‘How exciting is this going to be?’: Island hockey fans, pubs cheer return of NHL

WatchWith a new, and unique, NHL season starting up some Island hockey fans hope it's the beginning of a slow return to 'normal'. April Lawrence reports.

Hockey is back.

The NHL regular season kicked off Wednesday afternoon with the Pittsburgh Penguins taking on the Philadelphia Flyers.

It’s something many thought wouldn’t happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But even though it’s months later than usual there are fewer people more pumped about it than Victoria’s Kenn and Landen Shaw.

“I mean how exciting is this going to be tonight? C’mon people!” said Kenn Shaw.

The father and son have been forced to watch re-runs in their Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave but now they’re preparing to cheer on their teams the pandemic way.

“We’re going to be watching over Facetime together and chirping at each other’s teams, so it’s still going to be intense here in the fan cave,” said Landen.

Excitement is also building at the Gorge Point Pub in Esquimalt. The NHL return comes just in time for many struggling pubs and restaurants.

“Hockey is a big part of what we do here through the winter here at the pub and a big part of our atmosphere and I think it’s just a big part of our culture as Canadians, so to get a little piece of that back maybe just one step towards things returning to normal hopefully this year,” said manager Zachary Young.

And with many rinks around the province sitting empty, with no games allowed, those who’ve been sitting on the sidelines say this gives them that little chance to jump back in.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island sports leagues react after adult team sports suspended

“I definitely miss being at the rink with my buddies and stuff but this definitely feels like we’re going towards that new good direction,” said Landen Shaw.

And with a new North division of all Canadian times, the excitement and the rivalries may just bring people together while staying apart.

“You can come down to the pub to enjoy some really good food and drink with your household, with your family, and get back some of that normal atmosphere watching the Leafs plays the Habs tonight or the Canucks-Oilers, whatever it is, and just get some of that feeling back of watching sports, being out together, enjoying that while being safely distanced of course,” said Young.

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April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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