Archive for March, 2010


Making a Coach’s Day…

Photo by Vince Muzik

Rarely, rarely, rarely have I ever engaged in conversation with an athlete during competition. It’s not professional and can be downright dangerous to your career. Ever great now and then, when the spirit moves me, there’s an exception — and Monday night’s game between the Minnesota Wild and the L.A. Kings was one of them.

One thing I noticed about TV timeouts in the NHL is that they can completely bring the momentum of a game to a stand still, particularly when you are on the bench. As I was shooting from the team bench during the second period, the first TV timeout out did just that. I noticed just around the glass next to me sat King’s defenseman Jack Jackson, a guy who played a year for my friend Tom Ward down at Shattuck-St. Mary’s (SSM), a boarding School in Faribault, Minn., with a killer hockey program and a list of impressive alumni: Actor Marlon Brando was expelled, but lengendary Oklahoma Sooners football coach Bud Wilkinson and sportscaster Brent Mussberger went there along with nine guys who became NHL first round draftees, including some guy named Sidney Crosby. On my way back to the Twin Cities a couple days earlier, I stopped by to see Tom. SSM doesn’t hide their success. Hanging in the on campus arena lobby are the jerseys of their accomplished alumni — Zack Parise, Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews hang from the ceiling and greet you as you walk in. Jack has his jersey hanging just around the corner with a bunch of others.

To get to the point, as we were all staring off into space I turned around the glass with my Nikon to the short lens and ripped off three frames of Jack sitting there. When I finished, I put the camera down and said, “Tom Ward says to say hello,” then turned around to resume looking off into space. (I figure if Tom knew I was standing next to one of his guys he’d want me to say hello.) A few seconds later I felt the tap, tap , tap of a hockey stick on my right shoulder. I looked back to see Jack leaning up to me, figuring he was probably to tell me what to do with myself using some hockey player language. Instead he said to me, “Tell Tom I miss playing for him.”

Boy, does life get any better for a coach than that? That’s a pretty complimentary thing to say. The brotherhood must run strong for those Shattuck-St. Mary’s guys.