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The Secret Weapon

Tuesday, 01.05.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
Vancouver Canucks
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The Secret Weapon
Thomas Jefferson was a great believer in luck. The harder you work, he said, the more you have of it.

The Vancouver Canucks have been working hard, but they find themselves in tough against the Anaheim Ducks, down 2-1 going into a crucial Game 4 Tuesday night at GM Place.

If labour alone isn't enough to turn the tides, maybe it's time to deploy the Canucks' secret weapon: the Canadian actor John Pyper Ferguson.

Pypes, as his friends call him, plays Joe Whedon on the ABC drama "Brothers and Sisters." He's attended home games in both Anaheim and Vancouver, and-Canucks fans take note-he seems to wield some spooky influence over the Canucks' post-season fortunes.

Let's set the scene of his first assist.

The place: The Los Angeles set of "Brothers and Sisters." The Stanley Cup has just arrived-along with its handler, Phil Pritchard, the guy from the MasterCard commercials-on a promotional stop.

The time: April 11, 2007-the day of Game 1 between the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars, a contest that, at 138 minutes, would go down as the sixth-longest in NHL history.

Enter Pypes, resplendent in a vintage blue-and-green Canucks sweater-Henrik Sedin's #33. The 43-year-old approaches the Stanley Cup and lays his hands on professional hockey's Holy Grail. End scene.

It seems like a small thing, but consider the result: Hours later Henrik Sedin lifts his arms in triumph over Marty Turco. He's scored in quadruple overtime, ending the stalemate and propelling the Canucks to victory.

Sometimes the planets just align that way, muses Johnny Pypes. "The invisible hand of Lord Stanley reached out and gave them a goal."

Pypes touches the Cup, Sedin scores a goal. Okay, the skeptical among you could chalk it up to coincidence but for one thing: the fact that Johnny Pypes slips on #33 again, watching the game from home in California, during Game 7 of the Dallas series.

Anyone recall who rippled the mesh to shatter Turco's 167-minute-long shutout and vault a doubtful-looking Canucks squad back into the game? Ah, yes: Henrik Sedin.

John Pyper Ferguson, born in Australia and raised in Eastern Canada, got his start in film and television in 1987, the year Pat Quinn sent Patrik Sundstrom to New Jersey for Kirk McLean and Greg Adams. Until Dave Nonis's trade for trade for Luongo, it seemed the smartest swap in club history.

The ardent Canucks fan proudly hangs four Vancouver jerseys in his closet-the Sedin 33, a Bure 10, a Messier 11, and an alternate jersey from the flying skate' era. He'll be among the cheering fans at Game 4 Tuesday night, which, without doubt, will be the most significant sporting event in British Columbia.

You might know his father, too-Richard Ferguson, who was present at what many consider the most significant in British Columbia's history-the "Miracle Mile," at Vancouver's Empire Stadium.

"It was the biggest media event of its day," said Pypes.

The occasion, of course, was the 1954 British Empire Games, the precursor to the Commonwealth Games. The race featured the world's two greatest middle-distance runners-England's Roger Bannister and Australia's John Landy, the only two men to run a four-minute mile-in their first head-to-head matchup. The stage, as they say, was set for history.

Richard Ferguson set a Canadian record in the race, finishing third, just seconds behind Bannister and Landy, respectively.

Pypes's love of sport comes from both sides of his family. His mother Kathleen Ferguson (née MacNamee) was an Olympic swimmer who represented Canada at two Olympics-London 1948 and Helsinki 1952.

"She and my dad were in the 1950 Empire Games together and on the Olympic team in 52 together as well," Pypes said.

With that sort of Olympian pedigree, you might expect to see Johnny Pypes suiting up on the other side of the boards at Canucks games. Let's just say that acting has treated him a little better than hockey did.

He played for one year as a youngster and was, by his own admission, "a bit dirty." But he remembers his only goal, and his dad (who died of cancer in 1986) was there cheering for him when he got it.

"It was pretty awesome," said Pypes, who counts Captain Canuck' Trevor Linden as his favorite player, past or present.

Keep your eyes peeled for John Pyper Ferguson in his #33 jersey at Game 4, and also for his upcoming CBC drama "Everest '82," the true story of the first Canadians to climb Mount Everest.

Johnny Pypes, for your diligence, your hometown spirit, and your otherworldly influence, the Vancouver Canucks salute you.