Canucks and Beyond

Canuck-For-A-Day

05/15/2008 at 3:47pm EDT

Geez, time flies, doesn’t it? I can’t believe this happened nearly 5 years ago, but I think Vancouver fans will remember this story. From Marc Weber at The Province:

Chris Levesque lived every man’s dream when he suited up for the Vancouver Canucks in 2003, but that brush with the bigs also made it tougher to forget his own.

For all the fun and fanfare surrounding that day of real-life fantasy—plucked from studying on the UBC campus and thrust into the NHL spotlight—there was also an element of “what if?”

Levesque wasn’t just an emergency backup, after all. He was an emergency backup who came within a whisker of playing—famously working his gum on the bench while Johan Hedberg lay motionless after a first-period collision.

He’s now a sous chef in Vancouver with fond memories of that surreal experience. Back December of 2003, I wrote about Levesque’s brush with hockey fame, and with some envy…

From Vancouver Canucks Op Ed:

Anyone who pays any attention to the Vancouver Canucks already knows about Chris “Eddie” Levesque and his miraculous bench-warming assignment for the team last night. Undoubtedly one of the coolest Canuck stories of the season - even though he didn’t get to play.

Judging from comments all around the internet and tv-land, it seems that everyone had a smile for the good fortune of this university player. Let’s face it, he basically won the lottery and the prize was “NHL Player For A Day”.

The whole thing triggered our ‘inner hockey player’, not unlike the experience of watching the Heritage Classic a couple weeks ago. Both occasions, though different, made us think about childhood hockey dreams.

Don’t you remember when your earliest career ‘plan’ was to actually be Paul Henderson or Gordie Howe or Wayne Gretzky? The harsh realities of making it to the NHL (and the fact that we couldn’t actually deke our way out of a paper bag) were not remotely considered in this plan.

Eventually we grew up and faced the mind-boggling fact that we might actually not be very good. Or at least not good enough. And so, ‘Professional Hockey Player’ came off the career checklist. The childhood fantasy still exists though. When watching the game last night, didn’t everyone think (for a brief moment) what it would be like if Brian Burke had called us?

Tuesday’s circumstances were clearly risky-business for the team, given the prospect of an utterly unqualified netminder in the wings. But we’re glad it happened the way it did: through Chris’s eyes, we got to imagine what it would be like to run off and join an NHL team… even for just one night.

Chris Levesque won’t be buying his own drinks anytime soon. Living in Canada, you can safely expect to dine for free on a story like Chris gets to tell. And while he may struggle in his geography final exam tomorrow, it’s a safe bet that he wouldn’t trade his name on an NHL roster sheet for anything.

We should all be so lucky.

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