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October 23 - At The Rink: GM Place, Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Vancouver Canucks franchise was founded in 1970, and they have proven to
be the hottest ticket in city for many years now, and even across the country and
into the US, as they have many fans in several road cities. GM Place was finished
in 1995, and it has been the home to the Canucks ever since then. An interesting
tidbit about GM Place include the fact that they have banned the WWE from ever
holding another event in the building. Also, GM Place will be the host of Olympic
Ice Hockey events at the Olympics in 2010. I recently paid a visit there for my first
ever NHL game on Oct. 13th, as it was the Canucks home opener for the 06-07
Season. Let's see if GM Place and The Canucks lived up to the hype.

Concessions: A-

GM Place offers quite an excellent variety of food to choose from, from basic fare like hot dogs, pizza,
and burgers, to things like all types of Asian and other ethnic foods, and there is a steakhouse
resteraunt with seating in the upper deck. You will have to dig into your wallet of course, but the food
is high quality and you get a lot of value for your dollar.

Between-periods entertainment: B+

At the end of the first period, they had a "Shoot To Score" contest, with a random fan being plucked out
to shoot at an empty net from different locations, with each shot being progressively harder, and each
shot netting a better prize if they made it. The second period bought a contest where two fans
slingshotted the team mascot, "Fin", into a bunch of setup bowling pins, in an effort to knock them all
over to win an autographed jersey. Basic promotions, but nothing stupid.

Sight lines: A+

Whether you're in a box, or right up against the boards in the first row, there really is not a bad spot in
the arena to view the game. You get a clear view from every section in the arena, a fact I can attest to
by walking around before the game and checking out different views. Truly one of the high points of
the arena.

Promotions: B-

The only real promotion of the night was the 50/50 draw being run, which advertised a top prize over
over 100,000 dollars (due to some moron not claiming their win last year), and ended up being
announced at just over $155,000, which got close to the loudest ovation of the night.

Parking: Incomplete

I can't really rate this fairly, as I took the Sky Train to the game and walked a block to the arena.
However, the Canucks website says the stadium is a less than 15 minute walk away from over 7,000
parking spots. As well, there is a special lot for fans about a block away from the stadium.

Quality of hockey: C+

The opponents for the Canucks on this night were the visiting San Jose Sharks, a team I consider a
favorite to come out of the west to win the Stanley Cup this year. On this night, however, both teams
played a very poor game defensively, as there were several instances during the game where both
goalies were left alone by the poor play of the defenders, leading to several goals that could have
been prevented otherwise. Even in a more wide open style of league, 6-4 scores shouldn't be
commonplace. The energy of the building was amazing, and it translated in to what was a fun game
to watch, despite the defensive deficiencies.

How to get there:

Rather than me rambling on, or just copying and pasting the directions, here is a link to the directions
from the
Canucks website.

Overall Grade: A+

I must say, this was one of the more enjoyable experiences I've ever had as a sporting fan, as there is
truly nothing like rooting for your childhood favorite live and in person. If you're ever in Vancouver and
have the chance to check out a game here, I would highly recommend it. It's extremely easy to find
your way around the building, and a great place to watch a game of hockey. Just cross your fingers
and hope you don't get some bandwagon fans around you as I did.


(Brian, thank you for generously allowing me to rip off your reviewing style for this column.)