(This one is not so much about the hockey, but about the somewhat peculiar events leading up to what some believe could potentially be a new – and strange – tradition for Vancouver hockey fans. Or it could end up being nothing at all. Nevertheless, it’s still a fun story)
The Detroit Red Wings have the octopus, the Florida Panthers had the rats, Stephen Colbert’s Saginaw Spirit have the General Motors annual earnings report. Now, the Vancouver Canucks have… the bra? What won’t fans throw on the ice to support their team?
Really it all started last Thursday night against the Phoenix Coyotes. Not the bra part, mind you, but bear with me – this is just the lead in. Midway through the second period, with Jan Bulis in the penalty box, Jeff Cowan scored a shorthanded goal to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead. This is significant because: a) it was only the Canucks’ 3rd shorthanded goal of the season; and b) because it was Jeff Cowan!!
Cowan was picked up by the Canucks off waivers at the end of December from Los Angeles. Cowan was added to the roster as an energy guy. A gritty player who plays on average about 5 minutes per game. It’s his job to make the occasional big hit, get in the occasional fight, and not much else. Cowan had seemed to accept this role, and he filled it well. In the 21 games that Cowan had played prior to last Thursday night, he had 0 goals and 0 assists. Cowan’s goal earned him a spot on the second line for the 3rd period of the game, replacing Trevor Linden. The Canucks won the game 4-3.
On Sunday, in the game against the Minnesota Wild, Cowan kept his spot on the second line with Morrison and Cooke. Early in the second period, he scored a goal which tied the game at 2. About 10 minutes later he scored again and gave the Canucks the lead. I for one had a good giggle about this. Cowan scored 3 goals in 2 games. That’s fantastic. The game ended with an intense shootout, which the Canucks won after 6 rounds of shooters.
(This is a pretty long lead in to the story. I apologize. It’s just that I feel that the set up to this particular story is as significant as the story itself). Tuesday night, the Canucks faced the Lightning. The Canucks took the lead in the first period on a goal by… yep! Jeff Cowan! The fans at the arena went crazy… but this was only the beginning… With less than a minute in the 3rd period, Cowan scored again! His 5th goal in 3 games! The crowd rewarded his efforts with a lengthy standing ovation, cheering “Cowan! Cowan! Cowan!” It was quite a sight.
I didn’t notice it at the time, but after the game was over I saw in the post game highlights that someone had thrown their bra onto the ice after Cowan’s 2nd goal of the night. Now, from what I understand, Cowan and the bra are the talk of the town, and (to a lesser degree) of the league! The media coverage of the “bra thing” that I have seen and heard has been quite entertaining. In a recent feature on Sportsnet about the upcoming road trip, a few of the players were interviewed at the airport. All the buzz was about Cowan, with the interviewer asking the guys what they think Cowan’s new nickname shoud be. Suggestions included “Hooter Shooter”, “C Cup”, “Milkman” and my personal favourite, “Cowan the Brabarian”. I also saw an interview with Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish, whose comments on the incident included something like “they’re looking for a couple of cups, and I guess they’ll take what they can get”. MacTavish is a witty guy. I was also listening to a Vancouver sports radio show (ah… the wonders of the internet) where they received numerous calls and emails from Canucks fans who were expressing their intentions of continuing the bra throwing tradition. By some, it’s being dubbed the new “Towel Power”.
We don’t yet know whether or not tossing bras onto the ice will in fact become a “tradition” in Canucks hockey, or if it will remain an isolated occurance, but I expect we’ll find out as we get closer to the playoffs. Or possibly even tonight.
As an outsider looking in, (I can only speculate, since i live so far away) it seems like there’s a new feeling of excitement in Vancouver about its team. Just by listening to and watching the Vancouver media, reading articles from B.C. newspapers, and reading comments posted online by Canucks fans in the city, it really feels like the usual cautious, quiet optimism of the fans is turning into something much bigger. It seems like it would be a very exciting time to be a Canucks fan in Vancouver.
It doesn’t even matter at this point whether Cowan continues his recent offensive dominance, or if he doesn’t get another point for the remainder of the season. Nor does it matter if enthusiastic fans throw bras to celebrate every victory or two goal performance, or if it never happens again. This excitement began at a time where the team seemed to be on the verge of a slump. Prior to the win against the Coyotes, the Canucks had lost a few disappointing games recently, and the games they had won were most certainly not the team’s best performances by any stretch of the imagination. It just really feels like Cowan’s first goal of the season flipped the team’s momentum back into a positive direction. That may be overdramatic, I don’t know. What I do know is that right now, it’s a lot of fun to be a Canucks fan, and the only thing that would make this all even more fun would be if I were able to share the excitement in the city where it’s all taking place.