Sunday, August 30, 2009

Focus on a Thrasher: Colby Armstrong

I love Colby Armstrong. Who doesn't? I mean seriously, do you ever hear anyone say "God, Armstrong is such a bastard, I hate him. He's such a nice guy. Look at that face, how can you not love him?? As much as I love goalies, if I had to pick one player to hang out with, it would probably be Colby because he seems like he would be so much fun to be with. You know a player is a good guy when the fans of his old team wishes he was still there and constantly hopes for him to re-sign. Sorry Pens, he's ours!

I'm not sure there is any video of Colby that doesn't make me crack up. There are tons of funny Army videos on line and on the Thrashers site.

Here (at about minute 1:02) he starts talking about how he'll beat the other Thrashers players competing in the World Championships. This includes him one-punching the "Boris stank eye" right off of 6'7'' Boris Valabik's face.

Here we get to see Toby's skills as an interviewer as he interviews Toby Enstrom

More Interviewing skills with an interview with Zach Bogosian (is Zach drunk??? What a brain :p )

You can find dozens of funny Colby videos on youtube. Most of them have comments like "I wish he was back" and "I miss him." I've already posted a bunch of videos, but this is my favorite. Why can't I open up a bag and have Flower pop out??

Colby Joseph Armstrong was born on November 23, 1982 in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.

Colby is far from the only athlete in his family. His mother is figure skating instructor (maybe she could teach me). He also has a brother named Riley who is in the Calgary Flames organization. His sister, Tiffany, plays soccer for the University of Saskatchewan. His cousin, Nathan Gafuik, is a gymnast with the national team of Canada.

Well no wonder he skates so well! Do you think he ever got into the figure skating thing? Oh yeah, Army did some figure skating. He was an up and coming young figure skater in Saskatoon and once made it all the way to the sectionals. His mom Rosemary said his best jump was the double Salchow.

When Army wasn't doing Salchows and using jazz hands, he was playing youth hockey. He played for the Saskatoon Red Wings and the Saskatoon Blazers.

More fun Army facts, he attended St. Joseph High School in Sasketoon with LA Kings forward, Jarret Stoll.

Colby played his junior hockey with the Red Deer Rebels. In his first full season with the Rebels, 1999-00, he played in68 games. He ranked 4th in scoring with 38 points. He ranked 6th in penalty minutes. He led the team with a plus-30.

Army started his second season with the Rebels and played 72 games in the 2000-01 season. He ranked 4t in Red Deer again, but had 78 points this season and was ranked 3rd in goals on his team. He had 8 game winning goals that season.

Colby was drafted in the 1st round (21st overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He continued playing in Red Deer.

The 2001-02 season was Army's final season of junior hockey with the Rebels and he served as team captain. He played in 64 games and scored 68 points.

During his time in the WHL, Army recorded 185 points in 205 games with Red Deer. He appeared in 46 play off games and tallied 29 post season points.

With his junior hockey career over, Army reported to the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the 2002-03 season. In his first season as a Baby Pen he played in 73 games and scored 18 points.

Colby banged around with the Baby Pens for another 3 seasons. While he usually put up good numbers, 2004-05 was a break out season for Colby. He played in 80 games and scored 55 points. He saw increased ice time, plus action in special teams and ice time late in the game.

Colby was hoping that his outstanding play in the 2005-06 season with the Baby Pens would lead to a spot on the roster with the big boys, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately, for the fourth season in a row, Army was assigned to the Baby Pens. He did not get discouraged though:

Armstrong: I was down there quite a long time, but looking back, it was probably a good thing. You always want to get (to the NHL) as fast as you can, but I think I was a late bloomer. I think I needed the time down there to work on aspects of my game.

Pittsburgh wasn't doing that hot in the 2005-06 season though and on December 29, 2005 Colby Armstrong made his NHL debut against the New Jersey Devils. He never returned to the Baby Pens. Colby went from clearing waivers to playing on a line with league superstar, Sidney Crosby.
Armstrong: I don't know how that happens. When I came up, I was playing limited ice time, killing penalties. It wasn't until 10 or 12 games that I started feeling comfortable. They gave me a chance on a couple of power plays playing with Sid and Mark Recchi. Maybe I got my opportunity by default because Ziggy Palffy retired. But things suddenly started going very well.

