There’s no place like an arena full of people rooting against you.
This past Sunday I experienced this firsthand as a Tampa Bay Lightning fan attending a matinee game at TD Garden between the visiting Bolts and the Boston Bruins. While the game was fun to watch despite the 4-1 defeat, to say Boston’s home ice is a hostile environment for a visiting fan would be an understatement.
I can take a joke, so I rather enjoyed being heckled and yelled at for supporting my team, but being an away fan in that building is not for the faint of heart. Waves of vulgarities rained down upon me, the people I came to the game with (among whom were a nine-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl) and other visiting fans if we showed any display of excitement towards our team. I remember myself and the kids who were with me being harassed for standing up and clapping when the Lightning scored their lone goal even though it was late in the game when it was unwinnable. I understand the passion for the sport, not the hostility towards enemy fans no matter their age.
The treatment of enemy fans is pretty rough in Boston, but their petty remarks are nothing in comparison to the hatred the Beantown Faithful have for the opposing players. The amount of death wishes and horribly vulgar insults flying from those donning the Bruins’ Black and Yellow towards the Tampa Bay players could fill up a Seth Rogan movie. Former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman and current Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn has had countless run-ins with Bruins fans, but his opinion of the fans there was far more positive than mine.
“Playing against the Bruins at TD Garden is exciting,” explained Coburn, “from the beginning of the anthem to the end of the game you can feel the excitement of the crowd, and you can just tell how much they support their team and get behind them. I was lucky enough to play the Bruins in the playoffs twice with the Flyers and it’s amazing to see the passion of the crowd even as an opposing player.”
Be it passion or hostility, Bruins fans love their hockey, and their hockey team (unless they’re playing badly). Attending a hockey game at TD Garden as a fan of either team playing is definitely worth experiencing, but if you root against the Bruins be prepared to feel the wrath of their faithful fans, for they are ruthless.