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.
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.
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.
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.