There's No Place Like Home: Johansen, Sissons 'Lucky' to Be From B.C.
Nashville Forwards Show Off Hometown, Discuss Thrill of Playing in Vancouver as Members of Predatorsby Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator
It would be easy to take this place for granted, but it's never crossed their minds.
It certainly wasn't a thought for Ryan Johansen the first time he came back and played against the NHL club he grew up idolizing. Colton Sissons hasn't considered it either over the years, especially after realizing this town is often listed as the favorite road city amongst his teammates.
Indeed, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is a special place, and the two Predators teammates who grew up here acknowledge that truth even more so with each passing season.
Sissons, specifically from North Vancouver, and Johansen, of Port Moody, retreat to these parts in the summer months, and for good reason. Not only is it home, but one look around at the shorelines overflowing with evergreens and distant snow-capped peaks would call just about anyone back.
When the grind of 82 games - plus a springtime run - ultimately concludes, this is where they come to reflect on what was and envision what's still to come.
"You're on the flight back and you look back on the year, and then you see the mountains as you're coming in on the flight and all the water and you just think, 'There's nothing like home,'" Johansen said. "We're so spoiled to have grown up here and live here."
Both of them self-confessed superfans of the Vancouver Canucks growing up in these parts, Johansen and Sissons remember watching childhood heroes like Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden and Daniel and Henrik Sedin, dreaming one day they could skate on the same ice.
While those idols have all seen their final NHL shift, Johansen and Sissons still get the chance to play in that very building where they once sat on the other side of the glass.
"It's just a surreal thing," Johansen said. "You've got to pinch yourself every time you come back home and play. It just feels like such a dream, and obviously we're established players now, but you still feel like a little kid getting off the plane. You feel like you're just flying home, you don't feel like you're going to play in the arena that you grew up following your idols and watching your heroes."
Johansen lists his first NHL game in Vancouver as one of the "top 5 coolest moments" of his career. It's up there for Sissons, too, but he doesn't remember as much of his first professional foray into Rogers Arena as he would've liked.
"My first game I played in Vancouver, I ended up getting food poisoning on game day and I didn't tell anybody," Sissons laughed. "I didn't eat anything all day, I had like a banana before the game and I don't remember the game at all. I was in such bad shape. I saw my family after and they were like, "Oh my gosh, you look like death.' I'm like, 'Yeah I know, you should imagine how I feel right now.'
"But I wasn't going to miss that one, I'll tell you that."
Subsequent visits have gotten better for Sissons, and he and Johansen are always sure to accommodate when the ticket requests inevitably come in prior to a hometown visit.
"When people are asking to come to games and you're buying tickets you suck it up, because your close friends and family, they're living the dream with you," Johansen said. "They experience all the ups and downs and successes, and you enjoy that. You've got to embrace that."
It won't be long before the pair fields those calls again, because just as soon as the summer began, it will soon be time to pack up and head back down south. And don't misunderstand their affinity for this place, either. If it's up to Johansen and Sissons, they'd both likely choose to finish their careers in Nashville, a city they've grown to love just as much as this one.
But one day, just like their childhood heroes, they too will hang up their skates and return to this place that will always want them back.
Video: Johansen, Sissons give a boat tour of Vancouver, B.C.