The Curse of the Predators

I will not be at the game on Thursday night at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks will be facing off against the Nashville Predators. In fact, like I wrote in the previous blog, I will probably cross the Fraser River and watch the game in the suburbs. Since the existence of the franchise, I have never seen another team beat them while I am watching a game, in person, that involves the Preds. In short, I’m cursed.
Whenever I tell people about the this ‘curse’, I usually get a chuckle. In fact, I’ve had a few people down right not believe me. However, I have some examples of how this curse is closer to the truth than the myth.
I am either the Predators' good luck charm or I am a curse to any team they play when I am present for the game.

I am either the Predators’ good luck charm or I am a curse to any team they play when I am present for the game.

Dec 22, 2009: The Vancouver Canucks had a home game vs the Nashville Predators. I decided to watch a movie with my then 12 year old daughter that night. The Canucks were up 4-0, as soon as we got out of Scotiabank Theatres downtown and passed by Earl’s Restaurant near the movie theatre and Patrick Hornqvist ruined Luongo’s shutout near the 15 minute mark of the third period. I glanced at the TV, the game was on, the minute I saw the screen, Preds score. We later proceeded to meet up at La Bodega for a birthday party and I told my spouse about the Earl’s incident and he shook his head. Although not at the arena, being in the downtown core was enough to give the Preds a little luck.
March 20, 2011: I was in Toronto on business. I arrived a couple of days early and on the Sunday, a friend and I drove down to Buffalo to watch this game. These were when the 5PM starts started to show up in schedules and I forgot. So we arrived at the (then called)HSBC Arena part-way through the second period. The Sabres were up 3-1. My friend mentioned, I guess we chose a good day, the boys are up! So after a couple of beers and a period after, Blake Geoffrion decided to make a fool out of me and score two third period goals to complete his hattrick, to send the game to OT.  I was shaking my head. I had yet to tell my friend about my “Predator Curse”. As a joke, I said, I betcha Erat will score just to make my day. Guess who scrored? 4-3 in OT, the Sabres lost.  So en route back to Toronto, I told my friend of how the Nashville Predators always win when I am in the arena watching. He threw his hat at me and called me “Nashville’s Good Luck Charm”.
May 7, 2011: It was the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Game 5. The Vancouver Canucks were up 3-1 in the series and my spouse told me it was time to ‘break the curse’. He told me I was going to this game with him and the Canucks will advance to the next round. I thought about for a few days, and well, I reluctantly accepted and attended the game. Well, let’s just say, Joel Ward was determined to make sure my curse was in tact. Tied 2-2 after the second period, just over a minute into the third, Ward makes it 3-2 for the Predators. I had to close my eyes and shake my head. The first thoughts going through my mind were, “I wish I said no to Chris. Why am I here?”. He killed any sort of hope I had in about four minutes after he scored his last goal and scored to make it 4-2. Kesler made a late attempt to try for a comeback but fell short 4-3.
By that cup run, I have been to about 20 Nashville games in a few different arenas including the ACC, the then-called Gaylord Entertainment, Complex Rogers Arena, the Saddledome, and as well as that woe-ful day in Buffalo.  All the games with me in attendance? The Predators have won. So when it comes to the January 23, 2014 game vs. Nashville for the Canucks, my spouse is taking a very good friend of mine instead. I will not be to blame if the Canucks somehow manage to lose that game. I will as far away from Rogers Arena as I can muster and away from giving any winning vibes to the Nashville Predators.
Justine Galo

Top 10 of Number 10: Pavel Bure

All throughout that Saturday morning, from the minute I woke up to the minute I stepped out of my home, I thought about how many moments Pavel Bure has given to this city. Many are caught on camera and probably uploaded on youtube, but there were some that I simply remember sitting in my seat (most likely on the edge) at the Pacific Coliseum watching him live.  As I was riding on the Skytrain downtown to a short work meeting prior to the game, I thought to myself, “You’re one lucky lady.” I grew up in an era of Bure Canucks hockey. A player that was not only revered here in Vancouver, but all over the league and eventually found himself in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Bure Ceremony

