7 in 7: Lucky 7

The Hamburglar is a real thing and you can’t stop him. Devan Dubnyk makes you want to become a Wild fan and I’m officially pulling for the Panthers to make the playoffs because they are the little engine than can!

1. The 30 in 30 Season Ticket Holder Renewal prizes have been awesome! From winning a lunch date with GM Ron Francis to sounding the siren before a home game, the lucky people who win one of these are going to remember it forever! Derek and Susan Caldwell won the trip to join the team in Columbus last week and they have a great story! After a win in Ohio, coach Peters cut video in our broadcast that showed the couple in the stands at Nationwide Arena and went back to show them as the plane was landing, as Susan was watching, she didn’t hold her salad tight enough and her plate of food dumped everywhere. Luckily everyone was safe and stain free. We all left the plane laughing!

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2.  Jorge Alves was filling in when Cam Ward was out with his illness.  It’s really amazing what this guy can do.  He came to NC thanks to the military.  He played on the club hockey team while attending NC STate, then played in the SPHL, ECHL being a part-time equipment manager for minor league teams.  Just 3 years ago he became a full-time employee for the Canes.  He is an incredible person to be around.  Always happy, helpful and hilarious! He can literally do anything- from sewing to stopping NHL shots.  I’ve got more on him later…

3. The Canes’ Alumni Game is a weekend like no other! There were 12 non-alumni participants that returned from past years to donate to the Kids N’ Community Foundation and play with familiar faces. New to this year’s event for former players were Sergei Samsonov, Nic Wallin, Stu Grimson and Steve Smith. As for the fans who got to play, what a bunch! Paul Lawson came all the way from Scotland and when telling his friends he would be making the trip to the states to play, he had a little fun with his friends, with a “wee” bit of the stretch of the truth, telling them he would be ‘playing for an NHL team.’ One of the goaltenders this year, who just graduated from James Madison got to play in the game as a graduation present from his parents. 11-10 final and a ton of fun!

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4. The HAMBURGLAR has become quite the story this season. Andrew Hammond earned this nickname during his time at Bowling Green when his teammates said he would ‘steal’ them wins. He won 9-straight starts and that earned him respect around the league and got him free local McDonald’s for life! I had to ask- the 27-year-old said he takes lettuce, mustard, ketchup and cheese on his burger! ha!

5. My first 10k was a success! Steve Smith and I ran 6.2 miles in under 56 minutes, beating our training pace. He’s a great motivator and filled with so much good energy that you HAVE to keep the pace to hear his great stories. Onto a half marathon now!

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6. Danny Biega made his NHL debut in his hometown, Montreal. Bell Centre was where he grew up going to games and he even played a tournament there. In 2010, at the scouting combine he topped the 150 prospects in the fitness testing. Even then, he was getting questioned about whether he was a ‘hockey player’ or simply a ‘Ivy league student.’ He played 4 years at Harvard and even played a game on the SAME power play with 2 of his brothers! He said the doubts people had about his start make getting to the NHL that much more satisfying. Love it!

7. Congrats to John Forslund on 20 years in the booth! He has such a big impact in the Canes’ organization. Always prepared and always bringing his A game.  Here’s our pre game show producer, Chad, imitating John with sideburn, black hair, glasses and all!image1

 

7 in 7: Number 6

Can you believe there’s only a month left in the regular season?  Will Boston make the cut?  How hard can the Panthers and Senators push to the finish line?  There will be some great games in the next few weeks.

1. It was Military Appreciation Day at PNC Arena for the Canes and Oilers game. The talon robot was pretty cool. It acts a a set of eyes, ears, and hands for troops. One of the best parts of the night was interviewing Joe Liles, brother of John-Michael Liles, who will be re-stationed to Hawaii. This was the last game he got to enjoy with his family. How perfect!

