Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson is “disappointed” and International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel is “surprised” that the Metro Centre wasn’t sold out for Canada’s first two games of the world hockey championship.
Canada beat Slovenia 5-1 on Friday before a crowd of 7,921, then topped Latvia 7-0 on Sunday with 7,831 on hand. Both crowds were more than a thousand short of capacity.
But Nicholson was quick to say it isn’t time to panic.
“It’s gonna build,” Nicholson said. “It’s almost like what we say to our team. We want our team to be better (as the tournament progresses), and we want our fans to be better.”
>> Some of the greatest players in hockey history graced the Metro Centre yesterday, as the tournament paid tribute to the Canadian team that won the 1976 Canada Cup.
Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull, Darryl Sittler and Lanny McDonald were among the 18 Hall of Famers on the team, which was honoured after the first period of yesterday’s Canada-U.S. game.
Sydney’s Al MacNeil, an assistant coach, was also on hand, along with legendary head coach Scotty Bowman.
“Arguably, probably, in my mind, it is the greatest hockey club ever assembled,” said the 73-year-old McNeil, adding that part of his job was to help “keep mutinies down.”