On Thursday, December 2, 2010, the San Jose Sharks played the Ottawa Senators at the latter's barn, for the first time in 2 years. Adding to the subplot was the return of former Senators sniper Dany Heatley, who defected to San Jose before the start of the 2009-10 season. I was on hand to witness the spectacle that was 18,000 people booing a single person.
The entrance to the Scotiabank Place, in Kanata, Ontario. Unlike the other 5 Canadian teams, Ottawa has its barn significantly far from downtown (actually 10 miles away, give or take). I'm a big fan of arenas and stadiums that are right in a city's downtown core, or (in the case of the Yankees) are easily accessible using public transit. Thus, my first impression of S.P. was not a great one. At least they had cushioned seats, like the HP Pavilion (a surprising rarity in hockey arenas).
Milan Michalek, currently of the Senators, was dealt with Jonathan Cheechoo for Dany Heatley. Michalek has fared much better than Cheech, and even had a personal banner out front.
The game program reflected the trade perfectly, with a photo of Michalek and Heatley taken at the HP Pavilion last season in the clubs' first meeting since the trade.
The signs that fans brought ranged from "amateur hour" to "LOL hysterical." I'd classify the ones above as "amateur hour."
When Dany Heatley's name was announced or when he appeared on the ice, he was booed mercilessly. It was actually impressive, decibel-wise. The sign in the background says, brutally, "One eye, one tooth, NO HEART." [Heatley has an eye condition]
Ryane Clowe, pride of Newfoundland.
Antti Niemi would be in nets... it turned out much better than expected. Note the two signs at left, directed at Heatley = "Heatley I peed in your Gatorade," and, "Heatley drinks his own pee."
I was wearing Pavelski's jersey, as a rule (I always wear an American player's jersey in Canada).
The journalists weren't about to miss any Heatley photo opportunities.
Logan Couture stares into my camera during practice.
Stop: Heater Time.
Scott Nichol and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Chris "I'll be so mad about this game that I'll come back and score a hat trick against the Rangers the day after tomorrow" Kelly
Rucous crowd, pre-game (note the towel-waving fanatics, who were leading a "Heatley sucks" chant).
From left = Mike "Ha ha suckers, I'm married to Carrie Underwood" Fisher, Erik "And I thought Binghamton was dull" Karlsson, Czech comrades Filip Kuba and Milan Michalek, and Alexei "I miss Montreal" Kovalev, during the national anthems.
One of my favorite parts of the evening = this Heatley-hater decided to emphasize the "infantile" behavior of #15 in leaving Ottawa.
Hopefully he didn't choke on the binky when the Sharks started scoring.
This hockey game brought to you by...
It's all in the body language... and it would continue all night for Ottawa.
If I understand it correctly, this fiddler dude used to be a feature at Ottawa games. As incongruous a matchup as it is (this is Canada, not Nashville), the Senators encouraged him to come back because Dany Heatley went on the record saying he disliked the fiddler. Ottawa was trying every which way they could to get under Dany's skin.
Dan Boyle, an Ottawa native, gets fired up, and joins Chris Neil in the penalty box.
By this point in the game, the Sharks had scored 4 goals (Patrick Marleau, Justin Braun - first NHL goal!, and two from one-time Ottawa 67'er Logan Couture).
Sadly for Ottawa, the same could not be said.
The man of the hour, who got an assist and drew the penalties that led to the Sharks' first two goals. 18,000 vengeful fans couldn't get him off his game, and the Sharks would indeed win 4-0. You can watch fans vent their frustration in-house HERE.
After exiting the building, I stumbled upon Ottawa fans burning their old Heatley jerseys (note the new spelling), right out front. You can watch video of it HERE (warning = NSFW audio; this was one of several chants featured in the arena, along with "Dany-Douche-Bag").
My objective complete (with a shutout to boot!), I could now relax for the next 2 days before flying home. More photos still to come...