10 Random Thoughts on Last Night’s Hockey Game


  1. It’s great to have hockey back.  I know, it’s not our Phantoms yet–but for NHL fans and Flyers fans it was a chance to see that game up close and near-by.  And, it takes the edge off the end of the IronPigs season and the end of the Reading Fightins season following their loss in the playoffs.
  2. I’m not “game ready” yet.  I have to re-train myself on how to watch the game.  I like to watch the plays develop and the play away from the puck, but I found myself getting lost and not being able to find the puck–gotta learn how to look again.  It should get better when we get our team in town and I learn their numbers.
  3. The floor looks great.  An off-season refinishing of the concourse floors was completed in order to remediate some cracks in the concrete.  The new, finished floors look great and really dress the place up.
  4. “Opening Day” syndrome was in effect.  I often make fun of opening day on the baseball side, because folks that we won’t see again until June show up in droves and clog the concession lines.  Nobody’s had arena food in a while, it seemed, as everyone lined up for concessions and created much traffic on the concourses.  Some media reported many empty seats, but I’ll tell you where they were:  They were in line for something.  They were in line for beer, or food, or the bathroom, or the smoking deck or the store.  For those troubled by the lines inside the arena, let me assure you:  It will get better as the season progresses.  It always does.  It is this way on opening day for baseball, too, and they’ve been doing it for a lot longer.
  5. Security still needs help.  The security lines outside the arena are another matter, though.  What was a sometimes problem last season seems to be worse.  The lines were unbelievable.  Set up more scan lines, open earlier, turn down the gain on those wands, and provide better oversight for the guys and gals doing the scanning.  I know the drill well.  My keys, metal money clip, and phone were in my hand above my head as I approached the guard.  Still, the eye drops in my pocket set off the scanner and they had to start over.  Crimony.  Eye drops.
  6. Running out of beer is not good.  Same thing here.  I can make a lot of excuses for first day and stuff, but don’t run out of beer, man!
  7. I’m done with the “professional fan.”  Look, I’m sorry if I got the rabble all roused on the “professional fan” thing.  My official point is that it’s unnecessary, distracting, kinda gross, and a waste of money.  I do support the “Phorce Energy Team” and Bow-tie Ben.  I think they do a great job and are a necessary part of the evening’s entertainment.  The rest of us will get rowdy enough when there’s something to be rowdy about.  Good for Cameron Hughes for inventing his own industry.  People do respond to him, so in that way, I guess he’s effective.  Visit his website here.  Comment board banter suggests that if I don’t like him I should just ignore him.  So I will.  No more mention of the “professional fan” here, ever again (by me anyway).  But don’t take that as an endorsement.
  8. The game.  It was good to see goals and good to get the win.  I was impressed by the Konecny kid.  Less so by Provorov, but it was only one game and as I said, I’m not “game ready” yet.  Those first-rounders are probably headed back to Juniors unless they make the Flyers–so no worries for the Phantoms regardless.  There was some sloppy hockey as it was the first pre-season game, but also some passes and puck handling that were a notch better than what we’re used to.  It was fun to watch.
  9. Next Year.  It’s to be an annual thing, they tell me.  It couldn’t be done last season because the building dates and details couldn’t be finalized soon enough to get it on the schedule.  I think if they can draw close to 8,000 for a week-day preseason game at $50/seat (give or take, but remember club and suites and glass cost more, while ends and uppers cost less) that’s a win for everyone.  The reason the Phillies don’t come to Coca Cola Park is that they don’t have to:  They can draw 35k in South Philly for two “on deck series” games and split the proceeds with the Pirates rather than come to the little biddy Coca Cola Park–despite the fact that the Phillies team has been dreadful the last couple years.  Looking at the Philly attendance won’t necessarily provide the best comparison for the Flyers this season due to the Papal visit.  I gathered the attendance in Brooklyn for the mirror game with the Islanders drew far, far fewer fans last night.  For these
  10. The Promotion Schedule.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I put up an exclusive “first look” at the 2015-2016 Phantoms promotional schedule earlier today.  I think the promotions are really good.  There’s a nice mix of different things, from theme nights to player interaction opportunities, to yes, more T-Shirts (memo:  black please, or maybe white) and another Eagles night.  One thing I like is what I perceive as an increase in Kids giveaways–despite the fact that my kiddos won’t be eligible soon.  I think it’s a great way to build the fan base.  I suspect more themes, sponsors, and giveaways will be added to the list I published here as the season approaches.

