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

A27

August 3rd, 2009
4:48 pm

Im taking my 4 year old daughter to her first game against the Oilers. I cant wait to bring her. She already is a big Thrashers fan and loves to shout “Hockey,Hockey,Hockey!!!” on the top of her lungs when I watch them on TV lol! I was 4 when I went to my first game. It was the Hartford Whalers vs the Canadians in 1983 in Hartford, we won 4-2 and I was hooked ever since until they left and became the Canes who I despise. Then moved here and became a diehard Thrasher fan since there very first game.

Buzilla in CT

August 3rd, 2009
4:54 pm

Rusty

August 3rd, 2009
4:58 pm

Same thing at my house, but involved my youngest daughter. Don’t remember who we played, but two players skated out for the first puck drop and gloves dropped instead. While they pummeled each other, my then 8-year old daughter was crying, “Daddy, Daddy, what are they doing??!!!??? Somebody better stop them!!!!” By third period, she was in her seat screaming “Kill him!!!” during the next fight. Now, my girls (and both boys) will drop the gloves for Thrashers tix…not just for the fights – that’s like going to NASCAR just for the wrecks…but a good smash up does give an extra dose of excitement.

h

August 3rd, 2009
5:01 pm

I found this interesting from The Fourth Period…..

Thrashers still looking for upgrades
TheFourthPeriod.com

Despite two major additions so far this summer, the Atlanta Thrashers would like to add another body or two to their lineup before the start of training camp. Last month, the Thrashers acquired defenseman Pavel Kubina from the Toronto Maple Leafs and signed unrestricted free agent forward Nik Antropov.

Thrashers GM Don Waddell is hoping to sign at least one more free agent, preferably a solid two-way forward. The Thrashers pitched an offer to center Manny Malhotra last month. While he continues to review all of his options, it’s uncertain when the 29-year-old will make a decision.

Waddell would like to add another top-six forward, however he’s likely to wait until after training camp next month. Rookies Evander Kane and Angelo Esposito will be given a shot to make the roster, and if they do, the Thrashers’ external search will be placed on hold.

The Thrashers are also still quietly shopping goalies Kari Lehtonen and Ondrej Pavelec.

Alan

August 3rd, 2009
5:30 pm

Rumors, conjecture, and things completely made up. The things that drive me crazy in the middle of a Hockey Dead Zone (aka “August”).

October seriously can’t get here quick enough.

ben

August 3rd, 2009
6:22 pm

glad to read of kari’s depature and another forward to be added. I feel like this team shall be sold soon. As we have parsed 1 billion times, ASG has no interest in running the hockey side.

ranallo10 (in AT)

August 3rd, 2009
7:41 pm

lee

August 3rd, 2009
8:18 pm

oh, u guys should read this article. its about a dude named ryan kraft, just an ordinary hockey dude that got to expeirence the whole stanley cup on ice and in the the locker room. see how this sneaky guy did it on yahoo under the sports section

World Be Free

August 3rd, 2009
8:55 pm

All you people dissed me in early July when I was asking for another UFA signing after getting Kubina and Andropov. Back then, I felt we needed more veteran help. Sounds like Don and Duds feel the same way and that’s a good thing.

There’s still good forwards to be had out there. Let’s hope we get one. The tide is turning in Atlanta, from perpetual loser to a respectible franchise.

And the day Kovy signs a new deal, it will be one big “effin” party!

World Be Free

August 3rd, 2009
8:59 pm

Another day without a Malholtra decision. If this guys signs here, I will start the Anti-Manny Fan Club. Make him earn my cheers.

Tony C.

August 3rd, 2009
9:03 pm

Yeah, and I was all for the guy except the part where he lifted(!) The Cup. You do not do that. It is a privilege that should left for the people who bled, broke,bruised,ruptured, etc. their bodies/minds/marriages/bank accounts for that singular right.

Other than that, color me jealous, I mean who wouldn’t want SuperMario to bear-hug you, slam some champagne and then give you an autographed bottle?

Sounds like dude could’ve/should’ve maybe made his way over to NHL security operations first and gotten himself a nice check for his work as a “consultant” for finding the holes in their defense.

I wonder how many people lost their job over this?

