For pub owners and hockey fans, the world didn’t stop spinning with the NHL lockout.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t glad to see Canada’s national game back on the ice Saturday night.
“Anything that brings people in is good,” Mia Sheldon, an employee at Pogue Mahone Irish Alehouse, said Thursday. “Everyone likes to sit around the table, drink some beers, and watch their favourite team win or lose.”
What will happen when hockey returns has been much debated around the bar, said Sheldon. Will people watch or are fans feeling snubbed because of the lockout?
She figures people will watch, but business hasn’t been hurting without the game either, said Sheldon.
Fox ‘n Hounds Pub owner Al Deacon agrees. He said revenue was up 12 per cent between September and December compared to the same period the previous year. The lockout didn’t impact his bottom line at all.
Deacon believes the local economy is doing well, and that’s translated into people going out more often, he said.
That said, Deacon and his staff are excited to have hockey back, and he’s sure customers are too.
“It’s game on,” he said.
Sheldon believes people have adjusted to the new drinking and driving laws and are venturing out more. She said that’s kept business steady through the fall and winter.
She arrives for work at 7 a.m. and there’s several vehicles in the parking lot from the night before.
“I think people have finally got that whole I’m-scared-to-go-out-and-have-a-drink thing under control. And they’re getting smarter,” she said, adding people are taking a cab home or have a designated driver.
Deacon believes having hockey back will only make business better. He said true fans will support their team and the game.
“People are just bitter. I think the fans will be out,” said Deacon.
Frik and Frack Tap House co-owner Frank Corea said hockey is only a huge draw before a Blazers game or during the NHL Stanley Cup finals. He isn’t anticipating a huge turnout Saturday night.
Of the hockey fans approached by The Daily News on Thursday, only one had little interest in the NHL’s return.
“I’ve had season tickets for 27 years with the Blazers. The only time I watch NHL hockey is the playoffs,” said Ron Nourse, vice president of the Kamloops Broncos.
Junior hockey is more exciting and the players try harder, he said, adding he can’t say the same for the NHL.
Larry Campbell and Ron Olynyk will watch Saturday night’s contest between the Canucks and the Anaheim Ducks. Campbell even cancelled a dinner party so he could catch the game.
“We were going to have people for supper Saturday night,” he said.
Neither missed the game, though. Campbell read more and Olynyk got his fix through his Blazers’ season tickets.
“It’s not like I was going through withdrawal or anything,” said Olynyk.