I never got the chance to tell this story in the newspaper, what with the Stanley Cup Final ending in five games – as I correctly predicted before the series, but that’s beside the point – thus ending my Cup Final “Buzz’’ page.
But God created blogs as a place to unload interesting leftovers, so here goes:
Newfield High’s (and ESPN’s) own Linda Cohn showed up at the Staples Center for Game 5 Friday even though it was an off day for her – and even though she was supposed to be at a goaltender camp in Chicago at the time.
Huh? “I had to be here,’’ she said before the game. “Even though, what does it mean? If they win it’s only 3-2. But I had to be here.’’
Cohn, who had been working on pregame, postgame and between-periods coverage for ESPN Radio at home games during the Final, told the story of how her visit to L.A. came about:
“Two months ago this young goaltender in the Maple Leafs organization, Garret Sparks, big fan of mine, tweeted me and said, ‘I know you played goalie [at SUNY-Oswego]. We have this goalie camp. It’s my first-ever goalie camp. You want to come?’ He probably wasn’t expecting me to say, ‘Hey, that’s intriguing, I want to know more.’ That’s exactly what I said. He told me more.
“Two months ago did I time it out on my calendar that my favorite team of all time would be in the Cup Final? So I said yes to do the goalie camp. I thought this would be really cool. I said I’d go for Thursday and Friday. Of course the Rangers win Game 4.
“I was planning in my head as a fan to come here in support. I changed the flight, took the hit financially and do it. As soon as ESPN Radio found out, oh, you’re going to L.A., OK, once you’re there you want to do the same thing you do at the Garden and do it in L.A.? I’m like, OK. Why not? I love it. I do pre-, post- and intermission. Why not? Who cares? I’m here. And it’s great.
“I told Garret, hey, I can only stay a day. I know you’ll understand. So I left at 6 a.m. Friday.’’
Cohn, 54, said she had not played hockey in several years but after her one-day experience in Chicago, “I do want to get back to it. This really whetted my appetite.’’
Even though her Rangers lost, Cohn ended up getting to witness a two-overtime thriller that included a first overtime that now ranks second only in my in-person, single-period hockey-viewing life to the third period of the 1979 Providence-Cornell ECAC quarterfinal. (That one never will be surpassed.)
Look, I have nothing against basketball and the people who cover it and enjoy watching it. To each his or her own.
But after spending a month with the Nets in Toronto, Miami and points between this spring, then two weeks with the Rangers and Kings - and the hockey people and journalists around them - well, I could offer a detailed breakdown but I’ll keep this simple: hockey’s better.
That’s it for me for a while. It was a privilege to be part of Newsday’s coverage of the Super Bowl and NCAA Tournament making appearances in the New York area, followed by the Nets and Rangers in the playoffs, but let's put it this way: I now will be taking more time off this summer than Mike Francesa.