Between the NHL Draft last Friday and the Free agent day this Friday, I have been inundated with hockey news. It's everywhere.
It has gotten me thinking of my favorite NHL hockey player - ever. Martin Gélinas.
How did he become my favorite player? Here is the story.
Back in 1987-1988, he was playing for the Hull Olympiques of the QMJHL. One day, I was minding my own business at my grandmother's looking at the French newspaper when I noticed a picture of my dad's aunt with a hockey player, Martin Gélinas. I was 14 and I had started to really love hockey, so I asked my grandmother about the photograph.
She explained to me that for a few years now, my dad's aunt had been boarding hockey players at her place during the junior season. I was of course very impressed by this. Martin immediately became my favorite player, what can I say, I'm easy. Hehehe. I do still have that newspaper clipping somewhere in one of the boxes packed for my move.
I watched the draft that year to see where he would be picked. I didn't have to wait long as he was picked in the first round by the Los Angeles Kings. I was very happy for him and couldn't wait for the season to start.
Marty never did play for the Kings, and here's why. He was part of the biggest trade in NHL history to that point. Yes, I do mean the Wayne Gretzky trade. He was one of the players sent to Edmonton. I was happy for him as he'd be playing for a Canadian Team.
Marty did not make the team full time during the 1988-1989 season, so he was sent back to the Hull Olympiques for another season. I don't know WHAT I was thinking at this point because I never did go watch him play any junior games, nor did I ever ask my dad to go visit his aunt. You have to know that Hull is a few minutes away from Ottawa, across the river.
My only explanation for this is that I was an Ottawa 67's fan and considered the Olympiques rivals to the 67's.
Throughout his NHL career, I followed every season he played. From winning a Stanley Cup in Edmonton, to being traded to Quebec, to getting picked up on waivers by Vancouver (should have been Ottawa) and going to the Stanley Cup Finals, to playing for the Carolina Hurricanes and another Stanley Cup Finals, to playing for the Calgary Flames and yet another Stanley Cup Finals (where I still say Calgary should have won ;)), to playing for Florida and finally for the Nashville Predators. Last I heard, he still works for the Predators in some capacity.
For many years in a row, it was rumored that he would be traded to Ottawa, which of course never happened. How happy do you think I would have been?
I did receive a Christmas card from him one year after a letter I had written him, and I did finally get to meet him after a few Sens game in Ottawa and got some things autographed. My dad's aunt also gave me all the hockey things he left behind at her place. One of them being a hockey puck from his 50th goal with the Olympiques in one season. I still have it by the way.
Until the day he retired, I was always the devoted fan and always will be. Some of my friends might even say I was obsessed. I even turned into a 12 year old one day but that story will be for another time.
I haven't seen him in years and he probably doesn't remember his billet's niece in the least, but I would love to be able to see him again one day and maybe give him back his hockey puck and tell him how much I enjoyed watching him play the game he loved.
Julie / @Flip_4