Tag Archives: SUNY Potsdam

New York Islanders Resurgence, 2014

New Photo w Logos Setting the Stage

Over the last couple of weeks a very interesting occurrence has transpired. It doesn’t have anything to do with politics or the economy, or any news about celebrity dating habits. No, this occurrence comes from the world of sports. Before I start to embellish you with what this means, I want to give a little history lesson and a personal history lesson as well.

I went to college at a small SUNY school in upstate New York. My undergraduate alma mater is SUNY Potsdam. I started school at SUNY Potsdam in the fall of 1979. My initial time was very uneventful. My grades were passable but not exemplary. I was underage when I first got into college and had never really been a partier, and this meant that I spent my first semester studying very hard on the weekends. At a certain point I decided that I needed to branch out and open up my mind to complete the college experience. In other words, Beer Blasts were okay in my book!

This idyllic college experience went on for one year. In my second year, my father passed away from Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. While my father was in the hospital, I made a promise to him that I would finish my schooling at Potsdam and get my degree. Little did I know that this would be one of the most difficult things that I would ever have to finish. A week after my father was buried, I was driving back to school, but this time I had a small black and white television in tow with me.

My Therapy Begins

Now you might be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with the New York Islanders?” When I was driving home from my first year of school, I was listening to the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals on my radio in the car. I actually heard the Islanders win the Stanley Cup on Bobby Nystrom’s overtime goal at 7:11 of Overtime as I was on the road. This whole “winning a championship thing” was unknown on Long Island. At first the powers that be did not know what to do. They thought about having a parade in Manhattan, but then again they were not the New York City Islanders, they were the New York Islanders geographically and fan-base-wise from Long Island. Also, I believe New York City turned the Islanders down about having a parade there. They eventually settled on having a parade down Hempstead Turnpike in Nassau County.

That was in Spring, 1980, but now I was staring at a whole different set of personal circumstances in the early part of 1981. My father’s passing and funeral occurred in November 1980. I drove back up to school with a million different things running through my head. The grief was unbelievable. I felt like I was someone else, someone who was in pain all the time, not a physical pain just this incredible annoying pressure that was there all the time. I knew I had to find an outlet. I talked to some counselors at school and they suggested that I should find something that could take my mind off the pain and grief even for small periods of time. With this in mind I knew exactly what I needed to do. I found an open cable outlet in the bowels of my dorm: Lehman House 2.

NY Islanders Dynasty 1980-1984

I would get the New York Times and mark the calendar for days when there would be a game. On those days I would trudge down into the basement of the dorm, attach the cable, and turn on WOR channel 9 and watch the Islanders seasons unfold before me. I didn’t become a fan just because I loved hockey, I became a fan because I needed an outlet that reminded me of home and kept me in touch with who I was. I was also thinking about the future of success and happiness I was grappling toward. The fact that I learned to love hockey in this process is a delightful afterthought for what they did for me.

Bossy, Trottier, Smitty, Potvin, Morrow, Langevin, Sutter, these names mean nothing to the average person, but these were the guys who helped me more than they will ever know. I watched as Mike Bossy scored 50 goals in 50 games, I watched as the team powered its way to its second Stanley Cup in 1981, and then a third Stanley Cup in 1982, and then the most satisfying Stanley Cup of all was number four when they swept the Edmonton (Oilers) Gretzky’s in 1983.  As fate would have it, the Islanders and Oilers faced off in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1984, but this time the result was different.  On the day that I graduated from SUNY Potsdam, May 19, 1984, the Islanders lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Edmonton Oilers.  I always look at that moment in a surreal, dreamlike fashion. It was as though the Islanders were saying, “we helped you get through college, and now our work is done!”  I know this is just my musings, but it does seem very coincidental that this was the last time the NY Islanders made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

We Move on and Overcome the Pain

Little things keep us focused. Little things help us stay sane. Little things can erase pain for a period of time. The New York Islanders did that for me. I know I would’ve found a way to get through the worst period in my life if there were no New York Islanders. All I know is that there was a New York Islanders team that was amazingly good at a time when I needed them and they helped me through the roughest period in my life.

I will always be an NY Islanders fan. It doesn’t matter where I live, or where they are in the standings. Of all of my sports allegiances, this is the one that can never be broken.

Now that I live in Denver I went to the game on October 30 between the Islanders and the Avalanche. Unfortunately, it was not a good game for the Islanders who ended up getting shut out 5-0. It doesn’t matter, they are still my team but I do hope this winning thing they have going on is not just a flash in the pan. I support them either way, but it’s so much sweeter when they are good and winning. Islanders vs Avalanche here in Denver on Wed. Janu..._5488588043848733757_Photo Start the Chant…

Funny that this fan has a story to tell… I’m sure there are others out there with a similar story.   Let’s Go Islanders!   Let’s Go Islanders! Let’s Go Islanders!

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The Book Kahuna

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Sochi Olympics: Russian Reflections!

