Tunnel vision. That is how it is, how it always has been, the minute I walk through the threshold of an lower level section at the Wells Fargo Center. It is the microsecond that lasts an eternity; the moment when each individual sense intertwines with one another to create an overwhelming awareness that finally, after months of deprivation, I am here. It is October 24th, and I am here.
The atmosphere is frigid, and the arena is quite chilly as well. You see, being here, at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly, is a rare occasion for me. Basically, I am in enemy territory, forced to deflect constant attacks thrown in my direction towards the colors of my sweater: red, white, and blue. I find them quite patriotic (and anyone who disagrees in my opinion is a criminal of treason), but most around here see the colors of my allegiance as disgraceful.
I am a member of the garden faithful. I was born and raised on the ideology of hockey and dedicative loyalty towards the Broadway blueshirts. I am a New York Rangers fanatic.
Why am I here in Philadelphia? The city of “brotherly love” does not have a favorable reputation of welcoming outsiders. Three reasons: My boys, Chickie and Pete’s crab fries, and cheap seats (the world’s most famous arena also has the world’s most expensive tickets).
Unfortunately for you, I will not go into grave detail of tonight’s game. In all honesty, it was a boring 2-1 game, something that is extremely uncommon when these two teams face each other. The energy level was low, the physicality was lacking, and both teams sloppily conducted themselves on the ice. It is only October though, I don’t expect a Stanley Cup champion team out of the get-go.
Thankfully, what occurred after the game compensated for the loss of $260 in tickets down the toilet, and the torment induced by Flyers fans.
It was in the dim, soft light of Maggiano’s, an italian restaurant in Philadelphia (that makes amazingly delicious cheesecake), that I was able to distinguish the identity of Flyer’s enforcer, Zac Rinaldo, at a comfortable distance.