During the lockout, Scott Hartnell & Brad Richards organized a charity event in Atlantic City, sponsored by Caesars. Brad Richards’s team was mostly Rangers [and Ex-Rangers] with 2 Ducks [Corey Perry & Bobby Ryan] and James Neal. Scott Hartnell’s team was mostly Flyers & Devils, a few left coast Flyers [aka Kings], Steve Stamkos, OK Subban & the legendary Martin Brodeur. Interestingly enough the Flyers were still unable to win a game against Henrik Lundqvist.
The audience composed mostly of Flyers, Devils and Rangers fans with a few other teams scattered in the mix. As they announced each player, Flyers & Devils fans boo’d the Ranger players. Devils and Rangers fans boo’d the Flyers players. Flyers and Rangers fans boo’d the Devils players. If there’s one thing Flyers, Rangers & Devils fans can agree on, none of us liked the Pittsburgh Penguins. James Neal drew the most & loudest boos from just about everyone in the arena.
The game was a lot of fun [I’ll post pics later] & afterwards my Dad and I went back to Caesars. Since Caesars had sponsored the game, we figured there might be some players around we could get autographs from. I’d already gotten the only goalies, Martin Brodeur & Henrik Lundqvist’s ‘graphs on my stick so I decided to try to get Steve Stamkos’s autograph on a hockey puck. I changed from my Flyers Tee shirt into a Tampa Bay sweatshirt I’d had in my backpack, grabbed a Tampa puck & paint pen out of my back pack so I’d have it handy in case we saw him. The nightclub at Caesars was having an after-party, but I don’t think my Dad realized that ‘after party’ meant ‘several hours after’. I’m also pretty sure he’d never been to a nightclub as he didn’t seem to understand why I didn’t think it’d be a great idea getting his wheelchair into the nightclub. [We tried anyway, and I don’t think my dad will be visiting any nightclubs any time soon. I had an idea where some of the players might be, but my Dad said I was crazy and didn’t believe me. After the wheelchair in the nightclub debacle, I told my Dad we should go to where I thought the players would be, but he wasn’t convicned so we decided to head home.
I don’t really understand why, but Caesars valet [car] claim is not in the same place as where we’d left the car. The valet ticket needs to be brought upstairs and THEN you have to go back down to where you dropped the car off. Instead of pushing my Dad around the entire casino again looking for elevators, I decided to leave him downstairs while I ran up to get the valet parking ticket scanned. I conveniently left my Dad right in front of the place I’d told him all the hockey players would be at. With my luck, Steve Stamkos would probably walk by while I was upstairs handing in the valet ticket. Soooo.. I left the Tampa Bay puck and paint pen with my Dad and told him if he saw Steve Stamkos to get an autograph for me. My Dad sarcastically agreed to do this for me & I ran up to the valet claim.
Having handed in the valet claim check, I went back downstairs to find my Dad holding a [now signed] Tampa Bay Lightning puck. Sure enough only one hockey players had passed by and just happened to be Mr. Stamkos [one of the few current NHL players my Dad could easily recognize]. He was with Steve Downie, but I’d only given my Dad the one puck and I’m pretty sure he didn’t recognize Mr. Downie. My dad had asked him to sign the puck for me. At first I thought my Dad had scribbled on the puck to mess with me because he didn’t think I knew where the players were hanging out at. Or since I’d left him with just a Tampa puck. The other people waiting in the valet area said they’d seen him sign the puck for my dad. They thought it was strange my Dad holding onto a Tampa puck hoping he’d run into Steve Stamkos in Atlantic City.
Our car hadn’t arrived yet & I asked my Dad if he wanted any of the players signatures while we waited for valet to bring the car around. He said he wanted to get Henrik Lundqvist’s autograph, so I gave him a New York Rangers puck from my backpack and shook the paint pen. Not even 5 minutes had passed when the very next person we saw [I swear it was the weirdest thing] Henrik Lundqvist walk by. [Another one of the few current players my Dad recognized]. Henrk signed the Rangers puck for my Dad and then my car showed up at the valet. At this point my dad realized I DID know where the hockey players would be, we just thought it was weird that we just happened to see the two people we wanted to get autographs from.
I told this story to a few other people, who wanted to know why I carried unsigned hockey pucks for other teams & a Tampa Bay sweatshirt in my backpack. Especially since they know were from Philly. What is it you guys think women keep in the big purse we carry around with us?
Anyone know the last time these guys had a friendly chat during warm-ups?
Or shook hands like old pals?
For More info on Operation Hat Trick game & the supported foundations:
Martin Brodeur – Central Park Restaurant in Roselle, NJ
People from other states don’t often consider NJ a state where the distinction ‘North Jersey’ or ‘South Jersey’ tends to make a difference. Those same people have likely never driven on the NJ Turnpike. To hockey fans, the North/South distinction can mean a world of difference when it comes to team loyalties, as the NJ Devils make their home in the Northern Part of the state while only the Delaware River stands between South Jersey & Flyers Territory.
Once again, I convinced my Dad to leave our friendly Philadelphia Flyers market area in South NJ & head up North into enemy territory to collect another goalie ‘graph.
