Oct 242008
 

There’s a lot of chatter the last few days about the very cryptic message the Canucks have put up on their website.

Who else suffered rejection for an NHL franchise, but never quit? Who else turned a symbol of tradition into a passionate tradition copied all across sports? Who else survived the insults of the Flying ā€œVā€, the Plate of Spaghetti and the Skate going down? Who else turned a symbol of surrender into a passionate tradition copied all across sports?

October 25th, 2008 General Motors Place

7

There is, of course, speculation about what it means and Mike, Sean and Alanah have all weighed in already.

Because I’m on my own two-week Eastern road trip right now, I haven’t been too much in the loop and asked a friend and former co-worker at GM Place for some ideas on what it means. Unless my friend is taking advantage of my current state of ignorance, Alanah is spot on about the riddle being about the Canucks hockey fan. (And as a disclaimer, this entire post is based on the assumption that my friend isn’t pulling my leg.) Basically, the idea is to designate the 18,630 Canucks fans at every home game the team’s “7th man”. Think basketball’s 6th man and the Seattle Seahawks’ 12th man. The team obviously hopes that the 7th man – all 18,630 of them – will make GM Place a loud place and a tough place for any visiting team to play in.

So how exactly are the Canucks going to do this? I don’t know except I’m sure there’s some sort of tribute video involved. (The team does do good videos.) Prior to a playoff game a couple of years ago, the Canucks trotted out some old faces with hockey sticks and white towels and led the frantic crowd in waving the white towels. It’s possible that they do that again.

But if the Canucks want a louder GM Place, what should they actually do? Here are a couple of (somewhat serious, somewhat not) suggestions.

  • Win games.
  • Lower beer prices. Cheaper beer = more beer consumption = rowdier fans = louder fans. According to the 2008-2009 Team Marketing Fan Cost Index (link via Greg Wyshynski, Yahoo Sports), the Canucks rank in the top half of the league selling a 16 oz beer at US$6.10, or at the exchange rate used in the report, about CDN$7.00. The only thing is, I don’t remember beer even being that cheap at GM Place. Maybe it was in 1995 when it first opened, but certainly not now. I know I paid $7.75 the last time I bought beer at a game.
  • Lower prices overall. From the same report, the Canucks have the 7th highest cost to the fan, behind only the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild. I realize this is a supply and demand thing; however, people need to feel the experience to be passionate about something. And they can’t experience Canucks hockey if they can’t afford it.

I do like the idea of honoring the fans, engaging them more and bringing them more into the Canucks experience and I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for them (providing I can find a sports bar here in Montreal that will show the game). But if the team wants fans to be more excited and more passionate, then it has to make sure that they don’t feel like they’re going on a date with a gold digger. I already mentioned the irony of the fan appreciation day game being available only on pay-per-view. If the Canucks are saluting their fans this Saturday, I hope they do it right.

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