KK Members Blog
by Michael Smith on 08/18/10 at 10:16 PM ET
Like anyone else, I have gotten angry about the hockey team I follow. But, for me, the feeling—almost always more disappointment than anger—usually fades away pretty quickly.
I understand being passionate about hockey. I think we all do.
What is hockey if not some perfect mix of beauty and pure, raw emotion?
What I’ve never understood, though, are fans who go to games and spew out nothing but bitter hostility. Aren’t they watching the same game I am? Don’t they appreciate that the world’s fastest, most beautiful game (sorry, soccer fans) is being played at it’s highest level right in front of them?
It doesn’t seem to matter where their team is in the standings or what the score is in the game, at the slightest mistake on the ice these people are going to scream obscenities until the eardrums of everyone around them rupture.
An example comes to mind. The New York Rangers came back from opening the 2008-09 season in Europe to take on the Chicago Blackhawks. The Rangers started the second period on a power play. Mind you, this is the third game of the season. The Rangers are 2-0-0 and are in a 1-1 tie against a young, talented Blackhawks team.
Michal Rozsival fumbles a—likely bouncing—puck at the blueline and is unable to keep the zone. The ugly, harsh chorus of boos that rained down on the Rangers defenseman shocked even me, a one-time season ticket holder and former intern in the building.
How can that negativity be there on Opening Night? How? I can’t wrap my mind around it. Either the majority of these people are harboring old grudges or their sole purpose for coming to the game is to release pent up aggression.
Maybe this is to be expected from a fanbase that still feels the need to tell Dennis Potvin, a player who retired 20 years ago, that they still don’t appreciate him all too much (The uninitiated can research the “Potvin Sucks!” here). This will happen four or five times before a simple, encouraging, “Let’s Go Rangers!” chant is heard.
I’ve seen a few games in Montréal. Do they boo their team? Heck, yeah. But, they praise it every opportunity they get. As much as the scrutiny of playing there must weigh on players, there has to be something said for the unparalleled support they receive from such passionate fans.
I once watched a kid, no more than 12 years old, absolutely annihilated with four-letter words for wearing the wrong jersey at MSG. When three friends and I walked around Montréal in Rangers jerseys on a Saturday afternoon before a game, we got nothing but good natured ribbing. (A police officer pulled over in the Old Port to say with a grin, “I didn’t know you boys had a hockey club down there in New York.” Someone who worked at a church we visited leaned toward us and playfully said, “Oh, you’re going need to pray.”)
Maybe I just need to move to Canada.
I don’t know, but my point is this: how about a little positivity? As hockey fans, there are plenty of reasons for it. Just pick one.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs. Hockey Night in Canada. Pick-up hockey. Molson Canadian. Bobby Orr. Jack Falla books. Pavel Datsyuk. Hat tricks. Sidney Crosby. Slapshot. West Coast trips. Alexander Ovechkin. July 1st. The Winter Classic. John Buccigross. The NHL Network. A fresh sheet of ice.
One more reason for some positivity: the start of another NHL season is just over a month away.
If you can’t cheer about any of that, maybe hockey isn’t the sport for you.
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