Vancouver Canucks mark home opener amid relaxed COVID-19 rules
B.C.’s relaxed rules on COVID-19 capacity limits will be tested Tuesday, as the Vancouver Canucks mark their home opener against the Minnesota Wild.
It’s the first time the club has been able to play a regular season game in front of a home crowd in nearly 600 days.
“It's been so long. It's gonna be a lot of energy in our building and it’s exciting. You could use a lot of words, but it's going to be a great night,” said Travis Green, head coach.
The province moved into phase two of its vaccine passport program on Sunday, requiring people to be fully vaccinated before entering many non-essential venues and businesses.
As a result, the provincial health officer lifted pandemic related capacity limits on most seated venues.
The team hasn’t played in front of a packed crowd at Rogers Arena since March 10, 2020.
That’s when the Canucks snatched a 5-4 shootout win over New York Islanders.
There were 18,871 fans in attendance that night.
“It's crazy to think that we haven't seen our fans in that long. So I know everyone's really excited about it, we've been talking about it. We were getting a little itchy on the road there to get home and play some home games here,” said goalie Thatcher Demko.
Much has changed over the past 19 months
Attendees are now required to show their vaccine passports and wear a mask.
The pre-game party in the plaza begins at 5 p.m. and doors open an hour after that.
“Fans should expect lineups due to proof of vaccine checks and are encouraged to arrive early,” wrote the team on its website.
Tickets were still available as of Tuesday morning, with plenty of seats up for grabs in the lower bowl.
Canucks centre Elias Pettersson says he’s been missing the fans a lot.
“It's like an extra player almost. I mean, last year made me realize that, like, fans play a big, big part of just like, get you going to a game. So the fans, they play a big part,” said Pettersson.
Demko echoed that sentiment.
“The fans are such a massive element to you know, what we do on a nightly basis, whether you're at home or on the road,” said the goalie.
Most NHL teams have already celebrated their first home game, but the Canucks kicked off their campaign with a six-game road swing.
“We've seen like you said three home openers now so it’ll be good to be home and be in front of our own crowd again after so long without having fans,” said Green.
Face masks will be required at all times inside the arena unless you are actively eating or drinking.
The arena will also be going cashless and switching to solely contactless payment for the foreseeable future.
Puck drop is at 7 p.m.