Back when the Leafs were great, I had a hockey-themed birthday party. My parents set up a ball hockey net in the basement and made chocolate cupcakes so we could “ice the pucks.” We played musical squares to the Hockey Night In Canada theme and took shots on my dad to “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.”
My parents took birthday parties very seriously.
I was pretty much the only one of my girlfriends who liked hockey, but it didn’t really matter because we all had a blast in the way only ten year-old girls on a cupcake high can. After the party, my aunt handed me an envelope filled with an entire summer’s worth of free passes to the Hockey Hall Of Fame. Her next-door neighbour had heard that I was having a hockey party and wanted to make it extra special. Andy Bathgate was a really solid dude like that.
And so that summer, my dad took my sister Molly and I downtown to The Hockey Hall of Fame. There was a goalie simulator and Bobby Orr’s bronzed skates and the chance to take your picture with the Stanley Cup. There was also the broadcast booth.
The broadcast booth consisted of a video camera and a teleprompter and let you record your own play-by-play of iconic hockey moments: a Denis Savard Spinorama, the Summit Series win, Bobby Orr’s Goal – you know the one. You could record your clip and then introduce it on your very own “episode” of Sportscentre. Our tiny minds were blown.
“Well this is cool, you guys,” said my dad. “Do you want to try it?” I think my butt was on the stool before he even finished the question. There were no clips of the Leafs so I picked the Bobby Orr Goal. I did my play-by-play, I read my teleprompter, and as I watched it back on the recording, it occurred to me that my voice was kind of annoying. Okay, I thought. Maybe it’ll sound different when I grow up.
Molly pushed me off the stool. “My turn.”
She smacked the start button. The red light switched on. Molly looked into the camera and prepared for her moment in the spotlight, confident in her own theatrical brilliance. And then the teleprompter started rolling. Molly’s confident smirk quickly morphed into a look of terror. She looked back at my dad and I with wide eyes.
“Go ahead, Molly,” said my dad. “Read it.”
Molly took a deep breath. “HelloandwelcometosportscentreimyourhostYourNameHere.”
My dad and I busted out laughing. The people waiting outside the booth did too. Molly was “Your Name Here” for the rest of the day, and we had a story that would gradually pass into family legend. We were still laughing about it when we entered the Great Hall to have our picture taken with the Cup. Afterwards, my dad took us across the street to Shopsy’s for sundaes. It was as close to a perfect day as a kid could have. It wasn’t until later that I realized the Great Hall was full of hundreds of pictures of inductees and none of them were girls.