Sunday, October 9, 2011

Off-the-ice musings

Aside from the disaster that was the Devils' 3-0 loss to the Flyers last night, there were things off-ice I wanted to comment on too. First off, my new seats in 120 are outstanding...literally spot-on right behind the net with a great view of both ends, near and far. In fact they view's centered behind the net to the point where as Martin Brodeur was making a breakaway stop on Andreas Nodl toward the end of the first period, I literally couldn't see the play after a couple of people stood up a few rows directly in front of me. I guess that can be chalked up to a learning experience. Either I have to stand up myself on such plays or train myself to look at the jumbotron when that happens. Then again with more games like last night, moving around seats might not be a problem.

Usually I tape the game when I'm attending or otherwise can't watch it and last night on the program guide it listed the Devils game on MSG and the Isles game on MSG+. So imagine my surprise when I taped MSG and wound up WITH the Isles game on it. Nice job, Cablevision. Not that there was much from the game to actually watch, but I did want to see the pregame and intermission stuff at least, as well as just how the Devils could give up a two-on-zero chance on THEIR OWN POWER PLAY early in the second!

I usually try to buy a program on Opening Night, but of course they only have two little Devils Den stands upstairs on the mezz/upper level and both stands ran out of programs quickly. It always amazes me that they can't just call down to the big Devils Den and get more programs from them (since they usually have them). I guess I should have learned from a couple years back where I also couldn't get a program for the same reason. Then again, I only got to the arena around 6:45-6:50 so I didn't have time to get one beforehand, and didn't really feel like braving the crowd at the big Devils Den afterwards since me and my companion wanted to meet a couple of our other friends by the light rail. So my only choice was to try to get one during the intermission and with the crowd the way it was, I had little chance of going downstairs to the big Den during the game. Oh well...I have enough programs I don't read anymore, but it's always nice to get one on Opening Night, especially with the changes the team made in the offseason.

Our 'white-out' promotion predictably turned out goofy, as half the arena was wearing red and the other half white. Granted, the shirts weren't half bad and actually fit unlike some other prior giveaways but I don't understand why the Devils promote wearing red - the color the team wears on the ice - 40 games a year, but on Opening Night everyone was encouraged to wear white, just cause the team's too cheap to give out red shirts instead of white. Even the mascot was wearing a white jersey, which looked 'different'. Clearly that was the best-kept secret around given all the red jerseys in the stands but at least all the red and white were Devils fans. There were surprisingly few Flyer fans on the premises during a weekend night (although the worst Flyer fan invasion I ever saw was Game 5 a couple years ago, and even then they made up only about 25% of the arena). Maybe they were still in mourning over the Phillies.

By most accounts the supporters section in 122 was a dissapointment, although it does seem like there are different people there this year than the ones that started the section of all-game standing and chanting last year. Even the name (Diablos) that wound up being picked was stupid, Balcony Battalion would have been much better. Granted I did hear the horn and most of the chants and applaud the concept of what the section wants to be, but it seemed like unless you weren't right next to them you couldn't hear them at all...and having it be only the top half of a section looks weird anyway. Plus it seems like most of the game the Supporters have massed for have been hideous games from the team, which doesn't help. On the one hand I envy the ability to cheer down 3-0 and stinking up the joint late in the game, on the other it just sounds stupid and self-serving.

Now that the season's started, you would think the Devils would have a promotion schedule all set up and ready to go, right? Wrong...absolutely no promos are listed on the team website, which wouldn't annoy me except for the small fact that I really want to know when the calendar and magnetic schedule are being given away, since they're usually the highlights of the promo schedule for me. Pucks and baseball caps are also staples of the normal promo list but I have enough of them anyway. There's not even a mystery puck night listed, nothing. All that's by the Devils' promo schedule is a request for fans to submit what they want to see given away. That's fine for the offseason but it makes no sense the Devils wouldn't have some form of a promo list up by now, if for nothing else than to give people another incentive to either buy games or not sell their own tickets to certain games.

On the other hand, the team had the right touch with the intro last night, which started with the montage of all the players and coaches who were once a part of the NHL that passed away in the offseason. I saw the montage during the first preseason game, in fact but with the crowd reaction of a sellout I almost teared up at the heartfelt applause for one-time Devils Karel Rachunek and Alexander Vasyunov. Everyone got respectful applause in the video, which was shown with Sarah MacLachlan's 'I Will Remember You' playing in the background. After that came a moment of silence for the two Devils and a scout who passed away in the offseason, which of course didn't stop some drunken louts from yelling during the moment of silence. There's also been talk about a memorial for Rachunek and Vasyunov somewhere in the Rock but it wasn't ready for Opening Night apparently.

After the melancholy came the fun and games of the current player intros, and there were few surprises...the guys you would have expected to get the loudest cheers did from Brodeur to new captain Zach Parise to Patrik Elias , Ilya Kovalchuk and of course, returning fan favorite Petr Sykora. At least nobody got booed like coach Ron Wilson in Toronto, who predicted it to one of his coaches beforehand and could be seen mouthing on the bench 'called it' while he was getting booed during the Leafs' home opener.

Thankfully this year I am getting the Center Ice preview, although I have to remember to periodically reboot my TV since the free preview tends to dissapear at times and turn into a black screen (again, thanks Cablevision). This year, the preview lasts all the way till the 23rd and it's always nice to see and hear other telecasts. Too bad the free preview doesn't include the NHL Network though, since I was looking forward to seeing Winnipeg's home opener tonight but found out this morning that the game was on the NHL Network so I wouldn't be seeing it.

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