Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tampa Review & Fast Forward

First off, I need to apologize for having a lack of posts... like anyone actually reads this thing anyways....

Tampa Away Game: The Review


We arrived into Tampa and didn't even have time to check in to our hotel... along the way, a guy with one of those RVs that you attach to your truck, he had been in the wrong lane to get on to 75 and aparently swerved at the last moment trying to get back into the correct late, and the entire thing rolled over... creating a good 30-45min backup of traffic... it was a pretty horrific looking accident... cars had to drive on the dirt to get around it... Anyway, once we arrived, as I said, we didn't have enough time to even check in to our hotel... we all met up at Sally's hotel at 3, hopped in her RV and drove over to St. Pete Times Forum. She was kind enough to drive us all there, allowing us to avoid paying for parking. Sally knows a spot that she can park for only $5, so it was a steal. We had plenty of time before the game, so we all hung out at Dave Andreychuk's Grille, right in front of the arena. I was a bit jealous of how it's setup in Tampa... sure we have CNN Center, but they have Channelside right next door... restaurants, bars, awesome hangout place before the game... sorry but it puts CNN Center to shame, as much as I love CNN Center. There's also several sports bars right across from the arena, including Dave Andreychuk's Grille. The food is nothing spectacular, but it's a sports pub, so it's to be expected. Toward the end of our meal, we noticed a nice Mercedes Benz rolling into the lot... and low and behold, Dave Andreychuk himself got out! Fans ran up to him asking for autographs and to take pictures... I didn't get a chance to get an autograph, but we all took a group photo with him and he was a really nice guy and shook all of our hands. A bit later we walked across the street into the arena.

Inside the Arena

Tampa opens their arena an hour and a half before game time as opposed to an hour in Atlanta. I'm not sure if that is a weekend thing or their standard opening time, but in all honesty, it's a bit pointless. After visiting the store and buying official game puck, we went down to where the Thrashers came out for warmups. We sat there a good hour or so before anything really happened. But it was all good, after hours and hours of driving, we got to sit... even more. But it's ok because I couldn't stop looking at the...

Tampa Scoreboard Screen.

Holly shit that thing is absolutely gorgeous! It's like one giant wrap around screen. The quality of the graphics and video is amazing. Even more amazing, later on, when they showed fans on the screen... it was HD like if not HD. I'm a tech geek and the thing was just so beautiful. Now the funny thing to me is that hey, we have our games in PHILIPS Arena. You'd like to think if there was a place for Philips to showcase their latest and greatest in technology, that Philips Arena would be the place. Our scoreboard screen has been the same since the joint opened. Nothing wrong with it; it's a good setup, but after seeing the system in Tampa, it makes the screens inside Philips look like something outta the 1980's. According to one of the guys working the game near where the Thrashers came out, they are going to try to market the screens to other arenas. I don't think Atlanta would get it because it's not a Philips product... but man, it's awesome. I've heard the one in Philly is pretty sick too, but I've never been.

Warm Ups.

The Thrashers finally came out for warm ups... there was a decent sized group of fans banging on the glass and cheering them on... and this one lady comes over with her husband, has a Kovalchuk t-shirt on but it's tied up above her belly. She had on some hooker-looking white pants and totally had some cameltoe action going on. She apparently was from Colorado and I think she mentioned Denver (losing 4 games in the World Series and a MNF game on the first play of overtime... man I feel sorry for Denver fans!)... anyway she was nice and all but totally looked like she had no clue how to dress up for a hockey game. I mean I'm glad we have fans from other places than Atlanta, but man, it was just funny the way she was looking at the game. Anyway, enough about cameltoe lady.

Got some good pics during warm ups and then we headed up to our seats.

Tampa Fans.

Tampa fans have a horrible stereotype of being assholes. Yeah, I said it... assholes. Now, of course not every Tampa fan is an asshole. In fact, we met a few really nice Tampa fans. But for the most part, yeah, they are assholes. I'll give you a few example.

