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Cowtown's Canucklehead

by John Gibson / Vancouver Canucks
In Vancouver, we like to think that everyone hates the Flames. Even Flames fans hate the Flames don’t they? But when you’re born and raised in a Canadian NHL city, it’s pretty much unthinkable to cheer for anyone other than your hometown team. So it’s even more bizarre that with the intense Northwest divisional rivalry over the years, someone like Lisataime (Lisa) Powell, born and raised in Calgary, has been going Canucks-crazy for as long as she can remember.


For a team and city that can’t seem to make up its mind as to whether it loves or hates its own jerseys, it was the noble black and orange V that sparked this Swedish-Calgarian’s fancy. Those Halloween colours caught the eye of a clearly intelligent Powell, some might say of genius intellect, at the age of four. From that instance she committed what most Albertans would see as the most treasonous of acts; she pledged her undying allegiance to Canuck nation.

“I was a kid and found that Vancouver, that city I loved for the mountains and trees, had a team,” Powell recounts. “And they wore the ‘coolest!?’ black and orange jerseys!”

By the time she was eight, Calgary had just received their own NHL team, care of Atlanta, yet the only team Powell would watch on her “tiny, little black and white screen with bad reception in the basement,” was Vancouver’s Canucks.

And while Calgary’s moustachioed native-son Lanny McDonald had charmed every Albertan south of Edmonton, it was immediately evident that Powell don’t play that; she had other idols to worship. “Some scary dude with a moustache that looked like it could crawl off and bite you was supposed to become my hero,” a steadfast Powell said. “Nuh-uh. I had one already. The amazing Thomas Gradin, a Swede, like my Grandpa!”


With her love for the great Gradin, one might assume that he would be Powell’s answer to “who is your favourite Canuck?” But just like most Canuckleheads who have never fallen off the bandwagon, Powell answers in a flurry of vacillation.

“What!? Pick ONE!?! Ahhh!” Powell anguishes in email-form. “Well, Thomas Gradin got me addicted. Tiger Williams inspired me not to take flak for being a girl who was into hockey. I've desperately needed to see Trevor Linden hoist the Cup since ’94. And Mattias Ohlund has just been amazing.”

Powell’s despair for picking only one player carries over to choosing an all-time favourite Canucks moment. “My favourite moment? 1978 to present, and still going,” the long-time fan says. “A team with so many priceless memories and inspiring moments: watching the birth of towel power on a four inch black and white TV in the basement. Running for my life from an angry mob of flames fans in 1994 – my fault, really, I couldn't stop laughing I was so happy! – to my first live Canucks game [on] Oct 10 2002, a 3-0 win over my most hated team [Calgary of course].”


Drawing the ire of many o’ Flames fan is probably standard practice for any Canucks supporters cheering the boys on when they visit the Saddledome, yet Powell seems to have mastered the derision to a fine art.

 “I am the biggest, most annoying Canucklehead in Calgary,” a defiant Powell declares. “Ask any Flames fan. For starters, I wear one of my nine Canucks jerseys daily, and when I get to games, its full gear, right down to the nail polish, jersey, hat, and my two big flags: an Orca logo and the Swedish flag.”

Orca-manicures aside, any Canucks fanatic who has taken in a game at GM Place painfully knows that there is nothing more annoying than that one belligerent fan, in an opposing team’s jersey, cheering against the other 18,629 faithful. But Powell’s fervour for Fin and Co. doesn’t just come out whenever the boys in blue, white, and green are playing. Lisa knows that to be called a true Canucks fan in a dangerous land, she has to show her Canucks love 24/7.

“I’m still a die hard Canucklehead and proud of it,” Powell says. “Proud to display it too, wearing my jerseys all year long, flags in my windows, everything. My whole house is a Canucks shrine, really. And Calgary still hates it.” And if Powell’s cats want to keep rolling in Whiskas, they too have to show the love and wear their mini jerseys. Plus it just isn’t Christmas at the Powell house without her Canucksmus tree shining brightly.

With her allegiance obvious to anyone with eyes, Powell has been able to meet up with other Canucks fans living in Calgary, and is slowly building her own Roberto Revolution. “We've started going in large numbers, joining up online at various fan sites, and taking over Calgary bars in order to watch Canucks games,” the radical Powell reports. “We're always getting flak, but that's fine by me!”


Her Canucks-or-nothing mantra has even taken an International-scope, as Powell took on the Swedish heavy metal band Amon Amarth over which one of their countryman they should be cheering for. “They were teasing me, being fans of Mats Sundin. I [was] wearing my Canucks hat and my Naslund Tre Kronor jersey [was] around my waist,” Powell said, defending our Captain’s honour. Perhaps with the Swedish contingent on our team, the Sedins et al. might enjoy Amon Amarth’s take on the pre-game anthems?

 Still, with the hard-fought divisional play, the Keenan-era bad-blood, and the All-Star goalies on either team, it’s nice to know that there is at least one honorary Vancouverite in Alberta cheering on the Orca. And Powell is slowly adding to her converts, drumming up support one Calgarian at a time. “My brother gave up on the Flames years ago. (Canucks fans win again!)”

Are you the ultimate Canucks fan? Show us what you got and check out the Ultimate Canucks Search at Of the fans, by the fans, for the fans.  

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