Chances are you’ll never guess what the performance of delicate hand surgery has in common with playing ice hockey and beating out some heavy rock on a set of drums. You won’t guess unless you happen to know Dr. Andrew J. Bronstein, a board-certified orthopedic hand surgeon who has been playing ice hockey and hitting the drums for the last 46 years.
At age 52, Bronstein, a Summerlin resident, is renowned in his field of medicine, but he makes no bones of the fact that he relaxes on weekends by playing ice hockey. And if things get hectic before the weekend, as they often do in his profession, he explained, “I’ll let off steam at the end of a tough day by going home and banging on my drums for an hour or so.”
Hockey and drums have been Bronstein’s passion since the age of 6. The desire to become a surgeon came later, at the age of 14, influenced in part by his father, Bernard, a Sun City Summerlin resident, who is a retired surgeon and lawyer, all of which explains why his auto license plate reads “Hands On,” and his license plate holder reads, “Hockey, Drums and Surgery — It’s all about the hands.”
That’s not to say he doesn’t have time for his wife, Karen, daughters Erica and Allison and son Jared. “I sure do,” he said. “They skate for recreation, and they’re also hockey fanatics, like me. I might add that they love the new Downtown Summerlin ice (rink). It’s a wonderful addition to the community.”
Bronstein’s fixation with hockey goes back to his early years and the visits to his grandparents in Toronto, where hockey is not just a sport, it’s more like a religion. He recalled his first Toronto Maple Leafs hockey uniform at age 6, “and the times I fell on my rear end until I became acclimated to ice skating, earning a nickname that was later refined as ‘Ace.’ “
But these days, you’ll find him every Saturday and Sunday at the Las Vegas Ice Center, 9295 Flamingo Road, for a few hours each day playing in a game for high intermediate or advanced players such as himself.
“That has been my weekend routine since I moved to Las Vegas 20 years ago,” Bronstein noted.
He’s quite adept as a hockey player, so much so that he was invited to play in a weekend league that was established earlier this month for amateurs, age 35 or older.
“I play center, and I’m pretty fast on the ice,” he said proudly. He keeps himself in excellent physical shape, and his slap shot is as slick as you’ll find among amateur players.
Bronstein was born in Anaheim, Calif., and grew up in Fullerton. He played in youth hockey leagues during his school years, then at the University of California, Berkeley and in pick-up games with fellow students and former National Hockey League players from the Chicago Blackhawks while attending Chicago Medical School.
After his graduation, Bronstein became affiliated with Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit as a hand and microvascular surgeon, but he also served as a resident doctor with the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL.
Upon establishing his practice in Las Vegas, he became part of the team of doctors that attended to players for the Las Vegas Wranglers, a minor league hockey franchise that suspended operations two years ago. Bronstein was the senior member of the medical team, handling player injuries for nine of the 10 seasons the Wranglers were in operation.
He took special delight out of describing a recent incident in which he had just warmed up for a game and returned to the bench.
“Two guys in their 20s were sitting on the bench near me. They looked to the right, and I overheard one of them saying, ‘Is the old guy over there playing up or back?’ I looked to the right to see who they were talking about. But the bench was empty to my right. Then I realized: It was me they were talking about.
“So I go out and score two goals in two minutes. After which I said to the two guys, ‘Yeah, the old guy is playing up.’ “
— Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.