Friday, October 1, 2010

The Kidd and Me - The Story on how I met Trevor Kidd goaltender for the Calgary Flames - 1995

The Kidd and Me
by Joe Versikaitis

In this Blog I will share as a youngster, some of my first experiences with the game of Hockey. Then you'll be able to read the exciting moments in getting to meet Trevor and showing him the painting KIDDER #37.

Imagine an eight year old boy who has lived all his young life in a country where there is no winter, no winter sports and the number one sport is soccer. Palm trees and bamboo shoots grew wild along the country sides. Things like Living near a jungle was a play ground and a place where you can go and catch an exotic animal to bring home and freak his mom out. The only thing he knew about snow and bitter cold temperatures is from photos in books or stories that were told from other family members who had the opportunity to travel abroad to a country like Canada. For the longest time the talk was all about moving to Canada and when they finally moved to Canada the experience was one of a culture shock to say the least.

 This is how I experienced Hockey and these individuals called " Guardians of the nets " for the first time.
Goalies as I see them, are the most lonesome, uncanny and superstitious individuals I have ever known. They don't like to communicate with anyone before a game. They have rituals that start every morning when they wake up and follow them throughout the day until bed time. I'm sure the rituals occur during their sleep as well. Nuts you say!! Well who in the right mind would strap on a pair of over sized pillows to their legs, put on a 1/4 inch of padding all over their bodies, have a modified baseball glove in one hand and on the other hand have a five finger leather glove with a Sears catalogue taped to it? Then to top it all of stand there in front of a mesh structure, wait for some guy to skate up to them and just assault them with a rubber projectile.
The stress level that goalies endure during a game is anything but normal for any human being. They seem to go into a lunatic fringe.  For example,  starting at their net before each face-off they skate in an figure eight. Then stopping in front of the net, with their backs turned towards the net and whacking  the post with the butt end of their sticks. They finish off by reciting a chant for good luck.......Whacked all right!!
To this day goalies have fascinated me. Even with all their rituals and wackiness the goalie is the glue to a team. If your team isn't scoring the goalie can still keep you in the game.

Living in a small town in southern Alberta, I followed the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers of the N.H.L. My favourite team I must say was and still is the Calgary Flames. One of the players I associated with was Trevor Kidd. Remembering his remarkable Junior years with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Spokane Chiefs to winning the World Junior Championship in1990 and 1991. The 1992 Winter Olympics Games in Albertville, France. Then watching him play with the Calgary Flames from 1993 through 1998 until traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. 
I can still remember the first time that Trevor and I met. It was November 21, 1995. The night before the weather play havoc on the Highway #1 between Brooks and Calgary. I put my painting of Trevor in the truck and headed to Calgary. The usual trip was one and half hours but on this day it was to take me four and half. I finally reached my destination with not much time to spare.

You see Trevor was at a autograph signing cession in a new Sport Mart store. When I got inside there was Trevor and Jamie McCloughon, place kicker for the Calgary Stampeders, sitting near the front. I said great this isn't going to take long. Until I seen the line up. This line up started at the front of the store and twisted around the isles and  towards the back  then coming back towards the front again in front of the two players. I guess I was lucky Trevor's signing cession was from 12:00 p.m. to 3:pm. By the time I got to meet Trevor it was 2:50.
Now your probably thinking what's the big deal, right? Well by the time I got to speak to Trevor there was a crowd of people all around me asking me question about this painting and getting their pictures taken with me and the painting. I even had a little boy ask me for my autograph. As I approached the front of the table where Trevor and Jamie were sitting they both just looked at me wondering what the hell was going on.  Then there was a tug at my pant leg as looked down to see yet another little boy. He asked if he could have his dad take a picture of Trevor ,the painting and me.....
" Have you ever been in a strange place where nobody knows you and everybody is looking right at you?..WOW!"

I finally had my chance to talk to Trevor and mentioned to him my intentions to create limited edition prints. Gauging from the response of the crowd at the store I told him that it might be a good thing.  I gave him my business card and told him " I think we'll be in touch one of these days".  Trevor looked at me shook my hand and said " We sure will! " As I was leaving one of parents in line asked me if I was going to make prints and where they could get one. All I could say was soon as I handed them one of my business cards and told them to get in touch with me in a week.
A few days later I received a message from Trevor on my answering machine. He asked me if we can get together on a certain date down at the Olympic Saddledome as it was name back in 1995, now the Pengrowth Saddledome.
He wanted to meet after they had their pre-game practice in the morning.  I was so excited that I took the cassette tape out of the answering machine and kept it in a safe place. On that particular day my very close friend Mike Laux and myself arrived at the Saddledome and entered where Trevor told me to enter, the players entrance.  We were  met by a security personal who kindly let us in. He in turn gave us directions which way to turn and follow the corridor under the bleachers that would lead to the hallways that go to the dressing room and to the ice surface. ( Those were his exact words, I wrote them down..)

