A tour of the Thrashers’ practice facility

Here is your chance to go behind the red door.

Those who attend Thrashers’ practices at the IceForum in Duluth know this door well. It’s what separates the rest of the Thrashers’ facility from the practice rink. Here is your chance to go the places off-limits to most – even me. Fans have access to the players coming and going from the rink, but once they get behind this door the mystery begins.

Armed with only a camera, I gained behind-the-scenes access while the Thrashers were in Canada. While Jim wrestles the alligator (lame Wild Kingdom reference), come with me as I unveil some of the mystery.

The red door that serves as the barrier.

The red door that serves as the barrier.

Consider yourself warned!

Consider yourself warned!

Just inside the door is a big Thrashers logo. Makes a good place for TV interviews. Here's Colby Armstrong getting grilled. This is where I usually interview coach Anderson.

Just inside the door is a big Thrashers logo on the wall. Makes a good place for TV interviews. Here's Colby Armstrong getting grilled. This is where I usually interview coach John Anderson.

This hallway runs from the door to the locker room. The player's sticks line one side.

This hallway runs from the door to the locker room. The player's sticks line one side.

Near the end of the hallway is the area Thrashers players use to work on their sticks. How big a curve could Kovy put on his stick with that blow torch?

Near the end of the hallway is the area the Thrashers players use to work on their sticks. How big a curve could Kovy put on his stick with that blow torch?

The inside of the Thrashers locker room. The large television usually his showing hockey updates. However, episodes of the Jerry Springer Show have been viewed here.

The inside of the Thrashers locker room. The large television usually is showing hockey updates. However, episodes of The Jerry Springer Show have been viewed here.

Player equipment lockers line three sides of the room. This is where I do most of my interviews.

Player equipment lockers line three sides of the room. This is where I do most of my interviews.

Here is the captain's stall. No new contract papers were found.

Here is the captain's stall. No new contract papers were found.

This is the player's changing room off the main locker room. It's off limits to me. No new contract papers for Kovy in here either. Although, some extra tickets were in Zach Bogosian's stall.

This is the player's changing room off the main locker room. It's off limits to me. No new contract papers for Kovy in here either. Although, some extra tickets were in Zach Bogosian's stall.

One side of the Thrashers weight room.

One side of the Thrashers weight room.

The other side of the weight room. Yes, that's Kari Lehtonen riding one of the bikes.

The other side of the weight room. Yes, that's Kari Lehtonen riding one of the bikes.

One of the epuipment rooms. This one is where the players and staff work on skates.

One of the epuipment rooms. This is where the players and staff work on skates.

The Thrashers' trainers room. Definitely off-limits for me. This is where all the upper and lower body injuries are diagnosed.

The Thrashers' trainer's room. Definitely off-limits to me. This is where all those upper and lower body injuries are diagnosed.

The ice tubs in the trainer's room. It's a good thing the big one was covered.

The ice tubs in the trainer's room. It's a good thing the big one was covered.

One half of the players lounge - also off-limits to me. Plenty of tables and food in there. I resisted the temptation to steal a bowl of cereal.

One half of the player's lounge - also off-limits to me. Plenty of tables and food in there. I resisted the temptation to steal a bowl of cereal.

The other side of the player's lounge. Comfortable couches (yes, I sat in one). computers and another large television. Can't tell you if they watch Jerry Springer here.

The other side of the player's lounge. Comfortable couches (yes, I sat in one), computers and another large television. Can't tell you if they watch Jerry Springer here.

A picture of some trophy hangs on the wall.

A picture of some trophy hangs on the wall.

This is coach John Anderson's office. He left the doors unlocked. No new contract papers for Kovy found in here either.

This is coach John Anderson's office. He left the doors unlocked. No new contract papers for Kovy found in here either.

The door to GM Don Waddell's office. This was locked. That's where the new contract papers must be!

The door to GM Don Waddell's office. This was locked. That's where the new contract papers must be!

Thanks for taking the tour. I hoped you enjoyed it! I will leave this blog up for a couple days to let every one get a chance to see it. I will check back in Saturday for home game with Montreal.

