It seems that some NHL teams have developed a somewhat irrational fear of Fortnite, the wildly popular online video game, with the Vancouver Canucks going as far as banning it on team road trips so players can focus on other “team bonding” activities, dinners, and … uh … more team dinners.
This, of course, has been a bit of a talking point around the league with the 2018-19 season set to begin on Wednesday night.
One superstar player that is most certainly not a fan of the Canucks’ decision to ban the game on road trips: Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine.
“Terrible idea,” said Laine, when asked about the Canucks’ ban on Wednesday. “I think they just needed something to blame after last year. We kind of made a deal if that we’re playing like that, we can give up our PlayStations so we’re not going to take them on the road. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
And just like that, before even playing their first game, the Canucks have taken their first loss of the season.
“They’re fun events, those team dinners,” Laine said when asked about team dinners. “I guess Vancouver is going to have lots of them. But good for them.”
The thing is: Laine is probably right. The Canucks were one of the league’s worst teams a season ago, have a fairly young roster, and probably see this as some sort of no nonsense, laying down the law type of move. Kind of like when a bad NFL or MLB team removes the ping pong table out of the locker room. You’re not winning out there in the sports arena? Well then no fun off of it!
Of course, trying to find some sort of correlation between this stuff and actually winning games is going to be a lousy and meaningless endeavor, because there are plenty of good teams that make a point of playing video games on the road, to the point of it being a team-bonding experience of its own.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, for example, were huge Mario Kart players this past season (as were the Vegas Golden Knights, team they beat in the Stanley Cup Final). It did not seem to hurt them.
Maybe it’s a sign of the generational gap? Older, more “old school” players are going to view team bonding as “putting down your phone” and hitting a bar and throwing back a bunch of liquor with no time for anything else. But times change, and gaming can be just as much of a team-bonding experience as sitting around a table in a restaurant for a couple of hours.
The Canucks and Jets meet for the first time on Oct. 18, by the way.