Lately, for some unknown reason, I've been thinking a lot about the Ottawa Senators.
I think the fact that they've been in the news a great deal with player signings and Community Announcements (100 Million, wow!!) has contributed to this.
I was more specifically thinking back to the early days and my first ever favourite Ottawa Senators player.
It was October 1992 and the current incarnation of the Ottawa Senators were on the verge of beginning their first ever season in the National Hockey League.
I was 19 years old and there was no doubt that I had found a new team to root for. The Montreal Canadians remained my very close second favourite team for a year or two after this, but it didn't take too long for them to fall off significantly.
The Senators were holding their first ever Skills Competition and Fan Meet and Greet on October 6th...my 19th birthday. I worked for Canadian Tire at the time and they were event sponsors, so I was able to get free tickets. I brought my dad or he brought me since he drove.
I was excited to be there and was looking forward to lots of fun. To be absolutely honest, I don't remember too much...but I DO remember how I came to choose my first favourite Ottawa Senators player.
Individual team members were being introduced one by one. Depending on the day I either hear them in Dean Brown's voice or Gord
Wilson's voice. I couldn't even tell you if they were the ones there,
but that's how I hear it..
At one point #34 came out and he tripped and fell. Dean or Gord said "Rumble Takes a Tumble". There you have it, I'd found my fave player. #34, Darren Rumble.
I didn't know what he looked like or if he was even a good player, but I didn't care. He won me over when he fell. We later went down in the bowels of the Ottawa Civic Centre for the Meet and Greet event and I got Darren's autograph. Now, if you know me, you know exactly what I told him...nothing.
He was a defenseman with the Senators for two seasons and I was probably his biggest fan during that time.
I had the opportunity to meet him on Labour Day in September 1993. I was volunteering at the Muscular Dystrophy telethon and as I was minding my own business, who walks in? Yep, Darren Rumble. He went and sat at the front of the phone banks to take some calls. The person who was supervising was told by my friend that Darren was my fave player. Well, this awesome supervisor went and got me a Senators pennant and took me over to Darren to meet him and get the pennant signed.
I went, I got the signature, I was introduced to him, I'm not sure if I really said anything as I don't remember that part.
About an hour later, as he was leaving, he stopped at my phone and told me "I hope to see you at a game this season Julie" and then he left.
Yep - the rest of the day, I was on cloud nine. OMG...he hoped to see me at a game. Wow!!!
At some point, I wrote him a letter (back when we still wrote letters), to thank him for being so great to a fan. I wish I had a copy of that letter because all I remember is that it was a LONG one. A Novel really. I have absolutely no clue what I wrote in it...but there were lots of words there.
I never got an answer but...
Maybe 2-3 months later, my friend and I went to a Sens game. As we almost always did with the 67's at the time, we stayed after the game for autographs. I think I was probably waiting for some of the other team's players because they were NHL players, therefore very important ;) For me, it was never about the autograph or the picture, I just wanted to see them up close.
Darren came up the stairs. I debated whether or not to get him to sign my program and decided to bite the bullet and do it.
I approached him very quietly and shy. He looked up, smiled and said "Hi Julie, nice to see you again". What?!?!? Did he actually remember my name months later?? Yep, he did. Not only that, he proceeded to tell me that he really appreciated the letter that I sent. Wow...how impressed do you think I was that day?
I later went out to wait for my ride and someone drives by and honks the horn. I looked over...and there's Darren with his wife and he waves at me as he leaves.
Honestly, I just couldn't believe the entire episode. Unreal.
I was a fan of his from day one until he left the Senators. I followed his career as best I could after that. He played mostly in the AHL with a few stints with the Flyers, Blues and Lightning.
I never did get a Rumble jersey, but I do have a Sens hat with his name on it and a game-used hockey stick that was given to me for my birthday.
I sometimes see a fan at Sens games wearing a #34 Rumble jersey. I always smile when I see him as I reminisce about those two years.
These are definitely memories I'm not likely to ever forget.
Til next time
Julie / @Flip_4