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An Open Letter To The Vancouver Canucks

09/22/2014 08:11 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:00 EDT

Hi, Vancouver Canucks. You don't know me, but I know you.

Boy, do I know you.

I was the kid who had a signed photo of Thomas Gradin by my bedside. The one who still hasn't gotten over the Cam Neely trade. The one who used to jump around my bedroom like a maniac, watching King Richard Brodeur make yet another acrobatic save on my little black and white TV.

The one whose life feels divided by three memorable events: 1982, 1994, and 2011.

Canucks fans know exactly what I'm talking about. The exhilaration, the incredulity, of every time we came so close to winning it all. And the emotional shattering when it all slipped away.

Here's why those magical runs to the Stanley Cup meant so much: I grew up in an era when we were -- how to put this delicately -- not good. This was in the years of the epic Edmonton Oilers dynasty, when our poor lunchbucket crew would go up against the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier and Paul Coffey and Jari Kurri.

It was like a local high-school squad playing baseball against the 1927 New York Yankees. We always tried so hard, and we always lost.

As a result, I grew up with something of a Chicago Cubs mentality that the Vancouver Canucks would forever be lovable losers. I would listen to the great Jim Robson calling games on the radio, always hoping for a different result.

But all that losing is exactly what made those magical years -- in particular 1982 and 1994 -- seem so vivid and unnatural, like a dramatic intervention of the hockey gods.

Those years ended, of course, in broken hearts as well. Thanks to the New York Islanders in 1982, with their ridiculous lineup of Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies and Denis Potvin and Billy Smith. How so many Hall of Famers ended up on a single team, I'll never know.

And thanks to the New York Rangers in 1994, with Mark Messier and his damned victory guarantee, and a Canuck shot off the post in the dying seconds of game seven. I have never forgiven the Rangers, to this day, even as a longtime resident of New York City.

Sometimes people tell me to move on. I still can't.

That's because to me, those days still seem like yesterday. I'm not alone, either. Once, for The Vancouver Sun, I interviewed legendary Canuck figures Harry Neale, Darcy Rota, and Stan Smyl for the 30th anniversary of our 1982 Cup run.

For them, too, it's like everything just happened a moment ago. They remember particular goals that turned a game's momentum, or fights that showed that the Canucks were not to be messed with.

They recall little things like the deafening noise at Chicago Stadium, or the temperature at ice level, or the fanatical airport crowd that greeted them whenever they would come back to Vancouver.

Most days in life eventually fade away in the memory. Not those ones. In fact, they don't even seem like the past; they still seem like the present.

Then, finally, there were the Boston Bruins in 2011. Another game seven, which I spent this time at a Manhattan bar filled with crazed Canadians, all guzzling Molson and Labatt and screaming like madmen because we were so close to the Cup all over again.

I don't want to talk about that one, either.

So, Canucks? Just one Cup victory in my lifetime would be great.

After all, I've been a fan of yours since Dennis bloody Ververgaert. Since Harold Snepsts, who had been around so long that the NHL didn't even make him wear a helmet. Since the hockey stick jersey wasn't just a nostalgic wink to the past, but the actual present.

I'm 42 now, with two kids. One of them is almost taller than me. Time is running out here.

Just once, that's all I ask. Okay?

Thanks in advance.

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