Me, Hockey, and 14 years of shooting The New York Rangers.

I GREW UP IN TORONTO CANADA IN THE 1960’S. MY FATHER LACED UP MY FIRST PAIR OF DOUBLE BLADED SKATES WHEN I WAS 4 YEARS OLD AND GAVE ME A WOODEN CHAIR TO PUSH AROUND ON OUR BACKYARD ICE RINK. I PLAYED FOR MY FIRST ORGANIZED HOCKEY TEAM AT THE AGE OF 6.

My first team Mel Jones SuperTest age 6 (2nd from the left, middle row)

My first team Mel Jones SuperTest age 6 (2nd from the left, middle row)

BACK THEN THERE WERE ONLY SIX NHL TEAMS; TORONTO, MONTREAL, CHICAGO, BOSTON, DETROIT AND THE NEW YORK RANGERS. THEY ARE KNOWN AS "THE ORIGINAL SIX". I LOVED HOCKEY. I LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. THE PLAYERS DIDN’T WEAR HELMETS AND THE GOALIES DIDN’T WEAR MASKS. THERE WERE NO ADS ON THE BOARDS OR ON THE ICE, IT WAS BEAUTIFUL.

 

Early hockey heroes Jean Belevieau, Pat Quinn, Bobby Orr, and Tim Horton from my personal scrapbook.

Early hockey heroes Jean Belevieau, Pat Quinn, Bobby Orr, and Tim Horton from my personal scrapbook.

I GREW UP WATCHING BOBBY ORR, GORDIE HOWE AND BOBBY HULL. I WATCHED 6 NHL TEAMS GROW INTO 12. BY THE TIME I WAS IN 4TH GRADE I WAS PLAYING FOR 3 TEAMS A SEASON, A HOUSE LEAGUE, AN ALL STAR TEAM, AND FOR MY SCHOOL. WHEN I WAS 11 MY SCHOOL TEAM MADE IT TO THE FINALS AND PLAYED IN FRONT OF 18,000 SCREAMING KIDS AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS WHERE THE TORNTO MAPLE LEAFS PLAYED. WE LOST 7-0. 

Age 10 after losing 7-0 at Maple Leaf Gardens (4th from the left back row)

Age 10 after losing 7-0 at Maple Leaf Gardens (4th from the left back row)


THE FOLLOWING YEAR WE PLAYED THERE AGAIN AND I SCORED A GOAL AS OUR TEAM WENT ON TO WIN THE CITY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR OUR AGE BRACKET.

Newspaper clipping from the Globe and Mail after winning the school Championship the following year.

Newspaper clipping from the Globe and Mail after winning the school Championship the following year.

THE FOLLOWING YEAR MY PARENTS SIGNED A CONTRACT WITH THE MTHL, THE LEAGUE WHERE ANY KID WHO HAD HOPES OF ONE DAY PLAYING IN THE NHL WAS SELECTED TO JOIN. THAT SAME YEAR MY PARENTS TOOK US ON VACATION TO HAWAII, FELL IN LOVE WITH THE BIG ISLAND, AND UNBEKNOWNST TO ME AND MY SISTER, BOUGHT A HOUSE. WE MOVED THERE THAT SUMMER AND AT THE AGE OF 13, MY HOCKEY CAREER CAME TO AN END.

FAST FORWARD TO OCTOBER OF 1999, ESPN THE MAGAZINE COMMISSIONED ME TO PHOTOGRAPH THEO FLEURY, LONG TIME CAPTAIN OF THE CALGARY FLAMES AND NEWLY ACQUIRED IN A TRADE BY THE NEW YORK RANGERS. 

