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The Inside Track | T.J. Simers

With Full House, Hockey Seems Almost Appealing

May 01, 2003|T.J. Simers

The daughter who is going to marry the Grocery Store Bagger has moved back in with us, I presume for practice once she's married.

The Bagger has also moved in because he heard there was free food available, and even the Notre Dame/accountant daughter, who is still on the prowl for someone tall to marry, has moved back into the house.

There's nothing like family, of course, the wife all giddy at the prospect of everyone watching "The Bachelor" together, and so I got to thinking about something former Buffalo Bill coach Marv Levy used to tell his football team: "Where else would you rather be right now than here?" The answer came to me right away: Anywhere.

And so that explains why I'm at a hockey game at the Arrowhead Pond.

*

I'LL TELL you how motivated I was to get out of the house -- I went to the Ducks' morning practice, too, and talked to the stickers or whatever you call hockey players. In fact, I was determined to stay as long as it took to hear Paul Kariya say something interesting. I knew that would kill a few hours.

I got the chance to chat with Jiggy for a few minutes, who told me, "I'm French, so I'd spell 'Jiggy' with a 'G,' but that would make it 'Giggy,' which would sound funny to everyone here." That was more interesting than anything Kariya had to say.

Giggy also said he gets the "shivers" when a game starts, and, duh, it's cold out there. "No," he said. "I get the shivers from the noise and excitement the fans make to start a game."

I'd imagine a Laker game would turn Giggy into Don Knotts, because there is no comparison to the noise and excitement to start an NBA playoff game and an NHL playoff game. At least a third of the seats were empty in the Pond when the opening puck was dropped, and knowing how the Ducks play, maybe fans were waiting for overtime before showing up.

Duck management tried to stoke the crowd. They turned out the lights and piped in Guns N' Roses screaming, "Welcome to the Jungle," which is kind of weird when you consider everyone is parked around a slab of ice.

Then they played "Carmina Burana," and surprisingly no one hummed along. An ugly duck did a bungee jump from the ceiling of the Pond, and if I was forced to wear a costume like that, I'd jump too. That was followed by a scene from "Gladiator" featuring Russell Crowe -- Disney's concession, I guess that Crowe would kick Emilio Estevez's butt, as well as all his little Mighty Ducks.

The Dallas Stars took the ice in the dark, so no one had the chance to boo, and then management flashed a cliche from Duck Coach Mike Babcock on the scoreboard, and anyone looking up to read that missed the entrance of the Ducks.

Fans were given white "Pond Rockers" upon arrival, which are a rip-off of the Angels' noise sticks, but unlike Angel fans who endlessly beat those red things, Duck fans needed prodding. Can't blame them -- no one scored in the first period. The Ducks had eight shots on goal, the Stars seven -- and that's 15 shots in 20 minutes of hockey, and frankly, "The Bachelor" packs more wallop than that.

In fact, the highlight of the first 20 minutes of playoff hockey was the referee calling a penalty on each team because they had too many men on the ice. What if these coaches had to keep track of 11 players on offense and defense? They'd never get a play off.

At the end of the first period, the scoreboard implored fans to make more noise, bribing them with the "Bazooka Blast." It's a pretty funny scene watching thousands of people, who paid $50 or $60 a ticket, screaming at the top of their lungs for the chance to catch one of the 20-or-so cheap T-shirts shot into the crowd. They probably had a better chance of getting a T-shirt, however, than a goal.

*

I TOOK a visit to the Ducks' gift shop knowing I wouldn't miss anything. Did you know one of those ugly Duck jerseys you see people wearing costs more than $160? I wish I could find a 6-foot-4 guy wearing one of those dorky-looking "sweaters" and bring him home to marry the Notre Dame/accountant. It'd be nice if one of my girls married someone with money.

I noticed they also sell plastic blow-up Stanley Cups for $41. That would sure look good in the living room. If you saw the way the wife has decorated the living room, you'd understand.

I returned in time to hear the Beatles singing, "Help!" and as much as Phil Jackson likes to whine about the referees, I'm surprised he doesn't have the folks at Staples play this when the refs come on the court.

Did I mention no one has scored yet? The game is already two-thirds over and no one has scored yet. Now I know why Kariya never has anything interesting to say -- nothing interesting ever happens.

*

"EVERY PUCK going toward the net now is nervous," said the Fox broadcaster, and when the pucks start showing signs they're nervous, I wonder if that's because they know this game will never end.

Hold on. The Ducks have scored, the horn has sounded, there's less than two minutes to play, everyone is cheering, Giggy is standing on his head, the Ducks win, and I ask you -- where else would you rather be right now? Almost anywhere.

*

TODAY'S LAST word comes in e-mail from Vy Mai:

"Hi, I'm a senior at Arroyo High School. I noticed from your 'Donkey Gets a Name but No Place to Heehaw' column that the donkey is to be named after the 'burro-riding' Don Quixote. I must inform you Don Quixote never rode a donkey. If Cervantes were alive today, I'm sure he'd be very disappointed."

Why should he be different from any other Dodger fan?

T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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