Monday, July 4, 2016

WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR - SAINT PAUL (B)

Continued from WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR – SAINT PAUL (PART A) in July, 2016.]

During the game day walk-through, Mekkar anticipated two potential problems due to this particular feature. One that he never encountered before. Mekkar would eventually play hockey in some weird environments around the globe on this journey. One issue he considered was that if the fans in the first rows wore dark colored pants, shoes, and socks in some combination the clear boards might create slight visual issues. Potential depth perception problems in conjunction with a dark color puck. Especially if Mekkar was across the ice and moving toward it.

Added to the fact that Mekkar had inherited partial color blindness from his father Henrik. His papa was completely color blind. Mekkar only had trouble distinguishing between black and dark navy blue or something close with very dark aspects as part of the color spectrum. The slight shades in differences reflected in clothing are the most difficult for him. Fortunately, his mama Sirga was a model and was extremely fashion conscious.

Mekkar was surprised that she didn’t play pranks on either him or Henrik regarding this. But she was not the mischievous type; she was too straight forward for that. Mekkar did try to hide this flaw from his own teammates, but Lasse & Alf knew better. So, Mekkar bribed both of them to not make light of his somewhat color blindness. Mekkar feared that it might cut into his playing time determined by the coaches for matches. This was especially true in the case of tonight in a rink of clear glass.

Then, Mekkar remembered the World Hockey Association’s innovation in the use of a blue colored puck. [whahockey.com] He was hoping for this night’s game they would insert it because it would help the vision problem and make it easier to deal with. The youngster still felt this whole issue would be difficult to deal with during the game.

The second potential problem that Mekkar noticed was the clear boards could give the perception to players on his team that the ice surface was smaller than it really was. He felt it appeared smaller than the normal standard in North America which was already dimension-wise more cramped than rinks back home. The common international ice surface, and also used in the Olympic Games, was about 20 feet wider. Mekkar had distinguished the positioning required for each set of circumstances.

To double-check his perception Mekkar spoke to a couple of the arena maintenance employees. He asked if the rink was actual regulation size for the continent and each responded that it was.

However, he was not convinced and his suspicious nature wasn’t buying it. This questioning everything aspect of his personality would continue to grow more prevalent as he got older. Now he trusts his own instincts and gut feeling over anyone’s claims, opinions, and so called expertise regarding just about everything. It is even more skeptical when he is familiar with a particular subject or issue. There are very few examples where his opinions can be greatly changed by another person; But, only unless he knew that individual very well and trusted them, which is a rare thing for him. Mekkar’s attitude in the current day is I am wrong when I change my mind. [John Maynard Keynes, 1945; Paul Samuelson, 1970]

Since Mekkar has seen and participated in quote a lot of hockey so far in his young life, he was sticking with his initial instinct that had served him well up to this point. A couple of things contributed to this contrary perception by Mekkar about this rink. Today, the St. Paul Civic Center currently no longer exists. It was torn down and replaced by the newer fancier digs that are the current home of an NHL team residing there. [Wikipedia] Mekkar later on did see a part of that demolition and reconstruction process in person.

Anyway, Mekkar noticed the odd seating arrangement for improved fan viewership and enjoyment of the game. It is well to note that Mekkar already had some experience in club and facility management while at the same time as a player. This would expand in related enterprises in the future. So, he had a slight insight advantages regarding hockey and sports variances as he called it.

He was hopeful about the upcoming game in one area. The home side might act like this game was just an exhibition. However, the club struggled financially just like their counterparts across the Mississippi River in the south of the Twin Cities. Based on recent past experience with Birmingham, other drawbacks were possible. Mekkar thought that were was a much higher potential for increased goonery to draw in and please the paying customers. [whahockey.com; Wikipedia; Local media sources]

Mekkar was optimistic that this matchup wouldn’t turn into the debacle that occurred in Birmingham, but realism got the best of him. He was aware that many teams are formed and built talent-wise to be ideally suited for their home arena and fan base. Mekkar would learn that like the Bulls, these fans didn’t really care as much about wins as much as being entertained by the fights. Yet, the Saints usually had a winning record. [whahockey.com]

The Native from the True Far North was wishing that the home team was drawing fewer fans to their homes games, especially this one. To Mekkar it equated to a less fan based rowdiness and abuse of the visiting squad to deal with. He figured the less boisterous the fans, the less chance of becoming a pugilistic affair on the ice. Mekkar was wrong about this however because the crowd that did show up was the most hardcore of them. Added to fact that this matchup was a novelty game which usually meant that more patrons pass through the turnstiles. Larger attendance draws are normally recorded when tilts against international squads are on the docket.

During this era it was common for many professional hockey and sports clubs to rely on just there presence to bring in the fans to home matchups. It was nowhere like today with the hype and drama sports climate and unprecedented marketing campaigns. The old attitude resulted in a terrible local marketing strategy of throwing open the doors and expect the flock to just show up. A mistake of a high reliance of advertising and promotion was placed at the league level. This theme was even more acute in this grassroots hockey region. [Local media; The Hockey News]