In praise of Bobby Ryan

In praise of Bobby Ryan
"The biggest thing is just his poise and his hands are unbelievable. I played with [Evgeni] Malkin and [Sidney] Crosby, and those guys are probably the two best in the league. Bobby's hands are right with those guys... He's a superstar in the making, it seems."
---Ryan Whitney, former Ducks defenseman

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Killed it in the interview

"Vermette wins a board battle, skates in alone and dekes five-hole on Lehtonen for his team-leading 21st goal of the season..."

This just happened. I'm at work, but can't wait to get home and watch the play.

It appears my favorite player has been on quite a tear lately, a career-long point streak with a point in each of 8 games where he's gone 8-3-11 overall.  And I couldn't be happier.  Actually, I could.  If only his WHOLE team was stepping up like that, maybe they wouldn't be on the outside of the playoff circle looking in!  Their deficiencies are only more glaring because I also watch my Ducks, and they are number one in the league.

Anyway, I have to finish telling my story!  Quick refresher on that timeline:
 - November 6, Vermette sees my sign for him and Chippy at the game vs the Ducks at the Ponda.
 - December 21, Vermette gets his 2nd career hat trick while playing the Senators in Ottawa to seal my promise that I'd get his jersey.

So that brings us to Saturday, December 28th, the last game that the Coyotes would play against my Ducks in Anaheim during the regular season.  (Did I mention I'm beyond peeved that they won't be here again and there's still half a season to go??)  I switched my work shift that day so I could attend the game and do a little Yote hunting before the game.

In the past, "hunting" wasn't necessary.  Granted, practices at the Ponda have never been open to the public, but you used to be able to wait before and/or after practice to see the players.  Now, thanks to a couple of idiots (I heard they were Sharks fans), people aren't allowed on the premises on gamedays... and that goes for the home team and the visiting team.  While I know where the Coyotes stay when they visit Anaheim, I don't particularly like the idea of hanging around a hotel.

The Coyotes aren't popular.  Back when you were still allowed to wait at the Ponda on gamedays, there would only be a handful of fans waiting for them.  I don't even think they were fans.  Probably more like autograph hounds.  Meh.  There would be even less people at the hotel.  There might actually have been a good chance that I'd be by myself.

Either way, I got my Ducks fan friend C to join me.  She was initially encouraged by the possibility of seeing her favorite Duck, a rookie staying at the same hotel, but I believe my Yotes grew on her just a little bit by the end of that day ;)  There were three others with us:  a dad and son trying to get a few pucks and cards signed, and another guy who obviously had done this many times before.  He recognized all the players (even I have a hard time having rarely seen them outside of their gear) and wasn't afraid to call them over to where we were standing.

I brought a pennant for the guys to sign, but my main goal was a picture with Antoine (this would be the first time I've ever gotten to speak to him), and delivery of a gift for Kyle.  I hoped they wouldn't come out at exactly the same time because players hardly ever wait for you to finish something with somebody else.  If you're not there and ready, they move on.

Chippy came out towards the middle of our "hunt."  Carrying a half-eaten apple, he posed for a picture with me and gladly accepted the gift I'd made him.  C got a picture with him too.

Note to self:  another benefit of hotel squatting that I hadn't thought of, catching the guys on their way to the arena for a game means they'd be rested, dressed in suits, and smelling VERY NICE.

When Vermette appeared, I was actually more nervous than I was expecting.  Not Lombardi-nervous, thank goodness, but enough to feel uncomfortable.  Haha.  I'd already heard stories from Coyote friends about his engaging demeanor with fans, so that was encouraging.  The stories were true.  He spent time with all five of us out there, even though he was one of the last players to come out and would undoubtedly need to get to the bus quickly after.  He gave me and C nice smiles for our pictures with him and, as he signed my pennant, I told him I'd made a sign for him for warmups.  Another smile topped with a sexy French Canadian accent, "Oh yeah?  I'll look for it!"

Cloud Nine, people.  Where else would I be?  The Yote hunt was a smashing success.

Then I had to figure out what to put on his sign.  Ugh.  I came up with something super cheesy, but hey, what are you gonna do.  Especially if he's already told you he'll be looking for you.  Chippy's sign was much easier: he was playing in his 400th career game that night.

It didn't really matter.  Remember what I said in my last post about warmup signs?  My successful day just kept getting better.  C wanted to stand with me on the visitor's side of the rink for warmups.  I've never had company before, and she was wearing her Ducks jersey.  Made no difference.  Vermette saw us standing with the sign and flashed us both beautiful, heart-melting smiles.  Repeatedly.  My goodness, that boy knows how to work it.  By the end of warmups, he had C wrapped around his little finger as well as myself.

Chippy also read his sign and broke out into the hugest grin.  I love making my boys happy.

Everything had gone so well that day that I didn't even mind much that my Yotes dropped the game to my Ducks (giving up two goals to my favorite Finn Saku Koivu).  Antoine Vermette had permanently solidified his position as my next favorite Coyote and player in general, as I've yet to find a next favorite Duck following Bobby's (and Lombo's) departure.

The next notch in the timeline: my 4-day trip in January to Phoenix, already booked and eagerly anticipated.

It's so nice to have a favorite player once again =)


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