This past Saturday morning the Atlanta Thrashers were kind enough to invite a handful of bloggers out to the morning skate for media access. Ben Wright from the Blueland Blog hosted representatives from the Blueland Roar, Fanthrashtic, Thrashers411, Birdwatchers Annonymous, and myself, Razor Catch Prey of the Blueland Chronicle.
We were welcomed into the lower bowl of Philips to observe as Moose took to the ice well before the rest of the team, as we are told he does for every pregame skate. Anssi Salmela eventually joined him and the two engaged in a game that consited of alternately firing pucks from center ice into the net. The goal is to hit the net without first hitting ice or iron. Despite playing with a goalie stick and in full goalie pads, Moose performed admirably. Matt McConnel joined us as we watched the rest of the team come on ice and begin roughly structured exercises intended to get loose and stretched out.
As always, McConnel is a lot of fun to talk to. He's glad to be back in Atlanta and back doing play by play after being in the studio last year. We discussed what he and Darren Elliot try to accomplish on the air, what he and the rest of us have gathered from the team's performance thus far, and our philosophies on blogging. We didn't gather anything shocking to reveal to you in this discussion, just an appreciation for a good guy in the organization. There were some very interesting things said off the record, but obviously those have to go unrepeated.
After the pre-game skate, we meandered through the bowels of the arena to set up shop outside the locker room. Ben Wright had informed us that we would have an opportunity to interview Chris Thorburn. On the way to the locker room, we passed Eric Boulton who recognized us and called out "you're not going to have to talk to Thorburn are you?"
The bloggers were present for Coach Anderson's post-skate press conference, which consisted of Ben Wright, Dan Kamal, and Chris Vivlamore asking a couple of questions each and JA giving the same answers he had given after the game Thursday night, almost verbatim. He went back into the locker room and we were left to our own devices for several minutes, politely nodding at players as they passed by, waiting for Chris Thorburn to come out for his interview.
When he emerged from the locker room, Thorbs discussed what it's like as a professional hockey player being traded. He said that it would have been much more difficult had he been married, but for a young single guy getting traded isn't all that big of a deal. He saw his trade to Atlanta as an opportunity and set a personal goal of sticking with the NHL club which he hadn't done previously.
Next, I asked Thorburn about the feel of the locker room from the time he joined the team through today. He immediately said that the level of excitement this season was previously unmatched. He went on to answer questions about killing penalties and how it's different skating with Marty the Party rather than Slater. In his words, when you get the puck to Marty Reasoner you'd better get open because he's going to be looking to make a play.
Before he bid adieu, I asked Thorbs for a favor. We didn't know who we might be interviewing, and I had speculated that it might well be Rich Peverly since he just signed his contract extension this week. My fiance had run out and bought a Pez Dispenser that I could present to the Pevs Dispenser. I explained the nickname to Thorburn and, laughing merrily, he agreed to present it to Peverly on behalf of the Chronicle.
We went back out to the seats to watch the Sharks pregame skate and talk blogging with the very knowlegeable and pleasant Julie from HockeyBuzz. I have to admit that I am not familiar with her work since HockeyBuzz is blocked at my office, but she certainly seems to know her stuff. She is working on what I gather to be a personality profile story on Evander Kane for Versus. Hopefully DirecTV will start carrying the network again in time for me to catch some of it.
Thanks to the Thrashers and their staff for inviting us to the event.
For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.