We Sens fans take a lot of heat in the media for being "too quiet" in our own rink or just generally being too tame. That may be true, to some extent, and it likely is a reflection of the white collar nature of our city. However, I've always taken issue with the notion that it somehow makes us lesser fans, not up to snuff with our peers east and west of us.
I'll admit I'm one of "those people" that when I go to a game, I tend to sit there fairly quietly and watch instead of screaming at the top of my lungs for 2 1/2 hours for no reason other than to be loud. I have nothing against Sens fans that do (I fully support the efforts of the Red Scarf Union, for example) but it's just not me. I am first up and cheering when something positive happens for our team, I love a good fight and I have been known to throw a few taunts towards the refs but if there is nothing in particular happening, I'm watching. I've never thought that made me a bad fan, just one who's paying attention.
Last play-offs, when Sens fans showed some passion, albeit in a negative sense, and booed Jason Spezza, it was immediately perceived as a terrible thing and the national press ran with that story all summer long. We were turning on our own, how could we do that? Why would we do that? I don't want to get into the whole Spezza thing here, that's not the point of this blog. I just want to point out that it did take 7 years for the fans to get on Spezza to that degree and it was for some serious gaffs during play-offs game that proved very costly. In other words, it wasn't a knee-jerk reaction. This, I see, is the positive side of a thoughtful fan base that some may call sleepy. You really have to piss us off before we turn on you. However, in this situation, we heard about it because we showed passion. You can't win, I tell ya!
Now, let's take a short trip down the highway to the city of Montreal where last night, in the very first pre-season game, Carey Price was shredded by his home town fans for a poor performance. One game. Pre-season. For not being Halak. All we ever hear about Montreal fans is how passionate they are, how knowledgeable they are. Whether you agree with your management or not about the Halak trade, Price is now your goalie. So, exactly how knowledgeable is it to tear him to pieces after the first 10 shots he faces this season? Does that make you a smart hockey fan, passionate or a jack ass? Elliot let in three questionable goals Wednesday night. Had it been at home, would we have treated him like Price was treated? Not a chance. Does that make us lousy fans? For a kid who has shown in the past that the pressure of that market can get to him and now has to live in Halak's shadow, this has the makings of a very long season ahead for Carey Price. And do I even have to mention the burning of cars and looting after a first round win or, seemingly, the drop of a hat?
Let's take a trip back the other way on the 401 and look into the bowels of the ACC in Toronto. Ottawa easily dispatched the Leafs in the opening game of the pre-season and the hometown team was booed off the ice... for a pre-season loss. Would we have done the same to our team in the same circumstance? I'd say not likely. Does that make us less passionate or simply smarter and more reasonable?
Or more sober? Don't underestimate the role beer plays in the decibel level of a crowd. Montreal has a subway that runs right into their building. Ottawans have less options and many people drive to the games, thus get less "enthusiastic". Right or wrong, this is a huge factor in crowd participation.
When we met with a member of the Senators this summer, this topic came up and their response was that the Habs fans are awesome, because they have a waiting list for tickets. So, great fans= fans that spend money? Maybe from a business point of view but in a more intangible sense, does it really? Take the Red Scarf Union and the success they have had with connecting to the Sens organization. Yes, they bring some excitement and passion to a sometimes too quiet building but more importantly, they buy a lot of tickets. I wonder if a group of like-minded fans, who couldn't afford tickets, would receive the same kind of recognition? And before you say it, yes, I know bums in the seats pay the bills and keeps the team here. Just sayin'.
Maybe the fans in Ottawa could be a little (lot) louder in some circumstances. I won't argue that but remember, that knife cuts both ways. We also are not as hard on our team as many other fans bases are. Maybe that makes us kind of vanilla but it's not right to suggest we are lesser fans because of it. Given the right circumstances, such as play-off series past where we've seen that Sens fans can hold there own with any fan base in hockey, this town's fans are as smart and supportive as any teams. Are we like that in February against the Florida Panthers? No, probably not but then again we're not as likely to burn our city down for losing that game either. I can live with that.