NHL FAN FEST AND A HISTORY LESSON PART TWO

The Fan Fest on both days started at 3pm, Las Vegas time.

I didn’t expect to stay long after seeing the exhibits and playing games.

The game sponsored by GEICO, I won another stuffed animal, a camel.

If you’ve ever seen the GEICO commercial, you know this is kinda funny.

“HUMP DAY!”

I was going to stay maybe an hour or so, but I noticed they were doing an interview with former players so I stayed.

But then I heard a lot of noise coming from the other side of the hall near where the DJ was playing music.

It wasn’t the music, it was the mascots from most of the 32 teams.

Some teams like New York Rangers, Seattle Kraken and Detroit Red Wings don’t even have mascots, and I didn’t see the mascot from the Calgary Flames, Harvey The Hound, either.

But other mascots were there, including the mascot that seems to be the one everyone knows, Gritty from the Philadelphia Flyers.

The mascots played dodgeball, which got the crowd going and just mingled with the crowd.

Hunter the Lynx, the Edmonton Oilers mascot, got just a little too up close and personal with the Sports Diva and I was behind the glass.

As I said, the plan was to stay maybe just an hour or so.

So much for plans.

I ended up staying until 7pm and it started at 3pm.

I had one more full day in Vegas and I had a whole day of exploring Vegas on my list of things to do that Friday before I left to go back to New York, so I wasn’t going to go to the second day of Fan Fest.

Or at least I THOUGHT I was going to do other things in Vegas on my last day in the city.

My Vegas Golden Knights posse had OTHER plans for the Sports Diva.

Finn, the Vancouver Canucks mascot, Wild Wing, Anaheim Ducks mascot, Victor E Green, Dallas Stars mascot and Hunter, Edmonton Oilers mascot
Tommy Hawk, the Chicago Blackhawks mascot
Manitoba Moose, the Winnepeg Jets mascot
Bailey, the Los Angeles Kings mascot
Sabertooth, the Buffalo Sabres mascot and Carlton the Polar bear, Toronto Maple Leafs mascot
Louie, the St. Louis Blues mascot with Chance, the Vegas Golden Knights mascot
Nordie, the Minnesota Wild mascot
Howler, the Arizona Coyotes mascot
It’s Youpi, the Montreal Canadiens mascot. If he looks sort of familiar, it’s because Youpi was the mascot for the Montreal Expos baseball team
Louie saying hi to the crowd, S. J. Sharkie, the San Jose Sharks mascot is close by
Poor Bernie the St. Bernard, Colorado Avalanche mascot, got hit by a dodgeball from one of the Eastern Conference mascots. SpartaCAT, Ottawa Senators mascot and Lightning Bug, Tampa Bay Lightning mascot aren’t showing any sympathy for Bernie. Victor E Green had to help up the poor baby.
Ok back up, Hunter. You’re a little too close up and personal to the Sports Diva

NHL FAN FEST AND A HISTORY LESSON PART ONE

This was one, no the main reason why the Sports Diva did a 30 Plus Teams Tour of Las Vegas.

Usually my trips to Las Vegas are twice a year, February and June.

This year there was a real reason to go to Vegas at this time and it had NOTHING to do with gambling.

If you know the Sports Diva, you know that my mottos are, “Staying home is NOT an option”, and my favorite one, “Have a hockey team, will travel.”

Las Vegas does have a hockey team, the Vegas Golden Knights and from February 4-5, they and the city of Las Vegas hosted the NHL All Star game and Fan Fest, which was at the Las Vegas Convention Center and ran from Thursday February 3 until Sunday February 6.

The All Star game was on Saturday February 5, but by the time it came on at 4pm, Eastern time, the Sports Diva was back in New York City.

The Skills Competition has always been my favorite but more about it in another post.

I was ready for two days at convention center for Fan Fest.

It didn’t happen, I only ended up seeing one day of Fan Fest, but that was okay by me.

It was fun seeing all things hockey, including the antics of the mascots from many of the teams including the host mascot, Chance, who is a lizard or as they call them in Nevada, Gila Monsters.

What I didn’t expect, though, was a history lesson on hockey.

