I visited Denver for the first time a couple of weeks ago to visit some family, or…so I told everyone. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we visited family, but the real reason we went was because the Sharks were playing the Avalanche around that weekend. So, we decided to book our tickets for that time. Yes, we travelled with the team like a bunch of groupies. Ohmygod. I’m a groupie.
Besides it being my first trip to Denver ever, it was also my first time being in an opposing arena cheering for my team. Although, this is technically the 2nd time I’ve been in an opposing venue. The first time was when I went to a Raider/Niner game at Candlestick Park a couple of years back, but that one doesn’t count because 1) It was pre-season and 2) Niner fans are scared of Raider fans. So I didn’t really get the whole “fan from a visiting team experience” then, which I was hoping to get in Denver…
Before we even stepped in the Pepsi Center, I had a dilemma: what was I going to wear? My teal Marc-Eduoard Vlasic sweater or my black Dan Boyle t-shirt? There were pros and cons to both, but most of my apprehension lied in which article of clothing would give me the LEAST amount of grief from Avs fans. Because, you know, poor little ol’ me, I didn’t want to get yelled at.
But then I realized, uhm…yeah…actually, I do want to get yelled at. I wasn’t ashamed to be there. What’s the point in going if I wasn’t willing to engage in a little bit of trash talk? That’s all a part of the experience. I had hoped some Avs fans would boo me relentlessly as I walked into the arena. I had also hoped someone was drunk enough to yell awful obscenities at me and that another incoherent, idiotic prick would threaten to meet me in the parking lot after the game to “settle this outside”, whatever the hell this means. So the decision was decided by answering a modified version of the first question: “Which sweater/shirt will give Avs fans give me the MOST shit for?” Then it became pretty obvious. Teal Pickles it was.
Prior to the game, we ate at the restaurant in the arena. Right when we walked in, we spotted some people in bright teal sweaters already eating. While waiting at the host stand, I slyly waived at them and smiled. Then as the host walked us to our table, we walked by them and gave them hi-fives. From that point on, I already felt like it was going to be an awesome night.
We finished eating and headed into the arena. Here we go, I said to myself. A loud, conspicuous-looking bright teal sweater walking aimlessly amongst the purply-blue-ish-(uhm-what color is it?) sea of raucous Avs fans. I’d surely stand out. I was ready to take the heat. BRING. IT. ON.
— but nothing.
Ok, ok, it’s probably because we’re just walking the concourse, I told myself. Once we sit down in our seats, then the heckling will begin.
Then we found our seats, goalie view on the side where the Sharks shot twice. The arena was pretty empty, but we were also there relatively early. And surprisingly, sitting directly in front of us, were TWO Sharks fans. I scanned the crowd, and I saw a good chunk of teal spread out amongst all the seats in the arena. Sharks fans travel well, I observed. But then again, Denver is not that far from San Jose, so it’s not incredibly shocking that there were fellow fans in attendance.
Some time had passed, the game had started…and not one peep from the Avs crowd, well, none towards me at least. Even after Matt Duchene scored the first goal, I was expecting some belligerent fan to yell out some version of “IN YO’ FACE!” or something completely unrelated to the goal like “The Sharks will never win with Thornton on the team!”, which, in my experience, is a favorite phrase uttered amongst Shark haters. By the way, to those people that still say that: Seriously? That’s all you got? Step up your trash talk, princess.
My experience there was — odd. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fun, especially since Patrick Marleau scored a hat trick. The first one I’ve ever seen, which was sweet. And it was cool, yet slightly nerdy that every time the Sharks had a power play, all the Sharks fans in the building would do the jaws thingamabob in sync. But the energy from Avs fans was just, blah. That’s not meant to be a snide about Avs fans because I completely understand that, granted, if they were a better team, it would probably have been more lively. And if the Avs and Sharks had any semblance of a rivalry (2010 playoff series notwithstanding), the environment would have probably been a bit more hostile.
On the flip side, I went to the Sharks game versus the Canucks last Saturday. Hostility at its finest, even if only because of last season’s bitter playoff matchup. Canucks fans like to invade the Tank. And end up with crazy stories like this (Seriously, that’s the craziest fuckin story I’ve ever read, and it’s “totally true.” Highly suggested reading.) They have no shame. Good for them. Before the game even started, while walking the concourse, two Canucks fans were walking right in front of me. They held up a sign proudly promoting “Hockey Night in Canada” on one side and saying some lame “San LO-SE Sharks” message on the other. As should have been expected, the boo birds echoed loudly, and they were being heckled relentlessly. And well, you should know me by now — I couldn’t help but join in. And then I laughed cause it was fun.
Now there’s some good friendly, non-violent hate. It does exist. It’s all part of the experience of being a visiting fan, and that’s how it should be.
So I guess you can say I’m jealous those two Canucks fans got yelled at for shamelessly representing their team in an opposing teams turf. I want that.
But here’s a heads up: If you’re a fan of none of my teams, and you see me strolling around in your team’s venue one of these days, feel free to drop some serious trash talk to me. I can handle it. It’s almost like a badge of honor. And yup, I’m pretty sure that’d be awesome.