At heart, we are all Vancouver Canucks

Both Vancouver Canucks star Daniel Sedin and I broke bones in our feet playing hockey recently.

Both Vancouver Canucks star Daniel Sedin and I broke bones in our feet playing hockey recently.

The similarities don’t end there: Both injuries happened in meaningless games (Sedin’s during a early-season win against the Montreal Canadiens; mine in a rec game during a Glenn Anderson-style rush that went horribly awry).

My broken ankle has shifted the work/home balance: I’m on my back all day at home, virtually useless around the house, while the office BlackBerry keeps buzzing.

Sedin’s injury, on the other hand, has an entire province on edge, especially since it comes during a rather dismal start for the West Coast’s hockey warriors — a start that included star goalie Roberto Luongo getting pulled in the home opener and early losses to the Canucks’ hated Alberta rivals.

Throw in an injury to fragile top-six defenceman Sami Salo and declining production from the remaining Sedin twin, and longtime Canuck fans were already starting to agonize over the team’s direction this season.

Thankfully, the funk didn’t last long: the Canucks have been on a bit of a tear lately, including a win Sunday against the Oilers, and Luongo has a 1.20 goals-against average in his last five games.

It’s still very early, but the pendulum has swung from panic to visions of the Stanley Cup. Spring must be just around the corner.

Speaking of hockey, the arrival of an AHL team in the Fraser Valley city of Abbotsford is presenting hockey-mad citizens there with a conundrum. There are WHL teams to the east in Chilliwack and to the west in Vancouver, but it’s Canuck fever that has always burned hottest in Abbotsford.

The wrinkle is that the new AHL team, the Abbotsford Heat, is the top farm club of the Calgary Flames, who moved their affiliate from Illinois in the off-season. And one of the Heat’s foes is the Manitoba Moose, the Canucks’ top farm club.

The current Heat roster includes a few names Red Deer residents will recognize (Pete Vandermeer, Brett Sutter and Carsen Germyn), as well as seven B.C. boys.

With such a strong B.C. contingent, what’s a loyal Canucks fan to do?

Over to my father, an Abbotsford resident and avid Canucks fan who has already purchased tickets for a couple Abbotsford Heat-Manitoba Moose matchups later this season.

I asked him who he’ll be cheering for.

“Oh, the Moose,” he replied in a tone of voice suggesting the answer should have been blatantly obvious.

A strong identity and brand loyalty will undoubtedly come for the Abbotsford Heat, who currently play in front of a lot of empty seats. But it might take a while, as it did for the Vancouver Giants, a franchise that has succeeded wildly despite initial fears that the hockey market here was already saturated.

For now though, in Abbotsford as in the rest of B.C., the NHL team’s marketing slogan pretty much sums it up: “We are all Canucks.”

James Kwantes is a former Advocate copy editor. He can be reached at gone-coastal@hotmail.com

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