Months ago, the one and only Frisby floated the notion of attending Devils opening night this season. Plans were made, tickets were purchased, pommerdoodling was pommerdoodled. On Friday, the dream became a reality as the three of us trekked up to the Rawk and took in a 2-1 victory over the Islanders. Wait, did we say the three of us? We meant four — when we got on the train to zip up to Newark we noticed we had a stowaway.
It seems Victory Euro Mats was just as eager as we were to take in the sights and sounds of the new season and the new (to him) arena. While he didn’t get to experience the joy of a double-decker train (as we did last year), he did get to enjoy seeing more and more Devils fans getting on the train with every stop. He also learned an important lesson in psychology: NJ Transit riders have no compunctions about sitting in the middle of two people wearing identical hockey jerseys even if they are obviously in the middle of a conversation. No matter, as Doc would say, V.E. Mats arrived safely in Newark to take in the sights.
First up on the tour was the ol’ WC in the box office area. Frisby captured a snapshot of the famous be-logoed urinal, which begs the question — a year later, why haven’t the ladies in the Devils Legion been granted team-spirit-laden bathroom fixtures? Are we not deserving of having the engma etched into the faucet handles or the mirror? This is the real issue, not pink sweaters or ice girls! Anyway, Mats was less concerned about the facilities, and more about the fact that in the old days at CAA, a trip to the dingy box office bathroom two hours before game time pretty much always ensured seeing Dano heading into the employees entrance by the NJ Sports Hall of Fame, but here at the Rawk? Not a Dano in sight!
Next up, V.E. Mats headed over to the Devils Den, in search of the mythical “Parise Pin” we’d all heard so much about. Actually, all we’d heard about it was “you won’t believe it until you see it”. Evidently we still can’t believe it because we never saw it. V.E. Mats looked high and low but found neither hide nor hair. It didn’t help that he, like us, is drawn to giant Devils logos like moths to a flame.
As for the pins, we saw lots of Marty, lots of Zambonis, one ridiculous “Devil Woman” pin, but no Parise pins. We are left with the only possible conclusion — the folks who reported it to us saw the only pin created and it’s since been sold. You see, we’re fairly certain Zach had his front teeth turned into a limited edition pin after having them knocked out last year.
Crushed about not seeing the Zach pin in person (if it wasn’t his teeth encased in amber and on a stick pin, maybe it was a button that asked, “Have you hugged your turtle-of-affairs today?”) V.E. Mats led us outside to take in Fan Fest. “Fan Fest” was a bit of a misnomer since it didn’t seem to have many “fans” and the level of “fest” was sorely lacking. A live band here, a radio station truck blaring competing music there, some street hockey for kids… Meh. V.E. Mats showed his displeasure by partaking in a little old fashioned civil disobedience.
What a scofflaw!
Feeling sufficiently like he’d stuck it to the man on the issue of loitering, Mats wandered around the corner to see what the other side of the arena held. Lo and behold, he stumbled upon the practice rink!
We didn’t have a spare moment for lollygagging last time we were at the Rawk, so the practice rink was new to us, too. Huge plate glass windows at street level give observers on the sidewalk a view of the whole rink. It only we could get jobs in Newark so we could spend our coffee breaks watching the Devils bumble around the power play at practice! The city should consider that in trying to recruit people to the job scene up there. Since there was no practice going on an hour before game time, oddly enough, V.E. Mats moved on.
Just around the corner he discovered what appeared to be the players’ entrance. Flushed with excitement, pink sunglasses flashing, Mats rushed behind the barrier and got out his autograph album, ready to get the John Hancocks of all his favorite Devils (thanks to his Playmobil ancestry, we’re guessing that lists begins and ends with Johnny Oduya).
Sadly, no players walked by, and Mats’s autograph album was tucked away, empty.
Speaking of being tucked away, our tickets finally arrived (they, and their procurer, one Jen, a friend of Frisby’s, had been stuck in traffic) and so it was time to smuggle V.E. Mats into the camera bag to get him through security. We wouldn’t put it past the stingy Devils to demand he pay for his own ticket!
Safely inside the arena, it was time to check out our favorite Rawk landmark (that isn’t the banners or retired number, natch), the infamous “Zach Thinks They Ran Out Of Paint” portrait of Colin White:
For this trip, we’d splurged and bought seats downstairs. It was worth it! The seats were spacious, with plenty of leg-room, and the view? FAN-tastic!
It turned out that the seats really couldn’t have been better, since the play of the game occurred right in front of us — Marty making a game-saving blocker-hand catch. Holy shneikey. As for the game-winning goal… Well, that was another story. We completely missed it. We had a valid excuse though — the IPB Pants Party was just finishing up!
In the first intermission we met up with Pam, Val, Redank, Matt, Josh, the Bubbas, and Morgan. It was so fabulous to put names to faces, and we want to thank everyone who dropped by to say hi! It was the frosting on the cake of a fabulous opening night Devils win!