He shoots, he scores! These four simple words are perhaps the epitome of why we as fans go to hockey games. We want to see our big players score big and win big games. So when these big players get taken out of the game, things start to suck. Such is the dilemma the Pittsburgh Penguins are currently facing. Along with superstar Sidney Crosby, who has been out basically the whole season, the team has recently lost leading scorer James Neal, power forward Jordan Staal, and grinder Craig Adams. This is on top of an existing injury to Kris Letang, as well as some other people I probably forgot play for the team because they’ve been out so long.
At this point, the team is basically its minor league affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre Penguins. The team has gone through a four game losing streak, and has no real hopes of ever winning again, or so it feels like. Fan morale is at an all time low, as evidenced by this shocking piece of evidence I uncovered earlier.
The Penguins offer Student Rush tickets to college and high school kids for the low price of $25. Usually these tickets go on sale online five minutes before the supposed 10 AM start time, and are gone within seconds. You have to be a lucky clicker in order to snag a ticket, and unless you are Jesus, you can never get more than one ticket together.
For today’s game against the Ottawa Senators, I hadn’t really thought of getting a ticket until 10:40. Curiously, I went to the website, thinking I would immediately see a sold out logo or that the interface would simply be back to the option to purchase a normal full-price ticket. I was stunned when I saw the interactive map still had spots of blue; in fact, it even had spots of blue in the 100 level. Zooming in, there were double seats left. Later on, after I bought my ticket and refreshed the page, seats of three and four together were even free.
|This screenshot was taken at 11:47, as you can see. Over an hour after I got my ticket and nearly two hours after they went on sale, tickets still remained.
It seems the injury slump is affecting more than just the team’s point total. Fans are actually starting to lose their interest, forgoing buying some of the cheapest tickets available in order to stay home and watch NCIS.
This isn’t right. Even if the ice is filled with players whose names you have no idea how to pronounce and have never seen before, you can’t abandon your team. At its essence, the game is still the same game that was being played before. The chill of the air, the shimmer of blades as they cut patterns into the ice, the flash of the puck as it soars past a goalie. None of these things can be taken away from us. Even without the players you recognize, hockey is still hockey. And if you were only going to the arena because of the players, then it seems you don’t have an understanding of the game.
The only thing that can stop you from enjoying hockey is yourself. Get your head straight.