Bure Ceremony

Here are my Top 10 Moments of No. 10, Pavel Bure:

  1. First ever game as a Vancouver Canuck versus the Winnipeg Jets: Pavel didn’t score that night, but he must have had five rushes or so up and down the ice. I skipped school that day, drove to TicketMaster at Pacific Coliseum and lined up for stand room only tickets so I could watch Bure that night. I also believe I skipped a volleyball practice, which resulted in my coach benching me for it. It was worth it. I saw exactly why everyone was such a buzz over this guy. He undressed defensemen, he shimmy’ed around opponents and skated faster, better and in more control than anyone I have ever seen before who played in the NHL.
  2. First NHL Goal: I don’t even want to talk about it, how about we just look at it. 
  3. Elbow on Shane Churla: Not one of his classier moments, but it was memorable for sure. Bure was no pushover  and although I do not condone it, the message was simple. He wasn’t one to be messed around with, he will push back. 
  4. Stick to Skate to Stick goal: The kind of goals you mess around with in practice. Bure added a little Pele to this goal and to top it off, it was short-handed. 
  5. Speed: There has never been anyone I have ever seen live that carried that much speed and so much control over the puck. What would spin most players out of control and hurling into the boards, made Bure a HOF’er.
  6. 1994 Double OT Goal vs Calgary: The pass from Jeff Brown, the rest… 
  7. Goal vs The Devils: Dipsy doodle and doh see doh. Bure danced around everyone in the Devils’ zone and scored. 
  8. End to End: There isn’t a Canuck player past or present that can do an end to end rush like Pavel, no one. 
  9. Calling His Shot: Pavel Bure gets a penalty shot on Damian Rhodes but he tells Koharski he’s going 5-hole and gets it. Babe Ruth, what? 
  10. Finally, Rocket to the Rafters: I’ve been waiting for this moment for so many years. It was about time.

The man’s career was one big highlight reel. I am one of the fortunate ones to see most of it from beginning to end. He will  always have his place here now in Vancouver, for that I am thankful. What stuck out the most that night, was when fans, even the younger ones that didn’t get to see him play, saw the videos of Bure highlights, the reactions of “oohs” and “ahhs” were almost like he was performing them live. He was that good.

Thanks Pavel and congratulations.

And then there were four...

And then there were four…

 

Justine Galo

@Aviewfromabroad

 

10 Things: I Hate About You, Canucks fans

Sitting pretty and quietly at The Rog

Sitting pretty and quietly at The Rog

 

As I visit the twitter verse, Facebook pages, fan sites and just a simple conversation with a good number of Canucks fans, I at times want to ram my head through a wall. Why? To simplify it for some, no matter what happens with the team, some of them are just not satisfied…with anything.

I decided to put together a short list about what I hate about Canucks fans, from a Canucks fan.

