My Devils fandom has a Big Bang moment.
It was December 28, 1991. The Meadowlands Arena, Devils versus Sabres. The Devils won and my family and I were hooked.
There were people behind all of this. Pulling the strings if you will, hockey enablers turning us into Devils fans for life. Inadvertently creating this blog 25 years down the road.
They were neighbors and friends of ours: the Rosinskis.
And two nights ago, the Devils family, and, more importantly, the Rosinski family, lost someone particularly important to them.
That was Michael Rosinski, a son, brother, grandson, uncle. But most importantly to me, a friend. He passed of complications from Covid.
I had not seen Michael for a few years. There are certainly people much better qualified to eulogize his later life. We last met at Patrik Elias’ jersey retirement night.
He was hard to miss, well over six feet tall, and my brother, his fiancée and I talked with him for a few minutes. He was as polite as ever, a true gentle giant. It only made that night at The Rock that much better. To see an old friend on a night honoring a player we grew up watching.
And that is where I can eulogize Michael correctly: childhood.
My brother, sister and I had a wonderful childhood growing up by the Jersey Shore. But Michael, his brother Chris, my brother Matt and myself were not interested in surfing, swimming or hanging out on the boardwalk.
No, our pursuits echoed winter. Sure, we loved all sports and we were competitive, spirited basketball games in the driveway, home run derby between Little League games, soccer, football (the Arctic Bowl – our only game of tackle football during the year’s first snowfall is a story for a whole other post!), golf. You name it, we played and we enjoyed it.
But there was only one sport that truly had our hearts. Hockey.
I would often joke that our neighborhood was a little piece of Canada transplanted to New Jersey. Maybe it should have been a “neighbourhood”?
Everyone played hockey in some form be it organized ice hockey, roller hockey or just having a team to root for. This was during the most heated era of Devils-Rangers, so everyone had a stake – whether they followed hockey on a day-to-day basis or not.
(Just to show the extent of our hockey fandom and a sign of the times. We all collected NHL POGS, almost exclusively! Like trading cards, but in POG form!
This meant that hockey was everywhere. Roller hockey in my family’s driveway all year round, pond hockey when the fickle New Jersey winters would cooperate and, of course, knee hockey.
Knee hockey was just that: us “running” around on our knees in my parent’s carpeted basement smacking a foam rubber ball at each other with makeshift goals and goalie equipment.
The games got competitive, and limited space made things physical. Michael would play goal and he was great with those taped-up, broken souvenir sticks.
There were trips our families took together to Lake Placid, New York. Truly a Mecca for hockey and winter sports fans. Skating, skiing, just taking in a place where the Miracle on Ice happened. It was a frigid paradise for us and we would have it no other way.
There were the hours spent watching hockey videos. Our particular favorites: The Devils 1995 Cup Championship video, the Flames 1989 Stanley Cup video and “Ice Hot” a compilation of great moments in NHL history and then-current highlights.
And before I forget, the Demons. The picture up top is Michael in net for our neighborhood hockey club: The Demons. It’s the thing only creative, hockey obsessed kids could come up with. We ran practices with drills. It was a true brotherhood.
And now one of our brothers have fallen.
On behalf of my family and myself, our condolences to Michael’s mother, grandmother and brother, sister-in-law and nieces. Not to mention his friends and extended family.
I feel this writeup does not entirely pay justice to a great friend, but I really hope it can let those reading know just how much Michael and his family meant to my family. And just how much our lives would be different were it not for December 28, 1991.
Rest in Peace Michael. Your life will live on in the memories of your many friends and loved ones.