A Canucklehead Down Under

Monday, 29.10.2007 / 5:40 PM / Fan Zone
By John Gibson
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A Canucklehead Down Under
For 82 games during the season (and hopefully quite a few in the post-season) us Canucks fans have a lot of ways to check out our team. We can watch the game on TV, listen to Tom and Shorty on the Team, or be a part of the spectacular atmosphere at GM Place. But what do you do if you’re a die-hard Canucks fan living on the other side of the world? This is exactly what Darien Tisseur of Sydney, Australia has been trying to figure out for ten years.

One of thousands of Canucks fans living around the world, Tisseur has gone from living and breathing hockey – just like every other Canadian – to scrounging for highlights and info in a land that knows nothing of Linden or Luongo. But through it all Tisseur has been letting his Canucks flag fly, and has been trying to convert everyone and their dingo to the blue, white, and green.

ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER

Born in Vancouver, Tisseur moved throughout Western Canada during his childhood, before living in Nanaimo for seven years and then Vancouver for ten. After meeting an Aussie who was on a working holiday in Vancouver, Tisseur literally followed her to the other side of the world, and when she went home, he went too. Currently living about an hour away from Sydney, and prior to that near the famous Bondi Beach, Tisseur is entering his tenth year living in the land down under.

Working as an IT Training Consultant, with his 22-month-old son Nicholas, in a country whose stark natural beauty is rivalled only by its unique wildlife and year-round tropical temperatures, you’d think Tisseur would be completely happy. Yet, something is missing for this BC-boy supplanted in Sydney, and the void he feels is all too common for Vancouverites living abroad – Darien is having some serious Canucks-withdrawal!

“The only thing that I miss so much (which all my friends and family can attest to) is hockey and watching the Canucks,” Tisseur says via an 18-hour time difference in Australia. “The only hockey they have here is field hockey – which sorry Australia, sucks compared to real hockey!”

RETURN TO OZ

Needing his fix for hard-hitting sports, Tiesseur quenched his thirst with Australia’s Rugby League. A different breed of animal than the infamous Aussie Rules football, Rugby League is a hard-hitting, quick-paced game with very little protective equipment worn by its players. However, rugby alone cannot replace hockey in the heart of a Canadian, as Tisseur can attest. “As much as I love Rugby League,” he says, “nothing takes me away from my 1st love NHL Hockey and the Vancouver Canucks.”

A Canucks fan for over 30 years, Tisseur does all he can in Australia to show his support for the boys in blue. “I'm always viewing Canucks.com and reading all the articles about what's happening with the team,” Tisseur says. “I've also entered fantasy hockey leagues from here and I print out the odd articles about famous events that happen in the Canucks’ history.”

 While he certainly may be in the minority down in Australia – not only as a hockey fan, but as someone who just knows what the NHL is – Tisseur can’t be the only Canucks fan in a country of over 20 million can he?

“Ha! That’s a good question!” Tissuer says with an emoticon-smile. “I have a hard enough time finding Canadians living here down under, let alone Canuck fans!”

But it’s not all dire straits for ex-Vancouverite.

“The good news is I met up with a Canadian who is helping operate a local toy store and he's from the Kootenays. Great news for me as he is another Canuck fan and is just down the road!”

CHANGING MINDS ONE AUSSIE AT A TIME

With wearing his Canucks pride so openly, and preaching the Canucks religion, you might think that Tisseur could be driving the locals a little Canucks-crazy.

“I only get flak for talking about a game that hardly anyone’s seen from Australia. But I don’t care!” the steadfast Tisseur says. “I tell them they need to go see the Canucks play live at GM Place when they are visiting Vancouver. And the ones that have taken my advice can see why I love hockey and the Vancouver Canucks.”

Trying to change one-Aussie’s mind at a time may be as difficult as a game of knifey spoony – especially in a country that only shows NHL games between American teams. (Which, calling all Canucks in Oz, get on the horn to your local MP to rectify the situation post-haste!)

“It’s hard to build a fanbase for the game when they hardly play any hockey games on television here in Australia.” Tiesseur laments. “But I try and let everyone know that I’m a mad hockey fan for the Canucks.”

FROM TOWEL POWER TO A BOY NAMED PAVEL

You can tell Tisseur’s Canucks-cred is not in question when he’s asked about his favourite player and Canuck moment, as he can’t decide on just one game or personality in Canucks history.

“When you’re as old as I am,” the ‘elderly’ 40-year-old says, “no true Canuck fan can forget when Roger Nielsen started the Towel Power sensation. What a revolution that moment created in the next game in Vancouver, and it's so great to see that he is a true legend of the game when the towels start twirling during a home playoff game. I still get goose bumps remembering that moment!”

And like most Canucks fans, the magical run in 1994 also holds a special place in Tisseur’s heart.

“I still have every game on tape,” the evocative Tisseur reveals, “and fortunately for me, I can still play them here whenever I need to dream and remind myself about the good old days of Canuck glory!”

Nostalgia also runs deep with Tiesseur’s picks for his all-time favourite Canucks. Listing perennial fan-favourite Stan Smyl for his “amazing work ethic,” Darien also has lots of love for the Russian Rocket.

“Bure was amazing to watch in his prime,” Tisseur reminisces. “His blazing acceleration and that booming shot was something to watch.”

And along with most life-long Canucks fans, Tisseur also regards Captain Canuck himself, Trevor Linden, as the heart and soul of the organization.

PARTY IN SYDNEY?

While the season may still be in its infancy, Tisseur shares the hopes and dreams of Canuck-nation, particularly with the potential that this year’s team has. He may not have the luxury of games readily available to watch, but obviously Tisseur is finding alternative ways of consuming all-things Canucks while living down under. And here’s hoping come June he’ll be throwing a Stanley-Cup parade, Aussie-style!

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Population of Australia: 20,434,176 (July 2007 estimate)

Distance Between Vancouver and Sydney: 12,484 km

Time Difference: 18 hours

Number of Years Living in Australia: 10, as of November