Thursday, October 16, 2008

Leaf Nation To Sens Army: "The only real Sens fans are 15 and younger"


It's a rather pathetic failing of mine that most of my "I remember exactly what I was doing when" moments revolve around sports. Sure, there were those seminal moments in history that everyone born after the Kennedy assassination has mentally bookmarked (9/11, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Challenger explosion, the end of the Iran hostage crisis...if you're of a certain vintage...ahem).

But pretty much all of my total recall involves some sport or another. Ali destroying Spinks in The Battle of New Orleans, one of the greatest 15 round title bouts of all time? In my pyjamas, sitting in my grandparents' basement, downing 7-Up and eating salt and vinegar chips. Witnessing my first no-hitter on NBC's Saturday Game of the Week (Jack Morris, Detroit Tigers)? Ditto. Only without the pyjamas.

And on it goes...Miracle On Ice? At home, sick as a dog with the flu. Punchup in Piestany? Screaming obscenities at the t.v. under the last roof I would ever share with my mother (Don't worry, she's still alive. I just moved out a few years later. She didn't). Game 3, '87 Canada Cup? A teen dance club in Cornwall (I was 16 and perpetually horny...don't judge me). Joe Carter's home run? A bar called Hurley's in Ottawa South. About a week later, they turned it into a grocery store.

And I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing the very moment the Ottawa Senators were reborn.

Now you both may be asking yourselves "What in Jesus-jumped-up-Christ does this have to do with anything??" Well, let me tell you. It has to do with this:
I often wonder where all these “lifelong” Sens fans came from. The team is not that old. Who did they cheer on before the Sens came, the 67s? Is Ottawa filled with former Habs fans who leapt off at the first sign of trouble (ie. – most of the 90s) or is OKIAs that stoppde cheering for the Leafs once the Sens got (regular season) good (ie – the latter part of our current decade.)
This particular pearl of wisdom came from commenter blurr1974 on a post at (and it pains me to say this but only because it involves the Laffs) the superbly written Pension Plan Puppets, but it's not an uncommon sentiment amongst Tannenbaum's Army Of The Wallet Bearing Undead.

They are quick to heap scorn on anyone with the temerity to *GASP!* turn their back on the Original Six once an expansion franchise lands in their laps. They cannot grasp how we, who live outside of the 905 can possibly transfer our allegiances to one of them young 'un upstarts, dagnabbit! The fact that the Opening Night crowds in Vancouver (1970) Winnipeg, Quebec City and Edmonton (1979) and yes, even Ottawa (1993) were not composed entirely of newborns shitting their Huggies boggles their imagination. So, blurr1974, let me try to enlighten you and your bretheren. Again. I'll type this slowly, since it seems some of you have trouble with basic logic: Your city is not our city. Your team is no longer our team.

Sure, before we were awarded a franchise, all Ottawa hockey fans were easily divisible between Leafs and Habs. We didn't have much of a choice, did we? Personally, I was a Habs "fan". But it was purely an accident of geography. Cornwall was closer to Montreal than Toronto. Throw in the French-Canadian side of my family, and voila; Allez La Sainte Flannelle! But it was strictly a marriage of convenience. Ottawa, an hour down the road, had always been my second home (GO RIDERS! NORTH SIDE SUCKS!).

And then a funny thing happened, blurr1974. As I lay in my dorm room at Carleton University on December 6th, 1990, drinking beer and listening to 54Rock on the crappy clock radio on my bedside table, the news guy broke into regular programming to announce something that would change my life forever. The NHL had given Ottawa a team. They gave me my team.

Yeah. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. So with all due respect blurr1974, please don't ever cast aspersions on the legitimacy of my devotion. The only reason I can't call myself a "lifelong Sens fan" is through the simple, and completely accidental fact that I happened to have been born before the team. Oh, and the #13 Jamie Baker, vintage 1993 jersey hanging in my closet kindly advises you to stick it up your ass.

19 comments:

Dan Durocher said...

This post is right on the money: when you move to a new city, it is normal to start following the local sports team and lose your old allegiance.

I still like the Leafs and hope that they'll one day make it back to the post season but every year, I hate their fans more and more. A little rivalry between teams is healthy but all too often, some fans get really personal with their attacks on other fans that left their old team behind.

I live in Ottawa and I love this city; let me follow my Senators without calling me a gutless traitor.

Jaredoflondon said...

It's amazing how painting an entire fan base with a smug, non-well thought out statement can enrage.
Congrats SLC, you sound like a Leafs fan.

Habsfan10 said...

