17 December 2007

Yo momma so ugly the NHL banned her for life

CapsChick at A View from the Cheap Seats mentioned the other day that the Buffalo/Washington fans were having a bit of a scuffle, and so I landed on Katebits' blog post here, and the comments section got me thinking of all the different things that drive people to hockey.

Yes, I said 'drive people to hockey', like stress drives you to drink, or rowdy pets that eat your rocking chair drive you to the humane society, because I think for so many of us hockey is like that: an addiction, an escape from the ho-hum of every day life, and after so many years following the same team, it's a cushion of familiarity to fall back on and escape to, a family of 100,000 of your closest friends you've never met. Just like when someone insults your mother, stabs at your favorite hockey team can sting as deep and provoke a sometimes heated response. Anyone who has been to a game against a hated rival can attest to this....or a Leafs game, because those people are everywhere.

In many situations to those long-suffering fans, those rivalries and annoying fans are what both makes the game and provokes a trip to the pub after. What would hockey be without the buzz that surrounds a Habs/Leafs showing on Hockey Night in Canada? A Pens/Flyers trip? A Rangers....anyone game? These long-standing matchups make the players and fans more excited for the games, both feed on the atmosphere of these situations and off each other. The fans will boo and holler for a botched call or a bad boarding, and how many times have we heard the players talk about the building and the fans inside it, good or bad? As the NHL has tried to shove down everyone's throats with the 'new schedule', divisional rivals are good, but games will lend themselves to sparks regardless (The Pens fell into a set of good scuffles with the Leafs and Canadiens last year, both outside the division, for example).

Every team's fans have derogatory labels attached to them from the other side, some more than most, which begs the inevitable question: which fans are the worst in hockey? This is something that has been discussed before, and there will never be a true answer, but some are historically more unsettling than others. Leafs fans have a monumental traveling fan base, Flyers fans are notoriously brutal with words and sometimes fists, Buffalo fans also move in loud, gregarious packs, Rangers fans would sooner run over you than look at you, Habs fans shun you unless you are also a fan of the Canadiens, Islanders fans' have been known to practice their pitching arm on occasion, and the Bruins fans are all too busy watching/thinking about/counting down the days till the Sox come back to Fenway. Did I miss anything? Pens fans are a snarky, usually cranky bunch, that show up in the darnedest places, but the so-called 'worst fans' most likely depend on the team you cheer for nightly. I'm sure the Ducks don't care about the Flyers, but the Pens fans certainly do. What are the fans everyone groans to see sitting beside them, home or away?

Is that what every fan is made up of, stereotypes? Of course not, but sometimes it's fun to play into those, get into a battle of wits, make 'yo momma' jokes and see who can boo the loudest when the other team gets a goal. The camaraderie, the joy of rubbing in a spectacular goal to the Flyers' fan sitting behind you, or likewise, having to sit on your hands and zip your mouth shut so you don't rip out someone's trachea when the Flyers fans in your company cat-call on a blow out 8-2 loss to the Penguins, are what drives some people to hockey, and as I meet more of my fellow fans, I am happy to include that in my personal reasons. I would rather have the large group of Leafs fans at Mellon than just pure black and gold, although as the issue with the Capitals and Sabres, it must be disparaging to have the away crowd out-number the home. Does this mean to stop name-calling and play nice? Hell no. Part of being a fan is the right to yell at the opposing team and tell them to get a job and a hair cut, but it's also nice to take the licks as you give them out. Revel in it, make up the most ridiculous chants you can, mention to the fan next to you that you didn't know the Ice Capades were coming to town, after all, no one wants a boring hockey game (except the Devils. Zing!).

Moral of the story? Love thy fellow fan. We're all the away crowd at some point.


Pookie said...

no one wants a boring hockey game (except the Devils. Zing!

Elly, this post was going reeeeally well until then. Now I have no choice but to go to all corners of the interwebs to decry every single Penguins fan a dirty, stinking, lying jerk!


Seriously, great post. That stuff on On Frozen Blog about Sabres fans being so nasty was so bewildering. You're right -- it's just part of the fun of being a hockey fan! Dishing it out and getting it back. It's the cycle of life, you know? You call the Flyers dirty, they call the Devils boring. It's fun! For all those people out there who think hockey should exist in a vacuum, I shake my head sadly in your direction.

Steph said...

Wait wait...so every single Penguins fan isn't a dirty, stinking, lying jerk? I thought we'd given them stereotypes already, are we changing it now? I can't keep up with all this inter-Eastern conference hatred!

(Uh, except Elly of course... :P I'm going to come back from the game tonight to find my blog access revoked or something.)

Katebits said...

What a great post!

I think you are absolutely right. So right that I can't think of a damn thing to say, except for thanks for summing it up so eloquently.

Finny said...

when I was younger, I had a profound and deep dislike of Detroit fans. I still recoil before a handshake if someone announces some Detroit love. If I meet a Kings fan, it's worse.

But, uh... I'm over it now. :) Mostly. *wink*

CKim said...

At this point, I'll embrace ANY hockey fan. Well, except Sharks fans. They can go you-know-what up the you-know-where. =)

Elly said...

Pookie: I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself! You could say I feel into the trap of mentioning Devil's hockey. (ba-dum, ching! Okay, okay, I really will stop now. :)

Meeting other fans has been wonderful, and even though some places are a bit scary (I thought I was going to get beat up in Toronto. Easy, Leafers!), the back and forth of the fans is worth it.

Steph: ERROR 44: Your computer access has now been revoked and any further attempt to access information will result in damage to your computer by mention of Chris Pronger.

Katebits: Wow, thanks! It was from your wonderful post that inspired me. :)

Finny: Ahaha, don't feel bad, I always have the urge to ask 'why?' when I meet a Flyers fan.

Ckim: Ahh, I can feel the love, heh.

Teka said...

Honestly, i keep trying to give Flyers fans the benefit of the doubt and they keep just proving all my doubts wrong. They're really all (but Kristin and Nadine and possibly Nadine's brother) just overgrown badly managed fifth graders who haven't had their Ritalin.