Tuesday marked 14 years since ‘The Man In Black’ Johnny Cash left this earth. An American treasure that transcended not just all genres of music, but pop culture and life in general. He was a man I always admired for the way he made it his mission to atone for his early mistakes in life and be there for the loved ones he once hurt. I try to do the same every day as well, with of course my daughter and family as my inspiration but also ‘The Man In Black’ to emulate.
So today on Puck Rocks, we pay homage to Johnny Cash with a great hockey related story. On the day he passed away, September 12, 2003, the Bruins were starting training camp. As I pulled into the parking lot at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, MA the news came over the radio and stopped me in my tracks. Tears began to flow down my face. It was not even 24 hours after the two-year anniversary of 9-11 which had a lasting and painful effect on me, and now my favorite musician and a role model had passed? Needless to say, September 11 and 12 are hard days and days I really keep my head up!
So after I gathered myself together, I walked into the rink and one of the first people I bumped into was then Bruins assistant coach and a two-time Stanley Cup champion with Boston, Wayne ‘Cash’ Cashman. The Bruins’ ‘Cash’ apparently could tell I was shook up and asked me what was wrong. I told him that Johnny Cash had passed away and how much he and his music meant to me.
It turns out Cashman was a huge Johnny Cash fan as well, and during his playing career, he had a chance encounter with the singer. As Cashman was walking down the hallway after a practice at the old Boston Garden, he looked up and saw Cash standing outside his dressing room preparing for a show that night. He looked around and had nothing to sign until he saw Bobby Orr’s stick sitting there beside him. Cashman quickly realized that this could be a rather unique souvenir. So he borrowed a pen from the trainer and got Johnny to sign Orr’s stick. The stick still hangs on his basement wall.
I never had the pleasure of meeting or even seeing Johnny Cash live. I’m sure it would’ve been an amazing experience. None the less I try to honor his memory the best I can. Whenever I have a goalie on a show I’m hosting, I’ll play ‘Rusty Cage’ the Soundgarden cover he did on American Recordings and his music always plays a major role in my on air work. So 14 years gone but the ‘Man In Black’ is never forgotten!