Editor’s note: Las Vegas Wranglers president Billy Johnson writes about things, not because he has to, but because he wants to, which is even better. This is an e-mail he sent to the Sun after returning from the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs in Cincinnati.
There are two facial expressions I will never forget. The first is that of an ex-girlfriend after I enthusiastically tasted a dog treat from her new puppy’s snack jar. The second is that of a seven-year-old boy who met professional hockey players during a morning practice prior to Game One of the ECHL Kelly Cup Finals in Cincinnati.
Each expression came from an inability to process the input the brain was receiving. It is the second face with which I can identify the most.
The Las Vegas Wranglers visited Cincinnati and in the process brought me to within an 80-minute drive from two nieces and a nephew.
Ryan loves sports. So much so that a ban of his watching SportsCenter is in order. Thanks to television he has mastered two of the three steps required to be a home run king for the Cincinnati Reds.
Step One: The Griffey, Jr. Batting Stance. Hands held high above his shoulders and a looping of the bat head. Step Three: The Trot. A kiss of his fingertips, a skip out of the batter’s box, a touch to his heart and a point to the sky during the opening steps of a home run trot.
Step Two: Making Contact, is notably missing.
In the Wranglers’ locker room Ryan saw the path that leads to the critical Step Two of execution. Detail. Effort. Routine. These professionals, who towered over him within the cold arena infrastructure and cinder block locker room and tunnel, stretched dutifully, rode stationary bikes, jogged and prepared their sticks and gloves. Equipment manager “Elvis” Garcia sharpened skates. Coaches Glen Gulutzan and assistant Brent Bilodeau reviewed game video on a laptop computer.