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The Toronto curse

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Zac Dalpe’s bucket list will get a little shorter Saturday, if all goes according to plan.

The 24-year-old Vancouver Canucks forward is hoping the fourth time is a charm and he actually gets to suit up and play against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.

The native of Paris, Ontario, a town roughly 100 km southwest of Toronto outside Brantford, has played in 23 NHL rinks since being drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2008, but as luck would have it, the ACC has always alluded him.

“It’s been the weirdest thing,” he laughed, Friday after practice. “In my first year with Carolina we were supposed to play in Toronto and I was sent down the day before, the second year was two days before and the third year we played on a Monday and that Sunday was Super Bowl Sunday and I was home then I got the call that I’d be sent back down and I was back on my way to the airport.”

I’m no scientist or anything, but the odds of that happening three times in a row are precisely infinity googol to one – if my math is correct.

“Hopefully my luck turns around here. If I make it until Saturday I’m still not safe, but if I make it to the warm-up, I’ll be ahead of the last three years.”

Despite growing up in Maple Leafs country, Dalpe was a Canucks fan from the very beginning. Playing at the ACC isn’t the biggest deal to him, but with how difficult it has been to hit the ice in front of friends and family, it’s become quite the ordeal.

“It’s been disappointing every time. It’s part of the game that the fans don’t see. The first couple times around my mom was holding back tears and that last time she drove me to the airport and she was not happy.”

Lisa, Zac’s mom, was happy as could be Friday.

Lisa and her husband Paul attended Canucks practice and after settling in, they didn’t say much. They sat in awe, taking in their son making a career at what he loves best.

“I’m really happy they could come,” said Zac. “I apologized to my dad that he had to fight Toronto traffic on a Friday, but he said seeing today, just the practice and being behind the scenes a bit, was one of the coolest things he’s ever seen.”

Paul and Lisa will be the stands at the Air Canada Centre Saturday when the Canucks face the Maple Leafs to end a five-game road trip, you better believe they’ll be there, and unless Zac’s ACC allergy flairs up again, he’ll play a roll in helping Vancouver try to snap out of its losing ways.

“It’ll be special for me, even more so if we can get the win.”

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