Keep Hold Of That Popcorn Boy!

I hope you’ll endulge me today as I share with you a favorite hockey story of mine…one that involves the little monsters that I lovingly refer to as the “Tax Exemptions”.

I take you back to November of 2000 and the Philadelphia Flyers were paying Philips Arena a visit. Oh, there’s nothing really noteworthy about that game… the Thrashers lost 3-2 in overtime…but what made this night so special was that it was the first game that I ever took the boys and the Divine Mrs. R to. The kids were 8 and 7 years of age and I got the four of us tickets in section 302, about halfway up in that upper-deck section behind the net.

Now, the two of them were well versed in attending Atlanta Braves baseball games as the team in the ‘90s was simply all the rage in Atlanta. So to them, going to a sporting event meant settling into their seats… popcorn, hotdog and soda in hand… and watching for three hours as nine innings of baseball played out before them. But I thought hockey would be a pleasant change of pace for the two.

When we reached the isle to walk down to our seats, the puck had just dropped just seconds prior. Therefore, the boys were greeted by the usher with the “stop” sign.

“Why we can’t go to our seats, Daddy”? asked the oldest while the youngest squatted down to get a good look down the isle and towards the game…all the time holding onto his bucket of popcorn making sure not one kernal fell out. As we waited for a stoppage in play, I explained to them the concept of “hockey etiquette”. Once in our seats, they settled in with eats and drinks as they typically would at Turner Field, (and Fulton County Stadium before that), and assumed their normal viewing positions…sitting there… quietly.

Until….

Only a few minutes after we sat down, somebody got jacked against the boards. It was a good hit too…one of those that rattles the glass, shakes the boards and leaves an opposing player hurting so bad that he wished his parents had never even met. Along with everyone else in the arena that night, my boys jumped to their feet, screamed their approval and pointing toward the ice!

Popcorn and Sprite, flew all over the place…in the air…into the seasts…onto the floor…all over the couple in front of us…

“Oh YEAHHHHhhhhhhh”!!!!!! The youngest one shouted!

“THAT never happens at a baseball game”, remarked the oldest.

Of course the wife and I…after the initial shock of their reaction to the check wore off…went straight into parent mode. We apologized to the man and woman who were now pulling popcorn from their hair, but to our surprise they were laughing out loud and telling us not to worry about it.

“Let me guess…first game for them”, she asked.

Indeed…first game.

After their first NHL hockey experience, the Tax Exemtions have learned the game while playing it and enjoying many more Thrashers games (Photo by The Divine Mrs. R)

After their first NHL hockey experience, the Tax Exemtions have grown to love the sport by playing it as well as attending many more games at Philips, (Photo by The Divine Mrs. R)

The boys spent as much time on their feet as they did their backsides for the rest of the evening. Thank God they were short then and no one was sitting directly behind us. They had a blast that night watching as this fast-paced, wide-open game unfolded before their eyes for the very first time. I explained the rules as the night went on and they seemed to pick it up quick. Of course to them, the game wasn’t too difficult to figure out…get the puck into that net, don’t let the other team get it into this one and knock the pure, holy snot outa anyone in an orange and black jersey who happens to have the puck.

Simple.

Both boys went on to play the game at the local rink. Like you…or maybe your kids…they both still have the pucks in which they scored their first ever goal mounted atop mantles in their rooms. The oldest one scored his with 28.6 seconds left in the third to break a 1-1 tie. It was the only one he scored that season…so I guess he picked a pretty good time to do it, eh?

The tax exemptions are teenagers now…17 and 16…and sharing a Thrashers game with them is still among the best times we have together. Of course, when the youngest comes back from the concession stand with his popcorn…I just give him that look and he says, “Yeah, yeah…I got ahold of it”.

179 comments Add your comment

Tom

August 2nd, 2009
8:59 am

Great post Rawhide.

It is awesome to see the reaction of my boys still as we enter Phillips and the excitement of a NHL game comes across their faces.

World Be Free

August 2nd, 2009
9:13 am

Great story, especialy for non-news months like August. These are the exapmples of what sets hockey apart from so many other sports. 300 level at Philips are pretty good seats.

rightshot

August 2nd, 2009
9:51 am

Best Thrashers memory, going to the post season. My own best hockey memory, coaching my youth hockey teams to 3 straight championships in the Chamblee rec league (long since gone)

NorthStarsDave

August 2nd, 2009
9:53 am

Great story…it brought back the memory of my twin girls first game…an Opening Night…one wanted to know when there would be a fight…and like magic, it happens! Take that you non-purists who want to ban fighting!

