Suck it Up, Buttercup: The Road to the Cup

As the saying goes, life’s tough — get a helmet.

The omigod-I’m-bagged feeling I had last Monday sure as hell hasn’t improved this week. Let me tell you, people, if you’re a hockey fan and the Stanley Cup playoffs hits your town, you will feel like shit by the time the playoffs are over.

Drinking, eating badly, and falling off one’s routine has never been so easy as it is right now. Praise be, we’re at least half-way through the final series. The two-plus month road is nearly at an end.

This morning, it’s evident I’m closer to 40 than I’d like to be. I call it “Stanleycupitis.” It hurts here, and here, and here, Doc.

Tonight, I’ll eat better. I won’t get the sleep I want, what with a 5am wakeup call for yet another early game day. But THIS IS WHAT WE LIVE FOR, like the Canucks’ team signage says this year. We want the Cup.

If the players can make it through, I can toughen up on rigours imposed by a gruelling playoff diet of booze and pizza.

Oh, Lord Stanley’s Cup: The double-edged sword you wield.

Given my back injury’s nowhere near where it needs to be for the longterm, I have not yet celebrated with the masses downtown. Tomorrow, I may. Depends on the back, of course. Something about crowding with thousands and thousands of easily-excitable people on city streets is a little unsettling for me, even now.

Between the playoffs, having to start work at 7am just to fit in treatment sessions on my back, struggling to keep my place in not-a-crackden status (but not doing too well at that), I’m reaching the end of my ever-aging fuse.

I’m not alone, of course. A lot of my friends are trying to fit life in with epic hockey that’s become don’t-miss-a-minute kinda gameplay. (Well, when an overtime-producing goal happens at 13 seconds remaining in regulation, or a game-winning sudden-death goal hits the net 10 seconds into overtime two games later, would YOU want to miss a minute? Not me.)

They’ll tell you that the Stanley Cup is incredible for the local economy, but I propose that any advantage the local economy’s experienced through the cash-happy hockey fan’s overzealous spending of late has been directly countered by productivity losses in all offices as employees buzz with “We’ve waited our whole lives to win hockey’s Holy Grail!” energy every day, with more hangovers per capita over a longer period than even the Olympics could’ve induced.

We Vancouverites are hanging on by a thin-but-happy thread.

Usually, we’re celebrating victories but today we’re lamenting the worst game of all the series so far. An 8-1 drubbing at the hands of Beantown’s Carebears certainly took the swagger out of the Canucks’ game.

Secretly, people like me are happy. Good, Game 5 is when we’ll win the kit and the kaboodle. We’ll take it all, baby! And, on a Friday night, at home, with sunny weather, and the whole weekend to celebrate and recover.

Yep. Let’s do THAT.

I remember that game in Vancouver’s ’94 Cup-run, against Toronto or Dallas, I don’t remember — someone whose asses we thoroughly kicked as we made our way to the Finals with New York. Some 40 gloves were littered from end-to-end on that ice, with so much penalty time handed out you needed a calculator just to get a tally of it all.

I don’t remember the score then, I don’t remember the next game’s score either, but I remember the buzz around it, and I can’t wait to see how Vancouver responds on Wednesday.

The hangovers, the antacids, the ass-dragging, the time-crunch, the flagging energy, the death-defying schedule juggling — THIS IS WHAT WE LIVE FOR. This is what the Stanley Cup does to you.

This isn’t no dinky football final where they play one game, and whoop, there it is, you have a victor. This is an all-out, bone-crunching, bruising, gasping best-of-7 fight through the injured-reserve list victory, baby. The winner’s gotta make it happen four times JUST THIS SERIES alone! Never mind the other three series nor the oodles of overtime played.

Two months, man! I hurt, and I’m tired, and I’m fed up.

But I’m not gonna miss a goddamned minute.

Because, really, this is what we live for.

Today, this week. The Stanley Cup hasn’t been held by a Canadian team since 1993. Vancouver has never owned the Cup.

But this year we will.

And I won’t have missed a minute.

Make my coffee a double. Maybe a triple. And get me a bigger piece of thread to hang onto, buddy. 31 hours to Game 4. I’ll be glued to it. You?

_______________________

Photo: Canadian Press. Baby Sign: No idea–bouncing around Facebook for a few weeks now, anonymously.

Not-so-Confidential To Boston Fans:

After last night’s game, you don’t get to whine about “dirty” play. Enjoy losing the series, Beantown.