Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Lorne "Gump" Worsley and the meaning of greatness
This was originally written as a sister piece to my Dryden article on indyish. Unfortunately, it wasn't deemed 'indyish' (indie arts), so the site editor didn't post it. So that it doesn't go to waste, here it is (I think it's a better article than the original Dryden piece too). Even if you don't know hockey (dear British readers), you can hopefully relate to some of this...
Last March 11, on the morning of the evening his # 5 was to be lifted to the rafters in Montreal, Bernard "Boom Boom" Geoffrion passed away at a hospital in Atlanta.
In an eerie echo, Lorne "Gump" Worsley passed away Friday, January 26th, just days before the number of another Canadien goaltending great is retired (Ken Dryden on January 29th).
Although they essentially followed each other in the Habs' storied crease, in many ways, Gump and Dryden were opposites.
Dryden was the man of intellectual quotes, a future author. Gump was the man with a sharp wit and quip, as this article or the obituary on the front page of Sunday's The Gazette describes.
Dryden was a towering 6'3" athlete (in an era when goalies were not generally that big). Gump was an average, even pudgily built man.
Dryden had only an 8 season career, dedicating himself to his studies before, and professional career after hockey.
Gump played 22 years in the NHL, travelling though semi-pro and farm team stops in, among other places, St. Paul, Saskatoon, and Vancouver, then playing ten years with the shoddy Rangers, before winning the Stanley Cup 4 times in only 5 years with the Canadiens.
Yet Dryden, Worsley, and Geoffrion all had love of the game of hockey, and love of our country, Canada, running through their veins. They all were studies in perseverance, dedication, and greatness.
The lesson I take from Lorne Worsley's lifestory is to chase your dream to the end, wherever it takes you.
Sometimes, as in the case of Dryden, one is blessed with a prodigal talent and steps into the right circumstance at the right time to use it to full effect. Sometimes, though, greatness is achieved, or finally recognized, simply by sticking around long enough.
Gump, you took each step, stop, and sidetrack along your way with good humour, and never lost faith in your quest. You drank from Lord Stanley's silver chalice years after most of us would have thrown in the towel.
Goodbye, and God Bless.