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Contest Winners Meet The Real GM

by Brett Topel / New York Islanders

Dan Parisi has seen a lot of Islanders hockey. Having been a season ticket holder since 1974, Parisi watched as the Islanders ascended to become one of the greatest teams to ever take the ice—and has been equally loyal in the leaner times.

On Friday, June 26th, the Westbury resident will be in Montreal as the Islanders make the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. On Wednesday, he attended a “Chalk Talk” session with Islanders General Manager Garth Snow and Assistant General Manager and Director of Amateur Scouting Ryan Jankowski.

“It’s quite an overwhelming feeling,” said Parisi. “For the team to do something like this—to run this type of contest—it’s really a great feeling.”

Parisi is one of eight fans who won a trip for two to the Draft in the “Who’s YOUR Pick?” sweepstakes held on The point of the contest was to allow fans to play the role of General Manager and name who they would select with the No. 1 pick. Winners were picked by random drawing.

In addition to scoring a trip to attend the Draft, the winners were invited to Wednesday's "Chalk Talk" and also will get the chance to meet the Islanders’ top pick in Montreal.

The “Chalk Talk” session enabled the winners to speak one-on-one with Snow and Jankowski, and learn about what goes into preparing for the Draft.

“The neat thing about being part of this organization is the passion that our fans bring to our team,” Snow said. “I got a chance to spend some time with the contest winners and they’re all ecstatic. They realize this is a unique experience and I know that they are truly looking forward to the Draft and to meeting the player that we select.”

For Richard Tavani of Huntington, winning the contest was literally unbelievable.

Ryan Jankowski and Garth Snow address the winners on Wednesday at Nassau Coliseum.
“When I got the call, I thought it was a joke and that somebody was busting my chops,” Tavani said. “It wasn’t until I actually saw it posted on the web at that I realized that it was real. It was really amazing. Being a die-hard Islanders fan, this is really a dream come true. The trip alone is great, but being here today is a great thing and meeting the first pick is going to be a great experience.”

After Snow addressed the winners, Jankowski explained how the Islanders evaluate players and stressed the importance of character. He pointed out that the Islanders—while thrilled to have the No. 1 overall pick—also have 10 other picks in the Draft, including the 26th overall pick and three picks in the second round.

All of this sounded great to Hicksville’s Nick Costa, who really expected nothing more from entering the contest than some marketing materials from the team.

“I actually thought I was just going to get some emails about ticket offers, which I was cool with,” Costa said. “But to get that phone call was out of control. I have been an Islanders fan for as long as I can remember and to be able to come behind the scenes and get the feel of the New York Islanders is incredible.”

And then there was Jeff Sendlewski of Calverton, who received the call telling him that he had won while on his was to work.

“I always see contests on web sites and I am on daily,” Sendlewski said. “I filled out the form and didn’t think much of it and then I got that call.”

It was the next call, however, that he had some fun with. He called his buddy, Robert Szumczyk, with whom he often attends Islanders games.

“When he told me that he won the contest, I was excited and I congratulated him,” Szumczyk said. “I didn’t really push him by asking him who he was taking. and he really didn’t even mention it. Then he hung up.”

Not long after, Sendlewski called his good buddy back.

“He said, ‘Dude, you’re going to Montreal,’” Szumczyk said. “I was jumping up and down, I was so excited. It’s really a dream come true.”

For Sendlewski, it was an easy decision.

“Ever since we were young, we’ve been true Islanders fans,” he said. “There was not too much question that I was going to ask Rob. I had to bring a die-hard fan.”


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