Sunday, March 25, 2012


By the Way, You Lost!

Losing is always painful. In the sports world, there are certain traditional methods employed to remind the vanquished that the deed is done. In other words, we won, you lost. It is time you left the building.

Hockey fans in Montreal for many years have used a traditional chant to remind opponents that they should pack up and leave, near the end of their games. When there is a lead of sufficient proportion, and an appropriate amount of time left on the clock, the Hab faithful can be heard chanting, “Na, na, na, na….na, na, na, na….hey, hey, hey….god-bye”. That may not be phonetically correct. For many years, an effective taunt. Perhaps not this year.

Another effective manner of shaming the foe takes place in the confines of the arenas in America College hockey. Near the end of a game in which there is little doubt that the home team will win, the fans dig into their pockets for their car keys. They begin to jangle them in unison. Hundreds of fans, tinkling their car keys. They follow this with their traditional chant: “Start the bus! Start the bus!” In other words, we win, you lose, get on the bus and get out of town!

Hockey fans in Fort Lauderdale have chosen a rather bizarre way to celebrate victories for their beloved Panthers. (For the first time in ten years, they finally have something serious to celebrate!) A hockey tradition that began in 1996 has been revived this season, and is well worth witnessing.

Here is the history behind the tradition. The Panthers formerly played in the old Miami Arena, not a lot unlike many old barns in Canada. While suiting up for a game one night, Scott Mellanby spotted a rat scurrying across the dressing room floor. A quick snap shot against the wall led to a quick demise.

Mellanby had two goals that evening, leading goalie John Vanbiesbrouck to quip, “Mellanby had a rat trick tonight”. One word got out about the incident in the dressing room, the tradition stuck. Plastic rats are sold in the souvenir shop. Fans write their names on the rats and claim them after the games. Following Panther victories, they shower the ice with the nasty-looking rodents. The NHL even went to the extent of initiating a rule that would punish a home team for delays caused by objects thrown on the ice.

Ed Jovanovski, who is having an outstanding season with the Panthers, remembers the raining rats. “It means that we’re winning games and fans are getting into it. It’s always good to see them”. Bill Lindsay also remembers the rats. The affable panthers’ colour commentator told me that it meant good times. “Sometimes the goalies would have to hide in their nets when the rats came down. We really got a kick out of it”.

Years ago, games would be interrupted by fans when they disagreed with rule interpretations by referees. They usually began by throwing programs and coffee cups on the ice. This was done, of course, when there was no restrictive glass surrounding the ice surface---with a cage protecting fans behind the goals. The ultimate protest occurred when patrons removed their toe rubbers and flung them on the ice. Alas, we now have high glass partitions, and no toe rubbers!

Panther fans are warming up their arms to prepare for this year’s Stanley Cup dance. Enjoy the rodents!

James Hurst
March 25, 2012

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