Greetings, hockey fans! Neil Best here, reporting for duty for the duration of the Rangers' playoff run.
I am honored to be working with two of the area's best hockey scribes - Steve Zipay, my predecessor on the sports media beat, and Arthur Staple, my successor on the Giants beat - and looking forward to four wild and crazy weeks of hockey.
(Which is by far the best sport, as we know, but let's keep that a secret from the baseball and basketball fans, who are easily offended.)
Today I attended the Devils' morning skate in Newark - a mile or so from where it all begain for me on Oct. 3, 1960 - and although it technically was optional, there was a very good turnout of players.
It was my first NHL morning skate since 1987, when I went to one in Philly and talked to Chico Resch. I like to limit my morning skates to one every 25 years or so just to keep it fresh.
Afterward I spoke to Zach Parise, whose father, as you might recall, played an important role in the second best hockey game I ever have seen on television - on April 11, 1975 at the Garden.
The best hockey game I ever have seen on TV? Duh! Game 7 of the 1994 Rangers-Devils Eastern Conference final.
I was covering a Knicks-Pacers playoff series at the time, and it was Indy 500 weekend in Indianapolis, making hotel rooms extremely difficult to come by.
I finally found a flea bag that usually went for $29 a night but now was asking the outrageous sum of $59. I told the guy I would take it but had only one question for him: Do you have ESPN?
He said yes, and I said yes, and the rest is hockey history. The fact that 18 years later I am about to write a story about the same goaltender the Devils used that night is . . . crazy. In a good way.