See you back at the arena on Saturday, October 3 for a preseason tilt with Hartford versus our Phantoms.  I’ll have previews, some rosters stuff, and a frame for our Phantoms coverage as that game approaches.


See you at the arena,


Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey, PPL Center Arena


8 replies

  1. One more thing: I’m extremely proud of our arena and I love going there. I love the revitalization downtown and that I can park and walk for shopping and eating and entertainment. However, every time I heard about how great the arena is last night, the first thing that came into my mind was, “It had better be. It’s the most expensive minor league hockey arena in the world. If it’s not nice, somebody screwed up.”

    No matter, just another random thought. Still love going there no matter what.

  2. Two Questions :

    # 1 – I went to Cameron Hughes’ website via the link here and the screen page that greeted me was a photo of our Unapologetic Professional View Obstructionist proudly wearing an “I Love NY” t-shirt … My question is what, pray tell, is this well-compensated bozo doing at the PPL Center in little old Allentown, PENNSYLVANIA?

    # 2 – How does a hockey fan ignore some hired gun who is intentionally blocking one’s view?

    Note To Kram :

    FYI — The Portland Pirates scouting report, the last in the series covering all of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ divisional opponents, is really late basically because I’ve been ignoring it. In direct contrast how it all apparently works for Cameron Hughes, the people do not respond to them, anyway. So, um, er, ah, yeah.

    • Nah, it’s cool. I plan to link back to the opponent previews as each team comes to town. Portland doesn’t come in until February, and by then all could be different. Whatever you please, der Eishockeyzuschauer.

  3. Note To Kram (Addendum) :

    Alright, I’m officially done with the highly-paid professional, as well.

  4. I am not done with complaining about Cameron Hughes.

    If you are going to pay someone to be a “professional fan”, why not hold interviews with local, actual Phantoms fans?

    Get this yahoo out of our faces!!!

    I vote for less “fluff” and more replays on the big screens! We are paying to see a game, not some fake fan waving shirts around.

    Go Phantoms!

    • The cold, hard truth of the matter is that we are ALL needlessly paying extra money for our hockey tickets so that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms can afford to blow $ 10,000.00 per game on our wonderful Professional Fake Fan / View Obstructionist.

      I, for one, do NOT spend my hard-earned money on hockey tickets so I can watch a “Phorce Energy Team”, whatever that is.

      I also do NOT spend my hard-earned money on hockey tickets so I can watch two people kiss on a giant TV screen because if I wanted to watch two people kiss on TV, I would go out and … yeah, you know what I would go out and get.

      I definitely do NOT spend my hard-earned money on hockey tickets so I can listen to music that is entirely too loud and/or watch people on the giant screen TV dancing to music that is being played entirely too loud because, if I wanted to go out and watch people dance while listening to loud music, I would go to a popular night club.

      Ever since the Phantoms got to Lehigh Valley, the franchise has been very long on entertainment “fluff” and woefully very short on actually hockey stuff for actual hockey fans, like video replays on the giant screen TV above center ice.

      I, for one, do NOT think it was an accident that the Philadelphia Flyers, despite the fact it was known well ahead of time that the team’s two biggest stars, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, would both be in the line-up, failed to attract even eight thousand fans to the historic, first-ever NHL game played in Allentown.

      Yeah, I know the Phantoms crowed on their Facebook page that they attracted “nearly 8,000 fans” but the actual attendance figure was 7,464. Now, the last time I was in math class, the correct answer for rounding the number 7,464 off to the nearest multiple of one thousand happened to be “7,000”. Perhaps some fundamental laws of mathematics have changed since I got out of school more than twenty years ago?

      I just don’t understand why the Lehigh Valley Phantoms need to be so fake and phony about everything. Yes, I just said everything. I do, in fact, realize that the Phantoms are going to do everything in their power to try and hide the fact that the team has failed to make the Calder Cup playoffs for the past six seasons in a row. Thing is, though, the Phantoms need to realize is that we, the Loyal Fan Base, are just anywhere near as stupid as they continuously show that they clearly think we are.

      Lose The Phluff, Phind The Hockey!

      • You pretty much had me right up until the end ‘zuschauer.

