We will help. It wasn’t the Boston Bruins, the Detroit Red Wings, the New York Rangers or the Chicago Blackhawks.
How many guesses would you need before you have the Seattle Metropolitans?
It was 1917, and they were defeating the Montreal Canadiens when the winner of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association had the right to challenge the National Hockey League champion for the Stanley Cup.
The Metropolitans may have won again in 1919, but the Cup was canceled due to the Spanish flu, which sickened most Canadians and claimed the life of Montreal defenseman Joe Hall.
To get to those finals, the Metropolitans had to go through the Vancouver Millionaires, who won the Stanley Cup in 1915 and won six PCHA titles in 10 years before the startup league folded with the Metropolitans in 1924.
It’s a lot of history.
But here we are, a century and another global pandemic later, with the Seattle Kraken taking on the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night in the first NHL game in Seattle since the legendary teams from the East came to defend the Stanley Cup. four generations ago.
This is not the start of a great hockey rivalry between Vancouver and Seattle; it is the rebirth of one.
Naturally, it’s the Canucks who visit the Kraken when the new NHL team plays their home opener at Climate Pledge Arena, a spectacular feat of engineering that saw the Seattle franchise build a billion-dollar stadium. dollars under the distinctive roof of the old Seattle Center. Arena, which was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and later designated a historic landmark in Seattle.
“It’s amazing,” Kraken COO Victor de Bonis said on Friday. “There is nothing like it in the world. It is the most beautiful arena in the world. It’s like walking through a museum.
De Bonis is as unique as the arena.
Raised five blocks from the Pacific Coliseum in East Vancouver, where the Canucks spent their first 25 years in the NHL, Bonis’ first job was to park cars during Canucks games. He could tell from the noise inside how the home team was doing.
He eventually joined the Canucks’ finance department in 1994, a few months before Vancouver’s run to the Stanley Cup final against the Rangers, and became COO, a position he held until then. he left the Canucks in 2017.
A little over a year later, he agreed to take on the same role for an NHL franchise that had yet to be awarded in Seattle and was led by general manager Tod Leiweke, who had been a part of the NHL franchise. of a business dream. team that worked for the Canucks in the late 1990s before advancing to the top positions in the NHL and NFL.
De Bonis remembers, like most sports fans who grew up in Metro Vancouver, crossing the border once or twice a year to attend major sporting events in Seattle. The Mariners baseball games in the summer, the Seahawks football games in the fall, sometimes for soccer, which for the past 40 years has been the most tangible example of the Seattle-Vancouver rivalry.
“When you came down here, other than the flag, it felt like you were still at home, like you weren’t in another country,” said de Bonis. “But they had a few other teams in Seattle. And it was a very, very engaged community with its sports team. When I moved here it was fall (2018) and it was like a hockey town. The fans were enraged, the weather was like hockey, the scenery – it was made for hockey. “
There has always been hockey in the Pacific Northwest, where the scenery, diverse culture and progressive vibes have long linked Vancouver, Seattle and Portland.
“There are so many hockey players in this area,” said Canucks coach Travis Green. “You’re talking about the junior teams, there was Tri-Cities (in Kennewick, Washington), Spokane, Everett, Seattle. There are so many hockey players in this region who are so close to the Canadian border. It might be surprising to other people, but there are a lot of hockey players in the Northwest.
Green should know. He played junior hockey in Spokane, played many games in Seattle and launched his coaching career in Portland.
“Naturally there will be a bit of rivalry because we’re pretty close,” Green said of the Canucks and the Kraken. “But it also takes time. I don’t think the players are going (Saturday) to think, “Oh my God, this is a heated rivalry. I know when I played in Toronto and we played in Ottawa, we knew that was the case. There had been blood boiling for several years. That’s what happens when you go through a playoff streak, and that rivalry will take a bit of time as well. “
We won’t know how much of a rivalry this is until the land border fully reopens, allowing fans to travel for road games. The trip between Vancouver and Seattle is comparable to the daily trips for the Battle of Alberta. But already, the Kraken look like one of the teams capable of challenging the Canucks and others for a playoff berth in the Pacific Division, which is expected to be dominated by Vegas and Edmonton but is wide open afterwards.
“Obviously the points are huge no matter where you play,” said Canucks defenseman Brad Hunt. “But it will always be really cool to play the very first game in Seattle. It’s something that beyond this season, three or four years from now, you’ll look back and say it was pretty cool to be a part of it.
“I think once that border opens up you’re really going to see this rivalry take off with fans able to cross both ways to get to their team’s games. “
Hunt grew up in Maple Ridge, just outside of Vancouver, and enjoyed going to baseball games at what was then Safeco Field in Seattle.
“Garlic Fries,” Hunt said when asked for a favorite souvenir.
Canucks defenseman Kyle Burroughs, a native of Langley on the Canadian side of the border, recalls competing in minor hockey tournaments in the Seattle area and taking an annual tour of junior teams in the Washington State when he played in the Western Hockey League for the Regina Pats.
“And we did all of our back-to-school shopping there,” he laughed.
He said the atmosphere for hockey was “always rocking”.
“When this team was announced, I think everyone in Vancouver knew it was going to be kind of an instant rivalry,” Burroughs said. “I know we’re excited to launch this and launch it. Obviously, we want to be the best team in the Northwest.
“They’re definitely going to be energized for their very first home game in their new arena,” said veteran Canuck Tyler Myers. “We expect this to kick off some really good hockey, but we just have to keep focusing on the same things we’ve been trying to win in every game. I think the atmosphere is going to be pretty crazy.
The All Climate Pledge Arena will be sidelined on Saturday, with, say, 1,000 Canucks fans making the two-and-a-half-hour trip south to cheer the team on the road.
De Bonis said he looks forward to this to happen when the border reopens.
“But they will have a hard time getting tickets,” he added.