Example 1: The Father & Son Boyscout

There was a dad (or a very older brother but I believe it was his dad) dressed up in Boy Scout clothes, patches and all. The kid must of been between the ages of 4 and 7. They were sitting in the row in front of us. The little kid and his father would turn around talking trash. The little kid would turn around and say "You Suck!" on a consistent basis during the game. Well, I don't know about you, but I'd like to think that if you have your son in the Boy Scouts that they'd teach him not to act like that in public, even at a hockey game. And at that young age, if I had turned around to tell people "You suck!" at that age, my mom and dad would have put me in serious time out and taken away a bunch of my stuff for talking to people that way. It's the fact that he was apparently a Boy Scout... and yet still said all of that stuff... at that age. Way to raise your little kids, bro. That's being a really good father. Letting your little kids say "You suck!". Maybe if they were older kids it would be fine. But at that age... no. Horrible, horrible parent.

The Mullet Guy

There was a guy in the seats in front of us, but a bit to the right, that had a full on old-school mullet. If you thought the Thrashers mullet wigs were bad, this guy had a real 100% mullet. I even grabbed a picture of it. It was hilarious.

The Losers

There were some empty seats behind us. Late in the third period, there were two guys who came up there to sit behind us. Tampa "fans" of course. Well, no... they don't even deserve to be called "fans". I am not going to exaggerate or fluff what I'm about to tell you. Both of these guys looked like they could have been Osama Bin Laden's cousin or brother. They looked like they hadn't shaved in months... possibly years. The literally looked like they were homeless or lived in a shack. They decided to come up there to egg us on. Their comments were on the level of MAYBE (and this is giving them a huge benefit of the doubt) about a 3rd or 4th grade level. They weren't even intelligent comments or disses. I don't remember much of what they said because I just blocked it out. Yet they came ALL the way up there to where we were sitting... simply to taunt us. The only reason I can see that they had to do this was to help them feel better about them selves. It wasn't good enough for them that Tampa killed Atlanta 6-2. They had to truck all the way from where they were to come up to the seats behind us... and start talking trash. It wasn't even good trash. It was immature, really, really unintelligent comments. We all ignored then but they did manage to get on my girlfriend's last nerve and she got into it wit them. I didn't want to start a fight, I didn't want to get arrested and thrown out, I sure as hell didn't want to get in trouble and that's exactly what would've happened had it gone any further... but she was really angry and I had to turn her away from the guys for her own good... later on she realized that I was right to turn her away, but at the moment they made her really angry, but I understand why she was so angry. These two assholes lowered every other Tampa fan to ever exist to the ground. No longer will I ever hold any Tampa fan with any respect or kindness. I'm sure some of them are still nice, down to earth people that can have a good discussion about a hockey game. These two super losers had nothing better to do than find their way up to our section and talk shit. It wasn't even shit. It was so bad we were laughing at them... not in their faces but toward each other and for the most part we ignored them. After the game, they had the never to follow us out of the arena and continue to talk shit.

I hope that the next game in Tampa the Thrashers come out and win the game. We've been playing much better since the game we were at and I hope they come into Tampa and shut their fans up. I really do. Not only were these two losers some of the worst human beings I've ever come across in my life, there were plenty of other Tampa "fans" that had to taunt us and talk shit all night. I know it's hockey and I know fans are insane and talk shit to each other. That's fine. But there's a point at which it crosses a line and is beyond. Even Buffalo fans I've talked to in Atlanta haven't been this obnoxious.

Tampa fans get an F. A big, fat failing grade. They suck. And I'm a nice guy. I give people the benefit out the doubt. Yes, like I said, there were some nice Tampa fans. But the few ruined it for the entire crowd.

