The first NHL game I ever went to was at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MI. The game was between the St. Louis Blues and the Nashville Predators – super exciting not just because it was my first NHL game. Barry Trotz from Notre Dame College in Wilcox was behind the bench for the Preds then, and I’d been at the school when he was a Midget AA player.
It was exciting. The arena had been sold out. Local blues singer Charles Glenn warmed up the audience, getting the kids from some sections together to help him belt out, “Oh When the Blues Come Marching In” and, later, the national anthem. We clapped. We cheered. We celebrated penalties against the visitors with an arm-waving dance we could do in our chair. I thought it was something else. And the Blues won.
I have friends who insist that nothing beats the atmosphere of the Centre Bell in Montreal, especially when the Montreal Canadiens are winning. Others insist that Chicago is the cat’s meow, and some say that Quebec was legendary when the Nordiques were there. But this week I was send some evidence that disputes North America’s ownership of the best hockey fans.
That title just might belong to Europe. And maybe even to the fans in Germany
The hockey season is winding down everywhere. In Germany, it’s the finals of the Deutche Eishockey Liga, (German Ice Hockey League) or the DEL for short. On the weekend, the Red Bulls of Munich played against the Cologne Sharks (KÖLNER HAIE) to a packed crowd of 18,045.
The crowd – as you’ll see in the videos – come prepared. It’s rather like a football match (pardon me, soccer match) with all the singing that goes on, but that mixed with a party, a celebration – and the occasional cheering for the teams on the ice. And the commentator is more like a commentator during a world title heavyweight boxing match than anything I’ve heard in a North American rink.
Here are some small clips from the game last weekend. Tell me: where do you think the best hockey fans are?