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  June 9, 2001



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Hitmen lose good man


By BRET HART -- SLAM! Wrestling
 I'm fairly new to the insider world of hockey. I was a fan when I was a kid and that's what I am now. I never played hockey because it was easier to come upon a pair of wrestling boots than skates in my family and there was no way for me to get to a rink.

 I've always been really grateful the Hitmen have allowed me to be a part of the team, to be sort of what Donald Duck is to the Mighty Ducks.

 I was originally thought of as someone who would bring kids to the game.

 I love that they let me be involved and, in fact, they've invited me to be on the board of directors of the Hitmen's new charity project. I'm very much looking forward to it because I can probably offer a lot to something like that.

 Where I don't offer my opinion, however, is where it comes to anything that happens on the ice.

 I was shocked to hear that Dean Clark has been let go.

 I've always seen him as an excellent coach who had an exceptional rapport with the players and a dedicated passion to the team. I don't second-guess decisions of this magnitude. I'm sure they have their reasons and I respect that.

 It's not for me to wonder why.

 I thought taking a five-year-old team to the playoffs four times was phenomenal.

 And I've noticed we all go so far out of our way to wash off the Graham James stench that we rarely mention it and, when we do, it's couched in inference.

 But let it not be forgotten Dean took a thunderstruck young team up from the ashes like a phoenix!

 This team has had its share of hardship every year and I've always admired how, despite it all, Dean always kept the team focused and on top of the game.

 Beyond all that, Dean and I hit it off right away and quickly became friends.

 He was there to talk to when I became disillusioned with the wrestling business. Owen was killed on the same day that we lost the Memorial Cup and we all grieved together.

 Having been suddenly removed from my wrestling family, Dean allowing me to visit the locker room and go onto the ice with the team after they won the President's Cup meant the world to me.

 Let alone the first-rate way he treats my son Blade, an aspiring goalie, who he always seems to find time and encouraging words.

 Hockey is all about commitment.

 It's not good enough to be a great team, you have to be the best team.

 I hope Dean will be as happy with his new hockey family, wherever that is, as he was here. I hope the Hitmen will be as happy with their new coach as they were with Dean. One of the things I've liked the most about being around hockey is that it's filled with really great people -- and Dean is truly one of the best.

 Good luck, my friend, in your next adventure.

 In closing, I would like to comment on the widespread Internet rumour I am returning to the WWF or WCW -- same thing these days.

 There is absolutely no truth to it whatsoever.

 The concussion I sustained when Bill Goldberg gave me a mule kick to my head on Dec. 19, 1999, ended my wrestling career.

 A lot of people are throwing around the ol' "never say never in wrestling ..." but this is one case where I can tell you with certainty that I will never wrestle again.

 Thank you all sincerely for wanting to see me wrestle again.

 No one wants that more than me but with a head injury like what I have, the risk is just too high.

 I look forward to entertaining my fans in other ways, like occasional guest spots on TV and I'm working on a book I think you will like a lot.

 To all of my fans, thank you for your loyalty and support.

 The adventure has just begun!

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