Friday, November 23, 2007

Hockey In The Deep South, Lightning In Deep Trouble

After visiting 28 arenas, I thought I'd seen it all, but there is one sporting tradition that I hadn't seen at a hockey game until today......tailgating! Honest-to-goodness chicken-grilling, beer-drinking, burger-flipping, whiskey-sipping tailgating! Surrounded by Carolina pines, the RBC Center is stuck in the middle of nowhere and the parking lot was filled with BBQ grills, pickup trucks, potato salad and 18-packs of Busch! Perhaps I should have just stayed outside freezing my butt off and drinking heavily with my new friends, so I wouldn't have had to watch the Lightning blow their second straight two-goal lead in the third period.

This one was painful. The final score was Carolina 4 Tampa 3, just the same as in Atlanta on Monday night. Deja vu all over again!

I felt as though I was in hillbilly hockey heaven. Hell, they showed Ric Flair on the scoreboard more often than Cam Ward! The dozens of retired NC State basketball jerseys on the ceiling dwarfed the Hurricanes Stanley Cup banner. And the crowd was remarkably unaware that coming back from 3-1 down in the 3rd period deserves a serious standing ovation.

Some random thoughts...I cracked up when I saw this. One of the arena billboards in the RBC Center was for I haven't been to the site, so I'm not sure if it describes how Carolina distributes game tickets or the Hurricanes defense plays on their bumpy ice! On the bright side, I had an aisle seat and didn't have to get up once for my rowmates to go to the bathroom during the game! And is there any doubt that Rod Brind'Amour is the ugliest pro athlete since Jim Plunkett? Perhaps that's why he wins so many faceoffs.

In a few arenas, the home team fans yell during a word of the Star Spangled Banner that relates to their team. In Dallas they yell, "Whose broad stripes and bright STARS through the perilous fight". It scared the crap out of me when I heard it the first time! In Atlanta you hear, "Gave proof through the NIGHT that our flag was still there". That's a throwback to the days when the IHL Atlanta Knights were the only game in town, so I appreciate that one. Here in Carolina they borrow the concept from NC State with, "And the rocket's RED glare". Did I mention that famed Irish tenor, Ronan Tynan performed "God Bless America" in Buffalo? He's good, but he's no Kate Smith!

Ray Whitney of the Canes is such a wonderful playmaker, and Erik Cole looked strong in his first game back from his latest injury. With Cory Sarich and Nolan Pratt (who I saw in a Sabres uniform the other night) gone, the Lightning defense looks afraid to go down and block shots like they have in past years. Other than Sugar Shane O'Brien and Mike Lundin, who show flashes of how good they'll be in a couple of years, this is a mediocre group indeed.

Am I bitter tonight, yes! My team blew it again and I'm in a crappy mood. So Carolina fans, if I have offended you with my description of tonight's game experience, I'm sorry. Just take solace in the fact that we handed you the victory tonight! Two points for you, none for us.

In a few hours, I'll be heading home to make history as Tampa Bay takes on the New Jersey Devils. 30 Games, 30 Nights, 30 NHL Arenas. They've been the best 30 nights of my life, and I hope you've enjoyed following along. It's taken me less than an hour to write most of these blog entries and there are lots of stories that I haven't had time to share. My life has been a blur, but once I return to Orlando I'll have time to tell you a few more, so don't go away yet!


Unknown said...

Well, while it wasn't a standing ovation (sorry, that's playoff mojo right there), the crowd definitely energized the team in the 3rd.

As for the "RED" in the anthem, it started as a chant for NC State games that transferred over to the Canes. And since "Hurricane" isn't exactly in the anthem...

Hope the crowd there treated you right, and just remember: The last two Carolina/Tampa Bay games ended in a much different way. Thus, it's technically 4 points you, 2 points us.

Anonymous said...

Bitter? No that didn't come off as bitter at all... /sarcasm

Hope you enjoyed your stay, wish you could have said something other then the same crap us in the southern division have been putting up with for 10 years.

Steve Williamson said...

Sorry if I was a little harsh with my comments, my mood is better this morning! But I did find that Carolina fans were slower than those in Atlanta or Nashville to pick up on the little things like not noticing that the ref had his arm up for a penalty. And I amended my orginal post to add the NC state anthem reference. I also forgot to mention that the cheesesteak I had at the game was better than the one I had in Philly!

