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Hockey in the Heart of the South

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This is my first post at SB Nation so I thought I'd take a few moments to introduce myself. I've been blogging about the Atlanta Thrashers since the spring of 2006 but I've been a fan of NHL hockey much longer than that.

It all started with a small frozen pond in the winter of 1985-1986 in rural Michigan. My parents gave my sister and I ice skates for Christmas and we taught ourselves to skate. We hit the ice nearly every afternoon and soon the neighbors were joining us for some 3 on 3 shinny with our homemade goals made out of surplus lumber.

I started listening to the Red Wings on the radio. Bruce Martyn and Paul Woods were my teachers as I learned about a young scrappy club that featured players such as Dave Lewis, Rick Zombo, Harold Snepsts, Gerard Gallant, Petr Klima, Bob Probert and a young Steve Yzerman and Adam Oates. With time I got better at skating and the Red Wings went from being a .500 team to a perennial contender. I migrated from listening to hockey on the radio to watching every Wings game on TV even if it meant staying up late at night to finish college assignments.

My working career took me to Washington DC where I arrived just in time to see the tail end of the Rod Langway era, the peak of Peter Bondra and the rookie campaign of Sergei Gonchar. Despite my less-than-subsistence salary as a Capitol Hill staffer, I found a way to purchase cheap seats at the old saddle shaped Capitals Center. The arena was old and the lighting was poor but I was thrilled just to be inside a NHL building watching games in person.

Later I moved to Atlanta Georgia which had recently won an expansion team. After Philips Arena was constructed, the Thrashers kicked off their first season. I was in the stands when the Thrashers won their first ever home game versus Calgary. I celebrated with joy when Dean Sylvester recorded the first ever hat trick in franchise history. I was cheering when the team squeaked out a 1-0 victory over the mighty Flyers "Remember The Philamo!" we would tell each other.

Ten years have passed since that inaugural season in 1999 and during that time the franchise has a record of 251 Wins - 348 Losses and 97 Ties/SOL/OTL and 1 GM. In that span I've probably watched 95% of all the games in Thrashers history. I've probably attended 80% of all home games in person.

Yes, I'm a hockey addict. I'm a NHL lifer. I've seen a lot of brutal hockey in my time and yet I'm still here watching. Twenty years after falling for NHL hockey, it can still get my blood going.

The NHL franchise in Atlanta is named after the State Bird of Georgia, the Brown Thrashers. So I have chosen to call this SB Blog "Bird Watchers Anonymous" and my handle is "The Falconer" which is a person who trains birds of prey.

So check back in at Bird Watchers Anonymous for Thrashers news, some quantitative hockey analysis and talk about the NHL in the southland.