The Arena

It's pretty much a giant blur now, but the inside of the arena reminded me a lot of when we went to the game against the Panthers. The arena bowl is dark and cavernous. Even the ice is very dimly lit until right before the players come out onto the ice. But even after the come out, the lighting everywhere else besides the ice was really dark. In our game seats, you could really tell that the ice was lit up well but the rest of the arena was really dark. I didn't like it at all. You could also tell exactly why when games are broadcast from Tampa, they look horrible on TV. The lighting in the building sucks. The bottom section of the arena was nice, but the upstairs are was small. The hallways for fans to walk were really small and cramped... kind of reminded me of how it is at Yankee Stadium. It was hard to move around since everything was so cramped up there. It was ugly upstairs and nothing to speak of at all. I can't give you anything about the food because we didn't eat anything at the arena - we ate before the game. I mean, yeah, the arena is right on the bay, there are palm trees all around, it's short walk to Channelside and bars and pubs... and I mean it's Tampa... right near the beach... to see a hockey game and be on the beach... that's like a wet dream for me.

Post Game

We all tried to get into a bar after the game, but it was so full jam packed of Red Sox fans that there was just no where to sit... so a few min later, we ended up at the hotel where the Thrashers were staying... we didn't see any of them, but Craig Custance did stop by our table. We drank our sorrows for quite a while.

Fast forward to today.

We've won two in a row... and that is a big accomplishment for us. Sure, it's a SO win, but a win is a win. Little got his first ever SO goal, Kovy played like a freak, and the Thrashers played really well against Montreal. We didn't get to see most of the game, as we were supposed to end up at the Smashing Pumkins show at the Fox... which was canceled... the drummer ended up in the hospital... from what I've heard on a drug OD. Sad. Hopefully they'd reschedule it soon. I was about half way to downtown on 85 when I got the message from the Ticketcrapster robot lady. So instead of going to the show @ the Fox, we went to the nearest Taco Mac by my girlfriends house, and of couse, no Center Ice. DOH! So we went back and watched a movie. But of course I found out this morning that the game was being broadcast for free on Comcast... I guess it's a free Center Ice preview or something... if we had only known... but no matter we heard the end of the third, OT and the SO on the radio and we won... so that is all that really matters. Two in a row baby! Hopefully we can keep it going against the Senators...and then back in Tampa. I really really hope we can win against Tampa. They are now officially on my shit list of teams... Yankees, Georgia Tech, and now Tampa Bay.

Anyway, I have a meeting at work in a bit and I've been really bad, making it look as if I am working, yet instead I'm writing in my blog. I better go. But I'll try my best for more updates.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Limited Edition McFarlane Hossa Figure Coming Soon For 2008 ASG

It seems that no one on the Thrashers message boards seems to care all that much about discussing collectibles... I am a collectaholic and have been collecting all sorts of things for a long time... from die cast model cars, DVDs, sports memorabilia, shot glasses, etc.... I collect a lot of stuff... including bobbleheads, player statues and the like.

Well, turns out that McFarlane, maker of collectible sports figures, will be making a limited edition Hossa figure, limited to a run 0f 3,000 figures, and will be available during the ASG festivities.

The McFarlane Press Release is here: http://www.spawn.com/news/news6.aspx?id=13228

It appears that McFarlane may have their own ASG-related event or be part of the official festivities; there are no details yet, but make room on your shelves for a new McFarlane Hossa!

That's really all for now... good luck to the Thrashers tonight in Philly as we search for our first win... it ain't gonna be easy tonight.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Thrashers Win Their First Game Of the 2007-08 Season

Well, OK, I knew that would grab your attention.

No, we still have yet to win a game. Up 4-2 vs. the Devils, I thought we had a chance, I thought we played well enough to win, and frankly, it is a game we should have won and had no business losing. Hartley changed the lines in the 3rd period and we pretty much fell apart. With a score of 5-5 with about 30 seconds left in the game, the Devils went ahead and held on for the win. There was a pretty close shot on goal from the Thrashers at the very end, and from my vantage point in 411, it looked like, from what I saw on the replay, that it had been so close to the line, on it or over it. But from the 400s, it can be hard to see the detail on the screen and according to some fellow messageboarders, it wasn’t even close. Oh well. I thought it was so close and I couldn’t believe it was not reviewed, only to find out later it wasn’t close.