Anonymous said...

Actually, the giveaway contest is for a house, bitter beer face. I don't know why I bothered reading this blog. Glad you feel so privileged.

The Acid Queen said...

Sorry Brian and some anonycoward decided to show their asses to you, Steve--I (and apparently tadpole) blew off the barbs in your post as just post-game frustration, and from your followup comment it appears I was right to do so. :)

Hope you had a good time regardless of the result, and if you ever come back up this way gimme a holler. I'll be sure to treat you to a malted beverage or two, like a good host should.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Steve on your 30th night and 30th game!

This unique fun adventure has taken you to far reaches of Canada and United States; meeting fascinating people along the way, and enjoying your favorite sport for thirty days.

Although we can’t join you, tonight’s climax will be one you’ll always remember. We’re proud of and happy for you, and have enjoyed sharing your exploits on your most entertaining website and TV every day.

Good luck to the Lightning tonight – bring them luck!…….

P.S. We hear the NHL are about to announce a six city expansion! Just kidding!l

Adam said...

Odd...I saw the team get a few standing ovations in the third. There was one after the tying goal during the commercial break etc.

It seems like your prejudices/stereotypes of Hurricane fans got to you in your frustration.

Atlanta fans know what is going on? The times i go there that's the deadest arena in the league!

Anonymous said...

For the most part, your trip comments are fairly entertaining. (All games, not just in Raleigh)

Unfortunately, you lost all credibility when you had to comment on Rod Brind'Amour's looks. Maybe you can explain in your blog what his looks have to do with him winning the last 2 Selke's, and being one of the best faceoff men in the league, not to mention being one of the leading NHL scorers this year and being a great leader of our team, on and off the ice.

Losing your objectivity when your team lost didn't help either. I see your apology, so that helps some. :-)

Sorry our Stanley Cup banner didn't meet your size requirements. I've been to your arena and the one put up in TB is so huge that Chara's head hits it when he skates by.

Anonymous said...

Bitter much? From your accounts of the 3rd period, I'd think you left after the 2nd thinking your team won because you surely couldn't have been there. Even Staal noted the crowd

"Obviously Ray’s goal was big, and it kind of got the crowd energized and it filtered through the whole team.”-Eric Staal

And what does Brind'Amour's looks have to do with anything. Didn't know it was a rule that you had to be good looking in order to play hockey.

Also you would think that with your team being in the South, you would leave the typical South stereotype alone.

Glad you enjoyed the tailgating.

Anonymous said...

I would love to comment on your looks....but I'm better person.

How this view from down there in the standings???

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the props! You left the biggest compliment for hockey fandom. You didn't have to get up once during play. Isn't the biggest unwritten rule in hockey fandom that you don't stand or walk in front of people during play? And doesn't it take seasoned hockey fans to know that? You just proved that all though a little slow with the calls, our fans really DO know what's important in hockey.

Congrats on the trip. The invite is open for giving me a shout out for some free brew and snausages during a tailgate if you want to come back to the arena for another game. Can I say I'm proud that you went home bitter? :) Well I am, but that's just part of being one of the great fans in the league. Kudos. You looked great on TV too by the way when Forslund interviewed you.

Katy said...

I am not sure if you were busy looking at Brindy or something but there was definitely a standing ovation a few times in the third. I believe we stood for the last minute of play as a matter of fact.

As far as our SC banner being "dwarfed" goes, you don't have much of a choice when you SHARE the arena with the State team. We don't need it obnoxiously big and it is the only white banner up there, plus what really matters is that we have one at all.

Everything else was pretty much covered except for that Ric Flair thing...the reason why you saw him so much is because we scored a lot.

I am aware you apologized (kind of) but I still think you just ripping the team and the franchise apart is complete crap. Then again, if you are looking at Atlanta fans and thinking they are so awesome maybe I don't want your "approval"

Anonymous said...

This Canes fan would like to apologize for any ugly comments made to you on this blog.

We are a little bitter after just having read your fan bashing blog.

That's makes it justified no?

Anonymous said...

Hey.. I talked to you when you were getting the cheesesteak..

Any how, I'm not quite sure I get this:

"And the crowd was remarkably unaware that coming back from 3-1 down in the 3rd period deserves a standing ovation."

When I was there the crowd stood and clapped and cheered the last minute and a half... Not quite sure what you were looking for...

Anonymous said...

