Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Random Ruminations From The Road

Some thoughts and observations after spending a week on the road with the Predators...

Predator fans were well represented on the road. There were approximately 40 Predator fans at all three New York/New Jersey venues. It was certainly good to see all the Predator jerseys standing around the glass during the pre-skate Nassau Coliseum, Madison Square Garden, and the Rock. It is amusing to note the reaction of the fans of the other team when they see a Predators jersey in their rink. It is as if they are seeing an alien from outer space.

I saw something in Pittsburgh that I have never witnessed before in a hockey game. A bird that was apparently roosting in the upper confines of Mellon Arena decided to swoop down and buzz Penguins goalie Marc Andre Fleury. After flying around his head a couple of times, he flew up into the net behind the goal. Once the bird extricated himself, he flew back up to the nether regions of the arena. Fortunately for Fleury, the puck was the other end of the ice when this avian attack occurred.

Speaking of the Penguins, there is no doubt that Sidney Crosby is one of the two best players in the game today. But goodness, Sidney, stop all your whining when you get called for a penalty. During a sequence in the second period, Crosby slashed the Predators puck carrier not once, but three times as the puck was being skated down the ice. After the third slash, the official finally called the appropriate penalty. And Sid mouthed and whined all the way to the box. You have earned your rep as a whiner, and frankly, this detracts from your game, Sid.

The New York Rangers have one of the best openings that I have witnessed at a hockey game. Their theme is "I am a Ranger", and they incorporate man on the street responses with historic footage of the Rangers along with current videos. Very entertaining and very well done. The history of these teams is truly remarkable and something that they all use to their advantage in promoting hockey in their local market as well as energizing the crowd before the game.

The snow storm that hit New York City limited the crowd at Madison Square Garden to about 7,000 hardy fans. It was a surprising docile crowd, only getting in to the game in the last four minutes of the contest as the Rangers were trying to overcome a one goal deficit. The quietest crowd of any on the road.

Congratulations to the Predator bloggers. You guys have earned a well deserved reputation for quality writing and depth of coverage. I heard from several people who commented positively about the Nashville blogging community. The blogging community in all hockey markets continues to take up the slack from the mainstream press in covering their local hockey teams, and Nashville is second to no one in that regard.

It was interesting to note the level of animosity that each market felt about their local rivals. The Islanders hate the Rangers; the Rangers hate the Islanders, and the Devils hate the Rangers. How do I know? Spontaneous chants erupted in each venue regarding the particular hated rival. The Ranger fans were heard on numerous occasions chanting "Potvin sucks", in reference to Islanders Hall of Fame defenseman Dennis Potvin. The Devils fans occasionally would belt out a hearty "Rangers suck" cheer during the course of the game. And the Islander fans would be quick to tell you how they felt about the Rangers. Obviously, the close proximity of those teams helps to foster the rivalry and intense hatred for the other teams.

I don't know if this portends roster moves before the trade deadline, but I saw General Manager David Poile in a huddle with the coaching staff in the team hotel after the Rangers game, and they appeared to be in intense conversation. The three days after the Olympic break and before the trade deadline could prove to be interesting.

Pete Weber and Terry Crisp are two men who are very well respected among those that follow the game. It is obvious that they are a great broadcast tandem, but they are also wonderful ambassadors for the Predators. Their presence in the broadcast booth gives the team an aura of credibility and respectability among the fans of other teams. I heard numerous positive comments about our guys, and we are fortunate to have them representing the Preds.

I will be doing a post about the various arenas that I attended this past week, but suffice it to say, fans in Nashville should be very glad we have a barn like the Sommet Center. It was interesting to talk to the folks on Long Island and hear their frustration in trying to get a new venue built for the Islanders. And they desperately need a new barn. Our barn stands out for being a fan friendly arena, and being in a vibrant downtown area is priceless.

One thing the Islanders have done that was different and innovative: they have set up a "blog box" that is at the top of the lower bowl at center ice. This is where credentialed local bloggers can set up and blog about the game. All power and communication hookups are available to those that use this area. I sat in the blog box for the first period of the game, and it is a great vantage point. Kudos to the Islanders for embracing the presence of the blogging community at their games.

I didn't know this, but I found out that the roof at Mellon Arena opens. According to some of the local fans, it hasn't been opened in at least seven years. Imagine playing a game with the roof open.

Great fans in Pittsburgh. Lots of hockey knowledge and enthusiasm.

The Pens blue uniforms look very good in person. I like them better than the traditional black and gold.

The Penguins were the only team to acknowledge their Olympians on their squad. The Islanders had one more home game on Sunday, so I am going to assume they did so at that time.

You can't get grits up North.

And that, my friends, are some observations and thoughts from the road.


  1. Nothing about the FOOD Mark? Nothing? HA! I also watched a bird flying around the Flyers arena when I was there. It didn't buzz the ice though. Maybe Fluery looks like his mother. :o)

  2. It was nice to see you up close, Mark, on the LIRR from Westbury into the city after the Isles game. One point of reference, however. The Rangers were selling USA team shirts with the names of their Olympians--Drury and Callahan--on the back, as well as a Swedish Olympic team shirt with Lundqvist's name. Each of them, as well as USA assistant coach/Rangers coach John Tortorella, was given a special video presentation during breaks in Sunday's Rangers-Tampa Bay game. (We stayed in the city the whole weekend and couldn't pass up another game at the Garden while we followed the Preds and Penguins on the BlackBerry.)The Devils also had USA Olympic shirts with names Kovulchuk, Langenbrunner, Parise, Brodeur and Elias. As far as Nassau Coliseum is concerned, I attended a show there in 1973 with Bob Dylan and the Band. It looked a lot better then.