Throughout his career, the most popular story to tell about Jeff Halpern centered around the Potomac, MD kid who grew up to play for the hometown Washington Capitals, even becoming captain of the team. A really nice, feel-good story, for sure.
But what about his family's roots in Brooklyn?
Well now that Halpern has signed with the Rangers, his Brooklyn background can be shared.
"Both of my parents were born in Brooklyn, the Brownsville section," Halpern told me over the phone earlier this week. "They were big Rangers fans, too, at least until they moved down (to Maryland) and kind of adopted the Caps. But even down there they were always Yankees fans and Jets fans, and because of that I always have followed those teams, too."
So there you go. Not only does Jeff Halpern have some New York in him, he is a lifelong Yankees and Jets fan. A real New Yorker misplaced in other areas all of these years, perhaps.
"My parents loved growing up in Brooklyn, in that great sports environment, and it definitely rubbed off on me," explained Halpern.
Halpern, who is married with one young child and another on the way, is weighing his options as to where to live this upcoming season, wanting to balance raising a family with experiencing all that New York City has to offer.
"I'm not sure yet where we are going to live, but I know that there is a great pull to (Manahattan)---to be able to have that experience would be something very special," Halpern told me.
Halper has spent the bulk of his 12-year career with the Capitals---the team he signed with as an undrafted free agent out of Princeton University. Though he has reached 20 goals only twice in his career, Halpern has carved out his niche as a respected and reliable checking-line forward---one who is repsonsible defensively, excellent on faceoffs, and strong on the forecheck.
Sounds like a John Tortorella player, which in fact Halpern was for 19 games at the end of the 2007-08 season in Tampa Bay. He scored ten goals and notched 18 points for Torts in those 19 games, too.
But Halpern's style of play is largely blue-collar---the kind a real Brooklynite could, and would, appreciate.
"I have always loved playing in New York," said Halpern, 36. "In the past you fly in and then you take the Lincoln Tunnel in and then you're in a different world. You feel like you are on a stage (in New York). I don't know if it gets old for people living there, but it always felt like you were on the biggest stage when you were playing in New York."
Now Jeff Halpern will get the chance to take a regular turn on that stage, the stage that is Madison Square Garden, and this time he'll be wearing the home blue sweater.
"To get to play in New York and for New York fans is something I am real excited for."
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