Whether you've been following the team for years or are just now jumping on the Vancouver Canucks' bandwagon, it's worth the ride. Those are the words of KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel as the Canucks vie for their first-ever Stanley Cup title.
Excitement is Infectious
The Canucks host the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals Saturday night. They won Game 1 in dramatic fashion - scoring the only goal of the game in the final seconds of regulation play. Reuters is among the news agencies that documented the excitement.
The Canucks had the best record in the National Hockey League this season and were favored to win going into the playoffs. Their storied season was detailed in the Sporting News and elsewhere. Despite some harrowing moments - including blowing a 3-0 series lead against Chicago and having to win Game 7 to move on - they continue to generate excitement in Canada as well as here in Western Washington and elsewhere around the Pacific Northwest.
The Vancouver Canucks have been in the NHL for 40 years and have never won a Stanley Cup. Art says he understands that longtime fans' who've stuck with the team through the lean years may feel some resentment toward the so-called "bandwagon jumpers." But he says there's room for everyone.
“I think it’s okay to bask in the reflected glory from the north – just as it was when Vancouver hosted the Olympics (in 2010). That’s the closest Seattle will ever get to an Olympics so, what the heck, enjoy it."
Art says many people in the Seattle area view Vancouver as their hometown hockey team, and support their quest for the Cup as they would if the Seahawks or Mariners were vying for a championship. Some may even try to make the trip North to be a part of it all.
“The excitement was really impressive in Vancouver on the streets. Center ice seats were going for $5,000 a pop. So, the bandwagon jumpers better be loaded with cash if they’re going to drive up across the border. The tickets are going to be hard to come by but the street party in Vancouver is like nowhere else.”
NHL in Seattle?
Some local hockey fans may be wondering if Seattle will ever have an NHL team. The city does have some history with professional hockey. Seattle was granted an NHL franchise in early 1970s, but Art says the deal fell apart for a variety of reasons. And he points out that the Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917. You can read more about it on Wikipedia.
But while there's certainly interest, it would take a lot to bring a professional hockey team to town. That includes building a new arena. Art says KeyArena is not suitable for the NHL because it was built in a basketball-only configuration, which means it's a smaller floor.
"When you put the ice configuration down at KeyArena, some parts of the ice are not visible from some parts of the stands. Only 11,000 seats can be sold where you can see the entire arena. So, it's got to be a private building and it's got to be somebody who wants to own the building and the NHL team. There are a handful of people in town who could do that and there have been some discreet inquires but it's a long way off."
You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest.