As you know Joe was a big hockey fan. He played from the time he was a young boy, on ponds and in school and in adult leagues. He played hockey the night before he died.
If you know any hockey players, then you must realize, hockey is a commitment. It's expensive- lots of expensive equipment, and lots of money to join a league at any age. It's also a commitment in terms of time. Hockey players play whenever they can get ice time, and they travel far, wherever they need to travel. As an adult Joe would leave our house at 9:30 some weeknights for an 11PM game in a town an hour away. He wouldn't get home until 1:30 and of course he'd be wired. Happy as can be of course (he'd wake me up and sit on the side of the bed and try to tell me all kinds of goals he "almost" made, or ones that he did make, or other things that happened), but geesh it was late. He never complained about the timing, and I don't think any of the players do. If you love to play hockey, you just love to play hockey, and you don't care what time you do it.
Joe loved the Boston Bruins. He went to lots of games before I knew him, and he and I went to lots and lots of games together. To see my son love hockey so much now is bittersweet to say the least. I am so glad that he does, yet I can't help but to think constantly of how much Joe would be loving this time with Luke- to see him skate; to see him constantly absorbed with every stat of every player; to ask and ask and ask to stay up and watch every game; to have the schedule memorized; to be so excited to play on a team; to see him play floor hockey in the living room constantly; on and on.
I don't know what it will be like the first time I see Luke suited up and playing in a real hockey game. I am not sure I will be able to handle seeing that....it makes me so sad, yet so happy at the same time.
Anyway, on to my story.
Joe's favorite all time player was Cam Neely. The year I met Joe was the last year that Neely played and he was hurt a lot so I remember that he was frustrated with the whole thing. I don't really remember and didn't really witness his admiration for Cam Neely. HOWEVER, he did want to name our first born child Cameron. Which I was not in agreement with. Funny though, we were recently at a rink with little kids Luke's age playing hockey. All the fathers were yelling to their sons and they were all yelling "Cam!". I swear there were at least 5 Cams on the team. I guess lots of hockey-loving dads Joe's age had the same idea.
Joe was pretty intent on naming our baby after a hockey player (if it was a boy--we did not find out in advance). I remember that I resorted to actually paying attention to names while we watched hockey games to get ideas. Finally I found one that I liked.
We were sitting across from each other at the 103 restaurant...a place we liked to go together that was pretty closeby to our house. I remember the exact lighting in the room and the table where we sat and I remember exactly what Joe looked like. "How about Luke?" I said. "like.....Luc Robitaille" I added, trying to prove to him that Luke was indeed a hockey name. He sat for a minte and said "Yeah.....I could do Luke. BUT", he added "We HAVE to spell it the french way. L-U-C".
I looked at this guy like he was freaking nuts. "Absolutely not." I said, smiling. "You get your hockey name but we spell it my way" and I held out my hand. He looked at me for a minute and reached for my hand. We did what we alway did when we were going to seal a deal- write it in stone- we shook on it.
So it was done.
And on July 19, 2001 our baby boy was named Luke Joseph Chalifour.