ECHL Team Piggybacks on McCain VP Announcement
Sitting here in the office, I've had my television tuned to MSNBC all morning as speculation raged over presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain's choice of a vice presidential running mate. A little more than an hour ago, McCain shocked the political world by selecting a self-described "hockey mom" and relative political neophyte in Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
After the speech where Palin introduced herself, she and McCain worked their way across the stage shaking hands with supporters, I couldn't help but notice McCain stopping in front of a knot of men wearing Dayton Bombers hockey jerseys. Soon enough, somebody offered the Senator a personalized jersey with his name on it, which he took as a cue to pose for a picture.
According to a spokesperson for the Bombers, one of their fans was able to get tickets to the event for Bombers owner Costa Papista along with three players -- Dan Riedel, Joe Van Culin and team captain Greg Labenski -- and three other staff people. Before heading out to today's event, Papista did something that he always does when a celebrity comes through Dayton -- he has a personalized jersey made in preparation for a possible presentation. This time, he also brought a second blank jersey in case he had a chance to present the jersey to the candidate.
When I reached Papista in Dayton a few minutes ago the first thing he said to me was, "I can't believe a hockey mom could actually be on the way to the White House." Coming down off an obvious emotional high, Papista said that both McCain and Palin were "pretty excited," to get the jerseys. He was also quick to add that he suspected that the McCain campaign "must have known about Sarah having a hockey connection," which was what led them to be positioned so prominently on stage.
But, as it turns out, McCain wasn't the first candidate to get a Bombers jersey in this election cycle. According to Papista, the Bombers contacted the campaign of Senator Barack Obama when it came through the state during the Ohio Democratic Primary about giving him a jersey. While the campaign accepted, there was no photo op, and the campaign staffers who picked up the jersey said it would present the jersey to the Senator privately.
To those of you who might be wondering, Papista said he was a McCain supporter, and had made a contribution to the campaign. Before he hung up with me he said, "Gary Bettman should be very excited, everyone who has an interest in hockey should be excited at the prospect of having a hockey mom in the White House."
Time will tell if the rest of the nation agrees. In the meantime, Bombers front office employee Luci Franklin made me promise to mention that opening night in Dayton is on October 18.