The GAG line was a force in its own right. But another emerging force - cable TV - brought a young 13-year old kid unforgettable moments with his grandpa (and led him to become a sim hockey GM).
There are always two sides to a family.
My father’s side was from Michigan. A big family that is spread out all over the United States. Distant cousins a plenty but most I never met. Two made it to pro sports but those genes never made it to my family.
My mother’s side were immigrants from Italy. Close knit. Family dinners every Sunday. Paintings of the Pope, Joe DiMaggio, and Bruno Sammartino were adorned on the living room wall.
It was the winter of 1970. I was 13 years old. Cable TV was a new thing. With the promise of no commercials (that didn’t last too long), my grandfather ordered the service.
It was a Friday night two days later when my grandfather called me up.
“Mike. The Rangers are on TV tonight. Come on over!”
I couldn’t ride my bike fast enough.
I was excited to watch my first hockey game. Grandma served us homemade pizza with the sauce she made from fresh vine ripe tomato from the garden. To drink was RC Cola.
The game started. I was a huge Yankee fan. This game was different. It was fast. Real fast. And then the call by Marvelous Marv Albert that made me a hockey fan for life.
“Kick save and a beauty made by Giacomin! Rolfe winds it around the boards to Park. Park centers it to Ratelle. It’s a three-on-two!"
"Ratelle to Hadfield flying down the left-hand side. Flips it to Gilbert who backhands it towards the goal."
"The GAG Line has done it again. Rangers One. The Canadians nothing.”
I will never forget the 'Goal-A-Game Line' that consisted of Jean Ratelle, Rod Gilbert and Captain Vic Hadfield.
They were good. They were very, very good.
And watching the Rangers with my grandfather is why I am a GM today.