Canucks fans can love the Heat while still hating the Flames

During last year’s AHL playoffs, the Abbotsford Heat swept the Milwaukee Admirals, earning them a berth in the second round against the Toronto Marlies. After winning the first game, the Marlies won the next three, making game five one of the greatest events in hockey: a playoff elimination game.

With the Canucks already eliminated from the playoffs, the Heat were hoping that hockey-hungry fans would flock to the Abbotsford Sports & Entertainment Centre to take in the action. Instead, a paltry 1360 fans showed up for what turned out to be a thrilling overtime game. I was one of the few people in attendance and it was thoroughly depressing to see so many empty seats.

I understand why it happened of course. It was risky to plant the AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames in the heart of Canucks country and the terrible branding and marketing did little to separate the Heat from the Flames in the minds of most fans. Their more recent slogan “Our Town. Our Team.” that I’ve seen on signs around Abbotsford is far better, but it’s too little, too late for many. Most Canucks fans just can’t wrap their minds around the idea of cheering for the affiliate of one of the Canucks’ biggest rivals, even during an NHL lockout where the Heat are the only professional hockey within driving distance.

Let me help you remove that roadblock: if you cheer for the Heat, you want the Flames to be terrible. Becoming a Heat fan won’t make you into a Flames fan by proxy; instead, it will simply heighten your hate.

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Canucks, Abbotsford may be ideal match, but Flames happy with Heat

Did you hear? The Canucks are in talks to take over the AHL franchise in Abbotsford. At least, that’s been the rumour for the last four years or so.

If it’s true, nobody’s talking. Abbotsford Heat President Ryan Walter says no one has discussed it with him. Same for Abbotsford mayor Bruce Banman.

“As of yet, nobody’s knocking on my door,” Banman said. But he wasn’t shy about admitting that the city would be “fools not to be” interested if the Aquilini Group, owners of the Vancouver Canucks, did come around hoping to take the reigns of the franchise from the Northwest Division rival Calgary Flames. In fact, the rumours excite him like they excite anybody else. “I’m hoping where there’s smoke there’s fire,” Banman said.

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Canucks news comes fast and furious, and sometimes we find ourselves playing catchup. Thankfully, the Dreaded Two Goal Lead–often called “the worst lead in hockey”–is super easy to come back from. Everybody knows it’s a guaranteed death sentence for those that hold it. Well, much like an ice hockey team coming from two goals down, PITB will now effortlessly catch up.

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