Military Day

2. Rasmus Rissanen made his NHL debut! He had 8 hits in his first game and said he even surprised himself with that (team-high) number. He said adjusting to the speed was the biggest adjustment from the AHL to the NHL. His parents flew in for the week all the way from Finland. They said they hardly got any sleep because almost as soon as they heard the news of he debut, they had a 15-hour plane ride. Rissanen said he had a bunch of family and friends reach out to him, one of them being his junior team’s GM who he was happy to reconnect with.

3. Nick Foligno is trying to make people aware of a procedure that helped to save his daughter. Milana was born October 2013 with a serious heart complication and had a 7-hour experimental surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital that only 13 babes had ever had. She’s happy and healthy now but Foligno said this changed his life and helped him grow a a person and as a player because he said it really puts life in perspective. The coolest part of being a dad was watching Milana see all the ‘firsts’ as a child that we as adults take for granted. She got very excited seeing snow for the first time and put her face in it but then wiggled away. All the small moments make life great!

4. Lindy Ruff has been an NHL coach since 1997. Lots has changed since that year with salary cap, culture, roles, etc. I asked Ruff what he thought has changed the most since his early coaching days, he said he really puts a focus on building individual relationships with each player. If you scratch or bench a player you have to make sure you explain it. Communication with video and our modern minds has changed the game in a lot of ways.

5. Trade Deadline can be exciting and interesting to media and fans, right? Except players have family, and teammates that they leave behind. Very few speak out about the harsh truths of this business but this story is a must-read. Jane Macdougall on her marriage and the messiness of being a hockey with to Kirk McLean.
http://www.nationalpost.com/m/wp/blog.html?b=news.nationalpost.com%2F2015%2F03%2F13%2Fthe-trials-and-tribulations-of-being-a-hockey-wife

 

6. I LOVE this idea for a competition- Following the crazy night when the Panthers had two goalies injured in a game versus the Leafs that created a lot of confusion about who should then dress as a third-string net minder, Florida created the ‘Goal of a Lifetime’ contest.  1,500 contestants submitted their name, tape and bio but the competition has been reduced to 50 hopefuls.  The two finalists will then go head to head in a shootout competition during a Panthers’ intermission and the winner get to practice as the back-up goalie in an upcoming practice, tickets for the rest of the season and some street credit.  How cool?!

 

7. Some parting words…

Be Present

7 in 7: March 5, Post 5

1. It started as a dare earlier in the season; I was running on a treadmill beside assistant coach Steve Smith and told him I could run farther than him.  I might have the age advantage but there is no doubt that he was a professional athlete and lasted 800 NHL games.  We are running our first 10k on Saturday.  Here’s where you can donate to the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance: https://www.crowdrise.com/FlorenceForthSupporters

 

2. Anton Khudobin has his father visiting Raleigh from Russia. Valeri was a defenseman and for several years he was the equipment manager of a junior team called the ‘Steel Foxes.’  Since the team did not have a designated goalie coach, Valeri worked with the net minders one on one and went over video together.  During his trip to NC, David Marcoux let him into the video  review room with Anton and the two watched the clips together.  Valeri doesn’t speak any English so Anton not only had to keep track of the notes he was getting but also had to be the translator!

 

 

Nassau

3.  We took our last visit to Nassau Coliseum over the weekend. (And what a win that was!)  There’s a POW flag hanging in the rafters and the reason is because the very grounds that the arena stands on were originally ‘Mitchell Field,’ a US Army and Air Force base and I only knew that because our former assistant coach, Dave Lewis (who played for the Islanders) told me about the history.

 

4.  Jack Hillen is the newest addition to the Canes lineup.  It was a stressful week for anyone, even the non-UFAs, in anticipation of the trade deadline.  Hillen’s story reminds us just how reality doesn’t discriminate against professional athletes. Hillen played against the Canes on Friday at PNC Arena, he found out when he got to the rink in Washington on Saturday morning that he had been traded.  His agent had assured him that there were no conversations about moving him so this was completely unexpected.  Hillen got on a plane at 2pm, landed at 3:15 and got to Nassau Coliseum just in time for a 5pm start. He played with his own skates but had to used a bunch of borrowed gear because of the time crunch.  His wife is pregnant with their third son so even though joining a new team can be stressful, he now will be able to see the birth of his newest family member in May.  He joked that he just wished that he had known he was traded when the Caps were in town to save him some travel.

