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From the Press Box: Looking down on your friends

Welcome to "From the Press Box", where Raw Charge's reluctant-yet-enthusiastic correspondent in the Amalie Arena press box, Clark Brooks, takes you behind the scenes of the exciting world of watching hockey from the rafters for the purpose of writing articles about it.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The best thing about having a team-issued credential to cover the Lightning is that I'm a Lightning fan, and I like to believe that being a credentialed member of the media allows me to be an ambassador on behalf of fellow fans who will never get to experience the game of hockey that way. Through this weekly column, I'll be sharing peeks behind the magical media curtain with you. Today, we're going to talk about when your friends come to a game.

When you sit in the press box, after a while, you forget that you have a unique visual perspective (“Why the hell did he make such a stupid pass?!? Oh yeah, I forgot he isn’t watching play unfold from seven stories above it...”). Being on top of everything means you’re literally looking down on everything and everyone, including your friends who are there to watch the game.

My buddy Bill is from Edmonton, Alberta, and has been an Oilers fan his whole life. He lives here now, but maintains his season tickets in Edmonton. In spite of these severe character flaws, he’s still my friend. He let me know he was bringing his family to the Lightning game against the Oilers on Tuesday and they’d be sitting in section 128.

“Look for us! Go Oil!”

Well, friend or not, one cannot let such naked aggression go unchallenged, especially in one’s home arena. I found him and his family, which was easy with them all decked out in blue and orange. When not watching the game (or the KissCam on the scoreboard) I kept my eyes on them throughout the night, monitoring their activities and mounting frustration as they watched their squad eventually fall 4-1.

When Ondrej Palat scored at 4:26 of the first, I texted him. “Hey, how are you guys doing down there? Able to see everything clearly? Goal horn isn’t too loud, is it?” No answer.

When Palat scored again 16 seconds into the second period to make it 2-0, he texted, “I think I’m going to get hammered, so I’ll have double vision.” I replied, “So to you, the score will be 4-0?” No answer.

I finished him off during the second intermission, with the Lightning up 2-1, when I sent this picture taken during the pre-game meal in the press dining room...

Yep. That’s Wayne Gretzky, less than 10 feet behind me.

Immediate answer: “Are you ****ing kidding me!

Did I feel bad? Maybe. A little bit. Mostly when it appeared that Oscar Klefbom had pulled the Oilers within a goal and changed the momentum of the game. (Thank you for rescuing me from karma, coaches Kirwan and Garlock!) But as far as trolling my friend Bill? Nah. He’s seen his hometown team win five Stanley Cups, they’re a virtual lock to make this year’s playoffs and they have a very bright future beyond this season with budding superstar Connor McDavid as their captain. Plus, when Bill was nine, Wayne Gretzky gave him a puck at a game.

I have a feeling he’ll survive.