Will NHL’s return create bar boon?
Henrik and Daniel Sedin will likely lead the Vancouver Canucks in scoring this season (half-season), but it remains to be seen if the return of the NHL will translate into a twin killing for Kamloops bars and restaurants.
“Our sales haven’t really missed hockey that much,” said Al Deacon, owner of the Fox N Hounds Pub in Sahali.
“That being said, now that we’re in our lean months and people are getting their Visa bills from Christmas, we need any excuse to to bring patrons into our establishment.”
The Canucks open their 48-game slate by hosting the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Saturday, Jan. 19. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
There is a large contingent of Canadians disillusioned with both the league and its players and that unrest might keep some of them from frequenting watering holes on game nights.
“I’m hoping it’ll be busier than it has, but a lot of people seem to be upset about the whole lockout thing,” said Dan MacCuish, kitchen manager at The Dirty Jersey on the North Shore.
“I’m expecting it’ll pick up a little bit, but the shortened season and with it only being 48 games, it’s not going to be a huge draw this year.”
Tarn Ollek, owner of On the Rocks Pub and Grill in Aberdeen, is a little more optimistic than MacCuish.
“I’m hoping it will increase business by at least 20 per cent,” Ollek said.
“We categorize ourself as Molson Hockey House. We do big giveaways and do food and drink specials,”
Ollek is also wary fans might not warm quickly to the NHL after the lockout, but he said a few Vancouver Ws might change all that.
“I know a lot of people are angered with the strike,” he said.
“But, it all depends on if the Canucks start winning.”
Ollek said he might schedule as many as two extra servers on game nights and more kitchen staff will don their whites when the Canucks are in action.
Deacon said the Fox’s staff is also scheduled accordingly when the ‘Nucks are on TV but, for the most part, it will be business as usual — and business has been pretty good of late.
Sales at the Fox from September to December in 2012, without NHL hockey, were up 12 per cent from the same time frame in 2011, when the Canucks were hovering atop the Western Conference, according to Deacon.
“The overall economy strength in Kamloops in 2012 was better than it was in 2011,” Deacon said.
Saturday night will be the first test of the public’s reaction and it seems the city’s pubs are braced for whatever comes their way.
“Every game that we show inside our pub people can watch at home, but it’s the experience that we can do bigger and better,” Deacon said, “with the sound and the energy we bring to the pub when the Canucks are on the ice.”