Like many Islander fans, I have been enjoying Chris Botta's blog all season long, as it often brings us behind the scenes insight of the team, or presents an alternate view to questionable media coverage. His recent post on the "Hey" song played after Isle goals, which has incorporated the "you suck!" element has really got me thinking. And after some reflection, here are my thoughts on this, and some broader issues.
Chris Botta believes this new chant should stop. He is not forcing a stop by removing the song, but rather making a recommendation to fans in the interest of maintaining a good image of Islander supporters. Chris wrote:
"Please understand this: if this goal-celebration chant continues to grow, this is what our extraordinary fan base will become known for.They will be known for yelling something vulgar at the legendary Martin Brodeur"
I understand his concern for the image of the Islander fan base, but I don't agree that it should stop, except by its own lack of momentum, which is probably inevitable. Marty Brodeur, the most recognizable face on the Devil team, dons a NJ Devil Jersey, skates into our building, and wants to beat us. When Marty plays at MSG he is met with deafening "Marty Sucks!" chants. Why at the Coliseum should fans be expected to behave in such a meek manor? We play 1) in the Eastern conference and 2) in the Atlantic Division. This isn't the sun belt. We play against very passionate and sometimes hateful fans in NYC and Philly. And you know what, that's part of what makes our Division so special; there is a lot of passion there. The playoff games against Toronto to me were amazing. Yes, there were a minority of fans who acted irresponsibly in booing the Canadian anthem, but the passion in that building was unforgettable, and no doubt intimidating to the Leafs. That's Atlantic Division hockey atmosphere.
And how about the vitriol directed at Denis Potvin for all those years by ranger fans? Outrageously vulgar chants were directed at the future hall of famer, a player who I am convinced will never, ever be matched in pure talent and drive. And they still have that Potvin chant! Where the hell are Messier and JD on the big screen imploring fans to stop that chant? It wouldn't take long if they kept playing such videos before the chants stop. Yet, the Ranger organization does nothing. (I used to get really furious at that chant, but I really don't mind it now as its such a poor reflection on Ranger fans and has made Potvin an even bigger hockey legend than he already was).
In summary my feeling is this. I am more concerned with being a fan of a team that doesn't boo Marty and give him a hard time than one that sits quietly and admires him. This is the Atlantic Division. I think we could use a little less Sparky the Dragon and "Everybody clap their hands!" and a little more 80's atmosphere. I will never condone violence, or heavy vulgarity. At the same time though, I can't tolerate apathy.
This chant may not be the most profound, but at least its a representation of passion.