Turning a ratty, decrepit vehicle into a fan party wagon was always something we associated with the NFL more than the NHL. You know, like those old school buses with team colors you'd see parked at the stadium around 7 a.m., gutted and upgraded with a pork smoker, kegerator and Direct TV?
Nikki Penafiel and Cameron Warmald of Victoria, however, had a hockey-centric van painted in the colors of the Vancouver Canucks; at least they did until their 1985 Toyota (great vintage) was stolen on Tuesday. From the Times Colonist:
Warmald, a mechanic, parked the van on Burnside Road East at 8:30 a.m. and went to work at Simoes Automotive. Soon after lunch, he noticed the vehicle was gone. He admits the van is "really a piece of junk" that they only insure when they need to move something or when the Canucks make the playoffs, but he still wants it back.
Penafiel said they painted the van in 2007 when the Canucks made the playoffs.
A plea for the van's safe return was posted on the Canucks' official message boards by one of the owners: "If a Canucks fan stole it in good fun...as long as you didn't run anyone over (unless a Flames or Chicago fan) and we get it back in one piece we'll be happy campers."
Happy campers, they are. Victory Police Sgt. Grant Hamilton told us this afternoon that the van was recovered by a neighboring police unit about seven blocks from where it was boosted just after midnight on Wednesday. There was no damage to the vehicle, as police recovered it safe and sound. (OK, as safe and sound as a 1985 Toyota.)
Hamilton said the case is considered closed, as there was "no forensic evidence" found inside the van; besides, he said, the owner is probably just happy to get it back in one piece before tonight's Game 4.
Then again, the Canucks did play their best game of their series against the Chicago Blackhawks the night it was stolen.
"We have an A.P.B. for a 1985 Toyota, painted like a maintenance van at Sea World ..."