1. Over-analyzing trades: There isn’t a fan base in the whole league who would break apart a trade and find as many ways as to why it was such a terrible trade for the Vancouver Canucks. It’s been nearly two years, and the Cody Hodgson/Zack Kassian trade is ripped apart on a daily, no make that hourly basis here in Vancouver. Hell, some are still talking about the Cam Neely trade from the 1980’s! Give it up already! Deal with it, and carry on. For my two cents on the Hodgson/Kassian trade. The immediacy of a competent 3rd line centre is making this trade look more like a ‘mistake’. The Canucks don’t really *need* a power forward type of player currently. It will also take Kassian to develop to see if he will make the grade. Don’t believe me? Two words: Todd Bertuzzi.
2. Blame Luongo: No matter if this man has a good game or a great game, there are many out there that would rather rip into him rather than give him any credit. He is the first to get blamed, and the last to get praise. When the Canucks lose 4-1 to any team, immediately, some fans cry, “Luongo let in four goals!” It is hardly ever, “Wow, the team only has one goal to support an effort by Bobby Lu.” I know he has to be the money guy, and at times he has been, but when there is no goal scoring, a goalie can only keep out so many on his own. Remember that “own goal”, Vancouver so graciously gave Montreal? There was a tweeter that RT’ed someone bringing up that Luongo should have had his skate right at the post so that would not have gone in. Well, smarty pants, Luongo wasn’t exactly expecting an error of communication in front of him between two defensemen that he should be guarding his post oh so dearly. If that was Schneider or even Lack in net, no one would blame them whatsoever. So, has Schneider got his first win yet on a winless NJ team? I’m sure Jersey fans are blaming their guys between the pipes for that too.
3. National Lampoon’s Anthem: I’m not sure what is wrong with some that come to the arena and hoot and holler all throughout the anthem(s), but it seems to happen way too often. How about we show the singer, the countries and yourselves a little respect and either just sing, or just shut the f*** up, please! There is no worse arena in the league that does that. Have some national pride.
4. Bronx Cheering Inappropriately: You realize how this all started right? It was the Yankees fans razzing the opposing team’s pitchers that just gave up a crap ton of runs to their team. Translate that into hockey and it’s when your team has a good lead, and the opposing team’s goalie lets in so many goals, he is either pulled or continues the frustration on the blue ice. So when Carey Price has a 1-1 tie, you can’t start rousing the “CAARRRRRREEEEEEEEE” chant. Tactless, unacceptable, and just down right makes not only you, but the rest of us look stupid.
5. Diminishing The “W”:Winning pretty or winning ugly have a common denominator, can you guess? I will give you a hint, it starts with a Wih– and ends with a “ning”. Now, I’m not sure, but I believe the objective of the game is to score more goals than the opponent. Whether is 12-1 or 2-1, both types of game equate to the same thing at the end of 60 minutes or 60 to 65 minutes or through to the shoot out, two points. Now, although I would love to see the Canucks win with pretty goals, keeping their opponents on their heels, an ugly win still counts. If the team is struggling but still winning, it does make it easier for them to get a groove and feel less pressure to live up to the expectations. Take the two points, know it can get better, but two points now is just as important as two points in March.
6. The Game Starts at…:So get your asses in your seats and get ready for game time! So many times, I am in my seat, and I see between 1/4 to 1/3 of Rogers Arena and it takes well into the first period before the seats looks more full than not. Is it the beer lines? Is it the entrance door staff? Whatever it is, when the puck is dropped, a good number of the Rogers Arena Contingent can’t seem to be on time for the start of the game.
7. “The Sellout” Crowd: Yes, technically if all tickets are sold, but not all seats are filled, it’s a sellout. And I don’t really blame the Canucks for this one. You can have people buy the tickets, but you can’t head to their houses and places of employment or hire a F/T person to individually call the season ticket holders who leave their seats empty for games they aren’t attending to show up come game time. If you have tickets, but cannot attend the game, instead of wasting them and not having success re-selling them, how about donating them to a local charity? I’m sure a worker, or a prize winner would love to have that as a bonus.
8. Gossip Girls/Guys: Whether a rumour be true or not, I find it extremely laughable how much some out in Canuckland, eat the gossip cookies like it was their last meal. People get fed a rumour about the team, and next thing you know, a player was traded as a result of that rumour. Who really knows but those with the inside track. If someone brings up points to oppose the popular beliefs, they are tagged as “ignorant” or aren’t “in the know” of the inner dealings, feelings and wheelings of the Vancouver Canucks. Ask yourself, unless you were a fly in that jock strap, are you an insider?
9. Rogers Library errr Arena: I am not quite sure what has happened over the last few years, but the once electric atmosphere of Rogers Arena/GM Place, is more these days seemingly a part of the Vancouver Public Library branches. You don’t have to have permission or repeatedly be told to “MAKE SOME NOISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” by DJ Dave. Make some on your own accord. Have some fun, cheer on the boys when they are down, make those around see how much you enjoy the game and your team. Having to be prompted to cheer on your team is right up there with Inappropriate Bronx Cheering. The only time that place gets loud is when there is a big round of boo’s or when a Canucks goal is scored.
10. “Gotta Catch the Skytrain Before The Rush”: Really? You’re going to get out of the seat that you paid a good amount of $$$ for because you want to be the first to get on the Skytrain home? I don’t care if the Canucks look like paint gun victims and the goal light is permanently red at the Canucks end, I don’t *get it*. . It could be an amazing victory by the home team, but between 3-7 minutes to go in the third period, a mass exodus of Canucks “fans”, make their way for the exits and are homeward bound. Why can’t you just sit another few minutes and finish the game? It’s only a few more minutes? If you’re not standing in a line up to get out of the arena, you’re standing at the Skytrain to get a fare ticket for your ride home or elbowing your way to a cab. I have been to 27 arenas in the NHL, and the Canucks fans are by far the worst at leaving the arena early and so many other fan bases comment on it after seeing it on TV and shake their heads like you caused them to have Parkinson’s disease. So do yourselves and your fellow Canucks fans a favour, sit the f*** down and finish the game. It’s embarrassing.

