The League wanted me to share a bit with you about what a game night is like for an NHL mascot, so I thought I’d go back and walk through our Oct. 16 game against the Devils with you.
On game days I arrive at the arena at 4 p.m. Tonight is a little bit different, as I am preparing for my first solo time out with my Men In Black. Tonight is a special night as Thrash and his MIB's will be performing to M.C. Hammer's "U Can’t Touch This."
Because it's a special night, I arrive at the arena at 3 p.m. for a pre-game meal of birdseed, some Carolina BBQ, and for desert, chocolate covered thunderbugs. When dinner is done, it's time to go to work.
I have two guys who dress in black suits and serve as bodyguards/escorts during all Thrashers games. The two MIBs scheduled for tonight are Leighton Condell (ninth season) and Gabe Ramos (first season). They will perform as backup dancers along with their normal duties.
Everyone arrives at 4 p.m. sharp to learn and refresh themselves with tonight’s dance routine. The routine runs approximately 70 seconds, with everyone bringing the same kind of high energy that Hammer brought to his shows and videos.
The practice lasts about an hour before everyone takes a break to proceed with game-night duties.
5-5:30 p.m.: One of the MIBs is required to attend the game-night production meeting so he can mark down when I will be needed at promotions or seat visits throughout the game. During this time, I stretch and start getting dressed for the game. Outfit No. 1 for tonight is my regular hockey night attire —- blue and white shoes, hockey knee pads, socks, pants and home jersey.
5:30-6 p.m.: The MIBs get my toy chest from the storage area. The chest includes my drum, skates, T-shirts and a T-shirt launcher, air tanks, thunder sticks, autograph cards, extra jerseys, hockey pants, hockey helmet, stilts, different costumes, Sharpies, hockey tape, moonie man, Blueland flags, and tattoos. I am not sure if that thing has a bottom; it seems like I can put anything in that thing and it'll fit. If I can't find something in storage, then I'm sure it's in my toy chest.
6-6:45 p.m.: Here is where the fun starts. I am on my way to visit the groups of kids having their birthday parties at the game.
On my way to see the kids, I run into a lot of the opposing team players and referees who are warming up before getting dressed for the game. I can tell you that I am pretty good at running the ladder in the hallway from working with our trainer, Ray Bear.
I get up to the party and greet all the kids, who already are pumped about being at the game. We take individual pictures and a group shot, and then comes some real fun (although our environmental services department tends not to like me during this time) — POPCORN FIGHT!
After the parties, I'll walk around by the fans, giving high fives, handshakes and pictures to everyone who wants them — unless they are wearing the wrong team's jersey. Then they have to put up with some harassment before I will take a picture.
6:45-7 p.m.: I arrive back in my locker room to fresh water, PowerAde, energy bars, and T-shirts that are rolled for the night. I do some additional stretching before heading out for the National Anthem and the drop of the puck at 7:08 p.m.
First period: I make my way through the club area, stopping to shake hands and take pictures with fans who are waiting while the puck is in play. I'll meet as many fans as I can until there are six minutes left in the period, so I have time to change into my skates.
First intermission: Tonight’s intermission we are doing bull's-eye golf. I really don’t have much involvement in this promotion, so I mess around with fans and our Blue Crew girls. I typically will skate the net away from them when they turn their heads to take pictures for the fans.
After a while, I head to my locker room to put my shoes on and do my first of two promotions.
This promotion is for Coca-Cola Zero with my loot launcher. I shoot out black T-shirts with the Coke Zero logo on the back and “THRASHERS” on the front. I love the design on the T-shirt — our creative services department has a great imagination and vision.
Second period: Tonight is Gabe's night to be initiated as an MIB, so I want to make sure he has the dance routine down before we go out and perform it live during the third period. So we stay in the locker room and practice the routine 20 times, enough that I am comfortable with him not messing up.
Second intermission: This intermission we play dodgeball on the ice. I am one of the referees but really don’t have a role. I sometime like to get involved and help out the guy who is losing badly. I'll either throw a ball to the other guys or hand him the dodgeballs. Soon it's time for me to put on my shoes again for another free T-shirt promotion.
Then it's time to shoot some more T-shirts, this time with the Blue Crew girls.
After I shoot out 15 shirts, I have only a few minutes to get changed and get in place to dance because we are up for the first stoppage of play or timeout in the third period.
I have a special outfit for tonight. I made some white Hammer pants, and black suspenders and boots without a shirt on.
19 minutes on the clock: I get into place in the hallway while Leighton and Gabe clear the area for me to dance at the top of Section 118.
At the first stoppage, the P.A. announcer says, “Ladies and gentlemen, if you will turn your attention to the top of Section 118, there has been an M.C. Hammer sighting.”
The music starts, and we are on. Lots of high energy and random dance moves by me and choreographed routine for the MIBs. Then we all get in sync and start doing the running man and other moves.
I couldn’t really see my guys on the video board because the spots were not bright enough, but my white pants and feathers could be seen easily. I think we did a great job. Leighton has been doing his thing for years now, and Gabe did a good job for his first performance.
Final 10 minutes of the game: New Jersey leads 1-0. Gabe runs down to get my drum so that I can get the crowd chatting “Let’s go Thrashers!” I'm beating the drum so much that I bust right through it! I have had that thing for more than three years — what a time to break.
Final buzzer: We lose the game, 1-0.
So that's an average day in the life of Thrash. Thanks for spending time with me. I am off to take a bird bath.
Thrash is the mascot for the Atlanta Thrashers.