While we were in line for the buffet, I got to chat with him for a few minutes, and he's clearly every bit the genuinely nice, warm guy he ever was. He's apparently living back in Ithaca; at 85, he's entitled to retire! He ran the Knickerbocker Arena (now Pepsi Arena) in Albany for years, and was part owner of the Albany River Rats when I talked to him 11 years ago. (He was also coach and GM of the Detroit Red Wings in the middle, but the less said about that, the better.)
I clearly remember him being one of my favourite interview subjects ever, because he was so happy to chat about his legendary team, the new team at the time, his current projects, and (somewhat self-deprecatingly) himself. I've talked to other Important People who've given you 40 seconds and then clearly wanted you off the phone, and he was not one of them.
He told me today that his eyes have been bothering him, but he was delighted to see the newly renovated Lynah Rink last night and enjoy the Big Red's first regular-season win of the new campaign, a 4-1 victory over Robert Morris University. (Turns out they're near Pittsburgh.) I'll keep an eye out for him at future games!
I definitely feel lucky to have gotten to see him at the Coach's Club luncheon. Tom invited me to join him because Joy (no, not you, the other one) is up at the hospital spending time with her ex, Kevin, who's not doing well. That part definitely sucks, though I'm glad I was able to go to the lunch.