They filled the arena on Saturday as fans of both the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs took aim at key players on the other side.
But Monday, the Red Scarf Union, a group of diehard Senators fans, is taking the vitriol to the next level against a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The "Matt Cooke Hate Fest" has been organized to show fans' displeasure for the Penguins forward, who has a reputation for making dangerous plays, who some believe intentionally hurt Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson on Feb. 13.
"I saw him wincing in pain and (thought), 'Oh no not Eric Karlsson, the number one defenceman in the league is down and out,'" said David Kerr.
Sens' owner thought Cooke cut Karlsson on purpose
"As a diehard fan you go into a slight depression."
Kerr said he doesn’t think Cooke intentionally cut Karlsson’s Achilles tendon when his skate came down on his left leg after finishing a check, but his history of multiple suspensions sets him apart.
"(We want to) show that we didn’t appreciate his reckless play against Karlsson that resulted in his injury," Kerr said.
Unlike the fans, though, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk did believe Cooke cut Karlsson on purpose. In late March, he hired forensic experts to analyze the injury and video to determine if the slice was intentional.
Chants, face paint and 'WANTED' poster planned
The Red Scarf Union said they are expecting a group of about 70 people to chant, paint their faces and hold up a two-metre tall "wanted" poster of Cooke.
Coincidentally, the rally is scheduled on the same night as Canadian Forces Appreciation Night at Scotiabank Place.
Karlsson, who recently resumed practising with the team only about two months after the injury, didn’t say much when asked about the "Hate Fest."
"That’s something they’re going to have to stand for," he said, sighing.
Kerr said they want the rally to be as much about boosting Karlsson’s spirits as it is trying to throw Cooke off his game.
"Erik, we love you we're here to protect you," he said. "We have your back. We're not to let any other players run you over."
Ottawa fans may have something else to cheer about Monday — a Senators win and Winnipeg Jets regulation loss in Buffalo would clinch a playoff spot.Suggest a correction