Guest blogger: Peter

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(EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t forget that NHL.com’s 30-in-30 today focuses on your New York Rangers.)

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The two dozen or so diehard Blueshirt faithful peered up at me from the line just inside of Madison Square Garden, that little area just outside the glass doors that lead to the lobby and box office and the promised land.  A few of them stirred indecisively, first grabbing at pens, markers, something to write on, and studying my face as I strode confidently towards them on my way into the arena.  Then one or two moved forward, then a few others followed suit, extending me their pens and papers but with a timid overtone that locked in exactly what was happening here.

They wanted my autograph.  But they didn’t know which of the Rangers I was.  The answer, of course: none of them.

Instead, I was a 22-year old cub reporter working on a story for Sports Illustrated.  After graduating from college in May of 1990, I somehow landed a job as an intern reporter (read: fact-checker) for Sports Illustrated For Kids.  Of course, I hoped that would lead to job with Sports Illustrated. But in order to land that position, I would need to come up with a story idea and get it published in the big book, which was no small feat. I tried, hard.  I wrote a lengthy, comical story about my years as a caddy (funny, well-written, but not accessible enough or newsworthy).  I wrote a piece about a Harvard hockey player who lived and played in the Soviet Union for a semester (we’ve already done too many stories like this one).

So by the time I picked up the phone to call John Davidson  to — what else? — check the facts on a story, I was a desperate man indeed.  Unlike other guys when checking quotes or facts for a story who gave simple yes’s and no’s (after Adam Oates politely answered the phone, Brett Hull said only yes or no), JD is a friendly talker. And we got to talking. I explained to him my plight, and JD had a great idea:  A story about the way the players all went through these crazy rituals before games of tapping the goalie — there was a clear pecking order, a clearly choreographed ritual that every team seemed to go through between when they took the ice and the National Anthem.
“I’m telling you, it’s crazy.”  Sounded like a reasonable idea.  I went to the editors at SI.  I presented my idea.  They actually seemed interested.  The next thing I knew, I had press passes to two Rangers games.

Full disclosure:  I read this blog. I am a season ticket holder and have been since 2000. My uncle had season tickets throughout my entire childhood (he gave them up after the disastrous 1993 season if you can believe that). I went to five-10 Rangers games every year from the time I was about five years old, and I am as much of a diehard as exists on this earth.  So this press passes thing, well, it went a little like this (nod to Bill Cosby):
God:  Peter?
Peter:  What?
God:  Peter, I want you to take these press passes, and go to the Rangers game, hang around and hobnob with the media at the Garden, then go into the locker rooms after the game and interview all the players.
Peter:  Right.

So it was with nervous anticipation that I showered, threw on one of my four ties and a blue blazer and headed off to Manhattan in the car from my parents’ place in Connecticut.  I owned very few items in this world, and one of the items that I did not own was a briefcase of any kind.  And taking a backpack with me at the time seemed pretty unprofessional.  So I took a few notebooks, a bunch of pens, and a handheld tape recorder (and about three extra cassettes in case Brian Leetch really wanted to wax philosophical about tapping the goalie) and threw them in a small duffel bag.
I arrived at the Garden at about 5 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game, parked my (parents’) car in one of the lots, grabbed my bag and walked in the way I always do.  Now I’m not a big guy, but when I was 22 I was definitely in good shape.  I was wearing a jacket and tie, and carrying a duffel bag.  Did I look like I played for the New York Rangers?  Apparently.

Probably every single one of us has, as either a child or an adult or both, wondered what it would be like to have someone actually want your autograph. I’ve seen it my whole life. The high school football team used to come by our elementary school and the kids all lined up for their autographs. When I was covering the Columbia football team, a close friend of mine on the team — which had won about three times over a five-year period — was clearly moved when after a game a six-year old approached him and asked for his autograph.  Now I was finding out how it felt.

I was completely taken aback.  Stunned for a second, like Mess just came up high with an elbow to my ear.  What did I do here?  I could perpetuate one of the greatest practical jokes of all time, stop, scribble something illegibly a few times and walk away, smiling to myself.   And when they asked “wait, who are you” I could simply shoot back a quasi-annoyed-that-you-want-my-autograph-but-don’t-even-know-who-I-am “Figure it out.”  After all, someone had somehow once done that to my friend Jim, unless there was actually a guy named Fisch Juba who played for the Mets and showed up somewhere and signed my friend’s first base replica.

