I’ll admit it. There’s a veteran Flyer that none have you have ever heard of. A grizzled, career-worn player in the mold of a Mark Recchi, looking to hoist a cup before he retires. You most likely haven’t heard of him because that player is me.
I’ve always had a very good imagination. The woods surrounding my neighborhood were Tatooine, Dagobah, and Endor all rolled into one and I silently fought the forces of evil until justice prevailed or it was time for dinner.
Maybe for some, this fantasy play dies along with childhood but luckily for me, I can’t shake it. The only difference is that the fantasies evolve. I went from seeking Darth Vader’s head to wanting to bury a puck in John Vanbiesbrouck’s five hole. I wanted to wear the Orange and Black for real and I accomplished this in a number of ways.
Before the Internet and before I was aware of such a thing as Fantasy Hockey, I devised my own method of putting myself in Mike Keenan’s lineup. Before the season, I used a complicated dice rolling method, to become a different Flyer for all 82 games ( including playoffs).
Say I had Derrick Smith for a certain game — whatever points D. Smith got that game went to J Hasson’s stats. Stats were recorded in a notebook and compared to the team and league’s ” real” stats. It made for an interesting way to watch games and root for certain players. I even had a back story for my rise to fame. After being discovered playing street hockey I was drafted by Hartford and played minor league hockey with the Binghamton Whalers before being shipped to Philly for a fourth-round pick. A hometown boy returns home to make good.
I kept these records for quite awhile or at least until I started dating so we’re talking early 20′s. Even after I stopped the meticulous note keeping, I occasionally would/will pick a random player to represent me. As I said, it adds an extra element of excitement to an already exciting game.
EA Sports was responsible for encouraging me further by making “create a player” an option on NHL 94. Now, Jim Hasson existed as a Flyer somewhere other than my mind or a tattered notebook. Of course J Hasson ( known as JIM! in later versions) had 99 on all skill levels. Of course JIM! Played on the top line, power play and short handed lines. Of course he won numerous Hart Trophies. He was/is a hockey God.
But he’s getting up there. Forty-one is considered a senior citizen in Hockey years. His contemporaries (Recchi, Jaromir Jagr, Martin Brodeur) are either retiring or considered ancient. Granted, it’s much easier to nurse a hamstring attained from thinking about playing than actually playing but winning a cup before retirement almost looks like a pipe dream.
And what then, if we do win it all? After Jim hoists that cup up over his shoulders around WFC, does Recliner Jim fantasize about Stanley Cup winner Recliner Jim or can he stay forever young in my elderly mind?
At this point, I can’t say, but we still have unfinished business going into next season. J Hasson will be weary but ready to put on the tape for at least 1 more year.
And apparently, his son Ben is tearing it up in the minors….