By TERRY LYONS
BOSTON – Timing is almost everything in life while instinct and experience help pave the road to success. Sometimes, it’s sheer luck or coincidence that gets the job done. It works that way with sports columns, now and then, as comedian Steven Wright explained, “Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.”
In case you missed it, Friday was “National Donut Day,” and the 2019 edition of that annual tribute came just a few hours after one of the worst (non) calls in NHL Stanley Cup Finals hockey history. If you weren’t watching, the NHL refs missed a very obvious call when St. Louis’ Tyler Bozak upended Boston’s Noel Acciari and the play directly led to the decisive David Perron goal just seconds after the very obvious take-down. The blown call in the 2-1 Blues victory in Game 5 might’ve decided the entire series.
Now what does a bad call in an NHL game have to do with National Donut Day? Well, I know when the refs missed that call Thursday night and I was lucky enough to be in the stands, as a fan about 20-25 yards from the boards rooting for my hometown team, I just couldn’t help myself when I stood up and yelled the phrase heard all around the ice-hockey lovin’ world.
Yes, I screamed at the collective group of NHL refreees and lineman out on the ice, and at the top of my lungs let out: “You fat pig! Have another donut. Have another donut!”
It is the ultimate of insults on a rink, right up there with ‘go take na shower, you hoser!” It’s a taunt which originated in East Rutherford, New Jersey when then-Devils coach Jim Schoenfeld confronted NHL referee Don Koharski in the corridor leading to both the referees’ and the NJ Devils’ locker rooms. At a Tim Hortons or at Dunkin Donuts everywhere on Friday, there were plenty of free donuts and plenty of yuks on Friday, all resulting from everyone and their brother doing their own personal Schoenfeld Canadian accent and uttering the phrase.
It’s amazing timing as May 8, 1988 collided with June 7, 2019 some 31 YEARS after the incident. The phrase “Have Another Donut,” has withstood the test of time.
Now, most reporters might leave it at that, but here at Digital Sports Desk, and our “While We’re Young (Ideas) weekly column, we know you seek more and better information. You seek something new and interesting. You demand proper perspective and a column to answer the question, ‘Why?” … As in, why was there only a single ENG camera that captured that incident? Why did WABC-7 of New York have the “EXCLUSIVE” that is forever embedded in the now-grainy videotape of Schoney secured by a TV crew that day? Keep in mind, no video – no legend. No video, the story would’ve ended with a three paragraph news release about the fine issued by the NHL office. For you youngsters out there, no one recorded the event because mobile devices were the size of large bricks and the idea of putting a camera in a phone was only on The Jetsons.
Now with the foundation laid out, this is a story previously told to a few good friends, maybe over a Molson or a chocolate glazed, but never told on the record before this column. It’s almost as good as the “7 EXCLUSIVE.” So, without further adieu, we give you Tom Green.
Tom Green is now the lead evening news anchor at KUSA-TV in Denver but was a young on-air sportscaster back in 1988, working for a fledgling cable network, called ESPN, before he ventured out to the Mile High city as the weekend sports reporter for KUSA. Tom loves to tell the story of how his friend and one-time producer Doug Myers had a decision to make that night in East Rutherford and I’ll simply turn it over to them to tell the rest of this amazing story.
GREEN: “Twas a dark and stormy night, unless your name was Ishmael, in which case it was your skin that was dark, or if your name was Daniels, in which Stormy was also your name. … But I regress,” wrote Green when asked to tee this one up.
Then he got serious: “There is a short list of the managers and coaches who elevated the art of blasting officials, refs and umpires to a Hall of Fame level. Earl Weaver, Bobby Knight, Woody Hayes, et al could snap in a moment…and go off the deepest of deep ends. Legendary for their red-ass tantrums, with veins popping and dirt flying …even chairs. But one man who is also a candidate for this particular Mount Rushmore…is famous for just one moment. And that one moment probably would’ve never made him, … a referee, … and donuts, so famous, if not for Doug Myers.
MYERS: (By way of background) – “I was a sports producer for WABC-TV Channel 7, the New York City local ABC affiliate. I’d been brought up to New York by sports director/anchor Corey McPherrin from Atlanta, where we had teamed up together to crush the competition in coverage of Herschel (Walker) winning the Heisman, the Joe Torre-Dale Murphy-Bob Horner-Pascual Perez Atlanta Braves, the Steve Bartkowski Falcons, and the great Human Highlight reel Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks. Corey had recruited me to Atlanta out of Bristol, Connecticut where, just out of college, I was literally one of the first five production hires at ESPN, starting work for them a week or two before it went on the air (my hiring there was a better story for another day).”
