Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Holy Hockey Batman, Hockey Is Back!

Wow. It's really sad. I haven't updated my Thrashers blog since, well, let's just say things have changed quite a bit. But 08-09 is upon us and I figured, hey, you know what, I should fire this thing up again.

So here I am.

It's back to Thrashers Thrashings.

I'm no expert in player stats. I'm not a math student, I never claimed to be, and never will be. So if you are into stats and all that, there are plenty of other Thrashers blogs for that.

This is more just about the experience of it all. What it's like to be a fan.

Despite the fact we didn't win a single pre-season game at home... that first game back...there's nothing like it. The first thing that came to my mind was what it was like when my Dad took me to Braves games back in the day at Fulton County Stadium... seeing the field for the first home, just how awe-inspiring it is and how big it is... as little kid, it's huuuuuuuuuuuuuge. Well, when you walk back into Philips Arena and see that white ice, gleaming, for the first few moments when you walk into the bowl, you get that little-kid-seeing-it-for-the-first-time-wow-it's-so-awesome feeling. You just stop for a moment and it hits you... there really is ice down there. It really is hockey season again. You try to put all the negative stuff aside... all the crap with ownership, you don't think about what you read on the boards and how people think we won't be any better... you put all that away... and you are just thankful, that even though, yeah, the Thrashers have been here for many years now, you are thankful that we have an NHL team. There are plenty of big cities across this country that don't. There are millions of people around the world who never even get to see an NHL game in person... and here you are, in Philips Arena, about to watch an NHL game. You feel lucky that you were given awesome, free tickets in the Club section thanks to awesome co-workers. You are thankful that it's hockey season, but it hasn't really hit you yet that it's back. With the Thrashers up 4-2, you are hopeful for the win, even though it's just pre-season. Pre-season or not, you still want to leave with a win. Then reality hits you when we give up four unanswered goals. Will it be like this all season? It doesn't count, you put it behind you and a few minutes after the game, it's fine. But even for a pre-season game, I had that feeling. That feeling I haven't had since last season. That I-take-it-way, waaaaay too seriously feeling...we lost, and even though it's preseason, you have that sick feeling in your stomach... so very much you wanted to walk home with a win. Wins feel so good, they are such an awesome high... and a loss feels like the sky is falling, the world is ending and you it's the worst night ever. And then you realize that you take it way too seriously, but it's way too ingrained in you, so you are screwed, it will ALWAYS be that way for wins and losses... but there's nothing else in the world that makes you feel that way... so you come to the conclusion, that hey, it's a good thing that I take it that seriously... or is it? There's no fighting it because, damn it, that's the way it is, always has been and always will be. The hardest ones are the OT and SO losses. You don't feel THAT bad because, hey, your team earned a point in the standings. Yet it wasn't a win, so you feel kinda crappy too. It's a mix... it's better than regulation loss but not as good as win, so you feel half-and-half, so to speak. And then you ask yourself, am I the only one who takes it this seriously? Am I the only one who gets all pissed off when we lose and when we win, it feels like winning the lottery? (Ok, maybe not THAT good, but you know what I mean...) and you realize there are a lot of others just like you who take it just as serious if not even more seriously (how people can take it more seriously is beyond me, but I guess it is somehow possible...)... one of the reasons I love hockey so much is because of the mix of emotions you get before, during, and after a game. There's nothing like it.

Before every game, you are psyched, pumped, and all day at work you just can't wait... ITS HOCKEY NIGHT!!!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!!!... It's a high when we score first, and when we score first, you are so hopeful for that win. If we stay ahead, it's a great high all night. If the opponent ties the game or we blow a lead, it's a sick, horrific feeling. Gross. You don't want this feeling, trust me. But then, somehow, the Thrashers find their way back... a last-second goal right before the game ends. An overtime win. A shootout win....those are the moments you live for, the moments that make it all worth it, the moments you just can't live without. Ah, those moments. That's what makes hockey better than anything else.

But then, there's that smell. That know what I'm talking about. It's the best smell on earth. When the Philips Arena staff opens that door for the first time... it's that first big, huge whiff of cold NHL hockey ice, beer, and the mix of all the food in the arena... when you are sitting there waiting to get in in CNN Center, those doors open, and you get that smell... it's heeeeeeeeeeaven. It's better than a candy store, better than any BBQ, better than anything you could ever possibly smell... other than may a pile of $100 bills in front of you... if they could put that smell in a car sent hangy thing... I would buy them by the box. Of course once you are are in the arena, it doesn't ever smell as good as those few moments you are waiting to get in...because it's no longer a new smell any more. But damn does it smell good!