My other daughter loves hockey…and now plays hockey on grass…lacrosse…and gets her fix with killing kids (and Dad!) on Playstation. While on a trip to Philly for lacrosse, we HAD to watch Game 7 at a restaurant bar…she blew off the team activities until the game was over!!

No other major sport gives you this…

DWTOO

August 2nd, 2009
10:41 am

Hockey, and soccer, were the things that transcended the teenage years. No matter what we could always talk sports.

Our daughter’s been a hockey fan since the Knights days.

Barry

August 2nd, 2009
12:12 pm

Great story. “Ya ya I got a hold of it.” LOL Priceless.

I can relate to those boys. I grew up Atlanta Braves fan. Baseball season was over and there was nothing to watch on a particular weekend night. I flipped through the channels and found Thrashers hockey game. It was that season after the lockout when we went through about 10 goalies that year. I remember watching glimpses of hockey with Ray Ferraro back in the day, but then I wasn’t too interested. After seeing that game that night, even though we lost, I thought to myself…”this is kinda cool”. So I watched the next game and it was the game where we went to overtime and beat the Flyers 6-5 in overtime in that dramatic come back win where Thrashers rushed up the ice from behind their own goal and scored the tying goal with 15 seconds on the clock. They did all that in a matter of 8 seconds. I was estatic and the energy and excitement of the game was creeping into my bones. Thrashers did win in overtime as DeVries had the game winner and I literally jumped off my couch cheering in excitement. That was it…I was hooked…and I’ve been in love with hockey every sense.

Rawhide

August 2nd, 2009
12:33 pm

Thanks for sharing your hockey memory stories as well…looking forward to reading more.

Also, Mike Morreale’s 30 Teams in 30 Days trip around the NHL has come to Atlanta today. Here is his take on the Thrashers going into the season.

Glovesave29

August 2nd, 2009
1:48 pm

Ah, memories.

I remember my first game…at the dump of an arena in Oakland, Ca. It was the teal clad, loveable losers California Golden Seals vs. Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers were in the middle of their Broad Street Bully days, so the fists were certainly flying. I remember my Mom’s favorite player, Joey Johnston (long blonde hair) beat Bobby Clarke pretty badly. The enraged Flyers then proceeded to make a semi-circle around Johston’s seat in the penalty box, pull him over the boards and take turns wailing all over the poor guy…never had a chance. I was hooked. A few years later I we moved to Atlanta, and my first game is a 12-4 dismantling of the Vancouver Canucks. Rough games, offensive explosions…don’t care. The game is great.

Fast forward a few decades and I get to introduce my kids to hockey. My oldest’s first game is at the Gwinnett Arena for the Glads and Lynx. We sit in the second row, on the blue line and next to the penalty boxes. The first thundering bodycheck in front of us at the defensemen is trying to keep the play alive brings HUGE eyes and a smile to my little one’s face. I knew right then, I would always have a willing partner to join me at the games. Later that season she gets on the Jumbotron after I catch a puck and give it to her. She told that story for YEARS after that. Now every night, she jumps into he Ilya jersey for bedtime, and asks why I never played in the pros, or if she can play hockey and wear number 29, too. Makes a Dad proud…

Thrashers27

August 2nd, 2009
2:51 pm

Good stories, guys…Is it October yet? I’m really jonesing for some hockey.

World Be Free

August 2nd, 2009
3:12 pm

Glovesave-the Cow Palace?
Great name for an arena

lee

August 2nd, 2009
4:04 pm

awesome post!!! my favorite memory is bringing my dad to the games. whenever he comes, we always win.

Rawhide

August 2nd, 2009
4:24 pm

Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy weighs in on Atlanta’s attempts to re-sign Kovalchuk…a very good read.

LAC

August 2nd, 2009
4:55 pm

The 6-5 game against NJ and Brodeur was the best I have seen…

Likely one of his worst defeats ever.

What is with this coaches thing on ajc ? Where is Boom-Boom in the mix ?
They have some nobody lady from over in Athens as some coach, who the hell is she ? Then HIGH SCHOOL coaches, they are nobodies, should NEVER be mentioned, but where is Da, Boom ? Lousy job by ajc sports I think !

