Taking the Ice With a Kings 7-Foot Center
By: Nick Rose
Growing up on the East Coast, I was exposed at a young age to not only the sport of basketball but hockey as well. Later on, I was fortunate enough to work for many years in an arena that hosted both NBA and NHL teams. So if there was anything I expected to miss when I started my new position as security director at Power Balance Pavilion in early 2000, it was the fact I would no longer be near hockey or the opportunity to take an occasional skate around an NHL rink after hours.
I did, however, get an unexpected chance early in the spring of 2000. An ice show had just left town and one of my colleagues passed along to me that the ice was not due to be melted and disposed of until later in the day. If I wanted, I was free to go out and skate for awhile. He didn’t have to ask me twice! In a flash I was out on the ice with stick and puck in tow when I spied Kings center Bill Wennington skating across the ice. At the time, the 7-footer was finishing the last year of an NBA career, which included three championship rings with the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. To say the least, I was as surprised to see him as he was to see me.
We started passing the puck back and forth – shooting long clearing passes to each other along the end boards. We didn’t have a net, so we improvised by banging the puck off the boards and chasing down each other’s rebounds. Bill was a good skater – and obviously, as a rather tall man – he could get pretty good leverage behind his shots. It wasn’t until afterwards Bill told me he was born and raised in Montreal and had played hockey while growing up.
Later, he gave me an autographed photo that still hangs on my office wall. He even added a message with advice on how to get more power behind my shots. To this day, visitors to my office invariably read the inscription with a blank stare before turning to me and inquiring as to just why a former NBA center gave me advice about how to be a better hockey player. I just smile and recall the day a Kings player and a security guy had the ice all to themselves.