Redefining Unleash the Fury
It was another flat-footed Caps PP during the third on Tuesday night, and it sucked a little more than usual – our boys couldn’t even get the puck into the Islanders’ zone.
This failure was preceded by 40+ minutes of all-too-typical sloppy and uninspired play…at a point in the season where that’s getting old, real old, especially against lesser teams, and extra especially while playing those teams at home.
Everyone, on or off the ice, has been frustrated since early December. That frustration erupted Tuesday evening with a loud chorus of boos during that particular craptacular PP. There was a smattering of boos in last Friday’s Ranger debacle, but Tuesday was different; that outburst was in especially poor form - we proved to be very bad hosts that night.
Three new guys, who we hope carry us well into the spring were on the ice for the first time, and Calle was in the house. The boos were disrespectful to those veteran players who worked hard (Arnott with an assist and Wideman doing 26:44), our guests, and especially Neuvy, who kept us in the game.
We’ve heard a lot about Caps fans’ inflated expectations coming off some high-flying, high-scoring seasons. Coach Boudreau himself said, “We deserve to get booed…” after the Rangers humiliation, but still, Caps fans should set the example of better behavior.
Call it an old-fashioned gay sensibility, but we just don’t cotton to bad manners.
It’s normally a given that any Washington team’s fan base is better mannered than the hooligans, ruffians and riff-raff that haunt the arenas and stadiums in what are considered to be far less sophisticated markets, but on Tuesday night, we came off as the boorish ones.
To help us put Tuesday’s vulgar display into perspective, we asked some sportswriter pals if there is a DC Exceptionalism with the home teams; do Washingtonians generally behave better than other fan bases?
“I think it’s a sign of the times more than anything — fans are booing the home team everywhere these days, and the athletes are getting peeved about it all over.
I feel like I’ve read the “don’t boo us!” story a hundred times in the last year. But with the Caps, and I’m trying to put together a story on this very topic, this is fallout from the incredible expectations everybody around here has for this team this year.
Ted has set up a cup or nothing situation ever since last year’s flame out, and people love and trust him so much they believed him to the point where they feel they’re owed a title.
I am really afraid of what’s going to happen if there is no Cup, and it sure looks like there ain’t gonna be a Cup. The Caps will have to blow themselves up to satisfy the fans, even though the parts are about the same as last year. That makes me sad. I like people to stay! I hate the trading deadline day!!!
Booing when the score’s 1-0 and your team’s like in 5th place in the conference makes me sad, too. They’re booing for the season, not the game.”
Colleague and friend, Dave Levy, offers this:
“I don’t know if DC has the “culture of booing” any more, and part of that is the fractured fan base. I think it’s also just that we aren’t at the level of other pro-sports towns (at least in this current era).
I think the booing crowd requires at least one – if not both – of the following: Expectations and History.
The Caps are getting booed now because they’ve actually built a fan base that has been used to electric offense in the last few years, but that outage has been brutal at home. That’s not a DC thing, insomuch as it may have only been caused by the lack of anyone else about which to actually give a crap.
Redskins fans are too tired to boo, Wizards fans haven’t existed in years, and there are probably five other baseball fan bases better represented in the District. While the Redskins probably come close to the history exception, I think any interest enough to even show dissatisfaction has been beaten out of them in the [REDACTED] era.
Compared to other regions, I think this is a little out-of-place for DC. You’ll see it in NY (where expectations are always sky-high) and partially in Boston for the same reason. In the south, you have college football bases that may be more inclined to rain down the cacophony of discontent, part due to both factors.
And in Philly, they boo because they have the expectation every morning of waking up in that town. DC, though? Not the style. Dresses and pigs’ noses? That’s DC style.”
And Vinnie Perrone, award-winning writer and raconteur:
“I’d surmise the Caps’ phenomenon as one of cumulative frustration: Fans get cranky when a tricked-out, souped-up sports car only revs its engine and spins its wheels. If they’d been losing 5-4, I don’t know that the catcalls would have been so prominent, if even existent.
With the Caps, the disenchantment seems driven more by the team’s general underperformance, especially offensively, given its supposed firepower. The incongruity, of course, is that the team’s transition to a defense-first philosophy has made it simultaneously less flamboyant and better steeled for the Stanley Cup.
The U-Maryland basketball crowd, for what it’s worth, is as base and coarse as they come, cursing and demeaning opposing players in a most hostile way. Despite it all, they rarely seem to boo the Terps, even this humdrum season.”
A lot of raucous behavior at a hockey game can be excused, but booing your team at such a critical part of the game and season, and maybe just as bad, fleeing before the final horn, is classless. Unhappy with the level of play? STFU. Want to beat the traffic? STFD.
Two dumb suckers below us in some expensive 200 level seats decided to get a jump on traffic and fled Verizon with a minute and a half to go in regulation. They bolted before Neuvy, only to reappear after Laich lit the lamp.
“Welcome back,” we hooted. They were in for a rewarding two minutes of hockey.
More on Dave and Vinnie here.