The story of Tom Fenton
By Todd Walsh
The rumor started late Thursday afternoon. Ilya Bryzgalov was ill and the Coyotes were looking for a backup goalie for their game that night against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. And, just to amp things up for those of us in the business of telling stories, the early leader in the clubhouse for the gig was goalie coach Sean Burke.
Our broadcast crew was preparing graphics and video in support of this event.
I was already dreaming of my second-period bench interview with one of my all-time favorite players and people. I think, in some way, I wanted to live this moment through him, vicariously.
"So ... how's it going?"
That's what I dreamed up.
Burke, who retired in 2007, got on the team bus from the hotel in Times Square and, for a split second, I swear he was about to walk to the BACK of the bus. If he did, that was the confirmation. But he stopped, turned and took a seat two rows in front of me. That's where the coaching staff sits.
Still, he had a coffee and was on his phone. I wondered.
I was hoping.
Alas, it was not to be. Because he had pro experience, he would have to clear waivers, and that takes 24 hours.
"I was ready, Bud," he texted me.
But who gets the nod?
Al Montoya? Matt Climie? They were in San Antonio. Since the Concorde went out of commission a few years ago, this was a geographical impossibility. They were in Texas.
What about video coordinator Steve Peters? He backed up Ed Belfour in college at North Dakota and practices from time to time with the Coyotes. But he is just too valuable to the rest of the coaching staff with his in-game responsibilities. Even ex-PR guy Sergey Kocharov came to mind. He, too, used to skate with the Coyotes. But he left for the Washington Capitals at the dawn of this season. Last night, he was -- for a moment, I think -- lamenting that decision, as his direct messages indicated. "An hour away" was his last transmission. "LOL."
On the bus, we talked about how to handle this story on air. There is always a cloak-and-dagger approach to stories about injuries in the NHL. "Upper body" and "lower body" injuries are about all I can ever say these days.
Play-by -play voice Dave Strader was telling some great stories about moments like this that he had witnessed along the way. It's not all that uncommon. Here's a link to what happened just last year in Washington.
Soon, we had a name.
He would be in uniform. In the words of Butch Cassidy to the Sundance Kid: "Who ARE those guys?"
Who was this guy? Must be from the Iron League, right?
The Coyotes PR staff was in motion. Rich Nairn getting us info from his staff of Tim Bulmer and Chris Wojcik back in Phoenix.
This link arrived within moments:
Tom Fenton -- Born: Apr. 21 1984 -- Sarnia, ONT -- Height: 6 foot -- Weight: 180