"The dozens of retired NC State basketball jerseys on the ceiling dwarfed the Hurricanes Stanley Cup banner."

We're just saving room for more cup banners.

Anonymous said...

Guys you gotta cut him a break, of course he is gonna have a tad bit of disgust at the Canes, because they are Tampa's rival. As a Penguins fan I bash ther other Atlantic division teams a ton too. Its just part of the game of hockey.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...not sure what game you were at. I saw, and participated in, several standing ovations. You must have been in a dud section. If you were hanging out with people drinking Busch in the parking lot you were at a dud tailgate, too.

Rod Brind'Amour has sacrificed his face for the game of hockey. What have you done lately?

As a Canes fan, I must say I'm super glad to see you have reason to show your sour grapes here today!!

Anonymous said...

Bashing the team I can accept, bashing the fans - not so much. The

There were some fans who were looking forward to his comments as we knew he was in our house last night. This review is a slap in the face. Why in the world would we "give him a break?" It's OK for him to bash us but not for us to respond?

Anonymous said...

First of all, maybe you should meet more than a couple fans to judge all of them. Second, maybe you need glasses because there were plenty of standing ovations to support the better team (yeah, that's right, CAROLINA). We really are the loudest fans in the NHL and for good reasons. Maybe, you should spend your time and money a better way than following around a crappy team that only puts you in a bad mood, causing you to resolve to trying to insult the opponent by judging their looks.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what game were you at last night? The arena was loud, and there were several standing ovations. Your sarcasm was a bit too much. Next year if you decide to do this why don't you just skip NC. Maybe you'll be better off with yankee hockey instead of redneck hockey.

Steve Williamson said...

Now that my plane has landed, I've had the chance to reread my post and the comments. I was frustrated by last night's result and might have changed a few words had I written it this morning. I had a great time in Carolina, and met lots of passionate fans. And I've heard all the Southern hockey stereotypes before in Tampa, so I didn't have preconceived notions about what to expect in Carolina.

Yes, the crowd was happy with the result, and many fans did stand at the end. But after experiencing 29 arenas in a row, I've seen crowds that would have been more excited after the tying and game-winning goals were scored. You're gonna have to trust me on that one.

I commented on Rod Brind'Amour's lack of looks because I was sick of seeing his ugly mug win all those faceoffs! (maybe it distracts the opposition). I never claimed to be objective!

The great thing about the regular season is after a loss, there's always the next game, and that's where I'm headed now...remember, keep it clean folks, it's all in fun!

East of Here said...

Stir it up man! Remember the blogger's creed: You can't get the hits if you don't take the shots.

And yes, we do it a bit different down (or should I say "up") here. I can't help but feel a bit sorry for your misguided experience. But I see the problem. You spent too much time observing and not enough time participating. Next time you want to get up this way, hook up with Bubba and the bloggers compendium at . We'll tailgate the game, and I guarantee that after half a rack of ribs and a quarter jar of corn cider, you'll be dying to put your Lecavalier jersey on craigslist and mow lawns on weekends to afford a LaRose sweater.

Embrace the movement man! Embrace the movement...

Anonymous said...

What game you were watching? Seriously what game were you watching? Your opinions don't even deserve a comment. I will just live it at that...

Anonymous said...

I didn't even know this blog existed until I saw a link from a message board I often visit. There I was told that this blog is "respected and touted all over NHL landscape". If that's true, no wonder the league is in trouble. Why would they give props to someone who gets so frustrated by his team blowing a 2 goal lead that he immediately has to unleash his inner 12yr old and just resort to attacks and stereotype filled wisecracks against the opposing team and their fanbase. To make matters worse, this childish drivel happens to come from a "blogger" for another SE division team, a team that pretty much gets the same misguided and stereotype filled venom from "up North". Well, I hope the fans in Buffalo, Toronto, NY, Philly, are happy reading this, as you have just confirmed everything they've been reading in their hometown papers and internet blogs.

I guess when your team loses you can either congratulate the opponent and try to analyze why your team lost or you can open up a can of old stale stereotypes and insults and sprinkle it on your wounded pride hoping the pain will go away.

A good respectable blogger will do the former. The latter is something that can be done by any jackass with a laptop and a blog site.

Anonymous said...

The seesaw effect: the attempt to make yourself (or you team or your fan base) seem better by verbally bringing down others. How's that working for ya huh?

