I Applaud Steven Stamkos


Unrestricted-free-agency (UFA) in professional sports — another variable in a sports fan’s version of a never ending drama and entertaining soap-opera.

Fans have been crushed after seeing some of their favorite star-athletes leave the name on the front of the jersey for another city’s sports franchise, and one that could offer more money to a player than we’d even know what to do with.

Some of the well-paid celebrities who lace up the skates or throw on a pair of cleats go onto live up to the high expectations in their respective sport, while others drown in the pressure and were more than likely overpaid, because “the market was in their favor” at the time.

It used to be a common theme to see some of the all-time greats start and finish a career with one team. Even if they never won a Super Bowl or Stanley Cup — he almost received more praise from a fan-base, because he remained loyal to your city’s colors, and they were dedicated.

It’s a new era though, and it’s a rare commodity to see athletes retire with the club that drafted them, and once established that former first-round-pick as the face of something almost larger than life itself. Now, it’s considered a career noteworthy accomplishment if one were to finish his pro career with one organization.

Still, there is hope.

Steven Stamkos was drafted first-overall during the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and soon blossomed into one of the NHL’s best players the sport currently has to offer. Stamkos headed into the summer of 2016 as one of the most coveted UFA’s in recent memory, and rumors about the Ontario native potentially leaving the Lightning to play for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs heated up as early as spring of 2015.

The Stamkos sweepstakes plus potential return to Toronto circled and hovered around the team’s captain all season, especially when the Bolts visited the Air Canada Centre. While Tampa general manager Steve Yzerman and NO. 91 had been reportedly negotiating a contract extension from time to time — it seemed that the Lightning weren’t going to have enough money in their pockets to keep Stammer in the Sunshine State…

Leading to more rumors and speculation that it was almost automatic that Stamkos would be skating for one of Canada’s Original Six franchises, that could offer the center few extra million dollars per year – on a long term deal.

Bolts fans dreaded July 1, 2016, but Tampa’s captain had hinted on occasion that he did want to play for a club who was a contender. Still, history shows that professional sports is a business, and that money typically wins out.

To a surprise, and before July 1 could even arrive, the 26-year-old made the decision that he would take less money to play for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

β€œIt’s not often that a player gets the chance to spend his career in one organization and I am hopeful that this agreement sets me on that path with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Most importantly, I look forward to working with my teammates, coaches and our management in our pursuit of winning a Stanley Cup.”

In case you didn’t know, the Lightning have been one of the league’s best teams for the past three seasons, and the future looks even brighter in Tampa now that its captain has remained loyal to the name on the front of the sweater.

An admirable act from a professional athlete, who turned down an opportunity to earn a substantial increase in his salary, and not to mention revenue that would have came from numerous sponsorship opportunities in a Hockey City with Toronto.

β€œThis organization, starting with (Lightning owner Jeff) Vinik and Steve Yzerman, the coaching staff, it’s people that I believe in. I want to win. We’ve been close in Tampa. When I said I wanted to be here throughout the season, I really truly meant that.”

A leader leading by example, perhaps? Putting winning and a team belief before personal gain.

Stamkos was already an ideal image for not only an NHL team, but a prime example of good role model in all of professional sports. The Olympic Gold Medal winner is always humble and well-spoken, in addition to setting the right example in the Tampa community.

By him publicly acknowledging that he has a desire to finish his career with one NHL team and in Tampa — separates himself from other pro athletes that wear the “C” on their uniform.

A leader whose talent can easily be spotted by all, but a unique player who takes care of the little things behind the scenes on the ice while making all of his teammates around him better.

The definition – of what it means to be the face of a franchise.

I applaud you, Steven Stamkos.

Happy Father’s Day, Pop-Pop Pete

In late May I found myself at the waiting area of a diner and one in which my grandfather and I used to regularly meet at for lunch.

As I sat on the waiting bench I began to stareΒ at the New York Yankees and Mets baseball memorabilia in a display case, where I then thought back to the traditional conversations he and I used to have about sports.

Pop-Pop Pete and I could talk about professional sports for hours at a time, and to the point where I eventually felt like I was a team’s general manager explaining my philosophies to attending media members during a big press conference. That’s how interesting he would make lunch with a young Kyle McKenna.

