Locked-out Vancouver Canucks stars Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa staged a spontaneous road hockey game in downtown Vancouver Wednesday, attracting hundreds of fans who caught wind of the event on social media.
"Road hockey today at 3:30 [p.m. PT] at the basketball court under the Cambie Street Bridge. Bieksa isn’t ready," Kesler tweeted earlier in the day.
Bieksa replied in a tweet, saying, "Bring your sticks, Vancouver, and your bad attitudes."
Hundreds of fans picked up on the invitation and a few dozen got into a bit of pickup play with their heroes. The Canucks had a good time, too.
"This is something we wanted to do, to have some fun," said Bieksa during a break in the action. "Every time we’ve been talking hockey lately it’s been serious … We’re just going back to our roots with a fun road hockey game in the pouring rain."
Kesler, who’s still healing from shoulder surgery, stepped in as the referee.
"The only way I’m going to hurt myself is if I throw my hand up too fast for a penalty. So hopefully it’s a good clean game out there today." Kesler said.
The small crowd also was treated before the game to a rendition of O, Canada by singer Mark Donnelly who was also on hand and who belts out the anthem before most Canucks home games — when NHL hockey is actually played there.
The 70-day NHL lockout continued Wednesday with some growing optimism there might be some movement in negotiations.
The players’ association and the league are reported to have cleared their schedules for the next few days to allow talks to continue.