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/How-a-Penguins-fan-crashed-the-Stanley-Cup-party?urn=nhl,180369

Brendan

August 3rd, 2009
9:42 pm

I think Cheveldayoff sensed, with the arrival of Associate GM Rick Dudley, that he wasn’t going to get his chance here, even if Waddell were canned. But, in total seriousness, is Chevaldayoff any closer to becoming an NHL GM in Chicago? With the Bowmans in collusion with each other? I suppose one can make the argument … “But what IFFF the Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup in the next few seasons. Won’t Cheveldayoff receive some ‘trickle down’ accolades for that?” Well, let’s examine that a bit. What, PRECISELY, has Kevin Cheveldayoff done to build the Championship roster of the Chicago Blackhawks? As yet, absolutely nothing. Will he really get the chance? I guess … he’ll get the chance to sign some bottom six ‘maintenance contracts,’ and make qualifying offers, I suppose, down the road. With oversight from the Bowmans. And when that happens, I suppose one can argue that the Bowmans ‘mentored’ him.

Won’t Cheveldayoff also get credit for the two IHL and two AHL titles, or whatever his track record is? Well, yes. He’ll certainly get some credit for that. But let’s not forget … that Don Waddell very much assisted the minor league successes that have occurred. Waddell’s the one who goes out and signs minor leaguers and stashes them in Chicago. He even makes trade deadline deals to help out Cheveldayoff in Chicago. And let’s not also forget, that when a team finishes in the bottom third of a Conference seven years out of nine, that each round of drafting is at the high end. And that those draft picks, if signed, wind up in the ECHL and AHL, down the road.

To be clear, I’m not saying Kevin Cheveldayoff sucks. He doesn’t suck. But he’s also had a lot of perks and benefits, in terms of his GM history in the minors. He seems like a good guy. And he seems to have an excellent rapport with Don Waddell. That being said, Waddell didn’t promote Chevaldayoff to ASSOCIATE GM. Instead, he picked his close, personal friend, Rick Dudley.

To be even clearer, I don’t think anything ’sinister’ just happened. I’m kind of sad to see Cheveldayoff escape to another organization. Especially since he was so very familiar with the Thrasher draft picks. But I’m also happy for him. Hey, he doesn’t even have to relocate his family! One of the hardest things a Dad has to do … is decide to uproot the family, that is happy where they are, to pursue a promotion.

gcs

August 4th, 2009
12:06 am

Who are all these nobodys the Thrashers are signing?
Where is Kovy’s linemate, darnit!!

.

Sara

August 4th, 2009
12:16 am

Since we’re story sharing…my first live game was actually at the Joe in April 1999. Beat the ever-loving snot out of the Canucks 7-1. Messier was scratched that game so that was a small bit of a bummer but watching Stevie Y and the rest of the Wings live more than made up for it. We had SRO tickets about halfway between center ice and the goal. It was so surreal to be in that arena and loud as dickens. I remember watching a Championship video after the ‘98 Cup win and there was this dude who would walk down the aisle giving people high-fives. Sure enough, before the game even started, there he was giving everyone a high-five to get it all started. Some people filtered out with about 10 minutes to go and the usher came over and took me down to a lower bowl seat for the rest of the game. It was kinda obvious that I wasn’t from around there since I was wearing my Thrashers jersey. We had been awarded the franchise already and since I didn’t have a Wings jersey at the time, I wore that one. Lots of people pointed to it and made comments about the new team (none derogatory for the record). At one point, this guy came up to me with his son who was maybe 5 or 6. He wanted him to see my jersey and explained to his boy how this was going to be the new team in the League. All in all an awesome experience.

In terms of games with my girls I’d say it’s a toss-up. They came to a game season before last and got their faces painted, with my youngest going for the full-on blueface. They wanted to put a number on one cheek and arbitrarily picked #18. So I had to explain who wore number #18 and thus began their love affair with Hossa which continues to this day. Which brings me to the second game – which was the Thrashers-Red Wings game last season. They’d been wanting to see the Wings for a long time and of course they hadn’t been here in a while. Given that Hossa was now on the team, missing the Wings game was out of the question. Then some teenager sits behind us and he’s wearing a T-shirt that says “Hossa sucks.” Well, needless to say my oldest took major exception to that and spent the entire game yelling back at the guy about how Hossa rocked. They were so hyped that whole game just cheering for everything and everybody.

