If there are any updates on Monday, I’ll start making them there. Thanks for your patience, but hopefully this one will be easier for everyone to use.
He’s home taking care of his family which is battling the flu bug — all of them.
Did anybody get to try out the Sports Heritage kiosk in the coliseum lobby last night? What did you think of it?
Robbie Irons just told me that Boris Zinchenko passed away today. Though he never played a game, Boris was one of the great characters in the history of Komets hockey as the interpreter for the Komets’ Russian players in the early 1990s. Whenever the media, or sometimes the coach, wanted to talk to one of the Russians, we would call Boris and he would meet us at the coliseum.
Boris had moved to Fort Wayne from the Ukraine in 1949, and he became much more than an interpreter to the Russian players. He’d help them find apartments, apply for driver’s licences and Social Security cards. He even co-signed for phone bills and apartment leases.
Boris was not an interpreter by trade, but did this just as a favor, but worked as an engineer for International Harvestor. He came to America at age 19 from Germany where he worked in a German labor camp during World War II.
His son Paul used to travel with Irons and his son Kevin to tournaments and Irons suggested that the Komets use Boris.
There were a few kinks along the way. When Igor Chibirev came to Fort Wayne as the Komets’ first Russian player in 1992, it was a huge sensation. After all, the Berlin Wall hadn’t fallen until 1989.
Anyway, I remember the first time I got Boris and Igor together. There was a lot of interest in hearing what Igor thought about things. I asked the first question, “What do you think of playing in Fort Wayne?” Boris relayed it and then Igor talked and talked and talked for more than two minutes. I’m thinking, “Wow, this is going to be great stuff!” I could hardly wait to hear what Igor had said, thinking this is going to be a huge story. Then Boris said, “He says he likes it.”
Needless to say, we had to train Boris a little on the role of an interpreter, and he became a great asset.
Another funny story: A few years later, Boris, who had almost as dry a sense of humor as Ken Ullyot, approached Irons in the coliseum hallway, and said, “Don’t do me any more favors. I talk for these guys and now I can’t get rid of them. They have practically moved in and they eat all my food.” Then he walked away with a chuckle.
Boris was one of the great guys behind the scenes with the Komets, part of the hundreds who make Fort Wayne hockey what it is. Rest in peace, my friend.
With about 2:40 left on the clock before the opening faceoff, you are going to absolutely love what the Komets have planned for the video board. It’s pretty freaking cool.
Mike Field has signed and will wear No. 10 tonight. Referee is Matt Miller.
The new address will be http://fwnextweb1.fortwayne.com/ns/sports/tailingthekomets/ THere may be some bumps along the way so please be patient.
There’s also this, today’s story on Olivier Legault.
Either. I’ll keep you posted on when they do. Here’s a pre-edited sample, part of Bud Gallmeier’s story.
So in 1952 he moved to The News-Sentinel so he could work more in the daytime and be home with his family more often in the evenings. The move allowed him to write more, including covering college beats.
Hockey became part of his coverage in 1955 – and also a part of his life. He had grown up playing basketball and knew next to nothing about the sport on the ice. He credited new coach Doug “Crash’’ McCaig with helping him survive until he thought he knew what he was doing. McCaig lasted only two years with the Komets, but Gallmeier lasted 35.
“I was supposed to be impartial in my pursuit of a story or simple game coverage,’’ he wrote in 1990. “Sportswriters shouldn’t play favorites. But they’re also human. I even made a few mistakes in my time. And I was guilty of having more than a few favorites – players as well as teams – during my 35 seasons on the hockey beat.’’
When Ken Ullyot arrived in 1958, the Komets started to thrive and so did Gallmeier. In the early days, Ullyot was the only person quoted in the stories about the Komets, but the details of his stories made it was obvious Gallmeier had spent a lot of time talking to the players as well.
He wrote with compassion and accuracy. He rarely ripped a team, and if he did, they knew they deserved it.
“If he did get after you, you knew there was something happening,’’ all-time Komets leading scorer Len Thornson said. “It would be the whole team in general.’’
But there was still a little bit of a fan in Gallmeier. His mood was markedly better if the team was on a winning streak. He always had the passion to see the games and to write about them.
