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Rejection and Ejection: Opening Night at the Barclays

By Danny Radical
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As a personal tradition I have gone to the New York Islanders opening night every year since 1992. That game was an opening night affair against the Rangers, a rarity. It was the first home game of Darius Kasparaitis and Vladimir Malokov, and the excitement in the building was palpable especially as we put up a 6 spot on the disgusting Rangers in a run away victory. I was hooked. I enjoyed that game – and that season- so much that I decided that I’d always be at opening night. Wish there was a DVD of that game.

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Some of those years were lean, like when you hoped Eric Fichaud would start because what other option was there, or maybe you’d see the birth of a hall of fame career like we all thought when we saw Bryan Berard, and what will probably be for John Tavares.

And some of those years were exciting, like when your top two centers suddenly became Alexei Yashin and Michael Peca, or when you just acquired Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk in the moments before the season started. Thanks Andrew Barroway!

Anyway, this current opening night had promise. Yes, this was no longer the team of John Tavares who is a piece of shit for doing what his snake ass did, but this team was finally being coached by a coach with NHL experience, and was finally being managed by a GM with NHL experience. When was the last time that happened?

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A highlight of the night.

Even though the opponent was a very tough and talented Nashville Predators team, there was optimism because our guys had won their first game, and our coach preaches defense first. The 40+ shot opening day was an abomination, as we’re going to get those shots against back into the 20’s.

As I passed through security and headed to my seat, I noticed something. The concourse was not busy at all. Then I walked through my gate to my seat. The arena was not busy at all. The announced crowd was 12,000 plus, but the actual crowd was maybe 8,000. Maybe. There were entire sections that were completely empty. And I understand.

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12 empty sections?

The Islanders moved to the Barclays for a few reasons. Mainly because Charles Wang wanted a multibillion development that he could sell and profit on that never happened. Then Wang wanted a free arena on top of the free land that he received from the Tom Suozzi lease back in the day. When the county did what Nassau does, and the Town of Hempstead did what they do- fail hard and often- Wang took his ball and went home. And not the move to the threatened Kansas City, which was a laughable debacle.

No, Wang brought his team to an urban landscape to push up the price of the team. And sure enough a team he bought for $160 million went for over $500 million. So for the fools that say Wang lost money because he allegedly bled $20 million a year? $20 million times ten years is $200 million. $200 million plus $160 million is $360 million. $360 million < $500 million. If you’re bad at math, I’ll help: Wang profited by more than a million dollars a month for the entire time that he owned the team.

And by the way, he still partially owns the team. Because it was such a bad investment, right?

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Anyway, I digress. The new owners wanted to keep the team on Long Island by their fanbase but close enough to New York City to be an urban (re: resellable) team. And they found their home- Belmont. Practically in Queens, still in Nassau, state owned land so less red tape. Arena ownership. No taxes. Home run.

But how would Brooklyn feel about this? Brooklyn never really adopted the Islanders, and are busy watching them scramble to get the hell out of there as soon as possible. Brooklynites response of rejection is completely understandable. The players do not live there. The players have openly badmouthed the arena. And the fans got one winning season, then two bomberoos in a row. No fans want to spend money on losers, and no fan with 10000 entertainment options in the 5 boroughs wants to drop $100 a night per person to watch losers. No one anywhere wants to do that. It’s why the Jets don’t sell out their only 8 games.

So as I settled down I noticed that again this was a sparse crowd, just like last years opener.

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And I couldn’t help to notice that the team the Islanders were playing was the first professional team to reject Barry Trotz. Yes, he has been successful when he left, and even got himself a Stanley Cup, but overall Nashville has been more successful as a franchise since Trotz left. Well, except Barry wins the pissing contest with that sweet, sweet cup ring. I want one for us, too. Or four more, as Al set my expectations.

The hardly populated arena watched a game whose results I predicted 2 days before. Isles lose a close one, Lee scores, and we take the loss as growing pains. Before that all came to fruition however, my night swiftly changed.
During commercial intermission the Islanders run all sorts of in house nonsense. Kiss Cam, Trivia, whatever keep people from looking at the scoreboard. Anyway, for this game the segment was being filmed right next to where I was sitting. Full disclosure- I wanted to be on camera. What happened next however was not what I expected.

The in house crew picked a fan to participate in their segment. As they take the trivia candidate and set him up for his big shot on the jumbotron, I approached him and said “hey man, make sure you leave some space so I can walk in behind you.” He was all on board about it.

Why? Because I was wearing my custom Adidas jersey. The number? 30. The player? Well, who was among the last to wear 30? Garth Snow.

But my gear did not say Snow. It said “Fatass GM.”

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Let it be known that I bought that jersey last season before Snow was reassigned. No one saw the Lou Lamiorello move coming until it happened, and believe me Lou is no fatass. I also have no idea what number Lou had as a player, so this has nothing to do with insulting Lou.

No, I wanted all of the 8000 at the Barclays to know that even though Snow was gone, his laziness has put us in a position to lose John Tavares and to suffer through another rebuild, after the last one culminated in a year where we won 5 playoff games. These are insults to paying fans, watching fans, and even frontrunner fans.

