Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday morning homily XXI

Add the New York Islanders to the list of NHL clubs that schedule an annual fathers trip during a team's road trip. Yesterday, as a handful of hounds waited for Islanders players to board the gametime bus, we had the pleasure of meeting a few of the dads.

The man who made the biggest impression was the father of Islanders goalie coach Mike Dunham, former NHL goalie and University of Maine Black Bear. Less than 30 seconds into a conversation, you could tell the man was one of the proudest fathers on the trip.

He walked up to us and asked what cards we had for his son.

"That's my boy, you know," he said.

And, after getting a few cards that he didn't have, he promised to send his son right over.

"I'll make sure he does," he said.

Sure enough, Dunham soon left the hotel, came over and signed. When told that we had meant his father, and that it was very easy to see how proud he was of his son, Dunham could only smile.

"I can't take him out anywhere," Dunham said, laughing.

Being the father of a budding hockey player, I can only hope I get to relive that scene some day. For now, though, I'm happy with our trips to rinks. That's all the reward I'll ever need.

"Real" Pirates

Yesterday in Tampa, pirates took over the city during the annual Gasparilla Day festivities. There was a giant flotilla escorting the pirate ship Jose Gasparilla. There were thousands of beads tossed from floats to outstretched hands. And, unfortunately, there were plenty of drunks staggering the streets, as early as 3 p.m.

Mostly, though, it's a day for adults to dress up like pirates, pulling together costumes that, on some cases, look like they came out of an adult "novelty" store. I even managed to get into the spirit, but didn't have to add makeup or wear some trashy, beer-soaked costume.

No, all I had to do was wear one of the two Portland Pirates practice jerseys I own, picked up a few years ago in after-season sales at the AHL club's team store in downtown Portland, Maine. The jersey, complete with pucks marks, drew appreciative looks.

And, like I told most, the jersey, which features the updated Salty Pete logo, was what real pirates would wear, not drunken amateurs decked out in dime-store designs. Sadly, most were too inebriated to respond.

I'm sure these folks had "fun." I know I did. Got a few autographs, caught up with a Boston-based hound, mimicked some drunken gaits and did enough people-watching to last a week or so. The only differences -- I remember every moment and didn't wake up with a screaming headache.

5 Big Sigs

Hounding activities pick up this week, with Atlanta, Toronto and Washington all traveling to Hockey Bay. A previous commitment, though, will keep us away from the Capitals.

Still, there are plenty of items we hope to add:

~ Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk on a Team Russia puck;
~ Atlanta's Kari Lehtonen on a Team Finland puck;
~ Atlanta's Zach Bogosian on Team USA, Peterborough Petes and Cushing Academy pucks;
~ Toronto's Jason Blake on a University of North Dakota puck; and
~ Toronto's Luke Schenn on Maple Leafs and Kelowna Rockets pucks.

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