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February 22, 2016 | 5:52pm ET
Incessantly and Kindly Bothering People


[Photo by Imad Bolotok]

LOS ANGELES, CA -- When you hang around the game long enough, you wind up eventually dropping a line on someone in their 20s like this, “I remember watching your dad play,” and that’s part of the beauty of hockey, the personalities that connect generations.

I’ve seen Max Domi’s dad tussle with the toughest the game has offered and watched Zach Parise’s late father score a game winning goal in a three-game Islanders vs. Rangers playoff series, but the familial connection that follows is a slight twist on this theme.

I grew up a son of the Bronx and it was mandatory that my rooting interest was aligned with the Football Giants, the Yankees and the New York Rangers, the long-standing legacy home teams for that New York City borough. In my teens, my folks yearned to get out of the city and become first-time home buyers and had the opportunity to do so in a planned community located in East Windsor, New Jersey, approximately 50 miles south of my Big Apple roots.

In the days before Netflix and DirecTV, humans used to watch television on a platform called UHF and if you lived halfway between New York and Philadelphia, like we did, you were able to get transmissions from the City of Brotherly Love. Frustrated over my Rangers’ inability to win the Stanley Cup year after year (the 1940 chant was intact back then) a team that wore Black and Orange and seemed to fight every night captured my imagination through the fuzzy reception on my non-HD TV.
 
Quickly becoming addicted to the excitement they generated, I committed the worst sports transgression for a New Yorker -- I went over to the dark side and became a fan of the Broad Street Bullies.

One of the cast of characters during those days was Frank Bathe, a rough and tumble customer out of Oshawa, Ontario, who was over average size (listed in your program at an even six-foot-tall and 185 pounds), but was willing to throw down with the best of them in with a roster position defined today as “depth defenseman.”

Frank rarely hit the scoresheet (3 goals in 228 career NHL games) so his value was defined in the toughness he brought the ice. As an example of his true Broad Street Bully style during the 1980-81 season, he racked up 175 penalty minutes ..... in only 44 games.

Over 30 years later, I made a connection with one of Bathe’s kids, but it wasn’t any of his four sons, who played at various levels of professional hockey, but the only female and the fourth eldest of the brood, Carrlyn.

Her journey inside the game is not unlike watching a player graduate from the junior ranks to the NHL and we spent a recent afternoon in Santa Monica to talk about the challenges of making it in LA, an unforgiving city that has trashed the hopes and dreams of many like Carrlyn, who start out with the best of intentions, but fail to defy the astronomical odds of becoming a success.

“My earliest hockey memory was when the Portland Pirates won the Calder Cup in 1994 when my dad was working for the team. I was six years old and I thought I was just there to have some fun; I didn’t realize it was a championship hockey game. That was my first organized hockey memory but I had been dragged to rinks since I was a baby,” she said, recalling her first connection to hockey.

Growing up in the serene beauty of Scarborough, Maine with strong family ties gave her the strength to leave the comfort of home not yet out of her teens to attempt to make it big in Hollywood or in the case of present day, Staples Center. She actually looked forward to trading the harmony of a small town for the craziness of life as we know it in the City of Angels.

“I left home at 19 and came directly to LA. It was great growing up in Maine, but you’re in a fish bowl because everyone knows everything about you.”

She relied on the toughness that was passed down from her father to come to LA essentially on her own, lacking any nuclear family or established network. From Day One, everything Carrlyn has accomplished has been done as a solo act.

“I knew one person when I came here, a friend from back home knew someone who lived in LA and he agreed to have me live with him and his family in Van Nuys. When I got there, I thought the (San Fernando) Valley was the coolest thing in the whole world.”

Ah, what one experiences when they expand their horizons past New England.

“I looked at Los Angeles as a place where you make it, no matter what you do. Whether it’s in journalism, marketing or sales, you go there to stake your claim. I had a premonition that even if I didn’t come here first, I would have wound up here. And to be honest with you after growing up in Maine with all the snow, New York wasn’t an option.”