The positives are that we played very well for most of the game, we finally scored more than 1 goal in a game, and we actually led in a game for the first time, and played with a lot of heart. But taking a penalty at the very end of the game – not cool.

Usually after a big heartbreaker like that, I sleep it off and the next day Idon’t even think about it. But this one was different. I was so pumped, so excited that we’d get our first win… only to be let down. The Thrashers took a big ‘ole dump on my heart. In fact, I’m STILL in denial we actually blew the game. Kari wasn’t as sharp as he normally was either. I was hoping for, at the very least, going into OT and gaining a point – SOMETHING positive. But no. No. We blew the game at the very end.

Well, what can you do? Not much. Gotta move on and look forward to the next game – Philly. Even though they sucked last season, they were our bitch… we couldn’t muster a win against them. And now they have vastly improve their team… so we’ll see what happens. I’m really hoping we pull out a win for selfish reason – I have a huge job interview on Wednesday morning and I’d really, REALLY like to go into that interview with the positive feeling knowing the Thrashers won a game. If they don’t win, of course I can’t and won’t let it effect me during an interview, but it could only be a positive boost if they do.

Also, we are going to our second-ever Thrashers road game in Tampa on the 20th. I’m looking forward to making a post about my experience there. Can’t wait!

That’s all for now.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

0 'n 3... Not Time To Flee... Except Maybe Ken Klee

I was so hopeful last night. Tied up going into the third period. Our best played game of the season, despite the loss. I thought we played well enough to win… but yet again, too many turnovers, too many penalties, too many costly mistakes. Kari has been sharp… I think he could be better, but to anyone who has doubts about him… why don’t YOU go strap on some goalie equipment and try it yourself… and see how many people complain about you. Anyway, I was worried at first because there seemed to be no one in the arena… and right before game time, it filled out decently…

Anyway not much else to report right now other than what you already know… no matter how well we played last night, we are 0-3. There's no sugar coating that fact. Tonight we are playing an 0-2 Sabres team… I think tonight is, hopefully, our first chance to really win a game… we had a great opportunity last night, but nothing bounced our way… plenty of shots on goal… Kovy was a monster out there… but nothing went in… plenty of pings and clinks hitting the pipes but nothing would fall our way. At least, from a positive aspect, we have looked like we’ve improved over the first two games and played a better, more consistent game.

Also just wanted to note that with all of the job interviews going on and things changing in my life, my posts may not be as consistent as a I like… If I get a certain position then big things will be changing in my life… but I guarantee you this… if I get this particular job, the very first thing I’m going to do is pay the rest of my season tickets off, buy All-Star tickets, and put a down payment for next season already if they’ll let me know.

Anyway, that’s all for now...or maybe not... I hope we will finally get a W tonight. We have a work bowling league (exciting, I know…) and I won’t be able to see most of the game tonight. I’m hoping for some good news when I get back to the car.

Oh, also, I know the AJC finally picked their fan blogger. So far I see one post. The guy is very knowledgeable and seems to be a big fan. But I have a few questions… is this guy there every night? Is he that dedicated of a fan? I dunno. I was honestly hoping I’d get the job. Am I some big hockey expert? Far from it. But I guarantee you the guy doesn’t have the same passion that I do. Nothing against who they picked – I’m sure he’ll make a fine IceMan… but hey AJC... the guy is married and has kids… I seriously doubt he has the same amount of time to dedicate to going to games, watching games, and being a fan. He probably has better credentials than me and that’s more than fine… but the AJC didn’t pick the person with the most passion and dedication out there… something also tells me there’s some sorta inside connection going on as well. Well ,whatever, my rant is over and done with...well not yet... One more thing… can we please get some bobbleheads and / or player statues as giveaways? Our gate giveaways listed so far are pretty lame IMHO. The replica banner is cool, but man, whatever happened to getting some awesome bobbleheads? Bring ‘em back.

Also, sorry about the supposed ticket giveaway... some one at work wanted them and it was good brownie points for me, so, I apologize about that...they were in the 400s so you didn't lose out on any big free tickets.

