Snapshots of My January 2012
I’ve been meaning to share with everyone what I did over the course of 2012. Even I forgot what I did last year, so it’s good to see that I have pictures to remind me of how I spent my year.
Being as this was my last season writing about hockey (even though the lure is still there…I still need to focus on other things right now), I have some memories worth sharing.
So here goes…
1. The Winter Classic. Philadelphia, PA.
My first Winter Classic was in Chicago during my rookie year. It was the most incredible experience I had ever had. As part of the end of my career, I went to my last Winter Classic featuring the Philadelphia Flyers vs. the New York Rangers at the Phillies ball park.
We started off with the NHL Alumni Game.
My favorite moment from the Alumni Game was seeing a former Ranger sitting in the dugout just taking in the atmosphere. I was standing near him when he went over to take a seat in the dugout. I pulled out my camera and took a photo, because I remember doing that years ago at my first Winter Classic at Wrigley Field.
You can’t help but feel in awe when you are at the Winter Classic. The event is really something magical.
Another favorite moment was being around the fans, especially the little kids playing out on the ice next to the main ice.
Bernie Parent playing for a few minutes and then seeing him in the locker room afterwards was really, really cool.
The one person I learned a lot from? Mike Keenan. That man is brilliant. I was just like…WOW. Now I feel like a nerd because he speaks like a genius and I understood everything he was talking about. I was just in complete awe of him.
One person I caught up with was Glenn Anderson. He filled me in on what he’s been doing. How about playing hockey in the Baltic States and making a movie with the Ferraro brothers (also former NYR players)? I never thought Glenn would say anything like that. All I had asked him was what he had been up to since I saw him last in Las Vegas. I was shocked that was what he came up with. Just wow.
Next…the real game.
My favorite moment of the game? Well, the friggin game itself! Boy, was it a lot of fun.
Since the regular NYR beat reporter for Inside Hockey was also covering the game, I ended up in the Flyers locker room post-game. I have a knack for being thrown into any team’s locker room and come up with a story. Not a lot of reporters can do that. Many are just experts on one team and one team only. Me, I just go where they tell me to go.
Being in the Flyers locker room meant I got to see THE Hockey God JAROMIR JAGR.
Jagr, unfortunately, left the game early. Something about the cold messing with his injured muscle.
As for my favorite photos…they were definitely of all of the young fans in the crowd.
As for my favorite moment of all…while one NYR alumni sat in the dugout taking in the atmosphere of the Winter Classic, I went out and sat on the Rangers bench this year. This was my moment to really take it all in as I started my last 6 months of my hockey writing career.
There were no fans around, just MSG doing their show and some of the maintenance people making sure everything would be in place for the game. Looking up at the dark sky and the stars overhead, sitting on the bench was something magical. This was the start of my saying goodbye to hockey.
2. NHL All-Stars 2012. Ottawa, Ontario CANADA.
Now, it is no secret that I always do the stuff no one else is doing when it comes to covering hockey. I brought along my Inside Hockey partner in crime, Winter Adams, to all of these random events that NO ONE ELSE WAS COVERING!
So this is what we did…
We spent the first day hanging out at the children’s hospital with the kids, NHL mascots, Mr. Bettman and a few young NHL stars.
You’ll see in the big photo on the left there’s a little child in the middle of all of the mascots, and then again with the Canuck in the bottom left hand corner. This little child really captured our hearts. Not to mention absolutely adorable. The Canuck ended up becoming my favorite mascot of all after watching those two become buddies during the press conference where they unveiled the new entertainment room for the kids.
Pat LaFontaine was also on hand at the unveiling.
After the press conference, we headed up to the new room where NHLers sat down playing NHL12 with the kids or got on a video conference with kids at other hospitals.
This is the kind of stuff I love about the NHL. It’s under-reported, but it’s the stuff that connects the NHL to the fans…especially the young, sick ones that can’t make it to a game.
This is the kind of stuff that makes me want to cry, because this is the part of the NHL that makes me love them so…and fans rarely, if ever, hear about this stuff.
This is also the side of Gary Bettman fans never see. This kind of stuff is the exact reason why I never speak ill of Bettman.
Later in the day it was Media Day at the All-Stars.
