Twenty minutes before game time at last night’s Senators-Penguins playoff matchup, and the atmosphere was electric! – by which I mean you could hear the quiet hum of the scoreboard, what with it being so funereal and glum. (See how I tricked you there? I’m quite the rascal.)
Anyhoo, so yes, the Senators are out of the playoffs, and good riddance to them. What a sorry display of a) hockey and b) having a pair. Dany Heatley set the tone perfectly when he wimped out and failed to take a hit behind the Pittsburgh net during the first period, and followed that up in the second with a stupid slashing penalty that led to Pittsburgh taking the lead. Did you hear that guy yelling at you from the 200s, Dany? That was me! Come to think of it, I kind of regret now that I didn’t come up with something more clever than calling you a bum or whatever. Guess the whole phoning-it-in vibe worked its way up to our seats from ice level.
For the record Ottawa wasn’t entirely hapless – a few players had some hap. But Jason Spezza must have set some sort of record for ice-based jackassery by passing the puck directly to a Pittsburgh Penguin on no fewer than seven occasions.
How bad was it? By the third period the kindly grandmotherly type sitting directly behind me – who throughout the game had been discussing bake sales and church bingo and Antoine Vermette’s hairdo with her friend – was moved to use Spezza’s name in conjunction with one of the English language’s more popular and colourful profanities. I for one was appalled, though mostly because now I couldn’t use it without looking like a copycat.
Here’s something you might not know or realize or care about me: Not wanting to wait until I’m 80 to be crotchety and unpleasant, because by then I’ll keep forgetting where I’ve left my Angry Letter Writing pen, I decided some years ago to get a head start on my curmudgeonosity by taking a real dislikin’ to the modern sports experience, what with its blaring rock soundtrack and insipid in-game time fillers (“Let’s go down to Kathy who’s going to engage in 90 seconds of soul-destroying banter with a semi-drunk obese gentleman who’ll maybe win $30 worth of cheese while we all die a little inside!”).
But here’s the thing: if you’re going to do it – if you, as a professional sports team, are going to embrace the multimedia, pump-up-the-volume shtick – you could at least put a little effort into it. I’m talking to you, Ottawa Senators.
True, the whole gladiator/centurion/Village Person thing didn’t go so well for you during the opening of Game 3 – but that still doesn’t let you off the hook for last night’s meant-to-inspire-us segment, which consisted of three people pounding on drums for four minutes, followed by an image on the video screen of the team’s mascot banging a gong for some reason, followed by – uh, that was it.
Really? We’re down three-zip, it’s do or die and you haul out… bongos? Too bad we didn’t make it to the Cup final this year: I would really have enjoyed the pre-game readings of Spalding Gray monologues.