I kept walking. I knew better. They didn’t want my autograph, they wanted a Ranger’s, and like I said, I was none of them.  In fact, I was much closer to the autograph seekers, than I was to the Rangers.  But not for long.  I strode through the glass doors and climbed aboard an elevator where I and several other media members were greeted by another handsome guy in much nicer threads than me whose outgoing nature was unmistakable.  I was riding the elevator with John Vanbiesbrouck.

To be continued …

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111 Comments

  1. Mickey, probably just means you need to get a new usb cable. Speaking of Apple….a couple of weeks ago I took my iPhone 4S out on a nice spa session to the Dead Sea. Mud rub and everything. Thank god (Avery) for insurance. New phone waiting for me when I get back to NY in 12 days.

  2. Good morning, boneheads!

    Very well written, Peter. Can’t wait for the next chapter. Thanks.

  3. iWicky "Rupp Yours!!!" on

    Peter
    Great write up, thanks

    Mickey
    Sounds like you are missing the Lou lol!!! ;)

  4. I think Don’t is looking more likely to be in Phoenix, given the time he is taking i’d say he really doesnt want to move.

    According to reports it looks like The Wings will be after JayBo to fill their (very large) hole in their blue line – although at 28 you could say he has his best years as a defenseman to come…

  5. Nice, of course…but is there a story?
    I’m guilty of taking a l-o-o-ng way to express myself most of the time. Maybe, because of that, my favorite writers are the ones, who writes lapidary, being able to give you a lot of salts in stories and express tons of thoughts in a short, simple sentences, which I call dense, saturated writing. Like best of them all – “telegraph” Hemingway. (Legend has it that in the 1920s, Hemingway’s colleagues bet him that he couldn’t write a complete story in just six words. His rebuttal? _“For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”_).
    *Brevity is a sister of talent.* I, personally, do not have one (but still can criticize some, who pretend to has, right?).

  6. Cant wait for Part 2 Peter :)

    4ever, when a person has such worldly knowledge as you, that person can criticize whatever he likes. I consider you the Jaromir Jagr of our blog. Stunningly beautiful, worldly knowledge, the glitz and glamour, talent and substance.

  7. I’m blushing, Tiki. Totally unwarranted…but thank you just for such a pleasant and elegant expressions.

  8. No, but I’m here in my new French in-laws’s Bretagne horse farm.
    …and do not envy – it is sin.

  9. NLH.com predicted our lines!

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=639423&cmpid=nhl-rxl-twt

    *Forwards*

    Carl Hagelin – Brad Richards – Rick Nash

    Chris Kreider – Derek Stepan – *Ryan Callahan*

    Taylor Pyatt – Brian Boyle – Christian Thomas

    Mike Rupp – Jeff Halpern – Arron Asham

    Micheal Haley

    *Defensemen*

    Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi

    Michael Del Zotto – Marc Staal

    Stu Bickel – Anton Stralman

    Sean Collins

    *Goaltenders*

    Henrik Lundqvist

    Martin Biron

  10. I guess when Gaborik comes back he replaces Hagelin and then Hagelin replaces Christian Thomas?

  11. Haley will be Avery part II. That one reeks of Sather wanting to have some nasty on tap. Torts wont dig him. He wont play.

    I am completely befuddled by the name Sean Collins. I’ll have to bone up there…

    Odd that they left out potential breakthrough prospects except Christian Thomas, that’s a bit bold naming him as only one.

    What do you guys think of JT Miller? What about our Swedes -Fast and Lindberg, will they not challenge for a job?

  12. Good Story Peter!!! I like the idea of Carp breaking it up ….. till tomorrow.

    Carp any inside news as far as the owners vs NHLPA? Just how far away are they? It sounds like a simple compromise of meeting in the middle, write something up that is fair for both sides, and get it done. or not???? what is worth losing the season over???

  13. Hip – Fast and Lindberg are both in the Elite league in Sweden for their last year their. Then the Whale until they can put on a Blueshirt.

    I would think Miller has an equal shot along with Thomas for the 3rd line wing. Miller & Thomas both will start at the Whale, and will have to play their way on the team, and who ever may make a splash at camp. Unless out of the Blue Doan signs here, 33% chance at best.

