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Revealed: Vancouver Canucks’ secret playoff motivational tool

BOSTON -- Shhh. Don't tell anyone. But bivouacked just below the Stanley Cup summit, the Vancouver Canucks have their own motivational tool.

The Canucks didn't want to talk about it, but the secret came out Monday morning as they prepared for Monday night's Game 6 and the possibility they could clinch their first Cup in the franchise's 40-year history.

It turns out the Canucks have a board with a picture of the Stanley Cup atop a mountain in their dressing room. Along the bottom it says: "NO SHORTCUTS TO THE TOP." There are base camps representing each round of the playoffs. Each victory is commemorated with a carabiner.

Fifteen down … or up, rather.

One more to go.

"Obviously we've talked about it, to get to the peak of the mountain," Canucks winger Alex Burrows said. "That's what we'll try to do tonight."

Who puts the carabiner on the board after each victory?

"We don't really talk about it a whole lot," Burrows said.

Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa(notes) let out a sigh when asked about the board.

"That's privileged information," Bieksa said, sort of smiling, sort of frowning. "That's something we don't talk about. That's our own personal thing. That's our jacket."

The Boston Bruins, of course, have a kitschy late-'80s jacket that defenseman Andrew Ference(notes) bought on eBay for about 35 bucks (from a Vancouver store, of all places). Ference intended to wear it around the room for fun, but it became a motivational tool when the Bruins started using it to recognize the hero of each victory.

It became a powerful symbol after Game 3 of this series, when Nathan Horton(notes), who held the jacket for scoring the winner in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final, wasn't able to pass it to the next guy because he had been knocked out by a late hit and suffered a concussion. The Bruins left it hanging under his nameplate until after Game 4, when Horton appeared to present it to his replacement on the top line, Rich Peverley(notes), who had scored twice in his absence.

Bieksa mocked the jacket, saying it was something Pee-Wee teams do. But of the board, he said: "We just have a little ritual that we've done with every win in the playoffs."

The ritual traces back to Ed Viesturs, a mountain climber and motivational speaker. He became the first American and fifth person ever to summit all 14 of the world's highest peaks without supplemental oxygen.

Viesturs spoke to the Canucks at the beginning of the season and again before the playoffs. Bieksa called him a "pretty impressive individual" and said "he's been our guy."

How does his journey relate to that of the Canucks?

"The challenges and teamwork, obviously," Bieksa said. "He summits a lot of the peaks, but it takes a whole team just to get up there, and it takes months and months of climbing, and it's years and years of training, too. So there's a lot of parallels there.

"But again, what are we talking about this for?"

Bieksa laughed.

"We'll talk more about it after."

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