Dear Sticks of Fire,
I'm writing this letter to you as an open letter with the hopes that others will see it and help you fix yourselves. You see, I've seen you guys get a lot of flak from fans in the upper deck. I have to say I have not been above making negative remarks about your group. Your use of lame, overused, soccer chants at a hockey game do not go over very well, especially since they are often hard to understand. Your complete lack of understanding of the game of hockey makes it frustrating to see multiple points throughout a game where you should be getting the fans into the game and instead are sitting on your hands.
During the second intermission against the Kings, I was walking behind a small knot of Sticks of Fire members. And you know what they were doing? They were doing a Vasilevskiy chant. I had to ask myself... Where is this in the stands? Where are you when the fans in the arena need to be fired up? Instead, I get a few "Let's Go Lightning" chants, an overused "I Believe" soccer chant, and "I'm blind, I'm deaf, I wanna be a ref." That's all I hear coming from 307 on most nights.
Cooper, Bishop, and some others in the organization however seem to feel that you do bring something to the game. I don't see it. I'm a Season Ticket Member and have been to all but a handful of home games this year. I just don't see it. However, here are some of things that I feel you do wrong and some things that you could do to improve and have other fans respect and appreciate your efforts.
Drop it. This is not a soccer game. This is not a soccer stadium. It's lame, it's overused, and frankly, most fans outside of 307 hate it. Even worse is that from anywhere outside of your section and the adjacent ones it just sounds like "I bawebowebo win." It's not a chant that fans outside of your section can join in on so it lacks any sort of reach or punch. In general, leader-led chants like that just don't work unless they are simple call and response like "TAMPA! BAY!". There is too much lag time crossing any kind of distance for more complex chants to take hold.
Ragging Former Players That Moved On
As I recall, there was a game early in the year where you called a former Lightning, I believe B.J. Crombeen, a "reject" in a chant. No. You want this fan base to be viewed as being classy or classless? With the exception of St. Louis and the way he forced his way out, we should be respectful of former Lightning players. No matter how they played, they contributed to this team and moved on either through trade or free agency. Show some class, and give them their due respect. I was happy to see you didn't try to pull that with Thompson and Brewer in the Anaheim game Sunday night. I honestly would have booed you outright if you had tried it.
Come Up With a Goal Chant
I would love to see you do something for right after a Lightning goal is announced. That is especially a time to keep the energy level up and capitalize on the fans being excited. For example, when I was at a Capitals game after the second goal was announced they shouted something like "That's 1! 2! Let's! Get! Another!" Come up with something, don't just sit on your hands. Keep the energy going.
Keep the Crowd Up After a Fight
You missed a golden opportunity in the Anaheim game after Luke Witkowski's fight. Why do you think he fought? To protect his teammates, to show his displeasure at the way the Ducks were running our guys, and to pump up the team and the crowd. As soon as the fight broke up, you should have started a "Luke Wit-Kow-Ski!" chant and kept the crowd and the team up. Instead, the arena stagnated and got stale.
Be More Aware of the Game Situation
So many times throughout a game, there's lulls in the crowd. Sometimes it's because the Lightning aren't controlling the play, or the opponent has recently scored a goal and things are subdued. Be more aware of that happening and start up "Let's Go Lightning" chants to fill the void. This also goes for when we get a power play. The arena crew tries to get the crowd up, but it usually dies off with the puck drop. Start up the "Let's Go Lightning" chants during the power play. Maybe that's what's been missing and will fire the boys up to score some goals with the man advantage.
Seriously, when the score is 1-0 in the 1st period, itis not the time to start taunting the opposing goalie. It's happened more than once this year and it just makes you look like you don't understand hockey. Now, if we're up 5-0 in the 3rd, have fun, go for it. That's a perfect time to taunt that goalie. This isn't soccer. Giving up one or two goals on most nights says that the goalie is pretty good unlike soccer where scoring is so lackluster that a 1-0 lead can be as good as a 3-0 lead.
Sticks of Fire could be a big asset in the arena, but you have a long way to go. So far, you've succeeded in alienating other fans with your lack of hockey knowledge and lack of timing. I think with some of these reforms, you could turn into a group that has a positive impact on the team and the fans night in and night out.
Follow me on Twitter @geofitz4