Watching this morning’s women’s Olympic hockey game between team USA and team Sweden, I was surprised to hear the name Alex Carpenter mentioned. So what? you might ask. What’s the big deal? Well, I’ll explain.
Back in 1995, I was the manager of the fishing department at a large New Jersey outdoor store. One day, a young man walked in and introduced himself as Bobby Carpenter. Being a hockey fan, I immediately recognized him as a member of the New Jersey Devils, and a former Washington Capitol. He was interested in purchasing a fly-fishing outfit that would enable him to fish for smallmouth bass back in New England. At the time, he was renting a house in New Jersey during the hockey season. I spent nearly an hour with him in the parking lot showing him how to cast (he was a quick learner) and he eventually purchased an entire outfit. Before leaving the store, he asked if I was a hockey fan. I sheepishly replied that I was a Ranger fan (the established Rangers were fierce rivals of the upstart Devils). He smiled and said he would try to get me some tickets to a game. Naturally, I assumed that I would never hear from him again.
To my surprise, less than a week later I got a phone call from Carpenter at the store, and he said he had a pair of tickets for that night’s game. Because I had a scheduled visitation with my sons (I was a divorced father), I was unable to accept the tickets. He was very gracious and said, “No problem. I’ll get back to you again.” I had totally forgotten about it, when a week later he called me at the store again. This time, I was also unable to accept the tickets he offered because of a work commitment. He replied that the Devils would soon be in the playoffs and he’d get me some playoff tickets.
True to his word, Bobby called again a while later and told me he was leaving a pair of tickets at the “will call” window at the arena. This time I was able to accept, and my wife and I attended the game, which the Devils won. The playoffs continued, and the Devils eventually won their first Stanley Cup.
A week or so after the clincher, I got a surprise visit at the store from Bobby. He had come to show me his Stanley Cup Championship ring. He also brought along Scott Stevens, the Devils team captain. I was on cloud nine.
So, you can imagine what a pleasant surprise it was when I heard the name Alex Carpenter announced during this morning’s Olympic contest. I immediately looked her up and found, indeed, that she was Bobby’s daughter. Then, through the magic of the Internet, I found Bobby’s address and fired off a congratulatory letter. Now, I can only watch with pride as his daughter and Team USA pursue their goal of Olympic gold (and also secretly hope that her dad might sit down and write back to me). Either way, this morning was very, very special, thanks to the kindness of a very nice man – Bobby Carpenter. As the sign said that I made and displayed at that hockey game way back in ’95: “Carpenter rules!”
NOTE: Joe Perrone Jr is the author of the highly-successful Matt Davis Mystery Series: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day (a 2012 Indie B.R.A.G. medallion winner), Twice Bitten, and Broken Promises. All four are available in paperback and E-book. As the Twig is Bent and Opening Day are also in audiobook, with Twice Bitten and Broken Promises soon to follow.