So, in pre-season we looked bad. You hope, you pray that's not a sign of things to come. Last season we were undefeated in pre-season and look where we ended up.... so hooooopefully it's not a sign of things to come. I'm sure it will take quite a few games for the Thrashers to get their shit together with Coach Anderson. I'm sure the first few games, we might look awful. But I hope I am wrong, I hope the pre-season was an indication of nothing.

But speaking of indications, tonight, at Faceoff, there was a very sad indication of the status of hockey here in least seasonticket holder wise... Compared to past seasons, Faceoff was virtually empty. The only big line was, of course, the line with Kovy... but even that line was small compared to past seasons. I didn't bother with it because I know if for some reason I ever need an autograph, I can just go to practice. My goal was to hit the gear sale first. Of course, as my luck would have it, the ticket taker guy's scanner didn't work. We had to sit there and wait. Meanwhile, people are running down there. I was about to get REALLY pissed, waiting all that time then getting stuck at the door. But I got down there soon enough. I ended up with a pair of Dupuis gloves, a baby-blue practice jersey (I love those) and a Kari goalie stick.... I wasn't even gonna bother with autographs, but I was like well, it was a brand new stick, the sign said new sticks are $50, and the guy at the checkout sold it to me for $10. TEN DOLLARS for any hockey stick is a DEAL. SAAWEEEEEEET.... so I ended up getting it signed by Kari... I mean, the line was small enough LOL. They didn't have any skates for sale, which I was REEEEEEEEEALLY hoping to get, but no skates this year. (WTF?) No locker name plates. It seemed the gear sale wasn't quite as good as it has been in the past, but I got my Kari stick signed as I said and got some autographs on my black Center Ice jersey. I came with my friend Marisa and she seemed to have a good time. Anyway, it just felt empty this year at Faceoff. Then again, with the lines being so short, it was nice. To all those that didn't reup... you suck.

For those that didn't reup, I can totally understand your frustration with ownership, with all that has gone on with this team over the years. But in the end, you just have to throw that stuff out the door. It's a new season. It's a new year. It's still NHL hockey no matter what happens with the business side. Until the Thrashers move, god for bid, or they lock the doors to Philips Arena, I'll be coming... For those that left, thanks for the seats.

So that's it for now. I'm going to do my very best to keep this thing live and running during the season. I can't wait for the season to start on Friday. Everyone is psyched and you can hardly blame them. The game is sold out or damn close to it...let's just hope we keep the crowd in it and find a way to win. No one wants to go home on Opening Night with a loss because then all that hype, all that you've-been-waiting-for-months-and-are-psyched-feeling...will feel like it was all for nothing. The Craps will not be some easy cake walk and honestly I would not be surprised if we didn't win, I'm just being real. I hope I am dead wrong, I hope we skate away with a win on Opening Night. It will sure as hell make for a great weekend.

See you Friday night!

Oh, wait, yeah... the new third jerseys. Ok, well, I was not very impressed. I like it but I don't. The numbers on the front... Not sure who designed these, but man, someone needs to go back to design school. The numbers on the front suck. I'd much rather see the old batman logo back on the jerseys or some sorta new logo... but no, they stuck numbers in front. WTF? Other than the numbers issue, I did like the rest of the design.

Ok, that's it for now. Thrashers Thrashings is Back!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

2008 NHL Super Skills Competition & Red Carpet Madness: The NHL Goes Hollywood.

Just got back from the Super Skills Comp.




Bigger than life.

Once In a Lifetime.

These are just a few descriptions of what tonight was like. Words... words truly fail to describe it. From tonight's Red Carpet with the mascots and players, to being shoved and pushed by tons of people trying to get autographs, to seeing a 45 min line just to get into the store... to seeing hockey fans from around the world... to the Skills Comp itself... tonight was truly a hockey fan's dream. The best hockey players in the world... minus a few hurt ones or ones who chose not to come... but to be able to have them in your home town... the city you grew up and and love... they are finally here. We've been waiting years since we were supposed to get the ASG in 2005... this weekend is the moment we've all been waiting for for years. And now it's here and half way over.


Got a front spot at the red carpet and waited well over two hours. Of course I brought everything I needed... but a Sharpie. Thankfully, however, I didn't need one, the players had their own. I did not tear my two tickets apart... so I had the players sign all over the tickets. It's full of autographs... I think I ended up with more autographs then most there... for anyone behind those up front, they may have been lucky to reach over and get one or two... but if you wanted the autographs, you had to be there early. It was kind of weird because you'd think an event like this would be for Hollywood stars... but who needs Hollywood movie stars when you have NHL All-Stars?!? It was awesome to get so many autographs from so many of the world's greatest players. Of course it was impossible to get them all.... and the only thing that kind of sucked was the media took them away before they could sign for a lot of folks... some players came back, some didn't... but that's ok, I got as many as I could and I'll have to get it framed after this weekend. I didn't get Kovy or Hossa... they were both dragged away before I could get them... but I can always get their autograph at practice to put on the ticket... I got Toby to sign my hat. I wanted Hossa to sign my McFarlane statue... but I'll get him do sign it at a practice.

