I arrived in Calgary today for meetings with other diocesan Directors and Coordinators of Catholic Youth Ministry before heading to Banff for a national youth ministry conference. So, as I like to do when I travel to other cities, I bought a ticket to see the local professional sports team, in this case the Calgary Flames. And I had the awesome company of youth ministry colleagues Peter, Laurie, Denise, Lecia, and Sarah. Peter in particular was very excited to see a team other than the Maple Leafs in person. I can’t say I blame him.
I proudly donned my brand new Vancouver Canucks jersey, the one that says LUONGO in big letters on the back. Upon entering the Pengrowth Saddledome, I knew that I was walking into enemy territory, as the Canucks and Flames are battling for first-place in the Northwest Division (in fact, the Flames entered the night one point ahead of the Canucks in the standings).
I had no reservations about wearing the blue and green among the sea of red. After all, I am an Ultimate Canucks Fan . And most of the Calgarians probably thought I was clueless. After all, the game was between the Flames and the Phoenix Coyotes.
The first comment directed at me was actually a positive one. “Nice jersey” someone said as I made my way to my seat. Couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or not. But it didn’t matter. I was too busy focussing on not tripping and falling down the seemingly 257 stairs I had to climb to get to my seat in the highest row in the arena! Peter had me in stitches all night with his one-liners about our mile-high seats, the best being “So this is what it looks like for God when He watches a hockey game.” Classic.
Every time that Phoenix scored, I cheered. And every time that Calgary did something good (not a lot) I stayed silent. Phoenix played a strong game and won 3-1, much to the dismay of 18,000 and to the delight of one (me).
I knew the true litmus test would be leaving the arena. After all, the home team had just been drubbed in their own arena. And the arena sold beer.
Sure enough, I saw 2 guys pointing and snickering as I made my down the 257 stairs. Then, in the concourse, I rather tall cowboy-type brushed shoulders with me and said “Vancouver? What the f**k is that?” I knew better than to respond. Actually, I didn’t even know what a proper response would be. I guess it would be: “A city on the west coast.” Or “host to the 2010 Winter Olympics.” Or “the most beautiful city in the world.”
Then, a chant of “Vancouver sucks” from behind me. Another guy muttered “Luongo sucks” under his breath while walking by me. Then for fun I went into the Flames Store and looking at the wall of Calgary jerseys, I asked the employee (with my tongue firmly in my cheek) if he had any Luongo jerseys in large. His response: “Never in here.” Or maybe it was “Get out of here.”
I made my way back to hotel to greet more of the youth ministers. And my night came to a perfect end when Krissy texted me with: “6 rounds of shootout and Edler wins it!”
The Canucks had just defeated the Islanders 3 – 2 in Vancouver, taking over first place in the division. I then had my answer to the tall, foul-mouthed cowboy dude.
“What is Vancouver?”
THE TEAM THAT JUST PASSED YOURS IN THE STANDINGS!