41 comments Add your comment

[...] Kari Lehtonen Riding One of The Bikes” http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-thrashers-blog/2009/12/10/a-tour-of-the-thrashers-practice-facility/ Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)day 3: Whitefish to [...]

Jeremy H

December 10th, 2009
2:15 pm

Yeesh, the offices and lounge areas in this place are ugly!

Brendan

December 10th, 2009
2:50 pm

Hey, thanks! That was awesome, Chris Vivlamore! I must say, I rather enjoyed that virtual tour. Now, if we just had one of those robot cameras, like in the movie, “Titanic,” we could send the robot probe into Waddell’s office, have it sift through some papers on Waddell’s desk, rifle through his drawers, and find out all the GM’s secrets.

One nagging thought I have is this one. Last time around, whether it was ownership or Waddell himself to blame, there was “nickel and diming” of the team’s superstar. Shrugs. I don’t understand why. But it is a FACT that Kovalchuk was the last player signed for the 2005-06 season. And I don’t really think it was because Kovalchuk was last on Waddell’s list of priorities. I think it had everything to do with either (1) the ownership being cheap or (2) the GM NOT KNOWING what the going rate price for a Kovalchuk was.

I sincerely hope that Waddell learned from that experience. Meaning? Meaning that if OWNERSHIP was to blame for the devalued initial contract offer (in 2005), that Waddell be MORE VOCAL, THIS TIME, about saying, “Look fellas. This is an important piece of our future, moving forward. He’ll cost what the market will bear. We’ve gotta pay it. At least the NHL sets LIMITS on how HIGH the SKY is. It’s $11.36 million.” When presented to ownership in that fashion, they either have to SEE THE LIGHT and PAY IT … or … risk the future of the franchise’s ticket sales. Hopefully, they’re smarter than that. Then again, maybe they’re not. How long (4 years) and how much ($10 million, per one source,) in legal fees has it taken to buy out to Mr. Belkin? And still isn’t a “fait accompli.” That’s “done deal,” in French.

If it was Waddell, himself, back in 2005 … to blame for the Kovalchuk holdout that caused #17 to miss all of training camp, then hopefully Waddell now has a BETTER HANDLE on what a Kovalchuk-type player costs in the NHL world of pricing. Of course, here’s blogger me … sitting behind a keyboard … thinking, “Shouldn’t ALL GM’s know what Superstar players cost?” And secondly, “shouldn’t ALL GM’s be able to correctly prioritize what contracts need to be processed first?” Bygones.

[...] you ever wanted a tour of the Thrashers practice facility Chris Vivlamore gives you on an inside [...]

Kaat

December 10th, 2009
3:09 pm

Cool blog Chris. This is awesome stuff.

Hotrod

December 10th, 2009
3:33 pm

Hard to believe its already been 10 years since it opened.

All I'm Saying Is...

December 10th, 2009
5:15 pm

Nice picture and good stuff!

Sam

December 10th, 2009
6:15 pm

Very cool…and creative. Thanks, Chris. Enjoyed it.

Chris Vivlamore

December 10th, 2009
7:05 pm

Glad you folks liked the blog. It was kind of fun. Perhaps I can do the same thing at Philips Arena. Anybody care? How weird is it that the photo with Kari Lehtonen riding the excersise bike got linked?

Kaat

December 10th, 2009
7:14 pm

Awesome — Kari on the bike. Was it taken recently? LOL.

I, for one, love, love, love the behind the scenes stuff. Philips would be cool. Chris, I think you’re doing a great job. Your human interest pieces on the Thrashers’ players are top notch and really very good reads.

jason

December 10th, 2009
7:40 pm

I’ll echo what Kaat said, your human interest stories are great. Your stories from the road are even better. Oh wait, you don’t go on the road.

sisu

December 10th, 2009
9:50 pm

Thanks for sharing this, very cool. Of course some one would link to Kari, he is still an interesting player, he could bring a good spot player to the team or perhaps even play?

Brendan

December 10th, 2009
10:56 pm

Antropov scored his third (3rd) on the year on the PP, from Kovalchuk and Enstrom. But Le Thrash trail, 2-1, after one period.

