Rookie Dinner Redux

We landed at Dulles in the wee hours of this morning after the just concluded three-game road trip, and I headed back to the palatial estate in Charm City to finish up the notebook from the Rangers game and the preview of tonight’s Flyers game. We’ll be doing the Pre-Cap podcast in just a bit, but I wanted to put up some fun stuff, some info that I gathered on the trip but haven’t had a chance to pass along.

I asked a few guys about their own rookie dinners. My mama raised me to believe that there were two cardinal sins I could commit as a kid. One was inviting myself to someone else’s house and the other was asking someone how much they paid for something. So if you’re looking for info on how much these guys spent on their respective rookie dinners, you’ll be disappointed. I didn’t ask. One guy did tell me without any prompting, and that’s the limit of the financial data contained here. I mostly asked what city and how many guys were there to help with the check. In the case of guys who had their dinners while members of the Caps, I asked who the other check-splitters were.

Here’s what I found out.

Donald Brashear’s rookie dinner was held in Chicago, he thinks. And the tab was split among four guys, he thinks. A somewhat incredulous Steve Eminger asked, “You don’t remember?” To which Brash replied, “That was 14 years ago, kid.”

Chris Clark’s rookie dinner was in Phoenix, and there were four members of the Calgary Flames splitting that check.

John Erskine’s rookie dinner came while he was a member of the Dallas Stars, and it was held in Anaheim. Erskine says the dinner was put together at the last minute, and the tab was split among three freshmen. Erskine got off cheaply, spending a mere $1400 for his portion. “There was no lobster and they had run out of the $600 bottles of wine,” said Erskine, who has a good appreciation for the grape.

Olie Kolzig swears that when you take into consideration what guys made back in those days, and how much his rookie dinner cost, he paid more (inflation adjusted, of course) for his rookie dinner than today’s youth. To make matters worse, he was sent back to the minors days later. Kolzig’s check-paying partners were Pat Peake and John Slaney, and the feast was in Miami. That would have been the Panthers’ first season in the league, 1993-94.

Matt Pettinger’s dinner was in Denver. As I type this, it dawns on me that I forgot to ask who split his tab with him. It’s possible that he had to pay the freight on his own; there weren’t many young players on the Caps in those days.

Eminger and Brian Sutherby had their dinner in Atlanta during the 2002-03 season. Along with those two, Ivan Ciernik, Stephen Peat and Alex Henry had to pull out the plastic.

Boyd Gordon’s rookie dinner was the following season in Dallas. His check-mates were Alexander Semin, Sebastien Charpentier and Josef Boumedienne.

Brooks Laich’s rookie dinner came two nights before Alex Ovechkin netted “The Goal” in Phoenix in January of 2006. Laich, Ovechkin, Shaone Morrisonn and Nolan Yonkman treated.

Last season’s rookie dinner was in South Florida, with Mike Green, Jakub Klepis and Lawrence Nycholat chipping in on the tab.

My favorite rookie dinner story dates back to 1999-00, when Jeff Halpern was the lone rookie on a veteran-laden team. The rookie dinner was also held early in the season that year, in San Jose just before Halloween. Just when it looked like Halpern would be on the hook for the whole bill, Alexander Volchkov was summoned from Portland for what would prove to be the only three games of his NHL career.

Halpern only had to pay half.

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One Comment on “Rookie Dinner Redux”

  1. pucksandbooks Says:

    Many would say that that was Volchkov’s most significant contribution to the club.


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