The Vancouver Canucks pre-season starts tonight and hockey fans aren't the only ones celebrating. Downtown businesses are just as eager to see the puck drop and their sales go up.

Charles Gauthier, spokesman for the Downtown Business Improvement Association, calls it an early Christmas.

"It's sort of like Christmas for a lot of our merchants. There's a clientele that will come into the hockey games and they tend to spend money," he said.

Downtown bars are ordering extra beer to prepare for the influx of hockey fans to pour into their establishments now that the boys are back on the ice.

Tim Murphy from the Shark Club says hockey season couldn't come soon enough.

"The impact is huge for us. You know, at the start of the hockey season we're looking to increase our business probably by 70 per cent," he said.

The Shark Club, like other Vancouver sports bars and restaurants, could use the boost. The HST has slowed down business for them, and the BC Lions moving to Empire Stadium didn't help either.

Phillipe Doebeli from the Beatty Street Bar and Grill said the bar's staff is looking forward to welcoming hockey fans back as well.

"It's affected us a lot. We've had a very quiet summer so it will be good for us and good for our staff too. Get some more shifts. Get some more money," he said.

But bars aren't the only ones hoping to capitalize on beer-drinking sports fans -- taxi drivers are hoping for more business as well.

Now that B.C. has the toughest drinking and driving laws in Canada, taxi drivers such as Kulwant Sahota of Yellow Cab are expecting more people to play it safe and not risk getting behind the wheel.

"They drink, and a lot of people go to the pub and various bars before the game. It will definitely affect our business," he said.

Sports fans also need jerseys to wear. Granville Sports Corner store owner Mike Jackson says he is stocked up and ready to go.

"Our main driving force is the Canucks," he said.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Brent Shearer