He would sit there impressed wanting to hear all of my insights and opinions with a big smile and laugh, “You’ve got a knack for sports Bub, that’s for sure.”

That’s where the grassroots began for myself discovering my passion for sports — at lunch with Pop-Pop. And, sports served as our source of communication. He and I would always have something to talk about no matter the circumstances.

Though, Pop-Pop and I didn’t get lunch that day, as he passed earlier that morning.


Still, I reflected to when our conversations would shift over from sports, or his enthusiasm for my hockey playing days, to all aspects of life; as an old friend of his recently told me,

“We used to sit on the bench outside for hours and solve all the problems of the world, but that was of course after Pete and I talked about what was going on in the world of sports…”

I wasn’t surprised and couldn’t help but smile after I had heard that one.

I patiently waited for an old friend of mine at the lunch spot — he was about ten minutes late for our meeting — something I was often guilty of when meeting Pop-Pop out for one of our classic talks. Pop-Pop made it known that as soon as I could drive I should always be on time.

But, I would still defend myself in pleading my case that being 10 minutes ‘late’ meant I was on time considering that I’m a McKenna.

But yes, out of sentimental reasons I had to get lunch at that spot and on that day — if it counts for anything.

Pop-Pop was a superstar athlete and even earned a basketball scholarship to Villanova, which just so happened to surprisingly win an NCAA National Title recently. Great timing Nova.

Though, he had many admirable traits and being a family oriented person was without a doubt the one characteristic that stood out the most, for me.

From the time I was born Pop-Pop and I had an unconditional and unique relationship, especially considering I was his first son as he was a father of three daughters and already the grandfather of one granddaughter. He consistently displayed an uncanny enthusiasm for whatever activity my older sister and I were into as kids and then growing up — whether it was a sport or not.

He was a loyal face court side, along a field’s sidelines and then his familiar smile could eventually be seen behind the glass in an ice rink. Yet, his presence wasn’t just there for his two grandchildren, but for his extended family as well.

Petey was notoriously a fan at my cousin’s sporting events too, and quickly became one of the biggest field hockey enthusiasts in the family, as my sister and a McKenna cousin of ours had both picked up the sticks while traveling across the state to compete — with Pop-Pop at each and every game.

For me that was one of, and if not the, most admirable trait from Pop-Pop Pete. It was natural for him to take the extra initiative to be a part of his other family, the McKennas.

Is that how it’s supposed to be where someone like a Pop-Pop Pete can become such a socially beloved and loyal guy to his son-in-law’s big Irish family? I’m not sure if that’s how it’s supposed to be

But is that how Pete Foster wanted it to be?


And, I’m forever thankful nor alone in appreciating that either. So thank you Pop-Pop for setting a commendable family example. I hope that symbol of appreciation can continue in the family as time moves forward.

While I had a good relationship with my Pop-Pop he wasn’t shy about giving me heat at times and making sure I learned from my mistakes, especially as his grandson got older. At times I felt like I was talking to the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

When I was at fault, whether it was choice in everyday life, or even if I came off the ice after a bad game he wasn’t one to spoon feed me what I wanted to hear. And, just because it wasn’t what I wanted to hear doesn’t mean it’s not what I should have heard.

I realized he wasn’t my friend.

He was a parent.

While I may have received a few bucks after scoring some goals at the rink, I didn’t always get a trophy when I saw him. Which was good. That mentality when it was necessary helped me grow as person and challenge myself going forward.

I appreciated and respected that. That’s not always the case today.

There are two more things that stand out to me.

My first college hockey game — it was exciting scoring my first goal during my first game in front of the home crowd with family and friends in the stands. After scoring I can remember looking up behind one of the nets to see Pop-Pop in a seating area behind the glass. There, he sat with his arms folded while wearing one of his pullover sweatshirts from the 1990’s and wearing an old navy blue baseball cap; we made eye contact and he then gave me a nod of approval — there was George Steinbrunner — giving his approval to one of his longtime players from the owner’s suite at the old Yankee Stadium. Β 


I walked out of the locker room that night to find Pop-Pop sitting off to the side — one of the few to hang around late afterwards. I quietly handed him the puck and made sure he held onto that one. No words were needed. It was a tribute to our relationship.

It rests with him to date.

