It’s been a weird and wonderful week of hockey around the Capital Region.
On the one hand, diehard and casual fans alike have gathered around giant TV screens to watch the Vancouver Canucks roll toward a first-round victory over arch-nemesis Chicago.
On the other, the ironic and bittersweet tale of a member of the Canucks family, our own Victoria Salmon Kings, is being played out before our eyes. The team is enjoying what could be unprecedented success on the ice, yet is destined to become yet another footnote in the ECHL history book as the Western Hockey League moves in.
From the standpoint of pubs in the region, the seasonal boost in interest for Canucks hockey is paying dividends.
One sports-themed restaurant manager said her downtown establishment was turning people away and was full a good hour before game time. Another operator said people are generally happier with a Canadian team or two in the NHL playoffs and doing well.
That said, fine-dining establishments tend to suffer a little, as more dinner dates come playoff time wind up at pubs instead.
It’s a wee bit of light for an industry hit hard by B.C.’s tougher drinking driving laws and the HST, and expecting an effect from the minimum-wage increase – not to mention a strong Canadian dollar for those operations that count on tourist business.
It’s still early in the playoffs, but the willingness of people to open their wallets is a sign of economic recovery and healthy consumer confidence.
As for the Salmon Kings, their time as a drawing card for area hockey fans is soon coming to a close, despite the appeal of a hockey club winning playoff games and those $5 tickets the team has been promoting of late.
We feel for the players, who were part of an orchestrated plea to fans this week to come out and support them in person at the rink. There’s no doubt they’d rather be on the ice than sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with Canucks fans in a pub somewhere.