Sunday, October 20, 2013
The Hockey Life: Great save, Patrice
Save for two years out of the past nine, the annual highlight of our hockey-hounding season has been getting a photo of Colin with his favorite NHL player, Boston's Patrice Bergeron. Sure, the autographs we get are nice and, as always, are welcome additions to the collection. What we're really after, though, is what you see above.
It's a chance, as it has always been, for a young hockey player who, like many others, dreams of playing in the NHL to meet his idol. Even if only for a few moments, the memories created last a lifetime. For Colin, Patrice, whom he calls Petey, is the reason why he wears No. 37.
As hockey parents, it's our job to do whatever we can to support our child's dreams. Yes, we stress the value of education and remind him often that good grades and a college degree in a growing field will most likely take him further in life than most anything else. Within that, one of the lessons we preach -- in life as well as in hockey -- is being in the right place at the right time.
That's why we found ourselves in Tampa early Saturday morning, waiting and watching for the Bruins. Seeing Patrice, or so we thought, would be a good way to start a hockey-filled day and provide some motivation, through an invitation to Patrice to come watch Colin play for the Pinellas P.A.L. Stars later that day. After an hour of waiting, however, we weren't so sure.
Though Colin stood near the hotel's entrance and called out to Patrice as he headed to the team's bus for the morning skate, Patrice walked past without acknowledging his little buddy. Colin called out again, but Patrice didn't even look back before climbing aboard the bus and settling into a seat near a window close to where we were standing. Even waving at him drew no response. Needless to say, Colin was bummed.
"I was heartbroken," he told me later.
A quick stop at the Krispy Kreme on Kennedy Boulevard, as we headed to Oldsmar for Colin's game, helped eased some of the disappointment, but I could still tell it was bothering him. To him, Patrice is his buddy. Actually, to Colin, he's more than that. He's someone else to look up to.
Patrice is one of the the first NHL players that Colin, then 4 years old, really first spoke to at any length, back in September 2005 outside the Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass. Since then, they've shared a hug during Patrice's first trip to Tampa following that horrific hit he took in 2007. They've talked about school and hockey as they walked down trolley tracks while Patrice made his way to a morning skate. Heck, they're even on a hockey card together.
All of that, I suppose, has led to an expectation that they'd have their annual moment, so to speak, on Saturday morning. And, when it didn't happen, especially when we missed last year because of school, the disappointment was shared among the three of us. I told Colin he'd have another opportunity to see Patrice later in the day. Deep down inside, I knew (or, at least, hoped really hard) that it wouldn't happen again.
Thankfully, and I do mean this, Patrice more than made up for it as the Bruins left the hotel for the game against the Lightning. He apologized to Colin, decked out in his "Keep Calm and Bergeron" T-shirt, for not speaking to him earlier in the day. They also engaged in a conversation in French. He even signed Colin's team sheet and a Stanley Cup champions puck.
Even better, we got what came for, getting the traditional photo. By the smiles on their faces, I'm thinking the day turned out just fine.