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 — you’re 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 — 41 at Air Canada Centre and three in Ottawa.

Folks watching this Saturday’s 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.

It’s too much.

There’s being a good host, and then there’s 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.

“We know the situation,” captain Daniel Alfredsson said earlier this week.

“We joke in the locker room before the game, if we play Toronto or Montreal at home, let’s take the crowd out of the game early tonight. It’s not a big deal to us. We know how to handle it. “If we play well, we win and they’re quiet.” How backwards is that?

Teams are supposed to get a lift from their home crowd, but even when the opposition isn’t Toronto, the noise from Ottawa fans is so weak it barely raises awareness.

The Senators have been mostly mediocre this season but that shouldn’t 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 “seventh man” should be penalized for indifference.

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

“It’s a real under-rated thing in sports. It’s intimidating when you go into buildings and it’s real loud and they gain momentum. We have to try and get that here. It definitely can be useful for a team.”

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

“In the playoffs, when we’re winning, it’s pretty loud,” said Spezza.

Shouldn’t 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? It’s often so quiet you could hear a puck drop.

“I go to Sens games, don’t have season tickets, but usually hit about 15 a year,” emailed John Millions, a 28-year-old government employee.

“I try to get 100 (level) and 200 (level) tickets if possible, and like most buildings, when I sit in the upper deck, it’s usually more vibrant and filled with more exuberant fan. “But 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 I’m going to harm them! “To be clear, it’s not as though I’m swearing or obnoxiously drunk, offending children or the elderly ...and I’m getting these looks from people who are clearly Sens “fans” .... it’s pathetic.”

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 don’t understand how it hasn’t caused riots. I’m 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 he’s ever had to explain to a visitor from Sweden who is seeing a game for the first time that SBP fans don’t really hate him, that it’s just the ingrates who bleed the blue and white.

“No, I’ve never had to do that,” he said, smiling.

If Alfredsson is bothered by the boos he hears in Ottawa, he doesn’t let on.

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

“I don’t 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 don’t change that over night. “It’s 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 that’s just the way it is.”

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


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