The first exhibit as you walked into the west hall of the convention center past the banners of all 32 NHL teams was the exhibit showing the contribution to hockey by not just blacks but women and Native Americans (or First Nations, as they’re refered to in Canada as well.)

I saw names of players that I remembered watching over the years and players that I didn’t even know were black or Indigenous.

I wish this exhibit had been bigger or had as long a line as the line to see the Stanley Cup did.

ACTING THE FOOL IN LAS VEGAS

One of the reasons I went to do a 30 Plus Teams Tour in Las Vegas was because the local NHL team, the Vegas Golden Knights was playing in the semifinals against the Montreal Canadiens.

Now they didn’t win the game but it gave me a chance to get together with some of my fellow hockey people from Las Vegas, who I hadn’t seen since March 2020 when we were all together for yes, another hockey game in Las Vegas.

Hey, the Sports Diva doesn’t play around when it comes to her sports watching and getting together with other sports loving peeps.

Now even though my “seat” was standing room and it was the hockey semifinals, it cost $75, which seems like a lot, but trust me, in New York City, at Madison Square Garden, we’d LOVE to pay only $75 for standing room, let alone a seat.

It was hard to say goodbye to my fellow Sports Divas, but thank God for social media, where we can keep the memories going of acting the fool in Las Vegas, and that’s a good thing.

CUTTING DOWN THE BUCKET LIST

Of all the 136 things left to do on my bucket list, this is one of the things that I really wanted to do more than anything else.

No, it’s not seeing Mount Rushmore, Pearl Harbor, the Grand Canyon or Hoover Dam.

It wasn’t even taking a ride on the High Roller in Las Vegas or a ride on all the streetcars in New Orleans.

It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for three years, but for some reason, never got the chance.

On March 1, I finally got the chance to do number 115 on my list.

Going to a Vegas Golden Knights hockey game.

From the moment you enter the building affectionately known as ‘The Fortress’, the TMobile Arena, which is located right behind New York New York Hotel and Casino and right next door to Park MGM, you get the feeling that you’re in for something completely different than any sporting event that you’ve ever been to.

It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting behind the glass, the benches, high up in the nose bleed seats or like me, watching the game from Hyde TMobile Arena, located on the very top of the arena, you can see all of the action going on down on the ice.

Hyde does have standing room, but if you get there early enough, you can sit next to your closest friends on couches.

There’s big screen tv’s where you watch the action as well if you can’t get close enough to the seats near the ice.

This is Vegas, peeps.

You’re going to get a little entertainment while watching the NHL’s newest team.

It might be the DJ spinning tunes up at Hyde between periods, members of the Cirque Du Solei performing on the ice between periods, the Vegas Vivas, the team cheerleaders taking pictures with fans before, during and after the game, Chance, the team mascot entertaining the crowd with his antics or even the team announcer, who whips up VGK Nation into a frenzy BEFORE the game starts.

I have been a hockey fan since 1967 and I have never experienced anything like I saw in Las Vegas.

It didn’t even matter that the team lost to their rivals, the Los Angeles Kings, that night.

I was finally happy after three years crossing seeing a Vegas Golden Knights game off my bucket list.

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FAN FEST TIME WITH THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS

This is a 30 Plus Teams Tour after all, and the Sports Diva is making the most of it.

On the last day of February , the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team had their annual Fan Fest at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.

This year was different , though

Normally, the players meet and greet the fans.

Not this year.

Even though they never mentioned it, concerns about the Coronavirus might have had something to do with why the players didn’t interact with many of the fans , even seasons ticket holders.

However, fans did interact with the team mascot, Chance, the cheerleaders , known as the Vegas Vivas, the team play by play broadcasters and the in game entertainment people.

There were some Golden Knights players though, and while they were on stage, many of us loved the games that they played.

How well do you know your teamate, Vegas Golden Knights Family Feud, and other games were played by the players as well as a Question and answer session with the coach and new players .

Now what would a fan fest be without some swag and of course, the Sports Diva was happy .

A Team Sports Apparel Fashionista ALWAYS needs new swag.

Even though this fan fest was different, a good time in Vegas was had by all .

