SUN Hockey Pool

Flames fans pleased with protective nets a decade later

DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI AGENCY

DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI AGENCY

RANDY SPORTAK, Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:01 PM ET

When the NHL insisted on putting netting at both ends of its rinks at the start of the 2002-03 season, Bob Christie was against the idea.

And that’s even after he’d nearly been drilled by a puck which went over the end glass at the Saddledome and just missed him while sitting second deck.

“It went right by me, and I didn’t even see it,” he recalled. “It’s not like it’s a baseball or a football — it’s a black puck and can be hard to see when it’s coming.”

Years later, sitting with wife Susan in the Dome, Christie can’t imagine going to an NHL game without the nets.

“When there’s nobody on the ice and you’re sitting here looking out, you notice the nets. But once the game starts, you don’t even notice them,” he said. “It does give you comfort knowing it’s there, because half of the time, you’re turning to look at who you’re with. There are always people looking around.”

The only good to come from the death of Brittanie Cecil 10 years ago is the installation of nets in arenas.

Sure, there were fans who didn’t like it, but they’ve become as much a part of an NHL game as a cold brew or a hot-dog.

“It takes time to get used to, but I’ve probably been coming here so long that I don’t notice it that much any more,” said fan Nic Ewaskiw, who watches games from the handicapped section behind the Flames end in the first and third periods. “The netting offers good protection. I’d rather than have protection here than no protection at all.”

It’s amazing to think nets at arenas are like seat belts in cars. When first made mandatory, there was outcry, even if we all knew the safety factor involved.

“It’s amazing more people weren’t hurt. When I was young, I was watching friends playing hockey. My girlfriend was hit in the face by a puck,” recalled Susan Christie. “She had glasses on, and it was the worst thing I’d ever seen in my life. We had to call an ambulance. Thankfully, she didn’t lose her sight, but she had glass in her eye.

“I’m glad there are nets.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak

 


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