This is Robson Street, the most well-known street in Vancouver and its major downtown commercial thoroughfare. This picture was taken by me on my crappy cameraphone at about 1 AM. As you can see, it is completely deserted on this Sunday night. It's true that it's late, and people do have to work tomorrow, but usually there are at least a few signs of life. But not tonight.
About 18 hours from now, it is possible that this intersection -- like almost every intersection in downtown Vancouver -- will be a veritable orgy of celebration. The Canucks are one win away from the first ever Stanley Cup win in their 41-year history and better than 3:1 favourites to win the series at this stage.
For a very long time, the Canucks were a very bad team. They were especially bad in my early childhood. They were probably the worst team of the 1980s with the exception of New Jersey (which happens to be my Eastern team). But as early as I can remember, I cheered for this hopelessly inept team. I do wonder why I loved these losers so much. My parents emigrated to Canada and Vancouver in the 1970s as Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong who wouldn't know an icing from a high-sticking. But today they are both Canucks fans, because their only son was such a rabid one, who like every other kid refused to obey his bedtime when his team was in any game.
When one really thinks about it, professional team sports are a silly thing. Players are sent this way and that way, and millions of people in any given city are cheering for logos. The bonds tying the players to the cities they represent are not non-existent, but nor are they forged in steel. It is slightly insane that people have this tremendous passion for watching other people shoot pucks with sticks, toss balls into hoops, kick other balls into nets, and run yet other balls into end zones. To anyone who says that team fandom and passion is totally irrational: yeah, okay, you're right. But you're also missing out on the tremendous amount of fun that you'd be experiencing if you just turned your brain off a little bit. Just look at the joy around you. As Jerrod said to me as he observed the Canucks fans at the Palazzo sportsbook going crazy after our Game 5 win: "Sports are awesome."
***To Boston, or not to Boston?
I busted out of the $2500 6-max limit hold'em at the WSOP at around 4 PM today. I had a choice for Game 6: a midnight flight to Boston or a 9 PM flight to Vancouver. It was a tough one. I had always said I would go to Boston if it was a potential Cup-clincher for the Canucks. There is nothing that can possibly compete with being there live to see the team you've lived and died by win for the first time. Or is there?
I called up some friends. Basically I called up anyone I thought potentially had the means (and insanity) to go to Boston on a few hours notice to go to the game with me. I posted on Facebook. But it quickly became apparent that I was pretty much the only one this nuts, and that most of my good friends would be in Vancouver for Game 6. The Canucks' slogan for the last few years is "We Are All Canucks", and to be sure, there has been tons of hi-fiving and hugging of strangers this playoffs. It would be great to celebrate with 2000 Canuck fans in Boston. But it would be at the cost of celebrating with 2 million Canucks fans in Vancouver, including all of my closest Canuck fan friends.
Professional sports teams are shared by the community in which the team plays. I've always enjoyed going to away games in my Canucks jersey and being the bad guy and taking the abuse. I'm proud to represent the team on the road. But this isn't the game for it. The reason we got so much abuse hurled at us in Boston is because their fans want it just as bad as we do. The message the Bruins fans sent to us was clear. "You are the bad guys. This is our house. You don't belong here, and you are not welcome here."
And in their own meathead douchebag way, they're absolutely right. I don't belong there. I belong with the fans of my
team. Because that's what being a sports fan is about.
So even if the Canucks are skating around with the Cup in Boston, I think the place to be is Vancouver. I don't know yet where I'll be between the hours of 5 PM and 8 PM tonight, but it'll be among other die-hard Canuck fans. I think that's the way it should be.
Go Canucks Go!