Sens fans make tough crowd

Ottawa Senators' Daniel Alfredsson has a laugh during team practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa...

Ottawa Senators' Daniel Alfredsson has a laugh during team practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa Oct.29, 2010. (Darren Brown/QMI Agency)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:30 AM ET

Hey Ottawa Senators fans ó youíre a joke.

Literally.

The way you let Toronto Maple Leafs take over Scotiabank Place when their team visits is embarrassing to witness.

The way they elbow you aside and dominate the atmosphere with their loud cheering surely makes the Buds feel like they play at least 44 home games a season ó 41 at Air Canada Centre and three in Ottawa.

Folks watching this Saturdayís Hockey Night in Canada production from living rooms across the country will no doubt shake their heads and chuckle at your hospitality, as they always do.

Itís too much.

Thereís being a good host, and then thereís letting your guests wipe their feet on you.

The jerseys on Senators fans are muddied with boot prints when the Leafs are in town.

Even the Senators laugh about it.

ďWe know the situation,Ē captain Daniel Alfredsson said earlier this week.

ďWe joke in the locker room before the game, if we play Toronto or Montreal at home, letís take the crowd out of the game early tonight. Itís not a big deal to us. We know how to handle it. ďIf we play well, we win and theyíre quiet.Ē How backwards is that?

Teams are supposed to get a lift from their home crowd, but even when the opposition isnít Toronto, the noise from Ottawa fans is so weak it barely raises awareness.

The Senators have been mostly mediocre this season but that shouldnít matter.

Fans are supposed to be loud and proud through thick and thin, right?

Maybe, just maybe, the Senators would have a better home record than 6-5 if they had some support from the crowd.

At Scotiabank Place, the so-called ďseventh manĒ should be penalized for indifference.

ďIt definitely helps, as a home team, if you can get the crowd on your side,Ē said Jason Spezza.

ďItís a real under-rated thing in sports. Itís intimidating when you go into buildings and itís real loud and they gain momentum. We have to try and get that here. It definitely can be useful for a team.Ē

It may not seem like it, but Senators fans do have a pulse. Itís been evident in the past.

ďIn the playoffs, when weíre winning, itís pretty loud,Ē said Spezza.

Shouldnít take the post-season to bring out the boosterism in a person.

In Montreal, the fans are always wildly supporting their team. Same thing for the hockey cities in the U.S. But Ottawa? Itís often so quiet you could hear a puck drop.

ďI go to Sens games, donít have season tickets, but usually hit about 15 a year,Ē emailed John Millions, a 28-year-old government employee.

ďI try to get 100 (level) and 200 (level) tickets if possible, and like most buildings, when I sit in the upper deck, itís usually more vibrant and filled with more exuberant fan. ďBut when I sit lower, and often even in the top cheddar, its dead! I start screaming and yelling and booing and calling out opposing players and people look at me nervously, like Iím going to harm them! ďTo be clear, itís not as though Iím swearing or obnoxiously drunk, offending children or the elderly ...and Iím getting these looks from people who are clearly Sens ďfansĒ .... itís pathetic.Ē

Most despicable, of course, is the booing of Alfredsson.

Leafs fans give it to him good at Scotiabank Place, as do the Habs faithful.

Frankly, I donít understand how it hasnít caused riots. Iím not sure how else that situation can be resolved.

I do know that the greatest player in Senators history should not be booed in his home rink.

I asked Alfredsson if heís ever had to explain to a visitor from Sweden who is seeing a game for the first time that SBP fans donít really hate him, that itís just the ingrates who bleed the blue and white.

ďNo, Iíve never had to do that,Ē he said, smiling.

If Alfredsson is bothered by the boos he hears in Ottawa, he doesnít let on.

ďItís been like that for 15 years for me and itís not going to change,Ē he said. He also understands ó or at least offers his theory ó as to why the Castle in Kanata is not ruled by Senators fans when the Leafs or Habs are in town. ďItís just a matter of this being a very young franchise, compared to Toronto and Montreal,Ē said Alfredsson.

ďI donít know if you have that kind of situation anywhere else (like here), where you have Toronto and Montreal being that close to us. Before we had a team, they were probably either Toronto or Montreal fans. You donít change that over night. ďItís tough to get tickets in Toronto and Montreal. A lot of fans come here to watch them play. Do we wish it was that way? No. But thatís just the way it is.Ē

Yes, that is the way it is. Itís a joke. And if you live in Ottawa, you should find it more embarrassing than funny.


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