Flames Make The Play offs
Anybody who really knows me knows I've always been a huge hockey fan. When I first began wrestling, I can remember being greatly annoyed because I worked every Saturday night and never got to see Hockey Night In Canada.
Once the Flames came to town, in 1980, I never once had the opportunity to take in a game, so I had to settle for spending much of my time hunkered over the radio, in the old Stampede van, listening to HNIC on CBC radio in French -- with live, on-the-spot English translation by some of the French-Canadian wrestlers.
Over the years, I was able to stay up to speed on my hockey, thanks to the marvelous invention of VCRs. Of course, I had to make a point of not knowing the scores before finally arriving home from some long prairie drive at the crack of dawn when I could finally watch the tape.
Every year around playoff time, I really wished I could phone in sick but that wouldn't have gone very far with my boss -- my father.
Once I eventually got hired by the WWF, I was horrified at the complete lack of NHL coverage by much of the U.S. media in those days.
That was especially true in the sunbelt, where hockey was seen as something lumberjacks and Eskimos played on a frozen river.
Every morning, I'd make due with the hockey coverage in USA Today, where the scores were often two days old. And on the back pages most of the time.
Luckily for me, once Wayne Gretzky was traded to the L.A. Kings, American interest in hockey skyrocketed. It amazes me Florida, Carolina, Nashville, Atlanta and Phoenix all have franchises now.
Being on the road nearly 300 days a year meant I missed all the great NHL moments.
I missed the Flames winning the Stanley Cup in 1989.
I also missed all the Olympic hockey from 1988 onwards.
Oh, how I wish I could have seen some of the dustups at the height of the Flames-Oilers rivalry.
To make a long story short, I always promised myself someday when I came home for good, I'd get myself a pair of Calgary Flames season tickets and catch up on what I'd been missing for nearly 23 years.
I've always been reluctant to pester the Flames players for fear of coming across like the big fan I am.
I think back to how honored I was when Jarome Iginla took the time to pay me a visit and give me a signed jersey when I was in the hospital just after having my stroke.
I'm looking forward to attending my first-ever NHL playoff games.
And, as a fan, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Flames head coach-GM Darryl Sutter and team president Ken King on a terrific season. And I want to wish all the best to each and every Flame, especially Jarome, who deserves credit for getting us into the playoffs.
The best advice I can offer is what I used to tell Jim The Anvil Neidhart: Get hungry. And forget your manners.