Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Is Atlanta a Hockey Town?

In a recent ESPN.com article Terry Frei came up with a list of criteria for a good hockeytown, so I thought it would be interesting to see how Atlanta fared. (You can read the full article here: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/columns/story?columnist=frei_terry&id=2568761)

"At least one radio sports talk show host in town can discuss who should play the point on the power play. "

Check. But just barely since I only count one guy in town who meets that criteria, John Kincaid. The sad thing for Atlanta hockey fans is that he is paired with a moron who usually tries to move the conversation back to college football.

"The NHL, whether for 80 years or eight, has spurred rink construction and participation in the sport, for players barely old enough to stay upright and for accountants dropping in at lunch. "

Has not happened so far. Since the Thrashers arrived the one new rink on the south side of town had to close. I hear that youth hockey enrollment is up but I haven’t seen any numbers about USA Hockey membership for the Atlanta area.

"The fan next to you who knows the life story of every player, can give you the rundown of the organizational prospects in the AHL and in college, and perhaps can excoriate the opposing winger in a voice that can peel paint, is just as likely to be female as male. Or maybe more likely."

Check. The woman next to me knows prospects, but her voice can’t peel paint.

"The hats are thrown on the ice before the puck is fished out of the net."

Check. Philips Arena has a display box which holds hats collected from the ice after a hat trick.

"Fans have come to understand the differences between Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. And when a writer or broadcaster is stupid enough to call a Slovak a Czech, the e-mails pile up."

I think they mostly know the difference, but are unlikely to waste their time correcting the piss-poor media.

"Nobody boos when the whistle blows because the winger was about 12 feet offside."

Check. Of course, half the fans boo whenever somebody on our teams gets called for anything.

"Fans spot the too-many-men-on-the-ice infractions, even the non-obvious ones, and are pointing and yelling before the calls are made."

Check, but only from the upper decks. The club seat fans are too busy calling people on their cell phones during the action.

"No one is surprised when the anthem singer first breaks into "O Canada" before the game against Edmonton."

Check. The last time Edmonton was in town they should have just played the “lets get ready to rumble” guy because that game featured the famous/infamous Kovalchuk versus Mike Comrie battle that included hair pulling. (Another reason why the current schedule is a crock—Kovy and Comrie should get renew their acquaintances every single season.)

"Fans care not only because they're in fantasy leagues and/or otherwise gamble on the games."

Check. Not that many fantasy hockey players down here unfortunately.

"Kate Smith is best remembered for "God Bless America."

Other than a smattering of Atlanta Flames fans, I doubt anyone in Atlanta understands the Kate Smith reference.

"A bar with a current or former hockey player's name on the sign can be a popular hangout, rather than a one-way ticket to failure."

Check. T.J.’s, owned and operated by T.J. Ecclestone former Atlanta Flame. Tim has been extremely nice to use NHL fans who want to reserve his room for playoff games, the All Star game, etc.

"Shut-ins" who haven't been to a game for years, if ever, circle the games in red on the TV schedule, watch every darned one and come to feel as if they know the fourth-line winger because he's always willing to talk between periods with a towel around his neck."

Hard to know this, but the team has probably not been around long enough to have developed shut-ins.

"The goalie can't go to the mall … or if he does, he signs autographs before heading into the Sharper Edge."

No. Hossa said he likes going to the mall and no one recognizing him here. A couple of seasons ago I spotted an injured Pasi Nurminen on the concourse with his family and no one was talking to him (so I did).

"If a disc jockey says "Five for Fighting" or "Barenaked Ladies" is next up, hockey fans get excited, and not because two enforcers brawling or a soundtrack from the Folies Bergere is on tap. They're about to hear from some of their own."

Maybe. It helps that the new arena answer is also a DJ on a local radio station. He definitely gives some hockey shout outs. A few seasons ago the DJ, who stands about 6’5” on skates, fell on top of a young guy who is maybe 5’6”. You could just see one random body part sticking out from underneath him. (Picture the witch that gets crushed under the Dorothy’s house at the start of the Wizard of Oz.) The next day Steve gave him an on-air apology for burying him.

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