Bless your heart.

Anonymous said...

give it up you're all being childish but it does create alot of attention to his trip come on caniacs you need to put up another 23 comments to beat Ottawa's 47 when he talked about Chris Neil

Anonymous said...

North Carolina State is losing 30-0 at home in the 4th quarter. Are y'all taking your own frustrations out on him now?

Anonymous said...

Not if someone is a Duke or Carolina fan...

Bubba said...

I'm not going to comment on the childish "Rod Brind'Amour is ugly" remark, or the inaccurate put-down of the fanbase. Let me just say that it's not very polite to drink and party with people who offer their hospitality for free, and then insult them as being hockey ignorant in the same breath. I'm not sure where you were sitting that things were so quiet, but it was quite the opposite from my stand point. (Including the standing ovation in the final minute).

Bitter much? Get used to it. Other than the "Holy Triad", the Boltz have nothing. Once Vinnie cools off, your games won't even be close anymore.

Anonymous said...

Great article, I can see you've done your research and put it to good use. You mentioned all the right things. College basketball reference - check. Hockey fans who know nothing about hockey - check. Subtle redneck references through mention of Busch beer and pork rinds - check.

You could have made it even better and more entertaining had you also mentioned the NASCAR, as in say "the fans in Carolina may say that they like hockey, but their true passion is NASCAR". The Mayberry/Andy Griffith show references also never get old, and can be liberally used to sway the tone of your article towards being witty and humorous.

Also, you should mention that Canes earn a lion share of their penalty calls by DIVING. Yes, this is something that was first discovered by Florida Panthers players and coaches, and made into a popular reference by their media and bloggers, but that doesn't mean it would be innapropriate or untimely for you to jump on that bandwagon as well.

Just something to think about writing the next time you come down to Carolina for NASCAR/College BB/tailgate party and a hockey game breaks out.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh yes, another HATER to add to the list, this one just happens to be making history. Didnt really get the whole redneck joke you tried to pull but good try. Figured you would notice Flair only comes on when we score, guess not. The RBC Center is right off a busy interstate so I wouldnt say its in the middle of nowhere. As far as the standing ovation comment, no comment!! Id like to hear you tell Roddy how ugly he is to his face. So after reading your blog and being at the game last night, I would like to add, what game where you at?? I think these 30 games in 30 nights might be catching up to you. But just keep on hating on our team, we bask in the hate and love it, your boys didnt give this away, they just got outplayed in the 3rd.

Unknown said...

"Anonymous said...
"...We really are the loudest fans in the NHL and for good reasons..."

This comment made me laugh. The Canes do not have the loudest fans.

d-lee said...

You can "crack up" all you want, but the website you're making fun of is one where fans go to participate in a 10th anniversary contest. The grand prize winner will get a brand new $300k home.

If your goaltender could have stopped our guys, you wouldn't have had to see Ric Flair at all.

If you think our fans didn't give our come from behind win a standing ovation, you must have left during the second intermission. Or were you too busy crying?

Oh. And for the record, next time you're up here, you never, NEVER refer to a grill as a "bbq", or even a "barbecue". That word (not the bastard abbreviation) refers not to the cooking medium, but to the meat. Barbecue is pulled or chopped pork, taken from a whole pig which is cooked over a pit fire. What you witnessed was people "grilling out".

Anonymous said...

Hey Carolina fans, THANKS for Jack Johnson!

Anonymous said... Carolina fans are quite uptight aren't you?

BTW D-lee, I don't care what they call it in Carolina but most places in North America it is called a barbeque. Way to be ignortant.

Anonymous said...

BTW here is the definition of "barbeque" for you Carolina geniouses

"bar·be·cue [ brbə ky ] (plural bar·be·cues) or bar·be·que [ brbə ky ] (plural bar·be·ques)



1. outdoor party with food cooked outdoors: an outdoor party where people eat food cooked on a grill

2. food cooked on grill: food, especially meat, poultry, and fish, cooked on a grill

3. equipment for cooking outdoors: an apparatus, including a grill and fuel, used for cooking food outdoors "

East of Here said...

Hey Brad,

If you're gonna try to insult someone's intelligence, you might want to learn to spell the word "ignorant" correctly first.

Anonymous said...

"Hey Carolina fans, THANKS for Jack Johnson!"

You are welcome. I see he has done wonders for your helping them get a high draft pick next year.

