• I was a lefty shot on a right-winger’s squad
• Caught on a live mic: one pissed-off teammate
• I doubt we played a conservative style of hockey
Lou Dobbs is an anchor on the Fox Business Channel, and – as I write this – a staunch defender of, apologist for, and unofficial advisor to the 45th President of the United States.
Of him, the Washington Post says, “An echo chamber on ideology and policy has evolved; Trump often takes steps urged by Dobbs . . the 70-somethings share a penchant for schoolyard-style name-calling, grumbling about enemies seen and unseen, an apocalyptic view of illegal immigration and a deep embrace of hair-color shades not found in the natural world.”
I am not a fan of Dobbs, suffice to say.
But I once played hockey on his team. I was not a right-winger, on the ice or off, then or now.
This story starts in a TV news van sometime in the mid-1990s, when I was on a CNN shoot with a video crew which included a guy from Ontario, Perry MacLean. When he told me he played hockey, I started thinking of some others at the NY Bureau whom I knew, or suspected, played hockey. I started recruiting them to form a team and play in the beer league at Chelsea Piers.
My friend Eric Gonon worked with Dobbs, the anchor and executive in charge of CNNfn, the new financial news channel the network launched in 1995, Eric suggested to Dobbs that he might want to sponsor the team (for some small-scale marketing benefit, I suppose, among the New York City hockey community). Lou came through, underwriting the cost of some pretty decent jerseys (or sweaters, as Canadians and old-timers call them).
We were a halfway decent team. Might have made the playoffs, if I recall. Didn’t hoist any cups. But we led the league in “televised” games. By that I mean at least twice a CNN camera crew showed up and videotaped a game from the stands. Alas, you are not going to see any of that footage here for a number of reasons. One is that if I still have VHS cassettes of that, I can’t find them and wouldn’t be able to digitize them, not having a VCR anymore. Another is that it would just be an amateur hockey game and that really isn’t all that interesting. Okay, at least you wouldn’t be like a girlfriend or spouse, obligated to watch while shivering at the rink; you’d at least be comfortable. But bored.
Take it from me and my teammates when we say you would not be impressed by our game footage. We all shared the following experience and had a good laugh over it: we each had gotten a VHS cassette of the games and most of us first decided to watch some of it in between periods of a local Rangers, Islanders or Devils telecast. When we hit “play” we all were shocked to see something that only vaguely resembled the hockey we’d been watching moments earlier. We moved so slowly around the ice in comparison to the NHLers, it was as if our VCRs had a different playback speed. It was the video equivalent of playing a 45 at 33-and-a-third . . if you know what that means.
Two things I wish I could show you here:
At one of our videotaped games, we actually had two play-by-play announcers, CNN’s national correspondent Gary Tuchman and United Nations correspondent Richard Roth. It seems, despite being well-known and respected national and international broadcast journalists, they’d secretly yearned to be sportscasters. They were miked up and had a great time mocking our efforts and making up stories about each “athlete.” Made for a much better and entertaining viewing experience.
Stories not about hockey
And, for the other game, the crew brought a wireless mic and put it on our goaltender, hiding the body-pack transmitter somewhere inside his voluminous padding. The goalie, John, was a young kid from Staten Island we had found at the rink and enlisted as one of several non-CNN ringers who filled out our roster. (That’s not him in the photo above; we had at least two goalies over that season).
When we popped that cassette in our VCRs, we fell down laughing as, toward the end of the game we watched ourselves slowly but surely relinquishing a substantial lead and clinching an embarrassing come-from-ahead loss. On the tape, John the goalie, peppered with shot after shot, could clearly be heard cursing us out, swearing a blue streak. “You fuckin’ guys,” you could hear him mutter under his breath. “You fuckin’ guys!”