Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No Need To Rush In To Canada Hockey Place

Getting into GM Place (oops, Canada Hockey Place) is not as hairy as we thought.

The area is on Carrall St. on the part that runs right into False Creek. To your left is the Concord Pacific lot with Ontario House, Molson Hockey House, etc. To your right at the south end of that block is the entrance to the security gates.

The gates themselves are between 15 and 20 tented posts set up in a row and those of you who were at Nagano '98 know the drill. It's like basic airport security.

You dump all the stuff in your pockets out and place bags in a tray. Those go through the X-ray machine. You yourself get wanded. It takes all of maybe 30 seconds.

When I showed up for the 9 pm Russia-Latvia at 7:25 pm, there were no lineups at all at security.

After passing through security, where they didn't even look if I had a ticket to this game, you enter a giant holding area that is exposed to the elements. (It sort of reminded me of 1980s English soccer ground where they herded you like cattle before you were let out onto the terraces.) There is a Baywatch babe . . . not, in a lifeguard's chair giving instructions over a megaphone. basically, just wait there till you get the word to go in. So bring a book, your iPod or someone you like to talk to as you're just killing time there. What is actually going on is the arena is being cleaned out and up after the previous game.

Now, I assume, if yours is the noon game of the day there will be no need to hold anyone in the pen, and they can just let you go in to the rink. Anyone who can update me on that would win themselves a cookie.

Anyway, we were let in at about 7:55 or so.

Once you get the word to go in, the entrance is at the far corner of this holding area and you then have to go up and over a temporary pedestrian overpass and voila, you're on the GM Place property. Then proceed to your gate like you go at any ordinary Canuck game.

After this late game they let us leave like a typical Canuck game through any exit and those headed west, we were allowed to walk back along either the Georgia or Dunsmuir Viaduct. Again maybe they did this because it was the late game.

That's the scoop, folks. The whole thing is fairly painless and nothing to get panicked about at all.

As far as the hockey, like all Olympic sports, no stupid anthems to start games. The game just starts and away we go. No TV commercials breaks either so it zips along at a good clip. It also helps that players take less stupid penalties and there are virtually no scrums after whistles. Games wrap up in 2 hours and a bit unlike the drag-it-out 2:40- to 3-hour NHL games.

Also, unlike Canuck games, there are no yuppies texting each other and never cheering unless the scoreboard tells them to nor are there the drunk yahoos from the 'burbs. You can find all those types at Robson Square every night, in case you're wondering where they went.

The actual crowd at the game was more like a Habs home crowd crossed with a European soccer crowd without the hooligan fringe--plenty of flag waving, signs, looney fans doing goofy chants, singing and cheers. It was like being transported to a sports viewing heaven.
Aerobicize the Russian way

Don't come late and miss the warmups as they are almost as entertaining as parts of the game. Latvia warm up by lining up on the blueline, backs to the end boards then spinning around one-by-one to take shots on net. I have no idea what the Russians were doing but that was also mesmerizing. Toss in Alexander Ovechkin staying extra to take more shots and saluting the crowd after warmup and the guy knows how to play to the crowd.

The game itself you saw and all I can say is go see Russia live. The passing combined with the laser beam shots from Ovie, Alexander Semin and Ilya Kovalchuk are just wicked. Also, the KHL guys looked really good and Aleksey Morozov is the captain (imagine that!).

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