 

 

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5.  I went back in my computer archives and found some old links to work I did when I was just starting as a reporter.  It’s amazing to look back and see how much progress and growing you’ve done.  I was so young, awkward and had no confidence.  Work until your idols become your rivals!

http://nesn.com/2011/12/boston-universitys-jenn-wakefield-surpasses-100-goal-mark-likely-has-2014-olympics-in-bright-future/

 

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6. I’m puzzled by the things that are not included in curriculums in US schools.  There are no basic personal finance classes required and I’d love to see that change.  In the meantime, share this with the young adults you know.  It’s a good, easy to understand start for first-time savers. 

http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/03/investing/first-investment-get-started/index.html

 

7. And for some inspiration (and a chuckle….)

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7 in 7: Edition 4

The cold is still in NC- WHY?? It’s going to be snowing 3 days in a row? Worst winter since I moved here. Moving on…

1. Cam Ward in his 500th NHL game! Only 3 active goaltenders have hit this mark.  Ward won the Conn Smythe in 2006 as a rookie goalie.  I asked him about what stood out about his first NHL game, he said “You have a lot of flashbacks of all the hard work that you put forth as a kid and the sacrifices [from] your parents, growing up.

On his first NHL start: Mario Lemieux. (long pause).  I can remember he took the first shot on me in that game and to be able to win in a shootout, as we all know now shootouts aren’t my specialty; I was 1-0 at one time!

On achieving the milestone after reflecting on the goaltenders who have gotten to it: I feel likeI still have a lot of hockey left in me.

Ward’s parents should be in attendance from western Canada, making a special trip for the occasion!

 

2.  Coach Peters- 

For the Father’s Trip in Nashville I asked Bill Peters about his relationship with his father.  He talked a lot about family being the foundation for success and said his parents did a good job with him and now he hopes to pass that on to his children.  Peters grew up with two sisters in western Canada and remembers the whole family getting out on the pond with mismatched socks and gear.  He remembers using elastic bands from vegetables instead of hockey tape because hey, when you’re a kid just enjoying the game you’re going for fun not style points!

 

3.  Devan Dubnyk from the Minnesota Wild has been on a fantastic run!

In the span of 1 calendar year, he’s been with five different organizations, which isn’t easy or fun for anyone to get comfortable and confident.  Imagine changing bosses and cities that many times!? His first born is 18 months- Nathaniel had to go 10 straight weeks at one point without seeing his dad.  Devan missed many of the baby’s ‘firsts’ with the constant change.

But what’s made him play so well?  He said a new mindset of focusing more on enjoying every second of the game has done wonders.  He reconnected with his Pee Wee coach who reminded him of this- there are ups and downs in the NHL but no one can take the time you do have to play in this league.  It’s a good reminder to live in the moment. :)

 

4. Rob Zepp, 33 years old, made history in Decemeber becoming the oldest goalie to win in his NHL debut since 1929.  It was a 4-3 OT win in Winnipeg on Decemeber 21.  He was born and Germany and went through the grind for YEARS in the ECHL, European teams and the AHL before getting the chance to play in the National Hockey League.  He earned a 2-way contract with the Flyers and due to injuries of Ray Emery and Mason Raymond, Zepp finally got his chance.  They say never give up and here’s THE example of why.

 

5.  Casino Night was a very good time.  After getting some great interviews and footage, I hit the Blackjack table.  Since I am not an experienced gambler, I was thrilled to get an Ace and Jack on the final hand with my fake ‘Stormy Cash.’

It was awesome to catch up with so many people in the organization and fans.  Shout out to our Black jack table! The food was incredible and the decor was perfect! Well done!

(By the way- Tim Gleason dressed up in the pirate theme because his 3-year-old son begged him to. It was a hit!)

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6. Brad Malone is playing his 100th NHL game tonight.  He gets a lot of praise from his teammates not just for being a hard worker and playing physical but also because how well he communicates on the ice.  Talking to everyone on the team, ‘checking in,’ getting the bench discussion going is small but valuable.  Coach Peters said he will “get much more than 100 [games], the way he’s playing right now.”

 

7.  For a long read on different perspective of women in sports journalism, check this piece out.  My girl Laura Keeley from N&O is interviewed!

SI on WOMEN IN SPORTS JOURNALISM

7 in 7: A La 4

Brrrr. I’m really looking forward to temperatures about 50 degrees. :)

1. Tripp Cam! Yes, I know it wasn’t the most glamorous look ever but it was neat to see that perspective of the ice and interviews. I found it refreshing and interesting. Kudos to our whole crew for trying something new and being the first play-by-play broadcaster to have this perspective.

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2. Justin Faulk’s mother told me the U.S. Olympian went skating for the first time, in Minnesota when he was just 3 years old.  He cried the entire time.  The next winter, she took him out again with his older brother and he was skating on his own with no practice!! It was incredible, she said.  She suspected he picked up the technique from watching the Mighty Ducks movies over and over.  A very observant kid whose humble beginnings should inspire any  young, aspiring hockey players out there!

 

3. Michal Jordan scored his FIRST NHL GOAL in Ottawa.  It’s funny how similar his name is to the NBA legend, Michael Jordan of nearby UNC.  But I’m blown away by the fact that #47 for the Canes scored in his 23 NHL game, the night before the 52nd birthday of the hoops star! Michal often gets confused with Michael on social media and told me that he got a bunch of mistaken Happy Birthday tweets on Tuesday. (Oh and by the way, he mentioned that his son and wife went to bed JUUUUSSST before the goal so they missed it, live!)

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4.  The Canes played the Senators on Monday and faced former BU defenseman, Eric Gryba. The avid outdoorsman started a duck and geese calling company with a couple of his hunting buddies.  They have only been in business for about a year but they dominate the Canadian market and are quickly expanding.  He told me that duck hunters pay big bucks for their hobby.  What a way to turn a passion into a business! Check out the website.

http://capitalwaterfowling.com

 

 

5.  Tim Gleason recently played in his 700th NHL game.  He’s one of my favorite people to talk to because he has a tough outside but a thoughtful and kind inside.  Speaking of rugged, I asked around the locker room who is overall the toughest on the team and it was a unanimous decision- Gleason.  Not because of his fighting, but he will block a shot and stay on to finish his shift.  He finishes his checks and sets the tone.  His teammates love it.

Also- I chatted with Gleason on his 700th milestone and he said he remembers his first game vividly.  He had a tone of ice time playing for the Kings in his debut at Joe Louis Arena right near where he grew up.  What a memory! He remembers being nervous about playing against his idol Steve Yzerman and missed a golden scoring chance on a clear breakaway…years later he gets a laugh out of it.

 

6. Are you on Instagram?   There are some pretty wild, funny accounts like ‘DaddyIssues_’  and ‘9gag.’  Here are a couple of my favorites:

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Cari Champion from ESPN for a little bit of sports, fun and inspiration,

…. TravelWriteDraw if you’re into fashion and creativity

……..TSN_Official for the hockey lovers <3

 

7. And Finally some inspiration…. it seems everyone has an opinion.  Some forget that they have never walked a mile in your shoes and that everyone has their own story.

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7 in 7: Episode 3

I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start!

1. Of Miracles and Men by ESPN was outstanding. Before you say “Do we really need another hockey movie about the 1980—” I’m going to interrupt you and say “YES!” This is from the Soviet perspective and realllllyyyy opened my eyes. I don’t want to give it away but I will tell you that my favorite line from one Soviet coach was “treat your teammate like the love of your life.” Nothing replaces chemistry in sports! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4mVdx3pgUk

 

2. I won’t get too into politics because I promised that I would not BUT I just learned that it’s illegal to bet on federal elections in the United States. I never gave it much thought since I don’t bet but that makes sense. HOWEVER, Paddy Power, a spot in London takes millions of bets for our elections in the USA. Ha!

 

3.  If you’re lonely on Valentine’s Day and need a good giggle-

http://youtu.be/UOaMYKDs5Nk

 

4. I’ve been training for my first ever 10k in March, in Durham. I’m not a big fan of running as exercise, I prefer spin class and lifting but it was a challenge I wanted to give myself. 20 miles a week, mixed in with travel hasn’t been easy training.

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5. Work isn’t easy some days but here’s a little reminder about perspective

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6. Victor Rask is underrated.  Plain and simple.  He has 18 points in 52 games and some people might think so what?  compared to the likes of fellow Swede rookie Filip Forsberg with 48 points in 54 games. Or Johnny Gaudreau, Jonathan Drouin…. etc. etc.  But Rask is a play maker.  He anticipates, he sees everything around him instead of just the play immediately in front of him.  Last I checked he was 1 of only 4 rookies to play every game for their team.  That shows he can handle the work load and wear and tear of the NHL schedule and travel.  Assistant Coach Rod Brind ‘Amour told me that Rask “sees the ice like the elite [players] do.” A very high compliment from someone witch as much experience as him.  Don’t look at the numbers, those will come soon- just enjoy him playing.

 

7. ICYMI- That sneaky Sharkie got me again. Not a fan of mascots, and I obviously get spooked very easily. http://instagram.com/p/y2Cjjii4CJ/

 

7 in 7: 2

7 in 7 issue number 2, here we go…

1. Radek Dvorak retired after over 1,200 games with FLA, NYR, EDM, STL, ATL, DAL, ANA and Carolina! He was drafted in 1995 and used the SAME shoulder pads his entire NHL career! Of course there were lots of patches and fixes but he never had to worry about breaking in new shoulder pads!

 

2. With an off day in Arizona, Eric and Jordan Staal got to see the Phoenix International Raceway. It’s only a mile track but it sits right in the middle of beautiful scenery. The brothers said checking out a NASCAR race was always on their bucket list. I did some NASCAR trivia with them on the way to the track for fun and they got nearly all the questions correct! Did you know the first ever NASCAR race took place in Charlotte, NC?

http://instagram.com/p/yskvwNC4AC/?modal=true

 

3. Last month I had a blast shooting with Sean Junqueira in Raleigh. We took some shots at the Art Museum and then at a cozy little spot, the Videri Chocolate Factory. A little hidden gem with delicious treats and coffee!

Here are a Couple of looks…

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4. Casino Night for the Kids N Community foundation is just around the corner.  This year’s theme is the ‘Blackbeard’s Ball.’ I’m still debating what to wear but this is by far my favorite fundraiser because everyone is relaxed, having a good time and the decorations and food are incredible. I’m putting together a basket for the silent auction with all my favorite things… Hope to see you on Feb 22!

 

5.  The Canes have seen a lot of success with Number 11 back in the lineup. I like to call it the ‘Jordan Staal effect.’ January has been the best month yet, going 7-3-2. While he was out, less experienced teammates had to absorb a lot of the responsibilities and fill the void of a Stanley Cup winner. Now that he’s back, Peters mentioned that it makes things very competitive in a good way, having the healthy bodies. But of all things, his leadership is “contagious,” according to his teammates. Riley Nash said that 11 shows “you don’t have any excuses.” You have to play hard on both ends, get into tough areas, and put 100% into every shift. Jordan has this and executes it well….special player.

 

6. It’s the Beanpot this week and next. I looooove this tournament. This photo is throwing it back to 2012 with Johnny Hockey, the Beanpot MVP as a freshman! Shout out to my brother who is handling all the important things behind the scenes for Northeastern hockey who had quite the thrill!

