Hockey fans are rarely shy about telling players how they feel.(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Welcome back everyone. Thanks for the responses to the first article - that’s the beauty of opinion, everyone has one and there were some great points raised. Every time I go to write something a flood of ideas come rushing in and I want to share so much with people who love hockey as much as I do. I want to tell some funny and weird stories here today.
I have always loved fan interaction…to a respectful point. I don’t care if someone disagrees with me on an opinion or something I have said or done, but whether I choose to engage them is also my choice and right as a player, coach, analyst and whatever I have been lucky enough to work at. But here are some of the things I have seen over the years that cross some form of weird/scary line.
One night I started a game in Vancouver while I was playing with St. Louis in the mid- to late-’90s. We always seemed to do Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver as a trip because of travel scheduling. So I got the start in Vancouver and from what I remember things were going pretty well. We had a lead and I had a shutout going in the third period (which was rare for me, 13 in my career).
The faceoff was in our end to my left. I was naturally in my crouch, ready for the puck drop, when I see a man jump onto the ice and run directly towards me. Now, because everyone was facing the circle and ready for the drop of the puck, no one had noticed this guy in full stride running directly towards me. I kept thinking, ‘This guy is going to attack me, what should I do? Should I skate at him and attack him first? Should I defend myself and give him my best Steven Segal defense technique?’ I had no idea what was in store and it was scary, so I just started to yell.
The linesman and everyone on the ice turned and looked at me making a scene on the ice. I yelled “hey, hey, hey, look, look, look” and pointed at this guy who was bombing toward me on the ice. Before he could get to the top of the circle the opposing defenseman, Enrico Ciccone, hooked him with his stick and corralled him. The refs took over from there and escorted this obviously very drunk and foolish man off the ice.
After the situation had been handled, everyone on the ice looked at each other and started laughing. The linesman blew the whistle and we got set for the play, but not before the ref leaned over to me and asked ‘should I give Ciccone a penalty for hooking?’ We both locked eyes and started laughing.
This was for sure one of the stranger moments I experienced in my career and I remember reading the next day that it was a college kid who did it as a dare. He was charged with some sort of silliness, but it was a very good topic for the boys to laugh about on the plane after the game.
This was my top strange/weird moment that I witnessed in my career - never a dull moment when it comes to very passionate fans.
Some other moments I’ve witnessed:
Playing against Utica in the minors in the early 1990s, I was sitting on the bench and a fan and I started to chirp each other because he was not happy with our team. He started calling me a benchwarmer (which was true through most of my career, but not in those days when I really was the starter) and I commented on how I didn’t think a comb-over hairdo hid the fact he was going to be bald by the time the game was over. I suggested a wig and he stood up, opened his coat and flashed a gun. I said, without hesitation, ‘sir, you have won this exchange, enjoy the game.’ Luckily the period ended and I got the hell out of there.
There have been lots of funny things over the years that have made me laugh or shake my head at and say “now I’ve seen it all.”
Like the time the goal judge was smoking during the game, ashtray on the boards, when the team I was playing for in Japan was playing a rival team in China. Or when a naked guy jumped over the glass in Calgary and knocked himself out.
A fan threw a puck onto the ice one time when a player was on a breakaway. The goalie and the player on the breakaway did not know what to do.
And, finally, a guy once tricked our public relations person into thinking he was the anthem singer that night then proceeded to sing a completely different song and run off with the microphone when security tried to get him off the ice.
I want to say events like these happen in every sport, but I just don’t think they do. Or maybe on some weird level I believe hockey fans to be not only the best, but the funniest and most entertaining of all sports.
Enjoy and see you next week. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @jamiemclennan29.
Born in Edmonton, Jamie McLennan is a former NHL goaltender currently working as an analyst for TSN. Nicknamed 'Noodles,' McLennan was drafted by the Islanders in 1991. He played 254 NHL games with the Flames, Rangers, Panthers, Wild, Blues and Isles, compiling a 80-109-33 record. He will be writing for THN.com throughout the season.