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Hockey Weekend Across America

Fotiu impressed by growth of New York-area hockey

Sunday, 02.17.2013 / 2:50 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Participating in a free hockey clinic with dozens of area children in New York's Central Park, former NHL player Nick Fotiu can't help but smile. Growing up in nearby Staten Island, NY, he never had anything like this.

When young Nick Fotiu wanted to play hockey growing up in New York, he and his friends opened up a neighborhood fire hydrant to flood a lot and create a makeshift rink. No, it was not legal.

Since becoming the first New York-born player to play for the Rangers in 1976, Fotiu has been an active participant in the area's hockey community, primarily through his work with Rangers alumni and USA Hockey.

"It's a real thrill for me to come out here. At Rockefeller Center or Central Park, wherever," said the 60-year-old Fotiu. "Being with the kids is what it's all about. I tell them, it's not only hockey that makes it fun. It's the jokes you play. It's all part of the game."

The game of hockey has grown tremendously in the tri-state area since Fotiu first came into the League. Whereas Fotiu was something of a novelty through parts of his NHL career, the sport has since been flooded by players from the region.

Central Park gives perfect backdrop for Hockey Day

Sunday, 02.17.2013 / 2:27 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Kicking off a national day of celebration, the National Hockey League, USA Hockey and the New York Rangers all descended on the fabled Trump Rink in historic Central Park to provide a picturesque hub for Hockey Day in America.

The rink did not just provide an outdoor studio for NBC and NBC Sports Network, who together are broadcasting an NHL triple-header as part of the Hockey Day in America festivities. The park also hosted one of the countless grassroots hockey events taking place across the country.

Split squarely down the middle, Trump Rink hosted a day-long open public skate side-by-side with a youth hockey clinic overseen by USA Hockey and featuring former Rangers like Ron Duguay, Nick Fotiu, Dan Blackburn and Ron Greschner.

"USA Hockey gets the kids involved. And what a great place to get involved, Central Park in New York City," said Fotiu, who became the first New York-born Rangers player in 1976. "I help out and we make it a little more fun. That's what hockey is about. Having fun."

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