Section 319 at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa is not your typical hockey game atmosphere.
“We are on our feet for 60 minutes. We have two or three drums in place at all times,” said Patrick McSweeney, president of the Red Scarf Union. “I’m kind of at the bottom calling out the chants.”
The Red Scarf Union was established in 2007. Then, it was called the Real Sens Army. The Senators fan organization changed the name to RSU in 2010. McSweeney said fans were not happy with the “status quo” in Ottawa.
“It kind of had a library feel to it. It was a little quiet. So we wanted to make some noise and get things livened up.” he said.
RSU has created enough noise to be featured in a New York Times article. The article compared the atmosphere at a Sens game to a soccer stadium.
But the passion for the game is being highlighted in a negative way too.
This week a video was posted to YouTube showing a confrontation between Senators fans and Leafs fans at the Ottawa home game last Sunday. When a Leafs fan dumped beer on top of a Senator’s fan’s head, two men started to fight and tumbled down the stands.
In Toronto, a spokesperson for Toronto Police told Global News those incidents are rare. Victor Kwong said officers have not seen an increase in incidents at the Air Canada Centre. Kwong said when there are, they are mostly alcohol related and it is during playoffs.
Adam Proteau, a columnist with The Hockey News, said for the most part, there is still a relatively tame culture in the hockey world.
“It’s a one goal game so you’ve got these fans who are kind of sitting on their hands in breathless anticipation waiting to explode. I think that’s the nice part of hockey. I don’t think you want to have that constant noise,” he said.
Proteau said he doesn’t see that culture changing anytime soon.
“I still think there is something to be said for the pressure of a building that’s quiet,” he said. “Hoping that a goal gets scored. Or one that’s just waiting to explode for an overtime or shoot out goal.”
Back in Ottawa, McSweeney said the fan base needs to create that explosion of energy throughout the game, especially when it comes to drowning out the Leafs and Habs fans who are on their turf.
“We do have a lot of work to do in that regard. It is slowly spreading over. We’re getting more and more interest.”