Now that the NHL lockout is over, a Delta-based company is thrilled to roll out its buses for Canucks home games.
For more than a decade, Charter Bus Lines has transported hockey fans to games as part of package deals that typically originate from suburban pubs and restaurants.
During the three-month NHL lockout, all that business dried up, and Charter was left with six to eight idle buses on game nights.
Late Saturday, the hockey league signed a deal with its players' union, and a shortened, 48-game NHL season was announced for 2013; the Canucks will play 24 home games at Rogers Arena.
Sheldon Eggen, president of Charter Bus Lines, is optimistic that Canucks games will be as popular as in seasons past, and that talk of a boycott of NHL action won't materialize.
"We've missed the revenue," Eggen said, "but what would be worse is if we had the cost and couldn't sell the tickets to pubs and other clients. If there is a boycott, we'll take a huge financial hit because we'll have those tickets unsold."
As of Monday, nearly half of the company's bus-and-ticket packages were sold for the coming season, which starts Saturday, Jan. 19 with a home game for the Canucks against Anaheim Ducks.
"For that first game, our buses sold out in two or three minutes," Eggen said, "so the demand is there. People still want to go to Canuck games, no question - especially for the weekend games."
For regular, non-premium games this season, Charter is selling packages of 46 game tickets and transportation for $3,450.
"We're ready to roll," Eggen said. "We're expecting a rush, and not much time to process it all, with the short lead time here."