He's back: NHL season sets stage for Johnny Canuck comeback

After an NHL final that left fans crestfallen - and an ensuing riot that hit them when they were down - how could Johnny Canuck sit out the current season?

Adam MacKay-Smith, local actor/filmmaker, is back in the game with The Heartbreak of Johnny Canuck, a sequel to last season's surprise hit, My Name is Johnny Canuck.

"If I couldn't have perfection last year, then this year I'll have redemption," Johnny tells himself in the three-minute short shot at Peterson Creek falls and in the Lac du Bois grasslands.

MacKay-Smith wasn't certain whether Johnny, heroic yet comically satirical, would have a life after the debacle of the 2010-2011 season final.

"I promised I would, so after the Canucks lost it was definitely hard to do," said the local media-production artist.

At the height of playoff fever, the first instalment went viral on YouTube, receiving close to one million hits. Major networks aired the film short, in which Johnny personifies the Canucks, swearing to end their 40-year Stanley Cup drought. MacKay-Smith was interviewed by Global TV, CTV and CBC Radio.

The team itself got in on the act, screening the video before thousands of cheering fans during the last three games in the series. Not since his comic-book incarnation during the Second World War - when he symbolized Canadian resolve to defeat the Nazis - had Johnny Canuck enjoyed such a reception.

As fans poured into the streets of downtown Vancouver June 15, the filmmaker realized what was about to happen. Even Johnny, if he were there, couldn't have stopped the riot.

"We were downtown for Game Seven. I knew it was going to go bad, so we went back to our hotel room."

With all of this emotional baggage still lying about months later, he knew he had the ingredients for a comeback.

"I really tried to tap into this feeling," McKay-Smith said. "Man, we should have won."

Shot with the support of MacKay-Smith's girlfriend, Sonya Aldoff, the sequel begins with a dream sequence as Johnny hoists the cup. That's not a tinfoil facsimile he's cradling; it's the real thing.

"I stole it from a Bruin," the actor quipped. Home-town Stanley Cup champion Mark Recchi brought the cup to Kamloops for a brief visit last summer and let it be used for the scene.

There's another convincing scene in which Johnny, preparing for the struggle ahead, sheers off his beard with a broadaxe.

"It was a little faked, but it still hurt quite a bit," the actor admitted.

The video can be watched online at johnnycanuckfilms.com.

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