A Sporadic Thought

Ok…so like I was saying to Katrina Cady (aka Psycho Puck Lady) the other day, not writing about hockey is like staying away from coffee for a month. Anyone that knows me knows that I live on coffee. It’s the only substance that I can have on a regular basis (except for that one fluke in time where my body decided that it would go one day without it).

So like coffee…my brain is constantly thinking about hockey.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the most recent Brendan Shanahan interview that Tom Gulitti did right after Shanny’s re-signing with the Devils. I had to laugh throughout the interview because Shanny’s words read just like my blogsite.

Earlier in the season when Shanny first came to the Devils, I noticed during interviews that he was saying ‘word for word’ items from this very blogsite. At first, I thought it was purely coincidental, but as the season pressed forward, I realized…that’s no coincidence. He’s feeding to the press the same stuff I put on my blog practically word for word. MY WORDS ABOUT HIM…to be exact.

I actually stood there one night while my Blackberry was thrust towards him wrapped up in the mix of other tape recorders thinking…Wow…I feel like I’m Brendan Shanahan’s speech writer. ;)

Now, how would Shanny come across this blogsite? I blame Darius Kasparaitis for introducing my work to Brendan Shanahan.

Back in 2007, just two weeks after my grandfather passed, I was offered my first hockey column. Shortly afterwards, I asked Darius if he would do an exclusive with me and he was very happy to do so, but he wanted to wait until he returned to NYC for the Rangers training camp.

I had no idea what Darius had started doing over the summer as he was preparing to rip the Rangers a new one and use my column to do it in (I found out what he did a year later when I was having dinner with one of his family members). He wanted to tell all to me because I was untouched by the Rangers. The Rangers did not have access to me, so they could not stop the publication.

The Rangers were scared to death of the power that Darius had given to me. They had no idea what Darius had said to me. Truthfully, I already knew most of it, so he didn’t have to tell all. But come pre-season, Darius had pointed me out to Shanny. [Kinda hard not to notice Shanny screaming to Darius across the ice, “Is that the girl?” while he’s pointing right at me.]

He had told everyone all about it…he was telling all to a reporter that NO ONE could touch.

The article was released. Darius got mad at me. And the Rangers sighed a big sigh of relief.

Now, Darius found out a year later what I had done. He assumed I was protecting the Rangers because I was their fan. A year following that interview, I was in Devils territory and there was no way you could convince me of going back to being a Rangers fan. I left MSG the exact same time that Darius did and didn’t look back. So if he wants to question loyalty, ask him why Michelle is now in Devils territory. Frankly, this kind of situation should make the Devils organization laugh at the Rangers.

Darius Kasparaitis turned a Rangers fan into a Devils reporter. Not bad for a disgruntled former New York Ranger, right?

Darius had no idea at the time the article was published that my decision in the end was to protect HIM. If it meant I had to play nice to the bad guys, then I had to play nice. My thought was that at the end of the day he still worked for them and I didn’t want to make the situation worse. It would literally break my heart watching him disintegrate even further after finding the energy to pick himself back up again after suffering from a mental/emotional breakdown.

You see, it was hard to forgive those in the NYR organization after witnessing what they did to him. That’s why I saw a bit of Darius’ situation happening all over again when I watched the Rangers messing with Shanny last season.

Darius made sure to point out who I wasn’t supposed to be mad at on the Rangers. But he did leave out one name in his interview. I figured it all out when that player came up to me and said something to me about the article (before it was released).

I think Darius knew me well enough to know I probably would’ve kicked his derriere if he tried to speak ill of this person. There was no way I would’ve printed anything that would have spoken ill of this person, so Darius kept silent…but I knew.

You see…this is where Shanny comes into all of this. Darius told me that when everything started getting really bad, Shanny was the first person to call him. No one else on the team had called him. He had just met Shanny a few weeks before and here is this stranger calling him up, offering as much support as he could offer. That meant the world to Darius.

That act of kindness really meant something if Darius was telling me about it almost a year later. You see, at the time, Darius believed no one was on his side and everyone was out to get him. Shanny proved otherwise…and he was the only one that Darius knew was in his corner.

I almost committed career suicide at the very beginning of my career by doing Darius’ story. Knowing that Shanny was a huge part of Darius’ recovery means the world not only to Darius, but to me as well. I think that’s why I think so highly of Shanahan.

I made the decision to protect Darius in the end, not the Rangers. Protecting Darius meant protecting the Rangers as well. Darius getting mad at me over my decision was a risk I was willing to take just as long as I knew that I wasn’t contributing to whatever retribution the Rangers were putting into place to use on Darius if the article had really exposed all.

I believe my decision ended up working towards his benefit as the Rangers agreed to loan Darius to SKA St. Petersburg. If I hadn’t made that decision, he would have withered away piece by piece in the minors. Things could have been much, much worse.

I still keep tabs on Darius since he left the NHL and headed to the KHL. Of course, I know more about what’s going on in his world than any other fan or hockey writer. For some reason, during that time in 2007, the Kasparaitis family became like an extended family to me. So naturally, I would know what’s going on in their world, because I didn’t give up on his family when Darius headed to the KHL. And one of these days, I’ll make good on my promise and visit them in St. Petersburg, Russia.

But I will say this, it is no surprise to me to see that Shanny still follows my work as I go from one publication to the next. This blogsite is where everything I do comes under one roof.

Here’s proof Shanny reads this blog (from Tom Gulitti’s Shanny interview on August 5, 2009):

Michelle said: “And for those who care about contracts and such…Shanny only does 1 year deals right now. He’s been saying this since he signed with the Rangers a few years back. He takes it a year at a time, because he wants to see how he feels after each year and then he’ll make a decision on whether he feels good enough to play for another season.” (Aug. 5, 2009)

Brendan said: “I make that judgment at the conclusion of a season, never at the beginning.”

Michelle said: “So if players have been waiting to see if this is THE COACH, sign away boys. This is THE COACH.” (July 13, 2009)

Brendan told Tom: “Shanahan admitted that the Devils’ delay in hiring a coach (Lemaire was not named until July 13) contributed to his delay in re-signing.”

Michelle said: “Wait and see who the new coach is with the Devils. If you believe this coach will push the Devils into the Finals, then sign with the Devils.” (June 25, 2009)

Brendan said: “When Lou (Lamoriello) hired Jacques, I sort of thought he was going to be the guy…”

For more on Tom’s interview with Shanny: CLICK HERE to go to Tom’s “Fire & Ice” blog

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