Firstly, our priority in Section 303 with the chants is to have a good time. If you don’t “get” David Letterman, “Adult Swim” on the Cartoon Network, the Daily Show, or “Slap Shot” then I wouldn’t expect you to “get” what we do. We share lots of laughter. Some of that irreverence has filtered to other areas of the arena through 6 seasons. It’s tradition now, and no amount of complaining by anyone else is going to change it at this point.
Secondly, we are trying to foster camaraderie with these chants. Nothing more than simply an “us against them” mentality that makes sections like The Dawg Pound in Cleveland, The Bleacher Creatures at Yankee Stadium, The Cameron Crazies at Duke University, The Black Hole in Oakland fun for their fans, and frustrating for the fans of opposing teams.
Thirdly, we realize that in MOST cases the opposing players or on-ice officials don’t actually suck (Belfour, Bertuzzi, Low, and the entire Red Wings organization being a few of the exceptions to that realization). However, when one of the best athletes/referees in the world falls short of their hype or even their supposed standard, then it is quite fun to point out their shortcomings with a sing-songy chant. Having received hundreds of messages from literally all over the world at Section303.com saying how funny they thought what we do at games is to them further proves the point.
Fourthly, we also realize that in most cases, what we yell is for our own entertainment. We know that it doesn’t make much of an impact as to what’s going on down on the ice. However, there are certainly documented cases where it DID: Jocelyn Thibeault was yanked by the Montreal coach after a couple quick goals and our downpour of chants had him visibly shaken; Steve Passmore has mentioned several times in the press how the fans riding him here was “special;” referee Paul Stewart admitted to off-ice officials how the crowd had him rattled for missing some calls, and he called some penalties as make-up’s to get the crowd off his back; Chelios being visibly pissed-off by our incessant “sissy” chants last year, etc. We feel that if we get an opposing player off his game for just a split second, or a referee to think he better be more decisive, then we’ve have contributed to the Preds’ success in our own little way.
Fifthly, the Preds’ players enjoy what we do. We have been told numerous times by folks like Cote, Lambert, Fitzgerald, Johnson, Berehowsky, Grimson, Vokoun, Walker, Hartnell, Tootoo, York, Kariya, etc. that they LOVE the chants and energy that we help stir up in the building.
Sixthly, the Preds’ coaching staff appreciates what we do. After one of the Season Ticket Holder Coaching Clinics last year, Barry Trotz was surrounded by about a dozen folks. One asked him if the energy of the GEC crowd made a difference. He said: 1) Absolutely–sometimes they have to try to calm the guys down because they are so amped-up by the energy of the crowd at the beginning of a game; 2) He has seen it rattle some players and coaches from the opposition, as well as some officials; 3) it has become known around the league that this is not an easy-going environment to come and play in; 4) then he pointed up to the northwest corner of the balcony and said “and we have our secret weapon up there, Cellblock 303, that gets it all started. We love those guys.” He went on to say that 303’s enthusiasm helps crank up the whole arena and makes both teams play harder, resulting in much more entertaining hockey.
Seventhly, the Preds’ management likes what we do. We have gotten a letter of appreciation from David Poile, kind notes/e-mails from Pete Weber, Terry Crisp, VP of Marketing Randy Campbell, Manager of Game Operations Bryan Shaffer, VP of Communications Gerry Helper, PA Announcers Jim Knott and Bill Cody, members of the Puck Patrol, etc. Heck, Craig Leipold has even come and given us the “I’m not worthy” bow a couple of times, and has publicly recognized our contributions when speaking to the crowd and in the media. The front office designed, printed, and hangs the Cellblock 303 banner above us before every game. We are humbled and honored by these gestures.
Eighthly, the media definitely notices what we bring to each game. Not only has 303 been featured regularly on every local TV newscast, paper, and over a dozen radio stations, but it has also been reviewed favorably by ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN the Magazine, USA Today, National Public Radio, etc. Hall of fame play-by-play man Mike Lange of the Pittsburgh Penguins said we were the rowdiest section in the entire league. Bill Clement said he thought we were “hilarious.”
So, in summary, for anyone to say that 303 sucks will hardly rattle our cage. You go ahead and grumble. We’ll go ahead and continue having a blast night in and night out, no matter what the score. And please, start up some counter-traditions of your own part of the Sommet. We are all about creating as much noise and energy in “The Quarrytorium” as possible–so do all you can to add to the wonderful insanity of it all.