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21.02.2019 03:47
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VANCOUVER San Jose Sharks T-Shirts Authentic , British Columbia (AP) — Sitting high above the ice of Rogers Arena, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning is recalling fond memories of his time playing junior hockey for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League and their trips up Interstate 5 to play at the old Mercer Arena against the Seattle Thunderbirds.Well, how fond he is depends on the perspective.“They had chicken wire, and the fans were rowdy,” Benning recalled recently. “The thing with the chicken wire is like you’d line up for a faceoff and they could spit right through the chicken wire.”While Benning’s memories of playing against Seattle remain — and who could forget chain-link fence in place of glass boards at one end of the rink — he’s also thinking ahead. Looking out at an empty arena a couple of hours before a Canucks faceoff, he can envision fans of Seattle’s new NHL franchise making the trek north on I-5, through the border crossing and into downtown Vancouver to watch their team play the Canucks.He has no doubt it will be a healthy rivalry and great for the sport in this corner of North America. But the Canucks see the addition of Seattle as more than adding a rival 2 ½ hours away by car. Seattle will be a critical partner for the future success of both franchises.The approval of Seattle as the 32nd NHL franchise earlier this week has thrilled hockey fans who for years made their way north to Vancouver to see the game played at its highest level. But there’s an almost equally excited group just north of the 49th parallel who can’t wait for 2021 when the Seattle franchise begins play.“Vancouver is already a partner. They were the most enthusiastic team in the league about this. They love the idea of this rivalry,” Seattle team President Tod Leiweke said. “I think for the two cities to connect like this, the two cities are 130 miles away but now they’re going to connect in a whole different way and I think that’s one of the great things that is going to come out of all this is a deep, deep visceral connection between Vancouver and Seattle and we’re going to play some great games.”Adding Seattle to the league helps the Canucks in various ways, from marketing to travel and interest in the game. The team is already planning ways it can sell Seattle’s addition, even if it’s three years away.Canucks COO Jeff Stipec noted that even as Vancouver’s on-ice product is improving around a core of young stars and rejuvenating interest in the city after a few down seasons San Jose Sharks Hoodies Authentic , the fans flocking back to the games are seeking different opportunities. They want special events, like being able to hop on a bus for a road trip to Seattle.“Our season ticket members, what they’re looking for now are experiences,” said Stipec, who according to Canadian media reports is stepping down from his position but is currently still in his role with the team. The team has not made any announcement about Stipec’s future.While it would seem the proximity of the two cities might create issues in competing for dollars on the business side, it doesn’t appear that will be the case largely because of the border. The border creates a natural break between the two teams, both in their attempts to gain market share, but also in seeking corporate dollars and the acquisition of talent.“It’s not that we just have somebody that’s two and a half hours away, we have that international border between us,” Stipec said. “So that protects us a lot from corporate partnerships, broadcast rights, a whole bunch of things. It’s not like a Pittsburgh-Philadelphia situation. So it’s great that way San Jose Sharks Hats Authentic , that we have our own protected markets in a sense in some of those key areas.”The Canucks have not actively sought to promote themselves in the Seattle area, though playoff games have been broadcast on Seattle sports radio at times through the years. Still, hockey fans in the area have made the Canucks their team.Alym Rayani lives just outside Seattle and has gone in with friends on season tickets for the Canucks for about a decade. After spending part of his childhood in Vancouver, Rayani drove back for games after settling in Seattle during the Canucks’ run as one of the Western Conference’s elite teams earlier this decade.But like others from the Seattle area who regularly attend Canucks games, they’re hockey fans more than Vancouver fans. For Rayani, his loyalty and his dollars will belong to Seattle when it comes on board. He’s No. 16 on the season-ticket deposit list.“I definitely feel loyalty to the Canucks being born there and having lived there, but I think it will be interesting how I’m going to feel 10 years from now,” Rayani said. “My kids, they watch the Canucks now, they’re going to be huge Seattle fans I’m sure. … I think over time I will morph to Seattle. I like the idea of being a fan or part of something from day one.” TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs play nine of their next 11 games at home, but for now their coach, Mike Babcock Custom San Jose Sharks Jerseys , has eyes only on the first one at Scotiabank Arena, Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.“I don’t worry as much about the stretch as I worry about tomorrow,” Babcock said at practice Wednesday. “Florida beat us the other night, we weren’t prepared at the start and they outplayed us, and then we were able to get the game back even in the third period.“We would like to start on time, like we did (Tuesday) night (at New Jersey). We know we’re playing a real good team. (Aleksander) Barkov ran our show last game. Dominated us, basically. We have to look after that.”Article continues below ...The Panthers (13-13-6) defeated the Maple Leafs in Florida on Saturday 4-3 in overtime with Barkov scoring three goals, including the winner.The Maple Leafs (22-10-2) completed their five-game trip Tuesday night with a 2-2-1 record after a 7-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils.The Panthers, meanwhile, used the victory over the Maple Leafs as a springboard and defeated the Sabres in Buffalo 5-2 on Tuesday with four third-period goals.“We’ve been in that situation so many times this year — one-goal games, trailing and coming back, letting a game fall again www.officialblues.com ,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “It was important that. … I think we’re learning from our mistakes, to be honest with you. If I had to say one thing, I think we’re getting more mature in those situations.”Playing for an extended period at home might not be such as big advantage for the Maple Leafs as it might be for some other teams. The Maple Leafs have the best road record in the NHL at 13-5-1.“I just think we have good team depth, so if we play right we give ourselves an opportunity on most nights so we feel fortunate about that,” Babcock said.The Leafs are 9-5-1 at home.The Maple Leafs have been getting excellent play all season from defenseman Morgan Rielly, and he was strong in New Jersey again. He made a big defensive play on a Devils two-on-one to set up a Maple Leafs three-on-one on the counter attack that resulted in the first goal of the game.Rielly also scored his 11th goal of the season in the final second of the second period.“I knew it was getting down to it, so I just tried to get it on net,” Rielly said. “The fact that it went in before the end of the period was a little lucky. A nice break, I guess.”“Well, he’s got way better,” Babcock said. “His stick and his feet in the D-zone and defensive awareness have become way better. I think getting Ron Hainsey has really helped him that way. Obviously, he’s got good growth St. Louis Blues T-Shirts Authentic , we all knew he was good offensively, but the defensive part it’s been a huge difference. He’s doing a good job, he’s a good player. He skates really well which would be his greatest asset, he’s competitive and has lots of energy.”The Panthers, who are 6-8-2 on the road, defeated two of the better teams in the NHL in their past two games to get their record to .500.“We’ve been talking all year about being composed and protecting leads, and I think that’s probably the best we’ve done all year,” Boughner said. “It was good puck decision and puck management. I thought that we played hard D, and we never stopped going at ’em, which was important. (The Sabres) do come out hard in this building. We knew that. I think they’ve only lost three games here all year. They’re a good hockey team over there. This was a big road win for us.”

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