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Discussion in 'Sports' started by VespaFitz, Feb 22, 2005.
No, they actually are big. Skating a lot increases ass size exponentially.
Female hockey players are trained to say that by their coaches~
Big in a good way
Mmmmmmmmmmm, Katerina Witt.
I'd hit it.
I weighed about 205 pounds in my playing days. Wayne Gretzky, full of pre-game pasta on a hungry afternoon, was 178. So the question itself made sense. The one where people would ask me, "why didn't you just, you know, hit him?"
The answer is simple. I couldn't find him.
Trust me, there was nothing I wanted to do more than hit the guy. My brain always told me the same thing: "hit first, then do something else." In the beginning I sat on the bench watching him and thought to myself, "gee this kid's awfully scrawny." I prepared to paste him. Pasting people was my game.
So I tried. I wiffed. Tried again. Whiffed. His game and mine didn't exactly mesh.
Hitting Gretzky was like wrapping your arms around fog. You saw him, but when you reached out to grab him your hands felt nothing, maybe just a chill. He had the strongest danger radar of anyone on the ice. I think he could sense me coming, the way you can sometimes look ahead and sense somebody watching you from behind. Randy Carlyle summed it up best when he said Wayne was like a deer. Anyone who hunts knows how graceful deer are. They look meek and mild but they're so hard to get at. That was Wayne. I can't remember one time in my career when I got a good piece of him.
It didn't help that he was a tough guy to dislike, too. I hit harder when I had a good hate going for somebody, but what was there to hate about Gretzky? It was like running into Gandhi in the corner. The most I could do when I managed to pin him to the boards was tell him to go away and not come back.
Wayne introduced totally new flow patterns to the game and because of that, I had to play him differently than anybody I ever faced. Hitting quickly gave way to the "do something else," which in his case was "avoid getting embarrassed."
Here's what I mean: Offensive stars before Wayne had their individual strengths, but they attacked using the same principle. That being, the fastest way to the goal was the fastest way to the goal. Gilbert Perreault, Guy Lafleur, Bobby Orr, Marcel Dionne, Mario Lemieux, they all came at me full bore. They try to get by me, make a clear 1-on-1 challenge, mano-a-mano. I never got the sense that making that kind of challenge was important to Wayne. He had the moves to beat people in open ice and showed them from time to time, but taking on guys 1-on-1 wasn't his main interest. That one fact changed everything.
And when you think about it, Wayne's way made sense. Trying to beat me (or any physical defenseman) to the outside was a risk. That goes double for someone Wayne's size. Even assuming a player got by, he'd usually wind up in the corner having to cut back hard to the net. Even when Bobby Orr beat me, he'd often end up so deep that he'd have to circle the net.
So it was rare that winning a 1-on-1 battle in open ice resulted in a great position for the attacker. I think Wayne was the first guy to figure that out. If the idea was to get the puck behind the net, Wayne figured out a better way. If he gave up the puck, then skated behind the net--without the threat of being hit--the puck would find a way back to him. He used that principle, on either the giving or going end, all over the ice.
Whenever I did manage to track him down, I was invariably too late. The puck was already gone. The truly maddening part was that he never offered resistance. With players like Lemieux or Mark Messier, there was always physical resistance. With that battle came the chance for a little satisfaction. But Wayne was never there to be stronger or smarter than me. He was there to get his play done and move on. Heck, he never even looked me in the eye the way other players did. He always looked beyond.
I was scared of his abilities the way you're scared of the unknown. I never understood him. I only knew enough to be afraid that something bad might happen if I didn't hold my position. I always found myself caught in-between with Wayne, wondering if I should keep my ground or charge him. He had such a great stutter step. He would come straight ahead at full speed, then all of a sudden he'd pull up, changing the gap between us from, say, three feet to eight in the blink of an eye. His hands would still be forward to make a pass, but his body would be leaning back out of harm's way. If I lunged, off-balance and out of position, he'd saunter by. He could play this game like a coiled snake rising out of a basket. I figure he must be a great fisherman, the way he laid the bait out, then pulled it away. Getting caught fishing at his line was something I tried to avoid.
My best memories of him come from the 1983 and '84 Stanley Cup finals. We were in opposite conferences, so we didn't play often in the season. Besides, I never put much stock in what a guy did over seven months. I wanted to know where he was going to be when I was in his face for five games over 10 nights in a playoff pressure cooker.
We managed to frustrate the Oilers in 1983 to win the last of our four Cups. Al Arbour designed our game plan against Gretzky. We tried to pressure him, force him to pass a little quicker than he wanted to. As soon as he made his trademark curl inside of the blueline, it was my job to take off after him, hard. I didn't want to allow him time to find his pass. (One thing I didn't have to do was wince if he looked like he was going to shoot. Unlike most players, he knew exactly were he was putting the puck, my shin wasn't it). Then it was up to my teammates to shut off the passing lanes. The strategy worked well, though it was only a small part of why we won the series. Billy Smith's goaltending had a lot to do with it, too.
Going into the finals the next year, we had beaten the Oilers in 10 straight games. They got a boost of confidence with a 1-0 win in Game 1. We won two nights later, 6-1, but back in Edmonton for Game 3 they had a look in their eyes that said, "Move over boys, we're taking over." The Oilers won 7-2. For us, that was the beginning of the end.
Wayne ended up leading playoff scorers with 35 points that year, but it was something he did off-ice a few weeks before our battles that really stunned me and earned my everlasting admiration. My father passed away two weeks before the 1984 final. We were in the quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals at the time. I took a day and went home to Ottawa for the funeral. When I walked into the funeral home, there was an incredibly beautiful flower arrangement that caught my eye. The card read "From Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers."
It was one of the most touching gestures in my career. When we were shaking hands at the end of the final, I leaned over and thanked him. Players on opposing teams just didn't do things like that. But that's Wayne; he understnads everything about the game. He knew the only thing every 12-year-old kid growing up playing hockey wants to do is please his dad. It's all I ever wanted to do and it's a feeling that never left me. The last three seasons of my career after my dad died, I felt like I was playing in front of empty arenas. I'm convinced Wayne understood that. And it's just a guess on my part, but I'd bet that's the same feeling he had when his father Walter suffered a aneurysm a few years ago. He talked a little bit about retiring then. I think I understand what he might have been thinking.
But I don't want to push this similarity theme too far. Wayne gave us 20 years of unbelieveable hockey, revolutionized the game and is idolized everywhere he goes. Me, I'm booed every time I enter an arena. Like I said, with Wayne it was just a whole different world.
Rider... I'm with ya on this one... I'll sit through an hour of Stars on Ice just to watch that magnificent Uber chick skate around!!
It would be worth getting crushed between her amazonian thighs. I saw a photo of her with a bunch of other women figure skaters and she looked like Wilt Chamberlin among the munchkins.
Ooooh, Katerina. East German chemistry and its training at its finest.
If I played hockey with Katerina, I'd get whistled for "high sticking", if ya know what I mean.
I'd hit it, and I think I'd leave the skates on.
5 in the box for you!
She'd cut my ear lobes off then.
I'd take 5 minutes in her box.
Ducking those things'd be half the fun.
I can see the amusement factor in it.
Handles: Designed to facilitate placement and movement of an orif... oops I mean OBJECT.
Sorta like doin' it in a lion cage or something.
Yeah, a gladiator edge to it. "Get laid and/or get cut." I can dig it.
That's a jaw dropping post. Runner up to VR's Womens Perspective on Motorcycling for post of the month in my book. Thanks for that one. I'll be thinking about that for a while.