And no ... I'm not talking about in net this year!
I was blessed a few years back to have the enjoyment of being an integral part in the Hockey Hall of Fame Induction weekend. Oh My - the time we had!
Now I have to tell you ... I am NOT a morning person, so having to be on the ice at 06h00 was no pleasure. Not to mention knowing that I wouldn't leave the ACC till 21h00 that night. But seriously, how often do you get the chance to spend time with the likes of the Stasny brothers, Borje Salming, Lanny McDonald, Tiger Williams, Eddie Shack et al. Not to mention Habs legends like Larry Robinson and Patrick Roy.
And that weekend brought so many fond memories as well as funny stories.
Let's start with Borje. The poor man flies into Toronto from Sweden that morning, but guess what didn't come with him? That's right .... his luggage. And to a hockey player, luggage does NOT mean an extra long sleeved sweater and a fresh pair of jeans. We're talking equipment here people. No Gloves, No Skates, No Socks, No Shoulder Pads. Not even a jock! Damn!!!
I remember turning to my room-mate, and partner in making the event happen, and saying, "Hey Rick - doesn't your cousin play hockey???" He responded in the affirmative, and then I asked if he wore anything close to a size 10 skate, like Salming. As our luck would have it ... Size 10 on the nose.
So the good old cousin drove like a mad man down to the Air Canada Center to deliver every single piece of equipment he owned, so that awesome retired Maple Leaf could take to the ice. But if you think that Borje got off easy - then think again. The cousin got 3 autographed shirts for his trouble. And me? I got a smile on my face knowing that Rick and I had supplied a great Swedish defender for the crowd to see.
But halfway through the first period, I had another surprise. During a commercial break, Billy Smith comes blazing over to the bench. For those of you who don't know about Billy, he won 4 Cups with the Isles, was the first goalie credited with scoring a goal, and he has a temper that might make Hurricane Katrina look tame (Kidding Billie).
The Problem? Billy's family is seated in the upper bowl for the second straight year, and they should be sitting in platinum seats. Who's problem is that? Mine. The conversation went a bit like this ...
"Iain, WTF!!! Why is my son in the upper bowl? Get them down in to Platinum man! Go to my leather jacket and get out my cell phone. Dial the last number that called me. It's my son. Then arrange to meet him and bring him and the family to seats behind the bench!"
You got it Billy. So here I am walking through the mezzanine of the ACC leaving a message for Billy Smiths son, listening to them page him over the system to meet me at the gate ... Unreal! I'm on Billy Smiths cell phone!
But I guess my fondest memory of that weekend was when they introduced the four new members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. I vividly remember standing behind the bench next to Patrick Roy as they showed the video hi-lights of his career. I stopped watching and turned my back to the ice, watching 18,000 plus people stare down towards where I stood next to Roy. It was overwhelming. Despite the fact that Patricks daughter and boyfriend were groping one another on the bench, oblivious to the 36,000 eyes looking their way.
And just as he stepped to the ice, Patrick turned to me and shook my hand. I felt honoured. Despite the fact that he was still an arrogant man, and didn't care who's hand he was shaking ... I was next to The King! Sharing history. And it took every effort for me NOT to smack hiss ass on his way out onto the ice.
So that's it - in a very large nutshell. My weekend with the boys. Yes, after the game we went and mingled with players and fans alike. Even the Nylons were there to entertain. It all ended by 23h00 and we dragged our butts to our cars and made our way back to the hotel.
But for me, it didn't end there. It became a hockey lovers dream come true, that would forever live in my memory.
And now - apparently - in my blog!