The way Mona Greenberg Tells it, her husband, Jay, was supposed to have been a Philadelphia Flyer. The tale goes back to 1976 and Mona's days as a secretary in the journalism department at Temple University. It seems she asked a sportswriter friend to get her a blind date with one of the Flyers. Instead, the friend came back with a newspaper colleague who covered the Flyers—Jay Greenberg. The rest is nuptial history. "I only married Jay for his hockey tickets," says Mona.
Whether it's the Johnstown (Pa.) Jets, the home team Greenberg followed as a kid, or the Flyers, whom he observed closely for 14 years as a writer for the Philadelphia Daily News, SI's newest staff writer enjoys shivering inside any rink. "Hockey is my niche," says Greenberg, 39. "What can I say? I think the best movie ever made was Slapshot."
In this week's NHL preview, which begins on page 44, Greenberg ventures into territory more dangerous than any crease: He predicts who will win the Stanley Cup. Greenberg is undaunted. After all, this is a man who remembers the Broad Street Bullies as being "a really nice bunch of guys."
Along with his scouting reports on the league's 21 teams, the hockey preview includes Greenberg's story on the Soviet players who will make their NHL debuts this season. His network of sources in the league helped him break the ice with the newcomers: For instance, Greenberg got a tip that Alexander Mogilny of the Buffalo Sabres has a weakness for pepperoni. So when it came time to interview Mogilny, Greenberg brought along a pepperoni pizza. "Once Alexander saw that pizza, I knew nothing would get lost in translation," says Greenberg.
With and without pepperoni, Greenberg found these Soviets far more agreeable than the ones from the Central Red Army team, which he covered while it toured NHL cities in 1975. "When they used to come here they were like robots, brushing by reporters with a simple Nyet," says Greenberg. "But in doing this story, I found them to be much more sensitive and open."
Greenberg broke the ice with a pepperoni to go.
P.S. Sports Feelings, a joint exhibition of photos from SI and the Soviet magazine Olympic Panorama that opened at the Smithsonian Institution in November 1988, has moved to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, where it will remain until Nov. 26. Newly added to the exhibit are photos from the Seoul Olympics. In 1990 the show will travel to Detroit (January), Los Angeles (March) and Seattle (May).