Guest blogger: Ken Lewis


The State of Hockey: from a Player to a Coach to a Fan … Maybe Not Too Much Longer

By Ken Lewis

I grew up in Brooklyn in the 60’s and 70’s. Hockey was usually played on Chicago Roller Skates with a black roll of electrical tape as your puck. Joey Mullen was doing the same in Hell’s Kitchen.

My neighbor was a figure skating instructor on the weekends at Abe Stark Ice Rink in Coney Island. To keep her son company she brought me; we skated eight hours every Saturday and Sunday. By the time I was 10 years old I could do things on skates that even the skate guard could not do.

My dad was an NYPD patrolman there was not much money left for hockey but somehow shoveling snow in winter put enough money in my pocket to cobble together enough gear to clinic in Coney Island and Prospect Park. Rag tag to say the least but I still remember walking into the rinks on cold mornings and cold nights. Sometimes my two Koho’s were my protection, sometimes they were just my badge of honor.

At that time no USA players were playing in the NHL, I was ticked we did not live in Ontario. I wanted to be Brad Park, Walter Tkaczuk and, in ‘72 seeing the Bruins beat the Rangers in the finals, Bobby Orr. Man did I love Bobby Orr; man did he have everything except resilient knees and a nose for the  business world.

I loved the game. It was not my time — born too soon, born too far south of the Canadian border. It’s hard to make the NHL riding the B3 bus to Coney or the QB train to Prospect Park.  Somehow Nick Fotiu did it, somehow Joey Mullen did it, and a few did make it to play high level but it was indeed a rarity. Ice hockey was tough to play. You need dollars and the ability to travel.  Back then this great game was owned by toothless farm boys from up north of the border.

Then fast forward to my son’s days up in Westchester County. We had him on ice as soon as his legs would work at it. I got my USA Hockey coaching certificates so he could play in a program not in our town. He was driven to every game and practice, never had to take a bus or subway. We traveled the East Coast cementing our relationship while building a love for grinding it out along the walls.  I met great hockey parents, although maybe not all. I met great players who were with me ‘til they were ready to move on to better coaching and better levels. It was the best 10 years of my life. As a level 4 coach I could coach high level Juniors but the overhead in Westchester has me on life’s treadmill. Chasing pucks in dark dank rinks does not cover mortgages and college tuitions no matter how much I wish it could.  I love coaching hockey, love the game.  I can break down problems and strengths with the best of them.  When I coached it was always about the players never about me. Youth hockey even at the highest level is about love of game and working to make your players better to get to the next level both on and off the ice.

With my adult career league days now over, I am glad to have escaped middle aged injury. Today  I’m  happy watching mites go up and back in any rink as watching the enthusiasm of their game and play makes you know what the game is all about. You know why you love the game.  It’s hard to compare this to billionaires fighting over slight percentages with millionaires. I go back and forth in my mind with whose fault this lockout is.  There is a ton of stupidity to go around.  Seven hundred guys with an amazing talent letting it die on the vine for fractions.  A bunch of bull-headed owners, led by the ultimate Company Man Gary Bettman  — would I like to take him into the corners of any rink and grind that little snit into the glass.  I believe they are killing the Golden Goose. The NHL, a league that has been mostly striving and making great financial gains, and they can’t seem to split up the pie in an equitable manner without these work stoppages. My advice is they all  take some time to get into  a local rink and see the smiles inside the helmets of Mites and Squirts — it will make them remember what is good about this game and what really matters to those of us who live and love it.


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  1. Great article Ken. If only Gary Bettman could pull his head out of his ass for long enough to go to a local rink and watch peewee hockey (without trying to make a photo opportunity out of it)

  2. I fear over the next couple of days there will be no meaningful movement and we face losing at least a month or two, if not the whole season.

    Neither side want to give more than a couple of percent up, the owners seems to simply want to take a cut of players salaries right away and increase Jeremy Jacob’s, Molson’s and Dolan’s profits. The players won’t give in, i read an excellent article written by Joffrey Lupul and you can see their point: they tried this method last time and according to the league it failed so why would they agree to it again?

    The only way i see this working is if some of the owners break ranks and side with the players, but with the little Hitler threatening big fines and removal of draft picks thats not going to happen soon.

  3. Good morning, boneheads!

    Nice post, Ken. This sport is about human beings who love the game. But it’s also a business. And that’s why we are all stuck.

  4. watching the parents of both teams jump around for their kids at the mite game last night was amazing. watching these 6-7-8 year olds improve year in and year out is a treat. it’s what hockey is all about. i weep for the morans upstairs.

  5. HockeymanRangers on

    Yes really good post, I’d like to post this on every hockey blog and hockey website through out the internet.
    “Seven hundred guys with an amazing talent letting it die on the vine for fractions.”
    Ken Lewis

  6. Whilst i agree with Ken’s sentiment – i also think that 1/5 or 1/4 is a pretty big fraction and especially when nearly 1/4 last time around didn’t solve the problem.

    Until the NHL prove that any extra %age they negotiate in this deal is going to be put towards making the league more stable and not just to further line the pockets of the big market owners then i’m firmly in the players camps. Also let us not forget that the lockout is not a mandatory thing, its the choice of the NHL and owners. The reason we are seeing hockey games cancelled is because the NHL decided that it didnt like its own CBA design and wanted a new one before it played on. You know, like the child that wouldnt play a game unless he/she could go first?

