Being involved in just the 7th “White Out” in phoenix/Glendale/Maricopa County history, I feel the need to let you all know how I behaved in last night’s bashing of the Phoennipeg Jetotes.
As most of you know, the White Out celebrated by the phoenix “fans” is a tradition that dates back to their Winnepeg days, when they were the Jets, and is the only semblance of respect to hockey tradition these fans are able to show. As the state of Arizona remains solidly locked in at number 49 of 50 in terms of public education (we’re going down the line here as well, so that’s not second best), White Out is also known to our great students as “that magical error fixing paint for papers”…or, more simply, “that sh*t that gets you high in class.”
Seriously though, phoenix “fans” put out a plea to Wings fans to please “not wear Red” but wear white to the game. Last year it was a “hey buddy, if you have any respect at all” and “if you don’t you may be looked at as a dick” type of message, but this year Bickley made us all laugh with a pathetic “we are ashamed of our off the ice issues,” (tell me about it brother, Detroit is too. We recently had to boo Charlie Sheen offstage) and “we’d appreciate not being embarrassed on National TV.”
Was that how you avoid embarrassment? 2 goals in the first 2 minutes from the likes of Ruslan Salei (75 games, 2G in regular season) and Drew Miller (67 games, 10G, young Steve Martin hair)? Not what I’d call composed. Not what I’d call “we’d like to stay here” either.
The game was beauty, and phoenix never really got close but Wings fans love to panic with a 2goal lead and worry about how unsafe it is. Beauty that we dominated in a game phoenix had to have, but actually quite ugly for the Wings contingent. There were ejections, and cheers of bitter joy as Wings fans were escorted out, police officers and security waving to “fans” to help draw attention to their job (that bit doesn’t happen at the Joe, by the way).
The “fan” next to me was actually so disgruntled that he momentarily absconded and wound up swapping seats so he wouldn’t be starboard me, not that he’s in any danger next to a guy like me. Anyway, he was giving James Tiberius Howard zero credit for great save after great save. He said “that’s on the shooter. Shooting directly into the goalie is a bad idea. He didn’t even have to make that save.” I formally, respectfully, eloquently disagreed. His comeback was this:
“How much hockey you play? I play three times a week so I know what I’m talking about.”
I needn’t say anything to this, but Miller Lite forced me into it, so I said “three times? Wow. You’re probably pretty good. Maybe someday you can try out for the Red Wings.”
He referenced the officiating being so bad that it was obviously a conspiracy against phx, enacted by Obama as part of his plan to rebuild Detroit. It made so much sense that Detroit’s economy could be helped by fixing games for a sports team, which employs people who are already paid in the millions, and are helped along by a president who roots for Chicago, hated rival of Detroit, that I said “you’re probably right. But why was Helm still called for boarding Jovanovksi in Game 2?”
If you’re a Wings fan, you rely on logic and cheer along with the game as you see it happen. Making s*** up to make yourself feel better is below us, so we aren’t going to whine about things that aren’t there. Our disgust at the officiating is tolerable because it was terribly inconsistent in Games 1 & 2. Game 3, from what I saw, was still not great, lots of interference out there and a LOT of crosschecks, but it was much improved.
The game’s only real lowlight, if you will, was the phoenix “fans.” It was pretty disturbing how desperate they were yet how uncontrolled and vitriolic they were when composure was the one thing they could have used to prove why they deserve to have their franchise stay.
Also, they were chatty. Very chatty. As though they had reason to be snotty to Wings fans. As though they had anything to be cocky about. They were so over the top bitter before the game even started, that I carried a default response to their attempts at trash talk in my pocket, pulling it out and showing it to them like a well worded middle finger that lets them know three things: We’re better than you and we know it. And suck it. Anyway, this is an example of how to respond to exceptionally vitriolic phx “fans:”
Them: “Hey man, I hear Zetterberg’s out. He’s a puss, doesn’t he know it’s the playoffs?”
Me: “Hey man, that’s a pretty good impression of a hockey fan. All things considered…”
Yes, it was a good event. But intense and even some intimidation from their contingent. I overheard the guy who moved away from right next to me say: “I will never buy seats in the upper bowl, because I can’t stand to sit by Wings fans.” Good idea, pal, because this is probably the fifteenth time I’ve been to a phx game and the first time I’ve ever sat the duration in the upper bowl. My place is usually pretty close, but availability has its limitations when you don’t know who your first round opponent may be.
In summation, Wings fans are being treated like real crap out here and their respectful wishes to phx “fans” to enjoy the game and have “best of luck” is so smug and condescending that it does wonders to garner inappropriate bitter responses from them. It’s a beautiful thing.
I’ll see you kids a bit later today when I post on the officiating of the series, but for now, keep the faith and wherever you may be, keep the image of the Red Wings faithful above all else.