Paul Coffey drove by Keelesdale Arena the other day with his car moving slowly and his mind racing, thinking about his time playing Bert Robinson hockey. (And didn't we all know someone who wore a Bert Robinson jacket?)
For Larry Murphy, the beginnings came at Dorset Park, the rink by McGregor Park in Scarborough, the original young Bruins. "You start thinking about everything," Murphy said. "It has much more of an impact on me than I ever imagined. I mean, I never thought it would be like this.
"What are the mathematical possibilities? Two kids in the Hall?"
One from the east end of Toronto and one from the west. Two kids who played against each other and as minor bantams played with each other in what was then the Metropolitan Toronto Hockey League. They won a Stanley Cup together, won a Canada Cup together, and were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame together last night.
"My mom pulled out some photos the other night," Coffey said, "and there we were at this team pool party. Murph was there, me, Ludzi (Steve Ludzig), Ozzie (Mark Osborne) ... a long time ago."
Only it doesn't seem that way now. On a Hall of Fame night of emotion and pride, Larry Murphy and Paul Coffey -- the fastest and slowest defencemen to ever star -- want to take in everything.
Their memories of times with the Don Mills Flyers or the Marlies or Mississauga Reps seem every bit as vivid as the victories in any of their 15 National Hockey League stops: They don't want to forget anything or anybody now. This is their time, their hockey sensors are on full alert, the kaleidoscope of their careers are playing out before their very eyes.
Coffey was nine years old when he made his first rep team but before he could be convinced, he broke down and cried.
"The coach told me if I wanted to play on the team I had to play defence," Coffey said. "Davey Keon was my favourite player. Davey Keon didn't play defence."
The coach, Bob Williams, made a Hall of Fame decision that day.
Murphy never had a set position. Sometimes he played centre. Sometimes he played right defence. Sometimes he played both in the same game.
"I was never one of those kids who could take the puck and go around everybody," Murphy said. And one of his coaches, Don Booth, determined his future as on the blue line.
"My success came from being in the right place at the right time, from anticipation. That was my game."
And now he and Coffey have a home in the Great Hall of hockey, two kids from the same town and the league we all grew up in. Toronto minor hockey kids don't make the Hall of Fame very often: Ken Dryden is there and Brad Park and Steve Shutt of recent vintage and that's about it.
And now two more. Larry Murphy has the same hockey memories all of us have, with just a different ending.
"I vividly remember my first game at the Gardens," he said. "It was my birthday. My dad took me and we didn't have tickets. We went out and bought them outside. They were playing the Los Angeles Kings.
"That was the greatest birthday gift I ever had."