Zoomo

August 2nd, 2009
7:38 pm

Nice blog post, Bill. Nothing like seeing the game live to make you into a raving convert.

The Tiller boys got the “hockey look” in that photo. Emerging enforcers.

D3

August 2nd, 2009
10:07 pm

Hey Rawhide,

Just wanted to drop in and say hey to my fellow fan blogger and mentor. Things are going well, and I certainly have you to thank for all the assistance. Keep up the great work!

Rawhide

August 2nd, 2009
10:23 pm

D3 – Thank buddy! Your Falcons blog has really taken off. Well done!

Here’s hoping that all three teams on The Bird Blog downtown will be flying into the playoffs this year!

five_hole

August 3rd, 2009
7:22 am

Great post Bill. I remember taking my son to his first game. Unfortunately, he’s just not that into hockey.

Glovesave29

August 3rd, 2009
8:33 am

WBF – nah, the Cow Palace is in Daly City, south of the city near the San Mateo Bridge. I saw a Sharks game there once after college, but the Seals played over in Oakland. The Oakland arena is next to the stadium where the Raiders / A’s play and it looks like a giant drum.

Dick Cheney

August 3rd, 2009
8:50 am

My best hockey story?? Shooting my buddy with bird shot while hunting.

Toby

August 3rd, 2009
9:04 am

The energy in Philips a half-hour before game 1 against the Rags…BEST EVER

I also vote for the Braveheart guy and the little bald guy who chugs Guinness as my faves. Unleash the FURY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mary Jo Kopechne

August 3rd, 2009
9:54 am

I’d rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than get a ride home from Ted Kennedy after the hockey game at Chappaquiddick.

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
10:04 am

My kids (son 9, daughter 6), wife and I scored first row tickets to a preseason game. While strolling through the concourse with their grandmother, who is a season ticket holder and secured us the tickets, my daughter was approached by two female Thrashers employees. They wanted her to ride the zamboni between periods…until they found out she was only 6. My son got to ride instead. However, the ladies felt so bad at my daughter’s dejected face that they put together a bag of goodies. She got a jersey, amoung other things, that really brightened her spirits. Then, she got a picture with Thrash! Finally, after seeing my son ride the zamboni like a pro, I caught a puck that came over the glass. We also won the game. My only regret was that I didn’t buy a lottery ticket that day. My whole family talks about that game. Grandmother even got the puck signed by Kovy during the meet and greet with season ticket holders. What a night.

Riceowls8891

August 3rd, 2009
10:53 am

I knew I was a successful hockey dad when my daughters, age 9 and 11, watched the entire game 7, cheering for Pittsburgh, because “we don’t want Hossa to win, do we daddy?”

Martha Moxley

August 3rd, 2009
11:09 am

Mary Jo, don’t play golf with his nephew either.

Get The Puck Out

August 3rd, 2009
11:23 am

Has the TV schedule been released yet?

Thrasher Blue

August 3rd, 2009
11:31 am

TV schedule is in the paper everyday.

Sara

August 3rd, 2009
11:37 am

Reading that Leahy blog – and more specifically the comment section – makes me alternately frustrated and amused. It’s amazing how many Canadians who consider themselves the end all be all experts about all things hockey can really be so entirely clueless and willfully ignorant. But hey, if picking on Atlanta (and other non-traditional market teams) makes them feel better about the fact that their team hasn’t won a Cup in (at best) over 15 seasons (if ever), then more power to them.

Get The Puck Out

August 3rd, 2009
12:12 pm

The THRASHERS TV schedule

Thrasher Blue

August 3rd, 2009
12:23 pm

Rawhide

August 3rd, 2009
12:30 pm

GTPO – If memory serves correctly, the TV schedule normally comes out mid-September-ish.

Matt – That’s an awesome story!

Riceowls8891 – I’m sure a little tear was seen flowing down your cheek. :lol:

Everyone – I had the family out to a Braves game a couple weeks back and the youngest one tried to get a “catcher chant” going. It truely is a different crowd out there at Turner Field…

TWO MORE MONTHS UNTIL OPENING NIGHT!!!!

Pam on Weck

August 3rd, 2009
12:44 pm

I met Pascal Dupuis at PetSmart once.

