Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Canucks-Wings game experience and the meeting of 2 NHL stars

What an eventful first 24 hours in Vancouver.
Temujin and I were in section 109 row 14. The Red Wings were practicing and warming up on that end prior to the game. That was fine by me. I hate the Wings, don't get me wrong, but to see superstars like Datsyuk, Hossa, Zetterberg, Lidstrom, Rafalski that close (we stood behind the glass to watch them practice) was a real treat. Sure, they are the enemy, but being from a small town in northern BC, far away from this stuff, I couldn't help but respect the talent on the Wings team first hand. Datsyuk's pregame routine was stick-handling the puck around the face off dot over and over again. Osgood stood to the right of his net with his head down...concentrating and focusing.
Once the puck dropped, the respect was gone. Then it was 'die Wings die!' And what a game. You could really feel the life get sucked out of the building when Datsyuk scored the 2-1 goal with 3.5 minutes left. That feeling of: "oh shit, we're done."
But man did the place erupt after Dan Sedin's ping pong goal a minute later to tie it.
Then you could tell that the Canucks were not going to let this game go to the shootout. Hell, we didn't want it to go to a shootout either. Not with that firepower on Detroit. A Franzen penalty in OT helped. Demitra to Glass Salo (or Sally Samo, as Scott Rintrout called him by accident) and bawango, a one-timer goal. That was right in front of us. Our whole section jumped up in jubilee before anyone else did. And my god, did GM Place freak out! I think I spilled my beer on the couple in front of me. Shit, we were screaming at the top of our lungs and jumping up and down! What a game, what an experience. What a great effort by a Canucks team that looks so damned confident in their system right now, regardless of who is playing in net.
I believe Temujin will have some pictures posted soon, and his own stories.


I haven't even mentioned who we ran into in Vancouver yet. One was a Canuck in their 1994 run, sitting in the club seats...Dave Babych. Hardly anyone recognized him. He was sitting about 6 seats to our right. I say to Temujin: "Man, see that guy? That's Dave Babych!" Jin didn't believe me. Neither did the old lady sitting next to me. She said: "No that's not him. Dave has broader shoulders than that!" But she got her friend to go up to him and ask. "Yes I am" replied Babych.
We waited until after the game to approach him. I shook his hand and said that Willie Mitchell's style really reminds me of his because both are such reliable defencemen. I also said something about him playing heroically in 1994 for us. He said "you guys really enjoyed that game didn't you?" Well, yeah, we did. We were being as loud as possible in an otherwise lame and quiet crowd, which I will get into tomorrow. Speaking of, Babych did not clap or cheer or even stand up when the Canucks scored in OT. Strange.
We met several Wings fans around town after the game and they were quite pleasant. Most of them were from the States. We walked into the Lennox Pub and a guy ran up to me and said "yeah man! I love that shit! Wooo!" He was referring to my Canucks jersey and the game. High-fives. Walk up to the waitress...high fives. Then we sit down and who is sitting to our right? 2 Wings fans wearing Wings jerseys...looking pretty gloomy. Ah good times. These guys were cool though...very knowledgeable about hockey. One was from Seattle and the other from Michigan.
Anyways, we stumble out of the hotel late this morning and head to Red Robins for lunch. And just before we get there (corner of Robson and Thurlow I believe), we walk by this guy wearing a toque and a brown jacket with his young son, staring at a store window. Who is this guy? Pavol Demitra! Temujin doesn't even realize it. Hell, no one did. He was all by himself with his kid. So I stop, give him a "nice-work" kind of hard pat on the shoulder, and point at him. Then I kept walking. I say to Jin, "Hey man, that's Pavol Demitra back there!" Jin turns around and can't believe it. He said that Demitra was smiling.
I am not an intrusive person. In hindsight I would have loved to have said at least something to the guy. But what was I to say? Here is a guy I have been bashing for months now and there I am standing face-to-face with him. I wasn't going to blow smoke up his ass. That would be hypocritical of me. But I must say, Demitra is playing a 2 way game so well right now and he continually grows on me. Perhaps I wish I would have said that. Nope. Just a pat on the shoulder and a finger-point at him. He knew what I was getting at. I smiled when I did it.
Good times. To meet Babych and Demitra in a 13 hour span is insane for a country boy like me. No pictures taken. No autographs. I'm just not that kind of guy. To me, neither moment seemed right. Both guys seemed content incognito. Damn it, I just may regret being so thoughtful. But the moments will live in my mind forever. That's the most important thing.

T Tags:


At November 26, 2008 at 3:46 a.m. , Anonymous tapeleg said...

And just like that, another Demitra fan is created. How long until he is the unsung hero of the Canucks?

At November 26, 2008 at 4:11 a.m. , Blogger violator said...

Wow, you had a great opportunity meeting Demitra. I really like your blog, care to exchange with links? If you are interested please contact me. dinamorigablog@gmail.com

At November 26, 2008 at 9:44 a.m. , Blogger KevinV said...

Holy sheet Sean! Amazing!!

That's most excellent, thanks for sharing.

(I've had an after game late night dinner with my sons at that Red Robin as well)

At November 26, 2008 at 10:08 a.m. , Blogger John said...

And the next time you come to town like that, you need to give me a better heads up. ;)

Good to hear that it was a great trip.

At November 26, 2008 at 12:32 p.m. , Blogger Mike said...

All that crap you spoke about Demitra and then you get all mushy around him? Wuss :)

At November 26, 2008 at 12:54 p.m. , Blogger Sean Zandberg said...

Demitra didn't even flinch when I slapped his shoulder. I guess it all happened so fast. He looks fairly stalky in person, but I am definitely taller than him.
Has Demitra found a new fan? Well let's just say I'm getting close. It's just that I don't want to eat all that crow in front of Golbez.
It's one thing to hate a guy for his play, but I would never judge the person.
Today I really regret not saying anything to him.
Next time.

Should Demitra be an UNSUNG hero of the Canucks? We are paying him to put up serious numbers. An unsung hero would be Burrows or Wellwood.
By the way, Wellwood took really short shifts 5 on 5. It's not like AV was pulling him off the ice. Woody would go down the ice for one rush and then wave to the bench to go off.
Unfortunate. He's gold on the PP though. Wow.

John- you never answer me when I call. It's like a sad country song. I was trying to call you from the 2nd intermission until after the game. You must have been working hard..

At November 26, 2008 at 12:56 p.m. , Blogger Sean Zandberg said...

Whoa, Violator.... you're from Arturs Irbe Land. Cool! And welcome!

At November 26, 2008 at 1:26 p.m. , Blogger Wes said...

This just in: Demitra out 4 weeks with separated shoulder.

At November 26, 2008 at 2:48 p.m. , Blogger KevinV said...

Wes wins the Internet!


At November 26, 2008 at 3:09 p.m. , Blogger Sean Zandberg said...

I was going to make some smart ass comment about hurting his shoulder.... it was a good slap.
For the first time in my life I can honestly say that I don't want Demitra to be injured. You can see the Sedin Demitra chemistry well on TV, but when you see it live...wow.


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Waiting For Stanley was created in June 2006.