It’s the game I looked for when the schedule was released last year. Sunday night, February 15th in Vancouver, when the Habs visit.
Where I live, in Powell River, up the coast from Vancouver, cars fly Canucks flags from their car windows and antennas. People wear their Canucks sweaters. The Canucks are the team people want to see on TV in bars. The local Canadian Tire stocks only Canucks merchandise in their hockey section. The sporting goods shop keeps a Canucks sweater in their window. They like their Canucks here. It’s the way it should be.
The usual patter between me and co-workers goes something like this. They ask me how the Canucks did last night, and I answer, “No idea, how bout those Habs?”
I find most Canucks fans here quite civilized when it comes to the Habs. Oh, the majority dislike them immensely but they somehow manage to not really come out and say it. Or maybe they’re just being nice to me. But I know they can’t stomach the Habs. It’s in their DNA. It just slips out of them sometimes when they’re caught off-guard.
My good friend Gary Lupul was a Canuck player in the 1980’s, and he once introduced me to Richard Brodeur and Orland Kurtenbach from the Canucks alumni at a beer company thing saying, “This is Dennis, he likes the Habs.” And they kind of laughed. Kind of. It seemed like they disliked the Habs too. (Gary passed away almost two years ago. One of the best guys you’d ever meet.)
There are indeed a handful of good Habs fans in Powell River. But we’re just a small island in a big sea.
I’ve been waiting for Feb. 15th since the beginning of the season. Montreal was going to roll in and destroy, and all my Canucks friends would be eating crow and grudgingly admitting the Canucks have a ways to go before they become a team like the Habs. Then, like a bad dream, everything went south for Montreal. And the Canucks are starting to play well. And so Canucks fans are a happy, confident bunch, and us Habs fans are just a shell of our former self.
Sunday night, go Habs. Win this game. Do it not only for yourself, and not only for your fans everywhere, but also for us poor souls in Powell River who have to put up with Canucks fans on a daily basis.