One of the oldest teams in hockey just met perhaps its oldest fan.
A week after celebrating her 100th birthday, Mila Zavodni scored VIP access to Rangers practice Tuesday, watching the drills and chatting with stars both past and present, according to The Journal News of the Lower Hudson Valley.
“It’s beautiful. It’s perfect,” Zavodni told the local newspaper.
“It’s not the same as watching on television. You don’t sense the physicality of what they do. These boys are so tall and majestic, and they glide across the ice like ballerinas.”
Mila Zavodni said her father started taking her to hockey games in 1926, the Rangers’ first year.
The puck-loving centenarian first caught a glimpse of the Blueshirts 90 years ago — just after the team’s founding — during an exhibition game in her native Czechoslovakia, according to the paper.
Her trip to their practice facility in Greenburgh was largely arranged by a neighbor in White Plains, Tim Khachetoorian, who told the paper that Zavodni always fills him in on the latest results of the 32-18-6 Rangers.
“I fall asleep watching, but she catches me up the next day — she’s very knowledgeable and breaks down every game,” Khachetoorian said.
The 100-year-old enjoyed a conversation with Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan as practice ended.
“At 100, you’ve done everything and seen everything. I thought this would be a good memory for her.”
The highlights of Zavodni’s day reportedly included a chat with Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan — who presented her with sticks as souvenirs — as well as a conversation with Adam Graves and Dave Maloney.
“She’s a real fan,” Maloney told the paper. “Good thing the team is playing well or we’d get an earful from her.”
At 32-18-6, the Rangers are in second place in the Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan Division.
Negativity, however, doesn’t appear to be Zavodni’s style.
“It was so fun, I can’t wait to call my sons and tell them about it,” she told the paper. “I love watching hockey because it makes you forget about your problems. This sport is so full of joy, full of life. Sometimes I wish I weren’t so old, because it can be hard. But then, there are moments like this.”
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