“She’s turning four and she’s a very serious hockey fan.”
Darcy Carriveau stood beside a giant van plastered with Canucks mascot Fin and described her small blond daughter Royal. A day after the NHL labour dispute was resolved, finally ending the contentious, extended lockout, hockey fans like the Carriveaus sought out the NHL’s place of worship in Vancouver: Rogers Arena and the Canucks retail store.
In their household, hockey rules. The lockout was a terrible disruption to the family. “It’s been driving her crazy,” Carriveau said about her daughter, but the mood is now jubilant.
“Her dad is called the ‘chief Canuck.’ That’s his nickname,” said Royal’s mom. “She’s been to more games than I have, probably five or six since she was born.”
Standing alongside the Canucks promotional van painted with a large image of Fin and parked outside the store, the pair posed for a self-portrait. The three-year-old was too shy to speak or pose for the Courier’s photographer.
At her first NHL contest, Royal was broadcast on the arena’s big screen. “My husband is making big plans and she’s ecstatic,” said Carriveau. “For her, the main attraction is Fin.”
Near Granville Street at the Red Card Sports Bar, Alan O’Donnell doesn’t give two shakes about the Canucks, but moved from Ireland to Vancouver three months for one primary reason. On Sunday, he wore a Detroit Redwings jersey behind the bar.
“I moved here for hockey,” said the bar manager who chose Canada over Australia on his three-year visa application. “I love hockey.”
The NHL lockout was more than an annoyance, it was a deep disappointment that cost him money and disturbed travel plans.
“I booked flights to Detroit for the Winter Classic, I bought tickets, I had all these plans and it blew up in my face,” said O’Donnell, who holds no grudge. NHL hockey will likely resume Jan. 19, “So I’m pretty delighted,” he said as the BCS collegiate championship kicked off Monday evening in the bar. Not a single patron wore a Canucks jersey.
“People are saying they’ll stay away. I don’t’ think they will,” he said. “I think they’ll get straight back into it, especially with the football coming to an end.” The NFL playoffs wrap up Feb. 3 with the XLVII Super Bowl in New Orleans.
O’Donnell believes fans’ hurt feelings will subside, at least in Vancouver and other rabid hockey markets.
“Everyone is still pretty pissed off about it. They say they don’t care, the lockout is over and we don’t care, they say. But I reckon as soon as it starts again they’ll get back into it.”
The Carriveau family certainly holds no hard feelings for the millionaires and near-billionaires who squabbled for months and caused, as many believe, irreparable damage to the league’s image and profitability.
“I’m Canadian,” said Carriveau, “so I just want them to get back to the game everybody loves.”