And So It Begins
With WWOR-TV blaring the Ranger game from the monstrosity that TVs were in the 1980’s, I sat listening but not watching. My attention was on something more compelling. Before me were two teams selected from my NHL trading cards, setup on the floor like a lineup graphic, battling each other on the ice rink in my mind. And so it went for years until I cared more about the action on screen than I did about the game of hockey in my head.
Fast-Forward to 1992.
Hiding in the back of the garage, under layers of shelving and dust, sat a Rubbermaid garbage can. Inside this bin was a plethora of used and aging sporting goods, remnants of my failed attempts at finding one I loved. Amongst that nostalgia, I rummaged upon my father’s rollerblades. Naturally, I strapped them on and like Bambi’s first steps, I stumbled out onto the smoothly paved driveway. That entire day was spent trying not to fall.
The next morning, I woke up and ran to the basement without regard for the imaginary monsters I usually feared to retrieve my father’s old hockey gear that hung from the wall like a trophy deer in a hunter’s lounge. Suited up in gear that was all two sizes too big, I enlisted the help of my trusty black lab, Bandit, to be the opposing team.
The rules were simple: If I got the tennis ball past him, I scored a goal. If Bandit stole it from me, he scored. That is how it went for the remainder of the summer until it was suggested that I join a roller league. Which I did do, joining the Flames in Bayport Long Island which led to hockey not only being my favorite sport to watch but also to play.
My roller hockey career was short-lived as I made the jump to ice quickly afterward. This as the New York Rangers, my favorite team, were on the cusp of winning their first cup in 54 years. That same year I started playing ice hockey and taking lessons from Aleskey Nikifarov, my high school got a team! We won the JV championship in our first year. That first year also saw me making the Junior Islanders (I wore a ranger t-shirt under my pads) and playing in the all-star game at Nassau Coliseum. After high school and a tryout for the Empire State Games (akin to the Olympics for New York State athletes), I went to Rider University to play for the Broncos.
In a little twist of irony, I actually tried to start skating when I was a young boy. My father had played recreationally and thought I would love it. One day, my Dad took me to the Superior Ice Rink in Kings Park (where I would eventually play with some ex-pros in their EARLY morning pickup games) and strapped some skates on my feet. As I wobbled to the door leading to the ice, I could feel a blast of the cool, humid air slap me on the cheeks. I was mesmerized by the sounds and smells. One foot over the boards, then the other.
Before the first stride was even complete, my feet slipped out from under me like Wile E Coyote on roller skates and I fell face first into the frozen floor. BOOM! Two front teeth severed in half. I didn’t step onto the ice until that time mentioned above when I was in high school. That was my intro to playing the sport I love.
Suffice it to say, hockey has been with me for most of my life. The Rangers are my tried and true (and always will be) but with hockey now in the Pacific Northwest where I reside, you can bet I will eagerly be following along as the NHL’s 32nd franchise starts writing its history.
I have strong opinions that will be voiced in my work. Mincing words is not something you can expect. Readers may not agree but that’s something I look forward to. Healthy discussion about this game we all love is invited and encouraged. And if I may make a disclaimer from the jump, I am not a fan of analytics. I prefer to see for myself and let my eyes and brain inform my decisions. While analytics do have their place in the game, and when wielded by people much smarter than me, they can be a valuable weapon.
With all that said, I look forward to writing about the Kraken, the Rangers, and the NHL. It has been a dream of mine to be able to share my thoughts on the game and thanks to the FHN family, it is now a reality.
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