Some much overdue ice time

Santo Caruso

Working at a restaurant, I have heard all kinds of requests when it comes to meals; ketchup for $50 steaks, ranch dressing for a slice of pizza (its actually quite good as a….late night snack) or two slices of white bread to make a “spaghetti sandwich” with a side of pasta. But for a year and a half now, I have been unable to provide one thing my customers have routinely asked for.


Now before panicking and questioning what kind of restaurant has no ice, understand this; I work at the Victor’s Club on the box level at the Wachovia Center, home of the Sixers, the best concerts (or at least the most popular in the case of Gwen Stefani and the Black Eyed Peas later this month) and the returning Philadelphia Flyers.

Get what I mean by no ice now?

Last Saturday, I looked down at the arena floor as I polished glasses for the nights meal and for the first time it wasn’t some elaborate stage for U2, no hardwood for Iverson and the boys to run. Rather, it was the giant black P with wings and a message, “Welcome Back Fans.”

I got a chill, which I will not entirely attribute to the air conditioner being turned back on to keep the game from turning into a swim meet.

With all of that said, these are the top 10 reasons I am excited for this season.

10. The Flyers have the best chance of bringing a parade to Philly- Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing off my beloved Eagles, but with McNabb already needing surgery, I give the Flyers the best shot, not the only one. The Phillies, as I write this, are being declared dead of asphyxiation on the games that meant the most. The Sixers are a second tier Eastern Conference team at best, making them a non-contender for any title besides team most likely to start an East Coast/West Coast battle with the Trailblazers. The Flyboys, however, were on the brink of the Cup last year, and all they added was the best player in the league, Peter Forsberg.

9. Da ‘Youts (pronounced YOO-ts)- While the focus has been on Darrien Hatcher and Peter Forsberg, the best thing the Flyers have done from a roster standpoint is bring up half of the Calder Cup winning Phantoms team to the big club. AHL stars like Jon Sim and Michael Richards have torched the competition in the preseason, and with 25-year- old “veteran” Simon Gagne on their line, the once lead footed Flyers may play the exciting light the ice on fire style of hockey Gary Bettman is trying to promote. Joni Pitkanen, 22, also gives the Flyers some fresh legs at Defenseman, a position the team has been notoriously slow at.

8. Orange and black are the new pink- Well not pink, but I am comfortable in my manhood enough to say the sweaters are sexy. But I’m still a tough guy, so don’t start nothing. Cause I’ll wreck you I swear it. Give me a beer. Yeh, a sissy wouldn’t do that would he? You wanna arm wrestle?

7. Shootouts- The NHL has smartly (yes they are capable of making smart decisions. I’m just as surprised as you are) ended every preseason game, regardless of score, with a shootout to show fans what to expect in the new overtime format. Though meaningless in the Flyers wins so far, the shootouts will be the most exciting addition to sports since Ray Lewis killed someone (what, too soon?).

6. Lauren Hart- If you don’t stand for this National Anthem, you are not only a communist, you’re a fool. The country singing daughter of former Flyers announcer Gene Hart consistently performs the sports staple better than anyone else I have heard (including Beyonce). She even got some national recognition from an analyst (either John Buccigrass or Barry Melrose, I can’t remember which). Hart also manages to not snicker when she has to sing O Canada, always a plus.

5. Watching the Devils suffer (I hope) – The new regulations on the notorious neutral zone trap are expected to effect the Atlantic Division foes the most. Scott Stevens was so distraught that he won’t be able to end anyone else’s career that he retired.

4. Keith Tkachuk- Not since Charles Barkley swallowed Dan Majerle in 1996, has a once great player been so grossly overweight to be sent home (ok, Sir Charles wasn’t sent home, but it could have happened if they weren’t scared he would come back even fatter). I’m just hoping they strap him into the net like Goldberg in “The Mighty Ducks” and shoot at him until he loses weight. If it works, I bet half the girls in the country go on the “hockey puck” diet next swimsuit season.

3. Fights- I’m not ashamed to be blood thirsty, and since white people suck at boxing, this is my only chance besides a Villanova rugby game to see two white guys pound on each other.

2. Schwenningen, Pies tany, Banska Bystrica- The hometowns of Dennis Seidenberg (West Germany), Branko Radivojevic (Czechoslovakia) and Michal Handzus (Czechoslovakia), respectively. Hilarious. (By the way, who spells Michael wrong? C’mon Zus, M-I-C-H-A-E-L).

1. Leaving on a high note- One of the most famous Seinfeld expressions is certainly applicable here. The last hockey game I saw at the Wachovia Center was Keith Primeau scoring the game winning goal in overtime in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals against the now two year champion Tampa Bay Lightning. I was so impassioned by this moment that I was up until 2:00 am that night trying to convince a few friends to drive down to Florida for game seven. Maybe I don’t have enough friends (or the most adventurous), but the stadium that night was the second loudest sporting event I have ever attended, with only the NFC Championship game against the Falcons ahead. Even from the restaurant I could hear the orange engulfed crowd shaking the foundation. The glass wall, whose strength I have tested numerous times by running full speed into it, was quivering during the overtime and looked to cave in when Keith scored.

There are many other reasons. I need the money twice the amount of events will bring in. I miss mullets like the sky misses the sun, and I can yet again add my John LeClair jersey to my class outfit rotation. But I am happiest to see some of the most passionate sports fans get their sport back.

Because the NHL is a lot like the food service industry, this season is all about customer satisfaction.

And nobody is satisfied without ice.