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United in fandom

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
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Vanessa Guadiana doesn’t remember exactly how she worded her update on the Vancouver Canucks Facebook page last year, but it went something like this:

OMG!!!! Guess who’s going to watch her CANUCKS play the Stars tonight!!! I think I might be the only Canucks fan in Dallas!!! GO CANUCKS GO!!!

Njeri Sims doesn’t remember exactly how she worded her response to Vanessa’s update, but it went something like this:

I’M A CANUCKS FAN TOO!!!!!! OMG!!!! Now there are two of us! We should go to a game together sometime!!!!!!

Vanessa and Njeri would likely agree that I didn’t use enough exclamation points in their status updates.

Last year the pair connected through the official Vancouver Canucks Facebook page and they’ve been inseparable ever since – as in BFF inseparable.

On Wednesday morning Vanessa, a 26-year-old truck driver originally from Detroit, and Njeri, a 28-year-old working in sales hailing from Brooklyn, went on an adventure. They knew the Canucks were in Dallas and they made it their mission to track them down.

Detectives they are not. The journey began at the wrong hotel. They waited around and nothing, no men in fancy suits walking around all slow and cool like in the opening scenes of a movie.

Coffee break. That’s when they got their break.

Waiting in line at a coffee house near the actual Canucks hotel, the pair spotted one Dale Weise. And they freaked.

He signed autographs for both of them and “was as nice as humanly possible,” said Vanessa. “He said to wait around and that other guys would be coming to get coffee.”

Weise was correct. The pair met a gaggle of players, except the pair they wanted to meet the most.

Njeri, rocking a Luongo jersey (featuring the captain C), wanted nothing more than to meet Mr. Roberto Luongo. He’s the reason she’s a Canucks fan and not a New York Rangers supporter like her family back home. Njeri can remember watching Vancouver play Los Angeles in the first round of the 2009-10 playoffs and, as he does, Luongo put up a wall with save after save after save after save.

“I couldn’t take my eyes off him AND I STILL CAN’T – DID YOU JUST SEE THAT SAVE?!?” she said/screamed while watching the Canucks practice in Dallas Wednesday.


Vanessa, styling in a Schneider sweater, was watching. She was glued to the ice as the Canucks prepared to face the Stars a night later as well. She also watched as Njeri got her wish and met Luongo outside the team hotel pre-practice.

Luongo used to be the jewel of Vanessa’s eye, he’s also the reason she became a Canucks fan. Vanessa was a Red Wings supporter, like everyone else in her family, until Scott Niedermayer scored the double overtime game-winner in the second round of the 2007 NHL playoffs to help the Anaheim Ducks beat the Canucks to win the series 4-1.

Heartbroken, Luongo remained momentarily sprawled on the ice after the goal. That got to Vanessa.

“It broke my heart and it was just amazing to see so much passion,” she said, paying no attention to me, instead clutching her stuffed Moose ‘Pierre’ and waving at the Canucks as they skated by.

Why the Schneider jersey then, one would naturally inquire.

“He’s just so sexy- you know?”

I’ll take your word for it. I mean he’s a good-looking man and all, but I don’t look at them like that…why am I still typing this?

“We just love all the guys, they have such great team spirit and they’re great people. It’s easy to cheer for them,” added Njeri.

And cheer they did.

Vanessa and Njeri were down by the glass with signs for warm-up Thursday night and, being the hardcore fans they are, they knew where the Canucks team bus departed from the arena post-game.

Without saying a word, the pair stood in the shadows 100 feet above with the Canucks below packing up the bus to head for the airport.

Somehow they remained silent the entire time.

Safe to assume their status updates on Facebook will be making a little bit more noise over the next few days.

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