Friday, January 18, 2008

Meet The Flyers STH Event

Last night, I went to an event sponsored by the Flyers for season ticket holders to come down to the Wachovia Center to meet the team. Basically, it's one big 3 hour autograph session. It's not possible to actually meet the whole team, mind you, but if you plan things out right, you can meet about 12 guys.

Usually, these "meet the team" events consist of a lot of standing in line, waiting for your turn to get your autograph from the player and have a brief exchange that goes something like this:

Fan: Hey (insert player's name or nickname here)! How's it going?

Player: Good thanks.

(player mindlessly scribbles his name and looks for the next thing to sign)

Fan: Thanks (insert player's name or nickname here)!

(fan shuffles along like cattle)

Believe me, I'm not complaining about the event. It's a tribute to the Flyers marketing department (South Jersey boy Shawn Tilger specifically) that they think enough of their season ticket holders to hold free events like this. But honestly, when it comes to interacting with the players, there just isn't a lot to say to some of these guys and it's obvious that some of these guys would much rather be enjoying their evening off chasing college poon down at Plough and the Stars or the Irish Pub.

Now that I'm getting on in age, married, with a young son of my own (btw: he's still too young to enjoy these events), I don't get the same thrill out of meeting some of these guys as I might have when I was younger. The fact that I'm older than most of them is a bummer, so getting autographs from a guy 10+ years younger than me is a bit weird. I have nothing against collecting autographs as long as it's done tastefully and autographs are not solicited out in public. I have a decent size autograph collection, but most of the autographs I have fall into one of two categories:

1.) Autographs I obtained before the age of 18 from baseball card shows (I worked for a baseball card dealer in high school).
2.) Autographs I obtained from Flyers season ticket holder events since 1998.

I am not the kind of weirdo to go up to these guys when they are out and about doing their thing. I think it's ridiculous that people think they can just button hole these guys and nag them for their autograph.

Anyways, I figured I'd go check this event out, if for no other reason, than to do some people watching, because the Flyers have a very diverse fan base (everything from puck bunnies to Flyers fan club dorks). Not only that, I really needed a night out of the house, which is probably how some of the married players feel, because they seemed to be interactive with the fans.

Some observations:

- I was early getting to the event, that started for some at 6pm (full season ticket holders?), but only for some people. For most, the event started at at 6:30pm (partial season ticket holders?). I didn't know this until I got to the event and let me tell you: this pissed off the 6:30 people greatly. They didn't like playing second fiddle for getting in lines to meet their favorite player and I guess I don't blame them. They should have made the 6:00pm enter through a seperate entrance, just the 6:30 folks would not know until they were already in the building.

- While waiting in line, someone was wondering whether or not recently-concussed Joffrey Lupul would be there signing autographs and if so, would he sign Eric Lindros' name?

- When they let people in, the guy everyone wanted to meet was Danny Briere, so I figured I'd start in that line first. The way the Flyers set this up is they station two (or sometime three) players at some location in the upper deck and club level and they attempt to pair really popular players (like Simon Gagne) with players who might not attract any fan attention (Denis Topelko, for example). Briere was paired with Jim Dowd, who is lucky to have a job right now. Briere looks even younger in person. He reminds me of the emo guy you might have in your group of friends that is always real sensitive around the ladies. The ladies, naturally, are all gathering for Briere.

- Next stop: Jason Smith and RJ Umberger. Jason Smith looks even more beat up in person. He was still sporting a huge shiner over his left eye and a huge bloody knot on the bridge of his nose. This guy has seen some battles this year. His hands were a gnarled mess. I wanted to break Umberger's balls about OSU getting beat again in the football National Championship game, but I couldn't come up with anything witty to say, so I thought it best to stay quiet.

- I discover they are selling beer at this event (for the low, low price of $6! WOOHOO!) and immediately grab one and get in line to meet Braydon Coburn, Steve Downie, and Mike Knuble. All of the players are cordial. Steve Downie looks like the kid that offered to cut my lawn last summer. Downie youth is evident in his face as you can tell he's still struggling with acne problems. He needs to hook himself up with some proActiv now that he's making that proverbial fat NHL cash. Knuble's lazy eye (old hockey injury?) is a bit disconcerting, but he seems like a nice dude.

- I buy another beer and figure out who to see next. I wanted to go see Kimmo Timonen and Derian Hatcher next, but went into the wrong line and ended up waiting for Jeff Carter and Riley Cote. Carter seemed the pleasant sort, but Riley Cote is a guy who seemed to like meeting the people. He was very free with the small talk and banter. It's kind of a stereotype with some of the NHL enforcers in that they are the gregarious sort, and I guess Cote fits that.

- It's getting to the point where I've been at this event for 2 hours and I'm getting tired of standing around. I figure, I'll wait in one more line and that's that. I pick the goalie line to meet Martin Biron and Antero Niitymaki. At this point of the evening, the place is packed and every line is full. I get another beer and settle in for about an hour of waiting. While in line, folks behind me relay a story about how when a few of the fans went through the Danny Briere line, that they told Jim Dowd they didn't want his autograph. I thought that was just fucked up. Why would anyone say that? Dowd's been around for 17 years and he's one of the few guys on the team older than me, so I'm sure he took it in stride.


Anonymous said...

is there going to be something like this sometime soon again? I am a huge fan of one of the players and would love to meet him.

Anonymous said...

Is there going to be something like this again sometime soon? i am a huge fan of one of the players and would do anything to meet him.

JohnDewar said...

The Flyers are an easy group to meet if you really wanted to meet one of them bad enough.

The free autograph events usually come up about once a year for Season ticket holders.

The Flyers also hold their annual carnival. This year, the carnival is Sunday Feb. 24th.

Also: Going to one of the Flyers' practices in Vorhees is a good place to meet them. They are usually pretty good about signing after practice.

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