        But first a couple things. There was an “alternate” figure of 7,9xx-some that was distributed to the NHL folks, despite the “official” figure you quoted above which was announced in the arena and given to the press. Cooking the books? Perhaps. But less than 2,000 in Brooklyn so still probably viable. It seemed plenty crowded to me; I think they had some trouble selling groups and suites and whatnot with the high prices–they might need to be careful with those $50 ticket prices in the future, though, for a practice game which no one is obligated to buy. (STH are often obligated to purchase preseason–it happens in football, NHL, and for the Phantoms as well–part of the “package”)

        And, yes, we’ll see what happens when the hard-core hockey phaithful all come off the 5-year season ticket plans and need to absorb 5 years of increases all at once and find the schtick tiresome. It could lead to some turnover.

        But I’m just not so positive that the “loyal fan base” is as smart as you think. I consider myself a pretty bright guy, but I’ve purchased approximately 3,533 IronPigs tickets and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing three playoff games. Three. And, I just signed up for three more years… And, I’m in for four more years of Phantoms whether they make the playoffs or not. Maybe I’m not as smart as I think–and maybe the other 600,000 each season at the IronPigs aren’t either–with their schtick across town. Perhaps hockey fans will be more demanding. We’ll see. Pretty polarizing responses to Mr. Cameron this time around, though.

        I’ll leave you with a story: A few years back I was listening to some radio commentary about the Pittsburgh Pirates. I’m a sometimes fan and the one commentator pointed out what a good, loyal fan base the Pirates have, having not made the playoffs for some 20 years (at the time). The other gentleman thought for a minute, then replied, “You know, if they were really good fans, they wouldn’t pay or show up for this dreck. They would stay away until the product on the field improved.”

        Not calling for a boycott of the Phantoms (yet–or the IronPigs for that matter) but it’s something to think about. We’re good fans here in the Lehigh Valley–good at showing up and supporting our teams. Perhaps it’s time for the teams to show up for us.

  5. Truth be told, I think a crowd of 7,464 spectators for a Monday night game which also happens to be the very first exhibition contest of the new season is not so bad at all. Real hockey fans know exactly what to expect from THE first exhibition game of the season. One can not expect to see tick-tack-toe passing plays, etc. One can expect to see plenty of players who will be assigned to one of the two minor league teams or sent back to juniors. In the older days, the general rule of thumb was, the earlier the pre-season game, the more fights there will be (because absolute goons like Jay Rosehill will not miss the invaluable opportunity to show the NHL brass exactly what sort of “skills” they actually possess).

    I just don’t understand why the Phantoms can’t stand up straight, stick their chest out and proudly announce the truth — all the posturing and other phony baloney is just so unbecoming.

    I definitely think that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms made a HUGE mistake trying to smack people for $ 50.00 per ticket and I think that theory is definitely reflected in the final attendance figure.

    No, I, myself, did NOT go to the Flyers vs Islanders game. Because, as luck would have it, I am NOT a wealthy man by any stretch of the imagination and, thus, I have a fiduciary responsibility to myself. So, if you expect ME to pay NHL-type ticket prices — then I want to see two teams with their full NHL rosters. And that reasonable demand is every bit as non-negotiable as is the ticket price, itself.

    In spite of all attempts to hustle me into believing something else, I always knew it would be mostly Philadelphia Flyers vs mostly Bridgeport Sound Tigers. And that is exactly what it was. As Bob Rotruck, himself, would say, “Right?”

    I would have been more than happy to come to the PPL Center on Monday night if I could have gotten a ticket for $ 35.00 (all aggravating add on fees included). But fifty bucks? As Matt Provence, himself, would say, “Forget about it!”

    I sincerely think that the PPL Center would have been stuffed to the rafters on Monday night if the Lehigh Valley Phantoms had set ticket prices more realistically.

    Times are tough. People are hurting economically. Phantoms fumbled the puck big time here.

    I’m certainly NOT calling for a boycott of the Phantoms but I do think the team that was given a $ 177.1 million dollar rink (the most expensive minor league facility in the world) needs to take a hard look in the mirror and realize that we, the taxpaying citizenry who funded this magnificent arena in the first place, get beaten over the head for every last penny all day long to begin with — we (or at least I) really don’t need to be shaken down by our local hockey team, too.

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