|Game in and game out fans travel from far and wide, some donning jerseys, others with their faces painted and signs in hand, to support the Vancouver Canucks.
What would be a surreal sight for some teams is just a regular night for the Canucks as the team is never short on encouraging fans. The best fans in the league are a 7th man like no other in Vancouver, and Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars they’ll reach a milestone rarely seen in professional sports with the 200th consecutive sell-out at GM Place.
The streak, which includes 18 playoff games, dates back to Vancouver’s 3-2 win over Los Angeles on Nov. 14, 2002. More than five years have passed since that game and a lot has changed since then, but one thing that certainly hasn’t is the overwhelming dedication shown by the fans.
“It’s impressive,” said forward Brendan Morrison. “I’ve been here for every one of those sell-outs and it’s an amazing feat. It says a lot about the fans and all the communities in B.C. that are behind us. It’s nice to know that we have that support.”
Over the last 199 games, fans have been a part of more highs and lows than a rollercoaster ride. They’ve seen the Canucks blow-out their opponents, as well as suffer heartbreaking losses, but win, lose or draw, Morrison believes his team’s drive is what keeps the fans coming back for more.
“I think for a while we’ve had a competitive team that has a chance to win every night. I think initially what drew interest back a few years was that we were really an entertaining team. We had one of the highest scoring offences, we played a really dynamic offensive style and it was entertaining to watch. We’ve kind of gotten away from that these last couple of years focusing more on defence, but we’re still winning and I think this team is better suited for playoff style hockey this way, so I think that’s got the fans’ interest.”
Thanks to the devotion of sell-out crowds of 18,630, the Canucks have won an unprecedented 113 home games since the streak started, as GM Place has become one of the toughest buildings to play in for opposing teams.
Luckily the Canucks are on the receiving end of cheers while on home ice, which is not lost on the players. According to defenceman Mike Weaver, the support shown by crowds in Vancouver is awe-inspiring.
“Growing up in Canada, I know that there is a huge love for the game here and the fans in Vancouver are great,” said Weaver, a native of Bramalea, ON. “Whether they’re in the stands or just on the street with their jerseys, it’s kind of nice to see. It’s my first time really playing in a Canadian city and it’s been a great time so far.
“It just doesn’t get any better than playing in a Canadian city. I’d heard a lot of things about it, but until you actually play here, you don’t really get the experience.”
Currently in his sixth season in the NHL, Weaver played in Atlanta and Los Angeles prior to joining the Canucks, while Morrison was in New Jersey before coming to Vancouver during the 1999-2000 season. Both players have seen their share of empty buildings, so it’s been refreshing for them to experience playing in a hardcore Canadian market.
The same can be said of veteran Trevor Linden, a long time fan favourite in Vancouver. He started his career with the Canucks and will likely end it with them as well, and he’s more than thankful for all the support the fans have shown him, and the team, for many years.
“It’s remarkable,” said Linden. “For a player it’s a great situation, you couldn’t ask for anything better.
“The sell-out streak says a lot about this market and the passion these fans have about this team. We have the type of players in this locker room that people admire and want to come watch, and that says a lot about the direction this teams going.”
For Linden, the support he’s received over his career has been second to none, and it’s become almost overwhelming this season.
“At times I find myself just trying to keep my focus on what I’m doing. The fans have always been nothing but first class towards me, so for me it’s been a wonderful situation and I feel very fortunate that I’ve been in it as long as I have.”
Two hundred sell-outs and counting, thank you fans for making the Vancouver Canucks a world-class team and organization.
4 - Consecutive sold-out seasons
200 - Consecutive sell-outs
18,630 - Fans to sell-out for a sinlge game
763,830 - Fans to sell-out for a single season
3,726,000 - Consecutive tickets sold
(not including playoffs)