Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The first encounter.

Since I've recently posted about meeting Guy at the Match des Etoiles in Ottawa, I decided that I may as well do a write-up about the first time I met him.  Yes, the encounter on Saturday was actually my second time meeting him.  The first was in October of 2008 in Montreal.

I learned in the spring/summer of 2008 that the parking garage at the Bell Centre is a great place to meet Habs players after practices.  By then, I'd pretty much determined that I was going to try to meet Guy no matter what it took to do it, so I enlisted my friend Aisys (WordPress link), who'd been at the garage before, to help me.  Also involved were the Montreal contingent, Kathy (who writes the Drummondville Voltigeurs blog Seven Thousand Volts and also writes at AllHabs.net) and Alex.

We got to Montreal via Greyhound.  The bus happened to stop right outside the Bell Centre, which was rather convenient, so we headed straight to the garage.  Players spotted right away (the Habs were hosting the Bruins that night, it was the first home game of the season actually):  Phil Kessel, Cam Neely, and Aaron Ward (who was wearing his ENORMOUS Stanley Cup ring he'd won with the Hurricanes).    

It took a while for the Canadiens players to start exiting the garage, and by the time they did, there was a good amount of people waiting.  (Enough that security had to put up a barrier.)  Some of the players gunned it out of the garage, which I honestly couldn't blame them for because I'd been told that autograph seekers in Montreal can be crazy -- there've been stories of them chasing the players' cars down the street.  But many stopped to sign and take pictures.  I'd been forewarned that the coaches are the last to leave, so I braced myself for a long wait.

I was actually not paying attention when Carbo finally appeared.  I heard Aisys say "Lisa..." and then a huge swarm of people around Guy's car (a beautiful convertible).  First impression of Guy Carbonneau:  incredibly gracious.  I'm not kidding when I say there was a huge swarm, but he signed for everybody.  I had my Dallas Stars replica jersey for him to sign, which I handed to him quietly because honestly, how do you find words when your hero is right in front of you?

Guy signing my jersey (photo by Aisys Adona)

Through my absolute terror I asked for a picture, and Guy removed his sunglasses.  (I wonder how many players think to do that when asked for pictures.)  Aisys then took this photo:

Look at me.  I really do look terrified.  Furthermore than that, I don't have any piercings!  (I didn't begin to get really actively interested in body modification until 2009.)  I should note that the young woman next to Guy in the car is his daughter Kristina, and I couldn't help but think that it must be strange to have all this attention centered around your father.  The Carbonneau daughters grew up with it and I'm sure they're used to it, but still.

My impressions of Carbo from both encounters -- he's very kind and obliging but also very quiet.  Whereas the other alumni players on Saturday were quite chatty, Guy was over there doing his thing.  Which is in line with what I've read about him in the locker room.  Quietly leading.  Words are not his forte (unless you incur his wrath) -- he shows you what he can do.  Which, in turn, reminds me of myself.  I'm much the same way.  (Though I can be quite long-winded on this blog.)

I guess it can be seen as somewhat crazy that I travelled all the way to Montreal for an autograph and a picture, but it was something I wanted to do, and in the end I'm glad I did it.  We spent the rest of the day touring the city, ate lunch at St-Hubert (yum), visited the Bell Centre store (yikes are souvenirs ever expensive in Montreal), relaxed in a park (I won't tell you what I wrote on a park bench, though perhaps you can guess), almost got interviewed by CBC News (Aisys told the reporter in regards to me "she's a big Guy Carbonneau fan"), and then jumped on the subway to catch the bus back to Ottawa (it was interesting to watch the throngs of people in Habs jerseys come up from underground, on their way to that night's game).

The other thing I learned:  hockey is very serious business in Montreal.  Which was underscored later on in the season and the following March, when the Canadiens relieved Guy of his duties as coach.

So that's the story of the first encounter.  I would wait four years to meet him again, and four years has seemingly made a huge difference for both of us.  Guy went from coach to TV analyst, undergoing two hip surgeries which were necessitated by the wear and tear of his playing career; and I found my way out of a huge personal rut, losing my own father along the way.  (My father's thoughts on the first meeting at the time:  "You need your head examined."  Oh dear.)

Will there be a third time?  Who knows.  For now, I'm grateful for the first two.  

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