Canucks will finally host Leafs at Vancouver-preferred time

Dec 9 2019, 5:04 pm

The date was January 10, 2006.

Paul Martin was our Prime Minister.

Hollaback Girl was a hit song and That ’70s Show was still on the air.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were in town for a Tuesday night game at GM Place against the Vancouver Canucks. It was the first season after the lockout-cancelled year, and the Canucks were still rocking the navy Original Orca uniforms.

The coaches were Marc Crawford and Pat Quinn. The captains: Markus Naslund and Mats Sundin. Alex Auld and Ed Belfour were the starting goalies.

Alex Burrows scored his first NHL goal that night. Matt Cooke, Jarkko Ruutu, and Anson Carter scored the others for Vancouver.

And the game began at *gasp* 7 pm.

Pacific Time.

This was the last time the Leafs visited Vancouver and were forced to play at 7 pm.

Fast forward to 2019 and the folks in Toronto will once again be forced to stay up late past their bedtime to watch their beloved team. In a move that will surely bring a smile to Dave Pratt’s face, the Leafs will play the Canucks at Rogers Arena on Tuesday at Vancouver’s preferred start time: 7 pm.

Canucks fans had become accustomed to the Leafs visiting Vancouver on Saturdays at 4 pm, a near-annual tradition that stopped last year.

Vancouverites, by and large, don’t hate 4 pm starts. They just don’t like the idea of rearranging anything for Toronto.

The Leafs visited on a Wednesday last season, but were still given preferential treatment in the form of a 6 pm start — a time usually reserved for the Western Conference Final when the NHL adjusts start times for a national audience.

The recipients of the early start this year are the Edmonton Oilers, who host the Leafs at 5 pm MT on Saturday.

Television ratings are typically the reason for adjusting the start time to suit the larger Southern Ontario audience. Tuesday’s game will be televised on Sportsnet regionally in BC and Ontario.