As we savour our two-game win streak, (or three wins in five games), and as we wait for those dastardly Philadelphia Flyers to arrive on the scene, I thought I’d tell you my Red Fisher/Jim Roberts story. It’s mildly interesting I hope.
I’d just turned 15 and was on a bus charter to the Montreal Forum for a game between the Habs and New York Rangers. I’ve mentioned before about this trip, and about how I was a bit drunk when my dad picked me up at the bus station when I came back to Orillia.
When the siren sounded to end this game in Montreal, my friend and I wandered down to rinkside to look at the big CH’s at centre ice. This is what I wanted to do as much as see the game. Go close to the ice and see the CH’s that I had only seen on grainy television. It was magical to me, and I can still feel that exact moment to this day. Funny what a couple of painted logos on the ice can do.
We also saw trainers wheel out the players’ equipment, stacked in bags on carts, bags belonging to Big Jean and Pocket Rocket and the rest, from the corridor near the dressing room. I can feel this moment too.
Nearby I spotted Jim Roberts, the all-important defensive forward who sometimes played defence, talking to some guy in a suit, so I sauntered up and asked him to sign my program, which you can barely see in the picture above, just below Jean Beliveau and Jim Neilson. Best of all, Roberts was extremely nice to me and asked me where I was from and such, and he had no idea how much this impressed me.
He impressed me so much that I decided to start a Jim Roberts Fan Club. It would be almost like being on the team for goodness sakes. Inside the Habs inner circle. What a fantastic idea this was.
The next step was writing Red Fisher, who needs no introduction because he’s Red Fisher, and I informed him of my plan to start a Jim Roberts Fan Club. Red wrote back, (I had this letter for years but don’t anymore), and he told me that he would mention this to Roberts first chance he got.
I never heard any more. Maybe Jim Roberts was waiting for me to begin. Maybe he waited all season for his fan club to begin. Maybe Red forgot to tell him. Regardless, it probably wasn’t more than a day or two later that I realized I didn’t want to start a Jim Roberts Fan club. Way too much work. I had school and hockey and public skating to go to on Sunday afternoons. I didn’t have time for this. Where was I going to get stuff to send to members? How could I afford stamps? What would I write about, other than the fact that Jim Roberts was a good player and was nice to me when I asked for his autograph?
I don’t know what I’d do if Jim had contacted me and told me he was excited to have a fan club. Then I’d be stuck.
What the heck was I thinking?
So if Red Fisher forgot to mention it to him, I just want to say thank you.