I didn’t grow up in a hockey town. I was nowhere near a hockey town. But my college roommate was from St. Louis, so he insisted we listen to St. Louis Blues games at night on KMOX, which we could pick up well enough in southern Indiana.
The color commentator was former player Noel Picard, who had an indecipherable French Canadian accent. The play-by-play dude would say, “Noel, what did you think of that?” and Noel would say, “Ah hoody hoo ha mere, ah hoody rama.” Couldn’t understand a frickin’ word of Noel’s vowel movements.
I’ve enjoyed reading about the Bruins since moving to Boston last summer, and I watched game highlights. There’s a lot of sports history to soak up – about Bill Russell, Red Auerbach, Ted Williams and all of the other sports greats. The Ted Williams of hockey is Bobby Orr. There’s a statue of him jumping right at you in front of the Garden.
It’s a steep learning curve and I don’t claim to have made much progress in my climb up Mount Hockeyknowledge. Still, this past week, we’ve all been gathered around the television for these playoff games.
I’m loving it, but am still ignorant of hockey.
So I spent some time doing hockey research and I thought: what in the hell ever happened to Noel Picard.
Happy to report he’s still alive. I saw a YouTube report about Noel’s latest job, working as a Montreal security guard.
And then I discovered what a small damn world it is.
I found a clip of Bobby Orr scoring that winning goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup Final – the goal after which the made that leap that is now embronzed.
It was Noel Picard who tripped Bobby Orr, setting up the iconic photo from the 1970 Stanley Cup. And that photo was the basis for a statue.
I’m reeling from this new weenie roast of hockey knowledge, when I end up at a fine eatery in the North End. I’ve beaten the rest of the dinner party to the restaurant and so I repair to the bar, where I share the room with only the bartender, a young guy – and former Rollins College ballplayer – named Michael.
Of course, we watch the NHL Channel and talk hockey.
If I wasn’t a hockey fan before, I am now, thanks to Michael. I have a couple beers and when I cash out, Michael gives me another one on the house, just because he enjoyed talking about Monday’s game with me.
Hockey is the number-one source for male bonding.
By the way, the statue of Paul Revere was directly across the street from the restaurant. As you can see, even Paul has gone hockey crazy: