My Oilers beat my Canucks

Dear Delme:

As I write this to you I'm watching Anson Carter get pinned to the boards by a lug in a Flames uniform. I'm in GM Place, an arena that we've had two great experiences.

The first was when we took a night off from plenary at the Canadian University Press national conference hosted by the Peak. On a whim we drove to GM Place and got tickets cheap from a scalper because the first period was almost over.

Canucks 1 - Flames 0

(Goal: Lee Goren, Assist: Morrison, Salo)

We watched the Canucks beat the Phoenix Coyotes a few weeks after Gretzky had bought the Coyotes. It had been years since I had seen an NHL game live and after getting used to the WHL everything seemed faster, bigger and more impressive.

The next time we were here it was to see U2's Elevation tour. We waited, we got into the centre of the heart but Bono didn't give us his glasses or take your Vanessa up on stage for a slow dance/grind.

I've lived in British Columbia most of my life now but I've always stayed an Oilers fan. I never got into the Canucks for a lot of reasons, but mainly because I felt loyal to my homeland, to the orange and blue. Of course the Canucks didn't make the decision hard largely being a terrible hockey team while the Gretzky lead Oilers still had a few cups in them.

Even when that symbol of the Oilers '80s dominance Mark Messier arrived to lead the Canucks in their new uniforms, years after the Oilers had lost any claim to be a nationally dominant team, I wasn't ready to drink the Kool-Aid. Of course as a rule I hate anything Mike Keanan touches, so the Messier lead Canucks were out of bounds too.

During our university years I always admired you Nick Hornby-esque devotion to your team. Rid of Keanan and Messier and with Trevor Linden, who by far is my all-time favorite Canuck, back on the team the time should have finally been right for me to start life as a Vancouver fan.

Yet with you bleeding Canucks colours (which are what blue, black, red and silver or yellow, black and orange?) there was no way I was going to be even come close to your level of Canuckishness without sleeping with Kirk McLean's wife. With Cass flopping on and off the band wagon through those years like an epileptic playing Duck Hunt I figured anything less than Delme level devotion would look lame.

Now hockey is back after a year lost in space and it feels like a good time for a restart. I'm in Vancouver now, not White Rock or Kelowna, and it feels like it's time to become a Canucks fan.

I still don't like the third jerseys, the one with red on the bottom. I still wouldn't trust Cloutier to guard a garage sale let alone a goal and I will be wearing Ryan Smyth's name and number on my back when the Oilers roll into town but now the Canucks are my second team.

Granted it's still baby steps. I could watch Geoffery Dalmer play the Calgary Flames and cheer for flesh eating mass murderer. But I'm wearing my new Trevor Linden jersey (the blue vintage stick uniform which remains the greatest uniform in hockey history) and sitting in the seat that I will occupy for 11 games this season and as U2's "Vertigo" ushers the Vancouver Canucks onto the ice I'm ready to cheer for my team. Or my second team.

Yours sincerely,

Jeffery Simpson