One year ago today, February 10th, I had the opportunity to meet my favorite hockey player. Chris Phillips.
I've been a fan of Chris' since he was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in 1996.
During his first season with the Senators in 1997-1998, he became one of my favorites along withWade Redden. Within his first 2 season, he surpassed Wade as my favorite Ottawa Senator player and quickly eclipsed Martin Gélinas as my all time favorite NHLer. For those who know me, that's pretty big!
Over the years, I've been able to have him sign 2 jerseys that I have bought with his name on the back. The first time, he was surprised that I had his name on the jersey and the next time, he thanked me for it. You'd think that I would have actually talked to him during one of those two times, but you'd be terribly wrong.
I'm an insanely shy person and have trouble articulating any kind of thought under normal circumstances, then throw in the fact that he's my fave and that just makes me unable to formulate a complete sentence. Heck, I probably could barely say hi.
I've had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting and talking to his wife Erin on multiple occasions prior to my meeting Chris and she's always been very warm and gracious towards her husband's crazy fan. She'd help me buy some of the charity autographed items (trying to find Chris' for me). She's never made me feel uncomfortable.
On this day last year, it was the unveiling of a timeline in the 100 level concourse of ScotiaBank Place of Chris' 1000 game career with the Ottawa Senators. He'd played his 1000th game the night before. How did I get myself invited to this event? It's all thanks to the Senators' PA Announcer, Stuntman Stu.
I'd been emailing/tweeting Stuntman Stu for years while he hosted various radio shows in Ottawa. I'd also had the opportunity to meet him before several Ottawa Senators games as I'm a season ticket holder. On the day following Chris' 1000th game, I wrote Stu an email telling him just how happy I was for Chris and how proud I was to be a fan. Chris scored 2 goals on the previous night.
I wish I still had this email because I'd like to see what I wrote. I'm sure it was gushing and unbecoming of a 38 year old, but who really cares. Something in the email made him send it to Cyril Leeder, President of the Ottawa Senators and that is how I got the invite.
I hurried out of work and went to print out a picture I took the night before to get it autographed. I met Stu at the arena and off we went to the unveiling.
Erin was first to come over and say hi and she was followed by Chris. Stu introduced me and to be honest, at this point, I'm sure I said NOTHING!!! Yes, that's right...nothing. My brain froze and I must have looked like an idiot really. Chris was so nice and signed my picture and then Stu took my camera to take a picture of us.
I might have managed to say hi and thank you, but I'm pretty sure that was all I said. Despite that, it was a great experience and to be part of an event like that was amazing.
I made up for it a little bit a couple weeks later at an autograph signing where I forced myself to say more. What exactly I said then? I'm not really sure, but it was full of babbling, especially after he actually recognized me and said my name.
He now recognizes me and says hi when he sees me, mostly at his restaurant Big Rig. I'll never forget this day. It was so much fun.
Thank you to Erin and Chris for being such great people!!