Are you a Senators fan? Have a seat. I'd like to talk to you. Surely you've noticed the amazing strides the team has made thus far.
Not necessarily surprising, but it has definitely been encouraging. Perhaps you've even taken the opportunity to smugly boast to a fan of the opposition.
You've been impressed by the team's play. Others around the NHL have as well. The problem is, I haven't been impressed by the activity within the rest of the Corel Centre, and therein lies the problem.
The problem, Sens fans, is you. And whenever you're through throwing things and spewing vitriol, I shall continue.
Remember the 1998 playoffs, when Ottawa knocked out the first-place New Jersey Devils? It was one of the biggest turning points of the franchise.
More importantly, do you recall what other fans and media said about the Corel Centre at the time?
They called us the loudest building in the NHL.
Seems hard to believe right now, doesn't it?
Since then, Ottawa fans have been spoiled by an elite team that delighted in the regular season, yet disappointed in the playoffs. It inevitably led to a change in attitude.
We blame current indifferent behaviour at our games on various things -- corporate networking in the lower bowl, families distracted by young children and for many years, the trap.
But what is the source? Where's it truly coming from?
Let's be honest: What it really is, is fear. Fear that keeps fans from dropping the conservative behaviour, letting loose and making a true emotional investment, come what may.
Hasn't the Senators' front office done enough to convince you that things have changed? Eugene Melnyk provided the financial stability. John Muckler brought in a future Hall of Fame goaltender, as well as a household-name right winger. And most importantly, the Senators now have a coach who has removed the figurative restraints -- Bryan Murray is determined to show that this team can make it to the next level, and beyond.
The shackles are gone from the Senators, and now it's time for you to shuck them off as well.
People are talking about this team. And they're also talking about you, Sens fan. I know, because I hear from them. Constantly. Your behaviour perplexes them, especially when less fortunate fans would kill to be in a similar situation. The building may be near capacity, but what's the point if only 70% stand after a goal, not to mention the bewilderment of not rising when the team comes onto the ice?
This seems to be building toward a Rob Ray-with-pompoms moment, but when others (including media) begin to compare your franchise to the illustrious Edmonton Oilers of the 1980's, well ... carpe diem, Senators fans. We all may be on the brink of something spectacular. And now it's time to seriously acknowledge it.
No one goes from zero to Arrowhead Stadium-esque enthusiasm overnight. I'm not asking you to. But you need to acknowledge this team's achievements with more than just polite applause.
Ottawa possesses the best team in the NHL. Now it's time for the fans to show that they are the best in the league as well. And with that, I will put my pompoms down.
Until game day, of course.
SPEZZA SPECIAL: There is a certain type of rage that SI's Rick Reilly once described as "Triple O.J." I nearly hit that point during last week's Satellite Hotstove on Hockey Night in Canada. Ron Mac-Lean inquired about the inclusion of Jason Spezza on the Canadian Olympic team, to which John Davidson flippantly responded, "What about him?" Yes, what about a player with league-leading stats who seemingly possesses the ability to read Dany Heatley's mind during play, and with creativity that would surely explode on a larger ice surface? What about Jason Spezza? Do you really have to ask?
HEADY STUFF: James Duthie's crack on Glenn Healy during Tuesday's Atlanta-San Jose on TSN went over the former player's head. Healy was criticizing the attire of Peter Laviolette during the highlights of other games when Duthie referred to him as "Cojo," otherwise known as Steven Cojocaru -- a highly flamboyant style maven and correspondent for Entertainment Tonight.
WHAT A SCREAM: Jennifer Jones was diagnosed with kidney stones during the Olympic curling trials in Halifax. It's nice to finally come across a curler with a legitimate reason for screaming.