Sigh - Lets get back to hockey. Martin Brodeur became the all time winingest goalie last night and in typical Brodeur fashion, making 30 saves including a fury of 6 ounce vulcanized rubber being peppered at him during the dying seconds.
Last night while serving my customers drinks at the bar I manage, I became aware that if something ever happens "BIG" in hockey, you can pretty much guarantee I am at work somewhere. Martin Brodeur's achievement last night will be one of many I have had the pleasure of working-while-witnessing. As I look back to the greatest hockey stories I can remember they all have one thing in common - I was at work.
August 9, 1988 I was a young 10 year old Hamburger and Sausage BBQ specialist at a German meat shop that my mother managed. My Big Brother Howard (Big Brothers Organization) came to visit me at work. He walked up and took me to a picnic table near by and said "Lil' Bro, take a seat" Howard began to tell me the news of Wayne Gretzky being traded to the Los Angeles Kings. He was trying to keep his emotions in check so that I wouldn't feel sad. I patted Howard on the shoulder and said "Its ok Big Bro, he's the Great One, he'll be great anywhere!" trying to ease his pain. "But he'll still wear Easton gloves and use an Easton Aluminum stick right?" i asked concerned that I will still "look" like Gretzky when I play. My brother reassured me that he would still wear Easton, Heck Gretzky was my idol I even had the Daoust Wayne Gretzky hockey skates. then again what born Canadian didn't idolize Gretzky?
March 6, 2000, The smoke was floating and dancing thru the resturant/pizzeria where I was the night manager, after my day at college. I walked in and grabbed a coffee and sat at the staff table where the owner Leo was reading his daily paper. Leo was an old Greek. The type that was very personable and liked by everyone, gambled, drank and smoked like the best of them. He was also the Godfather of ex- Vancouver Canuck silver sticker Greg Adams. As i sat down Leo looked at me and said "John Daly!" excited to see me. Leo called me John Daly becasue I have what the doctors call a bit of a drinking problem and I can also hit a long golf ball. He said "did you hear about the big trade today? Raymond Bourque is going to Colorado." I stopped stirring my coffee and looked Leo square in the eyes and said "Colorado wins the Cup, either this year or next, its a LOCK!" Leo being a loyal Vancouver Canuck fan laughed and said "John Daly what did i tell you about drinking on the job?"
June 12, 2001 I was still employed at the same pizzeria. It was Saturday evening and as everyone that has ever dined out on a Saturday night knows any restaurant is a busy place to be. The location of the kitchen was right beside a Bay Window that overlooked the vibrant streets, alive with people seeking for a place to eat. the thermometer outside the window read 104 fahrenheit (+40) and I was right beside a pizza oven that was a steady 650 degrees as well. And to add some heat to the kitchen it was game 7 of the Stanely Cup Championship. Colorado Avalanche vs New Jersey Devils. We had a small 12 inch television located in the corner of the kitchen that I was ble to keep a small glimpse of what was unfolding. As the night slowed down in perfect timing with the final minutes of the hockey game I watched the magic monet of Joe Sakic handing the Cup to Raymond Bourque. Our take out phone rang and I answered it. It was Leo "John Daly are you watching this... " I was speechless I felt like I had just won the cup with them. A small tear rolled down my cheek. "Atta Boy Bourque - Sweet!" were my only thoughts. 10 minutes later I gave refunds to all those whom I had just burnt their pizzas...
Feb 24,2002. Probably one of my worst jobs ever, being the ski and snowboard technician in a small Northern Ontario ski area. The location iof the rental shop was in the basement and it had an eery dungeon feel to it. I had tried to book this day off but being the only certified technician and being busy weekend t the hill i was stuck working. i had brought 1982 ghetto blster style radio so that I could listen to the game while i fixed skis throughout the day. It was kind of nice after I had the game tuned in, I felt like I was in the 1950's listening to the good ol' hockey game on the radio. By the third period there was no one left on the hill. Everyone had found their way down to my dungeon and we were all patriotically hugging and rejoicing the Team Canada win 5-2 over the USA.
April 9, 2002. I just watched the You Tube video as a reminder of what a powerful night this was. It was my first night worikng as a bartender at a small pub. Ottawa Senators were playing Montreal Canadiens, but more importantly Saku Koivu was in the line up a day after he had battled cancer and won. The crowd erupted with a roar, when captain Saku Koivu stepped on the ice, that lasted for more than 5 minutes. This appearance not only gave the hockey world something to cheer but more importantly it gave cancer patients everywhere the courage to fight it as well. I had goose bumps all over and I was just mesmorized, by the magnitude of the crowd. Apparently the bar patrons didnt appreciate the tribute to Koivu as much as I did with exception to a cute Habs fan sitting at the end of the bar. I was fired the next day for paying more attention to the experience, than providing some no toothed ski dooer a beer he didnt need. Thank you Saku!
January 3, 2009. Managing a Boston Pizza and the place is packed with probably one of the best nerve wrecking games I will ever encounter. With the place being as busy as it was i learned from previous experinces to work first and celebrate later. There were televisions everywhere and it seemed like no matter where i turned in the restaurant a puck was being filled into the net at either end. Canada and Russia world juniors were playing their hearts out in the semi final game that was definitely gold medal calibre. I looked up at the television when I had a chance and I realized why the bar was quieter than usual. The Russians were winning 5-4 with 1:30 left in the game. A server tapped me on the shoulder and said "I screwed up an order, can you fix it?" Are ya kidding me? This wasn't the first time this idiot screwed something up like this and this was not the time I wanted to be fixing a problem. But I was paid to do a job, so I parked myself at a computer station underneatch a television and started fixing the issue. Keeping an eye on the game at the same time the server said "you look like yer about to cry" unaware of the games meaning. As she finished her sentence I let out a roar of joy and a fist pump to the air. The bar erupted! Canada had tied it up with 5 seconds remaining on the clock. Canada later won the game in a shootout and advanced to the gold medal game. The servers issue was resolved and I gave her a high five basically letting her know that her stupidity had basically been forgotten. This also marked my final day working at Boston Pizza.
January 5th, 2009. I had told my cousin that I was writing a blog about how all the big events in hockey happen when i am working. His response without hesitation, "You work too much!" He was right. That is why this day is most special to me. My cousin and I went to a small pub where we were the only people in the place, turned up the television and watched Team Canada beat Sweden to become a 5 time straight winner at the juniors. Thanks Dustin!
March 17th, 2009 "Give me another pitcher of beer" the drunken man yells across the bar. As I pour his jug I am staring at the television watching Martin Brodeur cutting the mesh of the net, claiming his 552nd career win. The drunken group is telling hockey stories that completely make no sense to each other, but their jibber jabber is faded out with my thoughts of being at work and being paid to watch these magical moments! Thanks Marty! 125 more wins before you are done!
I am sure I missed some other important dates, but I can guarantee ya they happened while i was working somewhere! Good Night Friends!