Friday, November 21, 2008

The NHL Store Powered by -- XM Radio 11-20-08

I hate traveling into Manhattan. Or at least, I've always believed I hated it.

But Thursday my friend Wendy and I ventured into the city for a quick trip to the NHL store. I haven't taken a LIRR train since IslanderQueen and I went to Newark for that Devils game. I did take the train from Worcester to Boston in October, so I had a little sticker shock when my round trip ticket from Ronkonkoma to Penn Station cost me $23.75. (Worcester to Boston: $9/RT)

The train ride was well over an hour. The sea of people flowed out of the train and onto the platform as we tried to figure out 'left' or 'right'? I played it safe, I asked a cop.

We stopped in Macy's (because it's a law, especially at the holidays) to do a little browsing. We took photos in front of the Waterford Crystal New Year's ball, grabbed a cup of Starbucks and headed back out onto the street towards Bryant Park.

I knew a certain NYIC member would be skating there at about 2 pm, but I was pretty late and knew I'd never catch him, but I wanted to see the outdoor rink anyway.

It wasn't as cold as we had expected, or at least I didn't think so. Wendy was bundled up as if we were visiting the North Pole. It only took a few blocks before she had to open her coat and remove her gloves.

Bryant Park is beautiful and gearing up to open a splendid array of little shops and food stands on November 22nd. The entire area will be open 7 days a week until January 25th. They have a Christmas tree at the Rink which pales in comparison to the ones at Rockefeller Center or the EAB plaza. But they also have a place called the Celsius Lounge, A Canadian Bistro. Okay, what hockey fan can resist checking that out. Interesting concept of outdoor dining in winter with space heaters overhead each table. The bar looked really inviting with a wild array of Martini's. But with what I needed to do yesterday, I couldn't drink.

Wendy and I made our way back out onto the Avenue in search of lunch. We never found it. We found shoe stores, street vendors and traffic. But we never found that perfect little New York cafe to grab a light lunch. We passed the NHL store and walked two more blocks. Out of desperation we settled on Europa Cafe chain for a sandwich and water. It was already after 3 pm. We didn't have much of a choice.
I wanted to be at the NHL store by 4 pm; I was on time. I couldn't take it all in at once. Even though not as large as you would think, it was jam packed with items under that custom made hockey stick chandelier. The XM 204 studio hovers above the store behind the glass and you can hear the show going on as you browse. There are TV monitors and computers and a Reebok Skate display set against an "Ice Wall." This is one of the most high tech stores I've ever seen. And every time you look in a section, you find something you didn't see before.

There is a Starbucks in the back of the store that is much smaller than I expected, but it didn't matter. It was inviting enough for my friend Wendy to sit down in with a Chai Latte and her Blackberry and wait for me to be done with the real reason I was there.

I never expected to be summoned up the stairs and into the XM studio while there was a broadcast on. I was visibly nervous and a little clumsy as I tried to climb atop a chair that was three feet higher than a standard bar stool. I fumbled with my purse and my camera not knowing where to put anything to not be in the way. I didn't speak, only nodded and gestured. I was a mime in a room full of radio technology, producers and personalities.

Granted, I did do the live radio show with Rob Kowal at WGBB last October, which was impressive in itself. But this was all that, times ten. I was offered a headset to listen to the last segment of the NHL Hour and I almost blew out both my eardrums because the volume was so loud. Producer Greg Baldinger adjusted the volume for me and I sat and listened to Commissioner Bettman interview my other media Pen Pal Stan Fischler. Truthfully, it was surreal.

I noticed that Mr. Bettman had a photo ID security tag hanging from his belt. I thought to myself how strange. Does someone in his building NOT know it's him? I found out a little later that the security in the NHL building is almost as tight as a courthouse with out the metal detectors.

Well, that's all for now. I will have my personal interview with Mr. Bettman in a few days. Just know that he was more than accommodating, kind and cordial. He gave me his time and attention in his very hectic schedule last night which included a trip to see a brand new grandchild. In all honesty, do you think there is another executive at his level that would ever do such a thing for a suburban housewife and Internet hockey blogger?? Yeah. Right.

Islanders take on the Devils tonight in Newark. John Jeansonne has a great opening line in his Newsday article this morning about reviving a woolly mammoth. But when his reference started out with Brendan Witt's return, I soured on it. Witt should never be compared to an extinct dinosaur. If he wants to pull that joke on Sillinger, that's one thing. But not Witt.

Sillinger will be playing with Bridgeport, which makes Sunday's game really difficult to pass up!

Mitch Fritz has been called up to replace Okposo. So now maybe the perpetual blog commentors can rejoice.

Thank you to all that made my day in the City one I will never forget. CHEERS!

Two more points boys! TWO-MORE-POINTS.


NickD at said...

great entry, Dee. I'm looking forward to reading the interview. I'm sure you had his attention as much as he had yours.

Dani said...

I've been dying to get to the NHL store. I'm thinking my husband and I should try to get there while the kids are in school one day soon so I could do some Christmas shopping. The Celsius Lounge sounds like a place to check out, too.

I'm anxiously awaiting to read your interview with Bettman!

Thanks to Atlanta the Isles moved up another notch to 24th last night. :) Fingers are crossed that tonight brings us up another!

Anonymous said...

Incredible Dee!!