It is quite probable that many Capitals fans turned off their TVs right after Chris Kelly scored for the Bruins in overtime last night. I know I did, and I missed what is easily this season’s biggest fan gaffe. Normally fan encounters involve fans jumping onto the field or the ice, or opposing fans heckling the players and coaches. But not this time. As the defending Stanley Cup champions and their fans were raucously celebrating the victory, two fans who were brainlessly pounding away on the safety glass instead of just yelling or clapping managed to knock a pane free, a pane that fell directly on top of the head and neck of David Krejci, the team’s #1 center and leading scorer in the playoffs last season.
So much for home-ice advantage.
Fortunately for him, Krejci was still wearing his helmet, blunting the blow that knocked him to the ice. Even so, it's a bad omen for a hockey team when a player who has already had 2 concussions misses practice after a blow to the head. While Krejci is officially listed as day-to-day and is expected to play in Game 2, he isn't likely to be the same player, even if he did give the Caps a powerplay in Game 1.
This crazy event begs two questions: why is it that certain people just ruin the fun for an entire city? And why do fans bang on the glass?
Made by Jumping the Glass
There’s always at least one in every major sports city. That one guy who is the bane of every city’s sports existence, a non-combatant who is so reviled for either a singular act of sports interference or for a long career of ruining people’s days even though he or she never plays the game for either team. Their crimes against the city are so foul they will never be forgiven, and they are often irrationally attributed with the downfall of the entire franchise or long championship droughts. Usually these pests cause unrest in rival cities, like Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos not only preventing Washington, D.C., from getting a baseball team for years, but also making their TV games nearly impossible to watch.
The examples are numerous. Indianapolis has the five Detroit Pistons fans who started The Malice at the Palace in 2004. Thanks to these unruly fans, some of the best players on the talent-laden Pacers team were suspended for large chunks of the season for fighting in the stands, likely costing the team a chance at a championship. Oakland Raiders fans know all too well about losing a championship bid, thanks to referee Walt Coleman’s famous Tuck Rule call that handed the 2002 AFC divisional playoff game to the eventual champion New England Patriots.
The worst offenders of all are the ones who inflict damage on their own cities, and thanks to SportsCenter, you immediately know them by name: Bartman in Chicago, Lauren Pronger in Edmonton, and Daniel Snyder in Washington, D.C. Add Boston to the list of cities with self-inflicted wounds, as a new villain has struck the Boston Bruins, “Mr. Glass.”
Mr. Glass was originally the bane of Philadelphia, a character in the M. Night Shyamalan movie “Unbreakable.” Mr. Glass was a chronically delicate villain who set off a series of disasters in an attempt to find his opposite number, the unbreakable man. But just like images of Bartman have taken Batman from Gotham and Bart Simpson from Springfield, the real life Mr. Glass is now the Bruin jersey-wearing, palm-wielding, Plexiglas® smacking fan who set a 125-pound piece of destruction raining down on his team’s #1 center.
Photo by AP
I have to say, I have never been a fan of front-row hockey fans beating on the glass during a game. At best, it is an obnoxious habit usually perpetrated by a drunk hockey fan or by newbie hockey fans who don't know any better. Then, because we see it on TV, the habit gets perpetuated as part of the hockey culture as if it were tradition. Not only were the first hockey games played outdoors, the first indoor arenas starting in 1875 used a wire mesh over the boards. Shatterproof glass wasn’t invented until 1938, and even then the first NHL arena, Maple Leaf Gardens, didn’t get it until 1953. Considering shatter-proof glass had only been around for 15 years, it’s not likely Leafs fans who owned windows of any kind banged on that glass very much. Glass-banging really hasn't been around all that long, and frankly it should have been drowned at birth.
My least favorite part of attending any hockey game in expensive lower level seats always happened right as the players got really close to me. This is why we pay for such good seats, we want to count Ovechkin's teeth, we want to see the looks of agony and anguish as opposing players' faces are smushed into the glass. We do not want to see some fat guy's rear end as he stands up to bang on the glass, blocking everyone's view just as the play gets close. It even happens when we watch games on TV, the view gets obstructed by glass-bangers, much like those annoying pop-up ads on Comcast SportsNet that always seem to cover the part of the screen the puck is in. These things completely defeat the purpose of the multi-hundred or -thousand dollar high-definition television, never mind the cost of cable or satellite TV these days.
But by all means, Boston fans, keep banging on the glass. As much as I hate to see good hockey players get hurt, this is the first time an arena glass banger has ever helped the Capitals and their fans.