Emerson Etem got his start in the game by playing roller hockey. In this week’s Getting To Know, the Long Beach, Calif., native talks about the first time he met Sidney Crosby, a prank in minor hockey that left his coach plugging his nose and the former Ranger who he hopes to emulate in New York.
Status: New York Rangers right wing.
Ht: 6-1 Wt: 212 pounds
DOB: June 16, 1992 In: Long Beach, Calif.
First Hockey Memory: “Watching my older brother, he played for a roller hockey team called the Jokers. Like most kids from California, he started out playing roller hockey…same with me as well. I just remember right down the street there was a YMCA hockey rink. Just watching him, I was three or four, he was seven or eight. Someone I looked up to is my brother, (I) followed his path and was able to start hockey that way.”
Hockey Inspirations: “Pavel Bure. It’s so fitting right now being in this organization. I remember his time was short here but he electrified the Garden. I was checking some of the stats the other day and it’s kind of mind-blowing what he put together on those bad knees. I didn’t really watch the 1994 Cup team with the Rangers, but I definitely watched highlights of that series. He was explosive, he was exciting. And that’s something I’ll try to bring to the Garden this year.”
First Famous Hockey Player You Met Or Encountered: “Let’s see…I think it was maybe Sidney Crosby, he was at the Kings’ facility. I think he was just after Shattucks at the time, he was already the face of hockey at that time. I think the Kings invited him to a training camp, he was already dominant at that age. After the skate he came down — I think we were running a camp, I was part of the camp — he came down and said hi to all the guys and I ended up getting an autograph. It was an awesome experience.”
Greatest Sports Moment: “Three years ago I was in the Detroit series with Anaheim. I put together a great series, we lost in seven games but just being on that stage for the first time, it was an awesome experience playing an organization that has a lot of histor. I used to idolize, along with the Kings growing up, the Red Wings. Playing in Joe Louis Arena during that series was awesome.”
Most Painful Moment: “I went knee to knee with Raffi Torres in the pre-season – it didn’t feel great, so…”
Most Memorable Goal: “I think just the last playoffs I put together a pretty good rush in the Winnipeg series and just was able to finish off. Something I’d like to do a lot more.”
First Job: “Paperboy (age 12).”
Hobbies/Interests: “Drawing, surfing, collecting money from different countries, guitar.”
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: “We were in Nashville and it was during warmups, and I think I was trying to catch a pass from the horseshoe. And Corey Perry — who’s the one who gets the pucks out of the net after every warmup drill — I was skating backwards and I ran right into him. Took his legs out and just fell back. And we ended up laughing about it.”
Strangest Game: “Playing with Anaheim last year, there was a game and we got blown out by the Rangers, it was 7-2 and we couldn’t put together anything to counter them. Just one after the other. We were sitting on the bench and guys were mad and stuff like that. We were helpless at that point. One of those games where you can really do nothing about it.”
Current Car: “I drive an Audi SV5 (white).”
Last Book Read: “Hilary Clinton’s memoirs, I guess [smiles].”
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “I like cheesecake. I had that the other day, it’s a good flavor.”
Funny Hockey Memory: “There’s so many great memories. Back in the day just being kids, I guess we were maybe 10 or 11. I was playing for LA Hockey Club. We joked around every practice — we laid it on the ice — it was me, Matt Nieto, Jason Zucker, Beau Bennett from Pittsburgh, we were all on the same team one year. I don’t know who brought the fart spray into the locker room but somebody went to Party Props and got the fart spray and we were spraying it around the locker room in there. And ended up getting sprayed up pretty good when the coach walked in there before the pre-game warmup. So it was pretty funny.”
Favorite Sport Outside Hockey: “I enjoy watching basketball. Another thing about this (training) facility is we’re close to the Knicks. To see Carmelo (Anthony) and some of those guys sitting across from you when you’re eating lunch or breakfast — it’s pretty cool, especially for me. I grew up watching the Lakers. I’m a huge Lakers fan. I love watching basketball so it’s gonna be pretty exciting this year.”
Three Athletes You Like To Watch & Follow: “Kobe Bryant. That killer ‘Black Mamba’ instinct. He wants to win now even at his age through injuries and stuff like that. He doesn’t care what anybody says about him, or free agents or anything like that, he just wants to win. You obviously gotta respect Roger Federer. He’s such a class act. Then I like the soccer player Neymar (of Brazil). He’s having fun out there, he’s dancing after he scores, he celebrates with his teammates like a lot of soccer players. It’s just good to see that. Especially on a worldwide stage. Brings everyone together.”
Why Do You Love Playing Hockey: “Just the speed of the game. I pride myself on being a speed guy. If you’re going through rough times off the ice or something like that, then once you hop on the ice, then all those problems go away. You’re just with your teammates, joking around, working hard. I think that’s the best part about it.”
People Qualities Most Admired: “One guy that sticks out in my mind is Derek Jeter. Everyone says it over and over, everything he says, he just doesn’t go wrong. Someone I’d obviously like to emulate but it’s hard to do in a big market like New York. Throughout his career, nothing bad’s been said about him, so it’s awesome to see and I think everyone can look up to.”
Mark Scoop Malinowski’s latest books “Facing Nadal” and “Muhammad Ali: Portrait of a Champion” are available at Amazon.