Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Things that only happen in the minors

Tonight's target for me was Bobby Goepfert, a top 10 Hobey Baker finalist last year who was dropped by Pittsburgh and signed by Anaheim. He's listed at 5'10 so I went with a sensible black loafer.

Goepfert was backing up J-P Levasseur for the ECHL Augusta Lynx, so in the second period, I went down behind the bench to get a photo of Goepfert without his mask. Check.

While there, I saw something I've never seen before, and probably won't ever see again. It would never happen in the NHL, because there are cameras everywhere. No TV coverage and only 3000 fans in Gwinnett tonight, but 24-year-old Jason Kostadine had the bad luck of a camera right behind him as he dropped trou on the bench.

He got himself off the ice in order to do this too. It looked like he tried to pass it off to the ref as groin so he could change past the visiting-team cutoff point, but I think it was really some kind of cup issue -- but, hey, who really knows at this point.

In the major leagues, you also don't have unknown players -- they wouldn't have gotten where they were without a lot of people noticing. But at lower levels, you often hear names for a long time without knowing anything about their personality.

True characters are rare in hockey the first place. There's a lot of perfectly nice, mild-mannered Saskatchewaners around, and there's nothing wrong with that, but they don't stand out and don't want to. (One character who stands out in my mind was Karl Alzner, selected last summer by Washington. Most players are very nervous when they come into the media room and are surrounded by reporters and cameras. Alzner on the other hand, looked around and said "how y'all doin'?" like he was starting a standup routine.)

So I had no idea what I was in for with Goepfert. I had some good question suggestions from HF's Anaheim writer, and I had read a couple things about him. Nothing mentioned his personality.

Goepfert grew up on Long Island, and you could pick him out by knowing that with no problem. At one point he tried to sell me his tie -- that's enough of what you need to know. And I spent the entire time stifling an internal laugh because he kept stepping forward, causing me to step a bit back. I'm not sure why I found this so funny, maybe because it was a long hallway and this could have gone on all night. Usually it's me trying to get closer so I can get a good recording.

Afterwards I figured out that he completely reminded me of Chris Moltisanti from the Sopranos, on good behavior.

Separated at birth?

Edit to add: Q&A with him is now up.

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