VANCOUVER — Jack Gill was beside himself.
“Parker’s not coming,’’ he said. “He thinks there will be problems.’’
Ryan Parker is a Boston Bruins fan, and he had watched the previous six Bruins-Canucks games in a little corner in a little bar called Dentry’s that Gill owns in a little Vancouver neighborhood called Point Grey.
This is not downtown. Think West Roxbury. Anybody wearing a Bruins jersey downtown, on Granville Street? They’re asking for it.
But here, hard against the University of British Columbia, with all the cafes and bookstores and yoga studios, it is almost genteel.
There is nothing genteel about hockey in Vancouver.
It’s hard to be a Bruins fan anywhere in this town.
For the first few games, Canucks fans tolerated Parker and the few other guys who had the nerve to wear the black and gold to Dentry’s. At first, they were a novelty. Then they became a nuisance.
“They sat in the corner and didn’t say much,’’ Jen Perkins, the waitress, was saying. “When the Bruins scored all those goals so fast in the first period of Game 6, they couldn’t help themselves. They were excited. Everybody else in here wasn’t.’’
Gill was born in England to Indian parents. But he is, like every other immigrant in this immigrant town, a hockey nut. Last night, he was wearing a Canucks jersey.
“I hate wearing this thing,’’ he said. “I’m a Red Wings fan.’’
It is a very weird thing, figuring out hockey loyalties here.
“Parker’s an awesome guy,’’ Gill said. “He’s a teacher. And he stays after school to talk to all the East Indian kids, the kids whose families are from Punjab, because he knows they have it tough when they go home and they’re not doing well in school. He’s a Toronto guy, but he’s a Bruins fan. I love him. And it kills me he won’t come out.’’
Gill prides himself on running a joint where anybody’s welcome. Canucks fan. Bruins fan. Any fan.
“I really wanted Parker to be here,’’ he said. “He just worried things would get out of hand, especially if the Bruins won.’’
Call him, I said.
Gill handed me his cellphone, and this is what I said to 31-year-old Parker: “Look pal, I know where you’re coming from, but I am the only guy from Boston in this joint right now. I need some backup.’’
Twenty minutes later, Parker and his beautiful wife Katie walked in.
“You?’’ Geoff Wildbur said. “Again?’’ During Game 6, Wildbur, a Michael Moore look-alike, was merciless in his mocking of Parker and the other handful of Boston fans who had the temerity to venture out to cheer on the Broons.
But last night Wildbur had a confession.
“I grew up in Toronto too,’’ he said. “I was a Maple Leafs fan.’’
Wildbur and Parker looked at each other. You could almost hear the violin music. But the moment passed and then they just sneered at each other.
“What kills me,’’ Wildbur said, “is the Bruins have more Canadians than the Canucks do.’’
He realized what he said and then he said, “Don’t put that in the paper.’’
When Patrice Bergeron scored the Bruins’ first goal, Parker stood up, pumped his fist, and kissed his wife.
Wildbur ordered another beer.
Don Cherry, the former Bruins coach, came on the TV during the intermission, dressed in a jacket that looked like something you’d put on a picnic table. “He’s the only good thing you guys in Boston ever gave hockey,’’ Wildbur said.
When Brad Marchand scored the second goal, Wildbur ordered some nachos.
When Bergeron scored the third goal, Wildbur ordered me to be kind.
“This is ridiculous,’’ he said. “The Canucks have outplayed them in every facet of the game.’’
Parker was smiling and second-guessing himself about coming out in public with a Bruins jersey on in a place called Vancouver.
They came in slowly, one after another, period after period. Bruins fans, summoned by cellphone, by a power higher than them. As the minutes ticked down, and the Canucks fans folded their arms, the Bruins fans emerged, like dandelions after a spring rainfall.
When it was over, Parker stood up and kissed his wife deeply. He turned to Wildbur and shook his hand.
And when Zdeno Chara skated around with the Cup, Wildbur stood up and said, “Give it to Thomas, give it to Thomas.’’ When Tim Thomas got the Cup, Wildbur stood up and cheered, because, in the end he is a hockey fan, and he knew the guy who most deserved to hoist the Stanley Cup held it in his hands.
Losing is lousy. Losing to Tim Thomas is stomachable. Even in Vancouver.