As I touched down in NYC this morning after flying all night from LA on the NHL Charter, the only word that came to mind regarding the last 36 hours was sensational! I imagine everyone is in agreement that hockey in Hollywood under the stars was a tremendous success — how could we not be…the venue itself was eye candy! The energy I felt as I worked Dodger Stadium was spectacular — my love for the game grew even more as my lineup of interviews began, and the fireworks were set off.
Wow, how can I not feel empowered about the NHL and what the league is providing for the fans? Who would have ever thought that an ice surface would be laid on the field at Dodger Stadium and fans from all over would come in droves to watch rival teams battle it out under the stars with palm trees on the sidelines. The NHL made it happen and the media coverage heard applause from fans homes nationwide and throughout Canada.
The NHL is gaining ground as Gary Bettman always promised; and whether you love the man or hate him, he is making it happen. The Winter Classic, The Winter Series Games, and the television ratings are increasing- it’s all the proof we need.
How could I not feel proud being a part if this spectacle, as a former NHL player and now proudly wearing my jacket with the NBC logo on it preparing to talk about the game I have spent my entire life dedicated too? I had a great time — I was the guy interviewing the likes of Tom Arnold, Jordan Sparks, Neal McDonough, Luc Robitaille, Wayne Gretzky, and KISS! What a dream job! Life after hockey is feeling good.
In the 80’s KISS was one of the greatest group of rockers. Their music transcended through the 90’s into every locker room and me and my teammates were getting pumped up for the game we were about to play, and now here I am interviewing the group that helped get my adrenaline flowing for so many years! C’mon, that really just happened!
Topping the night off is when I decided to go into the stands and get four fans — kids wearing the team jersey they loved — two for the Ducks and two for the Kings….What happened next made the night worth everything. A fun moment that those boys will never forget. I took those boys down on the field and interviewed them asking them who their favorite players were and why. By the end of the interview I had to share with the two Ducks fans that I was cheering for my favorite team,The Kings, and they tackled me in defense of their beloved Ducks.
That moment probably meant more to me than them for the reason I write about on the “About” tab on Roenicklife.com under “I Love Fans”. Those kids are the ones who matter, as one of them could be a next young NHL talent. It’s about the growth of the game and regarding the Winter Series, I think it is appropriate to thank Wayne Gretzky for making it cool to go to a hockey game in Hollywood. Who knows — if Wayne wasn’t traded to the LA Kings in 1988, would hockey be relevant enough to have expansion to Anaheim and San Jose creating rivals for California? Hockey has become relevant enough in California to have an outdoor game at Dodger Stadium…..What an incredible accomplishment regardless that the performance on the ice lacked the adrenaline rush I was hoping for.
Now I look forward to Yankee stadium and then the exhaustion which is inevitable after this whirlwind weekend. — JR