First blog of the year and I have made sure I endeared myself to the general fan base. Virtual high-fives all around!

Justine Galo

@Aviewfromabroad

Profiting off Passion: How Much is ‘Too Much’?

It’s the Stanley Cup Finals, and everyone who has an avenue to make some ‘extra’ money off this series is unashamedly doing what they can to profit off people’s enthusiasm. From ticket scalpers to season ticket holders. Hell even airlines are boosting prices from Vancouver to Boston and vice versa to get in on the short term profit margin markups. Everywhere you look in the Lower Mainland (and probably Boston too) everyone is looking to make a buck or two off this playoff run. So I ask, how much is ‘too much’?

Some say it’s ‘smart business’ ,  others say it’s sheer unadulterated greed and some don’t know what to think about all this. They want, but can’t have, so they look to see who can be around to take the blame… errr I mean responsibility.

Stanley Cup Finals. Be there or bust...your wallet. Photo credit: Prediction Challenges



So tickets went on sale to the general public for the Stanley Cup Finals in Vancouver and Boston today via Ticketmaster.  Between two cities that are passionate about hockey and both have a very big season ticket holder base, these tickets that were released were harder to come by than the next sighting of Haley’s Comet. So fans are testing different avenues to obtain their Stanley Cup Finals tickets. Online ticket brokers, Craigslist ads, and local secondary brokerages are where fans are turning to get their tickets. But at what price? Many on twitter say too much. Others are pointing at the teams’ owners to take the blame for selling too many season tickets so single game tickets are harder to get for the general public. The real question is, what is a Stanley Cup Final game worth to you?

Canucks Nation

Rabid fans will be asked to pay big bucks for SCF tickets Photo Credit: Justine Galo



When looking for tickets for a member of my spouse’s extended family, who wanted to watch a SCF game with his son from Winnipeg, I was shocked and appalled by some of the prices people were asking for their tickets to Games 1 and 2. The thing was, I was not surprised.  I am not surprised that greed has taken over so many out there and unfortunately have to ability and avenue to gauge fans who want to watch one game and share in the experience with all the others at the arena.  The River Rock Club Section at Rogers Arena have the SCF seats sold to the season ticket holder for roughly $500 a piece.  I know this because one of our  sections of season tickets is right in those seats, which we sold to friends at face value. These seats are being advertised on Craigslist, StubHub.com and other ticket brokerages between $1700-3000 per seat.  I don’t care how some people spin it, but that’s more than at least a 200% mark-up of the value of the ticket. To me, that’s gauging and that’s fueled by the greed the world is built on these days.

