A McAvoy Plumbing Truck with Bruins stickers on the back door was parked on the west side of Long Beach Friday afternoon.
That was enough to head an Islanders fan with the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to come out.
“Listen, you can’t work on this block until this series is over!” he shouted, perhaps only partly in jest.
Charlie McAvoy Sr. laughed from a distance. He knows more such interactions are in store as long as his son Charlie Jr. – one of the NHL’s best defenders – the Bruins lead against the Islanders in a series starting at 8 p.m. Saturday in Boston. Games 3 and 4 will be played 20 minutes from Long Beach, along the Meadowbrook State Parkway at Nassau Coliseum.
“It’s so strange,” the elder McAvoy told The Post. “Charlie even said to me, ‘Dad, I’m from Long Island. I’m going to hear some warmth from people.’ He already has people coming out of the woodwork and saying, ‘We’ll see you in Game 3’ and friends pushing him. But he doesn’t get discouraged so easily. I admire him for the way he handles everything that comes his way.”
If Charlie Sr. When he closes his eyes, he can see his 12-year-old son skating on the old Islanders practice track in Syosset with the Long Island Gulls of the Amateur Hockey Association or on the Coliseum ice with the junior Rangers as a teenager.
When Charlie Jr. teammates was with the son of Mike Sillinger, then Islanders center, they went straight from practice to Islanders games.
The running joke now is that Charlie Jr.’s fame is good for McAvoy Plumbing, because customers like to talk about hockey.
“We should almost give him a commission, even if he doesn’t need it,” Uncle Kevin McAvoy joked. “We’ve shared Charlie with the entire community.”
The family business is four generations old, and the McAvoys have been fans of the Rangers for almost as long. Charlie Jr. modeled his game after Brian Leetch, but wanted to absorb as much hockey as possible, so his dad bought a 10-game ticket plan for the Islanders.
“He was really a student of the game, and we got a lot out of it,” Charlie Sr. “We have some good memories of that place.”
Will more be made soon? McAvoy, 23, is already making his fifth playoff run of his career. He was 17th in the NHL this season with a plus/minus of 22.
“When Charlie comes to play with the Islanders, it’s a lot of fun,” his uncle said, “because now everyone has a horse in the race. If you’re Rangers fans or don’t like the Islanders, then you’re rooting for Charlie. If you love the islanders, you support the islanders.’
Kevin accidentally called Charlie Jr. last week. from a blocked phone number while playing with the Bluetooth in his wife’s car. To his surprise, his cousin replied, in the middle of a playoff series.
“He immediately jokes: what is this your burner phone?” Kevin recalled. “He’s no different from the down-to-earth kid he’s always been.”
It’s how Charlie Jr. coped with his debut in the playoffs – not the regular season – fresh from Boston University in 2017 and replaced the great Zdeno Chara as the Bruins’ best defender this season, even as injuries forced a slew of different combinations.
“I don’t know where he gets it sometimes, but he’s very cool, calm and collected,” said Charlie Sr. ‘He doesn’t have my, shall we say, Irish temper. I’m more nervous about what fans will think of us at the Colosseum than I am looking at my son. Seats are expensive, but we will do our best to get as many McAvoys into the Colosseum as possible.”
This series just feels different from all the others before it.
“You just want your kids to enjoy playing and doing their best,” Charlie Sr. said, “and suddenly his dream comes true, and it becomes our dream to watch him every night and hope he stays healthy.” We’re here to support him through the ups and downs and everything in between, but we’re at a peak right now.”