This is my five part series in how to buy a sports jersey. I didn’t plan for it to be a series, but like your Mom didn’t exactly plan for you, these things happen. Also, I’M BACK! Click here for Part 1.
Rule #4: Beware the Hero
Your team has been in the gutter for a few seasons now. Ever since your perennial goalie/1st basemen/ point guard/ kicker left the team/retired/got arrested your team just hasn’t had the same identity, the same pizzaz, the same, chutzpah, if I’m talking about Sandy Koufax. You keep telling yourself this season is going to be different, but you know it’s just going to be loss after loss, reviled by the critics as a team fading, trying to recapture it’s glory years. Then, like a Phoenix in what should of been a better version of X-Men 3, a hero emerges. Sometimes he’s a free agent signing, meant to just get your team above the salary cap and because the laws of the game say you need two goalies. Sometimes he’s a waiver wire pick up, who goes on to shake and/or bake your team to the playoffs. Months ago you were saying “Who is this guy?”, but now you’re calling him the next coming of Patrick Roy, something your old college roommate won’t let you forget. Without the hero, this would have been another lost season. You pick up his jersey after you complete your unsuccessful, but unwarranted and appreciated playoff run. You will forever immortalize him in the comic book that is your life.
THE REASON IT FAILS:
Or he will be forever immortalized in your closet. For me to illustrate my point, let’s go back to the Colorado Avalanche blog I was referring to yesterday. As mentioned, the kid had purchased a Craig Anderson jersey, the team’s starting goalie from 09/10 through 10/11. Yes, one year and a half. To really understand Craig Anderson and what he meant for the Avs, you need to know some history. This isn’t “Talkin’ with Teach” though, and I know you guys have places to go. ::locks eyes with cat, thinks of the only room with an AC unit:: Here’s the quick version. From 1996 to 2003, the Avs had a goalie named Patrick Roy. If you don’t know who that is, your either in a coma, from New Jersey, or Hispanic. He was the best. Like, literally the best. 4 Stanley Cups, with 2 different teams, unprecedented by a goalie. 3 Conn Smyths, more than any other goalie. Was in the Stanley Cup Finals four times, won each time. Suck it, Brodeur. Anyways, he retires and for 5 seasons (plus one lockout), the Avs are stuck with bargain basement goaltending. Then in the summer of ’09, after what at the time was the Avs worst season, they signed Craig Anderson, a journey man goalie just looking for a starting job. What resulted was a rather remarkable season that at one point had him as a potential Hart and Vezina Finalist, and brought the Avs back to the playoffs, which was rather short lived, but still, better than not going. This is the ovation he got after game 3 of the WQF’s against the San Jose Sharks, who he blanked 1-0 on 51 shots, an NHL playoff record.
Pretty cool right? I’m sure a lot of people rushed out to buy his jersey. Too bad for them he stunk up the next season, just looking like he didn’t care, and was traded by February to the fucking Ottawa Senators, the Siberia of the NHL. See, I wanted a Craig jersey, but I knew he was only on a two-year contract (a factor in Rule#1), and one year does not a man make.
When the hero actually wins you a trophy, or is one of the linchpins that factored into it. I’m talking about Chris Drury, Derek Jeter circa the Shovel Pass (did I just capitalize a Derek Jeter moment?), David Tyree, etc. That’s when you celebrate the hero. Even if those guys don’t stick around long (Drury was traded one year after winning the Cup, Tyree was off the team within two.) you aren’t just celebrating them, you are celebrating the year they had, the year the whole team had. When I see someone rocking the #37 Drury, I don’t think, “poor sap, must have been bummed when the kid was flown to Calgary,” the Guantanamo Bay of the NHL. No, instead I remember Drury, and all those clutch goals, and how happy he made all of us. When I see someone with an Anderson jersey I just think to myself, “poor bastard.” Him and Craig Anderson.