Designated to self-destruct
Knocked around like a hockey puck...
The Joe Sakic Love Fest that is happenning in our fair state right now is well deserved. Yes, we all know about the 96 Conn Smythe, the clutch playoff goals, the NHL leading stats, his performance in the 02 Gold Medal game, his pummeling of Doug Gilmour, passing the Cup right to Ray Borque, his battle with snow-removal products, emerging from the smoke before half a million fans with Colorado's first major championship hardware.
But most of the stories about Joe are of his humble nature, his accomodating nature to fans, his polite demeanor, and general "one of the guys" attitude.
Count me in with those stories, as one of my first NHL experiences invloved Super Joe. It was 1996 and I had just been hired to work security for the Avs' first Stanley Cup run. Game One of the playoffs versus the Canucks and I was stuck at the end of a stair case that lead to the Zamboni area. My instructions were as follows: "Dont let anyone back here that doesn't belong." Like most of Colorado, I was just jumping on the Avs' bandwagon, and I didn't know Joe Sakic from Joe Piscopo.
And then here comes this guy, down the stairs with two Gatorade bottles, dressed in some ratty sweats that would make Tyrone Biggums proud. His hair looks like he's been sleeping all afternoon, five o'clock shadow, and a pair of $1 flip flops. In my new found security role, I'm ready to throw this guy right back into the soup kitchen. Plus my security uniform makes me look like a cross between the Orkin man and a Navy Admiral. Tough.
A coworker leans over to me and says, "that's Joe Sakic, he's OK." I looked at him with a "Joe who" look on my face and being the hockey snob he was (there was a lot of those types in the mid 90s) he says "the captain...of the Avalanche."
Joe approached us and smiled, offered a hearty "hello" and "how you doing?" He even thanked me when I "let" him go by. One his way into the bowels of McNichols Arena it was more of the same with greetings for all the $7 an hour peeons.
Years later, I still remember the night and how it contrasted with the various ahole athletes, administrators, and entertainers I encountered over the next few years doing that same job. That could be a entire post in itself.
Good luck to Joe. There's a place on Colorado's Rushmore waiting for him.
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