    It is going to be a FUN year, if and when it starts. Might be even a better year for the Whale. So if the NHL starts late. With the AHL start on time. Could Kreider and Hagilen play for the Whale, if the Rangers don’t start till after say…. Thanksgiving?

    Any insight on this???

  14. Peter, I know the feeling -I was once approached and hassled/pressured so hard for an autograph outside MSG because some dad and his kid thought I was a Dallas Star. It was right after Leetch went inside. I was not even in a suit and not going into the rink! I was heading for the train and I had just finished a cigarette! In retrospect, I think maybe he wanted me to play along for his nine year old kid. Maybe they were having a tough time out there that day …but I HAD to go along with it. He made that clear.

    It was probably one of you guys.

    I bolted before anyone else in the small crowd that had gathered could ask me. I scribbled my real name so it was unreadable and added my usual number, 23, which that year would have been Matthias Tarnquist. A Rorschach mystery for whatever kid got it…as my name and his are completely different.

  15. I think Carp covered the “who can play for the whale” thing a few threads back. I already forgot the answers because it was a little confusing. A simple list will do.

  16. Since there hasnt been hockey in a while, would anyone be interested in seeing a friendly between Canada and Russia from yesterday?

    It was Game 1 of a 4 game series between Canada and Russia to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series.

  17. The game involved players like Yakupov for Russia, that first pick guy from this year, and that loser Dougie Hamilton for Canada of the bruins.

  18. Is this thing on?

    No post for 30 minutes on a weekday?

    What’s everybody doing… their jobs?

    Working at work is for chumps!

  19. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    Great story Peter – JVB almost got our boys to the finals in 1986.

  20. any of you ever tried putting liverwurst on cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese? i gotta say… it’s pretty darn good!

  21. no more Russkies on the team or in the system :(

    but good for AA… with less Russian culture around, maybe he’ll learn English faster ;)

  22. i hope Anisimov is bringing some pelmeni with him from Yaroslavl….he wont be getting them in Ohio any time soon

  23. Columbus has some strip joint owned by Russkies called “The Doll House”… maybe he can find someone to talk Russian to there :-D

  24. Maybe if AA converts to Judaism, he can join local Russian Jewish community of Columbus…i hear they’re very active over there…

  25. Maybe if Columbus had converted to Indian, his heirs would have casino money instead of zilch.

  26. did you that Jesus made his living as a carpenter with hammer, wood, and nails? And Jesus was killed by the Romans who used a hammer, wood, and nails?

  27. Good afternoon all! Peter, you’re killing me!…Looking forward to tomorrow.

    C3, thanks for that meal post. I don’t need food now for the rest of the day.

    4ever, hope things are going well over there….

  28. Jesus was a Capricorn, he ate organic foods.
    He believed in love and peace and never wore no shoes.
    Long hair, beard, and sandals, and a funky bunch of friends.
    Reckon they’d just nail him up if he come down again. – Chris Kristofferson

  29. It’s getting weird in here, so weird, so take off all your clothes
    I am, getting so weird, I wanna take my clothes off
    It’s getting weird in here, so weird, so take off all your clothes
    I am, getting so weird, I wanna take my clothes off

  30. also CCCP, I have double help for you: address for discent strip club and a very good doctor.
    Just ask…lol.

  31. So by “packing his “staff” and going to columbus” does Artie mean he has, like, a magic wand?

    Or does he mean he’s packing his secretary, house cleaner, web site administrator, driver and accountant?

    Or, as in heaven can wait, he plays the flute and is speaking of his sheet music holder?

    Sounds as if he doesn’t want to go. Poor guy. I’m sure it’s tough to move on. Maybe he will realize the magnitude of the opportunity he had, and what he could still have to some extent.

    I wish him the best and hope he breaks out. Dubi too. And Erixon. They have real opportunities now. Go for it.

  32. At least Artem will be with his fellows Rangers (starts with “R” also).
    And, if he would read this post (probability – “0”) I would recommend:
    for night’s entertainment – Russian Club in Columbus OH
    for extended night entertainment – ADULT PROGRAMS – Russian/Jewish Community Center.
    for prays to ever get in a PO – Saint Sergius Russian Orthodox Cathedral (Mission)
    for job placement after 2 season’s retirement – Jobs Search on local Russian restaurant sites (“Hawa Russia” Restaurant, for example)

  33. Hay, Artie, The Doll House of Columbus (strip club), CCCP mentioned, is owned by Russians. But the floor workforce is not imported from Russia to your disappointment, but rather local. It is located near Karl Road and Route 161. Oh, I totally forgot, sorry…Rumors are you got married. (There are no good rumors – all rumors are bad). But man need to relax sometimes, right?

