On Sunday March 2nd, the Vancouver Canucks faced off against the Ottawa Senators at BC Place, home of the BC Lions and Whitecaps, in front of nearly 55,00 fans – 2 1/2 times more people than had ever witnessed an NHL game in Vancouver.
BC Place had been retrofitted with a beautiful retractable roof during renovations after the 2010 Winter Olympics, but on this day, a snow storm which morphed into a mix of rain and freezing rain caused the roof to stay closed. The “outdoor classic” became a large indoor game.
As a Whitecaps season ticket holder, I had a “priority opportunity” to purchase tickets to the game so I bought a block of 5 for Mary and I to take our daughter Jennifer, her husband Ben, and their son Jonathan (If you’re wondering why we didn’t include our other daughter Kathryn in this family outing, her famous quote is “Dad, I barely know what sport is in season!”, and her husband Chris is only a casual hockey fan).
The game itself wasn’t a very good one. The Canucks jumped out to a 2-0 lead within the first ten minutes but couldn’t muster much offense after that and ended up losing 4-2. Funny though, no-one seemed to care. The reality was that none of the seats were very close to the ice, and it felt more like you were watching a table-hockey game. We actually spent as much time looking up at the big screen to figure out what was going on as you couldn’t really tell which players were on the ice. As the game wore on, the fans were more into the event itself, starting a wave, not a half-hearted one, a really full-on 1980’s version of the wave and one that totally captivated Jonathan. He pulled out his iPod to record it (yes he is 7 and has his own iPod, just like everyone else in his class), and he was genuinely disappointed once it stopped.
He also indulged himself with an assault on a bag of cotton candy that day. He devoured a “basketball-sized” bag of the purple-blue concoction in about 5 minutes much to my amazement.
Oh, and one nice touch for the fans was that there was a seat cushion attached to every seat in the building with the Heritage Classic logo on it, and it was as provided as a take-away by Tim Horton’s. It also contained a special package of Score hockey cards and Jonathan managed to “score” 5 packs for himself.
One footnote to the game is that it turned out to be Roberto Luongo’s last appearance in a Canuck uniform, one that was spent as an onlooker. There was quite the controversy that day as back-up Eddie Lack got the start ahead of the classy veteran Luongo, and as it turned out, “Lou” was on his way to Florida less than 48 hours after the game was over. Most “real” Canucks fans have been appalled at the treatment he has received from the team’s management, and I can’t help but wonder if other players around the league are going to think twice about coming to the Canucks as a free-agent after seeing the way Luongo was treated.
I’m really glad we had a chance to go, not for the game itself, but as witnesses to the event. It’s something I will always remember with great fondness, just as I’m sure the kids who got to play on the mini-rink will.