Athletes are famously superstitious and fans are, too. Hell, as a kid watching the Yankees of the late '70s I'd sit in the same chair, in the same position, for hours at a time if it meant Guidry went the distance, or Reggie knocked in a run, or the Goose got a save. I'm a 48-year-old man and now at least outwardly eschew such nonsense -- but watching games in a public place eliminates even the smallest echoes of these once essential rituals. You're at the mercy of a world that doesn't give a rat's ass about the NHL, or the 20 years since the Rangers last won a Cup, or Martin St Louis' heartache, or your need to be left in peace to digest all that's happening on a big screen TV.
the Impy police lined the steps of Parliament house like elves and humans awaiting the battle of Helm's Deep (right). Media positioned cameras in far corners like snipers and suits gathered high up the steps, far behind the wall of police. Large megaphones were positioned just outside an Impy door and barriers appeared along Bourke Street. A demonstration was coming -- but what would necessitate such a police presence?
Quebec Nordiques moved to the States in 1995 and became the Colorado Avalanche, but his blood still runs baby Nordiques blue and his territorial hatred of all-things-Montreal remains strong. The Rangers scored a goal minutes after Alex's arrival -- a good omen. With 5 minutes remaining in the first period a trio of American women who'd been at the Impy for game 1 arrived: Kellyanne, an exchange student from Rockland County, NY who's attending Monash University in Clayton; her sister Jen, who works for the Ice Hockey in Harlem organisation back in the States and who's in Australia for a few weeks to visit her younger sibling; and their friend Tara. Jen and Kellyanne are diehard Rangers fans, as their wardrobes attested (below). From the moment I met them a flood of memories came rushing back of the women I've known over the years who could discuss the Rangers with the acumen of a 'Hockey Night in Canada' commentator -- an unknown in Australia, where men watch footy and rugby and cricket while their flee to other rooms to watch oft-repeated rom-coms like tubs of frozen yoghurt.
Or at least that's what Aussie advertisers and network executives would have you believe.
Parliament House. The Rangers scored another goal in the second period before LA struck right back, making the game another nail-biter. In the midst of such tension, however, a hurricane of humanity flooded the streetscape around the Impy. Protesters carried signs mocking Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his reward-the-rich 2014 budget, megaphones blasted slogans shouted in heavy Australian accents, and the intersection of Bourke and Spring Streets was transformed into a tradesmen's union rally (hence the bulked-up police presence). Most of the demonstrators passed by the hotel to gather on Spring Street in front of Parliament House but many took the opportunity to saddle up to a bar at lunchtime. This resulted in a constant stream of people -- nearly all men -- passing by and around us while we focused on the big screen above like zombie teens playing video games. Doc Emrick's play-by-play was quickly drowned out by the hubbub and Impy's staff, expecting a couple dozen hockey fans, now faced a throng 3-deep at the bar. It was instant madness.
Things remained raucous as the 3rd period began but play was so one-sided in the Kings favour that remembering to breathe dominated our thoughts and little else mattered. At some point, as the Rangers desperately protected their one-goal lead, I noticed the streets outside were empty of demonstrators. But then the Kings would start a man-advantage rush into the Rangers' zone and thoughts of Australian economic justice melted faster than Madison Square Garden ice on a near summer's night back in NYC.
Let's go Rangers.
|Victory grins: Tara, Jen, Alex and Kellyanne.|