There are so many Ottawa references in that missive I want to break out my old "Panda eating a Raven" t-shirt, hide my roommates Bob Kudelski jersey, and go for wings at Local Heroes or Alfie's (under the Marbleworks ... is that place still around?). North Side sucks indeed. Only good thing about the North Side was it was closer to U of O. Hey, are Doc and Woody still on the Bear? And whatever happened to Wicked Wendy? She was feisty, like a female Dennis Vial.

We Habs fans also don't understand, but we like you Sens folk so we don't make an issue out of it. Besides, our wagon is probably going to be full for the next little while.

Pension Plan Puppets said...

I live in Ottawa and I love this city; let me follow my Senators without calling me a gutless traitor.

NO!

This post is right on the money: when you move to a new city, it is normal to start following the local sports team and lose your old allegiance.

So if Habs fans move to Toronto they'll become Leafs fans? You can try to justify it and sure, if you were just a casual Habs/Leafs fan then the betrayal is lessened but how many sens fans have switched because the Leafs are now worse? My unscientific inquiry tells me that it's at least 15% of the fanbase.

Remember what Dante told us, there's a special circle in hell for traitors ;)

p.s. SLC do I really have to poke you to make you write angry rants? I need more!

p.p.s. You write nice too!

Chemmy said...

I dunno, I think Pension Plan Puppets is pretty overrated. That new guy who writes there is pretty good though, imho

blurr1974 said...

great rebuttal, but let me tell you something about loyalty.

I live in CA, and am far closer to the Sharks, King and Ducks than the Leafs. Yet I remain a Leafs fan. No "old allegiance" lost. I've been here for almost 15 years, so this is not a recent move. I've loved them through thick and thin, 2500 miles removed.

I've had the opportunity to see far more talented clubs than the Leafs recently, and could have easily slipped onto a Ducks bandwagon the year they won the cup, but here's the kicker. I didn't, because I'm a Leafs fan.

And that's why I don't understand your simple loss of "allegiance."

PS - Sorry for ruffling your feathers.

PPS - I agree Pension Plan Puppets is very well written

Not PPP said...

Pension Plan Puppets is awesome except for that new Chemmy character.

Down Goes Brown said...

when you move to a new city, it is normal to start following the local sports team and lose your old allegiance.

I was a Leaf fan growing up. I moved to Ottawa in 1994 and have been here ever since. I met my wife here. My daughter was born here. This is my home.

I will never, ever cheer for any other team than the Leafs. Ever. I can't get my head around how any true fan could switch sides.

I don't care if the new team is literally playing it's home games in your basement. They're not your team. If they can become your team, you never had a team in the first place.

Senators Lost Cojones said...

Wow. I may have to narrow my brush a tad (Jared). If I had said this about Pittsburgh, I'd have 87 comments from outraged PensBloggers, all using some variation of "youse is a FAG!!" So, let me do this in order:

@Dan: Well put, if a tad harsh (I'm feeling very conciliatory. Must be the after work booze).

@Jared: C'mon man. You've been here often enough. It's what I do best!

@HF10: The Marble Works is still there, and there's still a pub in the basement, but I'm not sure what it's called. And Doc and Woody moved to CHEZ after some contract unpleasantness. Um...that was 15 years ago. Oh, and they blew up the lower South Side. Structurally unsound. Not unlike the Riders themselves.

@PPP: I only need prodding early in the season. I'm sure that by U.S. Turkey Day, I'll be at the spittle flying level of rage you seem to enjoy so. Patience, grasshopper.

@blurr: Stand up comment, sir (and not just because of the kind words). That said, I should clarify. I understand holding onto your allegiance after moving to CA. If I move to Calgary tomorrow, I'm still flying my 2007 Eastern Conference Champs flag from the front porch. My point was that I felt a stronger attachment to Ottawa than I did to Montreal, even before '92. So, once the Sens fell out of the sky (thank you, easily bamboozled and possibly drunk John Zeigler) the switch was easy. I just went with my gut.

@PPP & Chemmy: Now now, boys, let's be honest here. Each of you must know that LD kicks both your asses.

Anonymous said...

As a passionate Sens fan who just wrote an insightful blog regarding Sens (young) history and its great importance and taking pride in it, how do you feel about the Sens ditching their original Theme/Intro music?

Pretty horrible decision in my mind...

Freewillig said...

