Wednesday, October 15, 2014
So, the big "secret" of the Hockey Bay hounding community Monday was where the New Jersey Devils were staying. They didn't stay at any of the four hotels commonly frequented by NHL teams. Instead, the Devils stayed at the Le Meridien hotel.
Apparently, this information was as guarded as Fort Knox, with looks of surprise (myself included) when a handful of us met near the corner of Florida and Zack in downtown Tampa. Still, though, that isn't the story.
No, I have New Jersey's ageless wonder, Jaromir Jagr, to thank for that.
We saw him leave the hotel, headed out for a walk before the team paraded onto the bus for a practice at the Amalie Arena. Rather than let the opportunity to snag a future Hall of Famer, I gave chase and started jogging down the street parallel to Jagr. That alone, I imagine, was probably pretty humorous.
As I pulled even and prepared to cross the street, I looked up. Here was Jagr headed my way. I was thinking "Hey, that's pretty nice. He's coming over to sign." Must have felt sorry for me, I thought. You know, one old man to another old man.
Guess what? I couldn't have been more wrong.
When I asked if he had time to sign a few cards (shown above), he declined, telling me he would sign only before Tuesday's game. Seeing that I would be at work at that time, it was a big swing and a whiff.
The only thing I got was this story.