“He was with the Komets in the good times and the bad times, and he never complained,’’ Ullyot said. “I think Bud’s forte was just being a regular guy and a good friend. If he was critical in his writings, people just didn’t get angry at him. They understood what he was saying. He was a very talented man.’’
Once after a particularly horrible game, Gallmeier wrote, “It’s likely the Komets have had poorer efforts than they had last night, but I doubt it.’’
Surprised by Gallmeier’s tone, one of his colleagues criticized the lead, saying he had to remain impartial in his reporting, Gallmeier said, “I did. You didn’t see the game. I actually went easy on them.’’
As Eddie Long said, “Even though he didn’t play every game, he played every game by writing every game.’’
Gallmeier never went out of his way to criticize the team, but he also only praised players when they deserved it. The players usually appreciated his honesty, and they knew they couldn’t put one over on them. If they were playing poorly or giving a weak effort, they knew they couldn’t snow Gallmeier because he would never try to fool his readers.
“The thing that was always nice about Bud is that he was always fair to you, win or lose,’’ goaltender Robbie Irons said. “He knew when you had a bad game, but he didn’t always build his stories around the negative. He built around the positive. He was very and good to all the players that I’ve heard of.’’
Of course, Gallmeier had his favorites, but he has a special relationship with Robbie Laird as both a player and a coach.
“Bud was like family to me,’’ Laird said. “In fact, I used to call him Uncle Bud. I always had a good relationship with all the writers in Fort Wayne, but Bud was extra special. Like after a game where maybe we stunk. He would ask me a question that maybe I thought was too blunt; we might have raised our voices a couple of times to one another, but we were sharing lunch the next day.’’
After raising their voices, they were usually raising their glasses soon after. Gallmeier was the prototypical stereotype of a sportswriter from his era. He was the hard-drinking, chain-smoking, poorly dressed man of his era who would hunt and peck at his typewriter to find the magic. He was one of the boys and hung out with the players or even hosted parties in his home for them, something that would be unthinkable today at any level of sports.
“He fell in love with it and he would talk about hockey as if it was a pure sport,’’ Chuck Gallmeier said. “These guys were over at our house all the time. We would go to school and we would be stars with our buddies because we’d have Len Thornson and Eddie Long coming up to our bedroom at night to say hello to us. Choo Choo (Lionel Repka) and all these folks. Dad just became part of it in the sense that they were friends as much as athletes that he covered.
“That drove my mother crazy because it became so much a part of his life. Mom finally figured out she couldn’t win so she embraced it and she used to hang out with these folks, too. They used to have these parties in the garage. And the players were always invited.’’
After that, the players were always around the Gallmeier household.
“I just remember the laughter and the fun all the time,’’ Gallmeier’s daughter Becky Sommer said. “I was smitten with all of them, and my favorite was Terry Pembroke. I remember the good times they would have at our house, and they were just so friendly, so cool.’’
The players may be the only people who could keep up with Gallmeier’s drinking ability. He used to tell everyone he always got his best stories when he interviewed subjects in bars where they could relax after a beer or two. It certainly helped that the athletes trusted Gallmeier and knew he would never betray a confidence.
A young clerk once got a call at the office from Gallmeier who was at home, telling the clerk to look in the bottom drawer of Gallmeier’s desk. There were two fifths of Jack Daniels in the draw.
“That’s not what you’re looking for,’’ Gallmeier told the shocked teenager.
According to his children, Gallmeier got pulled over a few times, but the police officers all knew him and took him home. He spent so much time at Henry’s his face was once included on a mural painted on the side of the building. If he wasn’t there, then he was likely at Jack and Johnny’s on Wells Street.
Along with his drinking and smoking, Gallmeier was also old-school in that he disliked technology and didn’t trust it. He liked writing his stories on a typewriter and then having them transmitted into the computer system.
Once during training with new video display terminals, Gallmeier asked the instructor how to turn on the machine. Warden told him to rub up against it. Instead, Gallmeier rubbed his hand down the side of the machine and said, “You’re so beautiful.’’ That was the end of the class for that day.
The boys will be very happy about this one. The Port Huron IceHawks have changed their gametime for the game with the Komets on Dec. 9 from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. It will be interesting to see how Port Huron does on a Tuesday.