Awesome shootout tonight between Nashville and Columbus tonight. The Predators eventually won.

stendec

December 10th, 2009
11:38 pm

The Thrasher giveup job tonight is in honor of Dwayne. That pile of human feces! Who is fully satisfied with any defeat. Another totally heartless uneffort. Thought that was Kari Lehtonen in goal. Marshallow slipped by Pavs less than four minutes in. Completely inacceptable. Kapitan Ilya Kovalchuk IS Maryann Hossa! Losing streak now three and counting. Fall to lower depths of NHL in progress. Players have that no score offense of John Petrino down pat! Total embarrassment for all true Thrasher fans. To Hell with the damn quitters! ++STENDEC++ And with that mental midget Dwayne too

Brendan

December 11th, 2009
12:39 am

Kane had his chances. But it’s a 4-2 Thrasher loss. Oh well. Western Road Swings are usually pretty tough.

Chris Vivlamore

December 11th, 2009
8:41 am

Remember all the scoring the Thrashers got early in the season from the defensemen? The D had one goal in the past nine games.

J.B.

December 11th, 2009
8:56 am

I enjoyed this and would love to see behind the scenes at Philips as well.

Posted this morning on rawhide’s blog and copied here for maximum exposure:

My feeling is they got what I consider the toughest road trip of the season over with (as far as travel goes), the flu has likely made it through the locker room by now and is likely over with as well, and after a ridiculously awful stretch of games, we still have a playoff spot (albeit dangerously low to a spot out of contention, but a playoff spot none the less).

So I say to the boys, welcome home to Atlanta, Thrashers. Rest up, beat the hell out of Montreal tomorrow night on home ice and begin a nice long win streak. We’re looking forward to seeing y’all tomorrow night and making some deafening noise for you. (If memory serves, we usually play very well versus the Canadiens right before christmas-time…)

That said, games the rest of the month are critical to keeping a playoff spot, especially with two each versus NJD & BOS; must wins for sure.

Not even half-way through the season. Still no reason to panic and/or jump ship in my opinion.

If anyone from the coaching staff reads this:

kovy – antro – max
kozzy – pevs – little
kane – reasoner – army
boults – slater – thorbs

bogo – tobi
kubes – hainsey
salmela – valabik

pavs (top gun mentality again… keep sending him up! won’t learn how to be a #1 starter on the bench after a poor showing)

One more thing… PLEASE trade Todd White. I realize players get into slumps but I think we’re WAAAAAAAAY past that point with him. Whatever you can get for him right now…seriously… anything. I just don’t understand why he doesn’t get scratched…ever.

See y’all tomorrow night!!! Fill the Bulb!!!!!!!!

J.B.

December 11th, 2009
8:58 am

i’ve never played ice hockey before… what’s the purpose of baby powder as it relates to getting a stick game-ready?

(Boy there’s alot of way’s to interpret that question if you’re in a certain frame of mind, huh?)

J.B.

December 11th, 2009
8:59 am

My feeling is they got what I consider the toughest road trip of the season over with (as far as travel goes), the flu has likely made it through the locker room by now and is likely over with as well, and after a ridiculously awful stretch of games, we still have a playoff spot (albeit dangerously low to a spot out of contention, but a playoff spot none the less).

So I say to the boys, welcome home to Atlanta, Thrashers. Rest up, beat the hell out of Montreal tomorrow night on home ice and begin a nice long win streak. We’re looking forward to seeing y’all tomorrow night and making some deafening noise for you. (If memory serves, we usually play very well versus the Canadiens right before christmas-time…)

That said, games the rest of the month are critical to keeping a playoff spot, especially with two each versus NJD & BOS; must wins for sure.

Not even half-way through the season. Still no reason to panic and/or jump ship in my opinion.

If anyone from the coaching staff reads this:

kovy – antro – max
kozzy – pevs – little
kane – reasoner – army
boults – slater – thorbs

bogo – tobi
kubes – hainsey
salmela – valabik

pavs (top gun mentality again… keep sending him up! won’t learn how to be a #1 starter on the bench after a poor showing)

One more thing… PLEASE trade Todd White. I realize players get into slumps but I think we’re WAAAAAAAAY past that point with him. Whatever you can get for him right now…seriously… anything. I just don’t understand why he doesn’t get scratched…ever.

