I recently had some conversations with my brother about what I would do if I were a Hockey arena owner in support of my team and rules be d---ed. These are offered in the spirit of fun only. Here are my suggestions, and I know you likely have some of your own:
It is important to set the psychological tone with your opponent from the moment they arrive. You know, to let them know what they might be up against. So whether they flew into the town or drove, they are going to arrive in either a bus or some form of limousine. That being the case, visitor parking for incoming team vehicles would be at the farthest possible end of the parking lot and explained away as poor arena engineering that would be the first deficiency fixed once I began turning a profit with the team.
In The Locker Room
These ideas are either dreamed up by me, are a compilation of the first-hand jokes, or are from historical records from PUL (Pick-Up League), the WHA, and/or the NHL.
The Visitors might not have a Locker Room. This was the case with the WHA’s team in New Jersey, which forced the visiting team to get dressed in their hotel, then ride over and back from the game in uniform. This shortcoming would, of course, be a result of poor arena engineering that would be the first deficiency fixed with the turning of profit thing. If there was no dressing room, I would, of course, have benches in a hallway for them to use in between periods. (The hallway temperature would be set in the 85-to-90 degrees Fahrenheit realm, there would not be enough benches for the entire visiting squad, and, of course, bathrooms would be plastic port-o-johns, outside of the building, and not regularly cleaned. With my increased profits, I would turn on the air conditioning and clean out those –johns at least weekly.)
But if the visitors DID have a Locker Room, it would be 1/2 the size of the home team’s, again with the little-to-no air conditioning situation, possessing of a broken ice machine, missing a skate sharpener, and with stalls that you could barely squeeze into and that, again, did not accommodate everyone on the visiting roster. I might even pump in very loud, annoying music that either jumps from one genre to the next with the end of every song, or repeats, say, The
William Tell Overture in a never-ending loop.
Getting To The Bench
This would be ‘special time’ for the visiting team. You could go with the old Madison Square Garden theme where the visitors had to go up and down a flight of concrete stairs to get onto their bench. You know, just to test the tensile strength of their skates.
I am a personal fan, however, of making only one access point onto the Visitor’s Bench that require a long, winding stroll along the same concourse as the home crowd going to their seats. It would not take long for the home fans to join in the revelry of the ‘Walk of Shame.’
Like in the old Boston Gardens, the visiting bench would be shorter than the home bench. It would also be made of the most uncomfortable pine-like, faux wooden substance known to man, and the boards would be about two inches higher on their side than ours. This is all so they wouldn’t forget they came and played in our building.
The row of water bottle holders on their bench would be heated. Their floor would also be thin enough so we could pump some heat onto the visiting bench as the game went on, providing a good old fashioned ‘Hot Seat’ welcome.
There would be some form of direct signal interference focused at any audio devices being used by the Visiting Coaching Staff. Oh, and doors to that bench would stick an awful lot of the time. This would be remedied once profits, well, you know.
The Jumbotron scoreboard would be constructed and hung in such a manner that the Visitor’s bench would have their own, private view of the display from where they sat/stood. That view would include a time clock that was slower than all others in the arena by a good 30 seconds, and scores and penalties would never display correctly. The video picture would also always only show on one-half of their screen.
There would be no children allowed in the three rows of seats behind the opponent’s bench. That is because we would scout as heavily as the Chicago Blackhawks do for their in-between-periods puck shooting contestants, but instead, for a home town crowd imminently qualified to sit in the ‘Rehabilitation Section’ – the ‘R.S.’, one of our projects designed to ‘give back to our community.’ That’s right, the best local felons we could muster would sit for free in this area and tell the visiting team how much they are respected throughout the contest.
The ‘R.S.’ would share the visitors’ bench view of the Jumbotron which would not make them happy, right up until the moment in a game where we scored. Once we potted a goal, the brightest durn halogen lights you can legally purchase would flash in time with the most annoying siren built by man directly down on the visiting goalie AND his bench. This would surely make the players on the bench cringe, and violently crank up the ‘R.S.’
Finally, as the piece de resistance, in the late third period, with us possessing at least a couple of goals’ lead, I would heat up the ice surface just enough to ensure slushy conditions affected the puck’s and skaters’ performances. Bounces and puck stoppages without anyone touching the puck would accompany a tougher skating requirement when players are most worn out.
Talking about putting your heart and soul into a Win…
Such would be the psychological beating I would put on the visitor’s to my rink. As they sing in Fiddler On The Roof, “…If I were a wealthy man…” would be my cover for the true home ice advantage. Not to worry, however, Mr. Bettman. When the dust settled last weekend, they failed to call out my set of numbers for the $222 Million Powerball, again. So there is no jeopardy of the above coming to fruition.
Ah, but a fella can dream, can’t he?
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