  By this time my heart was beaten faster then a speeding chicken.  I was so overwhelm that I didn't want to miss a moment.  I remember telling Mike " I hoped that we remember this for the rest of our lives. "
 We were met by a person called Huey.  I didn't get his last name.  Huey was the teams equipment and caretaker person.  I remember him by the kindness that he showed us and by giving us a taste of his wonderful coffee, which by the way was a great idea at the time.  Huey  asked us to go with him and watch the practice.  We followed him through the hallway  under the bleachers that lead to the ice surface and the Calgary Flames bench. Once at the bench we had a great view of the Saddledome and all it's glory. All this time I was hanging on to my portfolio that carried the painting of Trevor Kidd which I called " Kidder # 37" and shaking with anticipation of what was going to take place. The players were coming off the ice after their practice, I don't remember all the players but I do remember getting the hell out of the way cause some of these guys were huge. Of course there was the players like Gary Roberts,  Cale Hulse,  Robert Reichel,  Rick Tabaracci,  Ed Ward, and a short guy by the name of Theo Fleury, just to name a few.  Then Kidder approached the bench and took his mask and catching glove off skated off the ice. Approached Mike and I and shook our hands .  Even though it was sweaty and smelly, it was one of those handshakes that I couldn't see myself forgetting.

After our greeting, Kidder asked if we could wait outside the locker until the team had a meeting and then he would come out and get us.  Considerable time had past before he emerged from the locker room and invited us in. Once in the room it was a typical dressing room atmosphere. The sweaty smell, the moisture in the air, the equipment being hang up by Huey and another gentleman.

Kidder brought Mike and myself over to his changing area. I was just amazed. I was standing in the Calgary Flames dressing room. Very cool....Some of the players were still around, although I'd hope that the whole team was there but still there was an audience to look at my work of Kidder #37. First Gary Roberts came over to see it and Kidder introduced us . At that time Gary was injured with a neck injury.
Then something happened that I will never ever forget for the rest of my life...From my right side of the dressing room, well actually in the shower room door way ready to go have a shower there stood Theo Fleury butt naked saying in his deep voice " That doesn't look like you Kidder ".  Then laughing at his own remark. I'll tell you what, as quickly as we turned our heads in the direction of the voice the quicker we turned back.  I will never forget that moment...That was one of those moments that Mike and I laughed about all the way home...
A few other players came over to see the artwork. Kidder and I had small talk about the printing of " Kidder #37 ". I finally got to ask him if I could see his mask, Trevor hesitation was noticeable do to the fact that most goalies are so superstitious of someone else touching their equipment or shaking hands with someone just before game time. In some cases it meant the end of that piece and off to buy a new one.
To my delight he let me hold his mask. I was speechless and mesmerized by the detail of the painting of a dragon on it. I asked Kidder if my friend Mike could take a picture of me holding his mask and Kidder beside me. Of course he agreed..
 But here is the thing, as Kidder and myself were standing side by side and got our mugs shots together, after the flash went off I felt something move under my foot. As I looked down to see what was moving I noticed Kidder move his foot away. I realize then that I had stepped on his pinky toe......not funny at all.  Remember I mentioned how superstitious goalies are and how they don't like it when someone else touches their equipment or in this case...them just before a game?
Well that night the Flames lost against Chicago 6 to 2. OOPS!!

Trevor Kidd and myself before stepping on his
and this is after I stepped on Trevor's toe....
The guy in the background is Gary Roberts...

Photographs by Mike Laux. This one is for you Mike. ( Rest in Peace buddy)

It was a month later that I created the limited edition prints of KIDDER #34..
By the way that cassette tape from my answering machine? I had Trevor sign it..
Thats right sign it......
Yeah that's kind of the look I got from him as well...
The printing, well that's another story...
Thank you for reading The Kidd and Me
It was an unforgettable day...that`s for sure...
...Joe Versikaitis...

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