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

J.B.

August 5th, 2009
8:44 am

assuming waddudley is not out of touch on vacation somewhere and totally oblivious to this zherdev thing, i can’t imagine them not at least calling our russians (yes, i know antropov is from what is now khazakstan, but it was all the ussr when those guys were born) to get a feel and possibly our stupid ownership group to see if they’ll pony up the dough for Nik #2.

Thrasher blue

August 5th, 2009
8:45 am

NZ or MM?? Depends on what JA/Wadudley wants from a team stand point. I like scoring…period. Could you put those 2 (Kovy n NZ) on a line together??

ranallo10 (in AT)

August 5th, 2009
8:53 am

Don’t forget that Hainsey also has some playing history with Zherdev, during their time in Columbus.

GaVaHokie

August 5th, 2009
9:13 am

ranallo… good point… so that’s three guys familiar with Zherdev’s play. That’s the definition of “plugging a guy” into your system.

He can immediately come in and play on a line with Kovalchuk and Antropov, with Hainsey and Kubina on Defense and there is instant familiarity.

R. Stroz

August 5th, 2009
9:28 am

Good point ranallo10, you get a gold star, smiley sticker, and a teacher from a Van Halen video.

Red Light

August 5th, 2009
9:41 am

I watched a lot of Zherdev last year. He came to NY with a reputation of being a one-way player and incessant drinker in Columbus. He clearly is not an 82-game player but over stretches can be an excellent addition on the offensive end. He actually battled pretty well for NY at times, but there is one similarity with both teams, neither have a top playmaking center. Examples: Gomez is 180-degree player going north-south all of the time, and Zherdev is an Eas-West guy, like so many Euro wingers. In actuality, Kovy and Gomez would be great together, but some guys can only play one style, like Zherdev. Other centers on NYR’s roster were Dubinsky, Betts and Drury, not exactly East-West playmaking types either. So, is there a center in Atlanta that Zherdev would benefit playing with? And, if you do sign him, he’s not going to be happy on the second or third line, and the last thing you need is a bad attitude.

That being said, I asked Rangers beat writer how Zherdev was getting along with the others in the room, and he told me that he was absolutely no problem and kept mostly to himself. Of course, his English isn’t too hot and the only other Russian on the team for most of the season last year was Kalinin.

Too risky!

Best memory for me in Atlanta was Opening Night 1999 when there was so much hope of things to come and actually being able to watch the NHL in Atlanta. In fact, each opening night of every season still offers hope.

“Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”
Ellis Boyd Redding, aka “Red”, The Shawshank Redemption

World Be Free

August 5th, 2009
9:55 am

Ranallo-I should have qualified my questions better. The questions assume Kovy will resign with Atlanta long term.

Hope to have more input from my fellow bloggers. I thing these are important questions.

ranallo10 (in AT)

August 5th, 2009
10:06 am

The teacher is nice but the gold star is really what makes my prizes so valuable. Thanks Stroz.

The Earl of Bud

August 5th, 2009
10:17 am

And how is it that anyone knows that Waddudley didn’t just get 2 nyets and a no from those 3 players that previously played with Zherdev? Do you think Waddudley would also consult say John Anderson? I don’t think he’s looking forward to Nik catching some Z’s here.

Keep in mind there’s also a lot of people who played in Atlanta with Bobby Holik, do you think every one of them is advising their GM to pick him up simply because they played together and there will be instant line chemistry? Don’t you think there’s some people who will say “Hell no!” Why wouldn’t you think Antro is possibly saying the same thing? Or would they say “Bobby Holik – 3 of us played with him so you would just be plugging him into our system!!!”

J.B.

August 5th, 2009
10:27 am

no one is saying waddudley didn’t get ‘nyets’ or ‘no’s’ on zherdev already. If they had and we knew about it, we wouldn’t be talking about it here. we don’t know whether calls will be, are being, or have been made nor do we know what kovy, antro, hainsey, or any other thrasher thinks of zherdev. that’s what makes it an intriguing discussion amongst us. i believe we’re in a unique situation here with waddudley wanting kovy’s input in the hopes of re-siging him; that’s how it differs from the holik example you mentioned. i do agree just playing with a couple of guys previously doesn’t make it a ‘plug and play’ scenario though.

TableHockey

August 5th, 2009
10:38 am

Since you guys brought up the teacher from Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher video – here’s a little trivia for you. The teacher in the video is Gretzky’s wife Janet-Marie Jones.

Keep that gem in your pocket – may save you during a trivia game one night.

Smoothie

August 5th, 2009
11:09 am

I would hope Waddudley is a little more pre-occupied with trying to re-sign IVK rather than waste their time trying to convince NZ to take $1 M less than what he was awarded in arbitration. Anyway, the pressure to sign Kovy just got a little more intense as the race to spend ASG dollars has ramped up a bit with the Hawks desire to extend Joe Johnson.

World Be Free

August 5th, 2009
11:55 am

Stroz- Hot for Teacher?
Maybe the best music video of all item.

GaVaHokie

August 5th, 2009
11:58 am

Earl… like JB pointed out… that’s exactly the point.

