Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports

The house lights dim and the spotlights swirl. As music blares and dry ice rises from the bench and tunnel, public address announcer Al Murdoch offers up his usual throaty pre-game player introduction:



It’s tough to imagine the atmosphere at Rogers Arena for a first round playoff game this spring should the Canucks somehow qualify. They’ve been in long-shot territory for a while, but after last night’s loss to the Leafs, the idea of playoff hockey here in two months time seems like a silly notion. Few fans likely still have hope and fewer perhaps truly have an appetite for it.

After a night to reconsider, I realize now that a crowd count of 12,000 is a little low. That’s not going to happen in a hockey market like this one. But a crowd of 14-15,000 certainly isn’t out of the question. The Canucks already play to large pockets of empty seats and we know the resale market has become softer than the team’s defense most nights.

Now consider the fact, that the Canucks would start the playoffs on the road this season – a wild card almost surely their only route to qualify. That would put them up against one of the division winners in the West and one of the top two seeds in the conference. And while it is true the Canucks have played better on the road than at home this season, it’s an undeniable truth that this team could very well come home in an 0-2 hole.

Isn’t that every marketing department’s dream? Imagine trying to drive ticket sales at that point. Now if the Canucks were facing Chicago or Dallas, certainly Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews or Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin would put some people in the seats and would likely be worth the price of admission. If the Canucks face the (gulp) L-A Kings, maybe Milan Lucic’s family boosts ticket sales here in town. But if the Canucks came home off the road with nothing to show for their efforts, it’s difficult to imagine fans getting off their wallets to pay playoff prices to jump on a playoff bandwagon with a few of its wheels already in the ditch.

The in-game experience at Rogers Arena has long been knocked for having a corporate culture and lack of any true advantage for the home team. And this year’s it’s been difficult to watch the Canucks struggle to just nine wins at home. It’s a two-way street: players want fans to get behind them, but those same fans need something to cheer about. With 17 goals by the home team the last 10 times out, the Canucks and their crowd seem to be at a crossroads. And the very essence of sports – particularly at playoff time – is that fans want to believe their team has a chance to advance.

Rogers Arena can be a terrific venue in the post-season. With the place full and the towels waving, fans in this city have shown an ability to rock The Rog. But this season? That seems like a stretch. And as much as the organization has said it wants to make the playoffs, ownership must have a read on the market and know that its fan base is restless. Are two home playoff games – if that’s all it turns out to be – really that important to the Vancouver Canucks? Or is the longer-term play here to speed the rebuild and host two rounds of the playoffs a year or two down the line?

The counter-argument to all of this is that IF the Canucks make the playoffs, they will have somehow caught fire here over the final 27 games and would hit the post-season playing their best hockey of the season. And that’s certainly an accurate portrayal of how things have to play out for the Canucks to finish above the playoff bar. But even then, would anyone like this team and its chances against one of the league’s elite?

The Canucks couldn’t beat the Maple Leafs in two tries this season. Now you’re telling me they could put up a fight against a true Cup contender? Sorry, I’m simply not buying that.

And that’s a line likely to be heard often if and when playoff tickets go on sale.

  • Andy

    Maybe Francesco is just the man in the middle: Papi says do whatever you want with the team so long as they make the playoffs, bambino says whatever you do with the real estate make sure to try out these trades he made on EA Sports NHL 2015

    I’d like to hear Tom Gaglardi’s thoughts on this

  • Andy

    It sure would be a lesson to them if they did make the play-offs and nobody showed up.
    I sure wouldn’t like to spend all that money on tickets, food, beer parking just to watch them get steam rolled out in the first round.

  • Andy

    The canucks are boring to watch, hands down.
    Whether they’re in the playoffs or not people want to be entertained.
    Watching Linden Vey and Derek Dorsett doing laps out there is not fun. at all.

  • Andy

    If they get enough points to make the playoffs they will be red-hot and if that the case people will fill the seats.

    Personally I’m still hoping they get a top 5 draft pick…

  • sh1t4brains

    U on ruffeeeeessssss? LMAO. Thanks for the chuckle! I’d be surprised if they make it and if they did…if they make it past the 1st round.

    Miller would have to play lights out just to carry this team.

  • Tiamat

    But making the playoffs and playing playoff games, regardless of the outcome, is what it’s all about. There was a time when folks didn’t talk about tanking and the future but about the here and now. So what if they get steamrolled? It’s still fun to watch them try.

        • Fred-65

          If you spend big bucks to watch knowingly inferior entertainment then you should look for a deserving charity….. you don’t get a tax credit for Canucks games .. charities you do and the money is hopefully helpful to others. In addition it tells Aquaman that he is checking the right boxes. I wouldn’t be shocked if he actually enforced a premium charge for the ply-offs. But it’s all academic any way

        • Tiamat

          Yeah, no. I can’t stand the playoffs and don’t watch them if/when the Canucks are not involved. It’s stupid how the pathetic refs let everything go and it’s usually a scrum of sticks and players whacking each other. You don’t see too many pretty goals in playoff hockey. I do love the intensity and all that but so much crap is let go by the refs. So, no, playoff hockey is not the best – it can be but too often it’s really a bunch of players being bogged down.

          If the Canucks do make the playoffs, I wouldn’t attend the game. Maybe if it was free. Most fans realize they won’t do well and will get swept out in round 1. The Canucks have not gotten beyond round 1 since the 2011 Cup Finals. Seriously, get that damn rebuild in high gear.

    • Tiamat

      Have fun, dude!

