Happy anniversary

The day was a double whammy.

Early in the day, the Rangers whacked both their coach and general manager. It wasn’t expected. You’d figure one; not both. John Tortorella was the new (interim) head coach. (Plus ca change, yadda yadda yadda.)

I was a high schools reporter and had a desk shift that night. Were we into spring season by then, or still in preview mode? Don’t remember. Not all that important. I was headed in. Parked on State Street. Went upstairs, looking to find the one or two people with whom I could gossip a little hockey, like Cablevision’s firing both their GM and John Muckler…

And then Bill McDonald (legendary king of Sporting Life) handed me a press release and a phone number.

The press release was this one.

The phone number belonged to Roy Boe. A few minutes later, we had the first of countless conversations. The energy pulsed over the phone. The guy was bringing the AHL to Bridgeport, and darned if he wasn’t gonna make it work.

The “planned new 10,000-seat facility” was the Arena at Harbor Yard, springing up in the old dirt parking lot of the Ballpark at Harbor Yard. The building operator was Volume Services America, now Centerplate. The TBA NHL club was the Islanders, as expected, with the deal announced Aug. 2. The nickname came Sept. 20. Everything else of note came later, in 2001, like Gordie Clark, like Steve Stirling, like Dave Baseggio, like Nick Smith and Eric Godard.

But before anything else, there came that press release, the one that said it was going to be the American League here, not the East Coast League; that said Roy was bringing the dream here to Bridgeport, not Stamford. It was 10 years ago today.

There’s a little Q-and-A in the Sunday paper that is just logically connected enough to work. (It’s a happy accident. Had to come up with something for that space, and the date hit me over the head this week.) Believe there will be some other anniversary tidbits there as well. And as I told Dave Wells the other night, this is gonna be a gift that keeps on giving. We’ll surely do plenty with the 10th season over its course, and then a season later, we’ll actually reach the 10th anniversaries of so many moments in that amazing first year.

But the first of all those anniversaries is today, the 10th anniversary of the day we first had something to look forward to.

(By the way, that general manager the Rangers whacked? He showed up in Bridgeport for one day six years later. Something interesting happened the next day… Ah, those are the hazy months; never mind.)

Michael Fornabaio