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Zore has his hands full on game day

by Jason Lockhart

For 42 days a year, Ken Zore, director of operations, events and promotions for the New York Islanders, hardly eats or sleeps. Up at 6 a.m. and rarely home by midnight, Zore is the engine that drives the operations of the inner workings of a New York Islanders game at the Nassau Coliseum.

He may not score goals or make line changes, but there isn't much else Zore isn't involved with.

Dressed casually upon his pre-9:a.m. arrival, Zore begins his game days by going over the lengthy game-day memo that he has e-mailed to all Islanders employees.

He sifts through the necessary requests, including matters such as tables in the concourse, extra wires for an additional TV crew and handouts to be distributed at the gates, then begins to organize responsibilities with operations coordinator Andy Jacklin and their game-day staff members.

With all of the running around Zore does in the morning and early afternoon, it's only appropriate that he stays casual until closer to game time.

"Once most of our tasks are completed before the game, Andy and I pull a Superman and change into our suits in our offices," Zore said. "We do this around four hours prior to the game."

A couple of hours before game time, Zore will be on hand for the final pre-game walkthrough, which includes the Ice Girls carrying Islanders flags, the National Anthem singer and often a special ceremonial puck drop or presentation.

Once game time hits, if Zore isn't doing anything, then the game operations has gone perfectly — but that never happens. Something always comes up at the last minute.

"There is never a perfect game," Zore said. "It's all about damage control. I make sure no one needs anything in the Wives' Room or a suite. Following the drop of the puck, I usually go back into my office to see if anyone needs anything. Then I usually go up to the concourse to see how the booths are holding up or the giveaways. I hardly get a chance to watch the game."

More often than not, the unexpected plays out. Zore tells one story where the anthem singer was stuck on the highway with a flat tire. He sent a car to pick her up, then changed the flat tire and drove her car to the Coliseum.

"In the past we've been called the Department of Execution," Zore said. "We don't care what it is, we'll do it. We may need to clean a garbage can one minute or get sticks signed the next. It's a team effort."

Toward the end of the game, Zore stands near the Islanders' player entrance between the ice and the locker room to ensure that only properly credentialed people are there. Afterward, he may help the equipment staff load bags onto the truck if the team is traveling or coordinate security for any VIPs in the building.

While Zore has no control over what happens on the ice, he makes sure fans get the experience they're expecting off of the ice.

"(Former NFL quarterback) Boomer Esiason once told me pressure is a privilege," Zore said. "The best part of my job is getting pulled in seven different directions."

Jason Lockhart is the Web site and Publications Coordinator for the New York Islanders.

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