Hockey fans are mourning Monday's passing of NHL legend and Hall of Famer Bobby Hull.
Hull left a legacy as being one of the game's most exciting players ever and opened the door to NHL players receiving huge pay increases when he signed with Winnipeg of the WHA.
I first met Bobby Hull in the mid-'90s. The picture attached was from 1996 at my old shop where the ever-gregarious and personable Hull provided a memorable visit. He regaled us with many a story and anecdotes from his stellar career. The picture was taken by mutual friend Rick Chenier, who brought Bobby by for a visit. Hull was in town for a fundraising endeavour and would return a year or two later for another.
That day, Rick calls and tells me he is on his way with Bobby. So I call my recently retired mom and get my wife, Diane, to hurry down after work to meet Bobby. They both enjoyed his stay every bit as much as I did. I knew through friends that Bobby has a great sense of humour. So, I make a sign and put it on the door that says "Welcome to Timmins, Brett Hull”. I see him laughing as he stops to open the door and tells me people would probably be happier to see Brett as he enters.
After some nice small talk, he asks me what I would like him to sign. We did not have to ask. He was ready to sign anything for anyone we wanted and was genuinely happy to do so. I have always liked to get big stars to sign something goofy for me and Bobby laughed when I asked him to sign one particular item. It was a T-shirt of a cocky goalie snagging a shot with his trapper with the caption "Get that weak shot out of here."
Bobby signed it "Ya right! Bobby Hull". He giggled like a kid after signing it.
I looked at it again today when I heard the news about his passing, remembering how lucky I was to be able to have my family there to share some time with him.
As he continued to sign some stuff we talked about some local hockey products and I told him Jim Mair was a friend and partner with the hockey school. His response (in context) was … Jim Mair, now there's a boy who can shoot a puck. I'll never forget that acknowledgement of Jimmie's skill. I remember hearing about an article that had Jimmie in the top five or so best slapshots in the NHL behind the leader, Bobby Hull and Bobby Orr. So it was not faint praise.
Anyway, I remember that day like it was yesterday.
A side note. About two years later a local hockey product who knows Bobby well comes by the store and asks for me. Bobby was ribbing him that his picture was up in the store, but the local guy's picture was nowhere to be found. Did I want his picture to add to the wall? Well, of course, I did. And we fit that new picture in close to Bobby's. I'll leave his name out in case he remembers it differently. But I got a chance to meet and talk for a while with another hockey veteran.
Our condolences go out to Mr. Hull's family, friends and all who knew him.
Evan Boucher’s Halifax Mooseheads are on an absolute tear. The Moose are on a streak of 20 games unbeaten in regulation. They are 18-0-2 in those 20. In their last 10 games they are 10-0-0-0 and are in command of the Maritime Division. They are at 71 points to second place Moncton's 46 points. Overall in the QMJHL they are second behind Quebec. Quebec has 77 points with Halifax holding a game in hand. As of last week the Halifax crew was ranked fourth in the CHL weekly rankings. (Fourth in the country.) It’s a pretty impressive streak, I may say. And Evan continues to be a key contributor to the Mooseheads impressive season to date.
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A number of people are taking the time to submit their story about the Mac to Kraft Hockeyville. I sure hope someone who took part in the old Skateathon shares their experience as part of the contest. I remember as a kid hearing about the annual event and what it entailed. Skateathon contestants basically spent a weekend seeing how long they could skate around the Mac while raising money for a worthy cause. Every couple of hours there was a rest break, but it was an endurance contest and basically a last person standing type of deal. Blistered, aching feet and back were a much talked about consequence of the gruelling weekend. People who actually competed would do a much better job of relating the intricacies of the event than I could ever do. It would be cool if someone who did compete in the Skateathon was able to submit their memory of it to the Kraft contest.
It appears that the city has taken the right approach in reaching out to the public for input into the update to it's long term recreation plan. I spoke to a few people who have been invited to the meeting(s) to share ideas and give their thoughts on the plan. They are happy to be provided the opportunity to play a part in the plan's development.
If I could suggest something, it would be concerning the upcoming meeting with the general public.
The open meeting provides a chance for any City of Timmins resident to provide their idea, or share concerns about local recreation. The first few meetings will see current users getting a chance to share their opinions with city officials. And that is a huge positive. But I would also encourage longtime past users to provide their valued opinions and vast experience at the public meetings.
There is a huge resource of past users with decades of experience that need to be heard from. Their long time service to various recreational organizations is vital to help achieve a meaningful, progressive long-range plan. They are the people who dedicated countless hours of volunteering to provide recreational opportunities to a wide-ranging group of participants. Their experiences are key as they have a long time, first-hand experience of all that was good and not so good in relation to local sport.
Current users are just as dedicated as past users, but may not have the benefit of having been around recreation as in-depth or as lengthy as past users.
Let us not kid ourselves — without the former participants’ input, a significant source of relative data can not be accrued. I encourage as many former users as possible to participate in the survey and public meeting to make their voices heard. If anybody deserves that opportunity it's you. You know the game. Share it with admin to help them develop the plan we hope implements a new vista.
If you do decide to be heard, do your best to put your ideas concerns or opinions down in writing. A record of your contribution to the public input is a wise idea as it will be on record and have much more impact than a mere oral report. It also allows for future reference for those putting the plan together. Plus there can never be any confusion about who said what or was it even said down the road.
Whether you are a current or former user of recreational facilities or programs, this is your chance to be heard and be a part of our recreational future. Don't miss out on the offer to contribute to the plan. Your input is too valuable to not be shared.
That being said, thank you to all who have made or are making a difference by providing recreational opportunities to our citizens. Facilities or not, without you and your efforts we would be in a sad state recreation-wise.
I hope to see you in big numbers at the public meeting to make progress on the long-term plan implementation.
All I know is next time I tweak something (knee, back, leg, etc.) I'm calling Patrick Mahomes doctor!
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