Not everyone was singing off the same hymn sheet when the news was announced in the late 1990s that a new millennium would bring a new sport to Northern Ireland.
The chorus of voices declaring 'ice hockey will never take off here' was loud enough to drown out a sell-out Belfast Giants crowd at the Odyssey Arena.
When the team did finally hit the ice on December 2, 2000 - 20 years ago this coming Wednesday - it was the latter that met them.
The newspapers, television and radio were filled with Canadian voices and pictures in the week leading up to the game. It was going to take off alright, but the question was would it fly or crash.
Bob Zeller, who with his friend Albert Maasland built the team from the ground up, pretty much in parallel with the Odyssey Arena itself, was convinced that ice hockey would be a hit in Northern Ireland, it was just a matter of getting people through the door.
"I always said it was like the opera, which I love just as much as I love ice hockey," said Zeller, now aged 78.
"When you go to your first opera just relax and enjoy the spectacle and the rest will come to you over time.
"It's the same in hockey. You just enjoy the speed of the game and the skills are even more obvious because very few in the stands could actually skate and they could appreciate how well these big hunks of guys could do it."
The only thing missing was the result as the Giants lost to the Ayr Scottish Eagles on opening night.
Zeller, a former journalist who had followed many a cycling Grand Tour and who still retains a passion for ice hockey long after his time as a goaltender finished, didn't just stick a pin in a map and jump at placing an ice hockey team in Belfast.
An immeasurable amount of work went on behind the scenes, but only after Guildford's loss ultimately led to Belfast gaining.
"Around the end of 1997 and the start of 1998 I was asked by the owner at Guildford to take over the team and run it with the idea that there would be the opportunity of playing at a higher level because there was the beginning of some good arenas in England," said Zeller.
"He then decided he didn't want to make that move and I decided that I was so keen on being with a new club that if it wasn't going to be Guildford I would have to start a team of my own in the new Superleague.
"I spoke to Albert, we looked at it very carefully and we decided eventually that we would make a go of it.
"The next question was where do we put it?
"The whole basis for Superleague, which many people have forgotten, was that there were going to be enough arenas to produce a good level of hockey.
"There was going to be Sheffield, The London Docklands was already onboard, there was going to be Liverpool, there was going to be Southampton.
"I was told that Belfast was likely to get a team and I started to do some homework on that. Eventually one by one I eliminated the others - which was good because some of them never actually happened. The new buildings didn't get built, but Belfast did and we knew it was going to get built.
"I asked a marketing person who I knew very well to come to Northern Ireland to do a survey and a week later he called me and said, 'You're crazy if you go anywhere else but Belfast'.
"He said Belfast has a much greater gap between income and outgoings than anywhere else in the United Kingdom and that amount of money available for leisure time activities was considerably higher in Belfast than anywhere else in the United Kingdom. I couldn't believe that, but he was dead on right."
With the decision made on the location, the arena's foundations on the way too and a substantial six-figure sum paid out just to own a franchise - which amounted to little more than a piece of paper - all that was needed was a team to put on the ice.
The key appointment - and something that Zeller, with modesty, revealed that Maasland said was the best decision he ever made - was the recruitment of the man who would build that team from nothing.
Ordinary coaches wouldn't be able to do such a thing. Not successfully anyway. Dave Whistle was no ordinary coach, as he proved by winning the League in season two, missing out by a whisker in season three and then winning the Play-Offs in his last game in charge of the Belfast Giants.
"I went to see Bracknell play and I was really impressed with Whis behind the bench," said Zeller. "I talked to him afterwards - I really just knew him to say hello to. Everybody knew Whis, if you knew how to spell hockey you knew Whis.
"Really I applied him for the job. I went after him.
"I remember talking to him for about three hours on the phone one night. We discussed a lot of things and he asked me all the questions that an owner wants to answer.
"I was really impressed with Whis as a person and then he made his wife interview me. She was concerned about what it would be like living in Belfast with children and so on, but it turned out in all his playing and coaching career the only place he bought a house was in Belfast."
Concerns over coming to Northern Ireland 20 years ago were natural, especially for those who had never been here before.
Steadily it was a better place to live after the ceasefires and Good Friday Agreement and the Giants were clear in their message that they were part of the new era in Belfast and 'everyone was equal'.
Anything remotely divisive wasn't going to have any part to play. The National Anthem, which players still line up for before every Elite League game, has never been played in Belfast.
If it's not broken then why fix it? Well, there was one occasion when Zeller made sure the model wouldn't be broken.
"We played in Milan in the Continental Cup and one of our volunteers came down to me and pointed to what would have been a sectarian flag in the ceiling," he revealed.
"I asked if they knew who had put it up, they said they did and I asked for them to tell the person to come and speak to me.
"They came down and told me that I had no control over that building. I controlled the Odyssey, but I didn't control that building.
"My response was to tell him that the control I had was that if the flag didn't come down I would take the team off the ice, everyone would know why and he'd be lynched before he got out of the building.
"I was livid, but the flag came down.
"That was the commitment that we had from our volunteers."
Within months of that Zeller didn't quite take his puck and go home, but he took up a role in the Scottish Eagles when they moved from Ayr to Glasgow. That failed dramatically within a couple of months and a few months later as Superleague began to disintegrate the Giants almost did so too in the summer of 2003.
The 'it'll never take off' brigade were so close to being proved right only for an agreement with creditors and a knight in shining armour to rescue the team.
"We had always thought that what we wanted to do was get the team up and running and then have a local person take it over. Neither of us wanted to be living in Belfast for the rest of our lives," said Zeller, who ironically still lives in north Down long after his association with the team ended.
"There was an agreement, which was loosely defined and even more loosely committed to.
"Then through the team solicitor we were introduced and an agreement was made with just the best possible person in this world to actually take over the team.
"Without him owning the team it's hard to imagine someone else moving it to the next step. He brought the stability that every business needs that has had two or three years out on a limb and then needs somebody to solidify things.
"Jim Gillespie took over the team and he was just rock solid. The players loved him, the staff loved him and he had equal sense of the commitment to the community and that was wonderful.
"He and Albert put that altogether in the creditors agreement that was going on so that he could start with a clean sheet when he took over.
"The way that the team is now owned by the public trust that has the building is a fitting way to be, because it was meant to be a team for all the people, so it's all the people who have the team and I think it's wonderful. It's like a Disney ending."
A fairytale ending and a fairytale beginning.
It's almost a story that is too good to be true, or one that would never take off.