See y’all tomorrow night!!! Fill the Bulb!!!!!!!!

J.B.

December 11th, 2009
9:01 am

Chris,

Could you please check for a posting from me submitted a few minutes ago and rescue if applicable? I believe it has gone down the rabbit hole into blogatory hell. happened to me this morning on rawhide’s blog as well; not sure why the ajc doesn’t like my post about last night’s game. thank you.

~JB

Get The Puck Out

December 11th, 2009
9:03 am

Boy, road trips all of a sudden suck, don’t they.

Chris Vivlamore

December 11th, 2009
9:54 am

J.B.: Found two in Spam folder. I approved the two posts above. Correct ones?

J.B.

December 11th, 2009
10:03 am

yep. the second one is pretty much a duplicate of the first. tried to repost once the first one didn’t take. thanks.

J.B.

December 11th, 2009
10:26 am

random question: I need to know what Season Kozzy was first made an alternate captain. Anyone remember?

GaVaHokie

December 11th, 2009
10:51 am

Bogosian has been stuck on 8 goals for quite awhile… he needs to get over the hump and beat Tremblay’s record.

The Earl of Bud

December 11th, 2009
11:46 am

GaVaHokie – why settle for Tremblay’s record, he was leading the entire NHL.

J.B. – it depends on what kind of tape you use and which end of the stick you are referring to.

J.B.

December 11th, 2009
11:58 am

EOB – Oh, since I don’t play, I have no idea. Are there really that many different uses for the stuff? You’ve peaked my curiosity, so let’s say the blade end of the stick…and I don’t know the different kinds of tape, so surprise me.

The Earl of Bud

December 11th, 2009
12:30 pm

J.B. – right off the bat, I have never seen guys be so particular that they did this when I played with them, but I think Mario Lemieux or someone that you see on TV like Ilya Kovalchuk can be more exact that they might do this. First off, who did you see use this?

Anyway, there are different kinds of tape, 1 of which I nor any guys have played with have ever used, so let’s stick to the other one which is the adhesive. But some players think it gets too sticky on the blade end that they want to weaken it a bit by sprinkling a little baby powder. Again, I have heard of guys doing this, I have even used baby powder in weightlifting and hated it (you should really use chalk), but I wouldn’t do it. So when you reach the NHL level I guess every little bit helps.

Personally, I learned many more neat tricks that I found actually useful for the handle (butt-end) from guys that I played with while taping up.

Schroeder

December 11th, 2009
12:52 pm

I would really like to see a White/Valabik/Slater pkg deal for a quality center and prospect,keep sending Pops out there.He seems to be able to move better than Valabiks “speed of smell” pace.Nice tussle Doris,what was that guy,5′10″ and made you his little b**ch.I am over the BV experiment.BYE-BYE Doris. I do not want to see this glacier with skates on the ice again.How many times last night did our guys turn or look the wrong way just as the puck was getting there.I know that a puck goes in the net every night in this league off a defenders back,skate or stick,but I think we have had more than our share.BTW did they change the rule since I played goaltender that if you fall into the net w/the puck in your pads,glove,equipment etc,is it not a goal.I believe that EK got HOSED.I’ll go take my ritalyn and lie down now.

Schroeder

December 11th, 2009
1:03 pm

Good grief,I just re-read that post and that was the most dis-jointed run-on post I have ever read,gotta focus,gotta focus.I feel like a bi-lingual illiterate.Sorry,I can’t work and post at the same time.

Dwayne

December 11th, 2009
1:13 pm

Schroeder…AMEN, get rid of Doris, have not liked him since he let Cindy Crotchby get away with pounding his gonads.
Stendec….Thank You, your posts are better than most.

J.B.

