Think Vancouver sports fans are at a loss now that all three of the city's major professional sports teams are sidelined? Try these guys — Vancouver Canucks stars Kevin Bieksa (left) and Henrik Sedin watch the B.C. Lions' season come to an end Sunday from the sidelines at BC Place Stadium, as the Leos are bounced from the CFL West Final by the visiting Calgary Stampeders.
Photograph by: Ward Perrin, PNG
VANCOUVER - Vancouver sports fans have a serious case of the November blahs and it's got nothing to do with the dreary weather.
No, this is all about the losing and the one team that isn't winning or losing: the Vancouver Canucks.
The B.C. Lions have helped fill that hockey void, but the Leos self-destructed and kissed their Grey Cup hopes goodbye with a 34-29 loss Sunday to the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL's Western Final.
More than 43,000 sombre fans filed out of B.C. Place Stadium wondering what they now do for their sporting fix.
Where do they go to find some wins?
The Vancouver Whitecaps can't help. Their once promising season began to unravel a couple of months ago and in early November came to a rather predictable end with a quick first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Even those always dependable Vancouver Giants can't be counted on these days. With seven wins and 15 losses, the Giants have the worst record in the entire Western Hockey League. It figures to be a long rebuilding year for the G-men.
What Vancouver really needs about right now are the Grizzlies. Yes, the Grizzlies. Remember that team that went a combined 101-359 in six long seasons in Vancouver?
Well, the Grizz carried an 8-1 record into Monday night's game against the Denver Nuggets in Memphis. That's just seven fewer wins than they had in their inaugural season in Vancouver when they went 15-67.
None of the players remain from their Vancouver days, but head coach Lionel Hollins is back steering the ship and it's no longer taking on water. More than a decade removed from their not-so-glory days in Vancouver, the Grizz are looking like serious NBA contenders.
Of course, Tennessee is a tough road trip for sports-starved Vancouver fans. Seattle is a better alternative and the Seahawks have long had a faithful following of Metro Vancouver fans.
Omar Mawjee, managing director of the Seahawks' regional marketing office in Vancouver, thinks the NHL lockout has only increased the appetite for the NFL team.
"I think we're seeing a lot more Vancouver-area fans that are following the team and are making their way down to Seattle," Mawjee said Monday. "Our last home game on the long weekend, (Nov. 11 against the New York Jets), we had tons of ticket requests and we had 200 of our sponsors and contest winners at that game and at our pre-game party we had another 100 people stop by and say, 'how do we get in here.'"
Mawjee says about 10 per cent of a typical Seahawk crowd -- or about 5,000 fans -- are from the Metro Vancouver area.
"We're also seeing increased buzz on our Seahawks-Canada social media, a lot more interactions," he said. "I think part of it is people are trying to figure out how to spend that entertainment dollar, but also the Seahawks' performance on the field has been that much better and the third factor is we have had such a great home schedule with all the good teams coming in."
Trouble is, the Seahawks are a tough ticket. Their sellout streak at CenturyLink Field has surpassed 80 games and the only real way to get a ticket is to go through brokers or third-party sites.
Mike Mahony is one of the lucky ones. He and some friends have had five season tickets to the Seahawks for several years.
"It's great value for what you pay when you go down there to see the Seahawks live," Mahony said Monday. "The game-day experience there is awesome."
Mahony's family own and operate two pubs -- Mahony & Sons Public House -- at the convention centre and at UBC and he knows first-hand how much his patrons are missing hockey.
"I think after the World Series ended everyone was kind of standing around looking for something to do," Mahony said. "People were like where's my hockey? There was enough distractions until then. But now the Whitecaps are done, the Lions are done, no hockey, so where do you turn?"
Maybe you turn east and head to Abbotsford where the 10-2-1 Heat has compiled one of the American Hockey League's best records. If you're a Canuck fan you just have to forget the fact they are the farm team of the Calgary Flames and remember that desperate times require desperate measures.
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