  7. Good article, I like it. The only answer I have is that the billionaires aren’t farm boys, and aren’t really interested in hockey all that much. Mr. Dolan for example doesn’t care if he has the Rangers (a hockey team) or the Rangers (a baseball team). It’s all changed. The reason why no one wanted to buy the Phoenix Coyotes is because it’s NOT a good investment. It’s the same reason why Mr. Wang will be selling the Islander’s soon. These are rich guys who just want a tax right off, and or something that’s going to make them even richer. You can blame the players all you want, but they are looking out for their futures, and yes millionaire futures. Why shouldn’t the players be able to live the good life after beating up their body’s playing hockey. That’s the whole situation in a nutshell. Gone are the days when owners used to play hockey in the barn up there in Ontario or wherever. These owners are suits thru and thru.

  8. If Dolan was smart he should break ranks, because that newly renovated Garden is going to need some customers real soon!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Ken Lewis got me so juiced up that I just opened my window, leaned out and screamed “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”!!!

  10. The Russians are coming!

    NHL Lockout 2012: ESPN3 to broadcast KHL games

    Representatives from the NHL and its Players’ Association are meeting again Tuesday to negotiate at least some topics for a new collective bargaining agreement. Meanwhile, fans are disgruntled and another hockey league is taking advantage of the dearth of games.
    ESPN3 will broadcast games from Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, including three in the next eight days featuring Alex Ovechkin’s Dynamo Moscow. ESPN3 will allow fans in the United States to see live KHL hockey on their computers or compatable devices.

    The debut for ESPN3 and the KHL this season will be Oct. 3: Dynamo Moscow vs. Ak Bars Kazan. Apparently (thanks to Twitter follower @Nick422 for the heads-up), the KHL has had games on ESPN3 the past two seasons.

    ESPN73 is available to 73 million households in the U.S. Games will be available in the U.S., its tterritories and Great Britain but not in Canada.
    It’s not quite like having hockey on ESPN television, but it’s one way for fans to get their fix, much in the way American soccer fans can watch European games online.

    Read more:

  11. ESPN broadcasts KHL on obscure internet streaming channel.

    ESPN points at miniscule ratings for broadcasts of KHL on obscure internet streaming channel as evidence that nobody in the US is interested in the NHL, so limits its miniscule coverage of NHL on main network even further.

  12. I really wanted to see this Rangers team play a full season. Even if there’s a partial season, it’s tainted for me.

    The league is once again killing their own momentum. You finally have people talking about hockey in LA with the Kings winning the Cup and in NY the Rangers are contenders. The two biggest media markets in the country have the hockey spotlight on them and it’s being squandered.

  13. newbear – despite your criticism of my ‘adjectivitis’ late last night, (you left out the ‘i’ but no complaint from me for a typo or the fact that ‘ly’ words are usually called adverbs) – I relay a factual, short comment that agrees with your post. The son of a friend, from a prestigious prep school, who had been accepted at an Ivy college had his acceptance rescinded because of some ill-advised comments on his Facebook page, and the kid subsequently enrolled at the University of Edinburgh. Go big Blue(s)!

  14. Thank you, Tiki. Yes, I did it myself … did you see my local sports twitter page (@LohudCarp)? See if you can spot me in the team photo.

  15. No, I hadnt seen your local twitter. That’s awesome!!!!! Youre right behind Alex after the 2009 WS. Unbelievably cool.. makes me wish you didnt dislike him. :)

  16. haha, gotta give credit where its due, that was funny!

    You played football? What # in the picture are you?

  17. I dont understand what Jerry Jones expects… why is he disappointed? He’s a billionaire thats too stupid to realize he’s only hurting his team by keeping around Tony Romo.

  18. It’s like the Eagles. Either the Cowboys or Eagles may make the playoffs, either one may win the NFC East. But neither team is good enough to overcome the flaws of their QB. Neither one is going to go on the road in multiple playoff games and not falter. Most importantly, neither team is going to come within 100 points of the Patriots in a Super Bowl.

  19. Did you feel the juice, emotion in Ken’s sincere and heartfelt piece? I did and I think most of you did, too. It’s why we are all hockey fans; whether that be former players and/or never has beens, we all love hockey because it’s about the passion. The passion, the something that has been lost along the way by the owners and players and has us in this lousy situation. I hope I never lose the passion that I feel at this moment for the great sport of hockey. Great job, Ken, for reminding me why I love this game.

  20. hi everybody!
    ahl kicks off soon,any ct/ny boneheads wanna meet up for some whale/soundtiger games?
    oct 12 is the whale home opener vs soundtigers
    nov 11 sunday at 3pm is soundtigers/whale in bridgeport,its right off i95 exit 27.
    shoot me an email if ya wanta meet up!

    giddy up

  21. Good evening all! A little bird just told me that Tony from AZ just got off the phone with Brad Richards! Lucky dude!

  22. Carp, you had some loooong hair!!!

    Blogmama had an outstanding night tonight with the Rangers. Im kinda jealous!

  23. Staal, Girardi, Eminger, Hagelin, Boyle, Cally, Hank, Steppers….Richards! oh my ….!

    fyi, according to the boys, there will be a season, at least by the classic….oh Carp, you are so smart….mama love…..

    more tomorrow…..

  24. LGR! More tomorrow.. (again) …but let me just say….Hagelin and Steppers…oh my! And I will never say anything against Eminger again…..nicest Ranger…..

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