Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Number

I've only ever had two numbered jerseys in my life. Bure and Ohlund. The greatest forward in Canucks history (sorry Nazzy) and the greatest defenseman in Canucks history.

My Bure jersey was a gift from a girlfriend. I had asked her for an authentic away (black) Bure, tie down and all, for Christmas and she woke me up wearing that beautiful #96 and nothing else. It was a good day. I had opted for the 96 because Bure had just changed from his classic 10 to a flashy number that would be the wave of the future, signifying a new era. It was a new era alright. That number was cursed. It was the harbinger of death for the golden era of Canucks hockey. Soon after Pavel took to the ice in his new uni he sustained a catastrophic knee injury that wiped out his season. The following season was marred with injury as well and although "not superstitious" Pavel switched back to his number 10 for his final year as a Canuck.

I don't count the Messier 11. It was given to me by a well meaning family member and was signed by every Canuck player and coach. Every player that is except Mess himself. He told my family member "The rights to my signature are owned by a marketing company so I can't sign that". I keep it as a reminder of the dark days.

I had many inclinations towards other players. I had been burned badly on the Pavel jersey and wouldn't let that happen again. It was easy to love Mogilny's enigmatic skill. Trev, although lovable, was over represented. Jyrki Lumme was so bizarre I became fascinated with his vulcanesque demeanor. he was my favorite Dman until Ohlie came along and when he did I was sold.

The very fibre of the team was slipping through our fingers as we watched in agony, but there was one shining light. One bastion of consistency. He was young, huge, and skilled. Mattias Ohlund could lead the rush, hit like few others, and score timely goals. I ran out and got my away birthing whale 2 juuuust before Ohlies near career ending eye injury. Eventually things turned out okay, but for a while there, I was rethinking my jersey luck.

Which brings us to today. Although I proudly sport my blue and green #2 to games (my old black, blue and silver long since signed and retired) it seems I need to start searching for a candidate for number #3. This is not a task I embark upon lightly. I feel one has to have enough confidence in the name on the back to be able to shout "not as good as your momma!" back at anyone that tells you your namesake sucks. If I was to throw on, say, a Bieksa jersey just to stay current, I might have to agree with the drunken hecklers at the garage. And no good can come of that.

Candidates then:

Kesler - I spent too long shouting "Nice F*^cking play 1.9!!!!" to ever go back.

Burrows - Feel good story of last year. I'm not sure if you knew this but he made it from the ECHL aaaaaall the way to Vancouver's top line. True story. Pass.

Edler - During a preseason game a friend's wife asked me who this Edler fellow was. Having never heard of him I told her he was just one of many plumbers who show up in preseason never to be heard from again. She said "I like him and I hope he scores a goal." To which I responded "I will eat the plate your nachos were served on if Edler scores". He didn't. He did however ring one off the post, make the team and score quite a few that season, entrenching himself on the Canuck blue line. I still get texts every time he scores. No.

Leading me to my current front runner....

Christian Ehrhoff - I'm not sure how long his play will remain at this level, but he is impressing in ways I didn't imagine when he was traded for Patrick White. He may be too old and too German to warrant a jersey but he is definitely tops of my list as it stands. The toughest part would be wearing #5


  1. it's tough for sure.... aside from my #21 nordiques jersey (cause i heart forsberg), i'd never owned one with a name/number until i chose giordano's #5 over a year ago....

    gio was a slam-dunk for me because of his story: he was undrafted, came up thru the flames ranks, and eventually played some solid 6th man minutes for the big club. in contract re-negotiations the following summer, he stood up to darryl sutter and refused to sign a 2-way deal, opting instead to play as a top Dman in russia... (fyi: darryl signed anders eriksson two days after gio walked: a decision that led in no short part to the downfall of the 07/08 team and the mis-education of dion phaneuf)... after gio rejoined the club, it seemed so obvious to me that he was underused, underrated, and underconfident (and that keenan effin' hated him). just over a year ago, my jersey was lettered/numbered.

    i'm totally his biggest fan.... i would call the radio shows and email the journalists and argue that gio was actually better than dion. i think now those dudes know i was right....

    gio is now on the top pairing with jay bouwmeester, and is widely considered the steadiest flames blueliner. it won't be long before i start seeing a ton of #5 jerseys around the dome... mine'll be the only GIO, i'm sure....

    as for YOU (now that i've spun a yarn), i don't see anyone on your current roster that has the same kind of awesome underdog type story (except maybe wellwood). i also perused the moose's roster and there's no slam-dunks over there....

    i'd say wait it out til you FEEL it....

  2. I love that you have a rag to riches story for your jersey. I also love that you not only bother to read this crap, but you respond!

    I gotta say that I have never been an underdog lover. Although they're alluring there are two problems:
    1: driving the bandwagon. You, my dear, have been tooting Gio's horn since the beginning (that came out wrong)and that is important to rocking the underdog jersey. The nickname jersey helps when the arena fills up with #5's. Burrows is the obvious 'Nuck choice but after two consecutive hat-tricks that would be a little contrived.

    2: Flash in the pan. Those jerseys are expensive and there are too many players that are one-season wonders. There is nothing worse than sporting a Muckalt jersey 8 or 9 years later.

    These two criteria are at odds with one another but important to consider. It would seem that you have made a great choice with the Gio jersey. His game vs LA made me a believer. But now you have to hope for the only positive outcome, that he has a long, successful career and retires a Flame. Any other outcome will only sully the jersey. Good luck.

  3. i disagree on that last bit, actually. there is a reason why i really wanted a clarke wilm jersey when i was living in toronto: it marks a place in time (and i seriously dig that idea). any douchebag can get a sundin or a wendel clarke or a doug gilmour ---it takes real balls to get a guy you really like, even if he's only good for bashing dudes into the boards (and you know he'll only be around for a season, tops).

    once i started tooting gio's horn (hahaha) it was a no-brainer: i LOVED the guy's game. whether he wears a flaming C for a year or a decade is moot ---i'll be effin' proud to wear the jersey regardless.