Course, how I’m going to survive having two Blackhawks fans in the house now remains to be seen. Though anything is better than the Penguins stage – that one was by far the worst.

R. Stroz

August 4th, 2009
1:58 am

Sara – Since you have girls, at least you don’t have to worry about Cindy Crotchby ever hitting on them.

DWTOO

August 4th, 2009
7:41 am

Glovesave 29 – Was there the night Claude the Mad Trumpeter smashed the glass. Thought to guy had done himself in.

My buddy and I used to bench jockey Colin Chin of the Komets from behind the penalty box all season. That night was nothing different, except we were up high. After the game we noticed some Komet fans and went to talk with them. Turns out one of the men was Chin’s father. We could’ve crawled under the seats. Mr. Chin was most gracious – he said that was part of the game and that meant his son had to be doing something good.

Sara

August 4th, 2009
8:14 am

Stroz – HAHA in more ways than one right? Besides, they have better taste than that – the oldest has a crush on Bogosian.

Thrasher Blue

August 4th, 2009
8:46 am

Best moment in Thrasher history….Beating the Russians in Lake Placid..1980!!!

The Earl of Bud

August 4th, 2009
10:13 am

Glovesave29, yeah I know that. I have pointed that out to others, I just had a lapse there. Although don’t count on that rule changing anytime soon or at the next collective bargaining agreement. A lot of those junior leagues survive by having a Postma or Esposito 1 extra year. And there is no way Canada (which let’s face it, they are the main breeding ground for NA players, not the US colleges) is going to hurt their own system.

Brendan, I think you made a great point which I said just now on Viv’s blog. Aren’t all the good players on the Wolves being brought in by Waddell? So Cheveldayoff isn’t exactly the architect of those championship teams. However, everyone has to start somewhere, and the path to your first GM job is usually Asst. GM job. So even if he spends 1 or 2 years there and Chicago has another conf finals run, then all those championships with the Wolves, that makes for a nice looking resume. Now all of a sudden he is the leading candidate to replace Garth Snow or take a GM job in Phoenix in a year or two.

My first game, it was a loss to the Islanders and World Be Free, Pam on Weck, I sat in the blues. Once I got to high school I had a friend with season tickets in the lower golds, caught a puck at one game in late Dec, next game I went to was in Mar and caught a puck there as well. So it was back-to-back games I went to that I came home with a puck. Actually the first one I had to wrestle it away from the guy next to me because it landed in the seats behind us.

R. Stroz

August 4th, 2009
10:35 am

Sara – Yes, the double entendre was intentional.

MashaPlayer7

August 4th, 2009
10:36 am

Gosh everyone – let’s stop villifying players who haven’t signed with us now or soon. Most of these media stories are speculation or completely made-up. There has not been a single valid source that even suggests that Maholtra was even given an offer by the Thrashers.

Glovesave29

August 4th, 2009
10:37 am

Earl – the NHL is paying these guys millions of dollars, and it is for the benefit of that player and the team that owns his rights that the CHL(OHL, QMJHL and WHL) has developed to have them move on to the next level. The SPHL, EPHL, CHL and the ECHL are below the caliber of the CHL, but the AHL is not. There is good hockey there, and a player like Evander Kane would do well to spend time there as opposed to being back in Vancouver with the Giants. Fans of junior and minor league teams understand their lot in life, to develop talent. They are often quite happy to see their stars move on and succeed at the NHL level. If the Thrashers are signing his paycheck, they should be allowed to send him wherever the deem fit to further develop his talents. Is he going to learn more in the WHL? Of course not. He’s already proven himself there as witnessed by his high draft selection. Give him 30-40 games in Chicago, then bring him up for a few just prior to the Olympic break to see how he will do.

DWTOO – thanks, couldn’t remember the guys name. I thought he was in trouble too when the glass gave way and he landed on his neck like he did. We sat in those little corner overhangs the Omni had, so this happened right across from us.

Glovesave29

August 4th, 2009
10:45 am

Y’know, with all of this poaching by the KHL, and their apparent distain for the player already under contract in the NHL, I am going to laugh when the NHL pulls its affiliation with the Olympics and doesn’t allow their pros for the 2014 games in Sochi. Bettman is going to have the last laugh here.

