Monday, April 10, 2006

Total Hockey Fag

You know you’re a total hockey fag when you sit and watch a seven-year old hockey game on ESPN Classic, a game that you already know the outcome of. But then again, it wasn’t just any ordinary game, either. It was a game played in Madison Square Garden on April 18, 1999 between the Rangers and the Penguins. The Pens won it 2-1 in OT. This was back in the days when Pittsburgh had a solid team & could actually finish out of the basement, unlike today.

The game was literally riddled with all-stars:
The Pens had Jaromir Jagr, Robert Lang, Martin Straka, Alexei Kovalev, Jiri Slegr, and Darius Kasparitis, while the Rangers had Brian Leetch, Peter Nedved, Marc Savard, Kevin Stevens, Niklas Sundstrom, Mike Knuble, Mathieu Schneider, Dan Cloutier, and Mike Richter.

The sidelines were filled with such luminaries as Paul Coffey and Mark Messier watching from the pit rinkside, and Mario Lemieux, sitting up in the stands.

And all these names pale in comparison to whom they were all there to see. This game was special. Number 99 was playing his last game ever. The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, was retiring after breaking and setting pretty much every record in the NHL. The greatest player the sport has known, hockey’s greatest ambassador to the world, a true Canadian Hero, and he was calling it quits on his own terms.

It was surreal to see it again after all these years. I was mesmerized. Yeah, you’re a total hockey fag when you watch a seven-year old game. Especially when you own a double-DVD set chronicling Gretzky’s career & have seen the footage a dozen times over. Especially when you sit there unabashedly teary-eyed, weepy over watching Wayne skate around the rink, waving goodbye to a 20-year career. Yeah, a total hockey fag indeed.

So what? It’s Gretzky. Enough said……

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