Neither Defeat, Nor Dignity, Is An Option

It’s tough being an Ottawa Senators fan right now. The team barely made the playoffs after a 15-2 start. They’re down three games to zip to the Pittsburgh Penguins in round one. And they’re suffering through a horrible slump in which Ray Emery hasn’t run a single Ottawa resident off the road in weeks.

How off the rails is this franchise? So off the rails that someone – in fact, probably several people – at the top of the organization thought it a good idea to send a guy dressed as a Spartan warrior, or a Roman centurion, or possibly a rejected Village People applicant, to centre ice before Game 3.

They gave him a shield and a sword. They gave him the mandate to rally the crowd. And they gave him a script that appeared to be random bits of dialogue found outside the soundstage where they filmed 300, in a pile labeled “Even Too Lame For This Movie.”

His task was to exhort the “Sens army” to “rise up.” The result was “painful to watch.”

Things that made the whole bad idea even more of a bad idea:

• the faulty microphone;

• the fact TV viewers could see the guy’s dialogue written out on the inside of his shield;

• the fact the guy’s helmet was way too big and kept comically flopping around on his head;

• the fact that it was actually happening.

Things that would have made the whole bad idea slightly less destined to go down in sports infamy:

• a pinpoint meteor strike at centre ice.

I wasn’t at Scotiabank Place Monday night – we’ve got tickets to tonight’s game: or, as my six-year-old son has taken to calling it, “the last game of the season” – so I can’t report how it looked in the building. I can report how it looked on TV. It looked like something someone was going to regret for a very long time. Also, a little bit like a dream that Elton John has had every night since the fifth grade.

I had assumed that years of watching The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm had hardened me to endure even the most awkward televised moments, but I must confess I reached reflexively for the remote and briefly muted the proceedings – before deciding that I must subject myself to the full experience in the name of a) journalistic integrity, and b) being really happy I wasn’t the poor bastard dressed up in the cape and skirt.

Those of you who missed it will certainly want to avail themselves of the opportunity to watch how it all unfolded. (Note: After viewing, please proceed quickly to the emergency eye wash station.)

Five Ways to Kick Off Tonight’s Game That Would Be Less Embarrassing Than What Happened Monday Night:

1. Have Senator players come out for the warmup dressed as their favourite wizard from Harry Potter.

2. Kittens. Just fill the entire rink with kittens.

3. Do the exact same bit with the centurion, but this time inside the costume? Richard Simmons.

4. Everyone gets crochet lessons.

5. When the Sens take the ice, the guy up in the sound booth just cranks “Mandy.”

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