Then there are US (and I'm sure there aren't many). I've never been a fan of any other NHL team and I'm 41 years old. I've been a passionate hockey fan since I was 8 years old...of the Wisconsin Badgers (I'm watching them now). I chose the Senators because I love the city and I have a physical aversion to cheering for any team in Minnesota (it makes me urp; I live in Minneapolis and am a Wild season ticket holder but I grew up in Wisconsin; some of you may know me as Hockey Schlock)

So, SLC, I join you in your waiving of dirty jock straps at "the hockey world revolves around Toronto" crowd. Toronto annoyed me when I was there. I hate the way the city turns it's back on Lake Ontario (a feeling I had based on the architecture and feel of the lake front while spending a long weekend in TO); I hated the smugness I sensed while walking around the ACC (and this was before I was a Sens fan) and I hate that I have yet to meet a Leafs fan that can have an intelligent conversation about hockey. I'm sure they exist, but they're not walking in my world.

Good day!

Dan Durocher said...

I thought that I had posted this last night but apparently not.

@ SLC:

You are right: I was a little harsh. I should have said "some Leafs fans", as I clearly do not hate "all Leafs fans". Also, the word 'hate' is a little strong; I should have said "I really dislike Leafs fans who give lessons about loyalty".

@ PPP, blurr1974, and Down Goes Brown:
Thank you for proving my point, all of you.

@ Down Goes Brown:
They're not your team. If they can become your team, you never had a team in the first place

This is exactly what I am talking about. Who are you to tell me what team I can and cannot cheer for?

The point is that it's really difficult not to get attached to a team when you go and watch over ten live games a year and watch most of the other games on TV with all of your friends, learning all of the players' names along the way. This isn't about fitting in or jumping on the bandwagon. I don't like the Sens because the Leafs are terrible, it happened when I moved to Ottawa.

Why is it that a person can like two other teams, like Montreal and Vancouver, or Calgary and Pittsburgh, but it is never OK for someone to like both the Sens and the Leafs? I find it funny that many Leafs fans will go and watch a Sens game and cheer for the opponents, going as far as purchasing jerseys and flags. You ask them if they are really Rangers fans or Penguins fans and they admit that they don't really care about that team, they are Leafs fans. How does your little lesson on loyalty explain this? They are not proud to support the Leafs; they are proud to hate the Sens, a very different ballgame.

Like I said before: a little friendly rivalry is healthy but you cannot go and tell someone that they can or cannot cheer for whichever team they wish.

Meaghan said...

I was 13 when the Sens came to Ottawa, but I hadn't followed hockey before and I never had another favourite team. Can I call myself a lifelong Sens fan or does the fact that I haven't been a hockey fan since I was in diapers mean I can't say that? I'd imagine there many people around my age in the same situation. This might explain where all these "lifelong Sens fans" come from.

Down Goes Brown said...

This is exactly what I am talking about. Who are you to tell me what team I can and cannot cheer for?

I'm not. But you can't say (as I've heard some Sens fans claim) that you were a die-hard Leaf fan before you switched over to Ottawa. If you switched teams, you may be die-hard now, but you sure weren't before.

Why is it that a person can like two other teams, like Montreal and Vancouver, or Calgary and Pittsburgh, but it is never OK for someone to like both the Sens and the Leafs?

I don't think a true fan can have more than one team, any more than I can have more than one wife (which I've been told I can't).

I find it funny that many Leafs fans will go and watch a Sens game and cheer for the opponents, going as far as purchasing jerseys and flags. You ask them if they are really Rangers fans or Penguins fans and they admit that they don't really care about that team, they are Leafs fans. How does your little lesson on loyalty explain this? They are not proud to support the Leafs; they are proud to hate the Sens, a very different ballgame.

I'm with you 100% on this one. Sens fans are guilty of this too (a store near work sells shirts that say "I root for two teams, the Sens and whoever's playing the Leafs") and it's just weak. Cheer for your own team. That should be enough.

Jaredoflondon said...

The main issue with current Leaf fans here is not the Sens fans who started watching the team from the beginning (of the team or their hockey watching careers) and grew to love the team. I support anything that turns a casual hockey fan into a full fledged Die Hard. We have just seen ever so many former Leaf fans jump ship when the Senators are suddenly good, out of convenience. That is what makes our blood boil.

Anonymous said...

screw toronto

Freewillig said...

Hey jaredoflondon,
That says a lot more about Leafs fans than Sens fans, dontcha think?

Dan Durocher said...

@ Down Goes Brown

I should also point out that I absolutely hate it when Sens Fans put down the Leafs whenever they get the chance. I am completely against this "Trash the Leafs to Make Us Look Better" movement.

Senators Lost Cojones said...

I should also point out that I absolutely hate it when Sens Fans put down the Leafs whenever they get the chance.

Hey, hey, HEY! Let's not go crazy here. If I stop doing that, then all I'm left with is original material. And nobody wants that.