      I could deal with them being awful if they were at least fun. but they’re awful AND dreadfully boring. Absolutely horrendous on-ice product, and the only advantage to making the playoffs would be to have a public forum for them to get absolutely torn into shreds. Maybe, if that happens, ownership/management/delusional fans will FINALLY be able to see what a pile of junk this team is.

      But honestly, if you didn’t take that away from the flames running them out of the playoffs/skating circles around them last spring, then I don’t know what to tell you.

  • Fred-65

    I find it hard to believe that Aqualini hasn’t already thought of that scenario. Plus of course have zero Cap space left so how do they add any thing meaningful….. other than the youngster there’s no value in their roster.

    I’m a season ticket holder and I can guarantee I don’t want any more of this….please just cancel the season immediately….that would be nice

  • Fred-65

    I talked about the political dod n pony show for months and now its comming to fruition! Willy D was only hired because Trevor was reminising about his old medicine hat glory years.
    The same jr. team ahem that Dorsett/Vey played for under Desjardins.
    And we would have had ample cap space to go after a Stamkos or top end dman had Benning not have braincramped and signed Miller/Dorsett/Sbisa to 3 yrs at mega millions,lol.

    Sutter may be worth the bucks considering he is big,a good faceoff guy if he can pot 20 goals a yr?And whoever made the refrence that if your last name was italian then the Aqulinis pulled rank and orchestrated the draft day deal to get rid of the best goalie we had in Cory and keep Lui. Then cram Torts under Gillis nose. Yes we have some good young and comming forwards but we still need size and grit. And we need a stud on the backend, and all you Hamhuis lovers,he is done! Not worth even 1.5 million imho. But the biggest problem lies behind the bench.We will go nowhere with Willy D coaching us and the Aqulini group demanding we get to the 8th spot so we can be knocked out in 4 games and they get 2 home playoff dates,lol Ludicrous is the only way to describe the soap opera thats just beginning to unfold here! Oh how I wish Pat Quinn was still in charge with the owners minding there own business,like the Griffiths family

  • Tiamat

    Anyways to stay on topic no way we make the playoffs! We will be unseeded by the california teams. 5 games against the sharks, and others against the kings ducks we are done!

    Can not score enough goals to keep pace with them.Can not defend well enough and with Willy D,S 3rd period coaching philosophy off playing not to lose and get to overtime,we are done. You think Dorsett or Hamhuis will score a late important goal? They likely will be on the ice scored against down the stretch

  • Tiamat

    Canucks had a hard time selling tickets to the San Jose first round series in 2013! I couldn’t believe they were on sale for more than 50% off so bought two lower bowl tickets for 240$ to game 1.

    I can’t imagine there would be much fan interest in a no hope playoff series this spring.

  • Tiamat

    They probably could sell out the stadium if Chicago and LA agreed to play here.


    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan, it just ain’t gonna happen this year. Put your hopes on the next generation and hope they can pull off a cup before the Sedins have to retire.

  • Tiamat

    so let me get this straight…

    fan complain the team sucks and should tank yet complain of the on ice product to the point of refusing to go to games.

    ya that makes total sense.

    worst fanbase in all of sports.

    you idiots cant have it both ways…

    for shame nucks fans, for shame.

    • Fred-65

      Ah..the son of the biggest sack of horse crap I have run across on these boards. He is here spewing out his father’s brand of verbal diarrhea. Awesome! Glad to see you’re carrying on with dad’s tradition. Somewhere there is a village missing its family of idiots. Sad.

      Anyway, let me offer a theory to your stupidity (I rather enjoyed this with your dad :). I think Canuck fans know what they have and realize there is NO chance the team can escape round 1. They haven’t done it for 5 years or so. So, how are they better this year?! They’re showing signs where they could be much better in the near future with the youth movement but not this year. I think that is keeping a lot of the fans pessimistic and away from shelling out big bucks for playoff tix (and even attending regular season games).

      I think this deadline will give us a sign of where we’re heading – rebuild or holding on to the hope that we can make the playoffs.

      It’d be nice to see the team rebuild. Get some assets for vets, sign a key free agent or two in the summer and hope the kids develop properly.

      Stamkos isn’t putting up numbers like he used to but he can still play. He might be a nice add. Sadly, I think Benning’s man-crush on the douche Lucic will see the Canucks signing that bag of a-holes over the summer. Having said that, the real need is D! So, maybe look at a Yandle and a good, young forward via free agent market.

      We’re still a little ways from being able to make a run in the playoffs.

      • Fred-65

        ill get to my so called father in a moment….

        what I am saying is that the team sucks this year and fans are tuning out or not going to games because of poor on ice product.

        if the team actually tanks the product will be the same crap currently or even worse for a few years.

        fans claim to want a rebuild but will still complain when the said rebuild is going on and the team still sucks for a few years.

        any owner of any business wants customers now and also in 2 or 3 years however canucks fans are never happy. ever. always complain about someone or something about the team.

        sure sign a stamkos or a yandle or whoever. they will still complain that we paid tooo much or gave out too much term or whatever…

        like I said worst fanbase ever.

        now to the comments of my so called father…

        look im just a dude playing a dude pretending to be another dude. hes not my father or a relation what so ever. I hate NM00. like you I have had some battles with that puke. my screen name is a shot at that loser…..son of a b*tch – which I cant say so I changed it to son of a NM00 cause I think hes a b*tch.

        I also don’t appreciate all the name calling and will be telling my mother who will be sending a rather nasty email to CA and will have you exposed as the mean person your are.