November 03, 2008
Please recall last week when a KHL game between Dynamo Moscow and Ak Bars Kazan was cut short because of giant, billowing clouds of smoke that emerged from the stands. And Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin was there to watch it all, visiting Russia to be with his ailing grandfather:
The flares were set off after Dinamo's Aleksei Badyukov scored against Ak Bars Kazan goalie Wade Dubielewicz to tie the match, 1-1, at the 17:48 mark of the first period. Setting off road flares, or bengalas as they're known elsewhere, is a common feature at hockey and soccer matches around the world. Usually the smoke disperses after a short while.
Play continued until the intermission, when the teams retired to their dressing rooms. But the smoke continued to accumulate, spreading a dim haze throughout the rink. Before the start of the second period, officials from the arena, the K.H.L. and both teams decided to suspend the match because the "health of the players and fans cannot be guaranteed." Despite the smoky conditions, the entire episode unfolded calmly and without violence or panic in the stands.
The video -- whose soundtrack was obviously composed by the Casio keyboard virtuoso that did the music for "Napoleon Dynamite" -- offers a few very vivid images: Fans wrapping scarves around their faces in order to breathe, while at the same time hoping to wait out the smoke. And then there's Ovechkin, chatting on his phone during the mess; read his lips, and you can almost make out "the damn Flyers fans found me."
There is a strange bit of nostalgia involved in this video for NHL fans: Do you recall the haze of smoke that used to cover the ice between periods, from all the people smoking inside the arena concourse? It's a kick to think that in our smoke-free culture, a Cumulonimbus cloud would hang in the rafters at the start of the third period.
How do we explain to future generations that we used to be allowed to light up inside both hockey arenas and airplanes? They'll never understand.