VANCOUVER – An estimated crowd of 70,000 to 100,000 people were in the downtown core for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final -- and many of them will now likely party into the early hours of Saturday morning after the Canucks beat the Boston Bruins 1-0.
By 3 p.m. local time, bars along Water Street in Gastown had significant lineups, and bar patios along Burrard Street were at capacity well before puck drop.
Georgia Street, one of the city's main arteries in to the downtown core, was shut down at noon on Friday to accommodate those who planned to watch the game on a large screen set up at the intersection of Georgia and Hamilton, outside of the CBC's Vancouver bureau.
Once the final buzzer sounded, three to four city blocks were jammed with fans taking in the game.
If the scene after Vancouver's 3-2 win in Game 2 win last Saturday night was any indication, traffic will not be getting through on Granville Street, in the city's popular entertainment district, until well into Saturday morning.
Canucks fans have been waiting 17 long years to see their team get back to the Stanley Cup Final, and coming on the heels of the 2010 Winter Olympics last February, have been using the Final run to re-create the festive atmosphere created by the Olympics.
Fans will pour into Rogers Arena by the thousands once again on Monday night to take in Game 6 on the big screen. Canucks Sports and Entertainment has opened the building to fans at $10 a ticket, with proceeds going to charity.
Games 3 and 4 sold out, and tickets were fetching over $100 on sites like Craigslist.
Many in Vancouver feel a Stanley Cup win will be bigger than the Olympic gold won by Canada last winter. It will be to no one's surprise that the celebration will be larger, and last longer, if the Canucks can cash in.
Losing is a painful experience, especially in the Stanley Cup Final. A bet between friends has ensured it’s going to even more painful and permanent for one of them.
Five years ago Jamie Meegan and Ryan LeSage were sitting around the lunchroom at NRI Distribution in Kamloops, B.C., talking hockey. That conversation turned into spirited discourse, then angry arguing, which morphed into a hectic dispute.
Meegan, a lifelong fan of the Vancouver Canucks, and LeSage, a Boston Bruins diehard, were in the midst of painful off-seasons for their teams, but both had faith their squad would hoist the Stanley Cup before the other.
A money wager seemed too simple and temporary embarrassment wasn’t enough, so when co-worker Will Jordan spawned the idea of the loser having to get a tattoo of the winning team’s logo, the pair shook hands and made if official. Never in a million years did the counterparts imagine their teams would be going head-to-head for the Holy Grail, meaning they’d be going head-to-head in The Bet.
“To be honest,” said LeSage, a 30-year-old from Ontario, told the Canucks’ website, “we wouldn’t be talking to you if only one of the teams was in. It’s pretty phenomenal and amazing that it rolled out like this.”
“Ryan was all over it immediately,” said Meegan, 32, from Kamloops, B.C. “I was on the fence for a bit, then it became a reality.”
The official rules of The Bet are as follows:
-- Whichever of the Vancouver Canucks (Jamie’s Team) or the Boston Bruins (Ryan’s Team) wins the Stanley Cup next, the loser will tattoo the logo of the winning team on their body; basically the loser gets a tattoo of the team they hate the most.
-- The tattoo must be at least the size of a regulation NHL hockey puck (three inches in diameter). It can be placed anywhere on the body but must be shown (in any social situation) at the request of the winner. The tattoo will be completed within 48 hours of the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final – and the winner pays
After the Canucks’ 1-0 win in Game 1, it’s advantage Meegan, but there’s a lot of hockey left to be played before needle hits skin.
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We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.