They had to laugh. Colorado Avalanche defenceman Bowen Byram loved the Vancouver Canucks until they lost the Stanley Cup Final in 2011, while Av’s extra D-man Brad Hunt went through similar behaviour a decade-and-a-half earlier.
“That’s kind of like me, mine was probably when they lost to the Rangers in ’94,” the Maple Ridge native recalled. “Yeah, I was a Canucks fan until then, and then it became … my dad was a diehard Islanders fan, still is, and I became a fan of the Islanders after they (the Canucks) lost that Cup. So I was probably the same age as Bo’ when they lost to the Bruins.”
The two, along with fellow defenceman and BC native Devon Toews, are all participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs down the road against the Seattle Kraken.
Call them fair-weather fans if you’d like, but they were definitely impressionable young hockey fans, one way or the other.
By the time Cranbrook native Byram arrived in Vancouver to play in the Western Hockey League with the Giants he had stopped rooting for the Canucks, his favourite boyhood team until he was ten.
“Honestly I think I was kind of a bad fan, when they lost to Boston in the Final I threw a fit,” Byram said. “I don’t remember how old I was, but I threw a fit. Yeah.”
RS: Did you want to head down to the riots? Ha ha.
BB: Ha ha, so that was it.
RS: You bailed on them after that?
BB: I think that was it. Sadly, I wish I could say I stuck through it, but I didn’t really have a team after that. I think I kind of, I don’t know, I liked Dallas, Chicago, but I didn’t really have a total team. I just kind of liked certain guys, certain players then.
When he was still a Canucks fan, Byram’s favourite player was versatile pest Alex Burrows.
“I don’t know, I like the way he played,” Byram said. “He always played hard and scored big goals. So he was definitely my favourite player.
Both Byram and Hunt always played the blueline, never as forwards or in net, despite their preferences.
“Oh, geez, probably Pavel Bure,” Hunt stated. “Very good one. Yep, and Kirk McLean, all the old-timers.”
Donning The Canucks Sweater
Of course, Hunt had the opportunity to wear the Canucks sweater for fifty games during the 2021-’22 season, one in which he tallied three goals and seventeen assists. That of course reverted his allegiance.
“Oh, absolutely,” Hunt stated. “Anytime you get to put on a hometown jersey that you grew up with, dreaming of playing in the NHL, and kind of gave you that drive to play in the NHL. It’s really special and to have a lot of family and friends always around. To put that hometown jersey on is always something special, but anytime you get to put any sort of NHL jersey on your chest, it’s always something that you thought of as a kid playing street hockey or roller hockey or whatever. I’ve been so lucky to be a part of this run and it’s awesome.”
Prior to these last two seasons Hunt played various length stints with the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild.
So that leaves us the other Avalanche BC Boy, Devon Toews. His story is a bit simpler because the Abbotsford native’s allegiance never really wavered, and it wasn’t with the Canucks. He grew up a fan of the Avalanche and his favourite player back then is his general manager now, Joe Sakic.
“We used to drive through Burnaby and see signs honouring Joe, streets named after him,” Toews told us previously. “He was Burnaby Joe.”
Toews used to follow the exploits of Sakic while watching a lot of Colorado games. After being drafted by the New York Islanders in 2014 and spending seven seasons with the organization, Toews ended up where he belongs, winning a Stanley Cup in 2022 with his favourite boyhood franchise.
He’d love to do it again.
At the moment, the three BC defencemen appear to be in a strong position to make a run. They lead their opening round series 2-games-to-1 with Game-4 scheduled for Monday night in Seattle.