After the red carpet, I was going to go back into CNN Center to look around some more at the memrobillia.. but the doors were already open so I just went in. My ticket had a few autographs that went over the barcode... it didn't scan... but the ticket clicker lady didn't give me a hard time, she just clicked a handheld clicker thingy... I guess they were smart about it and figured fans might get their tickets autographed...


Anyway after entering Philips... seeing hockey jerseys from all over was surreal. The amount of people was surreal. Hockey fans from other teams... actually getting along... talking hockey. Whoda thunk it? Tonight was truly a celebration of the best sport on earth - hockey. Tonight was one night... well ok tomorrow night too.... where you can cheer for those on other teams... even those you normally despise... well ok there are some exceptions LOL... anyway tonight was just... I don't know the right words to say. It was over way too fast.

It's a hard choice but the YoungStars game was the most outstanding event to me. I was hoping Toby was gonna score... but it was awesome to see the hometown guy in the lineup. The 3-3 hockey... that was awesome. Would I want to see that in a normal game for overtime? It might be over in 10 seconds or less, so no... but for tonight... it was great stuff.

All in all it has been so surreal. My seat was not the best, but it was lower level and still had a great view. My camera is older... so the battery is not the best, to say the least, and it decided to die on me... but that was also after hours of use at the Red Carpet. Oh well. I'm sure there will be plenty of better pictures than mine... I was able to get a few, but no really good ones during the events... but you know what... it's all good... I was able to sit back and enjoy it all and not have to worry about or mess with the camera. So it was kind of a good thing... but I did want my own pictures. Oh well.

THE BAD - Mostly Taylor Kitsch

Ok, this guy as a host SUCKED. He wasn't funny, original and did not make a good host. He was not a household name... I didn't know who he was... and he just sucked. He really lost it and any respect I had for him when he interviewed Kovy and asked him why he only made 20% of his shots in the shootout. Kovy immediately looked uncomfortable... and if I was Kovy, I would've dropped the gloves and slugged his head off for making a stupid, ignorant and way out of line comment like that... not on SuperSkills night, not in front of the home town crowd... it was a huge slap in the face to Kovy. Kovy handled it well and switched the subject to tonight. Very smart move on Kovy's part. He made Kitsch look really stupid. It was just really bad.... bad timing, it was stupid question, and whoever thought of that question to ask... should be fired and never be allowed to a hockey game at any level... EVER! How the @#$(@#$&#$ do you say that to the Hometown Hero!?!? WTF?

The only other negative thing I can think of was at the Red Carpet... when the media stole the players away from fans and made it impossible to get autographs... I guess this is what has to happen and the player interviews come first... it's understandable... I'm not mad about it, but it kinda sucks when you are JUST about to get an autograph... and they get whisked away to be interviewed... some of the players came back, but some didn't. But it's ok... no way you can expect to get autographs from every player.

The last negative thing I will have to say about tonight is that there were WAY, WAAAAAAAY too many empty seats in the lower bowl. Not enough to make it look bad on TV... and from what I was told a lot of those seats were NHL tickets... either for player's families or sponsors... but a LOT of those seats were empty. I spoke to a couple behind me who have had season tickets since day 1... and have season tickets a few rows up from the bench. Even the most loyal of fans... were originally given tickets upstairs. Sure that's fine, that's how it was, we all knew that. But the fact that those seats... their same season ticket seats were EMPTY... I can only imagine that being very frustrating after spending all of that money and beying that loyal since day 1. I'm sure those seats were sold and paid for... but I'm also sure that the people who had those seats knew they weren't coming...and could and should have been used for fans. There should not have been an empty seat tonight for any reason... paid for or not. I hope this is not the case on Sunday night for the ASG.


All in all, tonight was just surreal. Amazing. Beautiful. Full of hockey love. It was NHL goes Hollywood. It was the best in the world. It was beyond fun, it was bigger than life, and it's something you'll remember for the rest of your life. I hope that someday Atlanta will get to experience it again. But I'll save the closing remarks for after everything is over. If I could go back and do it all over again... I would. All of the events were great. Everything is still a big, swirling mass right now. I DVRed everything in HD... oh yeah, gotta have it in HD... so I am watching everything again.. on TV this time... while I'm doing this blog. Hence, this is why it is taking me forever to write this post. But that's ok. I'd love to do this every year in every city it's held in. With next year's being in Montreal... that will be near impossible. But if it's somewhere in the South... Carolina, Florida... Nashville... then I'd love to travel to experience it all again. But Atlanta's ASG Weekend is only halfway over. Tomorrow night is the big night. I can't wait.

