Thank you for entertaining me with an insanely fun game the other night in Los Angeles. We must do it again sometime soon! I think it was a mutually beneficial arrangement and needs to continue - I get to have fun at the games and in return, I would graciously accept the duties of being your good-luck charm/cheerleader/plainclothes coach. We can try it out for a few games to see how it works, but I have full confidence in our respective abilities. I'm sure it would be a very minor expense for you guys, and have great return for everybody. Please let me know what you think of this offer.
Seriously, though...That. Was. Awesome! You know things are going to go well when the very first song to start off your drive is "Chelsea Dagger" by The Fratellis.
Which is not only a very fun, energetic song, but is also the 'Hawks goal song. So a very good omen. Of course, I get on the road late, as always, and hit traffic as early as Santa Barbara. And, of course, I got somewhat lost in Downtown LA, but then I thought maybe these guys might know the way and decided to follow them. Good call, as it turned out, so thanks, anonymous Kings fans!
So despite leaving four and a half hours before the 7:30p game, I only got here (okay, so that's actually the Nokia Center, which is across from the Staples Center, but it was a cool shot, okay?) a few minutes after 7:00p and then had to wait for Jen to get there and of course there was confusion trying to find each other, so we barely got to our seats in time for the National Anthem (they had a female Air Force lieutenant colonel there to represent the military that night, woo!), and I didn't get to see warmups at all, which I hear are the best time for pictures. I shall have to be more expedient next time.
But anyway, our seats. Um, how shall I put this? They ROCKED! We were four rows up from the ice, right behind the Kings' penalty box (Jen's pic, all she had to do was lean forward a little during one of the many times Ivanans was in there during the game. This time he had company!) and just oh so slightly kitty-corner from the Blackhawks' bench I'd SWEAR Jonathan Toews looked right at me and smiled at one point, but I'm sure it was my imagination. Sharpie, however, did come over at the end of the first intermission and decided to use the area right in front of us for stretching. The man is, to hazard a guess, approximately a billion times hotter in real life, but that might be a conservative under-estimate. And he has the most amazingly impish smile, but unfortunately, they move too bloody fast on the ice to get good pics of their faces! The only times I could catch any of them standing still, they had their backs to me. Still, it's not every day that there is an Olympic gold medalist less than ten feet away from you! (Even if his usual partner in crime, Seabrook, was out for the game because of that ugly hit he took Wednesday night. Glad to see an 8-game suspension come out of that! Seabs apparently skated in practice today, though, which is heartening, to say the least!)
Laddieboy finally decided to be gracious and pose for me, though, which I thought was very sweet of himOh, and we were absolutely surrounded by Blackhawks fans, too which made it even more fun! Picture deliberately blurry because I couldn't get it to focus without the flash, but with the flash, I lost the colors, and I thought the colors were more important for this one! (In addition to the goal song omen, the very first jersey I see near the Staples Center? A bright red Blackhawks one, of course! Another good omen! I was driving and didn't get a pic of him, though!)
Kings' fans are odd birds, though. I mean, they were friendly enough, no nastiness or anything, but they seemed pretty quiet. Maybe all games are really like this and just seem louder on tv. I dunno. The lack of a play by play also made it seem really quiet, but it was totally made up for by the fact that we were seeing it live in front of us. The other thing that really surprised me was the total lack of response when the opposing team (us) scored. I mean, I wasn't expecting them to play Chelsea Dagger, of course, but there was absolutely NOTHING. Not a goal siren, not an announcement, not even a flashing red light. I mean, I get making a big deal out of a home team's goal, but is it normal to have absolutely no recognition for the away team?? I thought that was weird. The first goal was down at the farther end from us, and the only reason we knew it had happened was because we saw the guys start piling on Brouwer and thumping him on the back. It took forever to change the scoreboard, too, so a lot of us were doing the "did we really score??" looks at each other before they finally lined up for the puck drop at center ice. The other two goals we scored were down at the nearer end to us, and we saw them quite clearly. Chicago fans have never been accused of being quiet! Oh, and I'd always thought it was kind of silly for there to be so many shots of players on the bench watching the JumboTron during games, but now I get it. Sometimes it was a little hard to see what was going on at the farther ends away from you, and it was easier to keep an eye on things via the screen. And yes, Kane really does do that with his mouthguard. Constantly, even on the ice. He's gonna get his teeth knocked out one of these days, and that would be bad =(
It was Jen's first hockey game ever, and my first pro hockey game (I have vague memories of being at a Rivermen's game in Peoria when I was little), so we had fun doing the whole starstruck thing a lot. A better pic of me: A better pic of Jen:There were two guys maybe a couple years younger than me (Jen is a couple years older) next to me, and two little boys with their dads, who were obviously pals, in front of us. All in Blackhawks jerseys, of course. They were SO much fun to watch watching the game! And, of course, we all had to work together to teach them the proper (kid-friendly) cheers, since the Kings fans weren't doing them right. (It's "Lets Go Hawks!", hel-LO!) Jen is not really an avid hockey fan, she usually only watches it during the Olympics, but she was pretty fun to hang out with. We had fun teaching her the game, and, of course, we all really liked the fight!
I do have to give the Kings goalie, Quick, props. They had something like 35 shots on goal and he stopped all but three. And got his helmet knocked off by one! (That's my boy, Sharpie!) But, all good things must come to an end, and after 60 minutes of playing, the powers that be decided three goals was enough for one game and picking on the Kings even more would be unsportsmanlike, so everyone packed up and went home, and I finally got a decent shot of the Captain and Alternate Captain together (if only they were turned around!)
I really can't explain how much fun it was to be there. If I lived anywhere near Chicago, I'd spring for season tickets, or at least one of those six- or ten-packs. (I assume they have those in Chicago. The teams here have them, anyway.) Don't get me wrong, there are advantages to watching it on tv - hearing the plays explained, actually seeing the whole rink (which is not as big irl as it looks on tv!), being in your own home - but man, is it cool to feel the thuds as the players hit the boards and hear the crack of the puck as it gets passed from stick to stick! You really appreciate the speed of the game and the skill it takes a lot more when you're up close!
And today wasn't too bad either! (I mean, aside from the fact that both the Sharks and the Red Wings lost, which is always cause for a good day.) I spent the night in downtown LA at the Ritz Milner, which is just down the street from the Staples Center. (Not the Ritz Carlton big fancy oolala hotel, which is also near the Center, but the Ritz Milner, which is much smaller and cheaper, but still clean and safe, which is all I really care about in a hotel room when it comes right down to it.) While I could only live in one if I absolutely had to, I do like the space efficiency and bustle of big cities' downtown areas. Having a grocery store as the first floor of a building, or a restaurant on a middle floor, instead of in their own individual buildings, is a source of amusement for me. And just a few blocks away you get into the hispanic markets, which are just colorful and loud and crowded and vibrant.
So I played tourist for a bit, and then headed over to my old stomping grounds and had lunch with John and Eduardo, which was a blast as always. We didn't realize until I was halfway home (John and I often talk on the phone when I'm driving out of LA, usually because I get stuck in traffic) that today exactly is our fifth anniversary. We've been
And I think I've officially had more drinks than hours of sleep now, so I'm going to crash and start my weekend tomorrow. And dream of hot Blackhawks and Stanley Cups and magic =)