That’s why I said if Zherdev is on the team, we’d have to assume he got a vote of confidence from Antro, Kovy and Hainsey.

I don’t expect him to be on the team otherwise.

Thrasher blue

August 5th, 2009
11:59 am

red light. Andy:That’s the beauty of hope. They can’t get that from you… Haven’t you ever felt that way about hope?

Thrasher blue

August 5th, 2009
12:00 pm

i replaced music with hope

Thrasher blue

August 5th, 2009
12:02 pm

my favorite memory….getting my Marian Hossa action figure. i shower with it regularly

The Earl of Bud

August 5th, 2009
12:31 pm

“Earl… like JB pointed out… that’s exactly the point.

That’s why I said if Zherdev is on the team, we’d have to assume he got a vote of confidence from Antro, Kovy and Hainsey.

I don’t expect him to be on the team otherwise.”

GaVaHokie, I see what you’re saying, but is there anything that would make you assume that? I don’t see any reason at all to make that assumption. Therefore I wouldn’t make any speculations that it would be good for Zherdev to join the team or Waddudley to make a pitch to him.

As Smoothie pointed out, keep in mind that this guy was seeking $4.75 mil and was awarded $3.9 mil. If we pick up someone after spending that money on Kubina & Antro, it is going to be in the $2 mil Malhotra range or $1+ mil Bertuzzi range. Not the $4+ mil range. That alone makes me think even moreso that there is no way he is coming here.

GaVaHokie

August 5th, 2009
12:51 pm

Sure… Waddell went to Kozlov for a “vote of confidence” on Zhitnik… I don’t think it’s far fetched to believe Donnie wouldn’t talk to Antro, Kovy and Hainsey about Zherdev. If those guys say “he’s lazy, stay away” then I’d expect Waddell to back off.

As far as salary and adding Zherdev versus Malhotra and Bertuzzi… I think Zherdev is one of those guys you “didn’t expect to be available”… or maybe Waddudley had the foresight to sit back on their heels and see how his arbitration panned out.

A guy who’s not worth an expensive trade, and you’re certainly not going to make a qualifying offer to a guy seeking $4.75 million, not unless you want to give up several 1st round picks to the Rangers.

… now that he’s available, no strings attached, I think you have to inquire about him.

Just my opinion… I’m hoping in one hand and crapping in the other. :)

R. Stroz

August 5th, 2009
12:52 pm

WBF – “Maybe the best music video of all item.”

I must agree, the memory of the video got you so excited you turned time into item or was that just a Freudian slip for your desire to have you and the teacher to be a hot item?

ranallo10 – Gold stars for you.

TableHockey – I learned something today, thank you.

I wonder if Rick Tocchet watched that Van Halen video? Ooh, la, la

Smoothie

August 5th, 2009
1:00 pm

http://thrashersrecaps.blogspot.com/2009/07/where-does-antropov-fit-in-team.html

Speaking of recently signed free-agents who cost $4 M / year, here is an interesting analysis by some guy who reviewed Antropov’s last 82 goals scored, ES and on the PP. Considering he took the time to do the research, I would say it’s more than worth the time to read what he has to say. Enjoy!

Trixie (Rawhide's Secretary)

August 5th, 2009
1:07 pm

:!: RANALLO ALERT!! :!:

We are now on full RANALLO ALERT! This is not a drill.

Repeat….this is NOT a drill!!

New Rawhide blog has been posted.

Thank you

The Earl of Bud

August 5th, 2009
1:10 pm

GaVaHokie, I am doubtful the money is there for Zherdev. If we were able to spend the money to get $4 mil on Antro and $4 mil on Zherdev, I think Kovalchuk would’ve been more pleased combining that on $6+ mil on Cammalerri instead. Or do you think he wanted Antro so badly that he would’ve passed on Cammalleri?

The Earl of Bud

August 5th, 2009
1:14 pm

Smoothie, I just read that link of your’s. I think Antro will add the same thing to Kovalchuk’s line that Tkachuk added. Put Peverley out there to set them both up and it makes nice – One sniper, one banger and one passer.

GaVaHokie

August 5th, 2009
1:17 pm

I think he wanted Antro… and the fact he was cheaper, Waddell was more than happy to oblige.

Zherdev is a guy who’s ceiling is potentially worth double his asking price… a Waddell special… the trick is getting him to perform at a high level.

fes

August 5th, 2009
2:32 pm

Can someone please fix the headline on the thrashers page that reads Cherised Memory? I think you’re going for cherished…

Brendan

August 5th, 2009
6:24 pm

Saku Koivu would have cost $3.25 million, and not impacted our cap. Perhaps Kovy didn’t want him? Or, more than likely, Koivu wasn’t interested in Atlanta.

Brendan

August 5th, 2009
6:25 pm

I meant, next year’s Cap–the only for the 2010-2011 season. Hmmn, would you rather have Zherdev or Koivu, on a 1-year deal?

World Be Free

August 5th, 2009
8:02 pm

I asked the question-so let me provide my answer, Zherdev or Malhotra.

As much as I have dissed Manny, I would take him over NZ. Zherdev just has too many people down on him, in and out of the game. Malhotra plays both ends of the rink and you never have enough centers.