Colby started the 2006-07 with the Pens. He played in 80 games and scored 34 points. All 12 of his goals were scored when the game was tied or with his team trailing. He scored three overtime goals, tying a team record held by Jaromir Jagr.

Though Colby started the 2007-08 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, changes were coming. On February 26, 2008 Army, along with Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito, and a first round pick, was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. (damn I miss Dupuis)

And that's how Army ended up a Thrasher. I felt sad for Army when he got traded, he seemed kind of stunned. I know he had a lot of good friends in Pittsburgh, including Sidney Crosby. Some fans think that he gives a half ass effort because he never really wanted to play here. I think that's bullshit. I think Army has too much pride in his play. Sure he misses his friends, but he wouldn't have been able to get the same ice time, opportunities and an "A" on his chest there. They have too many good players, we need a few! Army is a professional and now is one of the Thrashers' fan favorites.

Last season Army won the Dan Snyder Memorial Award. This award was created in 2004 to commemorate Dan Snyder, who died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in September 2003. The award is given to the player who best embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed. You go, Army!

Army has gotten to do some pretty cool things in his career.
He was a member of the 2007 Canadian IIHF World Championship-winning team. His only goal of the tournament was the game-winning goal in the gold medal game against Finland. He also played for Canada in the IIHF World Championship in 2009.

Army also got to play in the 2008 Winter Classic between Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

This is one of my favorite Army pictures. The junior player of the game during this game must have been like 4 or 5 and could barely skate. He stumbled over to Army during the National Anthem. When it was time to skate to the bench, this little guy couldn't make it on his own. Army practically had to carry him. What a good guy!

I almost forgot, Colby married his long time sweetie Mel this summer right here in Atlanta at the amazing Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Congratulations Colby and may you and Melissa find much happiness!

Blogger friends and followers...I need your help. Vote for me!

I decided to enter the Hainsey pic in the "Fandamonium" category of the ESPN contest and the Sharkie pic for mascots. I don't have any real hopes of winning the categories, but think if I can con some friends into voting for me, I could take "People's Choice." I'm currently in 3rd place. That kid in the baseball uniform is tough! So if you would please go here and vote for me. Thanks :)

I do love this Hainsey picture. He stands in the same spot every time during warm ups. I've got dozens of pictures like this, but this time I was lucky enough to catch some devoted female fans showing their devotion.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I need your help

My husband pointed out that ESPN magazine is having a photo contest. He thinks I should enter. I take pictures because I enjoy it and if I'm lucky I get some decent ones to entertain you guys. Every now and again I'll get one or two that I think is "good." I'm a hack compared to even some of the photographers I know, like Mr. Fred, the god of Thrashers photography. I don't really think I have a prayer to win one of the real contests. I do however think that I could pull off "people's choice" because I belong to a very active scrapbooking message board where I could probably convince a few of the 20,000 best friends there to vote for me. Maybe I over estimate my pull on them.

ANYWAY. I thought I would ask you guys opinion. There are a few options. It's $12 per entry and there are 4 categories. Since I really don't think I could win one of the categories. Should I enter once just to get in the "people's choice" or blow $50 and enter all of the categories.

1. Fandamonium

2. Zoom if everyone things I should enter Zoom, I have several options to vote on as well as this picture of a Marty Brodeur glove save.

3. Faces of the Game I have several to chose from as well for this category. If this category is chosen, I'll post more pics to vote on.

4. Mascots

Link to the contest is here:

Does Atlanta Have the Worst Fans? a/k/a/ douche bags on parade

Atlanta Thrashers fans have been abuzz this week due to a blog post on "The State Of Hockey News" listing Atlanta Thrashers as having the worst fans in the entire NHL.
His very scientific way of deciding this was that he went into a sports store and said he found nothing Thrashers related and the people looked at him like he was nuts. Of course you can take apart the way he came up with this. My biggest gripe is we were worse than Phoenix. REALLY?? There are some great Phoenix fans. I know this for a fact because one of my faithful followers is a die hard Yotes fan. But, they can barely get a full rally to support their team! How in the hell are we worse than Phoenix?? And the fact that they actually moved UP on his scale from last season is almost as ridiculous as him putting the Chicago Blackhawks at #2. Also ridiculous was the fact that our online presence was rated very low. Funny being that in March the NHL said we had the second busiest message board behind Vancouver and probably one of the largest blogopsheres in the league.

