Constructing A Shrine To Atlanta Hockey

It should come as no surprise that I’m a bit of a hockey fan. If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you’ve likely seen the occasional #AnaheimDucksGOOOAAALLL or even the #BelieveInBlueland hashtag peppering my Twitter timeline.
Truth is that my love of hockey goes WAY back. I discovered the sport thanks to a particular 1992 Disney film. I grew up outside Atlanta, so hockey really wasn’t a thing people understood or even knew about–other than we beat the Soviets in it that one time at the Olympics.
Every so often, I might’ve been able to catch the last few minutes of a Knights game if I were flipping through channels and saw it at the right moment–assuming the reception was decent enough to see what was going on (Kennesaw Mountain is hell on TV signals, especially today).
I begged my parents to take me to The Omni for a game, but I would get alternating responses about it being too expensive or a more accurate “Ugh! I don’t want to go to Atlanta!”
Sadly, the Knights moved to Quebec in 1996 before I ever got a chance to see them in person. Another year would pass before the news that Atlanta would be granted an expansion team in 1999.

NHL hockey
In Atlanta
For the first time in almost 20 years
And I’d be old enough to drive

Let’s fast-forward a few years. I went to my first game in 2000 and it was one of the most visceral experiences of my life. The noise, the energy, the camaraderie of the fans–I was hooked and made it my mission to spread the Gospel of Hockey Love to everyone I knew!

Thanks, Giant Bird. You are my friend. I want to pet you and feed you some bird seed.

I would catch a live game any time I could, but I mostly enjoyed watching at home (whenever I had access to cable television) and, later, I was an early adopter of various streaming services that would provide those games (especially ones suffering a local blackout).

This brings me around to a small collection of memorabilia that I have. I picked up a handful of commemorative hockey pucks from various sources (mostly eBay or Frank & Sons) since moving to California.

Call it a way to hold onto my roots; I have a puck representing each of the professional hockey teams that played in Atlanta. I even have one for the 2008 All-Star Game held at The Phil.

For years, these pucks have been languishing in a small mailing pouch waiting for a way for me to properly display them. I figured it was high time I did something about that.

So I picked up a shadowbox at the local craft store and set about to design a way to hold these pretty bits of vulcanized rubber.

Incidentally, an NHL regulation puck is 76mm in diameter and 25.4mm thick.

The basic design could hardly be simpler. I just made a rectangle the size of the shadowbox and laid out the arrangement of the pucks as appropriately-sized circles. This is about the easiest thing I’ve ever done in Illustrator.


I saved the layout as an SVG and imported it to Fusion, extruding it to the requisite height before adding a backplane to fill in the remaining interior volume.


Since my printer can only print up to 200mm square, I needed to chop it in half and print as two pieces.


I’ve had this gold PLA filament for years, but it’s still good and I’m going to paint the thing anyway. I feel like I’d rather paint my pieces than buy so many differently-colored filaments. Probably because I don’t print as often I you might think I would.

I blame my trash Robo 3D printer for my printing angst. My first experience was a second-hand, not-ready-for-prime-time Kickstarter model with no documentation and less support.

Things are much better now, but I still often subconsciously avoid design and printing.

Halfway done! It’s at a 0.8mm layer height with 10% infill because at the end of the day, it’s a glorified spacer.

I’ll smooth everything out during the finish.

Both halves printed and glued. Now to pray that nothing shifts or settles while the epoxy cures.

Quick coarse sand to smooth out those lumps and hit it with a coat of primer.

Another sanding and primer followed by yet another sanding and one final coat. The face should be pretty smooth at this point. A couple coats of acrylic and it’ll be done!

After a few coats of acrylic, it’s ready for the pucks. They’re an extremely tight fit, so if I want to remove them I’ll probably need to break it.

And the final product is under glass! I’m not sure where I’ll hang it. If Barbie has anything to say about it, it’ll be in my office (and not at home). I’m just glad to finally have a home for these guys, and I think I’ve done right by them!

Fun fact: 3/4 of these teams are now in Canada (hence the joke that Atlanta is just a training market for new Canadian teams). The Gladiators are the last hope for pro hockey in the A (even though they play in the northeast suburb of Duluth).

I used to have a Gladiators T-shirt that declared “NOT MOVING TO CANADA”. I wore it while walking around Toronto once and got a few weird looks and a lot of laughs.

Hockey Love is strong in the south, but you’ll never convince the corporate overlords.

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