Senior Editor Mark Mulvoy was in a predicament as he began planning this week's special hockey package. The problem was of his own making. As our principal hockey writer since 1970, Mulvoy had produced just about every inch of copy that had appeared in the six previous season previews. But now that he was editing hockey, there was no Mulvoy to write it. "I need a replacement for myself," he said.
The replacement is Peter Gammons, 31, formerly of The Boston Globe. Since 1971 he had spent his summers covering the Red Sox and a lot of winter nights watching the Bruins. He reported to our offices at 10 a.m. on Sept. 2 and by noon had packed and enplaned for Montreal to cover the Canada Cup series. Since then, he has been almost continuously on the road, surveying hockey training camps, looking into the Scandinavian influx into the NHL and WHA (page 38) and visiting with Bobby Orr (page 30).
The only member of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S hockey department who has stayed put since last season is Reporter Angel Reyes. Born in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico and raised in the South Bronx, Reyes may well be the world's foremost Hispanic hockey expert. He grew up on Mohegan Ave. in the heart of an Italian-Jewish neighborhood, playing the city games—stickball, stoopball, punchball, handball and Johnny-on-the-pony. He attended DeWitt Clinton High, where the local idols were basketball stars Nate Archibald and Ron Behagen and comedians Jimmie Walker and Robert Klein. "I was 16 when I first saw a hockey stick," Reyes says. "A kid in black sneakers had it in the playground, and none of us knew what it was."
Reyes worked in our library after high school and in 1970 returned there after completing a four-year tour as a mechanic in the Air Force. In May 1973 he became a reporter and 20 months later took over fact-checking on the hockey beat. "I started at zero," Reyes says. But within a couple of weeks he had read every instructional hockey book he could find. He obtained team brochures from the NHL and WHA and pored over them nightly. He began attending games frequently, usually sitting up high to get the best view of plays developing. Afterward, Reyes would hustle down to the locker rooms, listening at first as seasoned reporters grilled the players, then asking questions of his own. "He's done everything except learn how to skate," Mulvoy says.
Reyes teams up with Gammons by helping to get information for stories and checking them for accuracy when they are completed. The original version of this week's scouting report on the Atlanta Flames noted that Eric Vail was out with a broken leg. Not so, thought Reyes, when the copy crossed his desk; it's a fractured collarbone. He checked with the Flames. Reyes had it right on the clavicle.