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7. I Love when teabags have a good quote on them for you to enjoy while you’re sipping. The Halls cough drops that I’ve been living on have started to do the same, calling it ‘a pep talk in every drop.’ Here’s a good one:

Nothing You Can’t Handle.

 

7 in 7 Premiere

As I sat on Cocoa Beach during All-Star break, there was one thing kept popping into my mind- work!  I love writing so much; English-Writing was one of my majors at UNH.  I decided I should do more of it.

The night before every game I send my producer a long list of ideas of stories I want to add to the broadcast, player and coach quotes I want to highlight, and much more.  Due to time restrictions, penalties, goal replays, etc., I only get a fraction of these notes in so-boom- here’s the perfect place to share the rest.

I love sports- hockey and golf are my absolute favorite.  I really like politics (but as I have been safely doing while sports coverage is my job,  I will stay FAR AWAY from that subject.)  I like traveling, reading, surfing, art, shoes and much more.  So this will be a mixture of everything noteworthy or interesting that happens in my week, thus-‘7 in 7.’

 

1. The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto was excellent. Tons of fun all in once place.  They had a really neat theatre showing the Stanley Cup Playoffs recap of the prior year. The trophy room practically sings when you walk inside it.  There’s a new interactive section where fans can shoot on a digital goalie, practice their broadcasting skills, play trivia and more.  My favorite was seeing the tools that artists used to etch names and titles into the trophies.  Can you imagine doing that??? Arthritis!!

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2.  Andrej Nestrasil was out with an injury for over a month. He rehabbed in Charlotte for 3 games before returning to the Canes’ lineup in January.  This was the longest that the 23-year-old forward and Calder Cup winner had every been sidelined.  One thing he said to the media that stood out to me was that he was miserable not just because of discomfort but without hockey he said he “has nothing to look forward to.”

Nestrasil is missing his front tooth but says he will put in his fake set when he goes on a date.  He showed us in Tampa what it looks like!

Smile!

 

3.When the Canes hosted the Rangers in December, one of the players had a skate issue that was fixed immediately by the equipment staff.  One of the officials also had a skate problem but when that happens, they have to battle through and wait until intermission for the fix.  Each referee has his blade dimensions written with permanent marker on his skate so when this happens anyone, anywhere can take care of he problem.  The home team handles the officials’ needs, and by the way- the home locker room has extra sets of refs gear in case luggage mishaps or other problems occur.

 

4.  Ryan Murphy has been very candid when discussing his development.  He’s said he had a lot to learn and plenty of growing to do.  He’s only 21! He played in 48 NHL games last season, but this season he has spent a majority of time in Charlotte (earning a spot in the AHL All-Star festivities.)  As a big point-getter in the OHL he had to start thinking defense first now that he has graduated to professional hockey.  He told me that this year with the Checkers’ he watched every single shift on video with the coaches. It forced him to learn better positioning and “count the guys in front” of him for better gap control.  He picked up his conditioning too and said he often lifts with Stanley Cup winter Chad LaRose who shares great stories but when I asked about those….”That’s confidential,” he joked.  LaRose has been setting a great example showing patience and work ethic and poise and experience.  Murphy has certainly matured and his interviews are so thoughtful.  Really happy his work is paying off!

 

4. Pass it On!  It’s the shop inside InterAct in Raleigh, near Cameron Village.  It’s a safe haven for people suffering from domestic abuse.  This is where I volunteer and I love it here!

It’s a great place to donate ANYTHING to.  They will find a use.  The clothes are very affordable, gently used and great brands!!  They’ve got J Crew, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Banana Republic and so many good finds!

Prices: Jackets $6, Pans, shorts, skirts $5, Sweaters, tops $6, Dresses $8, Suits $10, Shoes $5, Accessories $1.  You should pop in! They’re open Mon-Sat.

https://www.facebook.com/InterActPassItOn

(You can always volunteer there, too!)

