The Players That Don’t Define Their Public Mold
This list is for all of those players that I’ve met that you wouldn’t think were great guys…or just didn’t give them a second thought. These are the guys in the NHL that I like…I’m not talking about like like. I’m talking about the guys that are super sweet that you can’t help but think…wow…reputations aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be.
DAVID CLARKSON (New Jersey Devils). Every time someone tells me that Clarky is a goon, I can’t help but laugh. Just because he’s a fighter doesn’t mean he’s a nasty guy. Quite the contrary. He’s one of the sweetest guys around. He’s the kind of guy that will fight for a girl’s honor when she’s been disrespected. He’s completely chivalrous and just altogether a sweetheart.
Fighting is a business not just a statement. He accepts his role because he’s good at it. To me, he’s still a kid at heart and gets red faced and embarrassed when he trips over himself (you know I wasn’t letting that one down…blame Weekes!). But overall, he’s that guy you know you want in your corner when things get bad.
He’s the kind of guy that would make the best friend in the world. He’s overall, the sweetest goon I know.
GEORGES LARAQUE (Montreal Canadiens). Georges surprised me when I first met him. He was well…bigger than I imagined him to be. His hair is always perfectly in place.
He’s another so called goon that to me is a complete sweetheart…well, he is if he’s talking to Michelle Kenneth. :) Just take a look at the video from the NHLPA meetings that Buddy Oakes (Preds on the Glass) took. Georges got all worked up, was ready to start a fight, but the second I said something to him and he realized it was me…sweet as a teddy bear.
It’s like night and day with Georges, but after meeting him, I have a hard time saying he’s a nasty goon. He’s like Clarky…sweetest guy in the world…and fighting is business.
KEVIN WEEKES (UFA). Weekesie is the guy everyone always forgets about. But he’s one of the nicest guys around. Zach Parise had said earlier this summer that Weekes is the kind of guy you want around in the locker room.
I spent my first few years in NYC sitting right behind Weekes when he was a New York Ranger. It was strange that we both wound up in Devils territory, but at least we always felt relaxed with each other.
I have a lot of great memories of Kevin as a Ranger and as a Devil. Probably the best one was when we had a good laugh at David Clarkson tripping over himself (see…we absolutely can’t let that one down).
Kevin’s just one of those guys you do want to keep around just because of what he can bring to the room. He’s always a positive contribution to the team. Most fans would have no idea what that contribution is until you see it for yourself.
RYAN MILLER (Buffalo Sabres). I never talk about this, but the first time I met Ryan Miller, he put a smile on my face that lasted for a week.
I walked into the room and the press made way for me to stand in and interview Miller. Of course, Miller noticed the special treatment (don’t ask why they did it…just happened that way). I didn’t ask any questions, but I jotted down some quotes.
After everyone was done and walked away (including Miller), I was still standing in the middle of the locker room writing down what he had said, completely lost in my own world of taking notes, not realizing that all of the Sabres players were sitting there watching me…the only reporter left in the room.
Miller came up to me and said to me, “You know, you could have talked to me first…” And the rest of the conversation is history and a private matter.
I never imagined Miller to be so bold. We talked as he walked me out of the locker room and that conversation was enough to make me smile for a week.
I always saw Ryan Miller as being this guy that was all about work. I assumed he’d be shy around women…based on what I’ve heard coming from Buffalo. He proved to be anything but shy. He was very straightforward and about the nicest guy in that room. Most players don’t approach me like that, especially if they are a stranger. They wait for me to approach to say something. Miller was the only player to approach me first last season.
ROBERTO LUONGO (Vancouver Canucks). I never knew what to make of Luongo when I first met him at the All-Stars with his family. He was very guarded.
By the time the NHL Awards came around and 13 hours with yours truly…by golly…Luongo is actually a really nice, cool guy when he lets down his barriers. He’s the kind of guy you invite to your BBQs and any other house parties (the grown up parties (showers, birthdays, etc.), not the frat parties) and he’ll actually go, especially if we’re talking poker. :)
ZACH PARISE (New Jersey Devils). It’s funny how the 14-year old girls just shriek with joy every single time Parise scores a goal. No doubt…it’s a shriek. You hear the shriek…you know it was Parise that scored the goal (trust me, you don’t even have to look up for the replay).
But what is Zach like off the ice? (sigh) Well…
LOL. Ok…he’ll read this. So I have to be nice (I think he’d be upset if he didn’t make the list). Zach and I have a lot of inside jokes. One of which I never bring up to him is how when I first started covering the Devils last season, he’d follow me around the locker room trying to get me to talk to him.
But when you are a newbie, you are supposed to stay quiet, watch, and learn from the veteran reporters. You don’t ask questions. You wait until you get the feel for the room and the room gets a feel for you.
I kept ignoring Parise the first half of the season when he’d follow me around. He kept looking in my purse (I carry tote bags that don’t close). If I went shopping, he noticed it and remarked on it. But I couldn’t help but notice he had some strange attachment to my pink Burberry bag.
Ok…I’d rather it be the pink Burberry bag…ok? Seriously, I thought he was wanting to ask me where I got it because you can’t get pink Burberry on the market anymore. It was a 2005-2006 make (you can tell I know my Burberry). But the thing is, he never asked me.
I think he was just trying to get me to talk to him, relax, open up and ask questions by remarking on my shopping bags inside of my purse and following my pink Burberry bag around (he was following the Burberry bag, not me…get that straight).
But when we did talk for the first time, he gave me an answer that was very fresh (as my friend would say) and my reply…well, Zach has never given me a crappy answer after that.
Zach’s probably one of the sweetest kids I’ve met in the NHL with the biggest heart. And when he doesn’t score goals…well, it’s just not a pretty picture. He takes his job more seriously than anyone else I’ve ever seen.
CAREY PRICE (Montreal Canadiens). I love this kid. He cracks me up! Out of all the players I met last season, Carey was the only one that had me laughing. He doesn’t understand how he makes me laugh…he just does.
He has this innocence about him that reminds me of me when I was his age. The things he says and does…just makes me laugh because it really reminds me of my younger years and how stupid I was back then…but still trying to find my way. That is Carey Price (not saying he’s stupid…just youthfully innocent and he doesn’t realize it).
I’ve never met anyone else that sounded like me when I was younger. But Carey…he can get himself into pickles and not even realize it. But at least it brought a few laughs…well, he wasn’t laughing…I was.