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The 4th Line Banger
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38 Posts

Posted - 07/29/2009 :  20:02:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
September 28, 1972 was the first. Maybe not the actual first ever but the recognized first. The first time where the entire country stopped. Everything stopped. Everyone was on their sofa or in their favorite watering hole watching the spectacle unfold. People glued to their scratchy tube style television sets which by today’s standards wouldn’t be fit for a garage. Possibly the most famous words uttered in any hockey game. “They Score! Henderson has scored for Canada!” There was an entire generation of kids who watched that game that immediately went to their local ponds or out door/backyard rinks to work on their skills. That goal was re-enacted in every corner of the country. That was the first huge, impact occurrence in Canadian National Hockey.

The next came 15 years later. September 15, 1987 and again, those pesky Russians. This time it was those who were on their sofas as impressionable kids in ’72 that were now on the ice living that dream. Some of the best who had ever played the game were in tough once again. Back to back overtime games, 3 game series tied at 1 each; late in the 3rd looking like the hockey Gods were setting up another overtime when Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux completed one of the biggest goals in Canadian Hockey history. That one was mine. Might have been yours too. Maybe your Dad’s. But that was the moment, as I leaped off our sofa with my parents, when I knew I would be a hockey fan for life. We shouted from the rooftops with the rest of the Nation. It was the only hockey game my mother ever watched start to finish. Those 10 seconds between the time Hawerchuk tripped Bykov, Lemieux chipped the puck down the boards, caught up to it and skated it through the neutral zone. Lemieux drops to the left to Gretzky, Lemieux’s streaking to the net, Larry Murphy to his right. Igor Kravchuk and Sergei Mylnikov were simply spectators. Gretzky slides it over to Lemieux. Will he shoot?? Will he pass?? BOOM. Top Shelf! It’s over!!!

There have been some situations since then that have been memorable. Maybe not for the good, but memorable. I’ll never forget the pain in Wayne Gretzky face, head bowed, sitting alone on the bench in ’98 after Hasek, Jagr, and the Czech’s take the Olympic Gold in the shootout. To this day, regardless of what he says or the “hockey pundits” say, Gretzky should have taken one of those shots in that shoot out. Fast forward 4 years and to see that same player now the architect of the team who skated over their twoonie at centre ice and took down the Americans in their own back yard. Lemieux was in that one too. This time, with a brilliant play to let the puck slide through his skates right to Kariya for that goal. That might have been the most amazing play I have ever watched and Lemieux never even touched the puck! Gretzky’s jubilation in the press box will be the solidified memory for me.

Now, we are on creeping up on the next possible moment. The time where the youth of today, who will become the superstars of tomorrow, will be on their sofas watching this version of Team Canada compete in the Olympic Games on their home soil. And I am feeling a little robbed already. There is an image I have been waiting for since the announcement of Vancouver 2010. That image was that of a player, the Captain of team Canada. With the flag being raised in the background, gold medal around his neck and Oh Canada being sung by 20,000 fans. I’m robbed of that. Even when that happens, I am robbed.

That man with the “C” should be Burnaby Joe. Say it ain’t so, Joe. Even though you robbed me of my image from 2010, I appreciate the other countless images you did give me. That image of Gretzky in the press box in 2002, full of elation. It was spurred by a goal. A goal scored by Joe Sakic.

Take it easy Joe, you will be missed. See you in the Hall.

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