Monday, November 19, 2007
There we were, face to face, eye to eye, both standing roughly six feet, four inches tall. He was a four-time Stanley Cup winner. I was about four years old. He shook my little hand. Perched atop my father's shoulders, I couldn't have been more star struck, left in awe of the red-bearded giant, his clasp on my fingers, bestowing upon me the title of Coolest Kid in pre-school...for a day.
Of course, this all started with my mom noticing Larry Robinson exiting the Montreal Forum from that oft-cluttered side entrance on DeMaisonneuve Boulevard. As he began his dash across the street towards the nearby parking lot (can you believe it? in those days the players parked in public lots, among the fans and their beaten Chevys!), my mother yelled out her yearning "Larry! I love you". My father, showing encouraging enthusiasm rather than disconcerted jealousy, turned towards one of my boyhood heroes (the other was Ken Dryden) and did what any great dad is put on this earth for: he harnessed me over his shoulders and took me to my idol.
My mom may or may not have had sex with Larry Robinson that day, and that isn't the point of this story. What I will remember though is that he took the time to say hi, to flash a smile that makes a kid's day and stores the moment wherever the brain loads immortality. He even amused me by asking a few questions that I was probably too nervous to answer coherently. Larry could have acknowledged my parents from afar and gone his merry way. But he didn't. He took the time and made it a Moment in my life. Something too few fans can appreciate today in a world of parking lots tucked away, deep beneath these colorless corporate arenas, over-sized Hummers with tinted glasses and a disinterest among millionaire players that leaves the kids void of athletes to really love and know.
To all of you Habs, take the time, sign the cards, smile at the kids. You were once in their little shoes, with your outstretched arms holding your hockey cards and felt pens, waiting, waiting, for a glimpse.
Thanks Larry for going beyond the call of duty, on that afternoon, and as the forever owner of the number 19.
Posted by Dave at 15:17