The fans are getting restless in Calgary. The Flames have been on the outside looking in at the playoffs, close enough for them to keep the faith but far enough away to not have a real shot.
The boiling point? A 3-0 home defeat to the Los Angeles Kings, one of the teams they are chasing for a playoff berth. To make it worse, they only recorded 19 shots in the game, just four coming in the third period. None of those things seem to behoove a team desperately fighting for its playoff life.
So one fan decided that he's turning in his fan card. Or at least he's telling the team he no longer wants to wear their jersey. Either way, he decided to stage his own mini-protest in the game's dying moments this week.
The Flames players were a bit upset, as you can tell in the video. Immediately after the fan tosses the jersey and gives a disapproving gesture, Tom Kostopolous comes over and smacks his stick hard against the glass to get the fan's attention and then he attempts to chuck the jersey back.
"I was just a bit fired up," Kostopolous told the Calgary Herald. "I was just upset, I was mad. He's entitled to his opinion. He paid for the seat. I was just upset. He threw his jersey on the ice. I just didn't like that."
But Kostopolous wasn't the only Flames player who was fired up. None of them were too pleased. From the Herald:
"That was a little overboard," said Matt Stajan. "That was disrespectful to the organization. [Kostopolous] was doing what all of us were thinking. Obviously, we're already down in the dumps at that point in the game. I think he handled it the right way. You don't do that to this organization ... we're all in it together. We'd like to think our fans are in it with us. He showed the emotion that all of us were feeling at the time, and kept it in check pretty well as well. When you see something like that, it's a little disappointing.
"I know it's just one fan, but it's still a reflection of the Calgary Flames and the city of Calgary and us as an organization."
Added Alex Tanguay: "One guy out of 20,000 ... I'm not too worried about it. I don't know if he was trying to hit the referee or if he was trying to do something different with it. I have no idea. I know if we go out and manage to squeeze into the playoffs, [the fans] will be there. Then maybe we can give the jersey to charity and put it to good use."
So apparently this is the new form of protest in the NHL. We saw disgruntled fans of the former Thrashers tossing sweaters on the ice when the Jets recently visited Nashville. Now this fan was simply rejecting his own team's mediocrity.
You'll remember that before the trade deadline Flames GM Jay Feaster decided to go for it and not trade away any of his top players such as Jarome Iginla. He told the Canadian media that the Flames would make the playoffs, he wasn't squeamish about predicting it.
Some of the fans, and I'm just guessing here, like the sweater-tossing patron probably weren't on board with that being the right idea and now that it looks like it's going to prove fruitless, leaving some just frustrated.
We'll see how they react if the drop Friday night's game against the Avalanche, two teams clinging onto to likely gone playoff hopes.
This is a sentiment being felt across most of Canada, to be honest. Right now it looks like just two of the nation's seven teams will make the postseason and one of them, Ottawa, still isn't guaranteed of that.
H/t to Sporting News