Kevin Bieksa ruffled Canucks fans’ feathers last year when he told the press how embarrassing it was that fans for visiting teams were louder at home games in Rogers Arena than Canucks fans.
This, of course, caused a great deal of consternation and deliberation on Twitter and in the Vancouver press about the general listlessness of the crowd during home games. Many fans believe that high ticket prices mean the lower bowl is composed mostly of corporate ticket holders who are not “true fans” and, therefore, aren’t able to get excited enough to let out a cheer now and then. They also tend to be the first people heading toward the exits near the end of the third period, sooner if the Canucks aren’t winning.
But on Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild, there was something different in the air at Rogers Arena. A group of about 75 boisterous Vancouver Whitecaps fans called the Southsiders showed up for the hockey game to lend their exuberance to the atmosphere in the arena with their trademark chanting, singing and cheering. They wanted to show hockey fans how its done at Whitecaps games where they show up in much larger numbers to cheer on their favorite soccer team.
Most Canucks fans at the game loved it. The Southsiders added some much-needed electricity and fun to the game. Their singing and chanting was loud enough to be heard on TV, and I’m pretty sure had something to do with the Canucks playing some the most exciting, fast-paced hockey of the night. I remarked how it looked like the Canucks were in a power-play for most of the first period, even though they weren’t.
But all that enthusiasm and team spirit was just too much for Canucks security. During the first intermission, the Southsiders were told to sit down and stop making so much racket. I mean, people are trying to watch a hockey game, for goodness sake! How is one to hear the bone-crunching checks against the boards if there are hoodlums cheering and chanting.
The group couldn’t understand why they were being told to sit down because they were located near the very top of the arena with only a cement wall behind them. But security was adamant they sit in their seats and pipe down. When two from the group protested, they were both evicted from the arena.
So when fans started doing exactly what Kevin Bieksa was hoping they’d do, Canucks security kill-joys stepped in and put a stop to it. Finally, peace and quiet at the hockey game so people can get back to their phone conversations.
What do the Canucks have against fun? And is it just the Canucks, or the entire NHL?
The Green Men aren’t evicted from Rogers Arena for bringing props, doing hand-stands and making lewd gestures to taunt players in the penalty box. Is it because they are green mimes who don’t utter a peep? The NHL did attempt to crack down on the antics of the Green Men two seasons ago during the Stanley Cup playoffs. They wanted them to stop doing hand-stands and touching the penalty box glass. But the NHL backed off after the beat-down from fans who spoke out in support of their comical, unofficial mascots.
Earlier that same season, two gay fans showed up at a Canucks game wearing blue wigs, lipstick, costume jewelry and pink t-shirts that said “HOCKEY LUVIN” on the front. They were sitting directly behind the Canucks bench, and at one point during the game when the cameras were on Coach Alain Vigneault, they removed a strip of tape from their shirts to reveal the word “HOMO.”
They were both evicted from the Arena when they refused to cover the word “homo,” which was deemed offensive and derogatory by Canucks staff despite the fact they were actually two gay Canucks fans. How dare they forget to add the letters “SEXUALS” after “HOMO.” Didn’t security staff realize those extra letters cost money? Those guys obviously spent all of their dosh to get those great seats.
Back at the game with the Southsiders, a young man a few rows down from them pulled off his shirt and was evicted from Rogers Arena a short time later. Now, perhaps he was drunk and unruly, or standing and cheering too loudly. But as far as I’m concerned, I’d like to encourage young men to take their shirts off at hockey games more frequently. As long as they’ve been manscaped. Otherwise, throw the wookies out.
So maybe the problem with crowds being eerily quiet at home hockey games isn’t entirely the fault of “corporate” fans. It appears that overzealous Canucks security is part of the problem. I guess the only time fans are allowed to make some noise in Rogers Arena is when they’re told to do so by the arena announcer.
Maybe this embarrassing public relations folly with the Southsiders will force the Canucks organization to rethink its no-fun policies and to train security and arena staff to tell the difference between out-of-control assholes and lively fans. Otherwise, they should convert the arena seats into fold-out beds and provide pillows and blankets to make napping in the quiet arena more comfortable. And maybe replace that loud goal horn with something more soothing, like wind chimes.