This is Coach’s world, I’m just living in it…I’m Coach’s Sister.
When I was in kindergarten Coach put a button on my knapsack that read “The Yankees Suck”, now if we didn’t live about 60 minutes northeast of the Bronx that wouldn’t be a big deal…but we did, in the heart of Yankee Country, and kids use to throw rocks at me as I walked to school…and I deserved it, because I was in enemy territory. It’s part of the rules of rivalry and even at five years of age I accepted that. In the world of baseball (and maybe in all of American sports…Celtics/Lakers close second) there is no greater rivalry then the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, divisional rivals who’s hatred runs outside the diamond and is born into the blood of any fan of either team. I’m not a big baseball fan (I doubt many of you lads are either) and I can only offer MLB followers (now that their season is over) the NHL’s Application form for disgruntle NBA fans care of the hockey humorists at Down Goes Brown. That being said, I still think any baseball or basketball match up pales in comparison to my favorite sports rivalry the Boston Bruins verse the Montreal Canadiens. Yes I know the Leafs hate the Habs and the Flyers hate the Bruins…but for me hockey drama just doesn’t get better then B’s Habs. Never have I seen more vicious fans and more disgust for fellow humans then between those who bleed for Montreal or Boston. Add to that the fact that it was the last home game before Halloween (crazies extra crazy) and I knew I had to not only be at the Garden for the Habs game Thursday night, but I had to be with the real fans, the real people…I had to be in the 300s.
Now I know at the Bell Centre you hockey crazy Canadiens have 400s…I tip my hat off to you. However in Boston the fancy shamsy folks who can drop more coin on a ticket for a Bruins game in which they mostly will just text and drink wine (yes wine) and wear suits sit in the loge and then there are a few lucky die hards who sit at the glass and go nuts, but as someone who usually sits in the lower bowl myself, you do kind of have to behave a bit more down there. I thought what better game to feature the real fans, the real blue collar, hard working hockey nuts then this game…also from previous experience there is always a good amount of Montreal fans these nights so I thought I’d be able to get a good sampling of both in all their glory.
I was late getting to North Station and rushed into the station’s washroom to dry off under a hand dryer from the monsoon that was wreaking havoc outside. At the sink a girl comes up to me and asks “Do they pat down?” I must have given her a crazy look because she clarified saying “Where is the best place to hide these beers without being caught?” I tried to help her hide them in some private places but poor thing walked out looking like she was some shemale who didn’t use enough duct tape down below…”where are you sitting hun?” “300s…balcony” she replied with a smile. Ahh I knew it would be a good night. I then ran into a group of guys, some Habs fans and some Bruins fans, they jumped at the opportunity to pantomime a fight…not very dissimilar to the pretend fight between Subban and Marchand at the end of the second period. And I did stop and see my favorite bartenders outside Loge 20 to grab a couple beers and take in the lower level before heading up the escalator to the Dangerzone! The first thing I noticed upon my approach were the men hanging over the overhang, then boom, packed, like a pub on a Saturday night. The hallway up on the balcony (300s) is noticeably narrower than the one on the loge and then add to that the fact that everyone seems to leave their seats to just hang out and drink outside of the actual rink. Alright, nice. A guy approached me and asked to buy me a beer (even though I was currently double fisted)…double nice. Definitely starting to enjoy the 300s and the people there. Aside from some weak attempts at ass grabs, the gentlemen upstairs were for sure more friendly. I was offered beers and shots (which I had to decline because they were from flasks and nips that had been hidden God knows where). Screams of “Habs Sucks” and even “Hangover” cheers from the surprising number of Canadien fans echoed down the hall. But then I saw it…in a beer line…I knew it was fake and over exaggerated but had to see who the genius behind it was…a mullet, or epic flow, as I prefer to call it, on the head of a young lad sporting a McQuaid sweater. Now it is common knowledge that I have a thing for epic flow, nothing better for me then seeing your party swaying out of the back of your bucket, and I had to have my picture with the fan who was paying homage to one of the best in the Show.
So far so good, it was now the second period and I had successfully avoided having vomit or beer projected at me (a problem I had years before when sitting in the 300s). By this point in the game, the Bruins stopped playing and it was really just a donkey show. The Subban and Marchand fights…yes multiple now go youtube them if you haven’t already…were entertaining in a funny way, with no one really connecting on anything, just a lot of Brad ducking (or was that just PK’s 3 inch height advantage?) but it gave the fans of both teams something to cheer for (certainly not the (lack of) skill on the ice). There were two hilarious guys dressed as Lloyd and Harry from Dumb and Dumber, a bunch of brave souls in yellow body suits, some pink buckets with signs professing love for players and of course the ever present, ever annoying guy who constantly shouts “SHOOT THE PUCK!!!”.
My buddy I was suppose to meet there ended up sending me a picture from inside the NESN broadcast booth with a text that read “Dale (Arnold) likes hockey and chicken nuggets”…so I assumed that meant he was having fun. I mean come on, who DOESN’T like hockey and chicken nuggets? Anyway, basically I was on my own for the night. My conclusion after a night in the 300s is that this is a place for true fans (and their annoying sisters who bring stupid signs with hearts), for costumes and public vomiting. Where the hard working, diehard fans can go and celebrate hockey no matter how bad their team is (in one week local media went from saying “Stanley Cup Champion Bruins” to “Last place Bruins” ouch!). You’re going to get your butt grabbed, if you’re wearing the wrong colors you’re going to be called names that make you question humanity, but you’re also going to have a great time with great hockey fans, high fiving strangers, chugging beers and just partying while watching the greatest sport on earth.
Today lads I leave you with a quote from the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.” So fans in the 300s and 400s, with your painted faces, your wigs, custom made jerseys and inappropriate signage and chants, you make the hockey world better and I hope to hang with you again soon…but with less ass pinching.
Keep your heads up and your sticks down boys and girls.
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