Kyle Palmieri played for the New Jersey Devils' youth team and attended Devils practices and games when he was a boy.
Now, the 24-year old will get to play for the Devils; he was traded from the Anaheim Ducks for two draft picks on June 26.
Palmieri was born Smithtown, N.Y., but grew up in Montvale, N.J., rooting for the New York Rangers.
"I probably went to more Devils games than I did Rangers games just because it was easier to get tickets and for me it was way easier to get to (the Meadowlands) than it was for me to get into the city," Palmieri told Northjersey.com on Thursday. "I definitely grew up going to more Devils games than I did Rangers games."
He'll get to play the Rangers four times this season.
"I'm excited for it," Palmieri said. "I grew up watching the Devils-Rangers games, those are the ones I looked forward to the most, and now I have the opportunity to play in some of them.
"Once I turned pro and realized that I was at the same level as the Rangers and the Devils that I grew up watching and idolizing, I kind of turned my allegiances to the team I was playing for. So, I'm excited to put on the Devils' uniform and do my best to beat the Rangers."
At Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., there are pictures of Palmieri skating with the New Jersey Youth Devils and the Ducks.
"I think I played in some summer tournament at Prudential Center," Palmieri said. "It was probably my sophomore or junior year of high school."
Selected by the Ducks in the first round (No. 26) of the 2009 NHL Draft, Palmieri had 14 goals and 29 points in 57 games last season. He has 43 goals and 89 points in 198 NHL games.
Palmieri has one year remaining on his contract, which carries an NHL salary-cap charge of $1.47 million, according to war-on-ice.com. He can become a restricted free agent following this season.
"He's at the right age for us," Devils general manager Ray Shero said after the trade. "The style of play, he plays with speed and can really shoot a puck. Plus his contractual situation in terms of having a year left and two years restricted is good for us."
Devils coach John Hynes coached Palmieri with the USA Hockey's National Team Development Program from 2007-09.
"It was a little while ago, but certainly he knows Kyle well and having coached him is an added benefit," Shero said. "Kyle was younger then, but he's still only 24 years old now. John, I asked him his opinion on him as a player and as a person, what he's like on and off the ice, and we made the deal so it couldn't be too bad."