It’s the new mantra for the Vancouver Canucks, “The Heart of a Canuck”. It’s in the arena, it’s all over the city, and more importantly, it’s in us fans. After a difficult loss in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, I felt my heart almost break. The toll of the whole playoffs resonated with me the minute the horn sounded and the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup. I felt deflated, spent, and dejected. However, I remember being at the bar in the Best Buy Club section of the arena and I thought of a friend of mine who would have loved to have been there. His name? Curtis Giesbrecht.
When I went to high school, I found myself in a high school that was heavily into football, both CFL and the NFL. So I was one of the few kids that actually loved hockey and talked hockey as much as I could. Finding someone to talk to me about the Canucks, hockey in general was more or less ‘difficult’. You see, the Canucks weren’t that good of a hockey team back then. In the late 80’s early 90’s, they were, for a lack of a better word, mediocre. Despite all that, I still loved them. The cool thing was, I finally met someone else in my high school who loved them as much, if not more, than I. That guy was Curtis.
We drove our teachers crazy because instead of just focusing on class, we’d ask each other about the game we heard on the radio the other night or got to watch on TV. While everyone else in school was wondering how if the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to have a banner year, he and I would be discussing if Pat Quinn should be both GM and coach, Pavel Bure’s goal, or how much we both admired and loved Trevor Linden. I had found my hockey soul-mate!
We also used to bug a friend of ours about being a Flames fan, but he took it with stride and we had a great hockey banter in the hallways. However, the memory I cherish the most was the last year of high school. Curtis and I finally attended a Canucks game together. Lots of weekends working retail had to be done in order to pay for our 9th row seats at the old Pacific Coliseum but we made it there. Curtis wore his Canucks jersey (like he often did to school) and I believe at the time I had a #8 Greg Adams jersey. It was the Canucks versus the Winnipeg Jets. We had seen Teemu Selanne graced us with his talent and intuition to score, while we had the always dynamic Bure. We were in hockey fan heaven. I don’t believe we won that night, and I felt dejected, but I remember Curtis saying to me, “G, never give up being a Canucks fan, they are our team and I’ll love them forever, even when I die!” He was 17 at the time, and so was I. We thought we’d be heading to Canucks games the rest of our adult lives together. We were even talking about going into season tickets one day. He was the biggest fan to date.
We didn’t have the internet, so we didn’t have things like twitter, Facebook, or even a regular TV broadcaster of the Canucks to keep us up to date. We relied heavily on Sports Page, the radio and whatever news we could get into our proverbial hands. Most of all, Curtis and I had each other. Unfortunately, our dreams of being season ticket holders together never happened. Curtis was killed in an unfortunate car accident just a few short years after we graduated high school.
It’s been almost 20 years, but I still remember seeing his smile every morning and first thing he used to say to me wasn’t “Hello”, but it was “Hey G, how about those Canucks this year?” I miss that to this very day. So in my memory beats the heart of a Canuck. Today, when I step into Rogers Arena, as the Vancouver Canucks take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, I will think of Curtis and all the great times we had together, as Canucks fans.
Dedicated to the memory of Curtis Geisbrecht, forever a Canuck.