Anonymous said...

Boy, most of you Carolina fans are a bitter bunch.

Steve is just making observations about what he witnessed. And as for the Tampa/Southern Hospitality comment, nobody tailgates in Tampa before hockey games. Tampa is very much a city with a northern feel, even though it is *geographically* south of the M-D Line.

Glad your trip was such a success. I've enjoyed following your journey since seeing you on TV in Columbus about 3 weeks back.


Anonymous said...

"Steve is just making observations about what he witnessed."

And Carolina fans are just wondering what game he was at, b/c what he witnessed, is far from the truth.

Busch cans, don't think so, surprisngly the beer of choice here is Miller.

Saying the fans didn't cheer when they came from being down 2. That comment is so off base. After Whitney bought the team within 1, the crowd went nuts and stayed that way until the final buzzer. Not to mention the last minute and half the whole arena giving the team a standing ovation.

Saying how all he saw on the Jumbottron was Ric Flair. Well Holmvquist should have kept the puck out of the net b/c that's the only time you see Flair.

I understand he is pissed b/c his team yet again squandered a 2 goal lead, but to trash the fanbase/team is childish.

And looks as his team lost again tonight to New Jersey. Too bad the end of his trip wasn't a happy one.

Anonymous said...

Well done although having read a few of the blogs today i think you upset a few people!!!

Home will be hard after this!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on completing the trip. It's going to feel wiiiiieeeerrd for you the first night you don't have a hockey game to be rushing off to in the evening.

Anonymous said...

With a body like this:

who cares what "Rod the Bod's" face looks like.

Illinois Canes Fan!
Go Canes!

Anonymous said...

"Hey Brad,

If you're gonna try to insult someone's intelligence, you might want to learn to spell the word "ignorant" correctly first."

Obviously a typo, dummy.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Canes fans are the loudest...

According to The Hockey News, an unofficial reading of 134 decibels was measured during Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers. It is the loudest reading ever at an American sporting event.

Anonymous said...

That is very true. We are the loudest house in the NHL.
Even games that aren't playoff or SCC games get that loud though. There is nothing better than the sound of a deafening "Let's go Canes" chant.

Queen TV said...

Its ok Steve, after the way my Avs have been playing lately I wouldn't have the prettiest words to say on a blog myself.

I think it is interesting that you bring up about the little quirks in the anthem in some places. Those are the exact types of things I notice and remember when I visit other stadiums and arenas.

I know in Kansas City instead of "...home of the brave." they say "...home of the CHIEFS." Which I thought was a nice touch.

As for the Avs, I know that a few guys always shout at the part where is goes "FLAG WAS STILL THERE". I don't know if this is common or just a Colorado thing. I don't think it has any particular meaning to the Avs so I'm not sure. But its something I've experienced a lot. And when the Stars are in town we boo at the "stars" part.

Anonymous said...

I'll be sure to forward this blog to Rod.

Anonymous said...

No Brad, since the "t" is nowhere near the "n" or the "a" on the keyboard, you must have deliberately moved your finger to hit the "t" (especially since you probably only use one finger to type anyway), therefore when you choose to use the word "dummy" please make sure you are looking in a mirror when you do so.

As far as the referenced game is concerned, TB did not hand or give or .... the game to us, our team TOOK it from TB.

Steve, you are welcome to NOT attend any more games in our arena. Saying 'Sorry' and then justifying your remarks with further remarks is NOT how to apologize for your rude comments.

It really is a shame that someone that put so much effort into seeing 30 games in 30 cities in 30 nights couldn't just talk about the positives of his experience.

Anonymous said...

Hey DH !! This is from a hillbilly with an MBA from a top 5 school. You are a joke !!!
Why don’t you do a little research before you shoot arrows. Hurricanes Giveaway? It is a promotion with a highly paying sponsor that is giving away a house for the Canes 10th year in NC. Talk about Ticket giveaways? Just shows what you do not know and how ignorant you are. In the Globe and Mail report on ticket giveaways in the NHL released last January, Tampa Bay gave away twice and many tickets per game than the Hurricanes. Looks like you guys give away 1738 tickets a game? No wonder your owner was selling...oh yea, that fell through.

What a DH !!. Glad your 15 minutes is up, now I don't have to hear about you anymore. You called your own trip historic ??? What a joke !! Just like this blog.