Meeting The Rocket

 It’s not everyday one gets to meet their hero.

 All my life I wanted to meet the Rocket. He came to Orillia when I was a kid, but I was in the stands as he skated around the ice, waving to the crowd, and I never got near.

 As a boy I’d write to him, and several times an autographed picture would come in the mail.

 But I always wanted to meet him. Just him and me. I wanted to shake his hand. I wanted to talk to him. I wanted him to talk to me. And finally, in Calgary in about 1990, it happened.

 It was at the old Corral, next to the Saddledome, and the NHL Oldtimers came to town for a charity game, and the Rocket was the referee. I went with my sister, and I watched him as he skated around, and it was a little bit like a dream. How many defencemen had tried to stop him from skating in years gone by, and there he was in front of me now, skating again.

I think he even wore number nine on his ref’s sweater.

 Between periods, or maybe after the game, my sister and I went down to the Oldtimers dressing room, and retired tough guy Jimmy Mann, who had played for the Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques, was outside the room talking to someone. I went up to him and asked him if I could see the Rocket, and right away he went in and I heard him call,”Hey Rocket.” And just like that, in the blink of an eye, the Rocket was coming out of the room with his skates on and walking over to me and my sister.

 He was so nice. I told him he’d sent me a Christmas card when I was young after I’d sent him a fan letter, and he said he thought he’d sent out a lot of Christmas cards back then. He said he remembered very little about the old days, and he laughed and smiled and I felt completely comfortable with him. I asked how his family was, and he said they were all doing fine. I told him his son Normand and I are the same age, and he seemed to like that.

And I asked him if he enjoyed travelling with the Oldtimers, and he said it was fun but tiring and it was keeping him in a little bit of shape.

 I then got around to asking him if he would mind having my sister take our picture together, and he said of course, and he put his arm around me as she took it. As I was saying thanks, he said, “Wait a minute, I want a picture with your sister too”, and so her and I traded places, and we all laughed again.

 My lifelong wish came true, and the Rocket was everything I’d hoped. He was friendly and polite, and he carried a kind smile on his face.

 I believe somehow that he understood what this meant to me.

5 thoughts on “Meeting The Rocket”

  1. THE GOAL

    HI DENNIS…what a thrill it must of been to meet the rocket,such an icon of a sport we love so much,i really think that you have been a fervent,loyal,dedicated fan of the LES CANADIENS DE MONTREAL and you deserve to have fullfill your dream of meeting your HERO i am truly happy for you,also it must of been your nicest goal…..

    have a good nite

    D.G.

  2. Dennis,

    I can deffinately relate to that feeling of what its like meeting your idol. Growing up in the mid 80’s / early 90’s and being a young hockey fan, i couldnt help but worship Wayne Gretzky. I had the pleasure of watching team canada hold a practice in whistler getting ready to compete for the 1996 world cup of hockey ( sadly we lost to the states in best of three final 2-1 ). After hanging around the rink for a while trying to land an autograph of any player who was whiling to sign, i had no such luck of getting an autograph. Luckily my dads buddy won the 50/50 draw that day and treated us all to a lovely gut bomb at macdonalds. I was about two bites into my big mac and who walks into macdonalds with his kids? sure enough it was the great one! i was in absolute shock, it took every brain cell in my head to grab enough sense to walk out and get my wayne gretzky card in the vehicle outside. When i came back in my dad approached him and asked if he wouldnt mind signing a couple autographs, Wayne being the guy he is was more than happy to. So here i was about 10 years old walking up to wayne gretzky to get my card signed, the man was all class, he asked me what my name was and shook my hand, i told him i enjoyed the practice earlier in the morning. Then he dropped a real stunner of a question for me, he asked me where i was from and i replied powell river, he then asked me where that was and my response to him was ” i dont know ” and at that point in time i didnt care where powell river was because my biggest dream came true, i had the honor of shaking hands and getting an autograph of the greatest hockey player there will ever be. I shold also mention after he had signed autographs for us he came up to are table and asked if we had a camera and if we’d like to get a couple pictures, unfortunately my dad had left his camera on the kitchen table in his friends house in Squamish the morning we left. Im sure my face would have looked exactly like yours in your picture with the rocket.

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