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Introducing The Passionate Analyst, Evan Schleifer

Evan Schleifer

Evan Schleifer

Every sports fan has a story about their first encounter with the games they love.  From first trips to the stadium as a kid, to growing up with sports on the TV, sports fans usually develop curiosities early on in life, to say the least.  My story happens to begin right before my favorite team’s most triumphant moment.

From the day I entered this world, I was a night owl.  To make matters worse for my parents, I also hated naps (that has since changed).  When I was three, my parents decided to put a TV in my room to lull me to sleep.  When I was four, my best friend up the block introduced me to basketball.  As soon as I figured out how to change the channel, I would stay up late watching Knicks games.  But the Knicks weren’t on every night.  There was another team that played when the Knicks weren’t – the New York Rangers.

I was confused.  Nets were stuck on the ground instead of in the air.  Players were gliding across the surface chasing a rubber biscuit instead of a ball.  Why did a guy advertise on the back of his sweater that he was more uncleanly than the rest of the players?  I’m talking about Mark Messier, but how do you expect a 5-year old to know the true pronunciation of his last name?

Pretty soon my confusion turned into pure infatuation.  I had been ice skating before at birthday parties but was dumbfounded witnessing grown men move so seamlessly across the rink.  Icing?  Like the kind on a cake?

It was the 1993-94 campaign.  I quickly learned the basics of the game of hockey.  I even learned how to pronounce all the players’ names, even Esa Tikkanen’s.  But I did not know anything about “1940” or the dynasty that the Islanders had established in the early ’80s.  Rangers fans had to wait 54 years, but there was little waiting for me.  I remember Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals and Gary Thorne’s epic commentary as he gave the play-by-play when “The Messiah” picked up the hat trick to force game 7 at the Garden.   I didn’t understand why the net was empty, but I did get in trouble for being up past my bedtime.  Not wanting to disappoint my parents again, I went to sleep early before Matteau scored the infamous wraparound goal to send the Blueshirts to the finals.

A couple of weeks later, it was Game 7 of the Finals.  Rangers were at the top of Mount Vancouver just as Howie Rose prophesized.  I remember Craig MacTavish having to take one last draw.  The waiting was over.  The New York Rangers were the Stanley Cup Champions.

And let me tell ya, it sure did last a lifetime.  The 1993-94 season encompassed some of my earliest vivid memories as a child.  Like most kids, I dreamt of making the NHL and winning the Stanley Cup.  At some point in my pre-teen years scoring straight-As instead of goals, it was more evident that I would get myself involved in the business-side of hockey than actually play the game for a living.  Hockey was all I talked about, all I cared about.  I remember when Gretzky played his final game in the NHL.  I was 10-years old, crying, by myself in the kitchen watching The Great One skate his last lap around the ice.  Flashback a couple years before that when my Dad and close family friends took me to the Coliseum for Rangers vs. Islanders games.  I would hear the Isles fans taunting 99, chanting “Gretzky’s 40!”  And every time, I’d vigorously defend Wayne with “he’s only 37!” (I guess I was always a stickler for precision).

But on April 18, 1999, my favorite player retired.  At that point, I realized players come and go.  But memories last forever.  So who am I?  Well, I was just a kid who grew up on Long Island watching New York Rangers hockey.  I was just a kid who laced up roller blades every day after school, firing pucks at the garage door leaving black marks on white paint to my parents’ ire.  Every time I step onto the rink for beer league competition, I get the same feeling when I was a kid, with the air whipping through my hair.  The only difference is that I have no more hair.

Now I’m here, the NHL Analyst for Double G Sports.  22 years of passion; many more to come.  Thank you to everyone who helped guide me to this point. Now, the real journey begins.  I hope you all look forward to my entries as much as I do writing them.  It may be only be the end of July, but we have a lot to discuss…

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Evan is the Hockey Editor for DoubleGSports.com. He provides coverage of the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Philadelphia Flyers, as well as some league-wide content.

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