More from the game last night

by Steve, January 14th, 2007

hockeyWacky Mommy reminded me that I forgot the best (non-hockey) part of the evening last night, the part in which the “Chevy Prize Blimp” got hijacked. They’ve got this radio controlled blimp that flies around the arena during intermissions, dropping coupons for free margarine (I’m not shitting you), free kids’ tickets, and free fast food hamburgers. The freakin’ crowd goes nuts, especially the kids, and I’m always expecting kids to go pitching over a railing as they chase the damn thing around the arena bowl. The announcer says “Make some noise, he’ll come your way; make a lot of noise, he’ll drop some prizes!” So children and adults alike are looking up at this thing, waving their arms and screaming wildly. I can understand the kids not understanding that the man who’s driving the thing is in plain sight behind them, up in the rafters, but I’ve never understood how the adults can be so daft. Do they really think he can discern their relative position to the blimp and pull the trigger so a piece of paper can flutter down from 100 feet above them, right into their greedy fingers? Do they really not understand that they’re making asses of themselves for a margarine coupon?

Anyway, the pilot’s lack of visibility was demonstrated last night, when the blimp got wedged at the top of the arena bowl and was mobbed by a crowd that included quite a few adults. I didn’t see how exactly it happened, but it looked like the pilot’s view was blocked by the center-hung scoreboard. There must have been 25 people in a tight clutch around the blimp, which strained futilely against their grasp. Finally, it broke free and bobbed away like a big puppy, but its payload had been completely stripped. The mob continued to fight over the booty for a few minutes. Holy blimp shit, Batman, what a freakin’ hillarious scene! And this was right at the beginning of its flight, so the buzz was pretty much killed for the blimp chasers in other parts of the arena. Which is not a bad thing for those of us who prefer to not have children climbing over us, chasing visions of free oleo. Actually, in the first intermission, a voucher for a free kid’s ticket landed in the empty seat next to me, and as I reached for it to hand it to the kids behind us, the little urchin almost tore it out of my hand. Neither he nor his parents said “thank you.” If you’re reading this, You’re welcome, ya little shit.

This, by the way, was the same kid who, with his sibling, was clacking little hand clappers in my ear throughout the first and second periods. And it was one of these kids who had an “accident”, causing the whole family to have to leave the game early. Some time in the third period, Wacky Mommy (who has a lousy sense of smell except when it comes to pee and shit) looked back at the soggy mess of half-eaten pretzels and paper waste they left and said “Phew, somebody had an accident!” The couple sitting beside me had had their own accident, having spilled a cocktail, so it was a pretty nasty soup around us in the old Coliseum. Some time during the third, an arena employee came with her haz mat kit and did a quick once over on the pee-pee puddle, and the lady next to me begged a couple super-absorbent rags to clean up her own mess. No wonder I was in a fightin’ mood by the time the fight cards finally came up. “Get out there and stick ’em! Fuck ’em! Christ! Pop ’em!” I shouted, now that the kids were gone.

God, I love hockey.

Wacky Mommy Doesn’t Care for the Fighting

by Steve, January 14th, 2007

hockey…she told me so. But when you decide at the last minute to skip trying to get rush tickets to see a play and instead go see your last-place Portland Winter Hawks take on the league leading Everett Silver Tips, there’s a good chance things are going to get out of hand. Especially when these teams see a lot of each other (Portland managed to beat Everett in Everett last night, 3-1).

Portland played with Everett for two periods, helped out by an extended 5 on 3 power play that yielded a tying goal. But then things started to fall apart in the third. When Everett scored their fifth and final goal at 11:30 of the third, making it 5 to 2, I started looking for Portland tough guy Frazer McLaren to pick a dance partner. But it was 16-year-old Tayler Jordan who got things started at 16:27 with Everett’s Brenan Sonne. This one looked like a draw to me. Then off the ice with them! As soon as the puck was dropped again, 5’11”, 185 lb. Matt Sokol squared off with Everett’s Kyle Beach. Beach is 6′ 3″ and pretty much had his way with Sokol, virtually undressing him in the process. To the showers, boys! Then we had to watch a whole minute and a half of hockey before we got a couple of big guys going at it with 6’6″, 216 lb. Max Gordichuk getting some good licks in on 6’4″, 224 lb. Moises Gutierrez.

With a minute 50 left to go, the crowd was yelling for big Frazer McLaren to get into it, but he spent the balance of the game on the bench.

And Wacky Mommy turns to me and says, “How can you like this sport, with all this fighting?” Somehow she forgot that we were going to go to a play, but she was the one who said, nah, let’s go see the Winter Hawks instead. Seriously, I’m not making this up. And you know, Wacky Mommy always says you can just screw so much and drink so much.

Anyway, it got me to thinking. John, AKA Peatycap, AKA Sig from and has a point about a lack of emotion in the NHL. I exchanged some e-mail with a friend in Minneapolis who recently caught a Wild game, and also commented on the lack of aggression. The guys blame the new rules enforcement, which we’re also getting in the WHL this year, but they seem to overlook several years of emotionless clutch-and-grab trap hockey that preceded the lockout. They (correctly) target Gary Bettmann as an incompetent assclown of a manager and marketer, and they also are correct that the rules enforcement has gone too far (though I think we disagree on the degree). But I don’t think that’s what’s killed the emotion in the NHL (especially with an eye on how boring the clutch-and-grab and trap game had become).

The real issue is far deeper than zero-tolerance. I saw more emotion on the ice tonight than I’ve seen in ten games in the NHL this season, and a couple of obstruction penalties going both ways didn’t do anything to quell it. These kids are playing their asses off, because they don’t know if they’re going to make it to the next level or not. Intense intra-division rivalries are the norm in Major Junior hockey, even when it’s a league leading Everett, with 69 points, taking it to Portland, with a lowly 30 points. Maybe the pros just make too damn much money to give a shit night after night, and maybe the fact that they’ve “arrived” makes them complacent. I guess that’s why I’m a junior hockey fan, and I’ve never been too excited about the idea of the NHL in Portland.

I understand why Peatycap’s bitter. He’s a Capitols fan, fer Christ’s sake. Shit, now that Jack Abramoff’s buddies can’t take Congress out to the sky box, the team’s probably going to have to pull up stakes and move to a real hockey town. Just don’t come to Portland, okay? (I hear Las Vegas is looking for a team….)