FAN GIRLING AT THE PLAYERS LOCKER

It’s located in Downtown Summerlin, a suburb of Las Vegas, right near the City National Arena, practice arena of the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team.

The restaurant, called The Players Locker, is owned by renowned chef Wolfgang Puck and five of his closest friends in Las Vegas named Deryk Engelland, William Karlsson, Alex Tuch, Reilly Smith and Shea Theodore.

Did I mention that his five closest friends just happen to play for the Vegas Golden Knights?

When you first walk into the restaurant, which opened for business in early February, not only will you see the five jerseys of the players, but this is a sports bar after all, so expect to see a big screen tv right in the middle of the restaurant showing some kind of sporting event.

The food, which isn’t expensive at all, are foods that you would find at a sports bar, but with a twist.

Some of them are named for the players or are foods that the players enjoyed either at home in Canada, Sweden, or the United States.

However, bring your appetite with you because the portions are HUMONGUS!

I couldn’t finish my loaded Nachos.

Thank God I didn’t order them with Chicken or Steak.

Someone would have had to carry me out of the restaurant.

I went with three of my Vegas friends right after we left practice.

Imagine our reaction when one of the players came in.

Talk about the Sports Diva and her posse losing their ever loving minds.

#MajorFanGirling

All of us were fanning ourselves after we left the restaurant.

Did I mention that he was one of the owners and just happened to be the favorite player of all four of us?

#TeamAlexTuchAllDay

If you happen to be in the Summerlin area while in Las Vegas, (Red Rock area is also nearby), have lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch at The Players Locker.

Who knows, you might just see one of the owners there.

Just don’t be that Fan girl or Fan guy.

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TAKING IN A PITTSBURGH PENGUINS HOCKEY GAME

T

he final stop on my 30 Plus Teams Tour of Pittsburgh was, what else?

Attending a sporting event.

This time because baseball season hadn’t started, and the football team, the Steelers had finished their season, I decided to see the team that just happens to be the defending hockey champions , the Pittsburgh Penguins .

It was the day after my birthday, the hotel is right next door, why not go?

No actually this is a 30 Plus Teams Tour and one the first things you do on a 30 Plus Teams Tour is check to see what teams are playing when you’ll be in the city.

I checked the schedule for the Penguins, found out that they would be playing the San Jose Sharks and called up a girlfriend who lived in the city and got us tickets for the game.

Penguins tickets are always hard to get because of the popularity of the team so I was really lucky to get these.

Word of advice from the Sports Diva, if you think tickets are too expensive on the team’s own website, try one of the second party dealers like Stub Hub, NBA ticket exchange, NHL Ticket exchange or even Vivid Seats .

Don’t worry if the name on the ticket isn’t yours.

More than likely, it’s a season ticket holder who for some reason or another doesn’t want to or can’t attend the game.

The night of game there was a lot of snow, and it was 25 degrees, but since my hotel was right next door, no worries .

As I was just getting over being sick you’d better believe that I was dressed warmly, even though I still was dressed like the sports team apparel fashionista that I am .

This arena used to be known as the Consol Energy Arena, but as with most sports arenas these days, when a company goes out of business and a new company takes over, they have the right to change the name of the arena to whatever they want , no matter how really silly the name sounds.

The arena is now known as the Pittsburgh Paints Arena , and our seats are in the 200 section.

That may seem high, but compared to other hockey arenas in the United States and Canada , it really isn’t .

We can see the ice, the flags of the United States and Canada and the five championship banners hanging from the rafters.

What you can’t see from your seat on the ice, just look up at the big scoreboard.

You’ll see everything there , including graffics urging you to make some noise .

As a New Yorker, I find this kind of funny.

You don’t need to tell us to get loud or make some noise at a sporting event or any where else.

It’s in the DNA, I guess.

I had been to a Penguins game a few times but this time I really noticed just how reserved and quiet the fans were.

The team does have a mascot, Iceburgh, who gets the fans hyped up with his antics and drum beating, and of course , fans scream out every once and awhile , “Let’s Go Pens!”

But once again, it wasn’t with the excitement and passion that I’ve heard at other arenas, like New Jersey, Philadelphia and Boston, let alone in Toronto at a Blue Jays baseball game .

