The Saskatchewan Shockers are in a difficult spot entering the 2017 SHL season. By all accounts, Saskatchewan doesn’t have the talent to contend in the West; they’re an up-and-coming team, but they still have a long way to go. Playing in one of the league’s smallest markets, the Shockers also struggle at times with attendance, and the team’s attempts at splashy promotions have too often gone awry.
So when Shockers owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz promised “a really spectacular spectacle” for the team’s home opener against the Anchorage Igloos, many fans held their breath and tried to imagine what might go wrong. Would the ceremony wind up injuring a star player? Would Doofenshmirtz accidentally burn the arena down? The mind reeled at the possibilities.
But the Shockers defied the ill omens and put on a show that, while long and over-the-top, was free of calamity. “This is it!” crowed the Shockers owner afterward. “Now we’re going to take over the entire SHL!”
Shortly before the scheduled puck drop, the lights went out at Potash Arena. At first, nervous fans believed that there might have been a power failure. But their worries were dispelled when multi-colored spotlights began flashing around the arena, and the sound of thunder filled the arena. Soon thereafter, the familiar opening strains of “Burn It to the Ground” by Nickelback echoed over the PA system. The fans began clapping and cheering as a phalanx of skaters wearing Shockers jerseys and waving Canadian flag began to circle the ice. Soon, they were joined by a kick line of women in old-fashioned Vegas showgirl costumes, which only increased the cheers.
But then the fans’ eyes were drawn skyward, as a large platform began to descend from the roof of the arena. On the platform was a golden ram’s head with glowing red eyes; flames shot upward from the corners of the platform. Suddenly, a ’57 Chevy convertible emerged from the ram’s mouth, driven by Doofenshmirtz, who was clad in a leather jacket with a pompadour rising from his head. Doofenshmirtz drove the Chevy out onto center ice (narrowly missing the showgirls), popped out, and waved to the crowd.
Doofenshmirtz then pointed dramatically back toward the ram’s head, and out skated the Shockers’ new mascot, Sparky. Sparky, an anthropomorphic lightning bolt in team colors, took a couple laps around the ice and tossed candy necklaces to the crowd. Some of the children seated near the ice appeared to be frightened by Sparky, but they were soon mollified by the candy.
An inflatable slide then unfurled, connecting the ram’s-head platform to the club level of the arena. The Shockers players slid down one at a time from the club level and came out through the ram’s head, to the crowd’s rapturous approval.
Finally, Doofenshmirtz opened the trunk of his convertible and out popped the members of Nickelback themselves. They mounted the platform and proceeded to blast their way through a hard-rock rendition of “O, Canada.”
After the anthem was complete, the fans roared deliriously as the Shockers’ in-game entertainment crew fanned out along the catwalks on the roof and flung T-shirts and caps onto the masses below. Doofenshmirtz and Nickleback hopped back into the Chevy and drove off the ice, and the ram’s head rose back to the roof.
Shockers fan Howie Crawford of Regina summed the ceremony up aptly: “I don’t really know what was going on, but it was a lot of fun.”
The visiting Igloos (who wound up winning the game 3-0) were reportedly unhappy about the length of the ceremony, which delayed the start of the game by almost 40 minutes. But the fans left happy, and for Doofenshmirtz, that’s what really matters.
“Behold!” crowed the Shockers owner after the game. “We actually had a successful event for a change. Now, what can I do to top this next time? Maybe I can fly a jet around the arena, or I can have the team enter through a ring of fire, or…”