 

5.  I’m reading ‘Boy on Ice,’ by John Branch. It’s the story of Derek Boogaard in a VERY detailed account.  This is one of the most revealing quotes from his father, Len (mind you, this is over ten years ago):

“You got your bell rung?  Well, here’s a Tylenol or whatever.  The only thing that bothered me was his hands.  He would fight and his knuckles would be pushed back to the wrist.  And then he’s have to have it manipulated and have his knuckles put back in place.  His hands were a mess.  My concern was always, okay, he’s going to suffer with this later on in life, in terms of arthritis.  It was his hands that I was more worried about.”

 

6. This is my favorite hair spray to use and this commercial is awesome!!!

 

Aussie Commercial

 

7. Finally, some inspiration….  “You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.”

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NOT YOUR AVERAGE PRO by Chantel McCabe

Jay Harrison is not your average professional athlete.
Known as “Harry” in the locker room, Harrison could easily be named “Mr. Everything” because of his wide range of interests and diverse knowledge.

Harrison is engaging and thoughtful, too, and if you sit down with him for five minutes, you never know where the conversation will go. One day it could be about World War I, which his great-great-grandfather served for the Canadian army. Another day he’ll tell you stories from a month-long road trip with his former AHL team, the Toronto Marlies, who embarked on a brutal winter as Harrison was climbing his way to the NHL.

Harrison has always loved hockey, but what makes him unique are his passions for dozens of other things, like his music, which has accompanied him from Oshawa, Ontario, to Raleigh, North Carolina, and every stop in between.

“Becoming a pro” as they say is all about the work you commit to your craft. It applies to hockey just as much as it applies to Harrison’s favorite hobby.

Harrison will tell you that playing an instrument “requires dedication and repetition to get results.” But it’s also stress relieving and challenging. Harrison plays three instruments: guitar, violin and piano.

At age 10, Harrison’s parents gave him a guitar for Christmas, exactly what he wished for. His uncle Brad “Buck” taught him to play the first song he learned: “Running Down a Dream.”

Harrison and his grandfather shared their love of music together, and he remembers listening to Travis Tritt with his family. His younger brother, Tyler, also played guitar, and the two brothers have spent countless hours together jamming to their favorite tunes and trying to imitate Slash, Harrison’s favorite musician.

The brothers’ first concert was seeing Matchbox 20 at Massey Hall in downtown Toronto when Harrison was in ninth grade. He was captivated by the energy of the crowd and the connection to the music.

“Time stands still when you’re captured by a musical artist that you admire,” he said.

Life takes you many places, and minor league hockey brought Harrison to rural Newfoundland, where his sport and music intersected perfectly. Not every young adult would enjoy the culture of folk Irish tradition, but Harrison made the best of the situation and basked in the experience. The island is known for its Irish roots, and it was there he met local fiddler Pat Moran.

Moran’s band, The Punters, often played at O’Reilly’s Pub in the quaint downtown of St. John’s. Moran said there was a young man in the crowd, a tall, fit young man.

“There was something different about him” Moran said of Harrison.

Once the two were introduced, they met several times a month, and Moran taught Harrison how to play the fiddle.

“He was always very inquisitive,” Moran said. “He always wanted to pick your brain. He could have easily made a career in the music scene if he wanted to. We have a job waiting for him if he wants it.”

Harrison smiles when he thinks about all he has learned.

“It’s another gift that hockey has given me,” he said. “It adds parts to myself that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t play the game.”

The path on which hockey has taken him has exposed him to things he may never see or know about had he chosen a different career.

“You enjoy things you never knew you liked and get an appreciation for other cultures,” Harrison said. “With each chapter of life you immerse yourself in what you’re doing.”

Hockey and his passion for music have united at other times, too. He’ll sometimes bring his guitar with him to play with his teammates during downtime. Last season when the Hurricanes stopped in Nashville, he got an exclusive tour of the Gibson factory, the birthplace of guitars used by legends like BB King. Harrison learned about the storied company and was shown how the hand-made instrument is brought to life. He was most excited to see the craftsmanship and quality of the guitars, further appreciating the passion of fellow musicians.