When I began my exploration with writing and this blog — I wasn’t sure how he would react.

I caught him off guard for sure when I began typing away and writing about things, well, other than sports. He made it known he enjoyed it and appreciated my work — as he soon became my biggest fan for another interest of mine.

Happy belated Father’s Day Pop-Pop Pete,



tLT5 Campaign

As most of you may already know I’ve held an ongoing social media campaign “#tLT5” to further promote the Little Thing5 and my work.

I’ve been fortunate enough where recipients of my brand’s tee shirts have been able to travel across the United States, or represent tLT5 in other countries. Most recently, the brand has been sighted in Β Worthington State Park, New Jersey and as far south as Montgomery, Alabama.

Where will someone appreciate the Little Thing5 next?


Contact for a tee shirt: McKenna.Kyle91@gmail.com

Like the Little Thing5 on Facebook

The City By The Bay

A time well spent inΒ The City, San Francisco.

San Francisco is without a doubt the most beautiful city in the United States.


Like the Little Thing5 on Facebook

Braden Holtby Gives A Stick To A Young Fan Battling Cancer

Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals/About.com Sports

If you’ve been fortunate enough to play the sport of ice hockey at some point in your life then you understand the unique camaraderie that comes with it.

You get it.Β 

READ: CamaraderieΒ 

Whether you appreciated or couldn’t stand the guy sitting next to you wearing the same jersey on the bench or in the locker room — you learned fast to stick up for one another, especially out on the ice in one of the world’s most physical games. But even so — that bond and uncanny tradition found a way to carry itself over the boards and off the ice too.

Personally, post playing days, what I enjoy seeing the most isn’t always necessarily that sweet goal or unbelievable save by a goaltender such as Braden Holtby; but the dedication professional hockey players exemplify towards the fans and to those in need of a smile.

That same appreciation and camaraderie a player shares with his teammates can be established with a young fan by a simple act of kindness.

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby knows exactly what I’m talking about.

The 2016 Vezina Trophy Finalist (NHL’s Best Goaltender) gave one of his used sticks to a young fan who’s battling cancer during a recent Capitals’ practice. Brian, an 11-year-old diagnosed with the disease, is a big Pittsburgh Penguins fan but that didn’t stop Holtby from making Brian’s day.

And, in case you didn’t already know, Washington is currently in a heated Stanley Cup Playoffs battle with Pittsburgh, plus trailing in the series — to add to the admirable story.

The relationships hockey has to offer can go a long way and further than one might realize at times. Think about the different qualities the sport has to offer than football, baseball or basketball. This young fan didn’t just receive a signed ball — he got to watch a live practice and received an NHLer’s goalie stick.

β€œIt’s what we play the game for is to create positive influences on people. The Penguins are doing a great thing having him as their guest and luckily we got to share a little part of that and hopefully make his day a little better.”

-Braden Holtby

SIMILAR: San Jose Sharks Sign Fan For A Day

Maybe it’s just me, but I believe having that special moment with a professional athlete and one who laces up the skates for that matter is more worthwhile than just getting a signature — no?

Now, Brian has been welcomed into the hockey community and in such a unique way…plus who better then one of the league’s best players and ambassadors for the sport?

This act of kindness from No. 70 between the pipes also hits home for myself and my former teammates. I know M.W. was smiling down on Mr. Holtby after that positive gesture.

The little things can make all the difference, and no one does it better than those who wear a hockey jersey to work — the ones who get it.

SEE ALSO: Scott Gomez, Childhood Memories

Turn Off The Radio

Like anyone else who has to commute an hour to their workplace the tunes we listen to on our ride in are essential, especially in the morning. But let’s not forget the mixed anxious feelings, plus relief the ride home entails either.

Yes, the one when you feel like Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, as he attempts to sing Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin.”

Perhaps some can deal with what they hear over the radio as nothing more than background noise. Or, there’s always itunes, which is more in our control – but that gets old after having the same routine for a few months, no?

I, for one, couldn’t stand listening to another Justin Bieber song, so I began making the effort in listening more to sports talk radio.

I know, you’re probably thinking – Kyle, you’re one of the biggest ‘sports guys’ around and you’re just figuring this out now?Β 


From time-to-time I would listen into WFAN (New York’s biggest sports station), but I could never gain enough interest from it. While hockey is big in the Northeast — football and baseball take the lay of the land in the City That Never Sleeps.

