When the Omaha Ashcats switched parent clubs this offseason from the Seattle Sailors to the expansion Kansas City Smoke, most fans assumed that the team would take a step back in the standings. For the first month of the season, the Ashcats defied expectations, posting a respectable 11-8-0 record. Since then, though, gravity has reasserted itself: the team has gone 6-24-2 to sink into the Western division basement.
By and large, the fan base has accepted this decline with a shrug, as attendance in Omaha has remained strong all season. One diehard Ashcats fan, however, is distressed by his team’s slide – and is going to great lengths to bring his team some good luck.
43-year-old Karl Loesser, known as “Krazy Karl” to the Omaha faithful, has proclaimed himself “the Ashcats’ biggest fan.” He is a well-known and very vocal presence at the Switching Yard. He comes to games with a railroad whistle, which he blows to fire up the crowd, and a seemingly endless supply of posters and banners – “I’ve got one for everyone on the team,” he told reporters.
“If someone claims they’re an Ashcats fan but they’ve never heard of Krazy Karl,” said Omaha GM Steve Galesko, “then they’re not really a fan.”
When the Ashcats went on a lengthy losing streak earlier this season, Krazy Karl made an “offering to the hockey gods” by burning a T-shirt with the logo of that night’s opponent in front of the arena. But when the team hit the skids again after the trading deadline, he suspected that stronger measures might be needed.
As a result, Krazy Karl is now living inside the arena… and vows to keep doing so until the Ashcats win again.
“I’m offering myself up to the hockey gods this time,” Loesser said this week. “I don’t know what we did to piss them off, but it must have been huge.”
Krazy Karl approached Galesko to request permission to stay in the arena, and the GM was hesitant at first. “I love Krazy Karl, don’t get me wrong,” said Galesko, “but our security staff wasn’t wild about having a guy wandering around the arena in the middle of the night.”
But the GM worked out an arrangement with his superfan. Loesser spends the nights on a couch in the Ashcats’ locker room and uses the team showers in the mornings. He eats breakfasts and some lunches with team employees; during games, he has unlimited access to the concessions stands. For exercise and to pass the time, he walks laps around the concourse.
“It’s not a bad life, to be honest,” said Krazy Karl. “But I want the team to win so I can go home!”
Thus far, the Ashcats have not fulfilled his hopes. On Friday, they blew a late lead against Colorado Springs and fell 3-2 for their ninth straight loss. But Krazy Karl remains optimistic. “The hockey gods will recognize my sacrifice and reward us with a win soon,” he said. “It’s meant to be.”