So why does Harrison enjoy playing and listening to music so much? The answer reveals his personality perfectly.

“It’s a life skill to connect to people without knowing them,” he said. “It crosses culture and time. It’s extremely human.”

Those are the exact reasons why Harrison is passing along the art to his three daughters. When road trips separate him from his family, he makes sure to communicate with his girls via FaceTime, fitting in violin lessons with his oldest daughter, Presley.

“It comes back full circle,” he said. “It allows them to develop and be inspired. Not to force them but expose them to new things and allow them to take their own path.”

———-written October 2014- Edited by Michael Smith.————

New to Raleigh- Guide to Food (and more)

Forbes magazine has called Raleigh one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. I moved to North Carolina in 2012 not knowing anything about the area. I’ve lived in Boston, and because of work have spent time in dozens of cities across North America but I must say the food in Raleigh is something special!
I’m still fast testing but thought I would compile a list for the other triangle area newcomers to try:

1- An- An Cuisines Cary, NC

They call their cuisine ‘Asian Fusion.’  Their sushi is some of the best I have ever had!  Even though I’m not the biggest fan of panko or tempura, my favorite sushi roll is the ‘SAS’ with spicy tuna.  I got two orders of it the last time I visited.  The oysters are amazing and really, anything you try on the menu is delicious.  The portions are smaller than what you’d get at most popular sushi spots, and it’s pricier but you are getting what you pay for.  The service is top-notch and the drinks are strong, but delicious.  The milk and chocolate chip cookies for desert are baked to perfection.  It’s a date kind of atmosphere but the bar is a fun place to hang out for happy hour after work. This is a MUST-try place and my favorite restaurant in greater Raleigh.

Runner up for best sushi and THE coolest atmosphere is Cowfish.

Also try Mura sushi in North Hills.

 

2- Sitti – Authentic Lebanese downtown Raleigh, NC

I’m biased on this choice because I am Lebanese; but I can’t stop telling people about this place.  Everyone who I’ve sent to Sitti has loved it and keeps going back!  I can say for a fact that their food really is authentic Lebanese flavor.  Go with a friend and get the ‘Sitti Tasting,’ with hummus, baba ghanouj, fattoush, chicken shawarma, kibbee mikli and cheese rolls.   Their drink selection is great as well! The interior and laid-back environment only adds to the appeal.

 

3-Relish – Relish Cafe and Bar Raleigh, NC

Comfort food at it’s finest!  It’s a cozy little spot tucked away in a plaza near the Crabtree mall.  The menu is diverse (including lots of gluten-free options) and they have great drink specials too.  I was never wild about tomatoes until I tried the tomato soup here. WOW! Their grilled cheeses are delicious- my favorite is the ‘Wisconsin’ with applewood bacon. Mmmm! I love going here with my girlfriends after work.  A casual spot you have to check out!

Also try- Beasley’s Chicken and Honey, Raleigh Times food and Lynnwood Grill and Sunflowers.

 

4-Poole’s Diner – Poole’s Downtown Diner Raleigh, NC

Trendy spots are popping up everywhere but this is the place to go.  The menu is on a chalkboard, the drinks are really good and the atmosphere is chic and cool.   People are wild about their gourmet mac and cheese but I think it’s far too filling.  I have loved the salads, chicken and shrimp dishes I’ve had there.  It’s on the pricier side but the perfect spot to go for a late night date or drinks with friends but it’s always packed so be prepared to wait.

Also try Oro- it’s right downtown with a unique menu and a fun and sophisticated atmosphere!

5- Taverna Agora- Taverna Agora Greek Restaurant and Bar Raleigh, NC

Who doesn’t love good greek food? My father  and I went together and he tells everyone about it. The menu is filled with delicious entrees.  Bring your appetite because the portions are hearty.  The Athenian Chicken is the best I’ve had! The wine selection is awesome in a cozy family-friendly set up.