13 February 2012
Uniondale, NY -- After a tough loss to the Florida Panthers earlier, Islander greats along with some local celebrities and some lucky fans hit the ice for the Met-RX Skate with the Greats game. Chico Resch, Doug Weight, Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies, Bobby Nystrom Butch Goring, Eric Cairns, Garth Snow all took the ice. Also NFL star and morning radio host Boomer Esiason and Joe Terranova of CNBC joined them on the ice.
For Boomer, it was extra special because his son Gunner, who has battled cystic fibrosis, joined him on the ice.
“Anytime that Gunner and I can be on the ice together it’s a dream come true for me,” Boomer said with a smile. “Given what he’s fighting and everything and he’s out there sweating and it’s great. As long as he’s happy I’m happy.”
As for the game, anyone who stuck around was treated to a fun game with smiles all around and some friendly chirping. Interestingly enough it was Boomer and former Islander captain Doug Weight who mixed it up the most out there. At one point Boomer actually threw Weight’s stick into the stands.
“He was trying to cheat,” Boomer said with a grin. “I just gotta make sure he knows there’s a guy out there who’s got a presence. I know he’s got a bad back and some concussion problems so I figured I’d take that to him and play to his weakness. Which is my strength just throwing the body around. That’s what I do, I’m a grinder.”
In talking to Weight after the game he conceded Boomer hit him three or four times, but enjoyed having him out there for the game.
“He’s a good guy,” Weight said. “Lives on the island and does a great job at what he does. It’s a lot of fun and we loved having him out here. They got a great family, so it’s always a pleasure to see Boom.”Weight’s blue team had the last laugh though coming away with the 8-7 shootout win. Blue trailed late in the game, but battled back and Eric Cairns got the tying goal. He redirected the puck, with a distinct kicking motion, and the goal was allowed to stand thanks to the fans. The game went to the shoot out where Butch Goring finished the game off by scoring the lone goal and winning it for the blue team.
Clark Gillies, a member of the white team, thought Weight might have fixed the game.
“I think Dougie had this whole thing planned all a long,” Gillies said jokingly. “It was a total scam on his part, but it was a lot of fun. That’s the way it should end up”
Weight was coy when asked to respond to Gillies accusation.
“Unless he can prove it I’m gunna take the fifth on that one, He said. “He’s always complaining about something. When you’re bigger than everyone else you can always make those chirps.”
Even though he thought the fix was in, Gillies enjoyed his time back on the Nassau Coliseum ice. A rink he called home for so long.
“It’s fun for use to get out there once and a while and try and get that old feeling back,” he said fondly. “You do get a little chill once and a while. You walk down the hallway headed onto the ice and then obviously you can’t help but think back to the old days. And 14, 15,000 people, how ever many this joint holds, all having a good time hoping to see us win another cup. So you do remember that kind of stuff and it gives you a good thrill.”
It was a special night for everyone in the stands and on the ice. Even Boomer, a life long Ranger fan, who considers himself a hockey fan first.
“I’m first and foremost a hockey fan,” he said. “I’m a tried and true Ranger fan because I was going to Ranger games well before the Islanders were in existence. And I used to hate Gillies and Nystrom and Bossy, but now that I’ve got to know them in their older age they’re so much nicer than I could have ever imagined. You know what it is, it’s a respect for who they were. Four time Stanley Cup champions and playing on with Mike Bossy, 50 goals in 50 games in one season that’s insane. It’s a dream come true no matter what jersey you wear.”
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