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As exciting as many hockey fans might think covering an NHL team is, the reality is that it's hard work, a weird balancing act between quiet time watching a game or waiting for interviews, and stressful moments of deadline chaos or being on air. For Mark Rosenman and Howie Karpin, the time together in the various New York city press boxes has resulted in a potent book-writing partnership. The latest is Before 94: The Story of the 1978-79 New York Rangers.
“Howie and I are always talking about projects when we are covering Ranger Games in the press box,” explained Rosenman on the book's genesis via email. “We both had a special place in our hearts for that '78-79 team, the more we thought about it the more interesting things popped up about that team that we thought was worthy of a book.”
It didn't take them long to rhyme off interesting aspects of that Rangers team that went to the Stanley Cup final, losing to the Montreal Canadiens: Coach Fred Shero, Dave Maloney as captain, the Swedes making a mark in the NHL after WHA success, the Potvin Sucks Game, the competitive semi-final against the rising New York Islanders.
“It was the 40-year anniversary this year so we said why not,” wrote Karpin in an email.
It's a team effort working on their books, which also include 2017's New York Rangers by the Numbers: A Complete Team History of the Broadway Blueshirts by Uniform (https://sihrhockey.org/__a/public/column.cfm?cid=4&aid=515), 2015's Shoot to Thrill: The History of Hockey’s Shootout and Down on the Korner: Ralph Kiner and Kiner's Korner.
For Before 94, Rosenman, a co-host of WLIE 540 AM's SPORTSTALKNY, did the bulk of the interviews, and Karpin was “the main writer of the text. That's how we've gone about all of our books,” said Karpin. “Mark is great at tracking down interviews and my strength is with the actual writing so we work well together.”
Rosenman has praise for Karpin's work. “Howie went about the research as he is the best in the biz when it comes to that, I provided some additional source materials for game stories, I did interviews with every major player with the exception of Pierre Plante, and a few minor guys who played less then five games in that season. We picked what we wanted from those interviews.” The detective work in tracking down players is part of the fun.
The result of the duo's hard work is the 171-page Before 94 which came out in January 2019, a self-published venture. That's new, noted Rosenman.
“This actually is our fourth book but it is the first self-published one, I like the fact that Howie and I set our schedule and had complete control over the project, It was a fairly easy process and recommend it,” he said. To promote the book, both expect to be busy on social media, radio and TV appearances, as well as word of mouth. They have the connections, with Rosenman on the radio, and Karpin with his two decades as an accredited Official Scorer for Major League Baseball, working Yankees and Mets games, and his gig with Sirius XM Satellite Radio as a sports update anchor.
With a massive fanbase in an even bigger city, Before 94 is part of a regular stream of New York Rangers-related books.
“As the Rangers have such a vast history, there is a lot of ground to cover, so they are a natural topic much like the Yankees, Red Sox in baseball or any Original 6, so we are talking multi-generational stuff here,” said Rosenman, whose next book is about fathers and sons in baseball, Glove Story: Fathers, Sons and The American Pastime. “There is a built in loyalty and audience to be sure.”
The audience includes the players themselves. “Players and fans both seem to love the look back and some of the stories we have unearthed,” said Rosenman. “To a man, they were so happy we were writing a book about that team as they truly overachieved.”
And, appropriately, the choice for the book's foreword came in the press box—the former Rangers captain Dave Maloney. “Howie and I see Dave every home game up on the bridge at MSG where the press sit,” said Rosenman. “We told him we were writing a book on the team and as the Captain we could not think of anyone better to do the foreword, he did not hesitate to say yes, Howie and I could not have been happier when he said yes and his foreword truly sets the tone for the book.”
Howie Karpin and Mark Rosenman just before their appearance to promote Before 94 during the second intermission of the New York Rangers against the Los Angeles Kings game on February 4, 2019, with Don La Greca on 98.7 FM ESPN
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