INSTANT REPLAY: The septuagenarian and the kid
I have little in common with Gilbert Brulé, the pro hockey player who grew up in Deep Cove while going to Seycove secondary.
He was born in Edmonton. I first saw the light of day in Vancouver.
He began skating at age three and has played hockey virtually his whole life, from B.C.-championship peewee teams at the North Shore Winter Club to the Memorial Cup-winning Vancouver Giants and on to the NHL with Columbus Blue Jackets and Edmonton Oilers. He’s presently one of the leading scorers with the Oklahoma City Barons, currently the top team in the 30-club American Hockey League. Me? I have never played on a hockey team, unless you count street hockey.
He can recognize Bono hitchhiking on the side of a road on a rainy day in West Van. I wouldn’t recognize Bono if I saw him standing on the stage at a U2 concert.
Brulé is 24 years old. Just a kid. I will be almost three times his age on my next birthday. That should read our next birthday.
You see, we do have one important thing in common: our birthdays are on January 1st. Yes, we were New Year’s babies.
He will be 25 on Sunday. I will be 70.
That makes me a septuagenarian, a word I’d never heard of until Joe Kapp and Angelo Mosca became the most famous septuagenarian scrappers in history following their Grey Cup festival dust-up that created a you-have-to-see-this YouTube video which has been viewed 554,000 times. Hey, don’t you worry, I don’t have a cane yet and I don’t plan on punching anyone.
But back to Gilbert Brulé and me.
The Outlook was the first newspaper to do a feature on Brulé, a 500-word piece by Kevin Gillies. Gilbert was 13 at the time and had just scored the 1,200th goal of his career. That was in November 2000 with the NSWC Winterhawks. Unfortunately the story had Brulé’s name incorrectly spelled as Brulet.
Of course, almost everyone who has had their name in the paper has had it spelled wrong at least once.
I was only a day old when mine was spelled incorrectly. As one of the total of 20 New Year’s babies born in Vancouver’s four hospitals on January 1, 1942, I had my surname – actually it was my parents’ name – listed in The Vancouver Sun and The Vancouver Daily Province the next day as Corbin instead of Corben.
Now I know people are going to ask, as they almost always do, “Were you the first New Year’s baby?” The answer is no. In fact I was the last of the 20 born in Vancouver that winter day at 11:35 p.m.
While Brulé must be the most noteworthy North Shore athlete born on January lst and while I am merely the only Instant Replay columnist born on New Year’s Day, we share our special birthday with some famous sports people: Pierre de Coubertin (born in 1863), the father of the modern Olympics; baseball hall-of-famer Hank Greenberg (1911); football great Doak Walker (1927); CFL legend Jackie Parker (1932); and Vancouver Whitecaps’ goaltender Joe Cannon (1975).
It’s sobering to note that, of that list, all but Cannon (who will be 37 on Sunday) died between the ages of 71 and 75. Gilbert Brulé has plenty of hockey in his future. Me? I guess I’ve still got some columns left to write.
This is episode 446 from Len Corben’s treasure chest of stories – the great events and the quirky – that bring to life the North Shore’s rich sports history.