On June 13, the Vegas Golden Knights became the 21st active franchise to win the Stanley Cup. Following are the imagined thoughts of an old Pacific Coliseum worker, about the Cup-less Vancouver Canucks.
Your mother and father asked me to put some wisdom on paper, to help you grow up and succeed. Well, apart from the obvious (question authority, obey the law, respect your elders and eat your greens), I regret one thing. Even though it’s not my fault.
It goes back to the night the puck dropped on the third Canadian entry to the National Hockey League, live on Hockey Night in Canada, Oct. 9, 1970 at the Pacific Coliseum.
Before they hosted their first opponent, the Los Angeles Kings, they held a ceremony and the Stanley Cup was right there, on the ice, in front of the home team.
It was my job to open and close the door at the rink on Renfrew. When it arrived I said you might want to think twice about letting the Cup in the building. Who wouldn’t want to touch that silver beauty, eh? But it didn’t belong. Coach Hal Laycoe and his Canucks hadn’t earned it.
I say it jinxed the team.
I write this after the NHL won its biggest bet. The first major sport league to give a team to Las Vegas. The Golden Knights won it at home, in year six. Fabulous. Not so for the Canucks.
When the Canucks joined, there were 14 teams. Less than a decade later, four World Hockey Association teams entered in 1979. That included the Edmonton Oilers, who won the Stanley Cup in their fifth season and added four more.
The NHL eventually hired pro basketball’s lawyer to run the league and he sold franchises to Tampa Bay, Miami, Anaheim and Phoenix, places where Canadians go to escape winter.
The Montreal Canadiens were the last Canadian team to win it all, way back in 1993.
There were lean years for all. Two seasons, two decades apart, lost to lockouts. A pandemic ruined a couple more. Now there are 32 teams, including one in Seattle that eliminated the defending champs from Colorado in only their second season.
The Canucks moved downtown in 1995, an American took over, and then he sold to the sons of that Italian fella Aquilini, who bought and sold apartment buildings. I remember when they lived near Callister Park and rented parking spots in their driveway on game nights. Look how rich they are now.
The team has worn so many different colours, I’ve lost track. But they did make three trips to the Stanley Cup final. There were two downtown riots. But still no Cup.
Meanwhile, the team in Tampa Bay won three. Carolina and Anaheim have one apiece. And now Vegas. Nothing in Vancouver since the 1915 Millionaires.
Maybe there is hope. In baseball, the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox beat their jinxes and became World Series champions again.
Look what else happened since 1970.
Soccer has become so popular that some Americans are even calling it by the name the rest of the world uses: football.
The Rolling Stones keep touring and recording. The Beatles keep making more money apart than they ever did together. Another song is coming later this year, with an artificial intelligence John. Fancy that!
Department stores are endangered species, being replaced by warehouses and delivery truck drivers. The government is trying to replace gasoline cars with ones that run on batteries. Coca-Cola changed its taste. Coffee costs $3 or more. Typewriters merged with TVs. Phones are computers that fit in your pocket and hold your entire record collection. You can read a newspaper without getting your fingers dirty.
The longest-running TV show is a cartoon about a family in Springfield. But nobody really knows which Springfield. Back in 1970, a TV star was governor of California. Ronald Reagan later became president of the U.S. of A., asked the Soviets to tear down the Berlin Wall. And, by golly, it eventually fell!
A black man became president, but it’s too bad Martin Luther King wasn’t around to see it happen.
Then an orange man came to live in the White House and launched a crusade to build a wall. He didn’t last more than four years and now he’s in trouble with the law. Maybe he’ll wear an orange suit and live behind a wall for a long time.
Here in Canada, we had a Prime Minister in 1970, Pierre Trudeau, who became friendly with Chairman Mao in China. He had a son the next year and that son grew up to become Prime Minister. Some say he got the job with help from China.
Truth is stranger than fiction. In 1970, if you predicted any of this would happen, they’d have accused you of smoking weed.
Guess what? That Trudeau son who became PM, he legalized it! But don’t try it until you grow up.
Which is all a long-winded way of saying that my most-important advice to you is this: If you grow up to run a new sports franchise, don’t ever let them bring the trophy into the building on opening night.
Bob Mackin was born two months before the Canucks debuted and hopes they find a way to break the Stanley Cup jinx next year.
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