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Banner Skilz

by Jesse D. Eisenberg / New York Islanders

In just about every TV interview you’ll ever see with Jack Capuano or Garth Snow, the Isles figureheads are positioned in front of a giant blue banner with alternating Islanders logos and sponsors’ logos. While I’d love to tell you that the backdrop is a product of green screen magic, the truth of the matter is that before every road game, I pick a spot on the wall in the locker room hallway, climb up on a rickety folding chair, and duct-tape the 15 x 12 piece of cloth to the wall.


The process inevitably leads to chirps from the team, ranging from A-Mac’s classic “those four years of college are really paying off,” to Jack Hillen’s sarcastic, “Now THAT’S straight – good work today!”

After honing my banner taping skills all season long in the typically low pressure situation of the morning skate, I was thrown into the fire on Sunday in Buffalo. With the NHL handing out a pair of suspensions for the Islanders’ actions in last Friday’s amazingly gratifying – I mean utterly reprehensible 9-3 romp over Pittsburgh, Sunday morning’s skate offered media their first chance to grill General Manager Garth Snow about the punishment.

The media arrived at the rink well before the team and gathered outside the locker room, and Mr. Snow wanted to get the interview out of the way as quickly as possible.

That’s when I stepped up to the plate and delivered a sub-60 second banner-hanging performance. It might not have been the straightest, or the most secure banner of my career (I later reinforced the corners), but it did the job.

I’m pretty sure that everyone who saw me in action that morning was convinced that “banner raising” should be an Olympic sport, and that yours truly deserves to represent the US in a red, white and blue unitard.

Needless to say, my glory didn’t last very long. Our next game in Ottawa featured a locker room hallway equipped with industrial-strength clips that were bolted to the walls, specifically designed to hold up TV backdrops. Clipping the banner into place, I felt like an assembly line worker being forced to install the machine that would one day replace him. The team didn't let me hear the end of it... they're all pretty sure I'm out of a job.

Let’s hope the rest of the league doesn’t catch-on to Ottawa’s revolutionary new designs and put my job in jeopardy, not to mention crush my Olympic dreams.
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