A Dream Encounter
By Karine Hains aka Pheebs888
We all have reasons to collect who or what we collect. Be it an unconditional love for a certain team or an immense respect for a given athlete, each collector has got their very own motivation. Personally, I actively collect Patrick Roy because from the age of 6 years old, he made me fall in love with both hockey and the goaltender position. I grew up watching his every move and even copying his style even though I was a goaltender in a very different sport…I was the only handball goaltender to use the butterfly style because of my years spent watching Roy. When I got back into the hobby in 2006 and I had to decide what to focus my collection on, I didn’t even need to think about it, asking the question was answering it; Patrick Roy had to be my focus.
Three years later, I have a respectable Roy collection which includes 35 autographs, over 150 game-used cards, a ton of inserts and base cards and a few 1/1s. As I was coming to Quebec for Christmas and he coaches the Quebec Remparts, I figured I would try to get him to sign my Colorado Avalanche jersey, it was the first thing I put in my suitcase when I packed on the eve of my departure.
Unfortunately (or so I thought) because of a snow storm in Canada, our flight plans had to be changed. Instead of flying London-Montreal and Montreal-Quebec, we had to fly London-Toronto and Toronto-Quebec. This meant that we would get to Quebec two hours later than planned if neither of our flights were delayed. As luck would have it, our flight Toronto-Quebec was indeed delayed and in the end we touched down in Quebec 4 hours later than we had originally planned.
Happy at the thought of seeing my family and friends, I didn’t really mind but when I realized who was at the Quebec airport I cared even less! Yes, my hero Patrick Roy was there waiting to collect his son who was arriving from Los Angeles at the very same time. Alerted to his presence, I left my husband at the conveyer belt to collect our suitcases and I made my way straight to the arrival lounge looking around everywhere to find the best goaltender in the history of the NHL.
Sure enough, he was there sitting and waiting patiently for his son. I approached him, shook his hand and spoke to him a little bit. To be honest I was really star struck, I didn’t really know what to say. Nearly three weeks later I can barely remember the conversation. In fact, all I can truly recall is telling him that it was a shame my Avalanche jersey number 33 was in my suitcase as I would have loved to get it signed but that I may try to attend a Remparts game to get it signed there. To my surprise, he replied: “Well you should, it would be fun and my pleasure”. At that stage I cursed myself for leaving all my bags with my husband as my digital camera was in one of them and I had no way to take a picture of this fantastic encounter.
About 15 minutes later, Roy left the airport as his son had finally arrived and collected his bags. While I was disappointed to have nothing to show from the meeting aside from an autograph on a post-it note, I was over the moon to have had the chance to meet my favorite player of all time. From then on, I knew I had to make every effort to attend a game at Le Colisée de Québec and get my jersey signed.
A week into my 3 week stay in Quebec, I heard that the game of the 18th December would include a charity fundraiser of stuffed animals for disadvantaged kids. I figured that was the perfect opportunity to a) do a good deed and b) fulfil my mission. Having heard of my plan, my parents decided to give me my birthday gift early, a Montreal Canadiens number 33 jersey vintage style! I now had two jerseys to get autographed and things were looking good…
We got to the Colisée just in time for the opening face-off so I didn’t get a chance to attempt to get my autographs before the game. However, we were sat fairly near to the Remparts’ bench and I decided to make my way there for the end of the period in the hope to catch Roy as he was leaving the bench for the locker room. However, after the Remparts gave two goals in two minutes and finished the period down 2-4, he stormed off and didn’t even look at the crown when the buzzer signalled the end of the first period. At this stage, I thought my mission could turn out to be trickier than expected…
I figured the best way to be successful would probably be to wait at the end of the game, when he would leave the building. Where would that be though? Which exit would he take? If I waited in the wrong place, all I would accomplish would be a colossal waste of time. To ensure that I would be in the right place, I decided to get some information from one of the policemen in charge of the security in the arena. He wasn’t very talkative originally but I grilled him for a while and was finally told where the VIP parking was, which exit the coach and players used and that the transaction period in the LHJMQ started on that night meaning that Roy could quite possibly hang around and try to make some deals (as he is the general manager of the team as well as the coach) before heading home. Armed with this new information, I returned to my seat and just enjoyed the rest of the game which turned into quite an offensive festival with the Remparts finally winning 8-5.
When the final buzzer rang, we made our way to the players’ exit and waited, waited and waited some more. We saw the players from both teams come out and meet their family and friends before heading home. Initially, the lobby was quite busy but by around 10.30 PM there were very few die-hard fans left waiting for autographs. In fact, there were 5 groups of people left. 1 turned out to be players’ girlfriends, another one can only be described as a pair of paparazzi, another guy was on his own waiting with hockey cards to get signed, a group of 4 enthusiastic Remparts fans dressed in the team colors waiting around to make sure they got the signature of each and every player and finally, us. It must have been quite clear who we were waiting for considering I was wearing my Roy Avalanche jersey and holding my Roy Canadiens jersey. By 11.30 PM all others had given up and we were the only 4 left standing in the lobby, by then we add been waiting for 2 hours.
Finally, at 12.15 AM Roy came out of the door which we had seen so many players come through that night. It was a freezing night in Quebec City and he was wearing a very big winter hat, the kind that keeps you very warm but can also prevent people from recognizing you. Something like this couldn’t fool me though, as soon as I saw him I knew exactly who he was and I walked/ran towards him. He saw me and I think he recognized me from the airport a week earlier. When I got near him I said: “Hi, I told you I would come didn’t I?” He replied: “You sure did”. Then I got him to sign my Habs jersey straight on the crest, my Avs jersey on the back on his famous number 33 and finally I even asked if he would pose for a picture which he agreed to do (after taking his hat off). In the end, I waited nearly three hours for a meeting which lasted less than five minutes but man was it worth it! I now have two very unique pieces in my collection and both jerseys will no doubt eventually get framed.
This is truly my best ever hobby memory. No huge pull or blockbuster trade even comes close to the thrill of meeting my all-time favorite and getting both of my jerseys autographed. I was also very pleased to find out first hand that Roy was such a class act and willing to stop to autograph my items even though it already quite late. Thanks Patrick!
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