Leaving Afghanistan on 22 January 2010, The plans were all set for me to arrive in Comox at about 6pm on 24 January 2010, Then leave for Vancouver early the next morning and get a tour of GM Place and enjoy the Canucks/Sabres battle. What started out as one of the roughest travel days of my life, turned into the Best Day of My Life....
First was the flight from Dubai to London, UK....The plane was stuck on the tarmac for over an hour, I was stressing about catching my connecting flight to Vancouver. We arrived in London about 25 minutes before my connecting flight departed Heathrow International Airport...Armed with my carry on and dress shoes that didn't grip the smooth tile floor as I would have preferred, I was in a dead sprint, or skate in what must be the biggest terminal in the world. (Earlier I had thought "Ok, I arrive in Heathrow at Terminal 3, and my connector is also Terminal 3...How big can this place be?") I arrived at the Air Canada desk about 5 minutes too late as the plane was getting ready to taxi onto the tarmac and leave for B.C. They quickly re-routed me on the milk run back to Comox (London-Calgary-Vancouver-Comox) which would arrive about 2 hours later in Comox. The flight on Air Canada was pretty rough...Every screaming baby seemed to be triangulated perfectly around my perimeter and on a very precise timers, As 1 stopped, the other usually fired up, but can't complain too much as for the last 4 months I have heard nothing but loud noises.
I arrived in Calgary on time (first of the day) but then was paged by baggage services to tell me my baggage didn't make it with me from London and they needed to track it down. (NEAT!) The part that bugged me the most was that it had my 3 Canuck's Jersey's (Linden Autographed Jersey included) Obviously a few changes of clothes which I would need the next day because I was traveling in a suit and needed to get out of the dress shoes that had turned my feet into hamburger just 9 hours prior in London. The rest of the milk run back to Comox was fairly uneventful, and following suit with the rest of the flights, they were all delayed.
My arrival back in Comox at 9pm on 24 January had a good welcoming committee to greet me followed by a quick late family supper then it was off to bed for our 4am alarm to catch the 1st ferry sailing out of Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay so we could catch the Canuck's morning skate at 1030am.
My Family and I arrived in Vancouver on time (Finally) checked into the hotel and arrived at GM Place at around 10am. We were met near the main security office by TC Carling (Director of Media Relations and Team Operations) with a friendly handshake and a short itinerary of what he had planned for us.
TC took us through the 'bowels' of GM Place and walked around behind the zamboni doors and near where the Canuck's dressing room is, One of the first things we saw was Daniel and Henrik Sedin doing an interview for a Swedish radio station, it was so cool seeing them in person...When asked if we could take a picture of them sitting down the hall from us, TC let us know he had better things planned, and he was right!
Shortly after, we moved into the stadium and began watching the morning skate, the players coming out of the tunnel (Tanner Glass was the funniest, he came out, picked his stick, then looked over at us...It was a couple seconds of a staring contest then my mom said hi to him, he went a bit red and said 'hey' with a big smile on his face) We watched for a bit when TC told me he would be right back and to just stay put. After a short few minutes, I turned around to see TC coming back towards us from the zamboni gate followed by...The one and only...Trevor Linden! He came out and met everybody and asked me some questions and we sat and watched the morning skate with him as other visitors wanting to say 'Hey' to Trevor stopped by. TC then again told us to stay put, and again...a few short minutes later...out came the Sedins! Daniel and Henrik then stood there with us on the stairs talking with my whole family and Trevor answering questions and asking some of their own. A lot of this is a blur as it was just so surreal and amazing to be able to meet my favorite all time player and 2 of the best in the NHL right now.
Trevor was doing his interview later on that morning, so TC took us into the Canuck's Dressing Room..It was amazing, there we intercepted Roberto Luongo doing his laundry, I chatted with Hordichuk for awhile, We saw many other Canucks without getting pictures but just a quick nod or a 'hello' once we moved from the dressing room, Trevor had came back asking about how our morning has gone so far, he introduced me to Ryan Walter where we also met Orland Kurtenbach and Stan Smyl as we headed into the conference room.
After Trevor's induction speech, we stood and chatted with Dan Murphy a bit, he told me he has a cousin in the forces which was really cool. Our time in GM place was then winding down, We said our goodbye's to the players and everybody we met, thanking them all for taking the time for a chat and a picture then made our way towards authentix to pick up some gear for the game and as keepsakes. I finally got to meet Kevin Kinghorn who was another key part in making the Best Day of My Life possible, Then after a couple hours of VIP treatment, we were on our way out to get ready for the game later that night!
I would like to thank EVERYBODY who made this possible for me;
TC Carling - Made us all feel like VIPs the whole morning, he made the morning of the 25th the biggest memory of my life and was just a pleasure to have as a tour guide and a host. Thanks TC!
Trevor Linden - It wasn't surprising that Trevor was really friendly, easy going and doing it all with a smile on his face, He is my all-time favorite Canuck and it was an honor to meet him, Thanks for your time, Trevor!
Daniel and Henrik Sedin - Very cool and easy going guys, They answered all my questions honestly and it was great having them ask me some, too! (Dan asked if he though Hank would suck without him on his line, he told me to answer honestly because he thought Hank wouldn't do very good haha) Thanks for hanging out with me and my family!
Darcy Hordichuk/Roberto Luongo - Would like to thank both for taking the time for a picture and a chat, aswell!
Stan Smyl - He thanked me for my service overseas, and I thank him for being a true gentleman, I wish i could have watched the Steamer play!
Kevin Kinghorn - Thank you for the hospitality with the Canucks Game and everything that made it possible and make a dream come true!
My Mom - She had written a letter to Trevor Linden about me and my vacation home and wanting to do something special for me, It was this that really got the ball rolling, Thanks Mom!
I still have a bit of time to relax before heading back to Afghanistan, and look forward to being able to watch some games in the comfort of my own home, I just wanted the fans of the Canucks to know, we really do have the greatest team in hockey, We may not have any cups (yet) But we cheer for a team with great history and a great future.
Thanks again to the Canucks Organization for giving me the Best Day of My Life, I will remember this forever!
GO CANUCKS GO!