Welcome Matt: Canucks now the last NHL team without a practice rink plan

Apr 26 2023, 8:35 pm

sekeres and price

Let’s make one thing clear: there won’t be a new NHL arena in Vancouver anytime soon.

The Aquilinis have too much invested in the property where Rogers Arena sits, principally those residential towers, to entertain any notion of building a new barn somewhere else, especially given the cost of centrally-located real estate in Vancouver.

Secondly, there’s just no way BC taxpayers would go for any kind of public financing for that family. They don’t incur goodwill, but they do understand leverage, and they’d have none with Victoria and city hall.

So much like Madison Square Garden in New York, Rogers Arena is going to consistently need upgrade upon upgrade, and let’s hope they get to the seats and videoboard sooner than later.

It may be fun to spitball where a new arena could go in Vancouver — mountain and ocean views, anyone? — but it’s just not grounded in reality.

What is real, however, is the Canucks becoming the last NHL team without a practice facility. That is the case after yesterday’s news that the Calgary Flames are finally getting a new arena, complete with a practice facility.

As TSN’s Darren Dreger tells us in today’s show, practice facilities have become “homes” for many NHL teams that don’t own their arena or share it with too many other tenants and events. Practice facilities are recruitment tools for free agents, and competitive necessities when you consider the medical, fitness, nutrition and other human performance services that pro teams now undertake for their athletes.

The Canucks have been searching for a partner for a practice facility for more than decade. They had a deal in place with the Plaza of Nations three years ago, but walked away for unspecified reasons.

GM Patrik Allvin framed it as a community issue where the City of Vancouver could get more ice sheets and minor hockey players could also benefit when asked about a practice facility earlier this month.

But the clock was already ticking on the Canucks before the Calgary news yesterday. It has only ramped up over the last 24 hours.

Canucks Sports and Entertainment president Michael Doyle is spearheading the search, and I do wish him luck.

Because finding a partner and getting the Aquilinis to sign off on a deal seems like it has been a herculean task for his predecessors.

Perhaps urgency of the now and ignominy of being the last NHL team will be helpful.

And if that’s the case, then credit assists to the Flames, the City of Calgary, and the province of Alberta.

Matthew SekeresMatthew Sekeres

+ Offside
+ Hockey
+ Canucks
+ Sekeres and Price