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Guest Post: Getting off the bandwagon - A different perspective

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Game Time’s resident historian Rick Ackerman is back.

Chicago Blackhawks v St. Louis Blues Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Our old friend Rick Ackerman wrote this piece detailing his experience the other night at the game, and the start of the breakup of a beautiful relationship. As always, our site is open to fan submissions, either via fanpost or a longer post. Please hit me up at hildymacgt at gmail dot com if you write something that you would like to be published.

Getting off the bandwagon: A different perspective

I have been attending and watching amateur and professional hockey games for almost 60 years. Although a terrible skater, I played in garage leagues in Dayton, Ohio, for almost 15 years and some 10 years in St. Louis. I have witnessed games in the United States, Canada and Sweden, and plan to journey to Germany, Denmark and possibly Russia next year. I also attended nine or ten Blues’ Fantasy Camps in a row, but tore up my shoulder and broke some ribs (not at any of the camps, though) and had to stop playing hockey. Bernie Federko and Tom Stillman set me up for my first goal in 2007. I also wrote for Game Time for almost a decade.

Each of the first three years of the Blues’ existence, I have been to games in the Stanley Cup Finals against Montreal and Boston. I have seen at least two or more games a year every year the franchise has existed although I moved to Ohio in 1968, before returning to Missouri in 2005. I have been a season ticket holder for over 10 years now, although I cut back to a 12-game plan this year. After my experience at the home opener, I plan on selling my remaining tickets and settle for watching at home on television. I want to see a hockey game, not be subjected to a party-like atmosphere with a lot of drinking and loud music (some of which I like) and being told to cheer when there is nothing to cheer about.

Yea, I am an aging baby-boomer. However, I am not telling anyone to get off my lawn and ranting and raving; rather, I am just explaining why I am getting off the Blues’ lawn.

Let’s get real: everything about this team is over-hyped. I wonder if the thinking is that if the product on the ice does not live up to the puffery, then at least the fans can party and rock on or play games on the BIGscreen JUMBOtron and scream when Louie beats his drum in the aisle right by my seat. I realize major-league teams have to have ice-girls and disc-jockey cheerleaders to liven things up, but sometimes I think I might be in Peoria or even Brantford, Ontario.

I love hockey, but it really isn’t so much about hockey any more. My camel’s back was broken after Thursday’s home and season opener at the “new” Enterprise Entertainment Center.

My ticketing experience took around 45 minutes. I went early enough so the line was not that long and I got through security just fine. I used my 12-game card, thinking the opening night tickets had been scanned onto it. They hadn’t been. So, I got my cell phone, punched up the app and got to the site, but had trouble finding the tickets. Thankfully, there were people there to help, so I just handed this nice young man my phone. He couldn’t pull them up. So, we had to go to the box-office. The first window had no printer, but the second one did. Of course, I was confused because when I called my Blues’ season ticket Rep three weeks earlier and asked for printed tickets, I was told the club was no longer printing them. Therefore, imagine my surprise when I was handed a printed ticket. Of course, I had to go through another line and security check. At least I got a second calendar to give my brother.

Then I made the mistake of going outside to see my smoking buddies at the end of the first period. It took a while to actually get out because the security folks had to scan tickets again. After some good hockey talk and a couple of puffs on my e-cig, I went to get back in so I wouldn’t miss the game. Alas, there was a LONG line since security was making everybody go through the metal detectors and was scanning tickets again. Someone yelled the game had started, and it didn’t take long for chants of “Clusterfuck” to sound. I got through the metal detector and went as fast as I could to get to my seat, but a security guard told me I had to get back in line to get scanned, which I did. After being scanned for the third (or fourth) time, I remarked a little too loudly that they should have been better prepared for this clusterfuck. A guard started walking toward me and claimed I would be ejected, so I just looked at him, put my hands up, yelled an expletive at him and walked away. Thankfully, he didn’t follow me. I only missed the first 12 minutes of the second period.

It was when the Blues gave up the short-handed goal that my stomach began aching from my $18 meatballs and Pepsi. It got worse, of course. My friend and I stayed until the bitter end, even though he had a splitting headache. I am not criticizing the Note’s play (at least for two periods), or even the final score. I realize the Blues are not going to win every game I attend.

Back in 2007 the Blues were desperate for fans and I was there. I stayed despite continuing disappointment, with a few exceptions, including the Winter Classic and a couple of truly exciting, thrilling playoff games against the Blackhawks. Last season I was in Pittsburgh for the season opener and was at the last game in Denver to see them win and make the playoffs. At least they won in Pittsburgh.

When I was in junior high school, I met this minor league hockey team and fell in love even though it was a Blackhawks affiliate. Five years later I met a major league hockey club and fell in love again, this time more deeply—like, 50 years worth. I lavished them with money and was always there for them, even if listening to KMOX radio from Ohio. Friday morning, I woke up to realize my hockey team was disappointing me yet again, grubbing me for more money. What happened?

Should I not have seen this coming?

But, that’s it for me. I will be satisfied to watch on my 65” 4K television and realize with the money I save, I can buy a new 85” 4K so I can at least pretend I am at the new Enterprise Entertainment Center (and I can lower or mute the sound).