MYERS on what he called The Koharski Donut thing: “I knew something was going to happen. That sounds like bullshit, but it’s really not. I was already an experienced and accomplished field producer: Final Fours, Super Bowls, World Series, Stanley Cup playoffs and finals, NBA playoffs and NBA Finals, all that. Having played D-1 hockey, I knew hockey… and in the Paleozoic Era of ESPN, when the entire production staff met in a single conference room, they made me the de facto hockey producer. I probably spent more time at the Nassau Coliseum than I did in my own Bristol basement apartment as the Islanders rolled to four straight Stanley Cups. And, in a box somewhere, I have a couple of handwritten letters from Walter Gretzky thanking me for sending him videotapes of his son’s highlights. Not every game was televised back then, and not every superstar was unreachable.
“I don’t remember exactly when the cameraman and I got to the game — our only mission being to blitzkrieg the locker rooms for quick postgame interviews and beat it back through tunnel or over the GW Bridge to the WABC studios on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Since our eleven o’clock news sports segment typically ran only about two minutes and 15 seconds, maybe 2:30 on a “big” sports night — that meant we were there to score a single 12-17 second sound bite. But sports anchor Corey McPherrin and I both believed that hard work, hustle, and presence — getting to the stadiums and arenas – was the key to differentiating Corey from the competition, the anchor desk-bound, highlight-voicing legends Warner Wolf and Len Berman.
“I’m thinking I probably watched the first period while working at WABC, then listened to the second (as the Boston Bruins pounded the NJ Devils) in the news van on the way to Jersey. My first memory is late third period, the Devils getting crushed, peering over the heads of security and other arena personnel in a tunnel, looking across the ice at the Devils bench. What I saw was Jim Schoenfeld — an extremely pissed-off Jim Schoenfeld. He had seemingly quit coaching – what was the point? – and was jaw-jacking animatedly at the official, Don Koharski.
“Even from my obstructed view, I sensed it was getting unusually ugly. There was going to be no story that night in this blowout loss. The only story might be in Schoenfeld’s postgame temper. That I had seen before, during those Islander playoff runs, Schoenfeld having been an imposing figure wearing the “C” for the Buffalo Sabres, overmatched against the Denis Potvin-led Islanders.
“As the clock wound down, I knew that, given the locker room configuration, that Schoenfeld and Koharski would exit the ice through the same tunnel at about the same time. I also knew that my cameraman and I weren’t allowed to be in that tunnel, and that security would move to lock it down in the final seconds. My other problem was the cameraman himself. The heavy union-centric atmosphere in New York suppressed all enterprise and creativity; whereas in my ESPN and Atlanta days I could seek out and team-up with photographers who were motivated and thought like producers. Suffice to say, the guys wielding the cameras in New York were most often my adversaries, road blocks who had to be massaged and cajoled into just picking-up the damn camera and pointing it in the right direction. Field producers and cameramen danced around each other in a daily unpleasant “us vs them” dynamic. Just a couple of months earlier, I had been taken to task by the union and formally reprimanded for trying to help out a camera crew by picking up and carrying a tripod after interviews at a Rangers practice.
“As the seconds ticked off, I quickly dragged my cameraman around the perimeter of the bowels of the arena to the correct tunnel. The timing had to be perfect. Jump in and get positioned in the tunnel a few seconds too early, and security would kick us out. Too late, and we’d get blocked out by too many bodies. I briefed the cameraman on how I figured it would go down. He essentially refused… either not wanting to work that hard, not wanting to get yelled at by security, or both. At the right moment shortly after the horn sounded, I physically pushed him up the tunnel, past the ropes and beyond where we belonged. Getting immediate pushback from security, the cameraman turned around and told me we had to bail. Knowing I’d be reported to the union again, I grabbed his shoulders, turned him around, and told him to – I actually remember this verbatim – “start recording NOW and don’t stop until I tell you”. At that point, the experience, news sense and a little hustle gave way to pure good fortune as donuts and fat pigs ensued. I figured something worth recording was going to happen, but not that.
“During postgame interviews, we were descended upon by various Devils and NHL officials, all wanting to view the bump/slip. Back then, when videotape ruled the earth, it wasn’t so easy or effective to rewind and play back… and we certainly couldn’t make a copy on the spot and hand it over. I told them we’d have to return to WABC and then copy and courier it. By the time we got back to the station, word was out we had the newscast lead, something controversial and newsworthy. The news director told the control room to burn in an “exclusive” font on the tape before sending it out. When I arrived in the control room and saw how large the font was, I was mortified and lobbied for a re-do. Union shop. ‘No can-do your re-do, pal.’ On the other hand, the grievance filed against me for manhandling the cameraman quietly went away.
“The funny thing is, I know the video now exists online, but I’ve honestly never watched it again after that night. And probably never will. I can’t say why. But I hear about it, every now and again. I’m guessing Koharski does too?”
