Hounding Rip Simonick

When NHL teams come to Tampa, most hounds and dealers want autographs from the club's top players. For the most part, I subscribe to that philosophy. But when it comes to my hometown team, the Buffalo Sabres, I take a different tack.

To the best of my knowledge, only one person has been with the Sabres' team staff from Day 1. That person is Rip Simonick, the Sabres' legendary head equipment manager. To me, he's just as much of the organization's history as Gil Perreault, Danny Gare and the Knox brothers, Seymour H. III and Northrup R.

Because of that, I believe he's definitely worthy of an autograph. I just wish I've had better luck getting him to sign a puck or two.

Most times, I miss my opportunity as the training and equipment staff heads to the rink long before I arrive at the team hotel. For that, I accept full responsibility. There was one time, though, in Boston when Rip shot me down -- point-blank.

At the time, I was carrying an old Sabres puck, one I bought back in the early 1990s, as well as handmade Buffalo Bisons puck. I approached Rip, politely asking him if he had the time to sign before heading off to the then-Fleet Center.

"That's not even a real Bisons puck," he chided me, pointing to the it. "No, I'm not gonna sign that."

The rejection, much to my chagrin, brought howls of laughter from my fellow Boston-based hounds. Eventually, I even laughed. It's one thing to get shot down by, say, a Mario Lemieux. It's another, though, when it's the team's equipment manager.

Funny thing, I didn't blame him. It was foolish on my part to bring anything less than authentic for someone like Rip Simonick. You know what? I've learned my lesson. With the Sabres in town to play the Lightning on Friday night, I'll have an authentic Buffalo Bisons puck with me Friday morning. Who knows? Maybe he'll sign this time.

Addendum: Wanna know what happened?

Addendum (3/22/10): Finally, Rip signed two pucks.

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Anonymous JLS said...

Good luck to ya...he is definately a Sabres institution...right up there with Imlach, Horton, Perrault, Gare, LaFontaine, etc as well as Darling and Jeanneret. Hey, have you ever approached Jeanneret....that guy could make a funeral exciting......I get goose bumps when I listen to the best of CD or watch the DVD...who can forget May Day!, May Day!, May Day!!!!!

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had the opportunity to have a beer with Rip at Dave Andychuks place after the Sabres v. Lightning game the other night. What a nice man, very humble and bought me a beer. Come to find out my aunt works with his newphew in Buffalo. Rip it was a pleasure to meet you and look forward to doing it again next season here in Tampa.

9:46 PM  

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