Nobody puts Gritty in a corner, but fans will see him on a platform (or “stage,” as Gritty prefers to call it) when the Flyers host their season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night.
“The new set up has me feeling like Dorothy after she clicked her ruby slippers together and woke up back in her beautiful homeland, Kansas,” Gritty said in a statement to the Inquirer.
Gritty was so salty over his banishment from games that in December he created a Change.org petition to push the National Hockey League and commissioner Gary Bettman to allow him back into games this season. More than 12,000 people signed the petition and in late December, the NHL announced all mascots will be allowed in their home arenas this season (yes, even Iceburgh).
But unlike his typical appearances at Flyers games, Gritty will have to follow some rules this time around. He must remain in nonrestricted areas, maintain social-distancing guidelines, and he will not be allowed on the ice.
To facilitate the guidelines (or to keep Gritty reined in), the Flyers have erected a platform for the oscillating orange giant in section 101, behind the team’s benches, where he’s expected to remain for the duration of the games.
According to Flyers spokeswoman Lauren Capone, Gritty — who once entered the Wells Fargo Center like a wrecking ball to the Miley Cyrus’ song of the same name — is planning to make another “dramatic” entrance into the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night, the details of which are being kept tightly under wraps.
During the game, Gritty plans to make a “pointed effort” to thank Flyers center Kevin Hayes for expressing support of his petition and he’s got a few other things up his Flyers jersey sleeve as well, according to Capone.
“Throughout this first game, he is fairly determined to make up for everything he feels he missed from attending games after they were cancelled/did not allow fans,” Capone said. “He will be doing some skits he felt still need to be shown, even if there are no fans there to participate.”
While Philadelphians will certainly miss Gritty harassing fans from opposing teams — especially the Penguins — Gritty promises he won’t be deterred and that he’ll only up his game in the face of this undue hardship.
“I will be taking it from my standard 12.75/10 to 13.5,” he said. “You’ll be impressed.”
Orange you glad he’s back again?
Although fans are still not allowed to attend NHL games, Gritty won’t be the only one in the arena cheering on the Flyers Wednesday night. The team also announced that for each Flyers home game this season, one frontline worker and their immediate family will be invited to attend and view the game from a custom platform next to Gritty’s “performance stage.”
Wednesday night’s guests will be Amanda Hatheway, a nurse at St. Mary’s Medical Center, and her husband, Josh, who is an EMT and clinical lead for emergency room technicians at the same hospital. The couple, who are from Langhorne, will also be bringing their two young sons, Westin and Carson.