The Vancouver Canucks’ top sniper caused a stir in Surrey on Sunday afternoon (March 12).
Rookie forward Andrei Kuzmenko signed autographs at the Pastime Sports & Games store at Guildford Town Centre, where the line of fans stretched the length of a second-floor mall corridor.
The budding-star Russian, who leads the Canucks with 32 goals this season, was all smiles at the sold-out event, for which tickets were sold for $39.99 and up.
“You can only get so many people through in a one-hour period,” said store owner Ken Richardson.
“We estimate how long it’s going to take each person to get through the line, and once we reach that estimate we’ll simply stop selling tickets because we need to guarantee everyone who bought a ticket gets to go through,” he added. “We don’t want anyone to be disappointed.”
Think Kuzmenko isn’t a popular #Canucks player right now? Check out the line of people to get autographs at @pastimesports in @ShopGTC this afternoon. #SurreyBC #Kuzmenko #TheHappyRussian pic.twitter.com/0jEagXwSJw— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) March 13, 2023
The autograph-signing in Guildford was announced Jan. 27, the day Kuzmenko agreed to a two-year, $11-million contract extension with the Canucks.
Last spring, the Pastime store moved from Surrey’s Central City Shopping Centre to Guildford Town Centre.
“The move has been spectacular for us,” Richardson raved, “although we will be moving to another location here in the mall by the end of April.”
Richardson opened his first Pastime store in Langley in August 1993, and is building a brand new location in that city to celebrate 30 years in the business of sports collectibles and games.
The stores in Surrey, Delta, Burnaby and Langley frequently host autograph-signing sessions with sports stars past and present.
“(Former Canucks star) Trevor Linden was here last month and we had around 1,000 people show up, it was insanity, a lineup down through the mall and to the other side of it,” Richardson recalled.
“Some events work different than others,” he explained. “We can’t give everything away, because we have to pay the rent. Just like when we’ve had Gordie Howe in the past, or Darryl Sitler, those guys, sometimes we do free ones (autograph signings) and sometimes we do paid ones, and people had to buy a ticket for Kuzmenko’s signing.”