For some odd reason, we ended up taking a seat right behind Bob McKenzie. Gotta say…that was my starstruck moment. Yes, surrounded by NHL stars and I get starstruck by Bob McKenzie. I think I was just more shocked that we had somehow found a seat behind the legend, and had no idea until he came over and sat in front of us.
The next day was the Skills Competition.
How smoldering is that Jamie Benn photo? He had a few female reporters gushing over him (especially the ones that had a good 10-20 years on me). I actually had to laugh when I saw that.
My favorite photo is that Marian Hossa pic with the back of Zdeno Chara’s head. I actually had to ask Marian to stop and let me take the photo. He wasn’t going to stop and was going to snub me because I was media, but then he turned, stopped, and let me take the photo and then left in a matter of seconds. I looked at my camera thinking…thank God that looked fabulous. It was absolutely perfect. So thank you, Marian, for stopping for 2 seconds to acknowledge my existence.
As for post-All-Star Game…
I always love seeing the NHL players’ kids in the locker room after the All-Stars. I grabbed a few pics of the players taking off their gear with their kids nearby. How adorable is that upper left picture? Her face was just in awe the entire time. It was soo adorable.
The Tim Thomas photo…I wasn’t allowed to take that photo because it was post-Bruins White House fallout, but Bruins media didn’t catch me until AFTER I took the photo so…
Now…there’s a set of photos I have not published yet and I’ve been saying something to Strombo about it so…HERE we go…
Winter and I got so busy with Media Day that we were never able to publish these photos or write about the event. You’ll notice Willie Mays in the photos, as well as Canada’s Governor General. This event took place in Rideau Hall. It was an event to honor the achievements of a youth organization that encourages boys and girls to be better individuals. Hockey is part of that program.
After the ceremony we headed outside to watch a good ole pond hockey game. This is Canada, after all.
Now, Winter and I know George Stroumboulopoulos (aka Strombo). We met him back in Las Vegas during the NHL Awards.
George kind of brought a little too much attention towards us during the ceremony. I was taking photos in the back of the room. George saw me and waved from the stage. This, in turn, made a whole lot of people turn to see who he was waving at.
Someone from the NHL office asked us later after he saw George hug me and Winter before the pond hockey game how in the world we knew George. My response: “Vegas.”
Americans generally don’t know who Strombo is. Canadians…oh, he’s super famous in Canada.
One more thing about Strombo…he’s a HUGE Montreal Canadiens fan. He saw Youppi (their mascot) at the pond hockey game and he literally took off running after Youppi…just like a little kid. It was the most hilarious thing I had ever seen…at least when it comes to George.
The coolest thing at this event? We met a kid that won a contest to attend the NHL All-Stars. He’s not a hockey fan or anything, but he is one incredible kid. He has made strides to help the hungry. He has such a big heart. All he wants to do is help the world…and he’s just a kid. Not only did he raise tens of thousands to help feed the hungry, he is also building an orphanage. He’s raised enough money to do it.
He’s so smart, passionate, and is great in front of the cameras explaining his passion in life…which is to help people. This kid was so inspiring.
I couldn’t figure out why he was on the same bus as us alongside Willie Mays…and then when it was explained I was like…this kid is absolutely amazing.
I was text messaging with Georges Laraque throughout the NHL All-Stars. When I told him Willie Mays was sitting next to us on the bus, he had me turn to Mr. Mays to tell him he said hello. The way Mr. Mays’ face lit up at the message, it just made me smile.
So that’s my month of January in a nutshell. Lots of hockey. That is, lots of cool hockey stuff.
And people have been asking who in the world I am and what in the world I have to do with NHL stuff…well, there ya go.
Oh, and as an FYI…I’m spending my 2013 hockey season watching Dallas. That’s where Jagr is. I’ll be spending some very long weekends in Dallas. Maybe I’ll cover…maybe I’ll just sit near the ice. Either way, my time in Dallas will be Stars related and JFK related. 2013 is the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. I’ll be heading to a lot of those events during February, March and April.
As for NJD/NYR…neither team is on my schedule. Although, I may stop in to see Marty Brodeur play at some point. After all, he is still one of my all-time favorite NHL players, and the only all-time favorite goalie. Like Jagr, I have to see Marty play before he retires. He has another year, Jagr may not…that’s why there’s more focus on Dallas this season since I barely got to see Jagr last season.
At any rate…going through my photos, I think the next batch is Italy. I apparently didn’t take a whole lot of photos last year. This year will be different.