Could it be that because the team has been doing well thst Penguins fans have been really spoiled by their team?

I don’t know .

I had a good time at the game as the Penguins won, but it didn’t feel like a sports atmosphere.

It felt more like being at a boring concert with people sitting on their hands waiting for something to happen .

Sorry Pittsburgh , I expected better from you when taking in Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game .

SOME TIPS  FOR WATCHING  A GAME FOR THE  FIRST  TIME IN PERSON.

You’re  on a 30 Plus  Teams  Tour  with either your   girlfriends, guys ,  family  members  or you’re  just going by yourself . 

You’re  going to  see  either  a baseball ,  football ,  hockey  or football  game .  

You may not be a fan of the team that you’re  going  to  see  or you just might be one of their biggest  fans ever.

There’s  one thing  though.

You’ve  never seen a  game in person .

To say that you’re  wicked excited because this is the first time you’ve  either seen  your team play in person  whether it be on the road or at their home stadium  or arena is an understatement.

For once you aren’t  watching  a game on TV or listening  to  it on the radio or even watching it on your mobile device . 

You’ll  want to know how should  you conduct yourself  when you do finally get to go.

That’s  where the Sports Diva  comes in to give you just a little  bit  of  pointers . 

Let me say that even though  I’m  talking mainly about the four major  professional  sports  leagues  inthe United  States  and Canada ,  these  tips also apply  to  you no matter if you’re  at a rugby match between  New Zealand  and  Australia ,  a soccer match between  Arsenal and Chelsea, a cricket match between  Pakistan and India ,a baseball game  between  the Dominican  Republic  and Japan or even a basketball  game  between  Spain and Latvia . 

The feeling is the same whenever  you attend  a sporting  event  in person . 

You will be excited the first moment  that you walk into the arena or stadium ,  but the first and most important  thing  to  remember  is please be yourself .  

Cheer for your team and please  don’t  act the fool and get yourself  thrown out.

Have that glass of wine at the game if you want to, even though your friends  are guzzling  down Budweisers and Coronas like the stadium’s beer supply is going to run out before the game is over.

If you happen  to be a fan of the team that you’re  going to  see ,  by all means, wear those team colors proudly.

You’re  aware that hardly ANY ONE goes to  Tropicana  Field to see a Tampa  Bay  Rays baseball  game in St. Petersburg ,  Florida ,  but that is  YOUR FAVORITE  TEAM and you’re  going to see them play for the first time  in  person  at “The Trop.”

You just know that  you’re  going  to  have a good time, and if the team loses ,  that’s  okay too.

You’re  in the stadium or arena that you’ve  only seen or heard about from other people . 

Take those selfies at a Los Angeles  Dodgers  game to celebrate  your first visit to Dodgers  Stadium  if you want to . 

But please don’t  take those selfies for the entire game.

You’re  going to  miss  all the action  that’s  going on in front of you.

You’re  here to watch some great catches, excellent  pitching and definitely  someone  in a blue and white Dodgers  uniform  hit a home run to win the game, especially  if  they’re  playing that baseball team that you hate more than any other team, San Francisco  Giants . 

Leave that hot Brazilian  model look that you’re  trying  to  achieve  on your phone to those real Brazilian  models or to one of the Kardashians.

You aren’t  at the game to be seen, remember?

It’s  your first Dodgers baseball  game  in person, isn’t  it ? 

Most importantly ,  don’t  get into an argument  with some of  the  fans if it’s  your first  time  there.

You might be the biggest  fan going, but dare I  say  it?

Act like  you’ve  been  there  before even if you haven’t . 

What if it’s  your first time  at a game and you really don’t  know  anything  about the sport, let alone some of the players?

Not a problem . 

Take in the craziness that’s  going on.

You’ll  definitely  gets your money’s  worth if it’s  a game between  two rival teams and their fans, let alone the players, don’t  like each other . 

It doesn’t  matter  what sport  it is either . 

If you happen  to  be  visiting  the city or the country  for the first  time ,  go to a sporting  event  and just soak up the atmosphere . 

