It’s not often one gets to meet the NHL’s leading point scorer. But yesterday, my son went to a friend’s birthday party at Douglas Park and, when I went to pick him up, the birthday boy’s dad took me aside and, in a hushed voice, said, “Don’t tell anyone, but one of the Sedin kids is having a birthday here in an hour. You want to hang out and see if the kids can meet some Canucks?” We’re both hockey dads, so the answer was obvious.
About an hour later, Daniel Sedin and family pulled up, followed shortly by Henrik, Kevin Bieksa and Mikael Samuelson. They all had little kids in tow, and were all happy to sign autographs for the little group of kids who had gathered in the parking lot outside the gym. Needless to say, my son and the other kids were on speed wobble they were so excited, and the smiles were a mile wide. It was quite a thrill for them to meet these guys.
Interesting to note that, rather than play floor hockey for his kid’s party, the Sedin troupe were playing soccer in the gym. Ah, Europeans…
(Henrik’s auto at top — not even sure if it’s the right way up, the two squiggles are his number, 33. Next one is Bieksa, and below is Samuelson. We didn’t get Daniel’s, unfortunately.)
Anyway, this all reminded me of back when I was a wee tot and hockey-crazed youth about the same age as my son is now. My father was returning from a business trip in Toronto and, whenever he returned from a business trip, always brought us kids a little gift, usually some airport gift shop thing. This time, however, he handed me a sheet of paper with all the Boston Bruins’ signatures on it, including my (and every other kid’s) hero of that era, Bobby Orr. Wow, I was over the moon! He had happened to be on the same flight as the Boston Bruins on their way into town to play the Canucks and managed to get most of the team’s autographs, including, yes, Bobby Orr, as well as Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, Carol Vadnais, Gary Doak, Al Sims, Andre Laval and Dave Forbes.
Of note, the year was 1975 and, for those who know hockey, that happened to be the same road trip when Phil Esposito, while in Vancouver, got told he had been traded to the New York Rangers in what was one of the biggest trades of all time. Bobby Orr went on to win the scoring title one last time that year, but his knees finally gave out and he never regained his magic, eventually getting signed by the Black Hawks (thanks to some shenangigans by his agent, the much-hated Alan Eagleson). Orr played a handful of games over the next two years and then was forced to retire at the young age of 30. The Big Bad Bruins would never be the same without Orr and Esposito….