For Some Cities, Everything Evolves Around Hockey

After a one year lockout, looks like the start of the hockey season in Montreal has brought business back to local bars, restaurants, hotels ...etc).

Bars, restaurants cheer hockey's return
A Case of Blues: Toronto fans scarce at Bell centre

The Gazette

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Those loud cheers coming from around the Bell Centre last night were those of restaurant managers welcoming the returning the hockey crowd - at last.

After 18 months of quiet Saturday nights and almost silent cash registers, business owners who thrive on hockey couldn't have been more delighted.

"Every merchant, every restaurant, bar and hotel wins," said Nick Nakis, a supervisor at the Baton Rouge restaurant on Mountain St.

"Hockey takes care of everything around here."

Case in point: One hour before game time, there was a 47-minute wait for tables and the cocktail bar couldn't keep up with orders.

The popcorn machine at La Cage aux Sports at the Bell Centre was always nearly empty, despite waitress Andrea Chhan's constant efforts to keep it refilled.

Even the Esso station on Mountain St. was raking in the cash.

"Beer and cigarettes all day and all night. It's amazing," said the cashier with Tarek written on his name tag.

The slow business of the lockout forced restaurants to try and draw customers in other ways. Baton Rouge, which opened its doors just before the lockout season, struggled from Day 1.

"It taught us how to be a better restaurant," Nakis said. "We provided better service, more attention from the waiters when the hockey rush wasn't there."

Today, Nakis, said, people associate his restaurant with good ribs and spinach dip in spite of, not because of hockey.

"It hurt our sales, but we developed other things," said Benoit Gaulin, manager of La Cage aux Sports.

The restaurant marketed itself as a venue for corporate events and huge parties when there we no Canadiens' victories to celebrate or defeats to cry over.

"And there are lots of shows in (the Bell Centre) that kept people coming," Gaulin said.

But last night there was hardly a table without a body wearing a Maple Leafs or Canadiens jersey.

Inside the Bell Centre, the people behind the concession stands don't remember selling so muchbeer on a Saturday night the last time the Habs played. And the tricolour jerseys were flying off the shelves a little faster than usual, sales clerks said.

It's not just food services that come out on top with the return of with hockey. Freelance merchants like Stephen Martin try to cash in on hockey fever, too.

For a man who sells "Leafs suck" T-shirts outside arenas, he's quite calm despite the job hazards. He likes it when he's the object of obcenities or dragged from the Bell Centre by a security guard.

"It fuels the fire," the 26-year-old Ottawa native said. "We get a kick out of it."

His partner Emily Bitze, 21, would have been clobbered by a Leafs fan in Ottawa had his friends not held him back, Martin said.

But for every loyal Toronto fan, there are two others who gladly pay $15 for the shirt.

"No matter the hockey game, people still hate the Leafs," Martin said.

"To me, Toronto fans are more generous," said a beggar on crutches who goes only by Benoit. Just before game time, he got enough change for a few meals.

"I'm here at every game, and Toronto fans always give if they win or lose. Habs fans, when they lose, they get really angry."

For Al and Nadia Underhill, the rivalry is clear. He's a jersey-wearing Leafs fan. She proudly wears the Habs logo.

"I know couples who cheer for the same team and they're not nearly as exciting as us," Nadia said.

For his money, Al would watch a Leafs-Habs game in Montreal every time.

"It's my first game here and I love it. In Toronto, the price is out of control.

"And," added Al, in the middle stages of a shot gin, "they're more liberal here. They'll serve you a triple if you ask."
Hockey is good for the soul too. I've felt a certain calmness in my life now that hockey is back. I have been feeling so much better the last week or so.

Bev wrote: Hockey is good for the soul too. I've felt a certain calmness in my life now that hockey is back. I have been feeling so much better the last week or so.

I've noticed the same thing, especially since Bertuzzi has started to score again.
I'm loving the team this year, that second line with Carter and the twins is awesome.

And what do you think is up with Hull?
Hull was right to retire. I will judge the Sedin sisters come playoff time as they and Cloutier are the weak links.

I have tickets to the world juniors (no playoff tickets though )and I am really looking forward to that along with seeing the Giants once a week and the Eagles once a week.

Bev wrote:And what do you think is up with Hull?

At 41 he was just getting a bit long in the tooth. Up until the lock-out he was getting a big salary. It is very hard to take a year off and come back at Hull's age. I think his team played a wait and see game and Hull couldn't make the cut. Nothing against Hull, it happens to all eventually.
For Some Cities, Everything Evolves Around Hockey

Not so in this part of St Paul, Minnesota [I live in this City's Hispanic section].

Property valuations have doubled thereby increasing the amount of property taxes and those tax rates will increase 25 % this year. This is being done in order to pay for the Xcel Center which was demanded by the City's former mayor, now Senator, Norm Coleman. The son of a **** stole our money in order to build the hockey arena so that he could get his name in the newspapers thorughout the country and get more publicity in his quest for the Senate and the White House.

The problem is that nobody in this part of town wanted the arena as we do not give give even the slightest **** for pro hockey. Ditto for the largely Black and Asian Midway Section of town. St Paul is about 40 % Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American. None of these groupings care at all for pro hockey but we are forced to pay for the Xcel Center hockey arena which is nothing more than a White suburban playground. Thanks to that moronic jackass Coleman, the White suburbanites have gotten themselves a free playground that we from the inner City are paying for!

Meantime, the board of education continues to lay off teachers, our schools degenerate, and we cannot replace retired police or fire fighters because our tax revenues are being used to pay for that arena. The quality of City life further declines while the suburbanites enjoy a freebie at our expense.
I thought it was strange they located the arena in St.Paul, I thought it should of stayed in Minneapolis. I thought they draw pretty well though?

I do not think any pro sport arena or stadium should be built with public money. GM Place here in Vancouver was built with priviate money, there is a lot of priviate money to build these arena's/stadiums and if there is not, the demand for a sports team in a particular sport is not that high then.
They wouldn't have built the stadium just for hockey, do you not have a basketball team or others that use the facility?
The Target Center (where the Timberwolves play NBA basketball) in Minneapolis was only a few years old and contains an NHL regulation type hockey arena which is newer than several rinks in the league. A hockey arena in St Paul was not needed but Coleman was looking to promote his selfish political ambitions. The old Civic Center was situated in downtown St Paul and was operating at a profit. Our taxes were not raised while it was in operation.

The Wild's attendance is about 18000 per game but they are exclusively suburbanites who get ticket freebies on their corporate accounts. Nobody from the inner city goes out to those games. Nobody.
You call this new look NHL hockey Looks like a bunch of men running around hitting each other with purses .I've seen more action in a pickup game of shinny in our local arenas
I am not a pro hockey fan any longer but did watch part of a game on OLN. There was, indeed, far less hitting and no fighting. It appears to be more of a skill game now as is the European game.

That will not sit well with Southern fans who love fights and violence (this is why they live Nascar bcause of all the collisions). But it is a better game.

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