Toby

August 3rd, 2009
12:53 pm

According to TFP, Dub is still active…

http://www.thefourthperiod.com/rumors.html

CarrieLee

August 3rd, 2009
1:03 pm

It seems like yesterday when I took my now 10-year-old to his first game. His brother went first, me next, and then I dragged the kid along. In reality it’s been 2+ years, a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame, 100’s of trading cards, a subscription to Hockey News and several hockey camps later. His last few birthdays were celebrated at Philips–both wins. Hockey was the first game I could get my younger son interested in. I was so excited that we’d finally have a sport to discuss together. Now I’ve got a boy that dreams of becoming a goalie. (I know, WHAT did I do wrong?!) The big kid is in a camp as we speak (type). While I don’t see myself becoming a “hockey mom,” I do consider myself as a mom who loves hockey.

Sara, I saw your comment on the Puck Daddy boards before I even came here. Great reply!

Russian

August 3rd, 2009
1:10 pm

I personally have met and had dinner with Slava and Kovy in 2005. Also my Family and Nick Havelid Family were fluing together to Paris. He took fly to Sweden and we flew to Ukraine.

FormerIslesFan

August 3rd, 2009
1:35 pm

My variant on the story. I’m born and raised Long Island and grew up in the heart of the Dynasty years. Moved to Atlanta in college and was a huge Knights’ fan during their time here.

When we started dating, my wife was a huge NBA fan and we started getting into nightly debates on the merits of hockey v. basketball (which I will not repeat here). Finally, I told her that we could discuss it til the ends of time, but it was not going to be settled with us just talking about it. So, I took her to a Thrashers’ game that very night (and if I remember correctly, I think we ran into Rawhide while we were there).

The bottom line was that as we were walking out of the game, Lilibeter looks at me and says, “You’re right,” and had this big smile on her face. Now, she is the proud owner of two different Thrashers’ sweaters (including the vintage blue/red first year sweater that she herself hunted down) and we are constantly at games throughout the season.

I’ll hold the story on my tax deductions for another day.

The Earl of Bud

August 3rd, 2009
1:41 pm

I saw Andy Sutton at the McDonald’s near Cumberland Mall last week.

The Earl of Bud

August 3rd, 2009
2:15 pm

The Rangers $3 mil arbitration offer for Zherdev was actually less than their qualifying offer of $3.25 mil, so expect him to become an UFA this week. Zherdev’s # was $4.75 mil and the arbitor just split the difference and it is at $3.9 mil which most expect Sather to not accept it.

After offering Jason Williams a 1 year contract, Detroit is talking to Sykora’s agent, so we may still get MM yet. http://www.mlive.com/redwings/index.ssf/2009/07/jason_williams_contemplating_o.html

Rawhide

August 3rd, 2009
2:18 pm

CarrieLee – Nice!!! Hope to see you post more often!

FIF – Yes…The two of you did cross my path that night. I like to look back on that as the main reason she became a hockey fan! :cool:

J.B.

August 3rd, 2009
2:27 pm

Toby – From what I’ve seen TFP’s information is usually really reliable almost as much as Eklund’s is not, so that’s interesting

Russian – How did you manage dinner with Kovy & Slava? There must be a good story there…

All – Took my 2 year old to his first thrasher game this past february. He’s been to Duluth many times and has had his own little hockey stick and goal to play with since he could walk. (the kid’s got a helluva slapshot already!) Anyhow, I had to haul him up and down the upper deck stairs a few hundred times to change diapers. between that and keeping him in his seat, feeding him, etc. I saw about 30 seconds of the game, but he seemed to really enjoy it. I’ll wait a few years before I take him again, but it was a good first game. The only thing he liked better than the game was riding the huge escalator.

J.B.

August 3rd, 2009
2:57 pm

Earl, I heard somewhere MM was waiting around to see if he got an offer from anyone else because he didn’t want to come here. If he doesn’t want to come here, I say DW & RD should recind and go after someone else. I don’t want anyone in a thrasher uniform who doesn’t want to be a thrasher. Can anyone else confirm that or did I make it up?

The Earl of Bud

August 3rd, 2009
3:08 pm

J.B. the offer he was waiting for was from Detroit, but it has yet to come. That’s why I posted the link about Williams and Sykora. Are you going to blame someone for listening to Detroit first and Atlanta second? Or any other team second? Besides, there’s got to be 2 dozen free agents at his level who are still out there, every one is playing musical chairs right now and the music hasn’t stopped yet.

