Sunday, August 24


You know that old saying about New York City? The one that says that the city is so nice that they named it twice? (New York, New York) Well I think of Gary Roberts in the same way. And sometimes I wonder if I should start calling him "Gary Roberts, Gary Roberts" as a way of demonstrating my love and admiration for him. Other times I wonder if I should really be saying these things out loud.

Forgive me for getting all regionalistic here but if there isn't already a Gary Roberts Day in towns and cities across Southern Ontario, then there should be. If somebody were to start a petition I would sign it. Probably even with my real name, no Reginald Ratsrectum, Farty McCunty or some other "funny" nom de plume I thought of at that moment. In fact if somebody were to start a petition to have a national (paid) holiday to celebrate Gary Roberts Day, I would sign it twice. And you are looking at a guy who once signed a petition for Greenpeace as Dr. Bernard Innerlabia-Soccer (Mrs.)

Without exposing too much of my non-gay-man/boy crush I have on Gary (too late?), let me give you the tangibles: Leadership, grit, an almost single handed demolition of the sens in the playoffs.1194 hard fought games, 2533 hard fought pims. The ability to make grown men half his age look sissy - did I mention how badly he demolishes the sens in the playoffs? I didn't? Pardon me, I love how Gary Roberts destroys the sens in the playoffs. This is Gary Roberts, he doesn't sleep, he waits. And in a strange way I take a certain perverse glee thinking about how badly he could beat me up if we ever got into a fist fight.

You know he is from North York but did you know that Gary Roberts could also tell you the best place to take a shit at the Vatican? Or that Gene Simmons owns the rights to his name? I personally believe that there should be something bronzed, perhaps replicas of Gary Roberts' baby skates, erected in gazebos in parks or at the edges of lakes everywhere. Not only do I believe that Gary Roberts embodies what it is to be a Toronto Maple Leaf, but that Gary Roberts is like Ontario itself, nay Canada itself. Stop me before I start quoting Gord Downie lyrics that seem fitting.

I saw Gary Roberts play live 3 times. Against Edmonton, Tampa Bay and Carolina and he was amazing in all 3 games. The first time I met him was in a Blockbuster on the Queensway in Toronto. It was during the lockout and I was so desperate for hockey that I had been reduced to renting Don Cherry Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em videos.

Let's Go.

I wasn't all annoying fan, all interrupting him during his dinner or like Wayne and Garth meeting Alice Cooper... but we interacted. He asked me if I had seen the movie he was going to rent and if it was any good (it was). I made him laugh by asking him if I could take a photo with him and then shook his hand and froze as I pretended someone took our photo.

The very next day while shopping at the very excellent Sherway Gardens mall, I ran into him again. This time he approached me and -hand on a stack of bibles- when he shook my hand he froze and pretended to have his photo taken.
And you know what I said to him? I said, "It's really hack to steal another dude's material Gary."
And now all these years later, even though I still think it's hack to steal someones jokes, I will never forget our time together. Nor will I ever forget what I now refer to as my Summer of Gary.