Over the past week, I’ve had some really cool things happen. Besides getting onto an elevator with Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace this past Friday, the other event to blow my mind was getting the brief opportunity to meet some NHL legends at Standard Building Supplies in North Vancouver during their customer appreciation day on Saturday. I think I can still taste the free, fresh, and incredible vegetable samosas.
Gino Odjick[wiki] and Dave Babych[wiki] are famed men among long time Vancouver Canucks fans. Were they the greatest players to grace the game? That might be a stretch, but they are often referenced by my Crazy Canucks partners in crime, making them all the more legendary. Gino is notorious for his off ice scrapping as much as he was noted for his fist fights inside the rink, and Babych’s facial hair precedes everything before anyone starts mentioning his contributions to the ’94 run for the Stanley Cup.
It wasn’t until we were driving away that I realized exactly who Bobby Baun[wiki] was. When I talked to him, I made sure to shake his hand because I noted two things. One, he was a Toronto Maple Leafs player during one point in his career, and two, the Leafs, one of the oldest teams in the NHL, haven’t won the cup in 40 years.
As Rebecca and I talked about it(and you can read her post about the day as well), we put more and more to the story. Baun played with the likes of Tim Horton[wiki], yes, the guy who started the Tim Horton’s coffee and donut chain. Still, he was apart of the power house that was the team in Toronto to win the cup in 1962, 1963, 1964, and 1967. That also made him apart of the last Leafs team to win the cup 40 years ago, and I shook his hand.
Even though my knowledge of hockey is growing with every passing CBC documentary, I’ve known who Bobby Hull[wiki] is for a long time. Let me just say, he is hilarious. We recorded some audio that we’ll put into a Crazy Canucks episode soon with the full story, but the banter we had with him and Richard Brodeur is something I’ll long remember.
Not to pass by “King” Richard Brodeur[wiki], he was the Roberto Luongo of his day, guiding the Canucks to, but falling short in, the 1982 Stanley Cup Finals against the New York Islanders. Still, a genuine man, and the atmosphere that he generated by just sitting next to Bobby Hull in conversation made me forget that there were a ton of people waiting for two or more hours behind me in line, just like we did.
I still made the point to shake all their hands, knowing full well that opportunities like this don’t present themselves all that often. I even brought the recorder along and snagged some liners for TCC, so listen for them in the near future.
Cliff Ronning[wiki] was there as well, but the time was up for him before we got to his place at the table. Being the classy guy that he is, he autographed a bunch of photos and went all the way down the line to hand them out to people that had been standing there just to see him. He got held up by some fans right in front of us, and I asked him about seeing him on Canucks Pay-Per-View again this season. The response he gave me was a little depressed, saying someone there apparently didn’t like him enough that he didn’t even get a phone call about it either way.
“Maybe I stuttered too much, I don’t know.” Aw Cliff, I was a fan.
In times like these, I’m not one to get overly crazed about getting autographs. It’s the experience that draws me in. It sucks that there is no way that I could talk hockey like Dave or even Rebecca can, growing up with or having stories of these individuals passed down to them over the years. What I do know is that these guys worked hard to pursue a passion for a game, and there is a lot to respect for their efforts.
That and Gino was walking around the grounds a little bit after our meeting, spotted us, and gave a nice smile and wave because he remembered us coming through the line. We did the same back and had the same reaction to each other. “Gino!”