J.B.

August 3rd, 2009
3:13 pm

no i don’t blame him at all. i think the vast majority of UFAs given the choice would go to DET over ATL and that’s even a gross understatement. It just bugged me (assuming the article i read was accurate) that he was very open about not being thrilled to get an offer from ATL when it’s obvious plenty of UFAs are going to be S.O.L come september as you said.

The Earl of Bud

August 3rd, 2009
3:23 pm

J.B. I think some of that may have been Canadian/Northern spin. There was no actual quote of him saying something. Besides, Waddudley has been rumored to be looking at Bertuzzi, so maybe they have moved on. I think once a couple of the RFAs like Stafford, Zherdev & Kessel get signed or moved and a Heatley trade happens, then the music will stop and as you say, some of those UFAs are going to be without a chair and S.O.L. come September. I do think that we may still get someone if it’s not MM. Even if it is a Bertuzzi who I don’t want, maybe he can make Kane compete for the job more. As much as I don’t want Kane on the 3rd line here, it might be better than the 1st line in Chicago. He can kill penalties and be groomed for a tougher role.

Thrasher Blue

August 3rd, 2009
3:27 pm

I met Bill Cosby at my work place, he owns one of our business jets.

ThrasherTim

August 3rd, 2009
3:39 pm

Two memories if I may:
1) Playoff hockey – the building was so pumped up. I can’t wait until it happens again. April ‘10 baby!

2) Unquestionably though, my favorite memory is of a game I went to a few years back with my sister and a couple of friends. Not being experienced in hockey strategy after only a couple of games(and after a few “beverages”), the 3rd period was winding down with the Thrashers down a goal. My sister stands up, beer in hand, with complete panic in her voice and eyes and screams “WHERE IS THE GOALIE?” as the opposing team starts down the ice with the puck towards an empty net.

She slowly calmed down as I explained the strategy of pulling the goalie to gain a man advantage. Oh man, I have laughed so many times telling that story.

Priceless!

J.B.

August 3rd, 2009
3:48 pm

Earl – you’re probably right. Man, if there was a way we could get Kessel, I’d jump on that. I’d be much happier with him or even Zherdev than the older UFAs. Im not much interested in Bert or MM. Seems likely they’d have trouble buying into the JA system a la Schneider.

Ooooh. Thought of another good Thrash memory. Belanger breaking the glass during the marathon shootout at the end of 06-07. I only thought of it because he himself mentioned it as the strangest game he’s taken part in in the Getting to Know: Eric Belanger feature up right now on The Hockey News website.

http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/27407-Getting-To-Know-Eric-Belanger.html

Man, that was a freaking awesome game to be at! It was playoff loud during that shootout…

The Earl of Bud

August 3rd, 2009
3:54 pm

“Earl – you’re probably right. Man, if there was a way we could get Kessel, I’d jump on that. I’d be much happier with him or even Zherdev than the older UFAs.

J.B. Kessel is a RFA, so the only way we get him is to trade for him. And since you have to give something to get something (Murray called Zherdev and Roszival for Heatley “insulting”), the only way we get him is probably something like Little for Kessel. But when you look at it like that, what’s the point? Let’s keep the Littles and Bogosians and let the other teams worry about their headaches. Now if they wanted Lehtonen for Kessel, yeah I would do that in a heartbeat.

Buzilla in CT

August 3rd, 2009
4:34 pm

So anybody know what numbers Android and Kubina are going to take?

Glovesave29

August 3rd, 2009
4:42 pm

Earl – Kane cannot go to Chicago, he can either stay with the Thrashers or be returned to the Giants. It’s a stupid rule, as I think he has gone as far as he can in the WHL, and is not ready for the NHL, so the AHL is the perfect spot for him. I gotta imagine that rule is going to be looked at when the NHL and NHLPA sit down again. It makes no sense.

Speaking of Belanger breaking the glass, does anyone remember the Knights / Komets game back in 1994 when the bugler was beating the glass and it broke, spilling him onto the ice?

Toby

August 3rd, 2009
4:46 pm

Kubina gets #77 and Antropov gets #80

http://thrashers.nhl.com/club/roster.htm