Sunday, October 19, 2008

"No" to Sarah Palin - Sharks fan's "political" sign censored at HP Pavilion

Tonight, in their second of back-to-back games, the San Jose Sharks returned to the HP Pavilion to take on the winless Philadelphia Flyers, who have suffered recently under the Curse of Sarah Palin -the Republican veep nominee and self-styled hockey mom dropped the puck at the Flyers' home opener, and the Broad Street Bullies have been without a win since, going 0-3-1 coming into tonight's game.

I was looking forward to this matchup for many reasons, especially after seeing the Sharks beat the Flyers at home in person earlier this year.

One, it's a Sharks home game (what's not to like?) - and the last home game for ten days, though a buddy of mine and I are hitting the road for two of those road games (Florida, here we come!).

Two, I had prepared an awesomely antagonistic sign for the occasion - more on this in a moment.

Third, the visiting team currently has my favorite non-Sharks NHL'er on their roster - Daniel Briere (former co-captain of the Buffalo Sabres). While I couldn't exactly cheer him on tonight, I was still honored to have him in the building, along with Martin Biron (another former Sabre), although as it would turn out, his pitiful 6.32 goals-against-average would lead to Antero Niittymaki being in net instead.

All of these thoughts were circling in my teal brain as I walked down Santa Clara Street to the Tank, proudly holding my sign by my side (which Flyers fans winced and chuckled at, while - sadly - many Sharks fans weren't sure what I was referencing, but still gave me thumbs ups, vaguely realizing I was poo-pooing the other team).

Upon entering the HP Pavilion, I was stopped by an usher in purple.

"Sir, you can't bring in the sign," the young man said.

"I've brought in signs before - why not tonight?!?"

"Sir, your sign is of a political nature, and we can't allow you to bring it inside."

Oh, and Sarah Palin's dropping the puck at the Wachovia Center wasn't political? Thank you for the double standard, NHL / FCC / HP Pavilion / whoever I should blame. Didn't anti-Palin Flyers fans have signs of their own in Philadelphia? Did I just have an over-zealous crew of purple-clad ushers?

Nope. I either had to take it back to my car or throw it away - until another nice, presumably Democratic-leaning usher stepped in and said I could merely check my sign upstairs, and retrieve it after the game. Considering where I parked, I opted for this route... but I was severely ticked off. No sign to put against the glass, opposite to where the Flyers would come out, no possibility of Steve Downie eyeing me probingly, no possibility of starting a heated conversation with Flyers fans (of whom there were many)...


I have fun making signs for the Sharks games - I even laminate them, using my elementary school's supply room. Sometimes I augment the signs with costumes = I dressed up as a fireman, with a sign that said "Time to Put Out the Flames," for the 2008 Quarterfinals against Calgary - Games 5 and 7. CBC's Hockey Night in Canada filmed me outside the Tank with my friend, who was also with me tonight.

For the record, the Fireman is 2-0 against the Flames. Could have been the sign... and the fireman outfit. He shall return on January 15th (I don't have tickets for the November 13th game).

Earlier that year during the regular season, I made a French-language sign for the Sharks' game against the Montreal Canadiens, that said "Tout a Fait, San Jose" (rough translation - Totally San Jose... it rhymes when you say it in French). Guillaume Latendresse (ironically one of a handful of Quebecois on the team) noticed my sign, and looked at me, puzzled, as if to say, "What the #*@&?"

(That photo was taken while Latendresse pondered my sign's meaning...)

The Sharks won that game, which was highlighted by Brian Campbell's spin-o-rama goal against Carey Price. Could have been the sign...

For Game 5 of the 2008 Semifinals against Dallas, when the Sharks were trying to claw back from being down 0-3, I brought a sign that (mis-)quoted Shakespeare, saying "I defy thee, Stars!" (actual quote - "I defy you, stars"). A little nerdy, literate allusion to fighting fate (and the Stars)... nothing obscene.

Well, then-Dallas Star Niklas Hagman didn't take too kindly to the sign. During pre-game practice, the Finn stared me down with a look of fury as he skated from behind the net all the way to the blue line. To clarify - he stared me down the entire way as he skated, not once removing his menacing glare from my eyeballs until he reached the blue line. This required him to pivot his head while skating forward... quite creepy, if not wholly intimidating.

It was then that I knew my signs could be effective tools of communication - especially antagonistic communication. The Sharks won that game, by the way... could have been the sign.

Actually, come to think of it, I'm at least 6-0 when it comes to having signs at home games (it's a recent hobby)... had one at this year's Sharks opener, too. Coincidence?

I will be writing a separate blog post about tonight's Sharks game - but suffice it to say that I got my sign back after the Sharks pulled off the overtime win...

And hung it from the side of the stairs as thousands of fans descended out of the Tank, in a reminder to the numerous Flyers supporters (if not the players - though they know already) that the Curse of Palin continues.

The Flyers are now 0-3-2. Could be the sign... which, *incidentally,* still made it into the building, if not to the glass...


Anonymous said...

Well, you got to admit, that sign is sort of corny. "Curse of Palin?" Since when have people payed attention to dropped pucks/first pitches/whatever else? You're sign would have flown over everyone's head. How about "When flyers fall into the ocean, sharks eat them!" I give you permission to use that next flyers game. But anyways, go sharks!

Dustin said...

@ Anon
I didn't have room for "When Flyers fall into the ocean, Sharks eat them!" But thanks for your permission anywho...

As for paying attention to dropped pucks - the Flyers fans have. Aren't all sports fans superstitious?

I second your "Go Sharks!"

brian said...

dumb ass sign, so no big loss.

Dustin said...

@ brian

You're right - not as big of a loss as the Flyers over the last two (no wait - SIX) games.