Her first move to establish herself was to leverage her hockey roots and to try out for the Los Angeles Kings Ice Crew, the vessel that helped her get noticed as a team ambassador. While many look at the Ice Crew as glorified cheerleaders, Carrlyn is proof that it can kick start a career. With hockey in her blood and possessing exceptional skating ability in her genes, she made the team on the first try and was a mainstay of the squad for five years.

“Once I settled in, I immediately tried out for the Kings Ice Crew after reading an advertisement on a casting website. The day of my first tryout, I was working on a commercial shoot as a production assistant and I showed up late in pigtails and jeans when the call sheet said to be dressed with spandex and a sports bra. I stuck out like a sore thumb, but in the best way possible because they noticed me and that defines my personality,” she laughed when recanting the genesis of her hockey career.

Since that day, she’s walked to the beat of her own drummer and if she had a tag line it would be “There Goes Carrlyn.”

So while she may have stood out from her appearance on that day, what really differentiated her to the hockey people inside the Kings organization was when she strapped on the skates and hit the ice.

“I think I bonded with Daryl Evans (the long-time Kings radio/TV analyst and an ambassador at many events) on the first day because he said to himself, ‘who is this skating like a mad woman’ because I handled it like a hockey tryout.”

After surviving a series of squad cuts based on her skating ability, she let the cat out of the bag that she was an NHL legacy and it only helped her cause. She worked on the Ice Crew part-time while simultaneously working multiple other part-time jobs and going to school. Her five-year tenure with the team was a long run considering that she had to try out every succeeding year. With no currency built up for past performance, she had to be best in breed every summer to earn the right to return. And while there are no term limits, the role that she embraced had reached a logical conclusion two seasons ago.

And that’s where I first engaged her, during a photo shoot for our magazine in her last season and whatever personality that was housed inside her 5’8” frame at the time was buried pretty deep below the surface. As a general rule, Ice Crew members don’t fraternize with the media and while she skated like the wind on the temporary ice surface at LA Live that day, if you had told me that she would go on to a role that required tons of personality, I would have said you had the wrong Carrlyn.

As many entertainment success stories evolve in Los Angeles, her transition happened due in part to chance; being at the right place at the right time. Prior to a late-season game that same year, the regular arena host Jay Flats had a schedule conflict and she stepped up not so subtly to volunteer to step in.

“I had been making video blogs for Fox Sports West web platform so I had been dabbling in hosting. I walked up to my bosses and said, ‘I have an idea, could I please host the game and could I have a shot?”

And that’s exactly what they did.

Was it a hat trick from the start? Hardly.

“I was so nervous before my first game I couldn’t sleep the night before. I had a panic attack, they gave me the script I was to read during the game and I wrote everything down on note cards. I learned that night that I shouldn’t write anything down on note cards,” she chuckled.

“Fans don’t like change, whether it’s a new video on the Jumbotron or a new in-arena host and they are very opinionated. I received attention in a strange way because I thought I would make the transition in a very smooth way. In fact, it took a lot of hard work to prove that I was legitimate as a host. I felt like I had an image to uphold when I was an Ice Girl, I had a constant tan and hair extensions and to be frank, I really became myself when I became a host. My hair got shorter and shorter as the days went on,” she laughingly recalls.

One of her bosses, LA Kings/AEG Sports Director of Game Entertainment Brooklyn Boyars, reflected on the decision to give a rookie her shot in the NHL. Bathe couldn’t have picked a better person to help her with the transition than Boyars, as she started from a likewise point; Brooklyn’s climb up the corporate ladder started as a Power Player for the Anaheim Ducks (the comparable role in the OC). Brooklyn has been an invaluable asset to various projects I’ve brought to her, so it’s no surprise she was more than willing to detail how this progression unfolded.