  34. ..and speaking about marriage, Artie. You will understand what happiness is all about only when you get married. But, it will be too late…may be already too late. Sorry.

  35. I got divorced because my ex-wife and I had religious differences. She worshiped money and I started running out of it.

  36. ZzZz NYR ZzZz© " Don't stepan the logo,Nash!!!"...says Greg L. on

    Cool story “Peter the great”.

    AA is gone. Hes outta here…done like Jagr . Off to anuther team. Not good. It does feel Carsillyoey. I liked him. He had so much upside. The reason he is gone all stems down to Cherapanov. We had this “Russian” dream of young kids all “gelling” together .Then all of a sudden the tragic colapse right next to Jagr . Cherry as young as he was , was our star that would pave the way for Grachev and AA to stay many ,many more year to come. It is a story about our franchise that many don’t ever realize. AA being gone is the end of a dream but never an end in our memories. He was a piece of us . TY AA!!

  37. “For me to end up in New York with one of the most historic organizations, playing at Madison Square Garden, is so exciting,” said Nash. “I think every kid dreams of playing in a big-time city, and I don’t think there’s a better place than here for me.”

    DROP THE PUCK!!

  38. Peter. Great post.

    You have some skill there.

    I look forward to your next installment.

    The only people that ask for my autograph are holding my credit card.

  39. AA had a few Malkin-like moments. I thought he might grow into it, but after a few years one starts to wonder.

    Good luck to Artie, but we made a good trade.

  40. Sioux-per-man on

    No Artie – No Dubi :(

    As Soon as Nash starts scoring goal after goal, the other two will feel like dust on a gravel road.

    Nash – Richards – Kreider
    Callahan – Stepan – Gaborik

    This could be the best 1 – 2 punch in the league.

    With Hags speed, Boyle’s size, on the 3rd line. I really don’t think we will miss AA and Dubi, when the Rangers will be putting up 3-4 goals a game.

    Henrik won’t have to steal all those 1 goal games for a win.

    Boy’s it’s going to be a SIOUX-PER year for the Rangers. When ever that year will start.

  41. bull dog line on

    Cally and Gabby both play the right side, so that does not work. flip Kreider and Gabby, and then you have it.

  42. ZzZz NYR ZzZz© "Don't stepan the logo,Nash!!!"...says Greg L. on

    Thanks CCCP , it kinda got to me too!!

    Bulldog we would not have traded him if Cherry was still here. He had upside , that’s why we got a prize like Nash.

  43. bull dog line on

    the upside you speak of, is imaginary. he was the scarecrow on ice. skating around without a brain.

  44. inconsistency is why both Dubi and AA got traded. Nash scores 30 goals on regular basis and has double the skill of Dubi and AA put together. can’t wait for the season to start… hopefully these a-hole NHL wigs won’t lock us out.

  45. ZzZz NYR ZzZz© "Don't stepan the logo,Nash!!!"...says Greg L. on

    Bulldog , Name the last Ranger to shoot ” gun slinger ” style after he scored a goal . Maybe Tie domi ( dummy) did it here as a rookie?

  46. According to my (admittedly limited) research, Thai Domi, Thai Wigginton, and Thai Cobb are the only professional athletes born in Thailand who played in the USA.

  47. Hey Peter –
    Similar thing happened to me when I came out the player exit in my one time in the promised land – except I did sign!

    Told them I was a minor leager and if they really wanted my autograph if I might not make the team .. in the end ..

    2 shirts a hat and a puck!
    Put my John Hancock right next to Messier’s!!! ahahhahahaha :)

  48. Anybody want to hazard a guess as to what our PK unit’s gonna look like next year? Everyone talks about the huge offensive lift this team received in the current offseason but at the same time we’ve had a dismantling of sorts with regard to the penalty kill.

  49. OK

    I probably owe you folks an apology for a bad habit I’ve developed. I;m gonna really try to avoid calling you all Shirley from now on.

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