Gerald Morton is a part-time Zamboni operator, PhD Candidate, occasional lecturer at Vancouver Island University and former hockey target. He’s written two guest posts for Puck Daddy, and he comes to us now with something to say about the failed 2013 campaign of the Vancouver Canucks.
If you want to write a guest post for PITB, by all means, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to showcase other writers.
My earliest hockey-watching memory is standing in the backyard of my childhood home in the late spring dusk and telling friends, “I gotta go watch the Canucks win the Stanley Cup”.
They did not win. It was my first sporting heart break.
That was 1982.
Today, I am confused, sad and drunk.
My team lost again, and it’s comforting.
Hockey is a silly sport. It is masculine drama enacted in the relatively safe confines of a sporting venue. It shouldn’t affect me so much, but it exposes the best and worst of me. Whether I am watching, or playing, hockey is still too tied up with my ego.
One of my earliest hockey playing memories is a coach telling me in secret that, ‘he wished he’d picked me instead’. I wasn’t selected for an all-star team because they chose a goalie they’d known longer. He looked the part. As a five foot, five inch goaltender, I would become familiar with this story.
Our fundamental loves and fears are always built on remnants of childhood. This latest symbolic death challenged my faith in the euphoric possibility of a Cup. But I also embrace the warm comfort of failed glory. It reminds me of a time when expectations for my life and my team were much lower.
I have always thrived on weak expectations.
I suspect the Canucks do as well.
I’d trade the high pick, high expectations of the twins for an ex-professional roller hockey player with big heart and mediocre skills most days. I would exchange a goalie controversy between 1A and 1B for a surprising run by Captain Kirk and his glorious two-pad stacks any day. I’d give up the American hero with sporadic production for our Russian rocket today, and every day. I hold 1982 and 1994 as magical dates in my life’s story.
I never felt the same about 2010. It lacked heart, and the underdog narrative which I cling to so tenaciously. But the end was perfect. We lost, and idiot fans burned a city I never cared about. It was schadenfreude. It was mesmerizing catharsis. It was fanaticism, separated from reason by too much beer and too little perspective.
Metaphorically, being a Canucks fan mixes self-loathing, self-realization, nostalgia and hope brilliantly. The Stanley Cup is forever a point on the horizon. It isn’t fixed, and even gets close sometimes. But when it gets too near, I get scared.
My love of hockey, as a fan and a player, is wrapped up in equal parts desire and selfaggrandized tragedy. I pursued my dream, despite overwhelming evidence it had faded long before my last game of junior ‘B’. I clung so hard to hope, my gaze fixed on a distant and remote possibility, that reality crushed me. After that final playoff game, I slumped in a time warn civic palace and cried uncontrollably. Reality is cruelest when it forces the release of childish things.
And that’s why I sit alone, confused but comforted. This year’s Canucks had everything my childish ego needs. Their bandwagon had plenty of room. They had a jilted goalie, who was never treated as well as he deserved. They had low expectations, which were met with unexpectedly sublime failure.
They also had hope. Always, we have hope. But hope needs failure to exist.
And fandom needs emotional ties to thrive. For me, that connection is a knot of childish dreams and adult realities. I can’t separate them yet.
I’ll hope that next year makes more sense.Tags: Guest Post