One of the most intriguing stories of the year came out of a practice, of all things, yesterday, at the Canadiens' practice rink in Verdun.
You've probably read about it, by now, a man who is identified only as Raphael hopping over the boards in full equipment and managing to squeeze off two shots on Canadians goalie Jose Theodore before he was turned over to the police, who let him go. The CP version is here, and the Montreal Gazette story (reg. required) had a little more in the way of players' reaction:
"I thought of getting out of the net when he came back and not play to his game. But he had the balls to get on the ice, so I figured I'd let him have a free shot," Theodore said.
His teammates viewed the incident as comical, but all agreed it should never be allowed to transpire again. Defenceman Craig Rivet, closest to Julien as the fan left the ice, said he would have used his stick to defend himself if necessary. Captain Saku Koivu said the fan didn't look strong enough on his skates to inflict any damage.
"It was funny, but also could have been dangerous," Koivu said. "I thought the guy was pulling a joke. Maybe he was a comedian. It's good that nothing happened.
"It's the first time I've seen anything like that, and I've been here 10 years. It should never happen. Now, it doesn't matter. But had he gone after somebody, there could have been endless possibilities.
"We were lucky today."
I guess all those nightmare scenarios would flash through the players' minds. As for me, I'm applauding at least the guy's sincerity -- it's not like he was part of some online casino publicity stunt.
My question is -- who is this Raphael? Anyone know this guy? Raphael, please call home, man -- or email us. Your public wants to talk.
(NOTE: The home PC shut down yesterday, so the blog is going to be acting a little weird the next few days as I use
the library Star home office computers. But stay tuned, I'll be posting whenever I can. And because I'm a little pinched right now (Spencer is going on holidays, so I'm helping him out with the editing), I won't be posting a lot of links -- but by all means, send anything over that catches your eye and I can post it.)