<table border=0 align=center width=90%><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/macri_headshot.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>Being a Canuck fan really is a special thing. It's a club that sees every member endure a rite of initiation. Invariably, that initiation is one of disappointment. I'm sure that there are plenty of people that might say that they started following the team when the West Coast Express was at their peak; others might say it was Roberto Luongo's arrival. However, it is the true Canuck fan that comes back after having their heart broken.
My own induction came in 1994, as the Canucks reached the Stanley Cup Finals, only to...actually, my mind has completely erased game seven from its memory bank, but people tell me that they didn't manage to win. Now, many would argue that the '94 playoff represents the pinnacle of hockey in this city. All I know is that pinnacles shouldn't make an eleven year old kid stain his dinosaur-themed bed spread with salty tears. And I had been eating Salt'n'Vinegar chips that night, so those tears were extra salty.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/jul2607_morrison13_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/jul2607_morrison13_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>Relatively recent members (those who began watching the team in the WCE era) might site their induction point as game seven of the 02-03 Western Conference semi-finals against the Minnesota Wild. Up 2-1 going into the third, the Wild scored three unanswered to take a series in which they were down 3 games to 1. According to some, the 07-08 season might just be the next galvanizing disappointment.
Admittedly, things haven't gotten off to the best start. Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa are both facing lengthy time on the injured reserve, and the team is once again having troubles putting the puck in the net. Mix in the fact that Roberto Luongo has yet to find the elite form he established last season, and you're bound to have some rough outings. Of course, as I'm writing this, the Canucks have just put forth their (arguably) most complete effort of the season in a 4-3 victory over the Avalanche, so it's tough to get a good read on where the team stands. But I think it's fairly obvious that the team isn't exactly foreshadowing a deep run in the playoffs; and on some level, there's something comforting about that.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov0307_avs13_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov0307_avs13_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>I recently had a conversation with a friend about what it would be like if the Canucks went all the way one of these seasons. I had a hard time imagining
my reaction, but for some reason, I envisioned that I might feel a loss of identity (I fully realize that I just associated my identity with losing, but I can't think of a convincing argument to dissuade such a correlation). Now don't get me wrong, I would love nothing more than to see the team I have spent countless hours watching win the Stanley Cup. But I imagine that such an event might be comparable to a father giving away his daughter on her wedding day; it's a bittersweet confrontation of joy and loss.
It's a feeling that Anaheim Ducks fans couldn't understand. It's all early success and delightful family comedies starring Emilio Estevez in Southern California. There was a time when Boston Red Sox fans might find solace in an empathetic head-nod from a Canuck fan, but that elephant got up and left the room in 2004, and recently returned only to leave a peanuty heap of dung on the carpet. Indeed, The Confederation Of Frustrated Fans Enduring Ennui (COFFEE) is dwindling by the year (don't you love forced acronyms?).
There will probably come a day when the Canucks win the Cup, but until then, the official fan club (and I’m not referring to C-Force) will be initiating new members, broken hearts and all.