This is the Dave I know

JODY VANCE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

The Stanley Cup playoffs are underway and fans across the GTA are deciding which of the three teams north of the 49th they will support.

Here's my argument for the Vancouver Canucks.

Beyond the excitement of "Bobby Lou" (that's Roberto Luongo to those not familiar with the lingo) or the Sedins and their scorching scoring tear -- beyond everything on the ice -- it's up in the GM's box I point to for your reason why.

Back in 1994, I was in radio doing live reports from hockey games and running on-site promotions at the Pacific Coliseum.

When it came to decorating the old barn in East Van there was a team of three charged with getting the job done. There was Dave and me who handled sponsorship for the team, and Jane who ran community relations.

With no budget and nothing but a good sense of humour and creativity, together we made lemons into lemonade using not much more than a bunch of banners and a few rolls of duct tape.

Come and gone since then are the Pat Quinn Era and the Brian Burke Era -- both great hockey men and both great mentors to my old friend Dave.

You may have guessed by now that the Dave who hung banners with me at the Coliseum in '94 is, in fact, Dave Nonis -- the current GM of the Vancouver Canucks.

Dave has graduated from his little windowless office at The Coliseum and now sits in an executive office at GM Place.

When I last saw Dave on Jan. 19 at the ACC, we shared a moment of reflection.

The coolest part of Dave is that he is the same great, unassuming kind guy who helped hang Sprite banners almost 13 years ago to the day.

When I asked him who he would consider his biggest hockey influence, his answer was short and sweet.

"Brian Burke would be my greatest mentor," he said.

"(But) I don't model myself after any one person. I try to take attributes that I like or admire from various people and apply them."

He's still new at the GM job, relatively speaking, but his team entered the playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the West. How quickly this team has gelled under head coach Alain Vigneault is proof that he was the right man to replace Burke as the head hockey man in Vancouver.

"My most satisfying moment with the Canucks in my current role has been seeing this group of players come together as they have this season," said Dave.

"They have done an incredible job."

He is a proud man, a savvy hockey man, but this guy still blushes when you congratulate him.

Dave Nonis is proof that with hard work and dedication anything is possible.

So, if you are a Leaf fan ready to flip a coin as to which bandwagon you should hop onto, this is my case for you to consider the Canucks.

Jody Vance is a sportscaster with Leafs TV. Her columns appear Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.


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