Let me first preface this post by stating that I am a Habs fan. My hometown Winnipeg Jets come in a close second. To be honest, here isn’t a profesional hockey team out there that I hate, it’s just that if they aren’t from Montreal or Winnipeg I’m rather indifferent.
My boyfriend, however, happens to be a pretty big fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
If you know anything about the NHL then you can probably imagine that this coupling gets pretty interesting during hockey season.
But I love that man, dear reader. So much so that I was more than happy to join him at Toronto Maple Leafs Fan Fest with him last weekend. I may not bleed blue but I do enjoy hockey and thought it would be pretty cool to tour around behind the scenes at the Air Canada Centre.
I mean, for all I knew this could finally be my chance to bump into someone like Ron McLean! CAN YOU IMAGINE? Oh, man…
Plus I wasn’t about to pass up the chance to witness Kyle in his version of Disneyland.
— Sara Hamil (@SaraHamil) September 7, 2014
Despite being behind enemy lines (I was worried that they were going to be able to tell that I wasn’t one of them. It felt that that scene in Shaun of the Dead where the gang pretends to be zombies to make it through the hoard and get to the Winchester. Not that I’m comparing Leaf fans to the undead or anything but… Err, anyway. Good vocal work.) I was actually really impressed with the event. We went on Sunday which, according to accounts on social media, was much better organized than the previous two days. There were activities, behind-the-scenes tours, main stage talks, and lots of autograph opportunities (which we totally didn’t indulge in because the lines were crazy long. Not that we expected things to be any different but apparently plenty of other attendees did and due to a fair bit of griping everyone got free tickets to a Marlies game. Still not complaining!)
In general, it was a pretty awesome thing for any hockey fan to be a part of and it was clear that the Leafs fans were loving every minute of it. Personally, I was loving the Gardens pricing on concession items. $3 pizza? $5 beer?? Now that’s what I call an incentive!
I kid – I was having fun too.
I got into the spirit of things…
My overall expectation going into the day was to tag along and let Kyle soak in the glory of his team, but what neither of us realized was that we were both in for one hell of a surprise that would absolutely epitomize what it means to be in the right place at the right time.
After seeing some sights and participating in some photo ops we roamed the concourse looking for something to do next.
“Want to get our picture taken at the Hockey Central desk?” I asked, having spotted people waiting for their turn to pose behind the media desk. Kyle was game.
We were finally two spots away from the desk when Kyle gasped,
“Ooooh my God! Look who it is!”
My initial thought was, If it’s a Leaf then it doesn’t matter because I’m not going to recognize a single one of them without their uniform…
But I looked anyway. Because you never know, it could have been Rob McLean.
What I saw instead was a grey-haired, mustachioed face making its way up from behind the desk.
OMG that looks like Chris Hadfield.
Spoiler: It was totally Chris Hadfield.
*Insert hyperventilation and a couple of barely concealed curse words of surprise here*
His handler came up beside me and seemed very entertained by my inability to contain myself.
“Can we talk to him??” I all but shrieked.
“You can! You can even have a picture taken if you want!” She was like a genie. A magical, wish-granting genie.
I almost passed out. (If you know me at all then you know what a big deal this was)
And talk to him we did; Col. Chris Hadfield with his awesome customized jersey.
“We had no idea you were going to be here!” I squeaked.
“That’s the fun part!” He laughed.
We chatted about travel (he was leaving for Calgary as soon as he was done at Fan Fest, followed by a bunch of other places in very short order. I got jet lag just imagining it), he signed Kyle’s jersey (and was flattered to be in the fine company of Pat Quinn’s autograph), and he even got in on our Don Cherry-inspired thumbs-up pose.
It was awesome.
Not only was he not scheduled to be at the event but we seem to have caught him during a very brief window where he was meeting fans. Ten minutes after we had met him, he was gone again.
So, did I just write an entire post about my incredibly dumb luck?