I’m a Pens fan. A diehard one. Anybody who knows me can tell you this. For my birthday, beer steins with the Pens logo on them are not out of the norm as presents. This is just how I roll, and I like it that way. My team might not be perfect, but whose is and who cares.
Except now. Now I care. I care maybe more than ever before. I care because this isn’t my team anymore and I’ve had enough this time around.
Last year the Pens blew a 3-1 series lead against the Lightning and I didn`t let it bother me. Oh, I was frustrated, but I watched that final game, the one where Sean Bergenheim’s lone goal was all it took to end the Pens’ season and I was still cheering for my team. Likewise, the year before that I watched them fold in Game 7 against the Habs and had no trouble sitting through it all. It happens, but yesterday, I did something I`ve never done during the playoffs. I left.
I didn`t just turn off the tv in disgust, though I definitely had some nasty things to say as I shut it off mid-game, but I didn`t stop there. I put on my shoes, grabbed my keys and went out to meet a friend at a sushi restaurant.
For the record, I hate sushi. That`s how much this team is frustrating me right now.
For the Pens, this year has been interesting. The regular season was fine. In fact, it was great. It had its highs and lows, god knows I was about ready to bite off my own arm in rage by the time their six game losing streak finally came to an end, but they finished strong and looked like real contenders. Everyone was there. Everyone was healthy. Everyone was performing like they cared.
>Now though, all that is gone. The Pens have degenerated into everything angry rival fans have ever called them and I`m calling it quits. There’s only so much a fan can take, only so much a fan should have to take, and I`ve reached my breaking point.
So here`s what I want as a Pens fan right now. It might not be popular, but I`m saying it anyway.
I want Arron Asham suspended.
I want James Neal to have the book thrown at him so hard it knocks him back into next week.
I want Fleury out of the net in the next game.
I want Dan Bylsma to do something other than look mildly annoyed on the bench.
I want them to lose.
Yeah, I said it. I want them done. I want them to get swept and I want it to make them realize how stupid they look. People on that team are going around saying that there`s nothing wrong and that they don`t have to change what they`re doing.
If there was nothing wrong this series wouldn`t have turned into a complete farce and we might all be watching engaging hockey right now. Instead, we`re seeing Kris Letang get tossed out of games for being foolish. We`re seeing Sidney Crosby act like a child. We`re seeing twenty grown men flail around on the ice like they don`t know where they are or what they`re doing.
<span Okay, maybe I`m not being fair. In fact, I`m not. Jordan Staal`s played with actual effort. Matt Cooke`s become the story of the series by keeping his head and concentrating solely on the game. Others still remain relatively inoffensive in this mess. Yet, it`s not enough. The team as a whole, and not just the players, needs to man up. Their season is done, we all know it, so just let it end with something resembling dignity. That way we can all just get on with our lives and put this behind us.
By that I don`t mean that we should all forget what`s happened here. We should do just the opposite. With a little luck this implosion might just spur the Pens on next year. If there`s one thing that can cure a posturing attitude, it`s having all your mistakes thrown in your face when things inevitably come off the rails.
So, let that happen. That way I, and all fans who feel the way I do, can come back to a new season come the fall, one we can try to be excited about.
And I will be excited, I can promise that. When I say I`m calling it quits, I specifically mean right for the here and now. Maybe I should be supporting my team, but as far as I`m concerned my team isn`t playing hockey right now. I don`t know who these people are that have replaced them, but I want them gone by the fall.
When next year`s season starts, I plan to have put this behind me because my team is still my team and I refuse to let that change. Any anger I feel right now will have passed, and I`ll go on reacting to what new things the team sends my way.
I`ll still be a Pens fan. I`ll still giggle helplessly over how much James Neal loves his hair. I`ll still make terrible clone army jokes at Jordan Staal`s expense. I`ll still admire how Pascal Dupuis is a complete workhorse and how Brooks Orpik is never afraid to say exactly what`s on his mind. I`ll still lose my mind whenever Evgeni Malkin scores a beautiful goal.
But all that`s for next year. Now, all I can say is go home, boys. Go home because you`re done and we`ve all had enough. I want the playoffs to be fun again. I want to enjoy how Florida is trying even though no one gave them a chance. I want to be impressed by how Braden Holtby is holding his own against last year`s Stanley Cup champs. I want to shake my head in admiration at Jonathan Quick putting on the kind of show that most goalies could only dream about. I want to remember Daniel Alfredsson taking the Game 1 puck and giving it to a rookie who`d just scored his first ever playoff goal because, even though the Sens had lost, something good had still happened.
That, everything I just listed there, is playoff hockey. Let`s keep it and get rid of the rest.