Once again the New Ice Age has brought notoriety and a big time event to the city of Prince George. The Vancouver Canucks are bringing their main training to the CN Centre during the middle of September as part of their goal of connecting with all Canuck fans in British Columbia. Trevor Linden made the announcement alongside Greg Pocock and other distinguished guests in order to kick off the countdown till the team arrives. Linden said after the conference that the main reason that he and the rest of the Canucks organization decided to come to Prince George was because the team wanted to be British Columbia's and not just Vancouver's team. Linden reminisced about his playing days and how the team always travelled to a new town for part of their training camp but never made it to "the Gateway to the North". Linden expressed that he was excited for the opportunity to have fans create more of a personal connection by having all practices be open to the public. When asked how the discussion came about to have the Canucks come to Prince George, he said that Andy Beasley was to mastermind behind the scenes, who worked tirelessly for months to make sure that the training camp became a reality. Despite having a strong connection between the Canucks and the Cougars with defenceman Dan Hamhuis being a part owner of the WHL club, Linden said that connection never had any real saying as to whether the Canucks were going to commit to Prince George or not.
What does this mean for the city of Prince George?
The first and most obvious answers is that fans all over the north get to see hockey at its highest calibre. of course most of the veterans will be shaking off the rust, the level of skill that will be on display is undeniable. Having the likes of the Sedins and Vrbata performing their magic, or having the shutdown pairing of Tanev and Edler show young hockey players how to defend against the best will be a sight to behold. Let's not forget the one of the best goaltending duos in the NHL (when healthy); Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack. Just having those types of players and more displaying their talents for developing hockey players to witness will do wonders for the minor league programs in Prince George. Another positive manner for the Canucks coming to PG is the short-term boost in the local economy for the city. Every time their is a major event in any city, the profit that local business get is off the charts. The hotels will be full of Canucks as well as fans that are coming in from out of town. The restaurants will be stacked every night with hungry hockey players eating their entire stocks of pasta, vegetables, and meat. Even the local gift shops will probably record better sales if they market properly. Lastly, the Prince George Cougars will have a chance to skate with some of their hockey heroes and learn from the best. The training camp is strategically placed right around the Cougars own training camp and preseason games, therefore the young WHL players will have first hand knowledge of the level that they have to elevate themselves to during their own season in order to get a chance to be drafted and play for a team such as the Canucks one day. For all the positive impacts that the Canucks will have on the community, are there any downfalls to hosting this event?
In short, not really. Of course the school year will have just started up, so there will be kids that are running on fumes on the following Monday because they spent every waking moment of the September weekend following their idols. President and part-owner of the Prince George Cougars already joked about the potential problem by saying that the organization will have "ready-made notes to excuse the students for their tiredness or tardiness" on the Monday after the event. Some people have also expressed that their might not be enough room for all the fans to see their favorite players if it's on a "first come first serve" basis as far as seating is concerned. Trevor Linden & co have already started to address this potential issue by stating that they might have to end up selling tickets for the open practices. Need not worry about your wallet though, Linden quickly added that the tickets will be very cheap and that all the proceeds will going towards an organization such as: the Spirit of the North healthcare foundation; specifics will be finalized at a later date.
All in all, the Canucks coming to Prince George will be a spectacle that all hockey fans of any age should go out and enjoy. Who knows, maybe if the support for the event is big enough, the Canucks might play an exhibition game in our beautiful city; time will tell.