I have served thousands of people over the years, and handled my fair share of celebs (Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford and of course Vanessa Williams spring to mind), but last night I was in the presence of true greatness.
I SERVED DOUG GILMOUR.
Yes "The Killer" sat and dined in my section last night and I was as giddy as a wee girl. Putting things in perspective I am a lifetime Leafs fan and Doug Gilmour led the Leafs during their last true run (back to back Conference Finals in '93 & '94). During those two seasons Gilmour may well have been the best player in hockey, amassing 238 points over the combined regular seasons and a mindboggling 63 points in 39 playoff games, but "Killer" was more than the numbers.
Gilmour led by example, and often it appeared that he willed his team to win, veteran Leaf Ken Ellett once said about Gilmour that "he played so hard it made you embarrassed not to play harder". Sadly Ellett's skate was the object Wayne banked his game winning goal off of in game 6 of the '93 Conference final - a game he shouldn't have been in after cutting Dougie in the chin on Kerry Fraser's worst day ever, but that's another story.
Killer took the tough face-offs, killed penalties and often appeared to log 30 minutes a night, but that's unlikely - Hell he was named the league's best "defensive" player in a season in which he amasses 127 points. So how can you score 127 points, be the league's best defensive player and not win the MVP you ask? That too is another story.
Gilmour wore the C after the trade of Wendell Clark in '94 and it was a sad day for me, and all Leafdom, when he was traded (ironically along with Ellett) to New Jersey after the '96-'97 campaign.
Irony continued when Gilmour suited up for Chicago, and scored, in the last game ever played at Maple Leaf Gardens and then there was the bittersweet trade day reacquisition of a 39 year old Killer in 2003, only to have him blow out his knee in his first game back - at least he retired as a Leaf.
I don't know about heros but if I could've sat down for beers with any 2 sports figures of my generation it would have been the late Thurman Munson and Doug Gilmour - and last night was probably the closest I'll ever come.
As he was leaving Killer stopped to thank me for the evening and I replied "thanks for '93 - it made it okay to keep being a Leafs fan".