Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fear of a Beige Planet

So we have this little wager with Five For Smiting. We're supposed to unload all of our snark on the Sens this week. And we tried, we really did. We declared "Sens Hate Week" on the FHF campus, held a big bonfire, had Youppi hang Spartacat in effigy in front of FHF headquarters. Nothing. We looked for dirt on Spezza and Alfredsson and Redden to no avail. We thought long and hard about things we hate about Kanata, but none of us have actually been anywhere in Kanata other than the Palladium - er, Corel Centre - er, ScotiaBank Place. We tried to work ourselves into a frenzy over losing to Neil Freakin' Brady and the expansion Sens in their first ever game ... but we actually won the Cup that year so we really don't care. We had a good laugh over Alexander Daigle and his nurse's uniform, Alexei Yashin's holdouts, Ray Emery's driving record, Mel Bridgeman's pornostache and the Benny Hill-esque goaltending of Steve Weekes and Peter Sidorkiewicz, but ... nothing.

You see, we like the Senators ... the team referred to as "the tiny, perfect franchise" by NHL brass during the expansion process. The Sens and their fans are such cute little darlings ... from the "Dah dah dah-dah dah! Let's Go Senators!" theme song, to their pleasantly plump anthem singer Constable Slewidge, to their milquetoast manager, coach, captain and fanbase. They're everyone in Ontario and Quebec's second favourite team.

Sens fans travel well; they pour into Montreal and speak their civil servant French, go to Nickels or Baton Rouge, probably tip decently, and politely cheer their team. Bruins fans are boors and Leaf fans are morons, but Sens fans don't raise too much trouble in Montreal because the majority of them still have a "Roy 33" Habs jersey in the closet at home. Oh, the Sens fans boo and hiss the Leafs, and they make themselves loud, but Scotiabank is quite a civil place to watch a game, nowhere near the looneybin the Bell Centre can become.

You see, the Sens suffer from the malaise all expansion teams suffer from. They're building a franchise; that means new history, new heroes, new rivalries. The problem is that every single Ottawa fan over the age of 15 already had a favourite NHL team when the Sens came along. More often than not, that team would have been the Canadiens (give it up, Leaf fans ... it's a geography thing.)

Now don't get me wrong, the Sens have built quite a little rivalry with Toronto over the past few seasons, at times as bitter and nasty as any in the league. Part of that is attributable to constant playoff meetings, some of it a result of the NHL schedule makers (home and home to start the season again? Really?), some is the natural "Canada's Capital" vs "Ontario's Capital" rivalry played out on ice, maybe some is even due to the fact that so many Sens fans grew up cheering on the Habs and love one more reason to boo Toronto. Somehow, though, Montreal/Ottawa never took off. Maybe the demise of the RoughRiders/Renegades/Fighting Gleibermans took some of the sting out of the Montreal/Ottawa rivalry. Maybe it was when they closed the Dunn's in the Byward Market to put in that Nickels. Maybe the Sens and Ottawa are just too lovable, too cute, too vanilla to be angry with. To wit:

The arena is in Kanata, Ottawa's duller, quieter suburb. It's a nice rink, good sightlines, decent size, average amenities. It's a nice pinkish hue on the outside. The fans are loyal, knowledgeable, not too rowdy. The team is lead by a stoic Swedish guy, a pair of polite Western-born defencemen, and a couple of offensive whizzes from Southern Ontario. They have some sort of assembly line producing good natured, swift-skating 18 to 25 goal scorers named Fisher/Kelly/Schaefer/Eaves They all ride bikes while they give post-game interviews. Their goalie wears flashy suits and has trouble with basic traffic laws, and their "enforcer" is a gap-toothed little imp with strawberry blond hair. He looks like he should be carrying a slingshot in the back pocket of his overalls, not throwing bombs with Derek Boogaard.

The Sens are talented, draft well, make smart personnel decisions and win games. They contend. They play hard and fair. In short, they're BORING. Can I hate the Sens for being an efficient, don't-rock-the-boat model for how to do things right? I might as well hate beige, or the Swiss, or the production line of a Toyota plant. I'll start hating seeing-eye dogs, or automated banking, maybe Girl Guide cookies.

Maybe I'll save my anger for the Bruins. And the Leafs. And the Panthers, apparently. I can't seem to develop any rage against the beige. Sorry Sens. It's not your fault.


Matt D said...

Since I live in Ottawa, I can hate plenty.

First, any Sens fan over the age of about 22 either liked some other team until the Sens showed up, or else didn't like hockey at all until the Sens showed up. In other words, they're all either traitors or bandwagon jumpers. I can't decide which is worse, though I think traitors get it by a nose. Dante, after all, reserved the deepest pit of hell for traitors.

And speaking of the deepest pit of hell, who builds a rink in the middle of a fucking cornfield? Seriously. Going to a game in Montreal (when you can get tickets) is great: you have a nice meal before the game, or do some pre-drinking at your favourite pub, and then hop on the Metro and get off at a station that's practically IN THE RINK. When the game is over, you ether head right out to another pub, or get on the Metro and go home. An all around civilized experience.

Compare this to Ottawa: either you drive for an hour in bumper to bumper traffic to the only exit off the only road to the rink, where you then wait for another 45 minutes in bumper to bumper traffic trying to park, or else you take the fucking bus from downtown, which sits in the same traffic. You need to leave hours before the game, which totally screws up the pre-drinking. It sucks. I can't possibly support a team that cares so little for its fans that it makes it impossible to properly pre-drink. And when the game is over, you have to do it all over again. Meanwhile, there's a big empty field on the edge of downtown that would fit a rink very nicely.

I realize none of this has to do with the Sens, so how's this: Chris Neil sucks. And fuck Gerber, he robbed Canada at the Olympics. And we should all hate Swiss goalies on principle.

HabsFan29 said...

those Girl Guide Cookies are EVIL

panger76 said...

The first time I ever saw the Corel Centre there was LITERALLY a cow grazing 50 feet away. Way to portray your city as major league. Needless to say I returned to Montreal basically every weekend while I lived there.

Senators Lost Cojones said...

I see what you did here. Oh yes. A little reverse psychology eh? Pretend you don't really care so you can keep me away from the cool kids table. Nice try. But inside you're all a seething cauldron of rage and envy! Aren't you?!? AREN'T YOU?!?!

Um...aren't you? Hello? Anybody? I'm cold and hungry...Aw crap. Damned by faint praise indeed.

Senators Lost Cojones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Senators Lost Cojones said...

matt d: First, any Sens fan over the age of about 22 either liked some other team until the Sens showed up, or else didn't like hockey at all until the Sens showed up. In other words, they're all either traitors or bandwagon jumpers.

The Canuck, Oiler, Flames, Jets and Nordiques fans would like a word.

Senators Lost Cojones said...

Well done gents! I can't remember when I had more fun without involving crisco and rubber sheets.

See you tomorrow night. Hope you have your victory post written. I do.*

*May not actually be written, as such.

lawyergirl77 said...

My mom lives in Kanata and has a view of the Corel, uh, Scotiabank Place from her apartment. Along with a fucking Wal-Mart and a zillion other useless box stores (okay, perhaps Sportchek is not a total waste of space).

She was raised as a Habs fan and, much to my grandfather's chagrin, she switched allegiances to the Sens when she (re)married and moved to Ottawa. He keeps threatning to write her out of the will because, and I quote, "she was raised better than that".

But then we remember that at least she's not a Leafs fan. And so we only feel pity, not shame... Not her fault she moved to BeigeTown and decided to drink the Kool Aid. ;-)