A point reinforced

Last season, during one of the Sabres' trips to Boston, I had the chance to speak with veteran defenseman Teppo Numminen. Our discussion, though brief, focused on dealers, namely how players can tell the difference between them and hounds.

Hounds, he said, know a player's name and often engage the player in conversation. Dealers, on the other hand, often have team items or 8 x 10 photos and say very little. To me, it was an astute observation.

Since moving to Florida, and seeing how Tampa Bay dealers operate, little has changed. The dealers try to cozy up to me because I have a good idea of who is who on visiting teams. And it's not unusual to see said dealers carrying multiple (three to four) photos.

These dealers, however, go a step further. Not only does one have his children carry three 8 x 10s each to a player, but another, "Hanging Chad," who boasts of making a "six-figure" income (does that include the two numbers to the right of the decimal point, I always ask) uses his ailing father, complete with a wheelchair and oxygen mask, to get multiple 8x10s signed for his "grandchildren."

Either way, I digress. Last night, as we made our way past some dealers finishing up with the Florida Panthers, I witnessed this exchange between Gary Roberts and the "Dealing Daddy":

Dealing Daddy's son: "Can you sign this?"
Gary Roberts, looking at the Dealing Daddy: "Is this your son?"
Dealing Daddy, sheepishly: "Yes"
Gary Roberts, looking at the child: "What's your name, son?"
Dealing Daddy: "Don't bother."

Like Numminen told me, the players know.

P.S.: The weather in Florida was gorgeous today. Low 80s. Slight breeze. Indian Rocks Beach was great, too. Wasn't crowded, plenty of shells and a water temp in the mid-70s. There's more to life than hockey and hounding, isn't there?


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