Here for a Good Time
10 months ago
Monday’s announcement by Rogers Place president Stu Ballantyne that Ice District will have “zero tolerance” for bad behavior is good news for 99.9 per cent of hockey fans headed to the downtown rink and two outside viewing areas to watch their Edmonton Oilers take on the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round of playoffs.
As for the minuscule segment of knuckleheads and mouth-breathers like those who made news Saturday by breaching barriers to bust into the viewing areas, the suspect shot by police after the stabbing of two people now recovering in hospital and any garden variety donkeys at Ice District looking to cause mayhem and raise hell rather than enjoy the party, there isn’t going to be any slack. That’s as it should be.
No matter what type of mass gathering of people you’re talking about, be it festivals, concerts or watch parties like those in the Moss Pit, there are always a few folks who can’t manage to navigate a good time without looking for trouble of one kind or another – running their mouths, throwing a punch, busting stuff up. Much of the time, they don’t even care about the event itself. They show up for the opportunity to be donkeys. It’s what they do.
The thing about watching the Oilers in playoffs, be it inside the rink or outside, is this is an event that doesn’t come around all the time — those who survived the Decade of Darkness will attest. The Oilers are in the hunt for the Stanley Cup and fans want to put on their jerseys, paint their faces, have a beer and cheer their heads off without having to worry about being hassled or pushed around.
That’s what residing in Oilersnation is supposed to be about. It looks to me like the Oilers have a legit shot to hoist their sixth Stanley Cup. The next several weeks could be a lot of fun. So, bravo to Ballantyne and police chief Dale McFee for declaring the balance of these playoffs a No-Donkey event in Ice District.
“The reality is there are some unacceptable things that have happened, and that we need to nip that in the bud going forward,” McFee said at a news conference on Monday.
“The fact that we have people pushing through barricades, the fact that a bit of unruly behavior makes it obviously unsafe for others, that’s not acceptable. Those are the people that shouldn’t bother coming down here because there are more cameras and video in this particular area. We’ll find you, and don’t think you can hide.”
Said Ballantyne: “We did not expect this volume of people to be here. Two hours prior to even opening our gates, people were lined up around the block. We know Oilers fans are very passionate. We just want to make sure that passion is channeled in a really good way and that they enjoy the night for everybody.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
What we don’t need is a repeat of 2006, when 25,000 or more people converged on Whyte Ave. after the Oilers beat Anaheim to advance to the Cup final. Store windows were smashed, bottles were thrown, fires were lit in the street. Those donkey deeds don’t have anything to do with being a fan and celebrating.
With the eyes of the NHL again on us with the Oilers having reached the final eight teams with the Golden Knights up next, let’s enjoy the party and have some fun for as long as this latest Cup bid lasts. The rest we won’t need.
THE PLAYOFF WATCH PARTIES
Want to join us for a playoff watch party? We’ll be at Greta for every away game during the playoffs! Book your table today.
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