Yawningly anti-climatic, and I can't say I'm heartbroken. I've had a good hate on for Pronger pretty much his entire career. Glad he's not really hurt or anything, but I'm just as glad he's not playing anymore.
Can't say I'm really upset for Philly, either. Does that make me a bad person?
In TSN's top hockey stories of the 2011-2012 season, they ranked the deaths of Lokomotiv, alongside those of the three NHL players who had died from various causes earlier in the summer, at #2... behind Crosby's concussion.
Many angry words were uttered.
See, now these are the types of things that make me like Crosby less.
NOT HIS FAULT, I get that, but when he is being thrown down my throat as the top Hockey story all the time, whether or not coffee gives him the runs, or is he allergic to poison ivy (Exaggerations I know) take precedent over legit stories.
I just can't help but be annoyed and tired of hearing his name!
I think 85% of the hate he gets would never had started had the league not rammed him down our collective throats.
The summer of 11-12 was a devastating one for the Hockey World, I hope nothing of the like happens ever again.
Coolest professional athlete I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Sorry for the long post.
My favorite Datsyuk memory: When he first came to Detroit, no one really knew who he was, and no one really believed in him yet. He was still very unproven in North American hockey, and there was a small period of time where I honestly thought we might deal him and/or Zetterberg because they were struggling in the league. At the time, no one really seemed to know who they were yet.
I had just turned 15 and was able to start working for the first summer ever, and I WAS NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT AT ALL! All I wanted to do was be outside playing roller hockey all day with my friends. Anyways, back to the story...
I found a job at Holiday Market (right across from the Detroit Zoo water tower) in Downtown Royal Oak as a cashier, right around the time when they were putting up all of these nice, spacious lofts and condos next door.
I think I had only been working there for a week or so when, one day, I looked up as the outer doors opened and saw Pavel Datsyuk(!) walk through the doors. Like I said, no one really knew who he was yet, so no one reacted. I, however, recognized him instantly, got very excited on the inside (cool as a cucumber on the outside) and without even meaning to, I waved at him.
And he smiled and waved back.
He walked past all of the registers to a little cooler, grabbed an orange Vitamin Water, and came to stand in line behind the other customer in my line. Glancing back, I noticed that there were two other registers next to me that were wide open. He had come to my line on purpose!
When it came time to ring him up, he casually stepped up and handed me his drink to scan. Being 15 and talking to a professional athlete that plays for my favorite team of all time, and that I had already come to love and admire, I was utterly starstruck and tried, unbeknownst to my managers, to give him his drink for free. I said, "You're Pavel Datsyuk, right?" He confirmed it with nothing more than a small grin before glancing down. I handed him the drink and said, "Welcome to Detroit! This one is on me."
He politely declined.
Little side note: His english has gotten a ZILLION times better than what it was when he first got here. He was very, very shy and quiet when he first came here and his english was terrible. I remember when I first met him he communicated a lot by simply smiling and nodding, and seemed to understand it a lot better than he could speak it. Nonetheless, it didn't stop him from striking up conversations with me as time went on, even if I had to ask him to repeat what he had said once or twice, or if he had to ask me to repeat myself.
I rung him out and he was free to leave, but he ended up staying in my line and talking to me for almost 20 mins about things to do in the area because he had JUST moved here, was living in the new condos next door, and was bored out of his mind. I loaded him up with a bunch of ideas and off he went.
A couple days later he came back in, grabbed another Vitamin Water, came back into my line, and proceeded to tell me about all of the things he had gone and experienced in the city. He had played a round or two of golf for the first time ever and loved the courses, although he was admittedly still terrible at golf. He went and saw Lake Huron and Lake Erie. He was so eager to tell me, almost giddy like a child.
From that point on, we talked on a regular basis until summer ended. He came in every day, or every other day, bought the same thing, and talked with me about his day or the past weekend. I can remember the first time I noticed his english getting better because I commented on it and he just beamed and swelled up with pride. I could tell it was a big step for him.
Looking back on it, I can't help but beam a little, myself. That was one of the best summers I have ever had, or will probably ever have. I literally got to sit and talk sports/life with a young, undiscovered Pavel Datsyuk. Even more than that, I feel that we had a certain degree of friendship after awhile. He could have gone to a different store, or even through a different cashier's line, but he didn't. It was always mine. One of the coolest things I have ever experienced.
One of the OTHER coolest experiences in my life? Watching that young, unproven Datsyuk grow into the legend that he is over the past 10 years, and watching him embrace the city of Detroit as we embrace him. He truly is an amazing person and athlete.
Pavs- You're my hero, man. I don't know if you remember me, or if you would recognize me if you saw me on the street, but you made my day 10 or so odd-years ago, and you still make my days today! I am overwhelmingly proud to say that I had the honor of meeting you, getting to know you, and now, getting to watch you change the game of hockey on a nightly basis.
Datsyuk is (IMO) exactly the kind of player the Wings retire. The other names in the rafters were guys who embodied what it means to be a Red Wing and i think Pav fits the mold. He handles himself with class and he is respected league-wide. Besides that he has good numbers, some hardware, and he's a gifted player.
Maybe Dats isn't a captain, maybe his numbers aren't as high but 50 years from now when I'm looking back, he's the man I'll remember the most. He's the guy who people will still talk about and say "wow, that guy was something special" and that makes him a future legend in my mind.