Off the floor, on the board…

Great moments in hockey history – I’ve missed a great deal of them in my life. I never saw Bobby Orr fly, I never saw the Rocket dissect a defence with ease, and I only caught the tail-end of the Great One during his time in LA (though even for this I’m thankful).

That said, I still managed, and will still manage, to catch a few moments that hold water: Crosby’s Golden Goal, Gilmour’s Hart-worthy season, Vancouver fans making complete asses of themselves in front of the whole world, and plenty more to come …

The reason I write tonight is that Paul Kariya has retired today. After 15 years, 400 goals, 1 gold medal, and almost 900 points all told … he’s called it quits due to concussions:

It’s an interesting thing those concussions. They’re slowly being factored out of the game – which is a good thing. But perhaps one of Paul’s defining moments as a hockey player … and perhaps a moment that led to his all-too-early retirement … came after a concussion. This is a moment that will not be repeated, simply because it would no longer be aloud by the league.

But, in my mind, this is what makes Canadian hockey players the toughest sons of mother:mothers to walk this earth. Not to pound my maple-crested chest, but I’d be impressed to see a Russian, Finn, or Swede do what Paul did during Game 6 of the Finals in 2003. Taking a beautifully placed and legal (at the time) hit from one of the best to ever throw a shoulder, Kariya didn’t call it a game, and instead went from out cold to playoff hero:

A perfect storm of lights-out skill and Canuck toughness. You couldn’t ask for a better hockey player.

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