|Nancy Koenig has been an NHL.com contributor since 2000. She will share her thoughts regularly on NHL.com's Blog Central.
Helping out -- when I can
I've received a number of e-mails requesting the continuation of the tale I began in my last blog entry. Rest assured, I will resume the story where I left off after the Olympic break. Today, I'd prefer to reflect upon my favorite aspect of this gig, which is the ability to occasionally help someone else reach a goal or actualize a dream. After all, there were plenty of people who came along at the right moment to help me achieve mine through the years.
I must preface this by saying it is impossible to fill most requests that find their way into my inbox. I don't own a publishing company so I can't do anything with your writing samples except enjoy them, and give advice when asked for it. I am not privy to the specific medical techniques players receive when injured and can't get my own mother a seat to a game without my credit card. I can't put your kids on the ice during an NHL practice, and neither would you want me to if you saw one in person. Sure, they are less intense than games, but I have seen players themselves get injured at practices and all the protective gear in the world is not going to provide enough safety for a child out there.
I think some of the requests I receive are about as sincere as the worst American Idol auditions and are designed to make me laugh. They do.
Can I get Gary Bettman to attend your local hockey function or send a player to speak to your employees about teamwork? Sure, if you can get U2 to take time out from their international tour to play at my nephew's birthday party next month. It's not that the hockey world is inaccessible; by contrast, I'm quite impressed by how much time some of these guys spend doing great things off the ice. It's just that they're incredibly busy and days off are a rarity. Trust that you know the Commissioner as well, if not better, than I do and while you may see my mug shot on the homepage from time to time, I do not have the connections required to make player appearances happen. But be sure to contact your favorite team's Community Relations department because they do, and when they can, they will.
Whenever I can facilitate a process of fulfilling someone's dream, I do as well because there is nothing better than knowing you helped put a smile on someone's face.
Edyta, a 17-year old from Poland and diehard Flames fan, was one of the first to write me when my contact information went up on the blog and weeks later, asked me the best way to obtain autographs at a game. With relatives in Chicago, Edyta planned a trip to the States at a time when the Flames would be in town for back-to-back games. The Flames were on their way to New York, so I ran the question by Peter Hanlon, the team's vice-president of communications, who was quite gracious in arranging a way for Edyta to attend a practice. While I wasn't there to see the look on Edyta's face in Chicago, I could feel magic and joy shooting out of the e-mail I received the next day. Thanks to Peter, a dream was fulfilled.
When I worked for the Islanders, we ran a program called Junior Journalist; once a month, a youngster was selected through an essay writing contest to come to a practice, interview a player and write a story for the website. Selecting the winners was next to impossible as we received so many well-written, entertaining essays. One of our winners, Farryl Last, who amazed me with her literary gifts at such a young age, stayed in touch with me through the years. Farryl is now a senior in high school and recently attended an Islanders practice, courtesy of their Media Relations department. I originally received the green light to bring her two seasons ago, but scheduling conflicts and a lockout led to a long delay. The ever-patient Farryl, now a season-ticket holder, finally got her chance to return last week and watching her interview Chris Campoli, I realized she is as much of a natural with a digital recorder in her hand as she is a great writer. I figured I'd better start posting again before Farryl comes after my job; I can only imagine how her skills have evolved in recent years and am looking forward to her story.
Is everyone looking forward to the Olympics? Send me your predictions of which nations will claim the medals this year in our beloved sport and why. And of course, continue to send me your requests and know if there's any chance in the world of helping you fill them, I will.