So as the camera shoot starts and they start asking this guy trivia questions, I start to walk into the background. Not so fast!

Someone grabs my arm and says I can’t walk behind the shoot. Of course I can, I informed him- I bought a ticket and paid for it. I’m merely headed back to my seat in the quickest way possible. It’s 15 feet away, after all. So I continue my walk.

That’s when the show runner grabbed me by the front of my jersey. On the logo. And started pulling me by the chest away from the camera shot. That’s what a hockey fight looks like. Grab a jersey and shake. Except we’re not pro athletes on ice. On the street that’s an assault. And when in those situations I defend myself. So I put my hand on his chest and shoved him away. The look on his face was a combination of shock and fear. How DARE someone stand up for themselves!

Wouldn't the smarter move have been for the guy to say "Hey, I know your seat is right there, 10 feet away. But if you walk down the stairs over here I'll bring you to the concession stand and whatever you want is on the house. Then you can walk up those other stairs over there and walk in front of 12 empty seats to get back to yours." I'd bet that diffuses 99% of all situations. Free stuff always works.

Instead this guy wants to start a fistfight. After defending myself from a guy with no sense of what a paying customer is, I squeaked into the camera shot so people could see the Fatass GM jersey then sat down and had a laugh about it. Some harm to me, but no foul. That's when the the security crew came charging in.

Bad ones.

The first salvo was interesting. They sent two black staffers to come ask me to have a discussion in the concourse. My first thought was “If I were black, would they send two white people? No, that’d be seen as racist. But they can try to see if a white person is intimidated by people of color…so that’s racist too.” And of course I told them to go away, I was watching the game.

Then it hit me. They were going to throw me out. And they were going to make up whatever story they wanted to because they’re a company with millions at their disposal and can drive the story. I could already hear the propaganda horseshit “He was intoxicated and belligerent.”

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So I left my seat and headed to the nearest concession stand to buy a beer. Why buy alcohol if I’m afraid of them trumping up nonsense? Because there’s a law that says if a patron is intoxicated, the server is not supposed to sell them an alcoholic drink. Well, 30 seconds later and I have a beer in my hand. Guess I was completely sober, right? Surely Barclays Center wouldn't break the law! Then I sat back and waited for the storm.

4, 5, 6…8…10…12? 12 security guards arrive. One young man approaches me and says “Did you assault our cameraman?” I replied “The guy that hit me? No, I just defended myself.” He replies “You are being ejected from the arena for your behavior. You can contact your ticket broker for a refund. If you have issue with our behavior you can contact the NYPD.” Yes, because those are two organizations that have a history of public responsiveness.

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As we walk out I ask “Am I being arrested?” No, I was not. “Can I finish my beer?” Yes, yes I can. But TWELVE people walked me out. Which goes to show how small the crowd was. There was no need for security because no one was there to secure. And all I could think of was how that radio call went: “Be on the lookout for a white male with a “Fatass GM” jersey.”

I understand the need for order in a public place. I do not understand the need for aggression to paying customers. And I can't fathom the need to see an offense to someone who actually showed up for a game in your partially filled building. You should have security on the street harassing people to buy a ticket to the shitshows you create. You're doing it wrong in every sport on every level. Here's an idea- hire me. I can't fuck up any less than you all did, and I may even make you richer, you grabasstic pieces of clueless shit.

As I left, my friends left too and met up with me for the subway ride disguised as the LIRR to Jamaica for a transfer to go home. 3 hours on a train for a job? If you have to, I guess. 3 hours on a train to watch a 3 hour game? All I can say is that I hope next year’s opener is at the Nassau Coliseum. That way I can finally be done going to the shithole mall food court presently known as the Barclays. A real local name…if local was London.

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And for me? I’ve been ejected from arenas before for things like stage diving, or bringing derisive banners criticizing ownership. But to have someone aggressively grab you for no good reason? As a paying customer? Seems to explain why the rusty building with a grass roof is bleeding out cash. If this was the first time these guys ran an arena that would be one thing, but they’re running two within 20 miles of each other and are learning nothing every day. It’s why the Nets suck, and it’s why the Islanders are abandoning ship.

In short, watch the Islanders this year. Win or lose they’ll be compelling. But save your live event money for December, when the team comes home to an arena that has more of a sense on how to handle a hockey crowd and doesn’t send little millennial sissy boys to try to teach a lesson to the patrons that pay their salaries as they shove them around. In the meantime, your best bet is watching on television, to save all of the seat fees, parking taxes, train fees, and $7 pretzel costs as you try to enjoy the game. $7 pretzels. Shit cost 40 cents to make.

And always understand, their hand is in your pocket, and they have no concern for your dignity or humanity. Blood suckers and cock suckers. Keep that in mind as they give you a magnet for spending $200 on a ticket. Classless. And all of the teams they’re selling you are losers. Well done, Barflays. You'll be more apartments in 5 years.