Here, Laurie, who posts here on a regular basis, as well as on BlueshirtBulletin.com and is a terrific woman who I had a wonderful chance to meet Saturday night, shares this wonderful story about last weekend's game.
It was nice meeting you on Saturday. As you know, my favorite prospect in the Rangers system is Artem Anisimov. I followed him over in Russia after the Rangers drafted him, watched him in the World Juniors and Super Series, read quotes and interviews, and just really like the kid. To give you an idea how much: You know how 'Ro (Hockey Rodent) feels about Prucha? That's pretty much how I feel about Anisimov (though I haven't registered any domain names yet!) I do, however, already have an Anisimov jersey, from his old Russian team, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
So Saturday night my husband I made the trip up to Hartford to see the Wolf Pack play the baby Devils. Unwilling to break a winning streak wearing my Rangers jersey to see the Pack play, my husband ended up in the Anisimov jersey for the night. During the first intermission as we were walking back to our seats, my husband was stopped by a very animated Russian man who kept repeating "Anisimov! Anisimov!" among other things I wasn't able to pick up. Being as oblivious as I am, I didn't realize right away that my husband had stopped, and when I doubled back to see what all the commotion was about, I found the two getting ready to pose for a picture. Never big on having my picture taken, I tried to move off to the side, but was motioned back into the photo excitedly with a "Nyet! nyet! Rangers! Rangers!" And so my husband and I smiled quizzically as our photo was taken with with an extremely excited Russian man.
It wasn't until we got back to our seats that my husband turned to me and said "I think that was his dad." No sooner than he said it than it clicked -- they have the same eyes and lanky build. And it made the whole exchange make a whole lot more sense. While I have been with a friend who was wearing a Frolunda Lundqvist jersey at the Garden when she was accosted by a group of crazy Swedes, being approached by such an excited Russian man at an AHL game in Hartford seemed an unlikely coincidence.
With all that in mind, we went off to wander around the concourse between the 2nd and 3rd periods, with the thought that we might bump into them again and confirm our suspicions. As it turns out, they (the man, a woman about the same age, and the younger woman who took the picture) were also looking for us, because he immediately approached my husband and held out a hockey card -- a signed Anisimov Lokomotiv Yaroslavl card. Meanwhile, I was able to establish who they were with the younger woman, who turned out to be Anisimov's girlfriend, and fortunately spoke some English, because it was at that moment that just about everything I learned in four years of Russian language courses a dozen years ago escaped me. Dad was extremely curious to know, via the girlfriend, "Why Artem?". Unfortunately, I couldn't come up with the Russian to try to explain, and I don't think the girlfriend was able to make any sense of what I said in English. But you could tell that dad was blown away by the fact that his son already had fans in North America -- especially fans crazy enough to buy one of his jerseys!
It was a really cool experience... probably more exciting than meeting Anisimov (the player) himself would have been. The pride and happiness on this man's face was really something special to see. It really seemed like we'd totally made his night. In turn, he'd totally made ours.
Thanks for the nice story Laurie and it was a pleasure meeting with you. Thank you as well for your continued support and encouragement in making this site something special.
If you have a nice story that you would like to share of having interacted with a Wolf Pack player, their family or the organization itself, feel free to forward them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Artem Anisimov photo courtesy of NewYorkRangers.com)