Frozen Fury 2008: Better Late Than Never (massive post with lots of photos)

People don’t usually care too much about hockey game after they happen, unless they are epic battles, classic wins, or moments of greatness for ones own team. Even less so for a preseason game with “no consequences.” But the Frozen Fury, held every year at the MGM Grand, is one of those hockey games that is more than just players on ice, it’s an experience for the fans that doesn’t really compare to the rest of the NHL world. Frozen Fury isn’t just a game, it’s an event. There aren’t many any venues in the NHL where you can step out of the game and start gambling. The Frozen Fury is a good litmus test for the NHL moving to Las Vegas, for many a forgone conclusion. While the league looks at Kansas City with scrutiny, Vegas looks like a lock.

It’s well past time I put up my photos and talked about my first time at Frozen Fury. It was my intention to post this right away, but Las Vegas hotels would rather that you were on the casino floor, instead of the internet.

There are going to be a lot of photos, and many of them are not going to be hockey related at first. But stay with me, there are some gems.

There are many types of travelers in the world, and all of them react differently to the various difficulties inherent to the industry. For instance, computer failures. Your boarding pass doesn’t get printed right away, but a bunch of people after you get theirs in a timely fashion. My own sense of traveler zen depends on the amount of time I have arrived at the airport before my flight, and the amount of distraction I have at hand. This was a good day for me.

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Not that I had where to really go, or anything to do in the Kansas City Airport. And calling this and international airport is a bit of a stretch. This is simply a bus depot for planes.
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Compare that to Denver International Airport, with good food, lots of space, and moving walkways from here to eternity.
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To see the rest of this, click the link below. I promise there will be hockey photos, and talk about the game. Really.
Denver International Airport is like a second home to me. I fly through there nearly as much as I fly through Atlanta. Often this is as close as I get to home.
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As soon as you step off the plane in Vegas, you know exactly what lies ahead. Noise, lights, and one armed bandits.
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I won’t lie to you. I am not a fan of Las Vegas. I don’t gamble, I don’t spend time at the casinos, and I don’t care for all the cigarette smoke. And for me, there is something wrong about having slot machines in the local 7-Eleven. I guess that’s just me.

But you do feel welcome when you get there.
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I would not gamble here.
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Sorry, maybe that’s just me.

Welcome to my hotel. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t have to stay here again. The tower is impressive and all, but the room is just a room, and there wasn’t anything else impressive about the place. I chose it because it was cheaper than the properties up the strip, and I had a nice long walk up the strip to the game, but I would spend a few extra bucks next time and stay at the MGM, where the game was.
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I wound up at the old strip, rebranded the Freemont Street Experience, that first night in Las Vegas. I’ll spare you the commentary, but you can click on the pictures if you want to see what was there. If you haven’t been there, the overhead light show is pretty cool. The whole place made me want to watch the original Ocean’s Eleven.

The light show:
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As if I’m going to turn down a brewpub, even if it’s in a casino:
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Finally it was game day, and I was in the mood for a walk. The day was hot, but I had to get some pavement under my feet. Vegas isn’t my kind of place, but it does fascinate me. From the people watching to the infrastructure the entire place is built on, I get the most entertainment well outside of the casinos.

Right outside my hotel is the IHOP. Sure, who cares about the IHOP, right? What if it was the best IHOP in Vegas?
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Who says Las Vegas doesn’t care about sports?

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Who needs some coffee?
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What a town.
OK, I needed an iced coffee, and I just had to see. The sizes they served were small, medium, and DD. Seriously. But justice was served (cold? iced?), because the coffee wasn’t that good. Sorry to disappoint.

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I stopped inside the Bellagio where they had this cool autumn display. I know, you came for the hockey, so click the pics if you are interested.
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Part of the point of this is how strange a setting Las Vegas was for hockey. Walking around sweating my ass off in the Vegas heat didn’t feel like I was going to be sitting in front of a sheet of ice wearing a hockey jersey.

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There is so much damn construction in Las Vegas, it can make you forget that we are in an economic downturn. I wonder how many of these projects are going to be completed any time soon.
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Finally…
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Bailey taunts an Avs fan.
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Kings fans outnumbered Avs fans at the game. I would walk past clusters of fans in black and purple jerseys and get booed. I would give it right back to them, asking them if the Kings brought a goalie, or even had one. I even got into a “fight” with this guy.
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I don’t have any photographic evidence, which is too bad. I love my mascot fights.

The arena:
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You may note the lack of a jumbotron. They did their best:

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Warmups:
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I couldn’t get a good shot of the area with the media and management in the stands, but this was the best I got:

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On to the game. Your starting lineup:

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And the punches flew. Not in the face!!!

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And more punches:

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Hey look, more punches

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Raycroft was getting bored, and had to stretch out.

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Paul Stastny was a healthy scratch, but that didn’t keep him from wandering the halls.
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My favorite part was that he walked past Avs fans, and even a few with Stastny jerseys, and no one recognized him. Well, except for me.

More fights:
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You tell me:
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Adam Foote trying to get ejected:
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Adam Foote succeeding in getting ejected:
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On to the shootout!!!

This did not go in:

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This one did:

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This did not:
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Neither did this one, but I love this picture:
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And if this one had gone in, the Kings would have stayed alive. But it did not:
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Winners!!!

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Not Winners!!!!!
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Your final score:
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After the game ended, it was the usual crush of humanity trying to get out of the place. I saw Adrian Dater try and bolt through the crowd. The rowdy Kings crowd that was there at the beginning of the game seemed a little more tame after.

I barely saw a Las Vegas Wranglers jersey, but I was surprised not to see any Wranglers representatives at the game. Perhaps it has to do with the MGM Grand itself, but it looks like a missed opportunity for good hockey promotion.