Get excited with the rest of the passionate  soccer fans of Real Madrid, Barcelona ,  or Bayern  Munich . 

Sing “Chelsea Dagger” along with the  other Chicago  Black Hawks  hockey fans when the team scores a goal.

Do the “roll call” along with  the  other “bleacher  creatures” st Yankees  Stadium.

You can even sing “Hail To The Redskins  ” at a Washington  Redskins  football  game if you want to.

You don’t  have to  know the sport   this is  a way to  make new friends . 

They might even end up being a social  media  buddy of yours . 

Fans at the game will be more than  happy  to  explain  what’s  going  on ,  and who are the players you should be cheering  for, as well as the players you should  be  booing.

You might even become a  fan of that team, sport ,  or player by the end of  the  evening.

Take in the pregame  entertainment ,  whether it be the cheerleaders  at the football  or basketball  game ,  (and even in some hockey arenas, too.)or the team mascot ,  if they have one.

Take a picture with the mascot ,  if you can.

Dance in your seat to the music that’s  being played in  the  arena.

Wave those pom poms  or “Terrible Towels” proudly ,  just like you see the other fans doing.

Hold up that foam finger with the team name on it.

If they have a “Tshirt Toss” where  they give away shirts with the team’s  name on it, raise your hands ,  participate and get loud with the home team fans who want a shirt too.

Sing along to “Sweet Caroline” at a Boston Red  Sox game  or “Thank God  I’m  A Country Boy” at a Baltimore  Orioles  game . 

You’re  there  to have fun it’s  your first game in person . 

If you’re  bored with all that’s  going  on, that’s  your fault ,  boo.

Stay in your hostel , hotel  or Airbnb the next time.

One final important  tip.

If the fans start singing  songs about the opposing team  ,referee or umpire, just listen.

It’s  up to you if you’re  at a hockey  game and the fans start screaming ,  “REF, YOU SUCK!” because  they disagree  with  a call, and you want to say “ref, you suck” along with the rest of the fans.

Just don’t  throw things on the ice if the rest of the fans do.

If you happen  to  be  at a Toronto  Blue  Jays  baseball  game at the Rogers  Center and a Blue Jays fan screams out , “SWING BATTER  BATTER  BATTER ! “, they aren’t  being rude.

That’s  okay because they want someone  on the opposing team to make an out.

If the fans start yelling “AIR BALL  ” when an opposing basketball  player  throws  the ball into the stands instead of  into the  basket that’s  definitely  funny.

What’s  NOT funny at all is when fans  start  chanting about a player’s , referees ,  or umpires ethnicity or personal  life.

No one should EVER do that whether it’s  your first time at Staples Center in Los Angeles, a soccer match in Mexico  City ,  Manchester ,  or Rome, or a basketball  game  in Brooklyn . 

There’s  NO place for that in sports and it just shows how ignorant  you really  are.

The most exciting  thing  to  do, if you’re  a sports  fan, or even if you aren’t ,  is to see a game  in person . 

Hopefully  


 some of  these tips will make your experience  a little more  fun.

Get yourself out   to a game, no matter  what  the  sport is and enjoy yourself !   

Gallery

“WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT SPORTS ? “

This was a post I did earlier this year. In light of the comments made by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to a female reporter who covers the football team, I feel this post is quite timely .

30 Plus Teams 30 Plus Dreams

It’s  your  own 30  Plus  Teams  Tour  and you  and the  girlfriends  are so ready  to  attend  that basketball  /  hockey  /football  or baseball  game .

All of  you  put your  money  together  and  planned  your vacations  around the  same time ,  not only  to  see the  sights of Atlanta ,  Los Angeles ,  New York  or Vancouver ,  Canada, but to see  your favorite  team or teams play in person .

You all are so excited  to  be  sitting  close  to  the  action ,  in seats that you all paid for ,  by the  way ,  but wouldn’t  you know  it, there’s  somebody who just had to  be   ”  that  guy  ”  and ruin the  start of  your 30 Plus  Teams  Tour  of  Miami .

It’s  some gentleman  and his friends  who might not be drunk, and  wouldn’t  you know  it, they’re  sitting  right behind  you.

Instead  of…

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