The worst thing about it all: It's all over way, way too fast!

Here are a few pics from today:

Wyclef Jean: Front & Center & Update From Rockin Skate

I live about a ten min walk from Blueland over in Castleberry Hill, so I am able to do this sort-of-live blog update from ASG Weekend. There was no way to do an update last night after the Wyclef show, it was WAY too late and we had to get up early for this mornings events, so here is an update for ya. I just got back from the Rockin' Skate (no, we didn't stay for the Jonas Brothers show...I know, I know we totally missed out on... ) Anyway, this is sort of a semi-live update from ASG Weekend 2008 starting last night from the Wyclef Jean show @ The Tarbernacle.

Last night's Wyclef Jean show was the most entertaining show I've ever been to. The Old 97's opened the show, and they were great. But Wyclef truly made the night. I'm no huge Wyclef fan by any means... but if he ever comes back to Atlanta, I'll be there without a doubt.

Even the old guys in suits and ties... the VIPs... the dads... even they were jumping for most of the night. Only Wyclef could really get a crowd going like only he did.

There was a bit of confusion at first when I arrived... there was a A-List VIP entrance and another VIP entrance for those that were VIP, but not A-list so to speak. Anyway I had no idea so I walked up and the dude scanned my ticket, and I didn't realize it was a "VIP" entrance, but he stopped me and asked for my wrist band... told him I was 27 LOL... well I wasn't allowed to go in, which was fine... he told me to just tell the ticket scanner guy that it had already been scanned. Crap, now when they scan my ticket when I go back in it won't work. Luckily the guy who was scanning tickets did really seem to give a shit and I told him what happened, so I got in without any issues.

We headed straight to the front of the pit... front and center. It took a bit for the crowd to fill in, but the house was packed before Wyclef came on. Usher came out and introduced him... I don't know Usher... I'm far from being that cool... but we did go to the same high school... he graduated before I was even there, but I guess it's kinda cool... North Sprrrrrrrrrrrrrings!

Wyclef put on a hell of a show. We were dancing all night. I got plenty of amazing pictures. I even ended up with the set list at the end of the night. A cool piece of memorabilia from ASG weekend.
The show was as high-energy as you could get. Wyclef went crowd surfing and went up to both upper levels of the Tabernacle... even walked across the edges of the upper decks. Insane. Akon made a guest appearance as well and threw a bunch of money into the crowd. It was only $1 bills, so it wasn't worth much of a fight. Sam, my girlfriend, ended up with a few of Akon's dolla dolla bills yall! LOL. I was tired as hell from working all day but the show honestly gave me a second wind. The show was brilliant as well. He basically took us on a "world tour" of music.

We woke up this morning, went over to CNN Center and got in line to grab one of the Hossa figures. After that we went in to Blueland for the Rockin' Skate. I did not realize that there would be 1000's of tweens there to see the Jonas Brothers. I don't even know who they are... but now, sadly, I do. They are one of those bubblegum Disney type bands. No thanks. We stayed for the Mascot hockey game... that was awesome. I don't care how old you are... that was like being a kid. Even the N.J. Devil came over to bother us. And that stupid bug from the Lightning LOL. Of course we were there for the Eastern and Western conference skates, but left before the concert started. We didn't feel like going deaf from 1000s of 12 and 13-year old girls. We looked around at the memorabilia and then came back and here we are taking a break. I am about to head back, but I wanted to leave you with a few of pictures - I'll have lots more tomorrow before the ASG itself.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Westin Is Hockey Heaven!

Went over to the Westin today on my lunch break to pick up the free tickets they gave out to volunteers to the Wyclef Jean show on Friday night at the Tabernacle. Tickets are general admission, so gotta get there early for the best seats.

I walked in as to what looked like the end of an NHL Alumni meeting or conference. If I had only had my camera! DOH!!! The Westin is been transformed with ASG logos, banners and signs everywhere. NHL brass all around. It's too bad I had only a few minutes to spare. After getting my Wyclef tickets, I headed over to CNN Center and decided to take a detour and check out the ASG gear at TeamGear II. Some really sweet stuff, but the prices are even more expensive than the normal Thrashers retail prices... fair enough, it's the ASG, so it's warranted. I looked around. I have a feeling that after this weekend a lot of that stuff will be back down to normal prices. I'll grab a few things over the weekend, but you know that stuff will still be around after the ASG has left town.