Here Now, The NOTES: Sean Spicer must be the Director of Attendance Estimates for the new Premier Lacrosse League. The PLL issued a statement claiming some 13,681 fans attended the two-day event at Foxboro last weekend, the league’s inaugural weekend. The pictures don’t lie. … Our estimates put the number closer to 8.200 with about 4,500 on Saturday. … The PLL tour continues this weekend in NY/NJ and from the looks of the TV highlights from Red Bull Arena, attendance is now, sadly, a major issue for the new league. … With the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open in Jerseyville, Ontario, near Hamilton which is near Toronto, a few of the PGA players attended Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Count Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia amongst the celeb fans. Of course, President Barack Obama received the “MVP” chants from the Toronto crowd and he mouthed “Thank You” to all, as he was seated next to and talking hoops with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. … Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in Batavia, NY to attend the Jim Kelly Celebrity golf tournament. Goodell pushed for a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills and reiterated what he had said three years ago. The Bills currently play at New Era Field (aka Rich Stadium, aka Ralph Wilson Stadium) which was built in 1973 but was renovated twice (’98 and 2003).
FIBA announced that its seventh edition of the 3×3 Europe Cup will be held in Paris, France on September 10-12, 2021. The event will be organized by the French Federation. … This week, the NBA announced it will play a pair of regular season games in Mexico City next season. The Mexico Games 2019 will feature the Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs playing two regular-season games at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City, marking the first time that four NBA teams will play in Mexico in one regular-season. … The Mavericks and Pistons will play on Thursday, Dec. 12 and the Spurs will take on the Suns on Saturday, Dec. 14. The games will mark the 29th and 30th games in Mexico since 1992, the most NBA games held in any country outside the United States and Canada. It will also be the fourth consecutive season the NBA will play two regular-season games in Mexico City. … The NBA is also cranking up its summertime activities with the NBA Latin America Academy scheduled for Mexico City. The June 18-21st camp will bring together the top high-school age male and female players from across Latin America and Canada to learn directly from current and former NBA players and coaches, including Raul Neto (Utah Jazz; Brazil), Wayne Selden Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies; U.S.), former NBA players Horacio Llamas (Mexico) and Brian Cardinal (U.S.), and former WNBA players Ebony Hoffman (U.S.) and Michele Van Gorp (U.S.). Players and coaches will lead the campers through a variety of activities on and off the court, including movement efficiency, positional skill development, shooting and skills competitions, 5-on-5 games, and daily life skills seminars focusing on health, leadership and communication. One boy and one girl will be named Americas Team Camp MVPs at the conclusion of the camp. … The NBA will also play a regular season game in Paris next year. … The 2019 USA Men’s 3×3 U18 World Cup Team made history, becoming the first USA 3X3 U18 men’s team to capture a FIBA 3X3 U18 World Cup title. The USA finished a perfect 7-0 and out-dueled Turkey (6-1) 16-12 in the gold medal game on Friday at the FIBA 3X3 U18 World Cup in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
The title of “Owner” in sports has always bothered this reporter, a lot. I would always type the word team in front of the word owner when making references to the money behind the franchises in pro sports. This week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver noted that the NBA prefers to use the words “Governor” or “Alternate Governor” when they refer to the people that own the franchises. That works. … Silver simply noted that “owner” is “such a popular term in terms of culture, and the media that it will take a while to transition out of that name.” Silver sees the issue and, as usual, is ready to solve the problem, even if it takes time. “If people are sensitive, if players are sensitive about it, we should be looking for another title for the position.” Silver readily and frequently seeks the opinion of the NBA players, “because I think it’s the right way to run a business in this day and age.” … Silver is also the NBA Commissioner who sacked former LA Clippers team governor Donald Sterling for his racist remarks, forcing Sterling to eventually sell the franchise to Steve Ballmer. Now, he’s the guy who just this week threw the book and a one-year suspension and hefty $500,000 fine to Golden State Warriors investor Mark Stevens. … Discipling teams is not the most popular activity for an NBA Commissioner, nevermind sacking his collective bosses who make up the joint venture partnership which collectively governs (or owns) and operates the league itself. … The Mountain West Conference has partnered with ShotTracker to bring real time data tracking to players and coaches ShotTracker will install its technology in twenty-three practice facilities and arenas at all eleven Mountain West schools. Last year, the NCAA allowed ShotTracker to be used at the 2018 Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. … ShotTracker technology was also used in a single Big Ten game involving Michigan State and Ohio State. By using ShotTracker technology, coaches, fans, and players are provided access to box scores, shot charts and other data-driven analytics that are fed into an app. … The company was funded by investments from SeventySix Capital of Philadelphia, with investors including Basketball Hall of Famer Ralph Sampson and former Phillies star Ryan Howard. … As part of a promotional partnership between fast-food chain McDonald’s and the Toronto Raptors, McD’s locations in Eastern Canada are giving away orders of free medium french fries whenever the Raptors hit at least 12 3-pointers in a game. According to The Financial Post, McDonald’s estimated 700,000 orders, but with the team playing so well, that number has ballooned to nearly three times the original estimate, resulting in approximately $5.4 million (just over $4 million USD) worth of fries.
Digital Sports Desk posts a once-a-week Sunday Notes column, entitled: “While We’re Young Ideas.” The reference salutes the great Dick Young, of course, but the obvious Rodney Dangerfield connection connotes the style and humorous nature for a notebook we plan to publish.
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