The Earl of Bud

August 4th, 2009
10:53 am

Glovesave29, first off there is nothing stopping the Thrashers from bringing up Zach Bogosian the way they did. But, you are making a case based on one or two players like Evander Kane. How well would Evander have developed last year if he was not playing in the juniors against Tyler Myers, a 19 year old kid who was not good enough to make the NHL right out of the draft, but was the MVP ahead of Kane? If Kane is not playing against all those other 19 years old defensemen in the league like Tyler Myers and Paul Postma then his growth can actually be stunted by that new rule, not improved. Beating up only 16 and 17 year olds instead of playing against more 18 and 19 year olds is going to make the NHL draft an even bigger crapshoot than it already is and that’s not a good thing.

Ecklund

August 4th, 2009
11:06 am

Help me make up some rumors, I need some new crap to post.

Thrasher Blue

August 4th, 2009
11:25 am

rumor # 1, Jessica Simpson was seen at Atl. nite club with Bogo.

Toby

August 4th, 2009
11:43 am

I may be wrong here, but I believe Zherdev becomes available in 20 minutes. I hope we grab him if that’s the case…

Ecklund

August 4th, 2009
11:46 am

That would give a completely new connotation to BOGO, wouldn’t it?

R. Stroz

August 4th, 2009
11:50 am

Toby – That would be interesting. The main knocks on Zherdev are grit and consistency.

I hope Wadley is talking to Antropov and Kovy about Zherdev.

J.B.

August 4th, 2009
11:52 am

i was hoping the same thing stroz…

World Be Free

August 4th, 2009
12:12 pm

Earl of Bud, Pam and the rest.

My first NHL game was in 1970, Buffalo Sabres vs. the California Golden Seals in Memorial aud BEFORE the balcony was added! I sat in the Gray section, wooden seats above the old blue wooden seats (from 1940), 3 rows from the top. GWG by Captain Floyd Smith.

First Thrashers game was the tie with Buffalo in the first season, the Thrashers first point. Hasek was actually chased from that game. It was a great time.

Russian

August 4th, 2009
12:21 pm

Toby

August 4th, 2009
12:25 pm

Only problem is Zherdev is now an UFA. Rumor is he is either going to get $4.5-ish or head to the KHL. That’s probably more coin than Dub is able to spend.

Alan

August 4th, 2009
12:28 pm

Toby: What Kovalchuk wants, Kovalchuk gets. The owners said they’re committed to keeping Kovalchuk here. So if Kovalchuk says “I want Zherdev” …well, you know.

ranallo10 (in AT)

August 4th, 2009
12:39 pm

Zherdev is a fine talent, I hope he gets talked to if he becomes available.

Isn’t Backman still available too? He’s another player I wouldn’t mind hearing Atlanta rumors about.

World Be Free

August 4th, 2009
12:46 pm

Tyler Myers is too skinny. Sabres need to take him over to the Polish Villa and feed him some Golabki (Stuffed Cabbage) Potato and Cheese Pierogi.

Russian, sorry to disagree, but Zherdev not Brian Burke’s kinda players. The only reason Burke would sign him is so he would have a punching bag for the rest of his goons to beat up during training camp.

Russian

August 4th, 2009
12:51 pm

[b]to WBF[/b]
I will be happy if Burke will not take him. Zherdev played with Kovy on Last World Championship. He got a Gold Medal.

World Be Free

August 4th, 2009
12:54 pm

MashaPlayer7-I will offer my full assessment of the Malholtra situation when more facts have been put on the table. as I have stated before, IF a contract offer has been made a commitment should have been rendered by this time.

PL

August 4th, 2009
1:01 pm

My daughter attended a game with a Canadian friend and sat somewhere in the 400’s. She loved it so I promised another game “next year”. As luck would have it “next year” was the lock out. I thought she would never remember wanting to attend. Then the next season the Thrashers offered a free ticket to a game for completing the summer reading program at the Cobb County Public Library. We took them up on the offer and the rest is history, we’ve been partial season ticket holders ever since. She can now yell at the refs, linemen, and opposing players in Russian, Swedish, Finnish, German and Spanish and I believe Elvish. I will miss our mother daughter trips to hockey games this year as she turned down a full scholarship to a southern school in order to go to a Minn. college with a hockey team.

LAC

August 4th, 2009
1:01 pm

Rangers walk away from Zherdev arbitration award… Well do we or don’t we ?????????

