This is an autographed picture of New York Islanders winger Matt Moulson(notes). The story of how Clearwater, Fla., puckhead Scott Sage acquired this picture is a reminder that for all of their occasional shenanigans, NHL players are the class of professional sports when it comes to fan interaction.
Here's Scott, in an email to us Wednesday night:
"A few friends and I here in Tampa were waiting outside the Islanders hotel earlier [Wednesday night] to try and get some autographs. About 6:00 p.m. we saw the entire team get off their bus and go into the hotel without any players signing for us.
"I decided to send Matt Moulson a Twitter message asking him if he would come out and sign for us.
"A couple minutes after Matt replied to my tweet, he came outside and, while laughing, asked which one of us tweeted him. He signed for the five of us and a couple meatballs, then went back in the hotel.
"This was very cool of him to do for us, and we were all appreciative."
The ugliness in Minnesota this week, as Bourne wrote Thursday, isn't the norm. From the stars to the grunts, NHL players have an approachability and connection with their fans that other pro athletes do not; from postgame autographs to beers at local watering holes. Social media is another burgeoning aspect of that bond, and has in some cases made it even stronger. With one or two exceptions, of course.
So, next time you're angling for an autograph: Tweet 'em if you can.