In talking with a number of Vancouver Canucks fans of late, I definitely get the feeling that 2011-12 season promises to be a very different season. Not necessarily for the team, but more-so for the long suffering fan.
Prior to the playoffs, and especially prior to last season’s Stanley Cup final, I had a definite suspicion that the 2011 playoffs would change me somehow. I had no real idea how at the time. But I guess part of me knew I had to take a break from hockey, at least for some period of time.
I was really hoping the 2011 playoffs would be the culmination of my fandom. I was truly cemented as a Canucks fan forever following their terrific 1994 Stanley Cup final run. Even though that team, too, lost in game 7, I would never go back and change a thing. However, I was really hoping the 2011 team would complete the saga, finally winning the Stanley Cup and ending the story. That would allow me to move on with a great deal of satisfaction.
Of course, the 2011 team did not win. Despite being a superior team to that of 1994, these Canucks, felled by injuries, questionable refereeing and Boston’s penalty kill, also lost the Stanley Cup in game 7. But this time, despite an incredible season, the only lasting feeling is that of disappointment.
Even had the Canucks actually won that damn Stanley Cup, the lasting feeling would have been relief, not joy. I guess that has left me feeling so disillusioned. The 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs were not fun for me. With each victory I rarely felt the joy and anticipation that I felt I should have. I wanted my team to win so that I could feel relief, not euphoria. That is not how it is supposed to be.
The 2011 Stanley Cup changed me as a fan. All summer I rarely worked on hockey projects, which I had always done in the past. I turned away jobs. I skipped the draft and free agency. I read the headlines regularly, but rarely got too involved in most stories. I pursued other things in life – like family time, vacationing, camping and my other serious passion – hiking.
Even though the summer was a short one for Canucks fans, I remain in no hurry for a return to the ice. I needed time away. It makes me wonder how the players deal with such issues, and the long term effects on them and the team.
It still remains to be seen how the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs has changed me long term. I suspect I will take the upcoming season a little less seriously than I usually do, at least in the beginning. Maybe I will not watch every game. Maybe I can find something else to do on a game night now and again.