Theo Fleury for ESPN the Magazine in 1999

Theo Fleury for ESPN the Magazine in 1999

WHILE I WAS TAKING THEO’S PICTURE AT THE RANGER PRACTICE FACILITY, JEAN MARC, MY FRIEND, AGENT, AND FELLOW HOCKEY FANATIC WAS CHATTING UP THE RANGER’S PUBLIC RELATIONS GUY. AFTER MY SHOOT, JM SAID, ”DO YOU WANT TO SHOOT THE RANGERS?” “HELL YA” I SAID, “WILL WE GET TO GO TO A GAME?” JM SMILED AND SAID, “WE’LL GET TO GO TO A LOT OF GAMES”

AND SURE ENOUGH, A WEEK OR TWO LATER, I TOOK PORTRAITS OF SOME OF MY BIGGEST HOCKEY HEROES OF THE DAY, MARK MESSIER, MIKE RICHTER, BRIAN LEETCH, AND THE ENTIRE RANGERS TEAM FOR THEIR 1999-2000 YEARBOOK. IN EXCHANGE I RECEIVED A GOALIE STICK SIGNED BY THE WHOLE TEAM, A HOCKEY PUCK SIGNED BY EACH PLAYER, AND TICKETS TO AS MANY HOME GAMES AS I WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND. 

 

Goaltender Mike Richter 2000

Goaltender Mike Richter 2000

THUS BEGAN WHAT HAS BEEN A FOURTEEN-YEAR COLLABORATION WITH ONE OF THE ORIGINAL SIX NHL FRANCHISES. OVER THOSE SEASONS I HAVE PHOTOGRAPHED LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY’S ELITE PLAYERS, COACHES, TRAINERS, AND ALUMNI.

JAROMIR JAGR, MARION GABORIK, HENRIK LUNDQVIST, RICK NASH, MARTIN ST LOUIS…

Captain Jaromir Jagr for the 2007 yearbook

Captain Jaromir Jagr for the 2007 yearbook

OVER THESE PAST 14 YEARS I’VE FOLLOWED THE TEAM, ONCE FOR 72 HOURS STRAIGHT EMBEDDING MYSELF WITH THE PLAYERS ON BUSES AND PLANES, FROM THEIR MORNING SKATE THROUGH THE POST GAME 3 STARS SELECTION. 

From the yearbook 72 Hour All Access 

From the yearbook 72 Hour All Access 

I'VE PHOTOGRAPHED THEM WITH THE POLAROID 20 X 24 CAMERA, SHOT THEM IN BLACK & WHITE WITH A 4 X 5, ON THE ICE AND OFF, AGAINST METAL BACKDROPS, CANVAS BACKDROPS, WHEN THEY’RE POST PRACTICE SWEATY OR DONE UP IN SUITS. 

 

I’VE DOCUMENTED RANGER TEAMS THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE PLAYOFFS AND ONES THAT DID, INCLUDING LAST YEARS EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS. 

IT’S BEEN QUITE AN HONOR. 

AS A KID GROWING UP IN TORONTO I NEVER IMAGINED THAT I WOULD BE STANDING IN THE SAME ROOM, TALKING TO OR PHOTOGRAPHING ANY OF THESE GUYS.

WHEN I TURNED 40 I DID START PLAYING AGAIN IN A BEER LEAGUE AT CHELSEA PIERS WITH AND AGAINST GUYS HALF MY AGE AND TWICE MY SIZE. ALTHOUGH I’M OLD AND SLOW, I STILL LOVE IT.

 EVERY TIME I STEP INTO THAT RANGER PRACTICE FACILITY WITH MY CAMERA GEAR, LIGHTS AND ASSISTANTS, THE SMELL OF THE ICE AND THE SOUND OF HOCKEY PUCKS BEING SLAPPED AGAINST THE BOARDS STILL MAKES MY HEART SKIP A BEAT.

IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE A KID AND I CAN’T QUITE BELIEVE IT. HOCKEY PLAYERS WERE ALWAYS MY HEROES, THEY STILL ARE. THEY ALWAYS WILL BE.

 HERE’S A SNEAK PEEK FROM THIS YEAR’S SHOOT.

Carl Hagelin

Carl Hagelin

Chris Kreider

Chris Kreider

Ryan Malone

Ryan Malone

You can see more of my shots of the Rangers in their own section on this website.

LETS GO RAN - GERS...!