The NHL leading Vancouver Canucks are giving their fans, and their city, more than just a first place team to cheer for these days.
On the ice, they keep on rolling – going a perfect 5-0 on their road trip after defeating the Flames 4-3 in Calgary on Saturday night. Daniel Sedin added two goals and an assist to his season total as the Canucks returned to Vancouver last night to face the Minnesota Wild.
But it’s also the work the Canucks are doing off the ice and in the community that is showing the Vancouver hockey fan how much character and integrity these guys really have. From a $1.5 million donation to the BC Children’s Hospital from the Sedin twins, to various fundraisers and charity initiatives – this current crop of Canucks not only cares about the community, but is willing to get involved.
“They’re really good about (lending their time) as long as it doesn’t interfere at all with their game or practice schedule,” said Bobby Atwal, President of Vancouver sports memorabilia company The Fan Zoo. “But they’ve been good with us, giving access (to players) and steering us in the right direction.”
Atwal said if not for the kindness of one Canuck in particular, The Fan Zoo wouldn’t exist as the company it is today.
“I truly believe every business needs a break and our break came a couple summers ago when we met Mason Raymond,” he said. “Mase was instrumental in taking this business to the next level and was kind enough to open the doors to the dressing room and tell the guys about us.”
“I have known Bobby and his team for a couple of years and they have always been very professional and very respectful,” said Raymond.
Raymond’s referral has gotten Kevin Bieksa, Rick Rypien, Alex Burrows and other Canucks working with The Fan Zoo – and also buying some of their signature pieces.
“I have seen and bought some of the company’s items and they are high quality and excellent finish,” said Burrows.
The Fan Zoo also prides itself on holding events that put the fan face-to-face with their favourite players. Alex Burrows and Mason Raymond will both be on hand for a meet-and-greet luncheon and cocktail party April 1st at EagleQuest Golf Course in Surrey.
“Our events are more intimate and interactive,” says organizer Azmath Hussain. “Where other companies put on events like line-and-signs, we have a cocktail party for a true one-on-one experience.”
The Fan Zoo has its own charity initiatives, with 1% of all sales donated to the downtown eastside, as well one full sports outfit given to a child in the community every month, said E-Marketing Manager Martine Yen. But the company also gives the Canucks players the chance to give back to the community, said former Canuck and current Florida Panther Darcy Hordichuk.
“Some players don’t want to do signings for money but The Fan Zoo is working on giving them an outlet where they can donate their money to different charities,” said Hordichuk. “It’s a different philosophy.”
This Canucks group also seems to operate by a different philosophy.
While they may take heat sometimes for not being more of a fiery and passionate team on the ice, there is no doubting their character off of it.