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

Street Scene in Tallinn, Estonia

Street Scene in Tallinn, Estonia

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Street Scene Tallinn, Estonia 2

Tallinn 10002

Street Scene Tallinn, Estonia 3

Tallinn 10003

Street Scene Tallinn, Estonia 4

Now that the winter Olympics has just begun in Sochi, Russia, I’ve been thinking back with nostalgia to a time when I was a freshman at SUNY Potsdam in WAY upstate New York living in Draime Extension on the fourth floor, watching the Olympics unfold before me on a black-and-white Zenith that had seen better days. None of the people living on my floor were Music Majors, they were mostly Comp Sci. with me the only History/English student, but we took great pride in the fact that our classmates and fellow students who were getting their education from the Crane School of Music were at the Olympics providing all of the music for the entire event.

St. Basil's0001

The Kremlin0001

The Kremlin

US 4- Soviet Union 3

As the Olympics started the drama was solely centered on whether Eric Heiden could win gold in all of his events. As the Olympics moved forward, the US Men’s Hockey Team started to become the focal point of the entire 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. Once the US team had made the medal round my Draime-mates and I (inclusive of Glenn, Tim, Randy, Dave, Jim, Dave M., Jim O., And Todd) all sat around watching the US Hockey Team’s meteoric rise to greatness. For the US/Soviet game, there was a huge throng of people who filled our lounge to watch. The rest of the story is history; the US beat the Soviets 4-3 and went on to beat Finland in the gold-medal game.  In 1980 I was also set to travel to Russia but the State Department alerted our Trip Leader, Dr. Steven Carol, that due to the Iranian Hostage Crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, they did not recommend the travel itinerary that was proposed.  We were cancelled from our trip to Russia.

Peter and Paul Fortress0003

Peter and Paul Fortress

Dr. Carol, West Islip’s James Bond Gets Us In!

Seven years after the Olympics at Lake Placid, and three years after I left Potsdam to start my career in publishing, I had the opportunity that had eluded me in 1980 and traveled to the Soviet Union for 15 days. I was 25 years old and this was the biggest event in my life to that point. For a guy who had never been outside the United States, this was a pretty gutsy first trip. We spent five days in Tallinn, Estonia, we also spent five days in Leningrad(now reverted to St. Petersburg), and we spent five days in Moscow. Tallinn was a beautiful city that reminded me of what Germanic cities in central Europe looked like from pictures I had seen. The cultural difference between Estonia and Russia could not have been starker than in the contrast of the architecture. Also the features of the people were more central European than Eastern European, many with blonde hair and blue eyes which is not the norm in Leningrad or Moscow.

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Hermitage/Winter Palace

Ah, ha ha ha ha ha… Wipe Out!

Czar's Cannon

Czar’s Cannon

The toilet paper situation was one where we had advance knowledge that we should bring rolls of toilet paper with us. We had been informed that the Soviet toilet paper was akin to sandpaper. American toilet paper must have been in high demand as one of the cleaning staff stole all of my toilet paper from my bag when I was out touring Tallinn. Luckily, a fellow trip member was nice enough to let me have an extra roll. I can commiserate with what’s going on in Sochi with the toilet restrictions. People are supposed to put the used toilet paper in a waste-bin rather than flushing it down.  We were also told to bring our own drinking water to avoid the “Trotsky Trots”.  We were told to bring mouthwash to use for brushing our teeth without putting any water on the brush.  Since Chernobyl had occurred the previous year, we refrained from drinking any Vodka as well.

Gravesite of Nikita Khruschev

Gravesite of Nikita Khruschev

Lenin In His Tomb:  Photos NO!

The people who I met on my trip were all warm and embracing. The Russian people themselves have nothing but respect and admiration for Americans. The people of Estonia were incredibly friendly and liked Americans. I was in the Soviet Union during late June and early July 1987. Mikhail Gorbachev had announced “Glasnost” in May 1987. The people were just beginning to warm up to the idea that they were allowed to have more freedoms. The KGB was still in existence and also still monitoring foreigners closely. One nighttime incident in Red Square was indicative of this fact. We were standing in the center of Red Square chatting, when a Russian national walked over and stood in the middle of our conversation smiling at us the whole time. This is a little unnerving, but not as unnerving as the incident that occurred when we went through Lenin’s tomb. I always wanted to be prepared and would keep folded toilet paper in my pocket as a precaution. The militia that guarded Lenin’s tomb was explicitly looking for people who had cameras that were not allowed to go into the tomb. These militiamen were armed with submachine guns and as my part of the line started to snake towards the entrance a militiamen came up to me and with the butt end of his submachine gun hit me on the pocket while exclaiming, “Photo-Camera?” Now one thing I can tell you without reservation is that when you get hit on the pocket with the butt end of a submachine gun you will wake up PDQ! My quick thinking response was, “No, No… Toilet paper!” as I pulled it out of my pocket.

Gravesite of Vyacheslav Molotov- No cocktail!

Gravesite of Vyacheslav Molotov- No cocktail!

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Gravesite of Mass Murderer number 2 in the 20th Century: Josef Stalin

Back in the USSR

I love the memory of my trip to Russia and Estonia. I wish the Russian people nothing but good luck in their drive towards an evolutionary change in their government. They are good people, they are friendly people and the people themselves are not our enemy. I went to Russia because I wanted to see for myself the difference between the systems. I saw exactly what they wanted me to see, but luckily, as an American, I could read between the lines.

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