It’s bad enough that the ticket vultures are going to be getting fat off the cup finals, but now even airlines are getting in on the game. An insider who works for the ticketing department of Air Canada said that during these two weeks or so, flights between Vancouver and Boston will be hiked up in price to boost their profit margin from the SCF.  I know it’s ‘smart business’ and it’s common that tourism industry hike up their prices for special events, but this is a first I have heard that an airline would do such a thing to accommodate die-hard hockey fans who travel with the team just to make a buck.

"In Greed We Trust" Photo credit: Red Tree Times



So Vancouver and Boston, be prepared to see an increase in  prices in your bars and pubs,  the hotel rates, the airline tickets, the cost of a ticket to a game so others out there can profit from your passions.  Do I think it’s right? The business side of me says, “It is what it is.” The conscience in me says  it’s abhorrent. But I know one thing, I will choose carefully (maybe not wisely) where my put my Stanley Cup Final dollars but I have my limits, as do many of the Bruins and Canucks fans watching this series intently.

As someone I know always says, “Vote with your dollar”. If you don’t buy those over priced tickets, merchandise or airfares, maybe the greedy bastards will think twice before they profit off our passions. The power is yours.

Justine Galo

@Aviewfromabroad

Writer’s note: I own season tickets and I do believe I have the right to ask for a good return on the re-sale of my tickets for the regular season and the playoffs. However, I don’t condone mark-ups that are more than 150% of the ticket value.

The Lighter Side of Luongo

Determined and competitive; Work-horse and driven; Aloof and intense. All adjectives to describe one Roberto Luongo. More often than not, his tenure here in Vancouver has the majority of the public and media alike thinking that Roberto takes life way too seriously and often his game to the point that his intensity and desire to win tend to harm his play rather than help it. Maybe they’re right, perhaps his very competitive nature and focus is a little too much for us average fans and media geeks can fathom.  After all, what the heck do we know about being professional athletes? In theory we know everything, in reality, not so much.

Over the last couple of months, many of us around the nation got to see a ‘lighter side’ of Roberto Luongo.  On TSN, he shared his poetic skills and some humour.  He even wrote for foreword in James Duthie’s new book.  This was something none of us knew about Roberto, and most likely something we never expected. Why would we? He took his job and criticism too seriously, or so we thought.

When Luongo didn’t show up for winning first star in a game the Canucks won not too long ago and not grant Murph a post game interview, some of us made a big deal about it, he was way too intense.  Some out there even decided it was rather ‘diva’-like of him to stand up the crowd the way he did. Was it? Yeah maybe a little, but wouldn’t you be pissed off that you were just a few seconds away from perfection and someone else botched it up for you? I’m not sure about everyone else, but I’d be livid. But then again, like Roberto, I am a bit of a perfectionist.

The one thing that has gotten my attention and the attention of the wise, is the humour and wit Roberto Luongo has inserted in his pre/post game interviews about his play. He’s been brilliantly funny by poking fun of himself and enjoying his time as just one of the guys and not being Captain Canuck. He has kept his critics laughing instead of pointing fingers at his mistakes and his ‘aloofness’. He has even joined in publicly with some remarks about his teammate in the ribbing sense. When he referred to Lee Sweatt as “built like a fire hydrant”, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. He has been not only entertaining, but you can see a more relaxed Roberto Luongo who is far more comfortable to have people see him as human.

So he has been able to open up a bit more and show us a more humanistic side of himself and be more open and take more responsibility for his play. So why do so many out there still bash him? I’m not sure to be honest, but I for one have been very happy with his play so far this year, and his demeanor. On top of all the fun stuff, Roberto Luongo has played very well and stolen a few games for the boys as of late. What more could you ask in your number one goalie?  So what I ask is, if Roberto Luongo has lightened up, why can’t his critics?


Justine Galo