Should be a great night down at the ACC as, perhaps the greatest Maple Leaf player in my adulthood is honored. Doug Gilmour, as the ad on 640 Toronto says, restored the passion in the Maple Leafs. Until he arrived the buds were mired in a slump that had lasted over a month. I was returning home from the Christmas holidays and thankfully someone had left a day old toronto newspaper on the plane, in one of our seats for us to find when we boarded. I remember reading the news and thinking WOW this is awesome. Awesome it certainly was. Cliff, Doug and Pat. How very cool it was. It was really fun to be a leaf fan again. The guy was everything we ever wanted in a leaf player.
I have tried to immerse Little TSM in as much hockey, especially Maple Leaf nostalgia as possible. We were fortunate enough to run into Doug at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls Ontario a couple of years ago. We first saw him on Friday night. Mrs. TSM and I took Little TSM to see the fireworks over the falls and brought him back to the hotel very late. As we were waiting for the elevator we ran into Gilmour. He could not have been nicer to us, especially Little TSM. He asked him his name, who old he was, if he played hockey etc. He also posed for this photo. The next morning (happened to be NHL draft day) we were in the restaurant eating breakfast watching TSN disect the Roberto Luongo trade to Vancouver. Gilmour and his entourage walked into the restaurant and without missing a beat, he came right over to our table (and the restaurant was full) and said “Little TSM, did you see who got traded this morning?? He gave him a big hug and a high five!” As a parent it was one of the coolest things a guy like Gilmour could have done. Little TSM was all of 4 at that time and had no clue who he was, but we have the photo, one day perhaps we will get it signed for him.
My favorite Gilmour story however involves the wife of a family friend. “Allison” was in her doctor’s office in the height of the Gilmour era. She was at the reception desk and was pretty sure that the guy standing next to her was someone famous. “Allison” kept staring at the guy and smiling, sure that she knew him. The guy smiled at her and nothing was said between the two of them. “Allison” left the office and went to her car. It then hit her. She knew how she knew him! Overcome with excitement, “Allison” ran back into the doctor’s office ran up to the guy and said, ” I know how I know you!” The guy nodded and smiled again and was about to say something when “Allison” screamed, “Your the guy from the Milk commercials, with the cow legs!” The best part of the story was “Allison” recounting the story to her husband, a devoted Maple Leafs fan! Can you imagine what Gilmour thought?
In any event, I only hope that at some time soon, Burke is able to repeat Cliff’s magic and bring Little TSM his Gilmour. With no disrespect to others who have followed Gilmour, there really hasn’t been anyone to come close to filling his skates. The only good thing about his career ending injury after being traded back to Toronto is that he finished off his career a Maple Leaf.