The Earl of Bud

August 4th, 2009
1:02 pm

World Be Free, I actually know some folks that have some oranges and blues now that the building is torn down. I liked your recommendation for Myers too, dziękuję.

Zherdev is not Burke’s kind of player and I really don’t think he is Kovalchuk’s kind of player either. Look at how Kovalchuk lays his heart out on the ice. Do you really think he will want the Zherdevs, Kovalevs and Yashins that have come from the mother country?

ranallo10 (in AT), Backman is available but I see no use for him hear. Backes on the other hand I would love, is that who you are thinking of? Who would you cut to make room for Backman?

Rawhide

August 4th, 2009
1:08 pm

PL – That’s beautiful! best of luck to her at school! Ya know, it is sometimes hard for me to come to grips with the fact that my oldest will be college bound this time next year…knocking wood

LAC – Interesting. It would depend on the price, I guess.

R. Stroz

August 4th, 2009
1:09 pm

Does anyone know who Zherdev’s agent is?

Russian

August 4th, 2009
1:12 pm

Zherdev is very good player. Kovy will like to play with him. Columbus Coach (Hichcok, I hope spell right) is not like any Russians. I do not know WHY? He never gave Fedorov time to play, Zherdev was in same situation. Now they got Filatov and he is not on Final Roster yet. Anyway, then Nik has been moved to NYR he played in 2-3 line. NYR has lot of “Stars” and he could not show up very well. He will be very comfortable in our team. He knows Kovy, plus he played with Antropov in NYR. I think if Don will pick up a phone and give him a call and tell him $4 by 4 ($4 mln on 4 years) Zherdev will play for us.

World Be Free

August 4th, 2009
1:26 pm

Russian/LAC
There’s the tempation to take a flier on Zherdev becuase of his talent. Do the Thrashers? I hate to say it, but I would leave part of the decision to Kovy.

Why? Nobody has been able to motivate “Z” into being an all around player. But maybe Kovy and his relationship with Zherdev can get him to an all around game?

ranallo10 (in AT)

August 4th, 2009
1:32 pm

Here’s another way to look at the idea of signing Zherdev…does signing a player like Zherdev help the team in the unfortunate event that Kovalchuk does NOT re-sign in Atlanta?

I would argue he does. Zherdev-Peverley-Antropov and Kane-White-Little is not exactly a formidable top 2 lines, but is an improvement over the possibility that Kane is left as the franchise’s #1 LW if Kovalchuk doesn’t re-sign.

The Earl of Bud

August 4th, 2009
1:34 pm

Russian, I would not blame the lack of playing time in Columbus for Zherdev on Ken Hitchcock and what you perceive to be a bias against Russians. I say that because of this quote on his release today from the Rangers: “Zherdev’s season was marked by intermittent stretches of indifference that earned benchings from both Tom Renney and John Tortorella, head coaches of disparate approaches and personalities who both were frustrated by the winger’s failure to compete on a consistent basis.

Hitchcock, Renny, Tortorella. Every NHL coach Zherdev has had has benched him for his lack of effort. Do we really want to add Anderson’s name to that list?

As for your reference to Zherdev winning a gold medal, keep this in mind. Russia released its Olympic camp roster today. It will have 19 forwards competing for a spot. None of them are named Zherdev.

LAC

August 4th, 2009
1:39 pm

Another interesting tidbit from today…

The Chicago Blackhawks have named Kevin Cheveldayoff as their new assistant general manager.

ranallo10 (in AT)

August 4th, 2009
1:44 pm

WBF — Backman is who I was talking about. He would add size to the back line (6′4 210), is a defensive minded defender, and is still relatively young (29). I envision him as a third pairing defender for Atlanta, which would leave the 6/7 slot for open competition between Salmella (likely 6th)and Valabik/Oystrick/Welch.

Upon Kubina’s imminent departure I see Backman as a serviceable #4 defender that could pair with Hainsey, opening a defensive spot for Valabik/Oystrick/Kulda/Postma full time.

I’m not against the defense as it stands now, but I don’t see Salmella on the same level as many posters here seem to. In my opinion any improvement to the defense is welcome, so long as the age and dollars are right. But I’m not opposed to seeing a prospect learn the hard way at the NHL level as the team’s #6 defender.

ranallo10 (in AT)

August 4th, 2009
1:46 pm

LAC — Check the 7:41pm post.