Which Vancouver Sports Team Will Have the Best 2019?
The Canucks and Whitecaps aren’t starting things off on a great note.
March 19, 2019
After a year in which all four of the major sports teams in Vancouver disappointed, it’s worth asking whether or not any of them are in a position to bounce back.
So far, the two teams that have started play in 2019 have mostly been letdowns. But Vancouver’s sports clubs still have more than nine months to right their respective ships.
And while the Vancouver Giants have seen a lot of success this year and are currently gearing up for what they hope will be a Memorial Cup run, we won’t be including them—last time we checked, the Langley Events Centre isn’t in Vancouver.
The same goes for the expansion Fraser Valley Bandits of the newly formed Canadian Elite Basketball League, which begins play in May.
Here are the candidates.
While not much was expected of the Vancouver Canucks this season, most of the team’s good times this year came in 2018, when a playoff race was actually feasible.
As the hockey season fades out, so have the Canucks’ playoff hopes. Of course, super rookie Elias Pettersson and goalie Jacob Markstrom have been major bright spots this season and give some hope for the next season, which will begin in October.
There’s also the NHL draft, which will be held in Vancouver and projects to give the Canucks another promising young player.
So, while it’s been something of a disappointing start to 2019, there is reason to expect the rest of the year to be more enjoyable.
2019 Outlook: 5/10
With the draft and the sophomore year of Elias Pettersson on the horizon, along with (hopefully) some other additions, there’s hope that the Canucks will be fun to track for the rest of the year, at least once this season is over and done with.
The Whitecaps came into 2019 with a completely revamped roster, hoping to rid themselves of some of the disappointment that was 2018 and a season without the playoffs. But to go from showcasing teenage sensation Alphonso Davies and a lineup that at least competed for the postseason to losing the first three games of the new season (including the home opener) is a, uh, tough look.
We’re already at the point where next Saturday’s contest against the rival Seattle Sounders at BC Place is something of a must-win. Oh, and Seattle is already 3-0 on the season.
2019 Outlook: 3/10
Maybe we’re being harsh. But along with Davies, losing Kei Kamara and former captain Kendall Waston has hurt the squad both on the pitch and in terms of notoriety. Former Sounders star Fredy Montero and South Korea’s Inbeom Hwang have shown promise, but he can’t do it alone. Be honest, did you know the Whitecaps had already played three games?
Another team that underwent an offseason full of changes, but the Lions haven’t started play so we don’t have an early read on whether or not they were effective. But though it hurts to see CFL legend Wally Buono put away his clipboard for good, the team’s moves inspire some confidence, particularly after an up-and-down 2018 season that saw B.C. get blown out in the first round of the playoffs.
With the retirement of Travis Lulay and the disbanding of the Jonathon Jennings experiment, the Leos turned to former Edmonton Eskimos star quarterback (and former Lion) Mike Reilly.
The CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 2017, Reilly was one of the league’s hottest free agents and chose to sign with B.C. The prominent school of thought has him bringing the Lions back to relevance.
2019 Outlook: 7/10
Adding one of the league’s few prolific names ain’t a bad move. And apparently it’s already led to an uptick of season ticket sales, where the Lions have struggled mightily in recent years.
Speaking of ticket sales, the Warriors of the National Lacrosse League (owned by the same group that owns the Canucks) have performed well since rebranding from the Vancouver Stealth and moving from Langley to Rogers Arena. The Warriors have averaged 7,302 people in six home games thus far—a massive improvement on the 3,507 the Stealth averaged in Langley.
2019 Outlook: 6/10
On the court, things haven’t gone quite as well. The Warriors are 4-8 and will be hard pressed to make the playoffs. But with $5 beers and a focus on in-game entertainment, things are looking up for lacrosse in the Lower Mainland.
The Canadians have easily had the most success of any Vancouver sports franchise in the last several years, including winning the Northwest League Championship in 2017.
But the club missed the playoffs last season, and will be without a key player in Griffin Conine, who is expected to challenge for a spot in Blue Jays training camp.
2019 Outlook: 7/10
With all due respect to the players and coaches, it doesn’t really matter how the Canadians perform on the field. The team has become a draw for fans, and one of the best summer activities in the city. The Nat will once again be close to a sellout most days and nights.
Look, it’s hard to judge the Canadians, because the results of the games seem to have no discernible impact on the gate revenues. But the Lions made a big gamble, and if it pays off with more fans at the gate, it’ll be a huge win for a franchise that desperately needs one.