Fall Sports Preview: Young Swedes and Old Lions

Legends of the Fall? Maybe not. But these icons and events will dominate the city's sports scene.

September 14, 2018

By Nathan Caddell

For a sports fan, fall is unquestionably the best season of the year: it’s the only one in which all four major North American sports leagues are in session. While that enthusiasm is tempered just a little bit in Vancouver—which has only one team among those leagues—here’s a rundown of what to look for amid the leaves and rain.

Watching the kids

Speaking of the major sports leagues, the Vancouver Canucks continued to confound their fans by constantly advertising and promoting their young players and then signing ineffective veterans like Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel to big-money deals.

While those deals won’t have a massive effect on the quality of the team—the Canucks will be bottom-dwellers regardless—they may have hampered the club’s ability to ice many of the promising young players on the roster.

Must-see game

October 3, Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames

For the first time since the 2012–13 season, the Canucks will host a game on the NHL’s opening night, something many paranoid fans will tell you is an obvious sign that the league is against the club. But this one will signal the direction the club intends on going in for the rest of the year. Last season it was clear from the start that the Sedin twins would be seeing a reduced role, as coach Travis Green gave them a paltry amount of ice time in the opener against Edmonton.

Elias Pettersson

Player to watch

Elias Pettersson, Centre, Vancouver Canucks

At the age of 19, the most pressure many of us face involves trying to hold down a tequila shot. Elias Pettersson has just the hopes and dreams of an entire city resting on his shoulders. Vancouver’s first-round pick in the 2017 draft has spent the last year absolutely dominating the Swedish Hockey League. At this point, if the 19-year-old weren’t the winner of that league’s rookie of the year award, the season would be considered a disappointment.

Bouncing back

The NBA Canada Series returns after a one-year hiatus, which means Vancouver basketball fans will be able to catch a glimpse of the new-look Toronto Raptors.

The Raps face off against the Portland Trail Blazers in a pre-season contest at Rogers Arena on September 29, and it doesn’t look like the negative PR around the DeMar DeRozan trade has travelled to Vancouver—tickets for the game are flying.

Travis Lulay

Playoff races

The BC Lions have turned (back) to veteran quarterback Travis Lulay, as it seems like the Jonathon Jennings Experiment is officially over. Vancouver simply needs a ginger athlete to star in the Sedins’ stead. But the Leos have been in tough lately when away from BC Place with a 0-5 record in road games. They may not make the playoffs, but the team is still worth watching at home, with a sparkling 4-1 in the confines of the province.

In the same stadium, the Vancouver Whitecaps will also be battling for a playoff spot for much of the fall. Plus, this will be Vancouver fans’ last chance to catch teenage superstar Alphonso Davies in a Whitecaps uniform before he heads to Bayern Munich FC next season. Sadly, this Fonz won’t be sticking around long enough to jump the shark.

Virtue and Moir

Skate-off

Figure skating stars Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir kick off their “Thank You, Canada” tour at the Abbotsford Centre October 5. The pair, along with fellow skaters—including Patrick Chan and Elvis Stojko—will take their routine to 30 cities in all. No word on whether they’re free for post-show beers.

Trevor Linden

Best jersey to wear

#16 Trevor Linden, Vancouver Canucks skate logo

Call it a silent protest in support of the team’s ex-president.

Best chant

“LUUUUUULAAAAYYYYY”

Homage to former Canucks ’tender Roberto Luongo as well as a nod to Lulay’s perseverance.

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