Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Cinderella of the press box
WHEN I was 16, I went to my first NHL hockey game. The Pittsburgh Penguins were playing the Boston Bruins.
After he scored his second goal, Sidney Crosby and I made eye contact for the first time as I was sitting in the stands.
I knew it was love. Sadly, that didn’t work out and it would take another seven years for me to fall in love again.
There is a foreign land the average hockey fan does not know about. It’s a world that takes special keys, a rickety elevator and walking a hallway that seems to take eons. But once you’re there, it’s like Disneyland for hockey fans.
It’s called the MTS Centre press box. It only takes a few back doors and a media pass to get there.
Once I found it, I knew it was real. Yes, I had found true love yet again.
The hardwood floors were so shiny, I almost slipped. I was welcomed at the door by people who thanked me for coming.
I felt like Cinderella going to her first-ever ball. I was even wearing a dress — a rarity for a hockey game. There was a ton of food, amplified music playing in the arena. I’d thought only alumni reporters could get into the press box at a Jets game.
Not in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I’d get a chance to sit in an area that overlooks the nosebleed section. Since I was there on a class assignment, my school instructor ended up playing fairy godmother.
Other than the fact we have our own team, I don’t know much about hockey, so I used my swivel chair to look over the entire arena and check out the reporters dressed like they were cast in a James Bond movie.
It was like Smartphone Heaven up there. One reporter had his laptop, iPhone and iPad to write out his stories.
To be completely honest, I barely paid any attention to the game or the technology.
I know the Jets beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. But while Devin Setoguchi was scoring goals, I was fixed on the free hotdogs and munching on a bag of popcorn.
I also stuffed my face with ice cream sandwiches like I was in the midst of a July heat wave.
After all these years, being a poor student was well worth it — as long as I could stuff my pockets with extra pop from the soda machines.
But the press box did have its challenges.
When the Jets scored their first goal, I was the only one in the press box who started screaming and fistbumping the air. They don’t do that there.
Also, I was so high up, I needed binoculars to identify players who looked like ladybugs scrambling across my kitchen floor.
However, I could easily spot the two girls in the stands who were discussing hockey players as opposed to the actual hockey game. I could also pick out the guy who was going back for his second and third round of hotdogs.
No judgment, I was on my 17th.
But it wasn’t until after the game that I would live out a young girl’s fairy tale.
I was led to the locker-room. Now that walk took eons.
As the interviews went on in the dressing room, I wasn’t sure what I wanted more: a wedding ring or an air freshener.
We also had a chance to interview head coach Paul Maurice. Reporters were firing off questions about the game and each player’s performance. I was still reflecting on the tidiness of the dressing room.
Although the press box is a bit different than your regular seat at the MTS Centre, there are certain things about a Jets game that will never change.
You feel a bit of pride every time you hear "True North" shouted from the stands during the national anthem; those Timbits hockey kids are cute; and you feel part of a city coming together whenever our beloved team scores a goal.
Now that’s a happily ever after.
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