There seems to be something different about the Vancouver Canucks this season.
I don't know if it's the "We are all Canucks" commercials on TV and the radio or if Vancouver hockey fans are extra excited for the start of this season because of missing the playoffs last year, but something about this season seems unique.
I can't quite put my finger on it - but I'm going to try.
In the spirit of the brilliant TV and radio spots where Canucks fans re-count their most memorable moments, I decided to venture out into the downtown streets of our beloved city and find some Canuck fans who just might be feeling the same way as me.
Am I the only one who's noticing the positive Canuck vibes pulsing through the city and province?
Here's what I found out.
Before I started this fact finding mission, I had visions of approaching fans on Robson Street wearing Canucks jerseys or jackets. But then I remembered it was mid-morning in the middle of the week and the only Vancouver sweaters I would probably be seeing are wooly ones to keep out the briskness of October.
I was wrong.
Can you believe it? I was on Robson for all of five minutes and there was a fan on the other side of the street wearing a mid 90's home white, skate logo sweater. Some things are too good to be true.
I crossed the street at the next intersection (no really I did) and introduced myself and my suggestion of something in Canuck-land being indescribably different.
"I think I feel it too" said Tyler, a thirty-one year old office manager. "It's because we're stoked about the start of the season and every year we feel like this might be the year we win it all."
I asked him if he feels like this at the beginning of every season, or if this year has a special feel to it.
"Well, this season is different because we have Roberto Luongo
," he said.
Yes we do have Roberto Luongo
don't we. For the first four games and the only thing that got behind him was the goal judge.
Having Luongo between the pipes is like a batch of fresh chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven. They're comforting, re-assuring and you know they're going to be good.
I stopped in a coffee shop to re-fuel and saw a Canuck fan in his mid 50's typing away on his laptop. He wasn't hiding his allegiance for the Canucks or whipped cream. I know this because his computer had an original Canucks logo sticker and his beard had the remains of his chocolate whipped mocha.
Normally I wouldn't disturb a laptop-toting businessman in a coffee shop, but I figured if he was really that swamped he would have been in the office and not in one of the busiest coffee places in the city.
"It's the new coach" said Larry, a fifty something entrepreneur. "Vigneault has finally instilled the work ethic and accountability we've been lacking for the last few years."
Judging by the age and era of the sticker on his laptop, Larry must have been a fan for a long, long time.
"I've followed this team since they started" he said. "I remember Barry Wilkins scoring Vancouver's first ever goal."
I wished I could have sat with Larry for longer, but his cell-phone rang and he had other places to be. Before he left I asked him if this was the year?
"It's too soon to tell" he said cautiously. "They're playing better than last year and trying a lot harder, but it's a long season. Vigneault needs to keep riding them."
He's right. New Coach Alain Vigneault has already called out his second line for a shaky effort in Columbus. The team works harder than salt miners and gamely bounced back twice against a San Jose powerhouse Friday.
I wanted a girl's opinion. Sometimes girls have the ability to look at things entirely different than men do because they seem to simplify things to the point of not over-analyzing. It's an admirable trait.
I walked into Pacific Center and spoke to Chelsea. Her name has been changed to protect her from her boss because she's taken a sick day. Your secret is safe with me.
Chelsea is a huge Canucks fan and has always liked Markus Naslund.
"I like Naslund because he's our Captain" she said. "He was the best player I saw when I went to my first Canucks game a few years ago."
Chelsea has been to many Canuck games since and never misses when they're on T.V.. Her boyfriend is a big fan of Naslund and the Canucks too.
I asked her if she thought something seemed different about the team this year.
"Everything is different about the team this year" she said matter of factly. "Bertuzzi is gone, we have a new coach, and a new goalie."
Chelsea's right too. Todd Bertuzzi was a major part of Vancouver's identity. Vancouver fans supported him through thick and thin and there's no wondering why tickets for the Florida game in January sold out in minutes.
Todd was like the big brother of the team; the way he used to stick the fingers of his glove through Dan Cloutier's mask after a victory and the way he stuck up for his team-mates on more than one occasion. Vancouver fans still miss him, but the future's looking plenty bright.
I left downtown Vancouver and was able to put my finger on the in-describable feeling I've been having.
The positive vibes pulsing through the city are un-deniable and with the help of faithful Canuck fans on the street, I realized what's different about the team this year.