My Favorite Sports Story Ever: A Frenchman's Brush with NHL Greatness
I've been putting this off for a long time.
Honestly, I've wanted to do this column since I started writing columns six years ago.
But I worried this story would be too silly, too cliched, and that no one would read it.
However, it is one of my favorite stories from my childhood, and it still brings me to a chuckle every time I think about it.
Plus, since the Winter Classic happened two days ago, and the Flyers and Bruins played an old-fashioned donnybrook heavy on physicality, I figured now is as good a time as any to finally share this story with you, my devoted readers.
It is quite simply one of the best stories I've ever heard, complete with a surprise ending.
I hope you like it.
About 12 years ago, my dad was a mechanical engineer at Towle Silversmiths in Taunton, Mass., where he befriended a young apprentice named Kristoff.
Kristoff hailed from a region in France where few people cared or even knew about the game of hockey.
This, as you'll see, will be very relevant to the story later on.
So, one day, Kristoff got a call from his boss Lenny.
"Kristoff," Lenny bellowed into the phone, "I got a friend downstairs who needs a trophy polished—go downstairs and meet him."
Now Kristoff was very busy as it was; the last thing he wanted to do was go downstairs a help and customer because the boss said so.
But, then again, Lenny was the boss.
When he got there, he saw a man holding a sports trophy in his hands.
After exchanging pleasantries, Kristoff took a look at it and noticed a small gold figurine holding a hockey stick.
"Do you play hockey?" Kristoff asked.
The man seemed surprised that someone would ask him that question
"Yeah, I used to," came the meek reply.
The follow-up question represented everything Kristoff knew about the game of hockey.
"Do you know Dave Pieroni?"
All poor Kristoff knew about hockey what that it was a game my father played, even if it was only for a recreational team.
"No, what team does he play for?"
"I don't know, a bunch of them."
After a few more minutes of small talk, the man left and Kristoff retreated back to the office, where he was met by a giddy young lady who observed the conversation.
"Do you know who that was?" she excitedly inquired.
"Yeah, he said his name was Bobby Orr."
"But do you know who he is?" she shot back.
"Sure I do, he's a friend of Lenny's."
I guess the moral of the story here is that we can't blame him for not knowing who Orr was.
After all, hockey is as popular to his country as lawn darts is to ours.
But the mere fact that he was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the man many people consider to be the greatest hockey player who ever lived and had no idea who he was is quite surprising in reality.
But, then again, you or I could have struck up a conversation with the best lawn darts player in the world and not known it.
The odds are probably better than you'd think.
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