Monday, 28 April 2008

It's All Fun and Games Till Somebody Sets a Car on Fire

Don't get me wrong. I love the Leafs. But I also love my hometown heroes, The Habs.
When my beloved Montreal Canadiens won the seventh game in the first round of the playoffs last weekend, I glowed with pride. However, when I found out about the bunch of yahoos that cruised St. Catherine Street, setting police cars on fire and looting stores, I blushed with shame.
Those hooligans weren't Habs fans. They were allegedly a small organized group using the victory as an excuse to wreak havoc on the streets of Montreal. I sure hope the local police don't let that happen when the Habs win the Stanley Cup. Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt, but the event sure doesn't help the reputation of the people of Quebec.
This reminds me of another Montreal riot in another time, when Maurice "The Rocket" Richard's suspension stirred the wrath of real hockey fans.
My mom met The Rocket when I was born. She was resting in a chair in the hospital hallway when a big man passed her. He stopped and turned, looked at her and asked, "Do you want my autograph?"
She knew exactly who he was, so she said "Sure!" All she had was a used envelope, so he scrawled his name on it. By this time the nurses and other staff had gotten wind of his presence, so they crowded around, asking for autographs, too.
The envelope was divided into tinier and tinier pieces, until Mom was left with one little scrap with The Rocket's signature.
She told me this story about fifteen years after she lost it in a move. Now, if she'd just given the autograph to me earlier, it would have been safe and sound.
For years I yearned for his autograph. There were others, but not his. I missed a glorious chance when he visited town with the Old Timers as a referee, but when I had the chance to attend a game, he was already ill with cancer.

I bought a copy of the children's book The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carriere with the intention of offering it as a gift in our annual Cormier Clan Christmas Gift Exchange. I dutifully wrapped it up and threw it into the box, but upon reflection I decided I wanted to keep it. When my turn came to choose a gift, I snatched the book from the box and unwrapped it.
The rules of the game dictate that anyone who chooses afterward can trade for a gift already selected. My cousin saw the book and insisted on a trade. So I had to give it up. I tried to negotiate for it later but he wouldn't let it go. Apparently, the appeal of this book is universal.
I figured I'd buy another copy, but for six years I searched with no luck. Finally, I found a whole shelf full of them at the Hockey Hall of Fame gift shop. I bought a copy and treasured it ever since. I even had it signed by the likes of Guy Lafleur, Marcel Dionne and Ron McLean.
But not The Rocket.


ChrisEldin said...

I was sorry to read that "The Rocket's" autograph got lost. I don't know who he is, but obviously somebody very important to your family. But what a cute story about him walking up to your mom in the hospital!!!
Kinda like Johnny Depp for me!!! (Except I wouldn't let no other paws on that envelope)

mlh said...

Whoops! I noticed a typo in your post. You said, "I sure hope the local police don't let that happen when the Habs win the Stanley Cup."

It should say, " . . .when the Pens win the Stanley Cup."

No, no, don't thank me for catching the error. It was the least I could do. LOL!!!

Chumplet said...

Ah, Chris, you definitely need an education in the nuances of hockey before you read Bad Ice.

Oh, Michelle! I knew someone would pick out the 'when'.

Bernita said...

I have Jean Belliveau's autograph.
What a prince!

BernardL said...

It is incomprehensible when a city's residents trash the city over a sporting event win. It happens way too often down here in the states too. Great story about the 'Rocket's' autograph.

Chumplet said...

My dad was heavily involved in the renovation of the Montreal Forum in 1968. He often sat with Beliveau in the cafeteria. Another thing my parents didn't tell me till years later. Sheesh!

The Anti-Wife said...

Wow, you Canadians are rough!

Zara Penney said...

Ice hockey. Chumplet likes ice hockey. Chumplet breathes ice hockey. Chumplet writes ice hockey.

It's all fun and games til somebody sets a car on fire.

And guess what...

The ice would melt.

I'm not sure this is profound but just pretend. Today I feel icky and down spirited.

Hugs from me.