Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Flames of No Regret

May 26, 1989.

Montreal, Quebec.

The morning after the night before.

In the fog of a cocktail-induced headache, a question appears from the mist.

"Did I really pass up an opportunity to drink from the Stanley Cup"?

The grim facts are as follows.

About 10 hours earlier, the Calgary Flames made hockey history becoming the only visiting team ever to capture Lord Stanley's mug on a sheet of ice inside hockey's greatest shrine. Never before had an NHL team hoisted hockey's holy grail inside the Montreal Forum, other than the legendary Habs, still fuelled by a tradition of greatness instilled by Rocket Richard and passionately described by Danny Gallivan.

But, the Flames proved to be a formidable opponent with a deep and talented roster that included Theoren Fleury, Hakan Loob, Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour, Al MacInnis, Joe Mullen, Jamie Macoun and Gary Suter. And on May 25, 1989, the night belonged most of all to the Flames captain, Lanny McDonald who scored the final goal of his career as the man with mustache went out a winner.

As an accredited member of the media, I happened to find myself in a Calgary Flames dressing room soaked with champagne and tears of joy. Suddenly and without really being aware of what was happening, I'm holding the Stanley Cup, allowing Flames winger Gary Roberts to drink from it. And in that moment, thoughts are cannonading through my brain:

"Should I?" ... "Just one sip" ... "I'm sure no one would mind" ...

But, just as quickly, the moment passed.

I looked around the room and saw battered and bruised Flames such as Colin Patterson, Joel Otto, Mike Vernon and others who had truly paid the price to warrant a sip from Lord Stanley. They had earned the right. I didn't.

When the next morning rolled around, those thoughts flashed like instant replay:

"Did I really pass up an opportunity to drink from the Stanley Cup"?

For the past two decades or so, I can remember like yesterday what it was like to stand in a visitors dressing room in the Forum and hand the Cup back to warriors who had earned it. And to be honest, there is the odd time, I feel a twinge of regret for grabbing that piece of hardware and taking a guzzle.

But, maybe there is something to be said for not drinking from someone else's Cup.

Maybe it means so much more when we drink from our own.

“We had the best power play in the league. Our wizardry was giving Al MacInnis the puck”


Angie said...

Love it!!!! Awesome post.

Brain Diesel said...

Great Post Gair.