After checking out the store, I walked around to the box office to pick up some Rock N Skate tickets. By that time my lunch hour was almost over... I had a good 10 min to eat! Ok, I ended up being a few min late back to work but no one knew. Heh.

And the Thrashers managed to end this part of the season on a high note... a much better effort than the last few nights... we didn't come out on top of the SO, and the SO is a whole nother topic that I will leave for later, but we earned a point tonight and we can build off of the effort against the Rangers.

But for now the focus of this blog will be this weekend - NHL All-Star Weekend. I'll do my best to let you know how the Wyclef show is and whatever else goes on tomorrow. I am going to wonder around the Westin and Team Gear II again tomorrow during lunch.

Not much else to report on. The only bad thing about this upcoming weekend is that it is all going to come and go so fast and Monday afternoon will be here way too soon. I wish there was a way to slow time down and enjoy this weekend for as long as possible. Even more reason to make the most of this weekend!

Until the next update...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Long Time, No See ...But The All-Star Game is Here!

It's been way, way, waaaaaaaaay to long since I've updated my Thrashers blog. No, I haven't lost interest in the Thrashers or hockey.... no I haven't missed any games. Yes, I am frustrated with all that has been going on with the Thrashers. Too much drama in the ATL. I just want the team to be a success. There's the Hossa issue. The ownership court battle. Bernie "quit". The on-ice product has been horrible as of late. No head coach. Kovy got suspended. I could go on and on. But forget all that. This weekend is a once in a life time experience. When the 2000 MLB All-Star Game came to Atlanta at Turner Field, I didn't go. I regret not going to this very moment. I sure as hell am not going to miss out on the 2008 NHL All-Star Game.

You see, I got a new job. I've moved. Hence I've had next to no time to update this thing, much less have a moment to sit down and update my blog. However, with the ASG approaching, there's way too much going on not to blog away.

Sam and I signed up to be ASG volunteers at the very first pre-season game. So thankfully we were both chosen. However, I wasn't quite sure what to do - I knew I wanted to get a ticket and go, but I also wanted to volunteer. Well, I didn't get a ticket when they went on sale to STH. I waited. And waited. And waited. And I probably waited too late - however, I have a good, inside source who was able to get me a LOWER LEVEL (I know, don't hate me, K?) ASG ticket. Not the best lower level seat, but a lower level seat nonetheless. I checked the seat out at the last home game and it's not that bad at all. Anyway, Sam and I signed up to volunteer, as I was saying, however, with my new job, I really could not commit to that much, and now that I got a ticket, I could only do so much. However, I signed up to be in the driver pool and I'm glad I did. I will be driving one shift on Monday morning from 4 am - 11 am. The hours suck, but how often do you get to drive around new Dodge cars with NHL ASG wraps on them and bring players and other staff to the airport and get to talk hockey with them for a little bit? It will be surreal but I can't wait. I won't be getting much sleep this weekend... if any.

We scored some free tickets (they gave some out to volunteers) to the Wyclef Jean (too bad it wasn't Lil Jon... Okaaaaaaaaay!) show on Friday night. Monday morning we are getting up bright and early and walking over to CNN Center for the trade and memorabilia show (gotta score one of the Hossa figures before they are gone) and then head over to the Rock N Skate. Then at night, of course, is the skills comp and young star game. Sunday we'll prob hit up the memorabilia show again and then the ASG is Sunday night. I'll try to get a few minutes of sleep on Sunday after the game... and head back to the Westin to do my volunteer duty. It's going to be a hell of a long weekend with next to no sleep but that's OK... It's a once in a lifetime deal for most people and I want to take as much in as a I can.

Not to mention volunteers got some sweet free swag... and drivers are supposed to get an additional jacket of some sort as well... sweet!

I'll try to do a few more posts the next few days as things gear up and I'll try my best to do at least one blog update each day this weekend starting Friday.

One of the best perks about my new job is that I am two blocks from Blueland over on Walton street. It's a 5 min walk. And I now have a new loft in Castleberry Hill. It's less than a 10 min walk from my place to the Philips. Pretty sweet deal for a hockey fan... not to mention not having to deal with 85 or 285 rush hour traffic!

Anyway, I apologize for not keeping this thing up to date. I just hope the Thrashers can pull out a win or at this point, a point would be something positive... we need to get a W against the Rangers. We need to turn this ship around and no better time to start that then Thursday night against the Rangers.

Anyway, that's all for now. Can't make this thing too long.