by Patrick Hoffman on 12/06/11 at 02:00 PM ET
Many of us crazy hockey fans have probably wondered what it would be like to watch a game with a Hall of Famer.
“Rossy” was kind enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to tell us about his experience with Potvin.
PH: You had quite the hockey week recently, Mike. Not only did you get to catch a special Buffalo Sabres’ game, but you also got to take in the Ottawa Senators vs, Toronto Maple Leafs game with Denis Potvin. Does it get any better than that for you?
MR: Well, I have been twice blessed in this way…Firstly, I did the Power Play show with Phil Esposito for an entire season and that was a thrill. Espo is legendary not only on the ice but in the story-telling department so you can imagine how cool it was to start my work day everyday by calling Phil up and setting up the show with him, only to have him regale me with great tales. In one word: Awesome.
Then as you mentioned, I got to hang with Denis Potvin, one of the top 2 or 3 defencemen of all-time…Denis and I have worked on Hockey This Morning together for 2 1/2 seasons and have a great working relationship. But when you add some of the extra curricular activities we have engaged in, like playing together in a charity hockey game or watching the Sens and Leafs in the ACC press box, it goes to another level. To watch the man skate and stick handle 20 years after retiring like he was still in the game…the hands and skate stride are still there…very cool.
PH: What was it like watching a game with one of the greatest defensemen of all-time? Was he able to point out things that many fans would probably never pick-up on?
MR: Absolutely. Denis, like anyone who achieved what he did, would point out nuances of the game that I would not have noticed. He also gave me insight into why a player made a certain move or decision.
PH: How did watching a game with Potvin enhance/change your viewing experience?
MR: Watching a game through his eyes has allowed me to watch games from a different angle and with a new appreciation for the details of each pass, shot and save made on the ice. It gave me a glance into the speed of the game as well as the level of attention one must be able to have in order to be an NHL player.
PH: Anything else you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
MR: This experience reminded me of a special event in my life about 4 years ago. The late, great E.J. McGuire, who was the NHL’s head of Central Scouting, was a good friend to NHL Home Ice and I had spent lots of time chatting him up about scouting. One day, E.J. asked me if I’d like to hang with him at a junior game and see the job of scouting in person. So, a week later, I headed out to the old Oshawa Civic Auditorium to watch the Generals and Ottawa 67s. I learned so much evalutating young hockey talent in those few hours. I learned about the stresses and demands of the lifestyle of a scout and learned to watch the game from a scouts point of view.
“You follow the player”, said E.J., “Not the puck. You only see the puck if your guy has it.”
That was a tough thing to learn. I was watching as a fan, but E.J. taught me to watch like a scout. No matter where I go or what I do in life, it’s experiences like the ones I’ve lived with Espo, Denis and E.J. that will stay with me forever.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.