I was 19 when the Vancouver Canucks last played in the Stanley Cup finals and came one win away. Christopher Tanev was five.
Chris grew up playing hockey but by the age of 16 was still pretty short, and so he was cut from 7 minor league teams by the time he was old enough to drive.
Tanev played roller hockey for awhile and then managed to make the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers in the NCAA before being picked up by the Canucks farm team just over a year ago.
His first NHL game was this January. He had one assist in 29 games.
He made his first appearance in the final series of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Friday night and played a poised 12 minutes where his team needed him dearly. He nearly set up a game winning goal.
I have been so emotionally invested in this Stanley Cup series that there have been times I could hardly sleep; could hardly sit still. When his teammates talk about Tanev the one word they all use is "calm".
He described his first shift to the Vancouver Sun as follows: "Their guy dumped it in and my legs didn't feel too well when I went to get the puck ... After that, I felt fine. I had a blast."
Tonight at 1am local time I'll be up watching my boyhood team trying to win their (our!) first Stanley Cup - on away ice. I'll be so anxious and excited I'll feel like I might throw up. But I'll have my eye on 21-year old Tanev and hopefully he will soothe my shattered nerves. It is weird that my childhood dream now rides on the back of people younger than me.
Part of what you hope to be able to do when you root for your team is actually like or identify with some of the players. Tanev is one of those. He could easily be the guy at footlocker who casually fetches me a different pair of adidas, all the while waiting for his shift to end so he can go catch a movie.
The promo videos will focus on the big name players and the microphones will swarm around them for sound-bytes that provide a series-narrative for those outside Boston and Vancouver to grab on to. But there are one or two microphones in front of Tanev and they produce the story that follows. Its a good story, but I prefer the raw footage. Nothing earth-shattering here - which is kind of the point.