Hockey fever is in full swing in the Pacific Northwest after the wildly successful start to the NHL Seattle season ticket drive. And it’s not just limited to south of the United States/Canada border.
“It’s a huge story up here, certainly in Vancouver and just right across Canada,” said Trevor Linden, Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations, on Friday to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore.
Linden, a former No. 2 overall draft pick of the Canucks who enjoyed a 19-year NHL career before transitioning to front office jobs in the game, said the excitement for Vancouver to have a rival just down I-5 has caught the attention of hockey fans in British Columbia.
“(Seattle is) just a great sports town and I know how thrilled our organization is at the response and I know our fans are excited about having a rivalry a couple hours down the road,” Linden said. “We couldn’t be happier.”
Linden was confident that the NHL game will catch in Seattle, even for sports fans mostly unfamiliar with hockey, and he pointed at the success of the Nashville Predators, last year’s Stanley Cup Final runner-up, to make his point.
“(Nashville) wouldn’t be considered a classic hockey market, (but it has) certainly become one now,” he said. “The great thing about hockey, I say this with a somewhat bias, but it is outstanding in person. When you go to a hockey game, the speed and pace of play and the amount of time of action is awesome.
“I think the biggest thing I hear from our friends south of the border is that they have trouble following the puck on TV, and I think when you see it in person that certainly changes things, and understanding the flow of the game just kinda happens over time.”
Linden also touched on the strong debut NHL season of the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights and what it would mean for a new team in Seattle. You can hear that in his full interview from Danny, Dave and Moore in this podcast.