In Glen Hanlon’s 14-year NHL career, he played for four teams: the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings.
Three of those stops — with St. Louis being the lone exception — were in front of passionate home crowds.
And having that support in the stands makes a big difference for players.
“The environment means everything,” Hanlon said on Tuesday night at the Langley Golf Centre.
Hanlon, the Vancouver Giants general manager, and Dale Saip, the major junior hockey club’s vice president, were the guest speakers at the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce meeting.
The pair were discussing the Western Hockey League club’s move from the Pacific Coliseum — their home for the team’s first 15 years — to the Langley Events Centre for the upcoming season.
“We are going from the St. Louis in my life … where the environment has worn itself out, to a place that is lively,” said Hanlon, the team’s rookie general manager.
And like it was when he was a player, Hanlon said the Giants players will feed off the atmosphere and excitement of the home crowd at the LEC.
“Believe me, the kids will eat this up,” he said.
The Giants played six games at the LEC in 2010, when the team was displaced from the Coliseum during the Vancouver Olympic Games.
“I have spent the past six years convincing my ownership group this is where we need to be,” Saip said, calling the LEC a wonderful facility.
In addition to a great facility, more of the team’s major sponsors — White Spot, Overwaitea Food Group and Tim Horton’s, to name a few — are out this way.
And while the Pacific Coliseum is a historic venue — it was also the original home of the Vancouver Canucks — it is lacking in viable transit options.
“It just made sense for us to be here (Langley),” Saip said.
“We are going to make sure this is a great place to watch hockey and have some fun,” he added.
The LEC is also undergoing some work to get ready for its new tenant.
The lighting system is being upgraded, a Triple O’s is being added to the concession, and more parking is being added.
The Giants have already sold out their platinum club seats and are nearing a sell-out on the club seats and centre ice back locations.
All that remains are centre ice front (the first six rows on one side of the rink and the first three rows on the other) and the end zone tickets on both sides of the rink.