Growing up in rural central Ohio, I knew baseball, football, basketball, auto racing, and track and field. But "ice hockey" was foreign to me. I'd seen it on TV, but I thought of it a sport for people who lived far away. It was exotic, like jai alai or polo or cliff diving.
Nevertheless, I was now working for a cable TV channel in Washington, Pennsylvania, and there was an NHL franchise not far away in Pittsburgh, and they were looking for publicity for their team and their upcoming season with their new coach. The word came down that on a certain afternoon, Johnny Somebody would be at the local Holiday Inn, and I ought to go talk to him on camera.
I did what I could. I read the press release, went out to Meadow Lands, and asked the coach some general questions for a minute or two. Needless to say, it was not a groundbreaking interview. But what could be expected of someone who'd never seen hockey in person?
I recall another event at the little outdoor rink at Washington Park. This time the interviewees were local folks, I was the cameraman, and Earl Bugaile would ask the questions. As we waited in the warming hut is that what it's called? for the guests to arrive, Earl idly tossed an object from one hand to the other. It looked to me like a large roll of black electrical tape. "What's that?" I inquired. "That's the puck," he explained, showing it to me. "Oh," I replied.
On another occasion, we needed to interview a public official live in our studio, but most of our small crew had gone off to tape some other event. Earl came in to be our on-camera talent while I ran the control room. Because one of our two cameras was at the remote, I had only the other one. I arranged the studio the best I could to make the 15-minute single-camera conversation look at least somewhat professional. Earl sat in a swivel chair, facing the camera. His guest sat six feet behind him, visible over his shoulder in soft focus. After the introduction, Earl turned to face his guest, and the camera shifted focus and zoomed in.
Three decades later, Earl is now providing reports for Pittsburgh's all-news radio station, KQV, which is on the air night and day. And he continues to inform Pittsburghers about pucks on his "Center Ice" website.