Who would have known that the elegant-looking guy near the exit of Rogers Arena was the Coach himself?
I had eyed a gentleman in a dark long coat and hat, looking like a detective from L.A. Noire.
It was from a distance, but his side profile was the spitting image of Don Cherry, the man whose face and voice have been an ever-present in hockey fans' lives. He is Hockey Night in Canada's premiere game analyst and appears between periods on CBC's national telecast. Twenty of his DVDs line our living room shelf and I'd gifted his book, Hockey Stories and Stuff, to my hockey nut brother a few months back.
Sprinting to catch up with the him, I was dumbstruck to find that it was the legendary Don "Grapes" Cherry himself making his way out with the equally legendary Ron MacLean (himself).
I asked him about the Canucks' prospects of getting past the San Jose Sharks tonight.
"Oh yeah, they'll win. I'm sure of it," Cherry said, nodding his head with certainty.
MacLean offered to snap a photo of us -- although I had asked for a shot of the two of them together, he sensed my inner fandom and insisted on taking the camera, motioning for me to get in the photo with Cherry.
I wanted to ask more, possibly an interview, but they were in a rush and couldn't stay.
It was a brief but uplifting encounter with a man whose presence has been a kind of cultural touchstone for many Canadians. His loud suits and even louder commentary on Coach's Corner have been a fixture on our TV since the late eighties.
For as long as we've been watching, Cherry has had an eerie accuracy when it comes to predicting a game's outcome, especially where it concerns the Canucks. If he's confident that our team can win, we can probably count on the boys to take it tonight.
Go Canucks Go!