When the NHL decided to cover its collective ass for injury liability in 2002 by covering the end zones of its arenas in nylon mesh, there were calls from purists (looks in mirror) about watching the game through "mosquito netting."
In reality, the black fabric blends in with the scenery, and those bothered by it have long since relocated their seats to center ice.
At the Verizon Center on Monday night, for the Washington Capitals' preseason home game? Now that was mosquito netting (and for a game against the Blue Jackets, no less).
The Capitals aren't the first NHL team to replace black netting with white netting in their arena. Capitals Outsider, which chronicled fan outrage over it, reports that the Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis Blues also utilize it. But Capitals fans weren't digging the new threads, according to Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times:
"The white netting is worse than the old black one, which I wasn't a fan of," said Weber Grandish, 36, of Arlington, who has season tickets in Section 115. "The view of the players on the ice is seriously like looking through a snow storm, which is quaint for the Winter Classic, but not for 41 home games. You can't read players' names on their jerseys."
A few fans complained of headaches during the game because they had to watch part of the game through the new white netting. "When looking through the net on the Section 117 side across the ice the new white netting on the other side of the arena distracts," said Stephanie Stockman, 51, of Lanham. "By the end of the second period both of my eyes hurt."
Well that doesn't seem very fan-friendly. Owner Ted Leonsis, progressive and proactive guy that he is, addressed the net on his blog Tuesday morning:
Yesterday we installed white protective netting at Verizon Center in an attempt to improve the view of the game for fans as well as TV. Other arenas have utilized the white netting and had positive results and feedback, but last night we had fans voice disapproval.
We will take a closer look at it ASAP. The plan was to improve the fan and TV experience. If we aren't able to accomplish that goal, then we will return to the netting we used previously. Stay tuned.
Judging from the blow-back, one expects the white to take a flight at Verizon Center.
It's interesting, however, how much has changed in a decade. When the NHL installed the netting following the tragic death of 13-year-old Brittanie Cecil in 2001, the black nets were chosen "because white netting reflects the house lighting too much."