We all have those special sports moments that we’ll never forget. Not the ones on TV. The ones you were actually a part of. The historic game that you can say, ‘I was there!’ A no-hitter, a World Series or Stanley Cup game 7, A Super Bowl, a game where an athlete did something so special that it became legendary. I saw Henry Aaron hit a grand slam once. That’s one I’ll always remember. But there was one special night that I will hold dear for the rest of my life. Not because anything spectacular or historic happened on the rink. But because, well, let me explain.
It was November 25th, 2005 – just a routine regular season game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Florida. A friend of mine works for the local cable company and managed to secure tickets in the club box for the Friday night game. I was very excited, being a Penguins fan. I was going to get to see Mario Lemieux and the new kid, a rookie named Sidney Crosby. Yes, it was that short period of time when both of these splendid hockey players were on the ice together. That alone would have made this night something very special, but the little surprise that came later took it to the level of once-in-a-lifetime.
Right before we left for the game, Kary, the guy that scored the tickets for us, got a phone call from his boss. He was told that we were going to have to share the box with a couple guests. We were already trying to squeeze three families into the box, but hey, the tickets were free. What were we going to do, complain? We got there early and went down rink-side to watch the teams warm-up. I had a crappy little camera with me and took some pictures. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get Mario and Sidney together in the same frame – something that bums me out to this day. But it was cool watching them up close. I remember Mario was the only one out there without a helmet.
When we went back up to the box to sit down, it was still just our three families. We each had sons that played hockey. They were all 13-years-old at the time. About 10 minutes before the game started, two distinguished-looking older gentlemen came in to join us. One, I recognized immediately, it was Denis Potvin. He was currently the color announcer for the Florida Panthers, and of course a Hall of Fame defenseman. The other guy, well, it was none other than Bobby Orr.
Bobby Orr couldn’t have been nicer. He patiently posed for pictures and signed pucks for all of our kids. Then he sat down and watched the game with us. He chatted with the kids throughout the night – a total gentleman. People were brought in and out of our box throughout the night. He pleasantly signed magazines and pucks and shook hands with folks that must have known somebody who owed them favors. He was gracious and patient throughout – exactly what you hope your hockey heroes to be. So for those of you that have not had the pleasure, rest assured that Mr. Orr did not disappoint.
So, there you go. That’s my sports highlight story. Sitting in a club box with Denis Potvin, Bobby Orr, watching Mario Lemieux and the rookie Sidney Crosby play together on the ice. Not bad, eh?
And on that note, this week I released a new eBrush Design t-shirt design for Hockey Shirt Shop. It’s called ‘Hockey Hero’ and should be vaguely familiar to those of you that rock the video game console as well as the ice. Check it out here.