With the BC Lions bounced from Grey Cup contention and the NHL lockout reaching critical mass, businesses across the Tri-Cities are being forced to re-invent themselves.
Golden Spike Pub office manager Charlene Williams said sales are down at the Port Moody business due to the NHL work stoppage, and her staff are looking to offset those losses by organizing other events not typically held: fundraisers, poker nights and karaoke.
"Saleswise, we're definitely affected by it," she said. "We have had to dig deep and be creative with the things that we're doing."
Williams noted staffing levels have not been affected by the loss of B.C.'s two big-ticket teams, though the temperament of her patrons has changed.
"People's demeanour is totally different as well," she said. "The sports people are not as excited. We're getting closer to Christmas and people aren't as happy as they usually are.
Maybe the rain is kind of affecting things, but our crowds aren't as happy."
A similar story is playing out at Coquitlam's John B Pub, though bar manager Owen Coomer said his establishment has historically tried to cater to a number of different sports fans.
"There are places that have focused on hockey only and they haven't tried to figure out other ways of business, and those places are actually getting hit really hard," he said. "I feel bad for them, but you have to think outside of the box."
Like the Golden Spike, the John B is offering fundraisers, parties and music to fill the hockey gap, while also providing prize packs around NFL games as an incentive to entice patrons.
And despite the lockout, Coomer maintains his business is enjoying a boon in sales due to recent renovations.
However, he acknowledged a healthy NHL season could only increase those attendance numbers.
"It's still disappointing, don't get me wrong - [the lockout] is an absolute joke," he said.
"I'd love to have hockey games every couple of days. But what it does is it allows us to showcase the other things we can offer."
And while the bars are trying to make do, at least one sporting apparel outlet in Coquitlam is suffering losses in the range of 50 per cent.
The owner of the business did not want his name or the store's name published, though he did note that layoffs could come as soon as next month if sales don't pick up.
"At this time of year, we do about 90 per cent in NHL sales - right now our NHL products are at about 20 per cent," he said.
"The shops that carry only NHL [products] - those guys are really suffering. I'm suffering too, but not to the extent that those other places are."
Interestingly enough, the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce hasn't heard much in the way of complaints from member businesses over the lockout.
Michael Hind, the chamber's executive director, noted the chamber doesn't have a formal position on the matter, though he empathizes with businesses across the country that are affected.
"I think the NHL strike is hurting a lot of businesses in a lot of different ways," he said.
"I don't know if the NHL and the players really truly appreciate the effect it's having across the country. I'd like them to get back to work."
One business that is seeing positive gains from the lockout, albeit modest ones, is the Coquitlam Express.
The club's governor and co-owner, Darcy Rota, said the team has experienced a "light increase" in attendance that can be attributed to the lockout.
A former NHLer who played in the league from 1973 to 1984, including five seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, Rota is in a unique position: his business could stand to benefit if the lockout continues, though he maintains a vested interest in a league that he loves.
"We could reap some of the fruits of no hockey, but I think we're better served when the National Hockey League is playing and people are talking about hockey in a positive vein at all levels," he said.
Though the spectre of today's Canucks not taking to the ice this season is becoming an ever-increasing reality, those who came before them will be at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Centre tonight (Friday) as part of Canucks Alumni Night.
Among the former NHLers in attendance will be John Garrett, Dennis Kearns, Harold Snepts, Jack McIlhargey, Chris Oddleifson, Doug Halward, Blair MacDonald, John Grisdale and Rota.
Game time is 7 p.m. twitter.com/johnkurucz