Vancouver Giants cut prices on upper-bowl seats for early games, ‘want people to rediscover’ what team is all about (with video)
Vancouver Giants’ 19-year-old forward Marek Tvrdon (left) and 87-year-old former Vancouver Canuck Ernie Dougherty wear vintage Canucks jerseys circa 1946, which the WHL Giants will wear at their home opener on Friday. Dougherty as well as former teammate, Andy Clovechok, age 89, will see their team, which won the 1945-46 Pacific Coast League title and were United States amateur champions, inducted into the B.C Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday.
Photograph by: Kim Stallknecht, PNG
VANCOUVER — The NHL lockout is on and the Vancouver Giants didn’t waste any time Monday being first past the post with a deal for you.
Giants majority owner Ron Toigo announced that his Western Hockey League club is reducing all upper-bowl red seats at Pacific Coliseum by $4 for the first three games of the regular-season. Reds, which are normally $19, will be available for $15. The new season begins Friday with the Victoria Royals in opposition (7:30 p.m., Team 1040).
“We want people to rediscover what the Giants are all about,” said Toigo. “We want everybody to come and take another look at us, see the quality of play and see some of the great stars of the future.”
Toigo admitted the Giants have lost about 1,000 season-ticket holders since the 2009-2010 season when they were forced out of the Coliseum for an extended period of time due to the Winter Olympics. They haven’t been able to regain those fans and this may be their best opportunity. During the 2004-05 NHL lockout, the Giants added about 1,000 subscribers — “or maybe a little more” — according to Toigo.
“People ask how does the lockout affect the Giants?” Toigo continued. “It’s going to affect our attendance in a positive way, but the biggest effect is on the calibre of play within our league. The number of players who would be moving on to the NHL will now stay at this level and raise the calibre of our games. Five of the top 10 draft picks in the NHL will be playing in the WHL.”
Defenceman Ryan Murray, selected second overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets last June, will be at the Coliseum on Sept. 28 with his Everett Silvertips, which is the second of the ‘lockout reduction’ games. The third discounted game is Sept. 30 (a 4 p.m. start) against the Spokane Chiefs.
Toigo is trying to seize the opportunity early. In 2004-05, the entire NHL season was eventually cancelled and the Giants were able to gradually increased their box-office numbers throughout the year. This time, Toigo figures the lockout will be shorter.
“The last one we planned for because all the writing was on the wall,” he explained. “The system was badly broken so we expected a lockout. This one, I thought they’d get it figured out because they have the cap and all the other things. So I don’t think this will be a long one, not as long as the last one was.”
The Giants also announced they will wear 1945-46 Vancouver Canuck replica jerseys in Friday’s home opener to honour the Pacific Coast League championship team that is being inducted Thursday into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
Ernie Dougherty, one of two surviving members of the ‘45-46 Canucks, attended Monday’s announcement and was tickled pink about the whole thing. He’ll be in attendance Friday. He’ll also attend a cocktail party Wednesday for new Hall inductees
“It’s going to be a busy week but I’ve got nothing else to do,” quipped Dougherty, 87. “When Hall of Fame president Sue Griffin called me in January to tell me the team was going to be inducted, it was a great feeling of elation and it stayed with me all day. I feel quite honoured to have this happen to me late in my life.”
Meanwhile, Giants minority owner Pat Quinn offered no prediction Monday on how long he felt this lockout might last. He was personally involved in the three previous NHL work stoppages — as Canucks GM during the 1992 players strike and 1994-95 lockout and as Toronto Maple Leaf head coach for the 2004-05 washed-out season.
“I don’t know if I have a prediction, I’m not on the inside,” said Quinn, now 69. “Everyone keeps their cards close to the vest. They put out what they wish the public to see. There is a significant gap where both sides think they should be so it could be prolonged.
“I’m just hopeful that we find a way to get back because we are all fans of the game here and what we want is our NHL hockey,” Quinn added. “We want to see the best in the world compete at the best levels.”
G-NOTES: The Giants acquired three players Monday after completing their six-game pre-season schedule with just one win. GM Scott Bonner dealt a 2014 sixth-round bantam pick to the Edmonton Oil Kings for 18-year-old forward Tristan Sieben. He also sent a pair of draft picks to the Kelowna Rockets for 18-year-old forward Tanner Moar and 17-year-old defenceman Stewart Coyle, surrendering a fourth-rounder in 2014 and a sixth-rounder in 2015.
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