Yet, after consistently tuning into Boomer & Carton, Steve Somers etc. I learned quickly — I like this. And, it’s something new each day — for the most part. I enjoyed the discussions, monologues and annoying caller’s questions plus comments.

I enjoyed it so much, it led me to the idea to start listening to Canada’s own sports talk radio viaΒ SportsNet. Yes, at the office and at home — I now typically have SportsNet streaming from my laptop…

Hockey Central At Noon aired from Toronto everyday — Canadians talking in depth about the NHL isn’t even my second language, it’s my first.

Sure, I now know more about the Toronto Blue Jays and Raptors now than I do about my New York Mets and company, but oh well.

And like any other passionate Pr guy — one word, one idea led to another…and I was of course inspired.

Inspired to start my own NHL podcast via About.com Sports, as I cover the NHL for the company.

So turn off the radio, because it’s that bad. FM radio that is…

And, hockey fan or not, check out my first NHL podcast:Β https://soundcloud.com/nhl_podcast_mckenna

Thank you all, and enjoy your weekend full of hockey, ay….


A look back at an unforgettable weekend down in Nashville, Tennessee. It just so happened to be the NHL’s All-Star Weekend as well, so the Little Thing5 had to make a surprise visit in the Music City.

Post to follow…

Follow McKenna’s coverage of the NHL at About Sports

These San Francisco Thing5


San Francisco skyline - Paris Kim
San Francisco skyline – Paris Kim

These San Francisco Thing5

-By Paris Kim

For while, I’ve not written anything I actually do consider good.

My first love for the little thing that would influence my whole being was an attempt at a novel. I can fondly remember senior year of high school as not only being when I completed a full novel, but being only seventeen.

I found that rough draft not too long ago, and was astonished at how underdeveloped scenes were and how wordy one or two meaningless sentences had gotten.

But there was the passion at least. Anyone who read that terrible piece of work about artists living in the San Francisco Bay Area could see that it clearly had been written by a Bay Area artist themselves.

This little thing I call writing has dictated my every move since that attempt. Changing my major to English and deciding on staying in the Bay Area to further explore both writing and this place I loved so much, and still knew so little about, hasn’t gotten me much further, but it has maintained my motivation.

And so for someone who loves to write, what hasn’t been good? What have I been doing this whole time?

Life is what.

I’ve been doing exactly that, keeping busy from my passion in order to keep finding inspiration that will fuel the passion. Confusing? Complicated, but understandable. How can I write about things when there’s nothing to be done to write about?

Enter these weekly musings I document in my series called A Week by the Bay. Myths and truths to living in one of the leading cities of the world in technology and creativity. I’ve only given up on the novel and short story writing for now because in the unknown adventures to come with each passing week, my reality has given only the best tales to tell.

And this life thing, it’s worth it.

It’s worth listing off which specialty cocktails I recommend from The Corner Store and Natoma Cabana, or the luck of discovering a new bus line to get me to work without having to run into old friends or summer flings. Views from Market Street rooftops and the people I meet in these microhoods are worth sticking around for.

San Francisco and its surrounding area aren’t the world, I know that. But it’s a big part of it now in this decade that I can happily and easily find myself telling you more about.

And some day, I’ll find myself beyond here and chronicling a week spent somewhere else. But as fate has it, I’m meant for here, and I shall not fight it. Big adventures await, but the adventure of this city right now seems big, with each little thing encountered.

And together, that is good enough.Β 


-Paris Kim

See more from Paris here

the Little Thing5 In San Francisco, CA

A big thank you to Paris Kim for representing the Little Thing5 in her home city, on the West Coast. Paris is a writer based out of San Francisco, California, who established a personal brand through her efficient blog, A Week By The Bay.

This inspirational writer who was born and raised in San FranΒ does haveΒ published books available, plus is in the midst of finishing up her latest piece.

Though, her most recent work will be a “guest-post,” via tLT5. The post entails her neighborhood, which also happens to be my favorite city in the United States, The City by the Bay.

Paris’s written guest-blog will be posted this weekend…


See Also:


Farewell August

Jersey Tribute, DP5.RG71.MW12

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