In the last week I have been to three hockey games; 2 Victoria Salmon Kings games and one Vancouver Canucks games.
Yes. This is a fairly recent phenomenon for me.
And prior to seeing the Canucks play last November of 2007, I have not seen a regular season game since the era of Bobby Hull and Bobby Orr.
No, I am not kidding and yes, I feel like I have been asleep for 100 years.
Here is the thing. I have seen 3 Salmon Kings games in the last month and I am sold. I love these guys and I’ll tell you why:
The Salmon Kings play at the Save On Foods center which is an intimate space at about 5000 seats. The Canucks play at GM Place, which I think seats about 17,000.
Salmon Kings hockey is totally family friendly right down to the folksy intermissions with short pee-wee hockey games, multi-generational families clustered in rows of affordable seats, familiar faces and collections of arena geezers who could be anyones and everyones grand-pa. The waft of popcorn and hot-dogs drowns out the fragrance of hops and malt at the Salmon Kings games.
On appearances, Canucks hockey is a great big corporate experience with tickets so generally un-affordable as to be out of reach for the average guy. If it wasn’t for periodic work-related visits to Vancouver with hotels provided, the NHL hockey game would be out of my reach.
Molson Canadian Beer! Canucks hockey is less a sports experience and more a giant beer garden…
with lots of really big men… I mean, where do these Bear-sized males, who look like they eat steak three times a day, come from? Surprisingly, despite the zillion gallons of Molson beer that are served at the average Canucks game, the audience remains pretty sedate. Everyone is, after all, reminded frequently to behave themselves – there is even a 1-800 squeal line you can call if your adjacent revelers get a little out of control.
Back to the Salmon Kings. These Victoria boys give good hockey for the $20-something ticket prices and they really work at it – I mean, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain if their talent shines through.
The Canucks, on the other hand, are all millionaires… and it shows. The crowd is more blinged out, more angry by the sounds of all the expletives that drift through the crowd… and yea, generally less family friendly.
So. Give me the smaller arena and the small town home team with the 20 dollar tickets… and I will save the Canucks for that, ahem, special occasion