Sean McIndoe – Better known to may hockey fans as “Down Goes Brown” – is easily in my top three favorite writers in all of sports, and he weighed in a bit on the whole San Jose / Winnipeg kerfuffle that happened last week.
(Kerfuffle by the way is also easily in my top three favorite words in all of the English language)
Something he stated as an aside to Winnipeg hockey fans was so spot on, it needs to be shared. Simply put, as a hockey fan base, it’s time for Jets fans to start toughening ourselves up.
In his article for Vice Sports where he recaps a few different things beyond just a bunch of mean things said about how cold and dark Winnipeg is, was this nugget of truth…
“But when you’re a good team, a little bit of chirping comes with the territory. Some of it will be good-natured, some of it won’t. But it’s par for the course, and you need to be able to handle it. Remember last year when the Senators made an unexpected run to the Cup final, people who hadn’t watched them every night tuned in and started calling them boring, and half the fan base had an embarrassing tantrum over it? Don’t do that, Winnipeg.”
“Don’t be Ottawa Senators fans” is really the best advice anyone can give and he probably could have left it at that and still have gotten his point across, but Sean continued…
“So Winnipeg, let’s consider this whole Sharks thing as a test run. Can you handle a little bit of heckling, cliched as it was, without taking the bait and melting down? Many of you passed. Some of you did not. And that’s fine, since this will all be forgotten in a few days. But when it all happens again in April—and hopefully May and even June—the jabs are going to turn into uppercuts. The same old tired material about your team and your town will be trotted out, round after round. Please be the one fan base that can actually handle it with grace and good humor, instead of circling the wagons and having a group sulk. And tell the politicians to stay out of it.”
For what it’s worth, I felt like most Jets fans handled the whole deal pretty well. The video clip didn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already know (and already complain) about, so most of us were able to eye roll and laugh it off as we watched those same Sharks get beaten in a Sunday afternoon contest. But you know the old saying about a few bad apples ruining a whole bunch. Throw in a couple of civic polititicians looking to make some brownie points and suddenly your entire fan base gets a bad rep for being known as over-sensitive whiners.
But to Sean’s point, just like it’s time for the players on the Winnipeg Jets to maybe start picking up their game and expecting opposing teams to come in to face a division leader and be ready to hit them with their best shot, so too must Jets fans when it comes to the slings and arrows we’ll get from other fan bases.
The Jets are really good this year and multiple “experts” have wondered if this is the window of opportunity opening up for the team that should stay open for the next three or four seasons when you think of contending for a Stanley Cup. If that is indeed the case, then these feelings other fans have of “aww shucks, good for them!” will quickly fade and be replaced with “Screw those guys and their stupid, boring frozen wasteland of a city and their garbage hockey team”
So this isn’t exactly a column telling you how you should and shouldn’t react to such insults and barbs thrown at the team and us as a fan base – that’s only something you can control. But this is a reminder that as we get closer to the playoffs and as this Jets team continues to find more success, we should expect more lame “Winnipeg is cold and sucks and is boring and also sucks” taunting thrown our way.
Let’s as a fan base be more focused on enjoying our own team than rushing to fight every little perceived slight from salty opposing fans who just saw their team get their asses kicked in “cold and dark” Winnipeg.