My dad flew in for the weekend, and we had all kinds of grand plans in mind- golf in the morning, Hawks at night! Except then it snowed a whole lot. Not entirely golf weather.
We decided to get seats closer to the ice than our normal 300 level seats, and we wound up right behind the Hawks bench. There were a few things I noticed that I had never seen before. Up there with the rest of the peasants, it's hard to see what's really going on. Perhaps some pictures will do the trick? Obviously I had never seen water bottles before, and was very intrigued. If this game had been on NBC, here's where Pierre McGuire would be ruining everyone's enjoyment of the game. This picture was taken shortly after the equipment manager gave Buff something to chew on. Gum? Tobacco? Hard to say. Also, he may or may not look like a rooster in this picture. I had a hard time watching a game without someone constantly complaining "Campbell sucks!" every two minutes. But I could get used to it. Brent Sopel is actually much uglier up close. Somehow, he evaded capture by my camera. Brent Sopel- the Loch Ness Monster? The Q-Stache is oh so much more imposing in person. When Q turns around and looks you in the eyes, you'll know exactly what being seconds from death feels like. "So you see, Steeger, that's how you make love to a woman!" (When I first tried to take the picture, Madden was gesturing wildly with his arms, so the caption would have worked a lot better, but too late, I was already committed to it in my mind) For a brief second after Hossa's goal, I was convinced Brent Sopel scored it. This picture was intended to be titled "Last Thing I See Before a Heart Attack" but then Hossa was credited with the goal, and cats and dogs resumed warring. "People are upset that they did WHAT?!" Sippin' on some Haterade. Juuuust the two of us... The Original Mr. Handsome Funny, I seem to remember we had a savior with a beard... all Hossa can manage is a soul patch? Blackhawks' assistant coach John "Frankentorch" Torchetti had his game face on the entire time. The frightening thing was that when he went to yell instructions to players on the bench, he seemed to turn around, almost so he was looking me dead in the eyes. I had no idea what he was saying but I made a point of backchecking much harder on the next play. "Man, you should hear what me and Duncs were doing in OUR limo..." Blue Steel. I'm guessing that if Jonathan Toews' hockey career doesn't pan out, he can probably get a job as a Dementor. Notes and Observations
- As cool as it was to be so close to the action, it's not quite so fun having the coaching staff/ training staff/players blocking your view the whole game. I'll take the 300 level in the future, please.
- The crowd at the game was pretty small- below 7,000. As someone familiar with driving in the snow, getting to the game wasn't a very big problem for me. However, for a native of NC without much experience, I could see why it'd be enough to keep you from the game. There was not a plowed street in sight, the roads were fairly icy, and the whole state pretty much shuts down.
- I disagree strongly with the notion that Carolina isn't a strong hockey market, especially considering where they are this season in the standings. One thing about the Canes that was very noticeable from the beginning was that they market very heavily towards a family experience at games. You can see that from their commercials, you get that vibe from being in the stadium, and as a matter of fact their normal national anthem singer is a young girl (who missed the game because she got into a sledding accident). They're trying to build the market from the youngsters on up so that by the time they're irritating 20-somethings like me, they'll be filling the RBC Center just like they have since they were kids. Much better idea than Phoenix who tried to fill an arena with snowbirds from Chicago and Canada.
- The fan experience more than anything else was ruined by... you guessed it, a Hawks fan. You don't go into another man's home, sleep with his wife, insult his children, and drink all of his beer (so that's why my uncle isn't allowed at family Christmas anymore). This clown decided to irritate all of the Canes fans around us, who were beyond friendly. I understand it must be tough to only see your favorite team once a year tops, but you have to account for the fact that they may not win when you see them. Does it do any good to repeatedly yell "If you want to win the CUP you have to beat teams like this!!!!"? I remember absolutely zero Stanley Cup Champions who went 82-0-0 . I was hoping that Quenneville would jump over the glass and choke the guy to death with his mustache.
- I'm a big fan of the Blackhawks Ice Crew, but the Hurricanes' incarnation, the Storm Squad, made all of those girls look like me with a wig on. Pictures didn't do them justice, but here's one anyhow.