All Stars

We all know that there are Quirky fans (legions, right?) and we all know that there are hockey fans (maybe slightly less than the number of Quirky fans), but because most Quirky fans reside south of the Mason-Dixon line where hockey is not quite as popular as other sports (football, baseball, underwater basket weaving), the number of Quirky fans who are ALSO hockey fans are probably rare. (My official guess is 2, +/- 2, so who knows?). That probably also means that the number of people who really care about my trip to the All Star game is...okay, just me. But stick around anyway, because you'd be surprised how addicting grown men chasing a little piece of frozen rubber around while carrying large sticks and occasionally pummeling each other can be.

For those who didn't know (everyone), the NHL (National Hockey League) does this thing where fans can vote for their favorite hockey players to come down to Atlanta and have a stompin' good time playing a hockey game with other fan favorites in a "just for fun" game. During this weekend, there would be all kinds of fun hockey stuff to do, like play on the same team as other hockey favorites, and participate in skills competitions, and purchase incredibly overpriced hockey memorabilia. And Tony, being an A number 1 hockey fan, and me, a supportive wife who doesn't mind hockey, decided to go and witness the festivities.

Tony and I hang out by the zamboni in Atlanta. He is sporting his Tampa Bay Lightening jersey, and I'm supporting the San Jose Sharks.

First off, being a hockey fan at the All Stars is amazing for the sole purpose that you're surrounded by other people who are also, and thus can identify, other hockey fans. This may not be unusual if you live in Russia or Canada, or even Detroit or Anaheim, but it is very unusual when you are used to being the only hockey fan in the entire state. I've had people ask if that was a football jersey that I was wearing, or know that it was a hockey jersey, but not what team it stood for. ("What's the name of the team you like? That one with the face on the front?" Yes, I'm talking to you Mother). But during All Star weekend, EVERYONE knows who your team is, and will also quite frequently, break out in a team cheer as you pass.

Anyway, Tony and I donned our official hockey jerseys and headed down to Atlanta on Saturday. We checked into the hotel and then moseyed downtown for the official All-Star red carpet arrival. Here's a picture of some random hockey player on the red carpet surrounded by 50 bajillion hockey fans, and spouses of hockey fans, and children of hockey fans, and a couple of confused homeless guys who couldn't quite figure out what was happening but didn't want to miss any of the action either.
Massive crowds of hockey fans hoping for a glimpse of their favorite players on the red carpet.

After that, Tony and I raced the crowds to a little Mexican restaurant, which had the genius and forethought to be offering a special abbreviated menu "just for hockey fans" (which is Spanish for "we've quadrupled our prices and you'll still wait an hour to get a table"). After some tasty $40
enchiladas, we headed over to the arena to watch the famed skills competition. The skills competition consists of a 4 part obstacle course relay, fastest skater races, an elimination shootout, the youngstars game (which is an abbreviated game for all the NHL rookies), accuracy shooting, fastest shot, and finally the breakaway challenge (which is like Olympic freestyle skate only with an attempt to score a goal at the end). It was awesome. The pictures do not relay the awesome awesomeness.
The obstacle course relay, where Mr. Hockey Man is attempting to "one-time" past the goalie and into the net.

The fastest skater race, where you will note in the picture above that one Duncan Keith, who happens to be a cutie-patootie member of the Chicago Blackhawks, is totally smoking his competition. (Keith is the one in the white jersey with the "picture of the face on the front" - in case Mom was curious).

Here's everybody getting ready for the Rookie game, which basically translates to a lot of stretching and willy-nilly skating all over the place.

All that happened on Saturday. The next day, Tony and I took a break from hockey player mania and spent the morning in the Georgia Aquarium. It's supposed to be the largest aquarium in the world, and it is a sight to behold. I highly recommend it. A funny thing happened while we were in the Amazon River part though. I was looking at piranha when Tony suddenly realizes that that really tall guy over there? The one that's all built? Yeah, he was the guy who won the fastest puck shot last night! He's a real live NHL hockey player! In the flesh! (Tony was very excited. I was surprised to learn that piranha don't eat people. If they bite you, it's by accident). We thought that both things (the player sighting and the piranha bites) were just flukes, but right around the electric eel tank, Tony spotted another player...and then another! It turns out that the aquarium was having some sort of player lunch (which sadly, we were not invited to) and after their vittles, the players were just wandering around, watching the beluga whales just like us commoners. It's always nice to be able to get right up close to minor celebrities...and stingrays.

Anyway, after the aquarium, we headed back for the main event, which was the All Star game. The East was playing the west, and because the Blackhawks are in the west, we were rooting for them. (Atlanta, however, is in the East, so everyone else in the arena was cheering for the East). It was a close game, but the East managed to pull one more goal out to win 7-6.

Before the game starts.More willy-nilly pregame skating. They do that a lot.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

When you come visit me, we can go to a Predators game and you can teach me everything you know. I've never been, but would love to check it out.