The Martin Brodeur signing @ Central Park was listed on http://www.signingshotline.com. I got a ticket as soon as my dad agreed to drive up there with me. [The Turnpike makes me sleepy, I can’t drive up & back the same day]. I was excited Ito add a ‘graph from a goaltending legend like Martin Brodeur. The day of the event I made sure we left early to avoid traffic. We got 2 Central Park in Roselle, NJ about an hour before the signing would begin. There was event space at the restaurant where people already started waiting in line, but it was a large space so it didn’t feel over crowded & we could relax and talk to the other people there. I showed my Dad cool hockey video clips on my Motorola Xoom while waiting for Mr Brodeur to arrive. My Dad held our place in line while I wandered around to see what was going on. A few of the other autograph-seekers began to notice the black & orange logo on my fave Flyer’s tee. I happened to look up at my Dad & realized he’d conveniently decided 2 wear a RED polo shirt that day. Somehow being female makes it OK to wear my teams’ colors into enemy territory. I’m not sure if it’s an overall appreciation of having a female fans appreciate the sport in general or the distraction of my ‘lady lumps’ (as Fergie would call them) distorting the team logo on my tee shirt, but most men don’t seem to mind what teams’ tee shirt I wear regardless of where I am.
Other than starting up a few interesting conversations, I’ve never been seriously given a hard time anywhere in the United States for wearing Flyers T’s in other NHL cities. Trying to pass through customs in Montreal wearing a Flyers Tee was a whole other story. [I’ve not been back to Canada since].
Back to NJ…. As people began to notice the differing color scheme between my Tee & theirs, there was an increase in the stares & comments. I explained I was a Flyers fan b/c they were my hometown team however I’d spent the day [and my dad’s day] driving up the turnpike and waiting here in line because [like them] I wanted an autograph from the all-time best goalie ever. This explanation seemed to satisfy their curiosity and no issues ensued. It’s well-known for years Philly that hasn’t seen any decent action between the pipes, so they were more than happy letting me visit their record-breaking netminder. It could also have been the snug fit of my Tee-Shirt. Either way, as usual, everyone was pretty friendly.
Note: I try to wear a Flyers tee (when the dress code of the event permits) when collecting goalie ‘graphs because how cool is it to have pictures of other teams’ goalies standing next to someone wearing a Flyers Tee — usually smiling. Aside from times when I had to dress nice for an event the only time I’ve cheated on the Flyers Tee so far was when getting Henrik Lundqvist’s goalie ‘graph. I only cheated a little as it was right after the Winter Classic & I’d worn a Flyers vs Rangers Winter Classic Tee. It was Grey with mostly blue writing but DID have a Flyer’s logo. I’m not sure why but Rangers fans are slightly more intimidating than any of the other teams’ goalies’ whose ‘graphs I’ve collected so far. [I’m not entirely sure I punctuated that last sentence correctly — my bad]
Back to NJ [again], once Mr. Brodeur arrived at the event, the line moved pretty quick. This was the exact moment I realized I’d left my Canon Elph in the car [Elph not Elf — it’s a tiny pink camera that takes awesome pics when anyone other than my dad is using it.] There wasn’t enough time 2 run out to my car. My dad had his iPhone. When we got to the front of the line Mr Brodeur signed theGoalieStick for me. My dad wanted a pic with Marty but there was a riser blocking wheelchair access so Mr Brodeur was really sweet & came over 2 pose for a pic with us. Suffice to say I won’t be replacing my camera with an iPhone any time soon, but it’s still a sweet photo. I thought it was very nice of Mr. Brodeur to come over so my Dad could be in the photo, especially when he had a long line of people to sign autographs for & given I was wearing his rival teams’ tee shirt.
Overall, the tickets for Marty’s goalie ‘graph weren’t too too expensive & the event was was well-organized. We didn’t wait in line too long once Mr. Brodeur arrived (on time) so the event overall went very smoothly.
Martin Brodeur’s ‘graph was a really nice ‘graph so I wanted to make sure he could sign on a smooth (non-textured) part of the stick. Since of the non-textured space on the front of the blade was filled, I had him start the other side of the blade with his ‘graph. I handed him a red sharpie because that’s the color of the NJ Devils. Marty also has a really pretty ‘graph like Henrik. So far Marty and Henrik’s ‘graphs are my two favorites (maybe no one tell Nabby I said that).
I only need one more ‘graph and I’ll have all the starting goalies in the Atlantic Division. I’m thinking the Pittsburgh Penguin’s goalie ‘graph is going to be somewhat challenging to obtain. After the whole round 1 playoff thing, I may need 2 get a Penguin’s Tee 2 wear. Not because I find Penguins fans intimidating but I’m slightly concerned their goalie might refuse 2 sign 4 me if he see’s I’m from Philly.
*** Update ***
The recent realignment of NHL divisions and recent changes in starting goaltenders has created a slight setback in my attempt to (at the very least) complete the starting goalies of my division, the now [awkwardly] named ‘Metropolitan Division‘ In addition to Marc-Andre Fluery [and / or Tomas Vokoun depending on whether he comes back or not] I also need to obtain Cam Ward and Braden Holtby’s ‘graphs. Since having originally obtained New York Islanders goalie ‘graphs, I now also need to acquire Kevin Poulin and Anders Nillson’s ‘graphs. This project continues to become more & more challenging.