Wuxi Canucks

Cody Isaac & Duane Bolenare doing their best to spread the Canucks in Wuxi, an old city in Jiangsu province, People’s Republic of China, according to Wikipedia.

Here’s a letter I received from the pair, who are in Wuxi teaching English and also spreading the gospel of the Canucks. Take five minutes to read it, it’s well worth it!

To the Canuck Nation:

Hi there! This is Duane and Cody writing from Wuxi, Jiangsu, China, and we just wanted to share some thoughts about our missed home (Canada), and, our missed hockey team , the Vancouver Canucks.

Growing up in Canada was a special experience for us. The more so now that after we grew up we (at different times, of course) decided to travel abroad. As of right now, we are living a wondrous life here in China as English teachers. The culture is everything that the West is missing and then some; the food, interesting at times, and down right stomach churning at others; the arts which are manifested best by larger than life fireworks displays on nightly (and sometimes early morning) intervals; the music being both enchanting and cacophonous at the same time.

But, even though we are experiencing these magical things, there is still a sense of longing for our quaint, small, British Columbian lifestyles, our friends, and our families. But one thing that we have been strangely missing and craving more than anything, is our shared love for hockey.

We were friends almost from the moment of meeting,and, each being a Canuck fan, cemented that friendship for years to come. But, saying that attempting to catch a game of our boys in blue in China is difficult, is the understatement of the century. Seeing as satellite TV is out as an option, we had to rely on choppy feeds and shoddy,scrambled internet as a means to get our hockey fix.

During the cup run last year, to say we were proud was another one of those understatement things. Seeing them give it their all, game after game, putting up record stats and numbers; we were witnessing the greatest season in franchise history.

And we were in China.


But still we did what we could to support our team. We woke up at 7 am on game days (sometimes even earlier) and tried to catch the game on a stream site (now though, we don’t mess around. We have NHL game center…but even that can be jumpy quite a bit), put on our jerseys and cheered them on as if we were in Rogers Arena ourselves. We got sucked into the hype as much as anyone back home. We watched glued to the TV as Vancouver-Chicago went to game 7 and Burrows buried the puck in over time. When we took Nashville out, we grew elated. But when we watched Bieksa get the series winner against San Jose to send them to the Cup, we knew an excitement, a pride, and a confidence that we once felt seventeen long years ago (yes, we are that old to remember it).

Say what you want about that series against Boston. Yes, there were good games, and bad games. And finally, the crushing blow of game 7. But we knew how hard a climb it was to get to that game, because we witnessed every step of the way,here, on the other side of the ocean. Both teams played their hearts out, and in the end, Boston proved to be the better team for that last game. But our confidence never wavered for that game, neither did the excitement. Only our pride faltered and withered when after the cup ceremonies we witnessed our city aflame, set by the destitute and the cowardly, the idiotic degenerates that would dare call themselves hockey fans.

You see o-trusty-reader, after all the hype, the naysayers and the down right hostilities of the Boston series, we, over here in China, knew that this hockey team doesn’t owe us, as fans, a single iota. They went out there and gave us the best hockey we’ve seen in nearly two decades. They bled for us on that ice. Although their blood sweat and tears didn’t win them The Holy Grail, they still delivered to us fans, the true meaning and essence of the sport. Our love for the team and the game only grew as the playoffs continued. And because of the hockey they produced as a masterful team, we even got some other foreigners from all parts of the world here in Wuxi, who have never watched a hockey game in their lives, as loyal fans to the sport. THAT is what a good hockey team does, Stanley Cup or no.

We’re still proud of the team, and we believe they will take us again higher than we’ve gone before, and we know that it will only be a matter of time before Lord Stanley’s Cup will reside back in Canada. Everyone who spams or bashes their home team on or The Province or any other forum needs only to be reminded that they, in fact, are not GM’s nor are they professional coaches. As fans your job is to support your team win or lose. They do not need to be haggled by those who choose to follow them. In our opinion we have the best team of people on and behind the bench in the entire history of the club. The President’s trophy is proof enough of that. Either choose to cheer for your team, or get out of the arena.

Our shared passion for the game hasn’t wavered regardless. In fact being away from it all seems to have augmented the importance of the sport, as fans first, and as Canadians, second, where this sport is religion. So we have started Wuxi’s first street hockey league, having bought some sticks off the internet and made some make-shift goals out of PVC pipe, and even made some stand in goalies from plywood(you can imagine the stares we received when we carted all the swag through the middle of downtown Wuxi on our backs). Hopefully we will have enough players to have more than 2 teams, but until then it means more ice time,er,street time for us, which we don’t mind in the slightest.

In closing we have accompanied this little write up with a photo we had taken on a shared expedition to the Great Wall of China, wearing our blue, green and white proudly. We wanted to show that great things can be accomplished with time, hard work and patience, and what better place to have that manifest than the Great Wall? We know, tall order for depicting similarities between a 2,000 year old testament to the human race and a hockey club, but where we’re from, there isn’t much difference, where the Gospel According to Gretzky is avidly followed by the masses of our homeland. We here in Wuxi will be watching with elation and anticipation in the coming months leading up to the next batch of playoffs, where we know, our boys will shine like the Beijing skyline.

You’ve done us proud, guys.


Forever faithful fans and friends,

Duane Bolen and Cody Isaac.