At some point last year during a morning skate, Travis Hamonic looked over at me while he was riding a bike and said, “Shan, it’s time to cut ties.” I looked at him confused. What was he talking about? He went on and explained what he saw during our last visit to Detroit. He joked with me how I knew everyone and how I was talking to the Wings players and media. Then he said it again, “Shan, you have to cut ties.”
I couldn’t help but think about that phrase yesterday as I stood holding a microphone interviewing Frans Nielsen. He was his normal gracious and candid self. He answered questions for more than 10 minutes about his decision to sign with the Red Wings in the offseason and his favorite memories of playing in New York. He openly admitted that the thing he misses most is his good friends on the Islanders. Frans also gave credit to Jack Capuano, Doug Weight and several others for helping him develop into the player he is today.
As the words came spilling out of his mouth all I could think was, “Can you ever really cut ties?”
For Frans Nielsen, I think the answer is no.
He may be wearing a different jersey and playing for a different city, but he got his start with the Isles. They gave him his first chance in the NHL. This is where he forged some of his best relationships with players and coaches in the league. It was wonderful watching all the fan support for Frans last night when he took the ice. I also believe he was really touched watching the tribute that played on the video board during the game. The players and the crowd showed respect for what Neilsen meant to the team for the last decade.
Frans can’t cut ties to the Isles, the Islanders are part of who he is.
The answer is the same for me as well. I couldn’t vocalize that to Travis Hamonic almost a year ago, but as it works out time is powerful, and in time things can become clearer. I can’t cut ties to Detroit, even if I wanted to. It’s the place where I really got my chance in sports. The Wings are the first NHL team I covered. The players, coaches, and staff were always respectful and helpful. Plus, I still have many friends and a few mentors working at Fox Sports Detroit and various places around the city.
Working in Detroit was an amazing learning experience for me. I broadened my hockey knowledge and became a better listener, as well as a better writer. Over four years, I learned some great hosting and reporting tricks from long time Red Wings Live Host John Keating. He has a unique ability to draw viewers in. He entertains them with a mix of pop culture references and a deep knowledge of the game, the Wings and the league.
When I was interviewing Frans before the game last night, it was John Keating holding the FSD microphone on the other side of the media scrum. His big booming voice asking the third question, in an extended interview we aired on our Islanders Game Night. I smile thinking about it all now.
Cut ties? Nope, not from family. Not from friends. The hockey world is small. Frans can’t cut ties completely, and neither can I.
I’m your reporter now. My new family is my MSG Plus crew. My passion is covering the Islanders. But part of my heart will always be in Detroit.