One of the downfalls to living in Calgary is that I don't get to frequent Rexall Place too often to take in Oiler games, so I make the decision to go to Flames games. Now before all you Oiler fans start condemning me, understand that I am not only a fan of the Oilers, I am a fan of hockey, and if I get a chance to go and watch a good NHL game no matter who is playing, I go!
Last night I was at the Calgary/Kings game with an Oilers fan from Edmonton, and as the game clock continued to tick down, he became more and more aware that the Saddledome had something that Rexall did not.....energy.
I have been to five different Flames games this year, and it hasn't made the slightest difference what team was sitting in the visiting bench.... there was an emotion, a feeling, an atmosphere, an electric current running through the rink, and it didn't come from ice level either. Even before the opening face-off, the "go flames go" chants were being bellowed, Harvey the hound ( yes he has a new tongue ) was pounding on his drum getting the fans into it, and even the music during breaks in play got the blood flowing. The Saddledome is a great place to take in a game.
And you can believe that the players feed off the energy from the fans. It pumps them up.... they get an extra step in their stride, they put a little extra into that check, ....it breeds confidence. And although the Flames came into last night's game losers of three straight, they played like a team loaded with confidence,...why do you think teams like playing in their home rinks?
Now on the other hand, Edmonton, you have passionate fans....I know.... I'm one of them. But it seems so often that the fans sit back and wait for something to happen at ice level before they start to engage, and even then, it is short lived. Man, I remember the atmosphere in Rexal during the 06 Cup run.... Rexall was shaking it was so loud in there. You compare what it is like in Rexal right now to a playoff game.....its like night and day.
Last night, while sitting up in the 300's at the Saddledome, I experienced a fan base that was passionate about it's team.... a fan base that wants to see its beloved Flames succeed,.... a fan base that wants the Cup as bad as the players do.... a fan base that will do anything, even when the Flames are down and out, to try to help bring some of the burning passion it possesses and make a difference in the outcome of the game. I tip my hat to you Calgary fans, keep it up.
Oiler fans, stop waiting for something to happen to cheer. Get out of your seats and make some noise, get the wave cresting, be a passionate fan, and cheer our Oilers on to win!