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Vulgar Opinions: My Trip To Anaheim (NSFW)

03/02/12

In case you didn’t see me spout off on Twitter, my partner won free airfare, hotel fare, and game tickets to see the Sabres play the Ducks in Anaheim from Miller Lite in one of those “Text random crap to this number, dude it’s totally not a scam/effort to gain your number so we can send you crap” contests.  Hellz to the yeah.


I hadn’t flown on a plane in probably around fifteen years so I was nervous-excited for the whole ordeal.  Flying is intriguing to me because it seems like an entirely ridiculous notion.  I am on a giant metal tube in the sky!  But it’s one of the safest, if not the safest way to travel.  Getting through airport security was surprisingly painless.  It’s obnoxious to put everything from your pockets, plus your belt, shoes, and any liquids into a series of plastic tubs and go through the scanner, but quick if you do it right and aren’t a dumb**s.

If you’re patient, and can deal with the annoyance of waiting in lines and being in close quarters with incredibly stupid human beings, flying is actually kind of fun.  The plane slams into gear like a roller coaster running down the first hill, and then all of a sudden you’re floating and…holy s**t where is the ground going?!  It’s kind of disconcerting and I completely sympathize with people that are afraid of flying.  Not only does the plane not go straight down the runway, but the turbulence causes you to shake in your seat pretty frequently and you think, “this is a safe way to travel?  It feels like a goddamn carnival ride.”

Once you get up in the air, things smooth out pretty well and the flight attendants assure you that if anything goes wrong at this point, you’re pretty much f****d, so you might as well mill about and enjoy yourself.  I slept most of the two hour flight to Chicago which resulted in missing a young child puking all over herself.  Aww man…

Pictured: Stone cold awesome

O’Hare International Airport has A MOTHER F*****G DINOSAUR SKELETON IN IT!  I liked O’Hare.  At least as much as you can like a place designed to shuffle human beings from one place to the other without any real warmth.  On to SoCal.  The flight to John Wayne Airport in Anaheim was long, and yet not.  Hello time change.  At that point we’d gotten up at five AM, departed at seven, and landed at noon, which meant we were awake for ten hours and had flown for almost seven.  Mindf**k.

There didn’t seem to be any hockey fans around, but there were at least a few people passably aware that hockey would be occurring in the vicinity and near future that asked us about the game.  This would become a recurring theme in Anaheim.

The jetlag hit me like a punch in the face.  I have no idea how professional athletes deal with it on a regular basis, although they’re probably not crammed onto s****y economy jets with puking toddlers.  I fell asleep on the bed at around five, then in the bathtub a little later because, hell, it looked like a good place to not be conscious.

I’ll fast forward to the interesting stuff, like the Anaheim Ducks’ ice girls.  Holy crap.  Wait, I should probably back up and start elsewhere.  (But I will definitely finish on the ice girls.)  The Honda Center is crammed into the middle of Anaheim just north of Angel Stadium (MLB) and a few miles east of Disneyland.  Our cab was able to drive up and drop us off about a hundred feet from the building, which was cool.

The Anaheim fans were pretty toothless.  The only heckling we got was from an old guy who pointed us to where we could buy a better jersey at the team store.  (Actually that’s the only thing you can buy there.  No non-Ducks NHL gear to speak of.)  This might have had something to do with the fact that most of the crowd was Sabres fans.  Apparently there was a Tech conference being hosted in Anaheim (Ingram Micro) and one of the attending Buffalo-based companies decided to send all of their employees and their families (over a hundred people in all) to the game.  Awesome.

Count the Sabres Fans! Find the Austrian Flag!

The Honda Center is an interesting place to see a hockey game.  In addition to being able to get dropped of virtually on the doorstep, we were able to get inside in about thirty seconds.  Instead of funneling fans into one massive line orgy, the Ducks line up their ticket scanning muscle around the outer ring of the building.  Get past them and you’re in.

That entrance in the lower right leads directly into the lower bowl's outer ring.

When we got to our seats the first impression was that the Honda Center seems small, and it is in fact about 1,500 seats shy of the First Niagara Center.  The seats are also tiered a little differently with a steeper and shorter lower bowl, a shorter middle bowl and a comparable upper bowl that hangs over everything more than the 300s do at the FNC.  While this gets the fans closer to the action, it has the feel of an AHL arena trying to skate with the big boys.  Which is more than I can say for the Anaheim fans who were drowned out by Sabres fans all night.

About Twenty Minutes to Gametime

Of course it doesn’t help if you’re so dumb that your game program needs a page explaining every single referee call.  Fortunately the Honda Center has other nice qualities.  The food is amazing.  Seafood, chicken sausage sandwiches, chili cheese dogs, beef briskets, and a half dozen different types of barbecue sauce at every condiment shelf.  And did I mention ice girls?  Ducks fans also slut it up like you wouldn’t believe.  There was a girl about ten rows in front of us in a Hiller jersey that barely covered her poofy miniskirt.  Sadly I didn’t get a good look at her five hole coverage.

Pictured: Duhhhhh

The event staff at the Honda Center kind of sucked so we decided to skip getting a cab and just walk the 1.9 miles back to our hotel.  This involved walking under a completely abandoned overpass, through a completely abandoned Angel Stadium parking lot and witnessing a drug deal in the back of a hotel parking lot.  (Seriously if you can come up with a benign explanation for a truck pulling up to a car, the car’s driver getting out, handing a bag in the truck’s open window, and both vehicles immediately driving away, I would love to hear it.)

The most interesting part of the trip happened pregame, but I’m mentioning it here because I think we all know that it was relevant to the outcome of the game.  My partner and I called a rental car company early Wednesday morning and headed down to the lobby to wait to be picked up.  While entertaining myself with my phone, a man in a suit walked by.  “That looks like James Patrick,” I said to my partner.  Less than three seconds later, Tyler Ennis walked right in front of us.  Patrick might be able to hide in a crowd…Ennis cannot.  Ennis was then followed by Derek Roy, Teppo Numminen, Lindy Ruff, Darcy and Regier, while Danny Gare looked on sipping a(n unidentified) drink at a table in the lobby surrounded by designated drivers Sabres trainers and equipment managers.

We also passed Ryan Miller on our way out to meet the driver.  I told him ‘good luck tonight,’ to which he nodded in acknowledgement.  I think we all know that it made the difference.

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