How can you be so connected to someone you watch all the time, but barely had any interaction with? We act like we’ve known them for years and when its time to say goodbye, well…it’s gut wrenching. A sadness takes over you as you watch them one last time before they step away. I know what you’re thinking. Stalker right? You’ve got it all wrong.
I’m talking about athletes. I’m sure most of you can relate to this post. In the past few years being a Devils fan has been pretty crazy emotionally. Losing Martin Brodeur to St. Louis was, well pretty shitty. A lifelong Devil, or so we thought, chose another team for a chance to play a few more games. Now some of you will be mad at this but I have to say I’m pretty disappointed in Marty and hurt as a fan. Three Stanley cups, record on top of record broken, a rule added just because of his talent and he couldn’t end his career as a Devil? I’m still pissed about it and I’m glad he’s still involved in the hockey world, but again, not with the Devils. Tell me you’re not a bit peeved by it?
Anyway this post isn’t about him. It’s about Patrik Elias. A true Devil. A guy who loved the game on and off the ice. He recently announced his retirement and had his Last Lap as a Devil. He is the few who stood with one team throughout his career. He is a record holder with the Devils for goals, assists, and points. He was part of the infamous “A-Line” who alone made Devils fans get out of their seats and cheer. He gave hope every time he was on the ice of a goal being scored to the fans. His passion spoke volumes in each game.
Yeah I don’t know him personally, I only met him once. He was the only player I became stars struck with (not even Marty). So why when he skated on the ice for his last time did I get emotional? Why did the whole crowd chant “PATTY!” and “THANK YOU PATTY!”? We don’t know him. We don’t hang out with him regularly.
I’ll tell you why, because we’ve grown with him, we’ve gone through the ups and downs of his career and the Devils seasons with him. Maybe because watching hockey took us away from our everyday life and by Elias getting a goal or an assist it made our day a bit brighter. Maybe some of us were there when he scored a milestone goal or played in a milestone game. Not to mention anyone who was ever at a playoff game, where the atmosphere buzzes off your sweaters, the crowd becomes one entity and a win by your team feels like a win for yourself. You weren’t on the ice. You didn’t score the GWG to advance the team. You didn’t send a blind pass to Jason Arnott in double overtime of Game 6 to win the Stanley Cup in 2000.
No we didn’t do any of those, but we were there. We felt the energy, we held our breath every time a shot was aimed at Marty. We became one with the players on the ice. Patty became part of our community. He showed that last week when he watched his former team play in regular seats. Not a suite. Not the black seats. Regular red seats, like he was one of us. For those of you who are thinking well he is a normal person, think about that again. Maybe you’re not into sports, think of siting or seeing your favorite author, TV star, or movie star. They aren’t fully normal. You’ve connected with them wither it was their character who they played or wrote. If anything athlete’s are more down to earth than any celebrity. Let me rephrase that, hockey players, are more down to earth than any celebrity. May not be all of them, but I’m proud to see Patty as one of them. He will forever be one of the greatest Devils players and hopefully soon to be HOFer.
So yeah, we may not know him personally, but he’s touched our lives in more ways than the average person. It sucks to say goodbye, so with that Thank You Patty and enjoy retirement!