Greschner's back continued to keep him on the sidelines for all but 10 games in the '82-83 season. He tried traction, chiropractors, acupuncture, the Mayo Clinic, papaya enzyme injections—you name it—but nothing helped. He moved into Alt's apartment in July '82, and before going to work in the morning she would fix him a breakfast and lunch, pile a bunch of magazines beside his bed, hand him the remote control for the television and bid him good day. He was usually lying in the same spot when she got back from her modeling session.
There were days when he couldn't lift his legs to get out of bed, and other days, when he felt really swell, that he could actually make the big trek to the elevator and maybe shuffle down to the corner and back. "It's a bad memory, and I've blocked a lot of stuff out. But Carol more or less talked me into believing I could still play."
Finally, on Alt's advice, Greschner tried a therapy called "reflexology," a sort of manual acupuncture primarily geared toward massaging the nerve endings in the feet and hands. "The first time I did it to him," she recalls, "I had him screaming, just by rubbing his feet. He almost fainted. And I wasn't strong enough to really do it right."
Greschner began seeing a reflexology therapist, and the back slowly mended. "I don't even know what happened medically," he says now. "I haven't had a back X-ray since 1983. All I know is that I've been hit hard, and I can lift rocks on our farm in upstate New York, and it doesn't bother me. Knock wood."
Greschner continues to wear a fiberglass corset support, but makes no other concessions to his back. In fact, in the season he returned to the lineup, 1983-84, he fought more than he had at any time in his career, chalking up 117 penalty minutes in 77 games.
"He fought just to prove he could still play," says Alt, whom Greschner married in November '83. "He becomes another person on the ice. At home, even when I provoke him he doesn't get mad. He really has a calming effect on me. I work at a job where you have to keep everything in, you're not allowed to get mad or upset, and he works at a job where he lets off steam all the time. At home we switch roles."
Home is a terrace apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side, though during the hockey season they spend more time apart than together. "There are weeks at a time when all we do is pass each other in the air," says Alt, who estimates she spends eight months a year on the road. This fall she was in the Dominican Republic for 10 days to shoot the SI swimsuit issue, then flew directly to Italy for a month to film her first motion picture, Via Montenapoleone, which is to be released in Europe next month. Greschner, as he always does, called her daily. They chat about this and that. Occasionally they chat about Alt's wardrobe or lack of same.
Alt promised her father, Anthony, who passed away Christmas Day, 1983, that she would never model in the nude; so when Jule Campbell, SI's swimsuit feature editor, asked Alt to pose in a particularly skimpy outfit this year, Alt surreptitiously checked first with her husband. Greschner gave her the go-ahead. But Alt draws the line at swimsuits that turn peekaboo when wet. "She said she didn't want her picture in a see-through bathing suit hanging in some hockey locker room," recalls Campbell.
Alt also checked with Greschner before doing a love scene—clothed—in Via Montenapoleone. "I don't have to ask him, but I want to," she says. "He does care. He just likes to be warned ahead of time so he's prepared for it."
Alt's best-selling poster in 1985, which showed her sweating sexily in a disheveled cotton teddy, was from a slide Greschner had picked. "I chose the one that I would have bought," he says. "A poster has to be sexy, but it doesn't have to be filthy. She doesn't have to take off her clothes to be successful. Players joke around about how I sit around and count her money, but the truth is her work makes me feel good. The Rangers had a swimsuit calender hanging in our locker room last year. Guys come in and ask her to sign her poster. I suppose if I really thought about her doing a love scene in a movie it might bother me, but it's work. You have to trust somebody, and you might as well trust your wife. I plan on being married to her for a long time, and 10 years down the road I don't want her to tell me, 'You didn't let me act.' She's only 26. We'll give her four years to work on her acting, and when she's 30 maybe we'll start working on a family."