After the game, I stepped out of the MGM to this:

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And on the way to the hotel, caught some of this:
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The flight back to Kansas City was early, and I don’t do early well. Too many years of working in theater will do that to you. But there is still a little more to the story. When I boarded the plane, I was wearing my Colorado Gold Kings jersey, and a woman with a Dallas Stars bag asked me if I was at the game. We chatted hockey until the plane took off, and we started talking hockey in the Phoenix airport. I knew there was something in the way this person talked, and asked he if she was going to put he pictures online. She told me that she had a blog, and when I asked her what it was, she said it was a hockey blog called Untypical Girls. Cat and I talked hockey a lot more after that.

You wouldn’t believe how many more pictures I have, that didn’t make the cut for this blog post. I know I used a ton for this thing, but there are plenty more. I used a Panasonic camera with 18X zoom, which is what allowed me to get so close to the action on the far end of the ice. You can click on any of the pictures to see larger versions.

If any of you have considered going to the Frozen Fury game held every year, I suggest you make the trip. Stay somewhere within staggering distance of the MGM, and get your swag early, because lines are long. The MGM Grand, the LA Kings, and the Colorado Avalanche put on a hell of a show, first class all the way. I’d do it again, in a heartbeat.

Comments

  1. Good stuff man! I’m not a big gambler/drinker/smoker but I still love Vegas. It’s just so damn…alive all the time :)

  2. Yea, I hate KCI. Nothing to do, almost no place to eat. It’s hell if you have to wait for more than 15 minutes.

  3. hockeychic says:

    I enjoyed the pictures. I don’t care for Vegas but I could be persuaded for a hockey game.

  4. Seriously, Vegas is an insane town. I do intend on going back every year for Frozen Fury, though! I MAY even invest in a Kings shirt or something for it…Because I totally can’t support the Avs. =P

  5. I finally had a chance to come back and look closer at all these photos. I love them. You have a talent for photography (and obviously a great camera!), plus I really like Vegas for some reason. It’s such a strange and entertaining place.

  6. Just like the title, better late than never.

    ;)

  7. I came from this site
    http://postpessimist.blogspot.com/2007/01/how-to-get-ahead-in-advertising.html, where I’ve read a very amusing post about german hockey-jerseys in general and the “Freiburg” hockey-jerseys in particular, and then I stumbled across your site and found your hockey pictures. It’s not easy to take pictures so far away from the ice. I’ve tried it myself. Did you use a flash?
    Nice pictures of the game and nightshots of Vegas. I’ve never been there and I don’t know if I will ever get there, but however I like the pics. You’ve got an eye for it.

    Greetings from Freiburg/Germany

  8. I-W: Thanks for the kind words. I did not use a flash. The flash is only effective to about 8-12 feet. That’s why the pros get such good photos, they appear to be hooked into a building strobe system.

    The camera makes my life easy with these. I have a Panasonic that has an 18x zoom (optical), and anti-shake.

    Stick around in February and March, I’ll have a lot more pictures from a lot more games.

  9. Hi Tapeleg,
    I supposed that you didn’t use a flash because it doesn’t really make sense on such a long distance down to the ice. Do they really use a strobe system in the arenas? I can hardly believe it because the light there is amazing. I’ve taken “a few” (I’m sure you can immagine how much I mean with “a few” ;) ), pictures in New York (MSG), New Jersey, Long Island and Washington, and I didn’t use a flash as well but on my pics the ice looks rather white, so maybe your camera is handling the whitebalance a bit different. Have you ever tried to edit your pictures with a software?

    If you want to have a look at my NHL-Pictures, you will find them here between all the NY-pictures in my NY-galleries:

    2006:
    http://www.wolfskid.de/Galerie/nyc_3001_050206.html

    2007:
    http://www.wolfskid.de/Galerie/nyc_2007.html

    I will definitely return to your site to watch more hockey-pictures.
    Bye-Bye
    and have a good time

  10. My pictures at times turned out a little yellow. The ice looks a little beige. I used the “intelligent auto” setting, but that was about it. Recently I played with some exposure settings (just +/-) but got some decent results. I need to delve into some of the settings a little deeper, just to experiment. Perhaps a pickup game or two, just to test some stuff out.

    I believe (key word: believe) that when you see a big flash at a game, that is a strobe system for photographers. Notice how it happens when there is a big moment in the game? And you hardly notice because they are far away, but from multiple angles. It’s good to be the king.

    I like your pictures from NYC. It’s never easy to get a good shot through the end netting. My cameras always get confused. I have to look at more of your shots on your site. You have some great stuff there. How did you get so close?

  11. Well, it’s always good to play with the exposure settings to find ones limits and of course the limits of the camera in different situations. I never use any automatics, because I want my camera to do what I want. ;-)
    If then the picture’s crap it was only my fault. (And believe me, sometimes there’s a lot of crap). Anyhow I find it much more exciting to manipulate the result by my own settings and I’m still trying to find out something new.

    Here in Germany and also in Switzerland I’ve been taken pictures in arenas where they’re using strobe systems and usually the photographers are wireless connected to this system with an electronical flash. That means as soon as the photographer is releasing his flash the strobe-system fires.

    In the NHL-arenas I never noticed any strobe-systems but therefor extremely good light, so I thought there’s no need for a strobe or flashlights. But maybe they are just really good hidden.

    The net is always a problem for the autofocus, wether in zoo or at both ends of an ice rink. Fortunately I did not have to take all my pictures through the net, excepted Madison Square Garden, and at the Nassau Coliseum I could even go down to the boards during the warm up. That’s why I’ve got some nice close-ups. For the game I had to go back to my seat far, far away from the ice. ;-(
    Next time I have to try to get a press accreditation. ;-)

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