Goodbye Chilliwack Bruins, Bring Back Old Style Chiefs Hockey

The recent news surrounding the departure of Chilliwack’s WHL Team should come as no surprise to Chilliwack Bruins hockey fans. There’s simply no denying that the passion and atmosphere doesn’t even come close to what it was back in “The Barn”/Coliseum where the beloved Junior A Chilliwack Chiefs played from 1990-2006 (with their final two seasons in Prospera Center).

I remember as a kid and teenager going to the Chiefs games, and what I remember most were the little things…

$2 programs with the Chiefs roster and an insert that featured the visiting team roster, report, and hand written “lucky program number”. Haven’t seen any lucky programs at the Bruins games in a while.

Sitting on the hard bench bleachers and listening to passionate fans behind the visiting goalie rant and rave and try as they could to get under his skin, game in and game out. Where did these guys go?

The hand painted hockey murals that spread throughout the Coliseum. Where’s that same small town feel in Prospera Center?

The chance to cheer on a winning team. We could count on Harvey Smyl to guide the team well into the playoffs year after year. Unfortunately, the Bruins have never made it past the first round of the playoffs. That’s a tough pill to swallow after being spoiled by the Chiefs’ winning ways.

The jam-packed trophy cases and team pictures scattered throughout the halls of the ol’ Barn. Where did all that history go?

There was so much history and life to the Coliseum. To me, walking into Prospera Center smells like desperation and defeat. Defeated efforts to spark a successful WHL team in Chilliwack, and desperation to sell more tickets and pay the bills.

For me, the most disappointing promotion for the Chilliwack Bruins this year was: “buy two tickets and get your choice of t-shirt, hat or toque”. The inconsistency, planning and stock control that went into that promotion was horrendous. I bought two of these packages for the 2010/2011 season.

The first time I bought my tickets, I received TWO Bruins hats at the box office, but was told I could only sit in section L. The second time I bought the tickets, I received ONE voucher for a hat, t-shirt, or touque to be redeemed on gameday. And oh, this time I could choose my seats wherever I wanted.

Did it not occur to the marketing staff that if you’re buying two tickets, that you should receive two promo items? I can only imagine the number of arguments that broke out over what kid got to keep the freebie.

And the lack of stock control should come as no surprise. At the age of 24, I was still beaming to march into Prospera Center on game night to present my voucher and receive my free toque, only to be told by a sheepish employee, that they were out of toques, out of hats, and only had XL t-shirts left.

And they wondered why they struggled to sell tickets?

Chilliwack hockey fans got spoiled with the Chilliwack Chiefs. It was the passion and atmosphere that kept fans coming back, and there was nothing like the ol’ Barn to watch a hockey game in.

Chilliwack Chiefs MemorbiliaWhen the Chilliwack Chiefs played their final season in Prospera Center, that was the beginning of the end. Sure, the amenities of a brand new rink had their advantages, but the feeling of watching the Chiefs in their new home wasn’t the same.

Chilliwack tried to expand too fast with the Bruins and the marketing efforts couldn’t keep pace. Chilliwack IS a hockey town, but you’d never know it by the Bruins’ attendance, a dismal 16th out of 22 in the league for the 2010/2011 season.

We need passion. We need that small town feel. We need an arena that showcases Chilliwack’s hockey history. We need good hockey. So please, just bring back our Junior A hockey team.

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menardy12 April 5, 2011 Local