Oh yeah, I finally got the Upper Deck mini jerseys… both the red batman jersey and the blue Atlanta jersey as well… they are cool collectibles. Also, I saw a TON of the McFarlane Hossa player statues at the Perimeter Wal-Mart if you want to grab one… or two.

Let’s get a #%&(@*W#%&#@*(%& win tonight!!! GO THRASHERS!!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

T-Minus 24 Hours And Counting.. and POSSIBLE Ticket Giveaway!

Opening Night is more than 24 hours away at this point, but actually less than 24 Hours until I’ll be there hanging out.

Let’s just say I’ve found a way to not have to work tomorrow, and normally I work all day on Friday.

It’s also now public that Gary Bettman will be in Atlanta on Opening Night. What you don’t know is that there is a not-so-public event before the game. I was going to save it as a surprise of-sorts for after Opening Night, but now that it’s public, I’ll go ahead and spill the beans.

Gary Bettman, love him or hate him, is an AEPi Alum, and I am also an AEPi Alum. I got an e-mail from the AEPi National Office that he would be coming to Atlanta and there is going to be a speaking event with Bettman before the game. For $50 a ticket, you get a lower level seat, food and drink, and attend the speaking event before the game. For a few more bucks a ticket, you can upgrade to better lower level seats, and that I did… Center ice, section 115, row X. While it’s the last row, it’s still a great view…and to be able to sit there on Opening Night…is awesome. Even if it was just a ticket at that price it’d be a good deal. The speaking event, from what I’ve been told, is an invite-only event and not open to the public. The best part of it all is that we get to go into the arena early for the event and don’t have to mess with Opening Night lines. Sweet!

Not much else to say at this point… the anticipation is building, Friday night can not come soon enough, and got the camera charged and ready to go. That’s about all for now. Saturday morning we’ll be going to the event at the Krispy Kreme. After that event, I’ll have a recap of everything and plenty of pictures.

Also, one last thing. I happen to have an EXTRA PAIR OF TICKETS for Opening Night. I am attempting to see if anyone at work wants them (good for brownie points at work)… if no one is interested, I’ll GIVE THEM AWAY… JUST STRAIGHT UP GIVE THEM AWAY… so I’ll LET YOU KNOW BY TONIGHT… KEEP CHECKING BACK…. If I am unable to give them away at work, I’ll think of something to give them away to someone who reads this. They are NOT being given away YET… I’ll let you know what happens. I can e-mail these tickets, so you don’t have to worry about meeting and picking them up.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

FaceOff 2007

First off, I want to apologize for not posting as many updates as I would’ve liked to the last few days… I’ve been busy as hell, I’m job hunting and interviewing and that has taken up a LOT of my time. My goal is to try to find a job that will allow me to accommodate my love for the Thrashers… somewhere where I can get plenty of hours in but not have to work until 8. I have a few things in the works so we’ll see.

I could go back and go over the last couple of pre-season games vs. the Panthers… but the Pre-Season is over and done with, so I won’t go back in time too much. I’m glad we’ve had a rather successful pre-season and I hope we win on Opening Night. Sure, you aren’t going to win every home game, but if there’s one game you really wana go home happy from, it’s Opening Night. And Opening Night win sets the tone, even perhaps for the entire season. You start off the season with a loss… I mean… even if you go to every game you can, there are a few games that you will always remember more than others… and one of those games is Opening Night. Sure there’s all the ceremony stuff, the banner, the players all being introduced… that’s all great… but you want an Opening Night victory more than anything… do YOU want to go home on Opening Night sad and disappointed? I sure as hell don’t. An Opening Night thriller… an OT win or a SO win would be sweet… but I’d rather have a secured win in regular…4-2 Thrashers is my guess for the final score. That being said, the Caps have upgraded their team and we’ll see just how good they are on Friday night. In reality, even if we don’t get a win, I hope we at least end up with a point by going into OT. If you can’t win, it’s still not too bad to go come knowing you put up a point on the board. Opening Night is one of those magical nights that you hope comes out in your favor.

