Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tonight’s seventh and deciding game of the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Final will begin between the two biggest spikes in weekly Facebook activity -- 5pm (PDT)/8pm (EDT). As a Vancouverite I will be aware of the game whether I am watching it or not (every time the Canucks score the guy across the street opens his door and screams, “Fuck yah!”). Have I been watching? Only intermittently. Will I be watching tonight? No.

I am not sure at what point I lost interest in this series, but it might have occurred during Game Two when the camera cut away to the upper boxes, where team owners and management sit.

Despite his support of progressive lefties Hilary Clinton, John Edwards, Joe Lieberman and John Kerry, Boston Bruin’s owner Jeremy Jacobs has given a great deal of money to George W. Bush, and that is enough for me. As for Vancouver’s ownership group, the Aquilinis, this is a family who made their dough as slumlords. But that was dad. To their credit, the sons formed the promising Aquilini Renewable Energy – but to their discredit, their diversion of water from the North Alouette River to feed a Pitt Meadows cranberry farm resulted in the deaths of thousands of fish, something they refuse to take responsibility for.

And then there is management. Although Boston’s GM is Peter Chiarelli, it is Boston VP and former Vancouver draft pick Cam Neely who the CBC most often cut to. Neely, who was born in Maple Ridge, BC, remains bitter about his treatment as a Canuck (he was traded to Boston) and, from the look on his face, gives me every indication that a Boston loss would have a far greater impact on his mental health than a Boston win, and that makes me sad.

Vancouver’s GM is Mike Gillis, a former pro turned player agent. Every time I see Gillis his face is redder, puffier, and this also makes me sad, because here is a man who is heavier than he was at the beginning of the season and might well be on the verge of a heart attack or stroke.

So two owners with questionable political and economic investment and two management figures whose mental and physical states are crumbling. Should I care? Are the players not going through something similar – playing for pooled money and risking life and limb? Isn’t that what it’s all about? The thrill of victory -- and the agony of defeat?

My problems with the NHL are endless. For a while I enjoyed these problems, but now they bore me. The season is too long, the rink is too small, the League is out of touch and inconsistent with its rulings and incessant rule changes. One thing I continue to enjoy, though, is the fans.

So instead of watching tonight's game I am going to sit on the west facing hill of Clark Park and listen to the houses around me. I will know when Vancouver scores, and if the groans are loud enough, when Boston does the same. Whoever wins, whatever. The series, from what I have seen, is not one of the greater ones I have watched over the years; neither team has captured my imagination. But the fans, wow. I believe in their belief.

Go, fans, go!

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