When you are born on March 31st, the birthday celebrations often begin early. For instance, Gordie Howe, whose birthday is today, began his 80th birthday celebrations a few weeks ago in Vancouver as the Vancouver Giants Hockey Club held a very special event in his honor during a game (Gordie is a Giants owner). Then on Sunday march 30th, Gordie’s B-day was celebrated at the Red Wings/ Predators game in Detroit. Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockey!
Also born on this day is Pavel Bure, the Russian Rocket. He is definitely in my top three all time favorite Vancouver Canucks players. Not sure what Pavel is up today, but Happy Birthday, Pavel, wherever you are!
And finally, there is me, and just like Gordie and Pavel, I am celebrating my birthday today. Often, I am at a Canucks game on my special day, but this year, I had my birthday game on March 30th when the Calgary Flames came to town. Basically this game had been dubbed the most important game of the year as the Canucks have lost the last four games, a big NO NO at this time of the year, when all five Northwest Division teams are battling it out for playoff berths. And we can’t forget the plucky and pesky Nashville Predators threatening to displace my home team.
The Canucks have kept this city on the brink of insanity all season long, with every kind of struggle. And the intensity of even the tiniest bit of adversity is magnified to the millionth power by Vancouver sports media and water cooler hockey talkers all over the province.
I certainly have had my struggles over the last season, too. So much so that I think I started to lose my “fun loving” edge. Maybe that was happening to the Canucks as well: they have simply forgotten how to have fun out there. That’s exactly what I was thinking after watching the boys lose to the Wild on Friday night. The fun is gone. And, isn’t that what it is all about sometimes? I know that is what is supposed to be all about for me.
Knowing all possible panic buttons have been pressed in Vancouver, knowing how bitter Vancouver Canucks fans are and can be, and knowing the Calgary Flames have the ability to kick our butts, some how I had to pull off some fun on the eve of my birthday...here’s how it went...
6:00 AM Being the night owl that I am, I had only been asleep for a few hours when the fire alarm BEEPED me awake. At that moment, I heard the siren approaching. Hmmm. A false alarm? I got up and looked out the window. Then I heard another siren approaching. Maybe not so false...
I put on some clothes and selected my Crazy Blue Jacket for outer wear and opened the door. Instantly I smelled the smoke. This is real. A fire...and the Calgary Flames are in town!
I hit the stairs, thanking my lucky stars I didn’t get the place on the 31st floor. As I went down the smoky stair well, I thought, maybe I should have grabbed my notebook computer. Or the tickets to tonight’s game. “Oh well” I said as I buried my mouth and nose into the thick, cozy lapel of the jacket. Just get outside.
I spent an over an hour outside on the street looking at GM Place trying to visualize the win while the firemen dealt with the fire. It didn’t appear to be that serious and no ambulances showed up so I felt okay just focusing on the win. And the ice cold beer I would drink. This is good.
Finally I got a spot in an elevator and made it back to my apartment. The hallway was stinky from smoke, but my place smelled great. Time to go back to sleep! I dreamt I was on vacation in Mexico – sweet!
Noon: I got up at the crack of noon and focused on the win for a few minutes and then immediately switched over to thoughts of pre game brunch – woohoo! I have bacon, I have eggs and pancakes, complete with maple syrup, all in stock!
I knew I couldn’t go to this game without vacuuming so I did just that: vacuumed. Then I dragged out over half of my collection of hockey merchandize I own and carefully laid it out onto the breakfast bar. Hockey pucks, playoff towels, Celebriducks, bobble heads, old hockey tickets – ooh the fun I had collecting it all!!
I cranked up the stereo. Time for some fun. I have this really cool Nikon camera on loan so I began shooting my hockey artifacts. Then the phone rings – it’s my big brother calling to wish me a happy birthday. As soon as he says it, he realizes he’s a day early. I don’t mind because I think this might be the first time he’s ever remembered!! We then discuss the Canucks and the reality of the situation. He says he’ll call again tomorrow. We’ll see about that.
4:00pm. Time for a shower. I decide I must spend extra time styling my hair for this game. The Canucks would want me to do that. Thoughts turn to the outfit. I decide I will wear the exact same clothes I wore to the Nashville Predators game on March 6th, right down to the matching bra and panties. That was a 6-2 win for the boys and for a time, that win hushed the panicking fan base.
5:30pm. My secret weapon, my ringer, Tom arrives. Tom’s my game buddy and computer guru. He’s the ringer because he has a 98% winning percentage when attending Canucks games – yes!
So, would all of this ritual, the vacuuming, the extra hair styling, the repeating of outfits, the 98% winning friend, the early morning fire that wasn’t a threat, have any possible influence to the outcome of the most important game of the Canucks season to date?
7:10 ish The Flames score first. The Flames nation in the stands cheer. NOT what we needed. But, Tom says it’s okay. He feels good. I like this. I feel good too.
At the end of the first it’s 2-2. I call my mom during intermission. She’s happy about the game – she says it’s all looking good. Tom and I are stuck in the tunnel to our seats when the Canucks score first in the second – yes! It was Trevor Linden, too. My fave Canuck. He scores again. We all think....hat trick! Mikka gets pulled so Cujo gets some ice time. It’s not looking good for the Flames. But special guests, Pat Quinn and Cassie Campbell are there and they both looked good.
The Sunday night crowd is lively and loose. It’s a relief for everyone to see the Canucks play a good game, to win a game, win a very important game and to score six goals to the Flames two.
And for me it was nothing but fun. Sure I had my serious moments that day, with the fire and focusing on the win and all. But it’s all in a day’s work for a hockey fan, and a birthday girl kicking off what could be several weeks of celebrations.
Happy Birthday everybody!