Sunday, May 18, 2008

2008 IIHF World Championship - Russia vs. Canada

Today's game was the big final between Russia and Canada that would determine who would win the gold medal and who would have to leave with the silver medal! I got to the Colisée early because I wanted to catch some VIP guests as they arrived. There were about 5 or 6 of us waiting outside for autographs... One of the others told me he had heard on the radio that Ken Dryden would be coming to the game with other politicians. Unfortunately, I hadn't brought anything of him. :o(

Unlike the other games, many players from Team Canada got to the arena in tournament shuttles by groups of 2 or 3. I got Martin St. Louis to sign my Tampa Bay Lightning puck when he showed up with Jason Spezza:

When Team Canada's bus arrived, none of the players signed. I guess they wanted to keep their focus on the game...

A bit later, Glenn Anderson and Kevin Lowe arrived together. I was happy to get an autograph from each of them, since I had missed them after the Legends game last Thursday!

Many politicians arrived afterwards, including the Prime Minister of Canada. Ken Dryden also showed up. He signed everything that was handed to him, but he would personalize everything. He signed for about a minute or two before heading inside. I had a blank index card I wanted to get signed, but I left the chance to the others who had photos and cards...

A few minutes later I was a bit surprised to see Viacheslav Fetisov arrive, since he was supposed to play last Thursday at the Legends game, but hadn't! It's a good thing that I had left my 2 cards of him in my small box of cards! He signed them for me:

Another one that was even less expected was Borje Salming, who arrived soon after Mr. Fetisov. I didn't have any cards of Mr. Salming with me, but I still got his autograph on a blank index card:

About 5 minutes after the game had begun, I was about to leave since it appeared unlikely that anyone else would be showing up. My plan was to go home, watch the game on TV, find my cards of Borje Salming and Ken Dryden, get back to the Colisée near the end of the game and try to get my cards signed. That's when I noticed a guy from the tournament talking to a family of four that was hanging out at the back of the Colisée (presumably so that their kids could see the players come in - they were a bit late I guess!). Anyhow, the guy asked them if they had tickets for the game and they told him they didn't. The guy took out a pile of tickets from his pocket and handed them a ticket each! As the guy from the tournament was about to get inside the Colisée, I ran up to him and asked him if he wouldn't have an extra ticket available for one person (by that time, I was the only one left at that entrance). He said he didn't mind giving me one, since the game had already begun!!! Here's a scan:

So I ended up going to the gold medal game! I was ecstatic! It was such a surprise, so unexpected! When I got to my seat, the score was 1-1 and only 6 minutes had been played in the 1st period. From what I could gather, the ticket I was given came from a batch that the tournament was keeping for VIP guests. For instance, if Wayne Gretzky had decided to come to the game without a ticket, he could very well have been sitting next to me! Kevin Lowe, Glenn Anderson and Jyrki Lumme were all in my section...

Autograph-wise, my day was not over! During the first intermission, I was walking in the corridor when I stumbled upon someone who I had been looking for the whole week: Alexander Yakushev! I asked him if he would autograph my card and he did!

I'm not sure if he spoke or understood English though. Furthermore, he looked as though he had never seen the card I asked him to sign! :o) I can't blame him, since it's only limited to 240 copies...

Before getting back to my seat for the 2nd period, I also saw Valeri Kamensky in the corridor, so I had him sign this card:

After the game, I went to the back of the Colisée to get autographs from the players, but there were MANY Russians there to greet their team. Many were pushing, so I felt it wouldn't be any good for autographs, seeing how I didn't even have much space to move and I didn't want to damage the cards I was holding! I then moved to the North-West entrance and waited there.

Rick Nash came out from that entrance way before any of the other players came out from the garage door behind the Colisée. I guess he felt bad for causing the power play during which the Russians scored in overtime and he wanted to avoid the media, or something like that. I could have asked for an autograph, but decided this would probably be a bad time...

A bit later, Craig MacTavish came out. I got his autograph on this card:

Once Team Russia had come out and their bus left, the Russians that had been waiting behind the Colisée also left. Team Canada had yet to come out, but their bus was parked in the garage for the first time of the tournament, which wasn't a good sign! Even though the remaining fans kept shouting "CANADA" and wanted them to come out, the players were already in the bus when it rolled out of the garage and left.

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