Ed Willes wrote a nice little column in the Province today about how Rogers Arena is a quiet place to play hockey right now. This caused quite the ruckus on Twitter after the Team 1040 piggybacked on the article, as they often do. I think every show on the Team 1040 had a poll question about the atmosphere at Rogers Arena.
The article was given a lot of weight because of this quote from Kevin Bieksa:
But from our perspective, it’s a little sad. At times, we get that on the road when we’re in Phoenix or L.A., it seems we have a louder crowd than the home team, and I know it gets them down. When you’re at home and the road team has a louder crowd, it’s a little embarrassing. I don’t think we want that to happen to us.
The jist of the article was that Rogers Arena has very little atmosphere and how this is somehow a mystery because the Winnipeg Jets have loud fans and that the Canucks have loud fans on the road. The Team 1040 hosts also had a lot to offer up in terms of reasons for why Rogers Arena is so quiet. The problem with the opinions of Ed Willes and all of the Team 1040 hosts is that for the most part they have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to this subject. Sure, the media go to a lot of hockey games, but on rare occasion do they actually sit with the fans.
As someone who has seen a handful of games in the press box at Rogers Arena, I can tell you that you get no sense of the atmosphere inside the bowl. When you’re sitting in the press box, you might as well be sitting at the Shark Club across the street, because you’re so far from the atmosphere. Jeff Patterson tried to make the case that the Canucks haven’t been offering up much to cheer about lately, which is true, but the problem is that this is not a new problem in Rogers Arena. With that said, let me tell you the top four reasons why Rogers Arena is so quiet.
1. Ticket Prices
The first reason is perhaps the most obvious, ticket prices. The Canucks have some of the highest ticket prices in the NHL. Even members of the media could figure this one out. When you have higher ticket prices, you lose more blue collar fans and you gain a lot of corporate types. How many people get free tickets through work at Canucks games? I imagine quite a few. Those people are likely to be more casual hockey fans and not die hards.
2. No Groups of Guys at the Games
Want to know why Canucks fans are so loud when they watch their team play in places like Phoenix or Los Angeles? Because typically it’s a group of about 4 guys that are on vacation, are going drinking before the game and going to party after the game. For this reason, the average road fan will always be louder than the average home fan.
Canucks fans on average will never be as loud at home as they are on the road, but what they could duplicate at Rogers Arena is what I call the ‘group of guys’ atmosphere. I know a lot of people that go to Canucks games and just about every one of them goes with one other person because the tickets come in a pair, likely because it’s a season ticket or ice pack. It’s hard to get 4 guys together to commit to buying an ice pack. It’s pretty easy to get 4 guys to commit to going to a single game. Unfortunately that’s a thing of the past. When you watch hockey in a group, you’re a lot louder than when you watch it in a pair. Also, if you’re going to go to the game with one other person and that person is your wife/girlfriend/child, you’re going to be a lot quieter than if you go with a buddy. Look at loudest buildings in the NHL, and I bet you’ll see a crowd comprised of a lot of 20-50 year old men watching the game in a group.
3. Game Presentation
Unfortunately the Canucks front office is part of the problem, specifically the game presentation. Canucks game presentation is excellent in a lot of ways, but pumping up the crowd is not one them. For instance, the Canucks hit the ice to U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name”. I’m a U2 fan, but that’s no way to pump up a crowd. Want to hear what other teams hit the ice with? The Flyers and Sharks come out to Metallica and the Bruins play AC/DC. I don’t know if the Canucks need to go with either of those bands (though I love any AC/DC song at a hockey game), but they need something heavier than this:
Personally, something by the Black Keys would work for me:
The Canucks do way too much “emotional” stuff. How many times do you see an overly dramatic naration of some Canuck player by Joey Kenward on the big screen? Snoozefest.
Even when the Canucks game presentation people try to get fans to make noise, they often do the opposite. In last year’s playoffs, they thought it would be appropriate to have the Odds blast you with their music before the game. That sounds like a good idea, but they missed the boat on it. Before a game in the Stanley Cup playoffs is the time where fans get great chants going and when you blast music, you drown that out. When the Odds yelled out ‘Go Canucks Go’, it’s contrived and doesn’t have near the same effect of when the fans start the chant on their own.
This is another obvious reason, but complacency has set in. The Canucks have been a pretty good team for a while now, and realistically don’t have a lot to play for right now. Everyone knows it, and when you have just seen your team in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, it’s a little harder to get revved up for Phoenix on a Wednesday night. When the Canucks narrowly squeaked into the playoffs after a five year absence in 2001, fans got pretty excited about game number 70 of the regular season. That’s because the Canucks were in a playoff race and the playoffs seemed like a big deal. In Winnipeg right now, ANY game is a big deal and that’s why they’re so loud. If Vancouver lost its NHL team for 15 years, we’d be pretty loud too.
Rogers Arena is a pretty quiet rink because of a whole host of reasons and it’s not likely to become one of the loudest anytime soon. But obviously fans in Vancouver care deeply about wins and losses and when the playoffs start, Rogers Arena is a completely different atmosphere. Want to know how the Canucks won game 7 against Chicago? It probably had a lot to do with this guy:
Forget the Green Men, lets find a way to get this guy to more games.