Going back a little… we went to the FaceOff event as we always do. It was setup much better this time… instead of standing in line forever, the autograph tables were setup on the arena floor and fans could just sit and wait in seats while they waited for autographs. We were the very first in line for line E and Sam was excited, as you can guess, to meet her hero Kari once again. She’s taking a photography class and developed a really nice photo of Kari… Kari didn’t seem to care all that much… Sam was a bit disappointed… I felt bad but what can I do? Anyway, after autographs, we went to take a bathroom break and then headed over to get some free Moes for dinner… now that was a LOT better than the free hotdogs and coke they ran out of last year. A LOT better. In fact, it was so good, I’m going to start a petition that they do that EVERY game for season ticket holders…. Hah yeah right. Anyway after that we went to check out the gear sale… of course all of the really good stuff is gone by then, people first in line their get the best dibs on stuff… so I’m thinking ahead to next FaceOff already… that’s the line to get into first…. Autographs are cool and all… but that opportunity comes only once a year… anyway I managed to pick up a used Jimmy Slater stick … with #29 on it. My first thought was what kind of scam is this? LOL. Slater’s always worn #23. No one at FaceOff could figure out an explanation, but some helpful fellow fans on the message boards figure it out… he wore #29 while in Chicago… so I ended up with a stick from his AHL days… cool with me. Grabbed a Damian Rhodes name plate (surprised no one had picked that up, he is an original Thrasher and, although not very popular with fans back in the day, he will always be remembered by fans that’ve been there since 1999. Got a few game pucks as well.

Ben, a.k.a. All Powerful Mod a.k.a The Web Guy, chose me, Sally and Jenn to be moderators on the Thrashers message boards. He chose us out of well over 4,000 users. I was taken back, stunned, and couldn’t believe it. At first, he didn’t make it public that we were moderators, but he has announced it and now we are known as moderators. For our services, he’s given us each a new replica jersey. They are nice and it’s always good to have a new jersey, but the material isn’t as good for autographs. I’ll wear the new one, don’t get me wrong, but I still have plenty of love for my good ‘ole 5th season jersey. It’s seen more hockey games and beer than a lot of other jerseys…

Back to FaceOff…. There was only one thing that made me angry. We got in an autograph line which wasn’t that bad… I wanted to get my stick autographed by Slater, and we thought we’d have time. I can’t be too mad because they did give us fair warning and told us we may or may not make it. We got down there… we were RIGHT by the table… and they stopped autographs. Well, instead of making fans wonder if they will get an autograph and then get pissed off when they don’t, instead of just making people guess, you cut the line. You go to the line, you tell people this is the end of the line… sure, you don’t want to be the guy who the line gets cut off from, but it’s better to make one person really mad than make a ton of people disappointed and sad they didn’t get an autograph. When I worked with the Braves for two seasons, we helped out with the FanFest in the winter. If you think the autograph lines for FaceOff are bad, you ain’t see NOTHING… the lines at Turner Field for Braves autographs are insane… they can easily wrap around the stadium. You HAVE to cut the lines at a certain point… guarantee people they’ll get their autograph and that it’s. Close the line off. You don’t leave people hanging and waiting around to MAYBE get an autograph… to wait all that time and then not get your autograph…well it SUCKS…. So next year, do the exact same format… but CUT lines…it’s better for fans, it’s better for the players so they can look up and see that they only have so many fans left at the end… don’t let them look up and see that there are still giant lines… they’d probably like it better if they see a short, cut line at the end. In the end, everyone wins this way, except the guy who gets cut off. Like I said, better one really mad person than a whole bunch of sad and disappointed fans.

But the best part are the prices of the gear…game used sticks can skyrocket in prices…but the prices on the gear was nothing short of very reasonable, even some seeming too good to be true. A game used stick for $10? Sweet. Game used pucks for a dollar? Awesome. Next year that will be the first line we hit, no doubt.

Here are some pictures I’ve taken recently:

FaceOff 2007:

Thrashers vs. Panthers (Last Pre-Season Home Game):

Thrashers First 2007-08 Practice Session: