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  January 13, 2001



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Hogtown heaven


By BRET HART -- Calgary Sun

 My son, Blade, is a 10-year-old goalie who looks up to Toronto Maple Leaf Curtis Joseph. So when the Leafs were up for an exhibition game on Sept. 22, I thought it would be nice for Blade to meet Cujo, but it turned out he wasn't here.

 My good friend Tie Domi invited us down to the locker room after the game, Blade had a good time meeting all the players and looked forward to meeting Cujo next time.

 The next time the Leafs were back in town was a month later, on Oct. 22.

 My nephew, Marek (Dynamite's son), wanted to go to the game, so I dropped the boys off at 7 o'clock so they could use my two season tickets. I planned to come back at the end of the third period to take them down to the locker room.

 But no sooner had I walked in the door after arriving home, Blade called to say the game was over. It had started at 5 p.m. Everyone had gone home, the locker room was empty.

 Boy, dad goofed, big time. Whoever heard of a Saturday game starting at 5, I thought. I assured Blade I'd figure something out -- and he knows when I say that, I do it.

 I was booked to do an autograph session in Toronto last Monday so I decided to take Blade with me and make a fun weekend out of it. I was looking forward to seeing my fans and Blade and I could see the Leafs play the Capitals, meet Cujo and more.

 I used my frequent flyers to get two business-class tickets. I wanted this trip to be special. Blade casually looked over at me, in his big seat, and asked, "Hey dad, where's the chop-chop light?"

 He could see by my expression that I had no idea what he was talking about.

 "You know," he explained, "the light for the stewardess ... come here, chop chop." It still makes me laugh.

 On the way to Toronto, Blade and I reminisced about other trips we've taken together, like to the Molson Indy.

 I was impressed with how he remembered things from when he was very young and I could tell that they mean as much to him as they do to me. We also talked about Blade's friend, Steven, who used to live in Calgary and now lives in Toronto. Blade has kept in touch with him over the phone and was looking forward to seeing him again.

 Steven and his four-year-old brother, Peter, came with us to the Leafs-Capitals game Saturday and something funny happened.

 Tie got us four seats, two on one side and two on the other. I figured I'd let Blade and Steve sit together since they don't see each other often and I'd sit with Peter. People sitting around me kept asking who the little boy was to the point where I couldn't watch the game and finally, as a joke, said it was my good friend Vince Carter's kid.

 It took on a life of its own as I could hear the buzz going through the crowd, "hey ... Bret 'Hitman' Hart is sitting in the stands with Vince Carter's kid ..."

 For anyone who was there, just so you know, I was only kidding. But at least I was able to watch the game and besides, nobody messes with Vince Carter's kid -- even if he doesn't have one yet.

 The Leafs lost to the Capitals, but after the game Cujo was great with Blade and I really appreciated the extra time he took with my son. He even showed Blade how he tapes up his stick.

 Meanwhile, Tie was walking around with his hand throbbing and his teeth clenched.

 A week earlier, his fist somehow collided with the jaw of some guy on the Tampa Bay Lightning. A nasty cut had reopened.

 Four doctors did surgery on his hand right there in the dressing room. Now, I know hockey players are tough but that's really, really tough!

 We called it an early night and planned to meet Tie at the Raptors game on Sunday.

 At intermission, Tie and I took centre court to shoot some baskets for charity.

 After recently beating Olympic gold medal wrestler Daniel Igali at pool, I was feeling pretty darn confident that I could take Tie at hoops -- especially with a bad paw. Tie beat me fair and square and Blade, however, with a big smirk on his face, didn't waste any time informing me that he could have done it better himself. He probably could have.

 It was a great game and Morris Petersen won it for the Raptors with a tenth of a second left on the clock. After the game, the new rookie sensation could have been basking in glory but instead he took the time to tell me what a big wrestling fan he is and how he cheered me on during my whole WWF career at the live shows in Flint, Mich.

 It was also nice of Vince Carter to come out and say 'hi,'even with a bad leg.

 Gary Payton was unbelievable to watch and was a heck of a nice guy to the kids, too. He and Petersen told me they'd seen me on the big screen and offered to give me some help with my shot.

 My career has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting, talented people and I don't take that for granted for a second.

 But there's no doubt the most special part of my weekend was the time I spent with my son.

 Spend time with your kids.

 Have a good weekend.

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