Hockey players are some of the most athletic, flexible and well-built athletes in professional sports. Not only are they trained in strength and endurance, but they also have to have the ability to skate; a skill that is not easy to acquire. Think about it: hockey players add the skills they develop with their hands to the use of a hockey stick, and then combine speed, agility and accuracy with the element of skating as opposed to running, which is an unnatural act.
But this is not why hockey players are some of the best athletes in the world.
The Isles had plenty of visitors in attendance this past Saturday for their matinee game against the Ottawa Senators. Yes, I did attempt to do a live blog. Normally everything works fine, but for whatever reason my Internet could not connect. So I do apologize for anyone that checked back to read it. However, I do plan on conducting a live blog tomorrow when the Islanders face the Montreal Canadiens.
But as I was saying, there were plenty of visitors at the Coliseum.
The game ended with the Islanders winning 4-1. The mood in the locker room was a good one; everyone was enjoying themselves despite the fact that the team's season is close to an end. Jon Sim was being interviewed by the locker room doorway to the left of Martin Biron. As he was talking to the cameras and microphones, Josh Bailey walked in carrying a baby with a little Jon Sim jersey on and waved to his dad behind the media. A handful of kids were running around and having a blast being in a professional NHL locker room.
We all then proceeded to coach to hear what Scott Gordon had to say about the game. He answered the questions that were thrown at him and we exited out the door. I stood in the hallway with fellow bloggers Dee Karl and Mike Schurlein for a little before heading out. However, two boys that could not have been older than seven came down the hallway with a few adults that seemed to know Matt Moulson.
Matty got a sharpie and signed the jerseys they were wearing and their faces lit up like Christmas trees. Rob Schremp, who was dressed in a suit since he is out for the year after having knee surgery, was in the hallway as well. He came over to sign their jerseys, give them each a pat on the head and high five. But then Matt asked, "Who wants to see Rick DiPietro?" and all of a sudden they started to jump up and down. Schremp turned to me, smiled and said jokingly, "There goes my attention span," before heading over to talk to someone else in the hallway.
Rick heard his name as he was at the other end of the hallway and saw the kids walking towards him. He turned around and pretended to run in an Austin Power's fashion before turning around to give the kids autographs. After the two little guys got Rick's John Hancock, Moulson took them to the locker room to meet Tavares and get a little tour. Rick was then spotted signing more autographs just outside of the hallway by the run way to the ice.
Kenny Jonsson was back in the building as well. He brought his wife and kids and was saying hello to all of his former friends in the building where he spent the majority of his NHL career. I must say, it's always a pleasure seeing guys like Bobby Nystrom, Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier, Jean and Denis Potvin and Eddy Westfall back in the building that they used to illuminate so many years ago, but it's always a nice treat to see a player like Kenny return to a place he used to call his home. For me, he was one of my favorite Islanders growing up and easily one of the best defenseman this team has seen in the past decade.
The fact that these guys were taking extra time out of their afternoon after playing a full-game says something about the integrity of these athletes. They understand that they are role models and are willing to spend a few extra minutes with these young guys to make them happy. For these kids, they will grow up remembering how exciting it was to meet their childhood heroes and it will stick with them throughout their childhood.
Hockey players are great athletes because they are some of the most humble performers in the world of professional sports.
Check out my article at The Hockey Writers as I spoke with John Tavares after he was named the first star in the Islanders win over the Senators on Saturday!
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