Atlanta is notoriously a bad sports city for all sports. The main reason is we are a city of transplants. People move here but usually keep their childhood sports affiliations. At best, they pull for Atlanta teams most of the time, but their former home team when said team comes to town. Another reason we have weak showings for sports is we have a lot to choose from. We have NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB as well as college sports. College football is a religion in the south.

Do we have the worst fans? We do have some bad ones. I've been to 5 other NHL arenas (Nashville, Raleigh, MSG, New Jersey and Philly) and noticed some differences. Early this season I started taking pictures of some of the stuff I saw at games that irritated me. Is this photo evidence we have bad fans?

These photos are done in good fun...for the most part. I've taken precautions to prevent the identities of the douche bags in the pictures from being recognized. If you see yourself in a picture, laugh it off. If you are upset, stop being a douchebag and you won't wind up in any more.

Atlanta fans come late. There are some reasonable explanations for some. Traffic is a BITCH in Atlanta. It's as bad as you've heard, no WORSE. For many it's hard to get off at 5 or 6 and make it to a 7:00 start. You have a free pass.

Funny thing though on Saturday or Sunday games, regardless of the time...people are late. It doesn't matter if the game is 7:00 or 7:30 on weeknights...people are late. For some reason Thrashers fans can't seem to make it to the game on time. And I don't mean a few minutes late. Any were from 15 minutes to beginning of the 2nd period late. I'm sure all of the people in these pictures are late due to delivering a baby, performing open heart surgery or feeding the hungry. Yeah, right. Note: Puck is in play during both photos.

Can't get her on time, get here when you can!

At least these guys have their priorities straight...they have their beer.

When you get to the game...SIT THE HELL DOWN. At least in a few of these, there was a stoppage. Atlanta fans have no idea of the concept "puck in play." Although a few of the ones Shauna and I have sat near now have a good working knowledge of it.

Why do you need to stand up to use the phone?

I'm sorry sir, you get a big thumbs down from me.

No real harm here. There was action going on, but he's not blocking any one's view. I just thought it was funny.
Yes, I'm sure you totally have a chance with them. Note the jersey.

Bananaphone? Bat phone? It's a pain in my ass phone.

Not only do they not see you, they don't give a shit. Sit the fuck down.

Cell phones have made our lives so much better, right? Easy access, convenience, and they are great for emergencies. I use my phone at hockey games. During the breaks I'll take my phone out, message my husband if he isn't there, check some texts, etc. Some people come and use their phones during the entire games.

These pictures were all taken while there was action going on. I'm sure all phone calls were life and death.



Maybe they are such big hockey fans they are checking the highlights from other hockey games...or they are checking basketball scores. FAIL.

text text text

I guess I'd want to call someone too if I had those seats. Of course I'd wait until the intermission.

Phones, getting up, flirting who knows what you'll see at a game sometimes. Sometimes it's just too bizarre to categorize.

This guy read the paper during a good portion of the game.

Okay, I know sometimes last season the games were painful to watch, but really??? (yes, he's sleeping)

These folks were listening to headphones for the whole game. Maybe an ipod? Maybe listening to the radio and our fantastic play by play guy Dan Kamal? Who knows.

The next category is kind of a slippery slope for me. I could end up being a hypocrite. Pictures at the game. Obviously I have not problems with people taking pictures, I take about 150 - 200 pictures per game myself. I never get up (unless everyone does). I don't get in people's way. I don't use a flash. I am very polite. Others are not.

It's a camera phone. Sit down, it's going to look like shit anyway.

Not really a problem. He isn't blocking a view and it's obviously a stoppage in play. I just thought it was funny in a creepy way.

Great, you and your bud are at a hockey game. Could you do that during the intermission? Hell, if you ask me during the intermission, I'll take it for you. I do that all the time for people.

So after they've arrived late, gotten up 15 times for a beer and bathroom, texted the whole game and taken poor camera phone pictures...what's next? Well they leave early of course. One of my biggest pet peeves. Yada yada beat traffic, I know. Again, there are legitimate excuses to leave early. I'm sure all of these people have them.

