Ants On Ice In Red Shirts, 2. Ants On Ice In White Shirts, 0.

At which game, one Freewillig was heard to have said, “My gawd, we’re even worse in person”. 

The Worst Thanksmas Ever
I happened to be in Milwaukee for Thanksmas last week, so I grabbed the wife, bro-in-law and his wife and made the trip down the Chi-town for the good ‘ol hockey match at the United Center; that souless, hollow, life-sucking cavern of a basketball court hockey rink.  Our seats were at center ice, 13th row of the upper deck.  In most hockey arenas, those wouldn’t be half bad, but here…..well….let’s just say that I was able to identify most of the players on the ice by their skating style and nothing else. 

I have more than enough Senators’ sweaters for everyone so we were some of the few decked out in Sens gear.  I was wearing my Havlat sweater for it’s ironic qualities and I would later come to regret that particular move.  We had planned to get to the arena by 6:30 for a 7:30 game, but if you’re at all familiar with Chicago traffic, you won’t be surprised to hear that we pulled in to the parking lot with just enough time to get a beer and get to the seats for the anthems.  (I don’t ever want to hear the operatic version of O Canada “sung” by the guy at the United Center again.  Yick!)   My wife has a friend (he played guitar at our wedding, actually) who is a manager of the food service at the United Center so he had promised to get us into the bowels of the building.  I had a quest; one which will not be fully revealed in this space just yet but more on that later.   The friend (we’ll just call him “Steve”….that’s his name) said he’d just catch up with us after the game and show us around then.

The Peroni Report
Most of the game, I spent with my head in my hands; alternately disgusted with the Senators’ play or with the complete stoning by Huet on the few great chances we had.  I’m sure this game was not as bad as it looked from the haze of the upper deck; it’s a torturously slow game from that far away.  Luckily, I was sitting next to some very nice Hawks fans, so I had some decent hockey conversation AND they have Italian beef sandwiches and Peroni at the United Center so not all was lost. 

Postgame and I Fear I’ve Jinxed Our Boy
Steve showed up at our seats with 30 seconds left in the game.  I thought we were just headed for a tour, but instead, he leads us to the autograph pen.  I had brought along a t-shirt to deliver to Cody Bass and that was my main goal for the evening; getting the shirt to Cody any way possible.  That seemed like it would be no problem at all now that I was behind the scenes. 

This is where having 4 sweaters along paid off.  I took off my Havlat sweater and was wearing my Cody Bass t-shirt.  Marty Havlat passed within 2 feet of me and I gave some thought to asking him to sign my sweater, but it just seemed weird.  Wife thought it would have been flattering, but I don’t know.  Some of the guys filed past and I gave a few words of encouragement; some of which were acknowledged and some just blown off.  I even gave the Manatee a “nice game”.  Heater had a group of kids from Madison, Wisconsin in attendance.  I guess he still does some charity work there, so he was occupied.  I didn’t have my Heater sweater along anyway.   The guys were remarkably good about signing stuff for the few Sens fans in the pen, given just how crappily they had played.   Alfie came by and signed the sweater my sister-in-law was wearing.  My wife has always like Neiler because he’s always really good to the kids along the tunnel at the Xcel when they play there, so he signed the sweater she was wearing.  Fish then came out and I flag him down to sign the sweater my bro-in-law was wearing.  I had Cody’s shirt in my hand, so I asked Fish “Is Cody still in the room?  I have to get this t-shirt to him”.  He looked at me and I pointed out the shirt I was wearing.  He laughed and said “I can give it to him”.  I guess there’s no one I’d trust more to pass something along.  I told him I really appreciated it. 
We had already been there an hour and with a two hour drive, we decided not to wait anymore.  Our friend walked us around in the underworld and I passed within two feet of Scotty Bowman, so that was a treat.  I was struck by just how freakin short the guy is. 
I think it would have been a helluva lot better experience had they not played like such shit in the game; I would have been much more chatty with the guys but all in all, I guess I’m just happy to be able to ‘mail the package’.  I will freely admit that it was quite weird being a 40 something guy, asking guys 10 years my junior for autographs.  It’s the first time I’ve gotten autographs in person.  Not sure how I feel about it. 
As you probably know by now, Cody Bass has been sent to Binghamton.  The unveiling of the T-shirt will just have to wait.  I hope he liked it. 

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