Yesterday, outside TD Garden in Boston, a statue of Bobby Orr scoring his famous fly-through-the-air-win-the-Stanley-Cup goal was unveiled. It marked the fortieth anniversary of Orr’s unforgettable moment. And it got me thinking. Why are Americans so good at commemorating memorable sports moments – but Canadians really stink at it? Here’s a kick-start for the statue-makers north of the 49th.
We need to be clear that Canada has done a great job at the memorial for Terry Fox just outside Thunder Bay, Ontario. It is a spectacular location and, more than once, I have seen people standing there sobbing. Fox was unforgettable. But I’m talking about commemorating specific sporting moments.
Outside Rexall Place in Edmonton, there is a statue of Wayne Gretzky holding up the Stanley Cup. Perfect. But, outside Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, why couldn’t there be a statue of Lanny McDonald, his face frozen in elation after scoring his memorable just-out-of-the-penalty-box special in Game Six of the 1989 Stanley Cup Final? Or what about a threesome? Lanny, Tim Hunter and Jim Peplinski, wearing their underwear,shouting, “Ya, baby!” while holding the Cup aloft. It was the only time, in the history of the Montreal Forum, that Les Canadiens had to watch the opposing team hoist hockey’s Holy Grail. That’s worth remembering right there.
And the statue moment does not have to have occurred in the building adjacent to the sculpture. Outside Miller Park in Milwaukee, there’s a huge statue commemorating baseball’s home-run king Hank Aaron (I refuse to recognize Barry Bonds). But Hammerin’ Hank did not hit magic number 715 in Milwaukee…or even while he was playing for the Brewers. No matter. Hank gets a statue. So does Milwaukee’s Robin Yount. Neither one ever played one second in Miller Park. And – this is why Americans do it right – the wall over which Aaron’s 715th flew also still stands…in the middle of a Turner Field parking lot! That’s perfect!
Canadians are way too quick to trash stuff – mentally and physically. The Forbes Field brick wall, over which Bill Mazeroski’s 1960 World Series-winning home run sailed, still stands. Keep it forever! The most famous home run in Canadian baseball history – the only other one that ended a World Series – has no statue commemorating it. We MUST have Joe Carter outside SkyDome in Toronto (I refuse to recognize it as Rogers Centre). Carter, jumping around like a chicken with his head cut off, after pounding Mitch Williams over the leftfield wall. Or how about Joe being hoisted shoulder-high after touching the plate? Perfect.
In Vancouver, it’s gotta be Roger Neilson, standing behind the Canucks’ bench, holding up the white towel. It’s the quintessential Canucks’ moment. Until they win the Stanley Cup anyway. No matter that Rog and the towels happened at Chicago Stadium.
In Montreal, how about a statue of rookie Ken Dryden making his incredible save on Jim Pappin in the 1971 Stanley Cup Final? Outside Wrigley Field in Chicago, they have a statue remembering Harry Caray. He was a broadcaster, for heaven’s sake! Americans remember everything! We can do that too!
Come on, Candians! Think of the best moments in Canadian sport. It’s time to immortalize them!