See ya, suckers.

Leaving early from such good seats...tragedy!

If you are going to leave early how about you DON'T do it when the action is still going?

This little guy is the douche trifecta. It's really not his fault, he's like 6. So his dad gets the credit. He's sitting on his dad's lap, wearing a hat, blocking my view AND he's on the phone. EPIC WIN in the land of FAIL.

The award for the strangest thing I've seen has to go to this lady at the Canadiens game breastfeeding her two year old. Now the breastfeeding in public argument can be argued ferociously on both sides. We Americans tend to be a little prudish when it comes to stuff like this. The main thing is the kid was like 2 and it's a hockey game! I'm wearing a long sleeve shirt, jeans and a jersey and some gloves. She was French Canadian though, so maybe it was like a balmy summer day for her.

These people could possibly be the douches of the season. They arrived with 15 minutes left in the THIRD period to some of the best seats in the house. I'm honestly surprised someone hadn't already mooched into the seats by this time. Maybe they broke down, maybe something came up, who knows. Maybe I'm just petty and was jealous of their seats. (A realistic possibility)

So yeah, I have photographic evidence that we definitely have some douche bags at Phillips Arena. I've also got other evidence.

We have a group of faithful fans that line the glass during warm ups. They have signs for everything from congratulating players on accomplishments to asking Zach Bogosian to the prom.

Of course you have yours truly on the glass with camera in hand and various signs. You can see I'm not the only one.

We have this awesome family who makes all of these signs out of wood. Later in the season they cut the middle out of Hainsey's "6" and the little boy puts his adorable face in the middle of it.

Speaking of Hainsey, he certainly is not lacking in fans.

We have smoked chicken nachos in the club section. If everyone could taste these the entire world would be Thrashers fans.

We've got fans crazy enough to travel around supporting the Thrashers even in the toughest cities. Sally Cersosima (I'm sure I murdered her name) 2008 7th Man traveled to every arena in the Eastern Conference to see them play.

Yeah, I know...the arena is empty. I'm dedicated, not crazy.

We've got the most awesome sign ever.

We have some crazy Thrashers kid fans like this little guy who wears a goalie mask to all the games. Another of my favorite kids is the little blond kid up in the 300 section. When they do the "unleash the fury" clip, he windmills his hair. He kicks total ass.

We have the old people kissing. This is an elderly couple who attends all of the games. They always put them on the kiss cam and the crowd goes nuts.

We have a parrot....wait, WTF?

More crazy Thrashers kids at warm up begging for attention and pucks. Cole rocks.

We have this guy, the Heatmeiser. Not only does he come dressed like this to all the games, it's his personal mission in life to piss off Mary St. Louis. He usually does.

One of the best things about Thrashers fans, we dominate on a road trip. This January 151 people headed over to Raleigh to see our guys play the Hurricanes. Even though we got shut out, we cheered and chanted the entire game.

During warm up we completely covered the glass on the visiting side. We chanted, sang and cheered. The players were stunned.

We had flags, horns and even a drum...until he got tossed out.

We have two road trips this season, one back to Raleigh and one to Nashville. There will be about 300 people going to Nashville. Go Thrashers!!

So yeah, we live in a shitty sports town. We are a non-traditional hockey market and the Thrashers aren't the #1 game in town. When we fill our stadium to 78% capacity (thanks for the stat Mr. State of Hockey News) we do have some douche bags. But we have great fans and every season we have more and more. We have a core group of fans that are every bit as dedicated to our team as fans you find in Montreal and Toronto. If the team starts winning and people start coming to games, we will have more and more. Basically we need some winning and some hockey etiquette lessons.

Another great way we are trying to get fans on board is the newly formed Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club. My buddy Lisa Lewis is the founder and president and has really busted her ass getting this thing up and running. If you are interested in joining, click on the link below. They are really trying to boost the presence of Thrashers fans with this club. Plus you get goodies, discounts and the chance to hang with players.

Also, another good read is the response to The State of Hockey News by Mark Bradley in the AJC. He makes some good points and uses the ugly truth to show exactly what great fans we actually are.


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