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Getting to Know WIIM: Peter (Straight Outta Sverdlovsk)

In the sports journalism system, the people are entertained by two separate, yet equally important groups: The players who play the game, and the people who write about the players. These are their stories. DUN DUN!

As part of our series to introduce new writers to the community, here’s some backstory on me and how I came to be a part of the writing team at Winging it in Motown.

I grew up in Milford, CT, a suburban city between New Haven and Bridgeport, right on the Long Island Sound. My first exposure to hockey was when Team USA won the Olympic gold medal. Yes, I was only several months old at the time, but I was technically in the same room as the television, and I was certainly awake, since my father screamed so loud that I woke up screaming. Interestingly, my mother also woke up screaming.

My second exposure to hockey came in the form of the New York Islanders. My father had season tickets, up until the 1980 season, which you may know as the first year New York won the Stanley Cup.

I grew up an Islanders fan, which was tough. Most people where I lived were Rangers fans and the two organizations’ fanbases go together like Taylor Swift and long-term relationships.

I started consciously rooting for the Islanders in the late eighties, and it was a tough go. In 1992-93, the Islander improbably knocked out the Capitals, then pulled off an insane upset of the two-time-defending champion Penguins, before losing to the eventual cup-winner Canadiens.

The only other playoff glory until last season came in 2002, when the Islanders took the Maple Leafs to game seven in an epic first round series. That year, my ship was on deployment in the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. My friends got Howie Rose to mention my name on a broadcast, which is one of my favorite Islanders memories.

However, after decades of supporting a team that continually displayed complete front office incompetence, I could no longer do it. I got tired of feeling like Charlie Brown: that this year Lucy wasn’t going to pull the football away at the last minute.

When you support a team like the Islanders, you need to have a playoff team. It’s a team that makes it into that mystical part of the season after 82 games have been played. For Islanders fans of my generation, it was mostly a rumor, a tale passed down through the years that games really did happen after the regular season.

I chose the Red Wings. I loved the way they played, I loved the fact that I could see them in the playoffs every year. Like I said on the podcast episode I appeared on last month, my first big Red Wings was the Yzerman 2OT goal to win Game 7 in 1996.

The clutch goal from a leader, the never-say-die attitude of the team, the confidence that they were going to pull it out: that was Red Wings hockey to me.

So from that point on, the Red Wings were my playoff team. A few years ago, when I couldn’t take the Islanders front office clown car anymore, I became a full time Red Wings fan.

I began to read Winging it in Motown regularly, even though I didn’t comment. I had written a few articles for Islanders Point Blank, although only one survived the move to SNY.

I’ve always been interested in writing about hockey, and so when the call came out for writer submissions here, I sent in an application.

I am currently a high school English teacher in northern NJ, entering my seventh year. I taught journalism at my school for four years, and I was also the adviser to our school newspaper for that period of time.

Like I alluded to above, I was in the US Navy for 6 years, from 1999 to 2005. I was stationed in San Diego other than the time I spent in boot camp, which was in Great Lakes, IL. My rate was Fire Controlman, which is a weapons tech. I operated and maintained the Close in Weapons System (CIWS), which has been referred to by less mature people as “R2-D2 with a boner.”

Turn down your speakers before clicking on the video

In case you were wondering, that gun fires at a rate of 4500 rounds a minute.

In addition to my main job, I was in charge of force protection training for a quarter of the ship. I taught people how to shoot pistols, rifles, and shotguns, and I ran our fun drills, like “what to do when people try to take over your ship.”

My ship, the USS Dubuque brought the first group of Marines to both Afghanistan and Iraq, and I was there for the beginning of both wars. Our ship was the first US ship to act as a staging area for POWs, which we couldn’t even talk about for a year after it happened. It’s OK now, I’m not breaking any confidentiality if you’re worried about that.

While in the Navy, I visited Hawaii about ten times; Bahrain; Valdez, Alaska; Seattle; Vancouver; Sydney (2x); Perth; Fremantle; Cairns; Darwin (we were in port there on 9/11). I’d recommend Vancouver, and anywhere in Australia.

Lastly, I’m sure there has been confusion about my name versus my twitter name in the byline of my articles. In about 1999, I started a news satire site called The Fake News. For a while, since there was pretty much The Onion and a few of us smaller sites, it got a ton of traffic. Over the years, I stopped doing it. But when I first started out, I decided to use a pen name: Jimmy Wellington.

Rather than start over with a new Twitter account here, I just stuck with the old one. I don’t want to have to build up to 253 followers again, that’s for sure. I’ll link to a couple of the best articles here if you are interested in seeing what I used to do:

Woman denied health coverage after chance encounter with Jack Bauer

Matt Cooke inspiring asshole kids

Bettman family despondent after Dad cancels Christmas

Donavan’s goal sparks dramatic increase in Americans pretending to care about soccer

I also enjoy making picture things

Glad to be here, and I look forward to a season of cheering, booing, gaining and losing hope, plunging into a great despair at least once, and hopefully emerging with promise for the future.

Oh, and really lastly, here are my two cats, Susie on the left, and Willow on the right.