“The decision to transition her from Ice Crew to an in-arena host position happened somewhat organically,” Boyars explained. “Danny (Zollars, also an AEG Director at that time) and I had already been talking about wanting to bring in a female in-arena host to complement our male host for a few months before I had Carrlyn’s mid-season meeting. Our mid-season meetings are designed as a check-in with all of our staff, I give and receive feedback, set the stage for the remainder of the season and talk about goals beyond the season. During Carrlyn’s meeting, I asked her what was next, what did she want to do after this? She seemed and looked lost, she was on the fence and leaning toward auditioning again for the Ice Crew mainly because she wasn’t really sure what ‘next’ looked like for her.

“Knowing her background in improvisational comedy training, acting and modeling, and combining it with her hockey experience and knowledge of the game made her a strong candidate. We knew she had done some fill-in on-camera work from time to time for Kings Vision (and knowing eventually we wanted a female in-arena host) so I asked, ‘Have you ever thought about hosting, doing what Jay does?’ I explained my reasoning and you could see it, it was like a lightbulb went off. She hadn’t ever considered it, and by suggesting it out loud it opened her eyes to a whole new world of possibility. For the first time in a while, I she seemed genuinely excited about the future and the possibility of what ‘next’ could be.

“When Danny and I spoke, we talked about all of the things that were important to us in the role, that it was a complement to the male in-arena host we already had; that it be someone familiar with our team and our fans; that it be someone approachable and knowledgeable.”

Like a coach going with their gut feelings about going with a rookie in a big spot, what resonated with Brooklyn wasn’t Carrlyn’s tangible beauty, but the intangibles she brings to the mic every night.

“Carrlyn was all of those things we were looking for and then some. I’ve said it from the beginning, what makes her great is her approachability,” Boyars said. “She’s a beautiful girl, but there are a lot of those in LA. What sets her apart is her personality and her background -- she’s goofy, she’s funny, she’s silly, she’s a tomboy and a girly-girl all in one. She was already familiar to our fans as a long-standing member of the Kings Ice Crew, and possesses the classical training someone needs to stand up in front of 18,000 hockey fans and entertain them every night. Not only all of that, but she also has ‘street cred’ in the sense that she both played hockey herself, and also comes from a hockey family. In other words, she fit in well here, she just needed experience. From working with her for years, I was confident that with time, practice, and training she would gain that experience and do well once she hit her stride and she definitely has.”

Unwilling to stand still and willing to explore every avenue, Carrlyn has recently ventured into another sport she grew up loving, the realm of World Wrestling Entertainment. She’s done a couple of online vignettes for Fox Sports that have been well-received, but I wondered where this daughter of New England found her affinity for wrasslin’.

“I’m a huge wrestling fan,” she offered up in an almost apologetic tone. “I was raised basically by men, I had four brothers and my dad in the house, my mom was the only other woman around. They all watched wrestling, but I didn’t get into the sport until my early 20s when I already was in LA. In the course of working for the Kings I got to meet professional wrestlers like Dolph Ziggler -- all of a sudden he’s following me on Instagram and Twitter and he came to Game 5 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. I’m pretty much responsible for turning Dolph into a hockey fan.

“I had a screen test with Fox Sports for their ‘At The Buzzer’ show and although I wasn’t hired, I stayed in touch with the producers. I kept pushing to find a fit and when they came up with the notion of me doing wrestling, I was the only one they considered.”

Here’s the one she did on the recently-retired former champion Daniel Bryan:



So where does the future lie and how does she plan to get there? She admits that if WWE called tomorrow and offered her a role similar to what Renee Young presently does, the Kings would be undertaking a search for a new running mate for Jay Flats.

If she stays in hockey, there’s one person she wants to emulate and ended with some words of advice for those attempting to walk the same path she has.

“Kathryn Tappen (NBC Sports/NHL Network) is my role model and what she is doing now is my ultimate goal. My mantra is ‘Incessantly and Kindly Bothering People’, I know that you have to work hard and no one will give anything to you in this business, you have to earn everything you get.”

Dennis Bernstein is the Senior Writer for The Fourth Period. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.

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