If there is a moral to my story from last night, it is to never, ever take your eye off the puck. Lest you’ll have the puck in your eye.
Or, put another way, if you look at the clock, you might end up getting clocked.
It all happened with such shocking quickness that it became almost surreal. I remember checking to see the time remaining in the second period, and then I remember feeling an intense, crushing pain near my right eye. I don’t remember that the puck bounced off my face and caromed almost to the offensive blue line. I don’t remember that Islanders defenseman Joe Finley was kind enough to hand me a towel.
I remember the remarkable Rangers trainer Jim Ramsay getting to me within seconds. I remember consummate gentleman Marc Staal checking on my condition. But I don’t remember the buzzer sounding to end the period. I thought the period ended the moment my luck did.
I remember feeling very strongly that I wanted to tell the fans, the viewers – not to mention my friends and family – that I was not seriously injured. So I asked my producer, Chris Ebert, for that opportunity. I remember saying something about keeping my eye on the puck and that it was “all good.” I don’t remember Jim Ramsay referring to me as a “true professional.” And I don’t really remember leaving the ice.
From there, I headed to the trainer’s room where the entire Rangers’ medical staff was present. A half-dozen doctors plus Jim, all willing to tend to me while the Rangers nursed a 3-1 lead over the Islanders. There was a discussion about a stitch or two. Someone mentioned something about a broken nose and whether it needed to be reset. I just repeatedly insisted that I needed to get back to the bench – mostly because I didn’t feel seriously injured, but especially because it is my job. And a job that I absolutely love.
At no point did it enter my mind that my evening was over. It has been both flattering and humbling to hear and read so many people “praise” me for being “a gamer, a trouper, a warrior.” More than anything, I was being a sideline reporter for a first-class NHL team. And in my short time in this assignment, I can say in all sincerity that it is among the two or three coolest gigs I’ve ever enjoyed. And the support, both sincere and humorous, from John Tortorella, Mike Sullivan and virtually every Rangers player the rest of the evening was what I will remember most vividly.
So I’m not about to give that up to an errant puck to the face. Even if today, it did leave me looking like Owen Wilson. Or Rocky Dennis from the movie “Mask.” Or almost any MMA fighter.
I cannot wait until Sunday’s game against the Lightning.
What can I say? Hockey is in my blood.