The Victoria Cup was everything I thought it would be and more! Apparently it started last year when the NY Rangers came to Switzerland to play the previous years Swiss League Champions. This year is the second year of the Victoria Cup and our men’s team played the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night. On Sunday night, my team volunteered at the welcoming party. There were drinks, music and a presentation ceremony. Shawzy and I thought it was the coolest thing that the Blackhawks were in town and we got to welcome them (no one else on our team was as excited).
On Monday night, Chicago was playing an exhibition game against another team in the Swiss league – HC Davos. A few of us from my team again volunteered so we could go and watch the game. I don’t know whose genius idea it was to allow two Canadians who don’t speak German to act as bodyguards into the VIP section, but it made for some rather entertaining conversations. At one point, a man was walking towards Shawzy and I and he started talking at me. He was smiling and laughing so naturally I smiled back at him and when he laughed, I laughed. He continued talking in German and was just about to walk by me when he stopped and looked at me as if he were waiting for me to say something. I’m guessing he asked me a question, but obviously I had no idea so as he was standing there waiting for me to say something, I just looked at him and said “English?” He started to laugh and said “Oh sorry, no English”. He would laugh at me each time he walked by. Later on another man went up to Shawzy and asked her something and this one spoke English! It’s almost sad how excited we get when we hear someone speaking English. Anyway, he was about to walk away, but I was dying to talk to someone to make time pass quicker so I asked him where he was from. About 45mins later, I found out he’s originally from Sweden, but now lives in Luxembourg, his best friend is the Coach of the Swedish Women’s National and Olympic team and he is the CEO of his own business. I must have drilled him with questions about his business for the majority of the time. He was a great guy and helped pass the time.
After 3 long hours watching people drink and eat food, which we were dying to have some of, the game started and everyone cleared out. We were able to go and sit and watch the game, but had to be back to man our posts before the crowds came back in between periods. As we were asking people to show us their wristbands, which permitted them into the VIP lounge area, Scotty Bowman walks up. For those of you who don’t know Scotty Bowman, shame on you, but he’s a hockey legend. He most recently coached the Detroit Red Wings and has won 9 Stanley Cups as a Coach with the Canadiens, Penguins and Red Wings. He now works with the Blackhawks. Now, in order to get in, you have to have a gold or red wristband. Scotty had a blue one on and the lady (who speaks broken English) is trying to tell him he can’t come in. I’m seeing this unfold and in my head I’m thinking, “this guy is a legend back home, what the heck are you doing woman!” So me, without thinking yells across the way, “Scotty’s legit, let him in”. Right after I said it I was thinking, Oh God why did I just call him Scotty, I’m not his buddy. I don’t even know him. I bet only his friends call him that. I was slightly embarrassed, but Scotty turned around right away and says, “You know me?” to which I replied, “Yes! I’m from Canada” and he just looked at me, smiled and said “Oh!” I kept my cool on the outside, but was acting like a 5 year-old on the inside – Scotty Bowman just acknowledged my existence! Just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, on his way out to go watch the 2nd period he stops and talks to me. He was asking where I’m from in Canada, what I’m doing in Zurich, where I played college hockey. He was such a great guy to chat with. He came back and talked to Shawzy and I again in between the second and third period and then before he left he asked us if we were going to be at the game tomorrow (Tuesday) night, which we said we would be. He said, “Great! I will see you guys tomorrow.” He is such a down to earth, humble man who took a genuine interest in us. That definitely made my night!
Ok, one more story from the night. As we were packing up to go catch our train home, a man looks at me and says “Ah, you’re a ZSC fan” (ZSC is the team I play for and I was wearing our team jacket). I didn’t even answer his question and blurted out “I recognize you from somewhere. Are you Canadian?” Turns out it’s Paul Romanuk who was a sports announcer for TSN (TSN is equivalent to ESPN in the States). I grew up listening to him announce games! I asked him what he was up to because I never see him on TSN and he said he’s living in London now that his wife got a job there and because she had sacrificed so much for him and his career with TSN that it was time for him to do the same for her! He still does colour commentating and he’s actually going to be doing live broadcasts at the Olympics for men’s and women’s hockey this year for Eurosport, which is one of the only channels we get at our apartment in English!
This may be my longest email to date, but bare with me, I was star struck and in awe at this Victoria Cup event. Tuesday night, our men’s team played Chicago. After Chicago beat up on HC Davos 9-2, no one was expecting a good game. The ZSC Lions ended up beating Chicago 2-1 to win the Victoria Cup and the place went nuts. I haven’t been to an NHL game in a few years now, but the 10,000 fans that were in that stadium were consistently louder than any NHL rink I have ever been in. My ears are still ringing! The fans were up on their feet chanting and whistling and singing and taunting throughout the entire game. It was an unbelievable sight and a lot of fun to be at!
Before the game, Shawzy and I had the job of guarding the VIP section again where we made a few more friends. Actually, there was one friend we didn’t have the guts to say hi to or ask to take a picture with. Do you remember the 1980 Miracle on Ice with the USSR and USA? Well of course, who doesn’t? Does the name Vladislav Tretiak ring a bell? The goaltender for the USSR? He was there and let me tell you, he is definitely one man I would never want to meet in an alleyway. I actually avoided eye contact with him when he walked by! Wristband or not, I was not getting in his way! Thankfully a few minutes later a nice gentlemen came up and talked to Shawzy and I for a few minutes and when he left I turned to Shawzy and said, “I know that man, but for the life of me I can’t remember from where”. When he was about to leave I stopped him and asked him if he was Canadian and tried to piece it all together. Turns out he is Canadian and I had met him two years ago when I was out in Colorado at the Frozen Four Skills Challenge. Graeme Roustan is his name and when I saw him two years ago he had just made some major purchases in the hockey world and I luckily benefited from them at the Skills Challenge. He gave me his card and told me to send him an email with our teams schedule as he’s in Zurich 4 or 5 more times this year and would love to come watch a game and grab a drink. He was as friendly and nice as I remembered him being two years ago. He even remembered that my brother had played hockey at Concordia and overseas.
To say the least, the Victoria Cup was an event I will always associate good memories with!
Shawzy, Angi and I are heading back to the Jolly Jumper again tonight for another line dancing lesson. It has been a while! We have this weekend off from hockey because it is an Olympic camp weekend for the Swiss girls. I couldn’t let a weekend off go to waste so Jill and I will be heading to Paris!!! Jill flies in on the 2nd and will be visiting me until the 19th and Paris is one of the many sights we will be seeing along with a ZSC hockey game, a trip to the Swiss Alps, a tour of the Lindt chocolate factory and much more! I am so excited!!!