Saturday, May 22, 2010

An old dog learning new tricks.

I've never been much of a hockey fan, for a variety of reasons. I mean, white foreigners on skates? Really? That goes against all logic.

Given that perspective, I've always said that hockey is an exciting experience when seen in person but terrible on the tube.

My position was definitely influenced by the fact that my in-person experiences have always involved really great seats, including right up on the glass to the right of the goal two years ago as a birthday gift.

With the Flyers on a Stanley Cup run, I've tuned into games for the first time since I got a High Def TV last September. Voila! Being able to see the damned puck is a real game-changer. I could get hooked.

Hockey players seem like pretty nice guys, all in all. Even back then, the Terrible. Horrible. Really Mean. Dave Schultz, the enforcer of the legendary "Broad Street Bullies," was a sweetheart in person. And a prankster.

I was editing a local sports magazine back in those days and assigned a story on Schultz to a freelancer. And I hired a girl I was dating, and later married, to come down to the Spectrum to take photos of our cover artist sketching Schultz one morning. He was very nice to her and told her to get right behind the glass near the goal and he'd skate toward her so she could shoot photos of him in action. I was standing behind her when, about 10 feet out, he suddenly swung his stick and fired a puck right at us. The speed at which it was coming and the sound it make hitting the glass was damned near heart-stopping.

Here's a tattered copy of the cover of that long-ago, and short-lived magazine which featured the Schultz story. The artist was a guy named Wally Neibart, probably the most famous one I ever worked with aside from the very famous (in the day) Arnold Roth, who I got to do a four page Christmas story I wrote.

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