Off to find the hero of the day

Cape Breton Post - - Editorial - Steve Bartlett The Deep End Steve Bartlett is an edi­tor with SaltWire Net­work. He dives into the Deep End Mon­days to es­cape re­al­ity and licky boom boom down. Reach him at sbartlett@ thetele­gram.com. He’d love to hear about your ex­pe­ri­ences meet­ing he­roes.

Never meet your hero.

I fol­low that ad­vice by de­fault for the most part. My sport or mu­sic he­roes don’t usu­ally turn up in these parts, though one time I met did Snow, the Cana­dian reg­gae singer be­hind the 1992 hit “In­former.”

Speak­ing of that Snow song, be­fore con­tin­u­ing, could you do me a HUGE solid?

Wher­ever you are, what­ever you are do­ing, stand up and in your best Cana­dian reg­gae rap voice, sing “A licky boom boom down.”

Do it! Please! It’ll open doors for you.

Thanks.

Back to meet­ing he­roes. On Fri­day af­ter­noon - co­in­ci­den­tally at around Happy Hour - I head down­town to meet my all-time hockey hero.

His name is Wen­del Clark. To you, he’s maybe just a guy who played with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

To me, Wen­del is hockey.

He worked hard, play­ing with three Ts - tal­ent, tenac­ity and tough­ness. (He also had another no­table T, his goa­tee.)

Wen­del could score. He could hit. And he could fight.

As some­one who played with just one T - ter­ri­ble - Wen­del was ab­so­lutely amaz­ing.

I’ve been a fa­natic since his 34-goal, 227-penalty minute rookie sea­son in 1985-86.

I watched as many of his games on TV pos­si­ble un­til he re­tired in 2000.

I’ve viewed a YouTube com­pi­la­tion of his high­lights 7,436,001 times, I think of him ev­ery time I put on skates, and his book, “Bleed­ing Blue: Giv­ing My All for the Game” is on all my mo­bile de­vices.

And here I am on a rare sunny Fri­day af­ter­noon about to meet him.

I’m geek­ing out at the prospect, but feel­ing plenty of nerves too.

What if he is a rude jerk? What if he isn’t as cool as thought?

What if he has one of those eerie, wet noo­dle-like hand­shakes?

What if this ex­pe­ri­ence goes worse than the first 100 days of the Trump pres­i­dency?

I could very well be on my way to los­ing a long-time hero.

The ho­tel bar is empty, save for some guys sit­ting around a ta­ble in the cor­ner.

I’m es­corted there and re­al­ize the group in­cludes Wen­del as well as NHLers Dale Haw­er­chuk, Shayne Cor­son, P.J. Stock, Marty Turco, and Brad May.

They’re in town for a Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion fundrais­ing tour­na­ment.

I’ve in­ter­viewed all sorts of “names” — prime min­is­ters, mem­bers of the Royal Fam­ily, TV and mu­sic stars, etc. — but I’m trag­i­cally shy and ab­so­lutely star struck right now.

Cor­son played with Team Canada at a Canada Cup and the Olympics.

May hoisted the Stan­ley Cup 10 years ago with Ana­heim.

Turco started in goal at the 2003-04 all-star game.

Haw­er­chuk is a freakin’ hall of famer, with 1,409 ca­reer points.

And P.J. Stock … has nice hair when he’s on TV.

I qui­etly join the group, talk a lit­tle about the area, and then chat with Wen­del.

We sit away from the puck­sters and have a beer.

I speak with him as a fan, not a jour­nal­ist.

I pum­mel him — with ques­tions, too many ques­tions.

Among other things, we talk about the game, his work as a Leafs am­bas­sador, his wrist shot, how he doesn’t play much hockey any­more.

He en­joys coun­try mu­sic, thinks Doug Gilmour (circa 1992-93) was the best he played with, and has big dreams for his restau­rant chain, Wen­del Clark’s Clas­sic Bar and Grill.

I’m blath­er­ing, in com­plete awe, and can’t help my­self.

Wen­del gra­ciously an­swers each ques­tion, even though deep in­side he’s likely telling him­self this can’t end soon enough.

I thank him for be­ing so ac­com­mo­dat­ing and leave chuffed about the ex­pe­ri­ence.

Never meet your hero - un­less it’s Wen­del Clark.

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