On a Tough, Poorly Timed Exchange Between the Canucks and Whitecaps FC

Thomas Drance
August 21 2013 07:47PM

I have some thoughts on this uneven spot of Vancouver professional sports franchise #shapheat, and the awful timing of the exchange from a Canucks perspective. I'll share them with you after the jump. 

On Wednesday the @VanCanucks twitter account shared a photo of the Rogers Arena sound system being installed for next season along with the harmless tagline "ever wonder what makes all the noise in Rogers Arena?" As you can see from the Tweets embedded at the start of this post, Vancouver's soccer team couldn't resist tweaking the Canucks' nose over the reputed sleepy, corporate atmosphere at Rogers Arena.

So the Whitecaps FC Twitter account owned the Canucks by contrasting Rogers Arena's sound system noise with the hollistic noise of boisterous, singing footy supporters. Y'know the type of fans that might cause a major controversy and be told to pipe down or even asked to leave if they showed up at Rogers Arena during a Canucks game...

This was a no-win exchange from the Canucks' perspective for a variety of reasons, and I find myself rather sympathetic.

Firstly, the fan culture surrounding soccer and hockey are distinct. You may prefer the fan culture that surrounds grass kick hockey (*) even if you're a massive hockey nerd, but the fact is: iced golf soccer's(*) North American fans just don't do the whole chanting and singing thing. 

(*) Credit to Jon Bois for "iced golf soccer."

Now I'm a guy who loves to sing (evidence here) and if there were regulary Canucks songs that were sung by the Rogers Arena faithful during Canucks home games that would be awesome. Still, the way the Southsiders act when they attend a Whitecaps game and the way your average diehard Canucks fan acts when they attend a game has little relationship with the usual, simplistic "Canucks games are too filled with corporate stiffs showing up late and spending the whole time on their smart phones" complaints.

Fact is I've been in Rogers Arena when it was crazy loud, like during game five of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, and I've been in attendance when the Arena was embarrassingly quiet, like during regular season games against the Minnesota Wild.

I've grown up a hockey fan and I love the atmosphere at a playoff game where everyone sings the anthem and lives and dies with the on-ice outcome. I'm not nearly as big a soccer fan, but I've been to Whitecaps games and the boisterous atmosphere is cool but I'm not sure that it's necessarily better (not to my taste at least). It's just different...

Another reason this is a no-win exchange for the Canucks is that the Whitecaps can't really hold their jock as a business. But that doesn't mean the Canucks can just turn around and tweet "@whitecapsfc lol our franchise is valued at several times whats yours is, nice joke though" or "@whitecapsfc nice one, call us when you open the upper bowl for every match." If the Canucks gently mocked Whitecaps FC the way Whitecaps FC gently mocked them on Wednesday they'd be charactarized as big, bad, obnoxious bullies. Which isn't good for business when you're the unchallenged premium sports brand in the marketplace...

Finally the timing of the exchange really couldn't be worse for the Canucks as they're reportedly facing a situation where they may occupy BC Place for a game in early March to play for a good deal of fans dressed up like empty seats. Vancouver based ticket broker Kingsley Bailey told News1130 on Wednesday that the Canucks' declining fortunes, the oversaturation of outdoor hockey games this upcoming season and the inflated price point are combining to make tickets for the Vancouver hosted Heritage Classic a bit of a tough sell:

Bailey thinks you should wait to buy tickets because they are likely to drop in price.

“It’s happened in the past where they have decided to drop tickets, they did it for the playoffs last year, where they dropped them 21 per cent. If they did that for the playoffs last year, I don’t see it being a problem happening for the Heritage Classic,” (Baily) explains.

Prices for the open-air game start at $93.00 for the first row seats. Those seats are field-level, where you won’t be able to see much, with the rink at least 50 feet away.

So yeah, given the circumstances shrugging gracefully and tweeting footage of the playoff crowd at Rogers Arena was very probably the right play. Sure it's a vanilla response to a solid burn, but this was an inconvenient exchange for the Canucks and their social media team given its timing and high-profile. Sometimes there are no good options.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 huh
August 21 2013, 08:28PM
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what are the "white caps"? never heard of them

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#2 Nat
August 21 2013, 08:38PM
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This touches on something that has been bugging me about the Whitecaps and soccer games in Vancouver. There seems to be this perception out there that Caps games are the ideal crowd behaviour. I don't agree. The constant chanting is not my idea of an ideal crowd experience. It feels obligatory (ingrained expectation of what a soccer crowd should be), and it's not organic. I guess it's an acquired taste.

I definitely at times wish that the Canucks crowds are livelier, but it's also a whole different type of sport. I actually love that there are times where the crowd is relatively quiet, and you can hear the skates scraping the ice, and bodies crashing into the boards. It's not like the crowd isn't paying attention. The constant chanting/cheering at soccer games doesn't quiet feel genuine to me.

That being said, Nucks games would benefit from more consistent crowd engagement.

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#3 capfiSh
August 22 2013, 11:18AM
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Sorry to say but Rogers Arena sucks.

Getting blasted by top 40 music after every whistle is not my ideal hockey watching experience. And by the time the play finally starts & the music ends, the crowd is dead quiet because for the last 30 seconds you can't even have a conversation with the person next to you. I say this as a former Icepak holder who went to 10+ games a year, plus playoffs. I finally gave up my tickets last year due to the lockout coupled with the high prices & poor atmosphere.

Im also not a fan of the pro-longed goal horn & extremly loud music after each goal. Watching a Canucks game on the road is amazing because after a Canucks goal, there's no horn or music, just the sound of Canucks fans cheering. You can really feel the love from the fans, it's great. You don't get that at Rogers because of all the 'Artificial Noise' they pump into the building. This new sound system is only going to exasperate the problem.

In my opinion, as much as "Canucks games are too filled with corporate stiffs showing up late and spending the whole time on their smart phones" is a problem, the Artificial Noise that assualts your eardrums courtesy Dj Dave is even worse.

White Caps win this exchange hands down.

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#4 Trevor
August 22 2013, 08:34PM
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"This was a no-win exchange from the Canucks' perspective for a variety of reasons"

I'm pretty sure this sentence has been in every Canucks article since June 15th 2011.

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#5 Locky
August 23 2013, 08:13AM
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This is actually something I noticed as an Australian going to hockey games in BC. You guys are dead quiet most of the time. Chanting and singing all the time ala soccer isn't necessarily better, but it doesn't have to be one of the two extremes.

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#6 J21
August 23 2013, 09:06AM
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I honestly don't think there was any mean-spiritedness intended here. The Caps' quip was quite funny, as the Canucks' tweet was more or less setting them up for that. I don't think it was really meant to be a commentary on anything.

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