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Changing the Hespeler Hockey Guard

October 18th, 2010
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My friend Jim Hillis runs The Hespeler Project. He has cross-posted stuff I post here before, and has requested original material from me. I finally got around to giving him something, Changing the Hespeler Hockey Guard:

Here in Hespeler, we have what is euphemistically called, a favourite son. Kirk Maltby’s name is on the Stanley Cup four times, he played over 1,000 NHL games, 908 of them a few hours up the road in Detroit. For all his success, Maltby summered in Hespeler, worked out in the off season at the local YMCA and brought the Stanley Cup to the local bar, where his, and it’s, picture proudly hang on the wall.

We love him for none of that.

In Hespeler, there is only one stat that truly counts: did you buy a house in Galt? He never did, so we hung his jersey up at the Hespeler arena and called him ours.

He has had a distinguished NHL career and, sadly, this week called it quits. Retired at 37.

In the last couple of years, Maltby’s Jersey has been joined on the rafters of the Hespeler arena by Tim Brent. Granted, there was a meeting of a committee to have Brent‘s jersey, “ripped down, run through the chipper and burned like an American flag at a commune,” when there was a rumour that Brent was looking at a Condo in Preston, but the mayor (unofficial) arrived with some Grand River Town Hall Lager and sober second thought was replaced with a darn good party.

Brent was, however, always a marginal interest. Playing in Anaheim, he was wasting his career playing games at midnight on Tuesdays. Hometown boy made good, yes, but if your not up to see him on TSN, what good does it do anyone?

With Maltby’s exit from the game and Brent joining the Toronto Maple Leafs, however, an opportunity has opened up. Brent scored the Leafs first goal of the season last week against Montreal at a time when almost all of Hespeler was still up to see it.

He scored his second goal against Ottawa Saturday night, again during waking hours, this time on the CBC. Hockey Night in Canada for God’s sake: Don Cherry almost mentioned him on Coach’s Corner and there was a rumour at the Townline Tim Horton’s on Sunday morning that Rick Mercer may have him on his show – although it was agreed all round that they probably shouldn’t run into Pushlinch lake naked, Pushlinch Lake being in Guelph rather than Hespeler.

Being a Maple Leaf, Brent could easily surpass Maltby as our local hero by winning a Stanley Cup with Toronto. While that sounds like a lot, let it be said that nobody is suggesting he win a show-offy four cups like Maltby, but a modest one.

A-HA! I can hear the cries of Montreal Canadian fans in Galt pouncing. The Leafs win four lousy games and your already planning the parade. Well, yea, actually:

Around the parking lot at Townline Tim Horton’s a few times, just until everybody gets an ice cap
Across Townline road to Ellis Road and down to the arena
Around the arena parking lot, and then to Cooper Street
Down Cooper to Guelph Ave
Along Guelph Avenue to Ernie’s where, the ice caps being almost finished, we can start having our picture taken drinking beer with the Stanley Cup.

It may seem presumptuous, four games into the season. But us Hespelerites know the Leafs now have a secret weapon: A Hespeler Boy.

And no, we’re not opening the gates across the 401 that day. You guys get the Santa Claus Parade (official) and the Canada Day Parade and Fireworks: we get the Stanley Cup parades and picture day at Ernie’s with the cup.

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