-Let me start this one by saying I have nothing against GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin. I think she's injected some interesting elements into this election that we haven't seen before in a U.S. presidential race. So, don't take anything you're about to read as evidence that I'm anti-McCain-Palin...or favor Obama-Biden. 'Taint so. Anyway....
We weren't very far into the game at Scottrade Center last night before the talk became heavy in the penalty box (where I work)...and on my clear-com headset that the Palin Puck-drop Curse had been transferred. You see, Governor Palin had dropped the first puck in Phildelphia earlier to start the Flyers season. In the wake, the Philly hockey squad had lost 6 straight games and lost star forward Daniel Briere for a month due to injury. The so-called "hockey-mom" was blamed by legions of Flyers fans for the tailspin and Flyers owner, and GOP donor, Ed Snider was held in contempt by many of Philly's hockey faithful for scheduling Palin.
Philadelphia media were all over the situation when it was announced that Palin would perform the same function at Friday night's Blues-L.A. Kings game. They knew it was a shot at getting rid of the dreaded curse and restoring sanity to the Flyers who were thought to be a contender for the Atlantic Division title before the season. Flyers faithful were no doubt watching closely last night to see what sort of fate the Blues decision would hold for them.
Before the ceremonial puck was even dropped last night at the barn on Brett Hull Way...Blues star goalie Manny Legace slips and injures a hip-flexor muscle (many are at least relieved that he didn't blow out a knee having had knee surgery in the off-season) while attempting to negotiate the carpet laid out for Palin's on-ice trek. We all saw Manny go down. We all saw Manny in some sort of obvious pain. We all cringed. He lasted one pain-filled period and gave way to Ben Bishop who made his NHL debut as a result.
It's interesting to note that not once in the 20-plus years that I've been doing the p.a. for Blues games has a pre-game ceremony participant entered the ice from the same entrance gate that the players do. I've seen many a ceremony like this...and not once do I remember the puck-dropper and entourage entering from the players gate. There are three others...not counting the Zamboni gate...for someone to access the rink. Two would require the guest to deal with fans in the stands though. So I'm guessing that the Secret Service and building operations decided that this gate was the quickest and safest entry to the ice for Palin and they would deal with the carpeting issue when the players came out for the game. Well, they tried to deal with it...but stuff happens.
The game itself...well... it's easily...real easily...the worst the Blues have looked so far this season. There seemed to be no life to their game. They gave away the puck like candy at a parade. They got nothing going that looked like an offensive attack. They seemed disinterested. They, of course, weren't...it's just how they looked. Final score: Kings 4, Blues 0. The Note managed only 15 shots on goal in the whole game. 3 in the second period...sheesh. If you didn't know better, you could have been convinced they were all "slipped a mickey".
Palin, for her part, stayed for the first two periods and enjoyed the game from owner Dave Checketts' luxury suite. Checketts and much of the ownership was in from New York to take in the night's star attraction. By the end of the first period I would think Palin, likely not being oblivious to superstition in sports (she once did sports on TV for an Alaska station), was already thinking about the so-called curse. She probably knew full well that the Blues were taking a pretty good whipping from the Kings. She likely also had info about Legace's pre-game injury on her puck-drop carpeting. I'm guessing she probably won't be asked...nor would she accept...another such "opportunity" prior to the election.
By the way, congratulations to the St. Louis fans for showing how a person nominated to be a national leader should be treated in such a situation. There may have been a few boos, but they were overwhelmingly drowned out by the positive reception accorded the night's special guest. Philly fans weren't...and never have been...nearly so classy.
So, if you're a believer in black cats, ghosts, UFOs, and not stepping on a sidewalk crack, then I guess you can put as much credence into the Palin puck-drop Curse as your little noggin will allow. Becuase after last night, there's plenty of stuff to work with. Now we wait to see if "the curse" continues into future games. Let's hope it's all a bunch of interesting, election-year coincidence.