Saturday, October 11, 2008


The Game Atmosphere

With a new season, there were some clear changes to the atmosphere by the Devils that I need to point out and applaud.

First, there was the opening, which actually had some presentation value to it with smoke coming out for every player coming onto the ice. On the big screen, they even showed videos of the scratches for the night (Sheldon Brookbank, Andy Greene, Petr Vrana) and announced the coaching staff. Then a new opening video played focusing on a faceless Devil doing some drills on the ice. I guess we've seen the last of the generic Devils player walking from Newark Penn Station to get into the arena, turn into a devil, and raise the Rock. I also don't recall Sean Connery's "Welcome to the Rock." I guess they're giving it a rest this season?

Second, there were some small changes to the layout of the arena. There were some more merchandising kiosks on the concourse. Also, the Devils did update the columns on the lower concourse to represent the current roster. So we won't see a big picture of Vitaly Vishnevski outside of the Fire Lounge. It's a nice touch.

Third, there was more content being shown in terms of replays. We saw replays of the Islanders' goal; so we all clearly saw what happened. They showed highlights with sound from both feeds - Steve Cangelosi and Doc Emerick - in the period highlights (I know they started that last season). And they aired the audio and video during the break for Chico Eats. Tonight was zeppoles, and it was superior to

Fourth, and most impressive from opening night was the general atmosphere of the game. For starters, they brought back what many wanted. The return of Rock and Roll Part II for goals. Everyone seemed to love that, and so it stays. But most important to note, it seems that the Devils decided to hire - or get one of their employees or someone - to dance a whole lot, take of his shirts and throw them into the audience like Richard Simmons, and lead entire sections in chants during the game. I don't care that he's a plant. He's charismatic, enthusiastic, and clearly a Devils fan. As evidenced by taking off his jersey and putting it on a seated Islanders fan at one point to much appreciation in Section 1. I prefer and endorse this guy getting everyone making more noise than the PA system during breaks. What's more is that his enthusiasm was infectious and there were many more spontaneous "Let's Go Devils!" chants, culminating in a big one at the end of the game. I approve of this measure and I sincerely hope he's able to do it all season long without getting into trouble. There was also a "host" to do the in-break games; but she was largely forgettable without being terrible. But this dancing guy, I don't know his name, but he is the guy.

I also approve of the mascot giving a Rangers fan trying to mug for the camera a facewash. Seriously, who pays for a ticket to a Devils-Islanders game and shows support for the Rangers? Other than a jackass? I want to know. But getting back to my larger point, it's this sort of fan interaction that makes the games more fun in the stands and benefits all the Devils fans. Visiting fans may not like, but who cares about what they think.

However, there's a right way to do it. A wrong way to do it would be to wear nothing but a lime green bodysuit. I understand that it's a reference from a television show I haven't seen. But if you're going to go that route, wear something underneath and wear a red bodysuit. The Devils never had the lime green in their color scheme. Instead of getting people to go crazy, many thought it was just creepy looking. Especially when you see him in the background of the Devils Dancers (weren't they Powerplayers? I don't know) being blocked off from a security guy on the big screen. I did high-five him though. Then, I went to go wash my hands.

Lastly, the Devils Dancers. I don't think I mentioned them at all last season. They were rather forgettable. But this is a new group. Well. You'll notice them.

This all shows that the Devils are showing more of an effort to make the games entertaining and trying to promote a good atmosphere along with the hockey game itself - the reason why we go to these games - is excellent. I hope they can continue throughout this and coming seasons.

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You failed to mention that during the second intermission for the "get the puck through the little slot in front of goal" competition, after much heckling from the crowd, an adolescent girl won . . none of the guys could do it.

love it...the dancing dude was awesome.
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