A small town has its lawns and picket fences and wholesome values, a big town its go-getters and civic fathers.
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A big city has its strivers and fine food and bright lights. But a small city, full of drifters and vacant lots, faded Victorian houses lining its weed-buckled streets, is ruinously sad. Such a city will have many of the bad elements of a metropolis and few of the good. It will have desperate people, lost causes, and crime. It will have mobsters. Check out the full table of contents and find your next story to read. Depending on whom you ask, Jimmy Galante was either one of its mobsters or a legit businessman whose waste-removal company had become associated with the Mafia.
He was born in the Bronx but grew up in bucolic South Salem, New York; did a stint in the Air Force; and then took a job driving a garbage truck. Though he lived with his wife and two children in suburban New Fairfield, he was beloved in nearby Danbury, where he had his office. Galante was a philanthropist; a pediatric suite in the emergency department of Danbury Hospital was named for his family.
And, according to court papers filed by the U. But Jimmy Galante was smart, and the G-men could never quite nail him. He did have a weakness, though. Now and then, he liked to make an elaborate gesture, something attention-getting. Inthis meant buying a minor-league-hockey franchise and installing it at the local youth rink, the Danbury Ice Arena.
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Some say he did it as a civic benefactor, to give a depressed city something to rally around. Some say he did it for the same reason he owned a race-car squad: He loved to compete.
Everyone, however, agrees that he did it at least in part for his son, AJ, who was Then AJ had gotten hurt. Like any father, you want to be able to do something for your son. AJ did one of his first press calls on a cellphone in a New Fairfield High School hallway, the interview ending abruptly when a teacher walked by. I first heard it from a father on the sidelines of a Little League game soon after I moved in.
From November My family story of love, the Mob, and government surveillance. It was a violent league made of players on the way up, players on the way down, and some players simply holding on, happy to live in the limbo of the minor leagues. Galante named his team for the family business: the Trashers.
The jerseys featured the team mascot, Scrappy, a garbage can with the lid raised just enough to reveal two almond-shaped eyes peering from the darkness. AJ spent the summer after his senior year assembling a roster. It was all new to him, but he was sure of the player he wanted most: Brent Gretzkythe brother of the NHL legend Wayne.
Gretzky, at 32, was in the descent portion of his career. He almost looked like Wayne—the same intelligent eyes and long face, the same scraggly mall-rat hair—but not quite.
But Galante got around it in classic mob fashion: no-show jobs. According to the indictment filed with the U. District Court in Connecticut, in addition to skating for the Trashers, several players or their wives were on the payrolls of his various companies—salesperson, sales manager, whatever. AJ knew the sort of team he wanted: skill plus muscle, skaters plus goons. AJ considered it unfair to fans if a game had fewer than three fights.
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He found skill players on the internet, assembling his squad the way he might have assembled a fantasy-football team. That meant late-night sessions on hockeydb. Having collected goals over the course of his 15 seasons in various leagues, Duhart gave the Trashers a second genuine scoring threat.
But his fights are what people remember. From March The oracle of ice hockey. AJ filled out the roster with a mix of has-beens and might-bes. All told, he played just five games for them. Tampa Bay fans still include him among their grievances: a wasted pick. He was one of those players who had everything except whatever mysterious quality it is that separates Wayne from Brent, the Yes from the Not Quite.
AJ was more freewheeling when shopping for muscle. He searched two places, one actual, one virtual. During the —11 season, the Quebec League averaged 3.
The second place AJ looked was where any other fan might have: hockeyfights. The Trashers featured some of the most storied names in hockey violence.
Unlike most enforcers, Wingnut could really play. T he —05 Trashers blew through the UHL like a freak storm. They led the league in penalty minutes.
Wins came in bunches. They were always pulling them out late, clearing the bench, fighting and celebrating. Life for the Trashers was life on the road, going from small city to small city. They loved playing for Jimmy, because he took care of them.
Most teams rode in a rickety, Partridge Family —style bus. The Trashers traveled in a luxury coach; they played card games and talked all night.
Good hotels, a beautiful locker room—several players remember their tenure on the team as their most satisfying time in pro hockey. Questioned about the no-show jobs, former players laughed and changed the subject. One player told me he did actual work in waste removal for Galante—nothing no-show about his job. It held brent Danbury dating than 3, seats, the fewest in the UHL, but it had a jewel-box intimacy.
Little separated the team from its fans, physically or culturally: They mostly made nothing, were going nowhere, and knew unfairness. Parents were warned to keep children away. It was populated by the die-hard, the angry, and the drunk.
And the noise—my God, the noise! It had to do with the acoustics. Now and then, AJ would watch a game from Section Which was the point: The Danbury Ice Arena was the sort of place where you could get into it with a random bozo in the bleachers, and he would turn out to be the head of the opposing team.
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There was an incident where one of our players attacked one of the Adirondack coaches, and that ended up in the Toronto Star. It started becoming urban legend. Having failed to agree with players on a new contract, major-league owners canceled the season. The lockout sent NHL stars into the cold. At 24, Rupp had already spent two seasons in the majors. In the spring ofwhile playing for the New Jersey Devils, Rupp had scored a game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup finals. Now he was turning up with his gear at a regional airport, being greeted too enthusiastically by what looked like a high-school kid claiming to be his new GM.
Rupp played 14 games for the Trashers—racking up five goals, five assists, and 30 penalty minutes—before going back to the Brent Danbury dating for nine more seasons. Every great team needs a great rival. The Trashers had the Adirondack Frostbite.
The rivalry between the teams developed fast. Two months into the season, the games turned nasty. Some fights started spontaneously, following a big hit.
Others started formally, proposed and accepted in the way of czarist-era duels:. Chad Wagner was one of the most feared hockey fighters of the era. He had once set a record in the West Coast Hockey League with penalty minutes in a single season.