From a girl who comes from the humid tropics, the appeal of the rough sport of ice-hockey is hard to understand. In Singapore, we had no ice on which to skate let alone shoot a puck. So, you can imagine my gob-smacked surprise when I discovered myself cheering and yelling like a banshee when the Vancouver Canucks Hockey team scores a goal (they call ice-hockey hockey in North America, and what the rest of the world calls Hockey, they call Field-hockey. Go figure!). All of a sudden I'm logging on to websites called NHL.com( National Hockey League) and Canucks.com to find out who's injured and who's not; what the stories were behind no. 44, Tod Bertuzzi (thank god he no longer plays for us) being boo-ed at games and how the Swedish Sedin (interestingly nos, 22 & 33) twins came to be in the Canucks team. What was happening to me?
I was being swept up by the very game that I've thought too violent. Too many guys getting viciously banged against the boards.Broken teeth and broken sticks. Argh. I might do just as well watching wrestling. But wrestling's never made my blood pulse as hockey does, nor blacken my disposition so when the Canucks loose a game. There was something more to this.
The last time I felt this quickening was during the Malaysia Cup when the Singapore football team beat some Malaysian state's team in the finals after which they summarily kicked us out of the cup. And thus was born our sad little S-league. T'was the same feeling with the Canucks, there was something to cheer for. A little pride in the home team. Or in my case the team in which I've made my home. It's a way to say "neh, neh-neh, neh, neh . We are better then you-oo!", without having to go to war ala George Bush. No one really dies, just your heart if your team doesn't make it.
For me, going through an entire hockey season's really helped me bond to this, my adopted city. Joining a hockey pool, being sent emails of crazy, funny Canuck videos, seeing cars all over town with little Canuck's flags flying from their windscreens reflecting the pride & support for 20 men on the ice. The same 20 give or take ( as I've learnt from mid season trades) I've come to know and vigorously support. This game has given me something of great value: a common history & touch point with the native Vancouverites. Which any new immigrant will tell you is precious. And best of all, the Canucks have given me something that, sad to say, even Singapore can't, a chance to world class sporting team out there fighting for fame & glory.
For those of you who want to know and have had truncated communications with me on MSN , skype or yahoo because of hockey, the Vancouver made it to the playoffs where the 16 best teams out of a 32-ish team league battle for the Stanley Cup. Yesterday we beat the Dallas Stars to go into the semis. Where we will meet the Anaheim Ducks.
And with so many Chinese in Vancouver, I'm sure will be able to come up with a good recipe to roast Californian duck.