The Sweet Sound of Victory: Vancouver Canucks in Game 7

Shut the Hell Up, Already

Click here to hear it!

4-1 Vancouver over St. Louis. The Canucks have come back from a 3-games-to-1 deficit to win the series in the 7th game, only the 17th team in NHL history to achieve this feat. The final horn sounded around 10 o’clock, and by 10:07 more horns are blaring outside my apartment, hundreds of automobiles sounding that same note in different voices. A battered old Chevrolet stops at the lights, the Canucks logo on the trunk, the Stanley Cup painted on the hood, and the words “Go Canucks!” stretching across both side doors.

By 10:10 the streets are jammed. Pedestrians run alongside cars, race headlong into clogged intersections, embracing strangers with childlike glee. A joker below calls out, “Who won? Who won?” Cars caught in traffic cough up their occupants, who weave amongst the other stopped vehicles, slapping hoods and bouncing on bumpers good-naturedly. A man in a white sweatshirt steps stiffly from the backseat of a Chrysler LeBaron and begins a strange dance, whooping and kicking at the air on alternating steps, with the effeminate but endearing coordination of one who has never actually kicked anything in his life– a ball, a sparring partner, a habit– but has suddenly realized what he is missing.

And all four generations of Canucks jerseys are in attendence: the current killer whale, the previous (and painfully unimaginative) “Canucks” ice skate on the big black puck, the”V” (for Vancouver!), and of course, the original, minimalist, hockey-stick-on-a-rectangle logo that started it all.

Ed’s Note: These last two jerseys recently won the number 1 and 2 spots in a poll of the worst hockey jerseys ever that is no longer online, but you can see the jerseys in this post.

But there is no discriminating tonight; whales hug pucks, pucks pat sticks, sticks high-five whales.

The air is a flurry of fabric. Towels twirl above heads. Large Canuck flags wave from car windows. A goofball brandishing the Union Jack races between the crosswalk lines, corner to corner to corner to corner. Canadian flags are draped over roofs, worn as capes, held aloft like kites.

A small boy runs out to a car and slaps hands with the drunken occupants, then runs back to his father on the sidewalk, looking up excitedly and taking his hand. A midget carrying a replica of Lord Stanley’s Cup marches merrily down Robson Street, letting fans reach over to rub his treasure. Four topless young men, painted in silver and blue, come screaming up Homer Street, stopping in the intersection for a brief butt-waggle before turning left and heading down Robson. These were all normal people earlier today. A hockey victory has turned the city into a giant love-in. How will Asian tourists tell this story upon returning home? What must they think of us?

Eventually, a woman is lying motionless on the asphalt below my window. I didn’t see what happened. A large SUV blocks the intersection, hazard lights flashing. I wonder how an ambulance will manage to wind its way to the victim; the streets are almost gridlocked. Seconds later, two bicyclists wearing bright orange “Paramedic” jackets arrive, and get to work stabilizing the woman. I am stunned by this incredibly good idea; not only has Vancouver anticipated the need for paramedics, they’ve foreseen the traffic issues and prepared rescuers on bicycles! For a moment I am proud to be a citizen in a place with such wisdom. Minutes later, room is made for an ambulance, and the woman, fully immobilized and on oxygen, is rushed to hospital.

And now, more than two hours later, horns still sound steadily from further down Robson. Car motors rev aggresively and drunken screams climb into the night air from time to time. A block away, on Georgia, Canucks flags still poke from car windows, small groups of fans stop at the corners, thrust up their arms and cheer. By now, most of the pedestrians have found temporary homes in the Granville Street pubs, but there will be an echo of this exuberance in another hour, when the bars kick these fans back into the streets.

I shake my head in appreciative awe. This is only the first round.

The tragedy is that by the time Vancouver makes it to the Stanley Cup, most of these fans will have had to light themselves on fire in order to out-do this night of revelry. And here, as in the forest, fire cleanses, making room for new generations to move into the light. One can only hope the next generation will have a few more midgets. I love those little freaks.

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