As a young defenceman growing up in Kingston, there was never any doubt which number I would wear in minor hockey.
Number 4 -- Doug Gilmour. Just like No. 4 -- Bobby Orr.
It was a natural for me. Long before I was ever switched to forward, Kingston was a town with Boston Bruins roots, whether it was Don Cherry, Wayne Cashman, you name it. As a result, Bobby Orr's No. 4 was really the only choice.
That's why it was so special on Tuesday afternoon to get a voice message from the man himself, Bobby Orr.
Wayne Gretzky left me one too. So did Jacques Demers and Cliff Fletcher. There were so many, I can't even count them. I feel bad because I can't remember all the people who offered their best wishes.
That's how much of a whirlwind day it was.
A day when I was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The same Hockey Hall of Fame where Bobby Orr is honoured. Wayne Gretzky too. And I can't forget Darryl Sittler, who played junior with my brother Dave with the London Knights.
Incredible. Unbelievable. I'm still in shock.
To be honest, I had no expectations. People have asked me a lot about not being elected in previous years but, for me, the biggest thing was, I didn't want to talk about it. It was simply out of my hands.
Don't get me wrong. You want to get that call from the Hall. But I wasn't about to pout about it.
It's just another reason why it was so surreal to finally receive it.
In fact, surreal is a good way to describe my entire day on Tuesday.
We actually were running around all day getting ready for a birthday gathering scheduled Tuesday evening for my sister Debbie and myself at my home on Loughborough Lake just north of Kingston. My birthday was last Friday but I was in Minnesota for the NHL draft. Debbie's birthday was just over a week ago.
We had just popped into Fanatics Sports Lounge, a Kingston restaurant, for a quick bite in the afternoon. I was with three of my kids: Jake, 14, Tyson, 12, and Victoria, who's almost three.
My youngest boy, Tyson, had just decided to spill his chocolate milk when I got a call. The display said HHOF -- Hockey Hall of Fame.
It got me out of having to clean up the chocolate milk.
I went outside and talked to Mr. Hay, Mr. Gregory and Pat Quinn, who all welcomed me to the Hall.
It was very emotional. I had trouble eating my lunch.
It's still hard to believe. I'm just so glad I could share it with my family. My other daughter, Madison, wasn't on hand but she was on her way and it will be great to celebrate with her too.
An honour like this is so humbling. And it makes you think back.
Back to St. Louis, where I started my career. Jacques Demers gave me a chance there. I was listed at 160 lbs at the time but I wasn't even that much. It didn't matter.
Then to Calgary, where we had that special team that won the Cup in 1989. That team and town went crazy. It was great. Now, all these years later after winning a Cup together, Joe Nieuwendyk and I go in the Hall together. I'm so happy for him like I am for Ed Belfour and Mark Howe, the other inductees. I tried to get a hold of Joe but we haven't hooked up. We will.
I can't thank the fans of Calgary enough.
The same goes for the fans in Toronto, where I still have seasons' tickets. Those Leaf teams in the 1990s were like a big family, with Pat Burns at the head of the table.
Burnsie will be in the Hall with us one day. I'm not privvy to how the committee works, but I truly believe he'll be there one day. I really miss our friend.
It wasn't so long ago that I watched my number raised to the rafters at the ACC. Then, on Nov. 12, to walk out there in that same building prior to the Hall of Fame game as a member of the Class of 2011, it will be incredible.
You know what's really incredible? I was just a lunch-bucket small town guy who went to work every day.
Now I'm in the same Hall of Fame as Bobby Orr, the guy whose number I used to wear.