It’s the witching hour. The ghouls of missed pucks and the spectres of games lost loom large in the night. The score on the jumbotron blinks its orange glow, gloomily taunting the gathered spectators with the final score 3-2. A duo of damned Ryan’s: a critical shot missed, gone from the hands of Ryan Miller, and a blink (Don’t blink!) in the eye of Ryan Kesler. Cue the boos. As the seconds counted down, there were no more weapons in the arsenal.
‘Tis the haunting of the constant replay, and the rewind, rewind, rewind of the repeated Pontus Aberg goals. Aberg! The new hotness in Anaheim’s Halloween Town. Daring the ice with one of the few sticks not spelled to fail. Who could have predicted the Ducks leading goal scorers this season? Thus far, the performances of our heroes has most oft been frightful, indeed.
The scene was set for a scare, and the audience came armed with popcorn and beer. Five games down, the popcorn seemed destined for throwing. The beer designated for downing. The horde had gathered, anticipating disappointment. After only the first period, the host threw down their orange towels. The multitude gnashed their teeth. They refused to Whooo. To Whoo!! Already the crowd approached near silence with the tense foreboding that yet another game would soon be going to the crypt.
Those not at the game spewed their diatribe across the internet. Twitter was alive with warnings, and the yelling of “Doom! DOOM!” The raven cawed “Nevermore!” Randy Carlyle’s face showed up with eyes of fire. An ever-present icon haunting Katella Blvd.
Am I surprised the gathered mourners booed? No, they wanted this. They are primed to hate their own team.
Did the Revelers in Bad Reviews predict the tragic ending? Did the Ghost of Endless Bad Stat Charts result in the patter of of feet leaving the venue ten minutes early? Yes. Our constant barrage of “The DUCKS are a FAILURE!” after only two months of play led directly to the damage, to the whispers, to the haunting, to the spectre of failure. To the boos.
My esteemed colleague George Contreras wrote today “Last night’s game showed once more that the Ducks look less of a lively team looking to improve and more like the skating dead.” He continued to see the game as a “collective death-rattle as their lifeless bodies allowed....” I feel your pain George. In his beautifully composed metaphor, describing the team as the Walking Dead, he articulated the booing as the natural consequence of a team that has let the fans down. While he, himself, will not boo, he suggests there is perhaps just cause.
I see a team beset by difficulties. They battle with the Speed Dragon. The Mine of Misery. Assailed by injury, prescience of vision lost, their skates seem more mired in quicksand than the fleetness of the gazelles we once knew. Plagued by inefficiency, their innate ability to thread pucks through any convoluted maze of traffic seems but long distant memory. Tortured by the cunning of their opponent, they persevere. Icing a team full of eager, but untempered rookies, each yearning to stamp their mark upon history.
Perhaps they are hampered by ineffective coaching, deficits in leadership, or changes in line assignments which mystify and befuddle the mind. They struggle to apply the 36 stratagem, oft snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Booing serves only to invalidate their fight. Blunting their blade edge, dulling their senses, their weapons now far less effective. A backhanded reinforcement of the opposition, booing takes the stake and drives it into the Ducks’ still beating heart.
You paid for a game, and you wanted to win? As a passionate, dare I say diehard, fan of the game, I too paid to watch the eternal fight. I hope that you did, too. For I wish to see you there, walking the same path and supporting the team beside me. In sport, as in so many aspects of life, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Sometimes, well, sometimes you continue to lose. Any person who knows Joseph Campbell will understand the Hero’s Journey. For those who do not, it is a delineation of tests. Tests of the mind, of the spirit, and of the body. Enlightenment often comes as the hero lays face down in the mud. Mere moments after his weapon has failed him, his skills have come up short, or the opponent has taught him a lesson in humility.
With the Ducks holding a 2-6-2 record over the past 10 games, they are our hero laying in the mud. Yet what lessons may we, the fans, take away? If I may so bold, I would surmise, nay, I would divine, that we, yes we all, WE are a team.
WE live in SoCal. WE’VE seen the movie. Heck, WE MAKE the movies. WE understand the long tale. WE BUY the popcorn. WE stay through the credits. WE look for Easter Eggs. WE are in “the business.” If WE know anything at all, it is this: The story is not over until there are no more sequels.
WE do not boo.
WE are better than that. For WE know that this story will have a sequel.
I will be at the very last game with pom poms [Ed note: Pictures or it didn't happen], orange glitter, an empty box of popcorn, and a voice hoarse from yelling. In my seat I shall be, right until the very end. I shall be there when the curse is broken. When the hero gets the girl (or boy!). When the Cup is once more, rightfully, brought back to Anaheim.
I’ll see you there, at the Honda Center, when the credits roll. WE can celebrate together.