Ron: Hi there - that's a nice sweater you've got on there.
Ron: Would you like to step in the back here and meet Don?
My Parents: Oh, that would be great, thank you so much!
We go back into an area that is clearly for employees only and there's Don Cherry chatting with some random folks. Ron introduces me and hands my parents camera to someone willing to take our picture. I always regretted not getting him in the picture with us. I had a couple of minutes back there where it was just us and Ron eventually brought me back out and asked me to follow him up on the stage. There were only a couple of minutes before the show started and he asked me to do him a favor.
Ron: Now listen, I'm going to ask you which one of us you like better and I need you to say me.
The lights go up and Ron does his opening, then introduces me. He really did ask me who I liked better. Looking back, I'm pretty sure that question was also answered in silence. Thank goodness he let me slide and kept on with the show with a little comedic relief. To be honest, I'm not sure I answered a single one of his questions that night. I was so in awe and shy that even today my memory is exactly what you read here today. There are gaps in the story, no doubt, but I'm confident these are the highlights. The two of them signed my jersey that night and that jersey still hangs in my home today. Their signatures read -
"Jim - Good Luck. Your Pal, Ron MacLean"
"To My Pal Jim - Don Cherry"
Regardless of your views of Ron and Don or Coach's Corner, my brief moment spent with them was nothing short of fantastic. I was about 12 years old and they made me feel like a star and treated me like I was a long lost friend. By that time there had already been about eight Rock'Em Sock'Em videos made, each one of them already in my collection. I remember my Dad finding the very first video and showing it to me. "Who is that guy," I asked him. He told me he was a fantastic coach and had a great show on Hockey Night in Canada. From the first time I watched it I was a fan. Meeting them only made me a bigger fan and as the years have gone on I have become a bigger and bigger supporter of them. Let's be honest, I'm one of a million, if not more, to have met them, but they were such good people that it's stuck with me all these years later.
While it's a long shot that either of them or anyone from the CBC will ever read this, I want to thank them both for how gracious they were and how kind they were to a young man who was clearly in shock upon seeing them. Thank you, Mr. MacLean and Mr. Cherry, and I look forward to seeing you both on Hockey Night in Canada for years to come.