is suddenly on the other foot. He’s the animated aficionado.

Bublé signed an honorary one-day contract with the Canucks Tuesday and when he arrived at Rogers Arena in the morning, he was expecting a light meet and greet with general manager Mike Gillis and coach Alain Vigneault, as arranged by director of hockey administration Jonathan Wall.

Think again, Bublé.

A full set of equipment was waiting for him and next thing the 36-year-old three-time Grammy Award winner from Burnaby, BC, knew, he was skating laps with the Canucks before practice.

It got even better for the Canucks superfan, who in the past has gone as far as rearranging travel schedules and even postponed concerts to watch Vancouver play either live or on TV.

Bublé got the chance to take a penalty shot on Roberto Luongo, living out the dream of every armchair coach out there standing behind the belief any average Joe can score on the Canucks goaltender.

The crooner “started out slow and slowed down even more,” according to Luongo, but the right-handed forward came closer to scoring than anyone thought as he clanked the puck off the right post.

Close, but no cigar.

Consolation prize: having the chance to shoot on Luongo.

“It was the greatest day of my life, really,” smiled Bublé post-practice. “I had way too much fun, to get to do that is every fan’s wish.”

Bublé believes the opportunity to embarrass himself on the ice was arranged by coach Vigneault as revenge for some tongue-in-cheek comments Bublé had towards AV when he filled in for former colour man Tom Larscheid during a Canucks broadcast on Team 1040 a few years ago.

Either way, Bublé was on the ice with the Canucks, his idols, who have meant the world to him since he was a kid. Both his father and grandfather are huge fans and that more than rubbed off on Bublé as a child, and as his family had season tickets, young Michael routinely watched Vancouver play in person.

Roughly 30 years later and Bublé, face to face with Luongo, had a chance to score and perhaps prove his worth as a hardnosed Alex Burrows overlooked-but-up-and-coming-player.

“Turns out I’m crappy,” he laughed. “About a couple of inches lower and I would have had it. I was going crossbar right-hand side and I missed it. I’m sure Roberto didn’t want me to score. I think what he actually said to someone the second that I turned away was ‘Man, these shootouts are easy.’”

“I took everything away,” said Luongo, “all he had was bar.”

“I was trying to be patient, take away as much net as I could, wait him out and fortunately he hit the post.”

The shot heard ‘round the world won’t deter Bublé’s love for the Canucks and it’s a good thing because he just gave the team a shout out on his latest album Christmas.

On 'Santa Baby', track seven of Bublé’s fifth studio album released in late October, Bublé altered a few of the words to reflect what he truly wants from Santa Claus. Instead of the line I'm filling my stocking with a duplex, and checks Sign your 'X' on the line, Bublé sings fill my stocking with Canucks tix, for kicks Throw me on the first line; out of respect Bublé contacted the song’s original writers to get the green light on the changes.

Christmas is currently the top selling album of any genre on the Billboard Top 200 and Bublé admitted his Canucks lyrics are probably causing a lot of confusion.

“Right now there’s close to 6.2 million people and only a few are going to know what I’m talking about, the rest aren’t going to have a clue,” he laughed.

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