WHEN news broke early Sunday morning that a tentative agreement had been reached between the millionaire-club players' association and the billionaire-club National Hockey League owners, local fan reaction was curiously muted.
Of course there was not much to cheer about on the ice while the pros stayed off it for more than three months. The Vancouver Giants have been uncharacteristically bad this season and Team Canada was hugely disappointing at the World Juniors over the holidays.
The shortened season will see the Canucks play only teams from their own conference. The decision makes business sense, but once again the fans are the losers. No Montreal. No Leafs and Brian Burke to jeer. No Sidney Crosby. Not even a sighting of the one who got away: Cody Hodgson.
Against that backdrop why would diehard Canucks fans again invest their emotions in a team that has yet to win it all?
It's difficult for non-sports lovers to comprehend how deflating the Canucks exit from the first round of the playoffs was to loyal fans last year. The team was supposedly deeper and tougher than the one that lost to Boston the previous year. In the end it was neither.
That slough of despond might have been replaced with optimism last summer had a major trade taken place with the movement of Roberto Luongo. But we're still waiting on that.
Now, Canucks ownership need to do more than paint a "thank you," on the ice - especially while charging full price to watch what should be pre-season games. Free seats or winning the Stanley Cup are obvious remedies.