Here's proof that sportswriters really do have hearts. On July 17, while vacationing with his family in Nantucket, Mass., SPORTS ILLUSTRATED senior writer Michael Farber (left, with statue of Maurice Richard) had shortness of breath, fatigue and high blood pressure. Farber, SI's lead hockey writer since 1994, immediately went to an emergency room, where a doctor told him that the vessels leading to his heart had become blocked. Eight days later, in his hometown of Montreal, Farber says he was "cracked open like a barbecued chicken" and underwent quadruple bypass surgery.
Since the operation Farber has been staying close to home, though he did write up the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 30-page NHL preview that appears in this issue. He plans to return to the hockey beat full time in December. "I'll make like Peter Forsberg and come back strong," he says. "And I'll be back before Steve Yzerman [who's out until January]. Guaranteed."
The man who runs SI's hockey coverage with a Scotty Bowman-esque touch is senior editor Paul Fichtenbaum, who has worked at the magazine since 1989 and has helped successfully predict the Stanley Cup champion for the last two years. Going for the hat trick, he says this season's selection is Colorado.
Gathering pictures for Fichtenbaum is assistant photo editor Claire Bourgeois, a five-year veteran of the magazine. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Bourgeois is a stalwart New York Rangers fan who two years ago met one of her favorite players, Mark Messier, during a photo shoot. So how did she handle the encounter? "I just sat in the corner and was really shy," she says. "I was totally flustered."
Senior writer Kostya Kennedy (left) leads off this year's preview with The Invaders, a story on the NHL's road warriors. Kennedy, who started at SI as a reporter in 1994, has proved to be quite a road warrior himself. While working the hockey beat in 1998, he earned the distinction of being the most traveled writer at the magazine, which is no small feat.
Pierre McGuire (right) won two Stanley Cups as a scout and an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and '92, and he has now become the John Madden of hockey on Canadian TV. He's also a special contributor to the magazine, providing insider knowledge for our preview and our IN THE CREASE column.