Vancouver Canucks

Lights, Cameras, Canucks

A behind-the-scenes look at in-arena entertainment

January 9, 2023

By Ally Penders - @AllyPenders

Every year, teams across the National Hockey League strive to improve their in-arena experience and Canucks Sports and Entertainment is no different.

This year, with a Hollywood-inspired pre-game video, a light and on-ice projection show, and several different segments to fill timeouts and intermissions, fans are drawn into the experience from the moment they find their seats.

Not only are these elements in place to entertain the fans, but to fuel the sort of atmosphere that can impact the product on the ice. Canucks captain Bo Horvat says that from the moment he steps through the tunnel each period, he can feel the energy that the fans are bringing to Rogers Arena.

"Any time the crowd gets going in this building, it gives us that extra motivation," he said. "We feed off the energy that our fans bring every night, the more into it they are, the more we feel it."

This season, the Canucks pulled out all the stops for their third annual pre-game hype video, titled Power Rising: Part One. The Mission Impossible-style video, produced by the director of in-game entertainment, Michael Pohorly, follows the players as they go undercover to execute a high-level heist.

The leader of their heist? None other than Canadian actress and long-time Canucks fan, Cobie Smulders, known for her roles as Robin Scherbatsky in How I Met Your Mother and Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Horvat noted that he and his teammates didn't need much convincing to star in the video.

"Most of the time we are all so focused on hockey," he said. "It was a really fun opportunity for the guys to do something different together, and to test out our acting skills. It was pretty cool for me and I know the guys embraced it."

While he enjoyed the experience, the captain said he doesn't see himself on movie sets in the future.

"I think I was pretty good, but I don't see myself pursuing an acting career," he laughed. "A couple of the guys had some pretty good fight scenes and had a lot of fun with it. Who knows, one of them might get into it after hockey."

One organization member who was happy to not get the call to be part of the project was head coach Bruce Boudreau. When asked if he had any desire to be involved, he replied with a hard "no." However, he said he was happy to see the team come together to work on the project.

With "Part One" in the title of the video, many fans were left wondering whether they can expect a follow-up later in the season.

"I had one line and a few of the guys had some bigger scenes that we haven't seen yet, so we'll have to wait and see what they have in store for us," Horvat teased.

The video hasn't been the only in-arena topic to spark conversation amongst Canucks fans this season. The game entertainment team kicked off the 2022-2023 campaign with a big question… "What will this year's goal song be?"

Many fans and media members shared their opinions earlier in the season after the team tested out Nickleback's "Burn It to The Ground" before switching back to last year's "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds. There was some conversation online about following in the footsteps of other teams around the league that are trying individual goal songs, an idea that Horvat isn't fond of.

"I believe that no matter how a goal is scored, it's usually a team effort," he said. "We tried the individual goal songs in my second or third year in the league and it was just okay. If someone tipped the puck, or they didn't know who scored right away, they would play the wrong song. It can always be better but what we have is good for now, the fans can sing along when we score."

Like the singalongs, anything that brings energy to the arena is good with Horvat, but he does have a favourite segment that he likes to watch during television timeouts.

"Whenever they show fun elements on the jumbotron, I take a glance," he said. "Not so much the kiss cam, but especially fans and their celebrity look-alikes or special performances. Anything that gets a good laugh or gets the fans to make noise gets us fired up a little bit and those are the moments that stand out and make a difference."

There are many other layers to the in-arena experience, including the many friendly faces that fill Rogers Arena. From the fan favourites like Finn and Crazy P to the hosts and security, concession and team store staff, 50/50 volunteers, the ice crew, and the hype team. The people that show up every game to make each fan's time at Rogers Arena one they won't forget, whether they are season ticket holders or are taking in their first hockey game.

The in-arena experience would not be what it is without these people, but there would be no point without the thousands of fans that fill the seats each game, something that the captain is well aware of.

"Canucks fans are very passionate, they want to see us succeed, make the playoffs and win a Stanley Cup, that's the goal every season," Horvat said. "The support I've received from the fans here in Vancouver has been outstanding. Walking through the streets, and having people say hi, really gives me an appreciation for what I do on the ice. Our fans continue to bring the energy, even when we face challenges."

Next time you visit Rogers Arena, come for the pre-game show, don't leave early to beat the traffic, enjoy every aspect of the in-arena experience, and maybe thank a game day staff member on your way out.