That’s not to say that all players keep to the room on game days. TV crews have successfully captured several of the more public pregame rituals, from Trevor Gillies
’ epic shadow boxing matches, to the soccer ball juggling game of “two touch,” to Rob Schremp’s methodical gluing, shaving, bending and taping of his stick. However, the network has yet to stumble upon one of my favorite warm ups.
About an hour before the opening faceoff, perpetual life-of-the-party Zenon Konopka
charges into the Islanders equipment room to renew his ongoing WWE-style wrestling match with equipment assistant Arty Verdi. For nearly three minutes a session, Konopka puts the staffer into headlocks and choke holds, death grips and full nelsons. He’ll throw in massive body blows, toe-stomps and eye gouges, pausing only to climb the ropes and hype his crowd; the captivated audience of equipment and PR staffers usually oblige.
Zenon has become so accustom to the routine that he’s started to lobby for Arty to travel with the team. The big center swears that a bodyslam is on its way before the end of the season. Hopefully he gets it out of his system before the cameramen catch on.