The Olympic loonie is displayed encased in plastic to simulate ice at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., on February 28, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
VANCOUVER - Is there a lucky loonie buried in the ice at Vancouver's Rogers Arena? Should it matter?
Any NHL player with a scruffy playoff beard will tell you that luck counts. Fans and players alike are always looking for signs or omens that portend a win and there seems to be no stronger sign of Canadian hockey luck than a loonie buried in the ice.
But no one in Canucks management was admitting to embedding a superstitious advantage.
"Not that I know of," said T.C. Carling when asked about it.
"A lot of those things don't come about or surface until after the fact that somebody's put it in there."
The loonie mystique started at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games when the Canadian ice maker surreptitiously buried the iconic coin at centre ice. Both the Canadian men and women won gold.
Skill was an obvious factor, but few Canadian Olympic hockey players will now risk doing without the buried coins for luck. For the 2010 Games in Vancouver, three were poured into the concrete of the newly constructed curling venue.
But even if the presence of a lucky loonie for tonight's game isn't known, superstitious Canucks fans are eyeing a trend in sports history.
Jason Beck, the curator of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame points out that both Montreal and Calgary won the Stanley Cup the year after their cities hosted the Olympic Games.
"It may just be that the host cities have so much positive energy or so much buzz and it just carries over into the professional teams and the fans," Beck said.
"There must be some sort of carry-over, especially if Vancouver wins this, then you have to think there's something there."
For these Canuck players, Carling said, it may be less about superstition and more about a routine leading up to the game or "good practice habits."
But there can even be superstition in habits.
Winning the Western Conference Division cup was a milestone for the Canucks—they hadn't won it since 1994—but Canucks captain Henrik Sedin refused to touch the cup for fear the team wouldn't later be holding the Lord Stanley's cup over his head.
When then-Canucks captain Trevor Linden two-handed the division cup over his shoulders in 1994, the top of the trophy fell off. The Canucks later lost the Stanley Cup series in Game 7.
If wearing Canucks jerseys counts for luck, there will be plenty of it in the city's downtown core, with a giant Canucks-themed party, as tens of thousands of fans are expected to gather in bars, in front of giant outdoor screens and in Rogers Arena to watch Vancouver take on Boston.
An Ipsos Reid poll released Tuesday found 8 in 10 British Columbians are excited about the Canucks playoff performance, with 53 per cent of those surveyed saying they were very excited.
That's the same level of excitement the pollster found on the eve of the Vancouver Winter Games.
The puck drops at 5 p.m. Vancouver time, and prompting some to rearrange their work schedules to be watching on time.
The City of Vancouver planned giant television screens in two spots, including one on popular Granville Street, which has become the epicentre of the post-game street parties during the playoffs.
Rachel McGovern, a 28-year-old grad student, will be watching the game along with her baseball team at a friend's house.
She said the city has been coming alive during the games like it did during last year's Winter Games, when throngs of people flooded the downtown streets every night.
"It's fun, it's almost like reliving the Olympics," said McGovern.
"It's so exciting. It's at the point where they (the Canucks) could do this, and I have no idea what my reaction's going to be."
Transit officials planned to reroute service along Granville Street to avoid the crowds, and Vancouver police expected to increase the number of officers on patrol, watching out for unruly fans and pouring out open liquor. The city's police chief has said the final round of the playoffs could cost the force half a million dollars.
A small number of seats for the home games in Vancouver went on sale Tuesday, starting at $197, but they were sold out within minutes. Season ticket holders have been selling their seats online for thousands of dollars.
The lucky few who will be inside Rogers Arena for the games will faced increased security, according to the Canucks.
The team is urging fans to show up early and expect airport-style security measures, including pat downs and bag searches.
- with a file from James Keller in Vancouver