December 11th, 2009
1:34 pm

EOB – Thanks. I don’t know who uses it. Just saw a bottle of it in the picture in chris’ blog above…

stendec

December 11th, 2009
1:41 pm

If John Petrino had any guts, which he does not, he would rip the C off Ilya Kovalchuk uniform and toss the damn thing into the trash. Not one of these quitters deserve to wear the coveted letter. The Russian is always whining about the Thrashers not being a top tier squad. Here is a news flash. If the kapitan would lead by example with a couple of points per outing and hustle whenever on the ice the Thrashers would be a top tier team. That is what true captains do! They do not sulk about contract negotiations not going their way. Wah wah wah! The quitter should honor his current contract! His present salary will not put him in the soup line! I saw the loser agruing with Canuck fans last night. Now that is true focus. The Russian is Maryann Hossa. Will be at third speed until he suits up elsewhere. That is obvious to me. Even starting to become obvious to many apologists. Trade him now for several mid-range players who possess fire, desire and heart who are proud to be at NHL level. IK has become a selfish athlete out for IK. So very sad! ++STENDEC++

stendec

December 11th, 2009
2:13 pm

Tell the Hanson Brothers to get foiled up. The Thrashers are in desperate need of some physical toughness! ++STENDEC++

stendec

December 11th, 2009
2:17 pm

Anyone still believe Ilya Kovalchuk is one of the top players in NHL considering his unmotivated play of late? Should Thrashers award such apathetic uneffort when other players are busting their a$$es every single shift? Please be honest. ++STENDEC++

The Earl of Bud

December 11th, 2009
2:24 pm

J.B. – ok, that is quite a workbench there, complete with blowtorch (as noted in caption). In that sense, they are trying to get the perfect stick on a workbench like that so I could see them using it there. I thought maybe you saw it during the game on tv which put me in a different mindset. Again, I am more picky about the tape itself being used, not how over-sticky it gets. But I am not an NHL player.

Schoreder – rant on and stay off the ritalin because I think you hit the nail on the head with Boris. I saw Rogers’ telecast last night so I don’t know what was on Turner South, but they showed Boris going and getting right up in the guy’s face and totally picking the fight. He is not only more than a 1/2 foot taller (probably 9 inches) but somewhere between 50-100 lbs heavier. The fact that Rypien wiped the ice up with Boris made me lose complete respect with the Valabik to the point that I would feel ashamed trading him to some team. That was a disgrace.

Dwayne

December 11th, 2009
2:43 pm

Stendec, I’ll be honest. You rip the Thrashers for a pathetic effort. Then say “when OTHERS are busting their a$$es every single shift”. I have not seen much of a sustained effort from anyone the last 3 games. And that my friends is the truth.

Chris

December 11th, 2009
2:59 pm

Hey The Earl of Bud, Valabik isn’t the first giant that Rypien has challenged this year. I think he took on Hal Gill and Steve McIntyre earlier this season. The reason Rypien made Valabik look foolish is because he has a background in boxing. His father is a boxing trainer which is a huge advantage for an NHL tough guy.

The Earl of Bud

December 11th, 2009
3:23 pm

Chris, sorry to offend you but I got news for ya, I saw the Hal Gill fight with Rypien and Hal Gill didn’t fall down after getting pushed around by Rypien the way Valabik did.

And since when is Hal @#%$ Gill someone we should use as a measuring stick? He sucks and couldn’t hit the water if he fell out of a boat let alone hit an NHL fighter.

If Valabik is on his way to becoming Hal Gill then I say

Cut.
Him.
Now!!!

P.S. do you know how many NHL 4th liners go to boxing trainers nowadays? I seem to recall an article about Boulton and Thorburn going to one this summer. For crying out loud Matt Leinart went to an MMA trainer this summer, there’s a vote of confidence for your “his father is a trainer” battlecry.

The Earl of Bud

December 11th, 2009
3:42 pm

and Hal Gill didn’t fall down after getting pushed around by Rypien the way Valabik did.”

Chris, I know people never really quote themselves. But in this case I have to. I was not correct in what I said. I should have said:

“and Hall Gill didn’t get knocked down after getting his jersey pulled over his head by Rypien the way Valabik did.”

Sorry for the mistake.

stendec

December 11th, 2009
5:53 pm

Someone contact the Hanson Brothers. Thrashers may still lose but games will be a Hell of a lot more fun to watch! ++STENDEC++