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  November 24, 2001



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Headed in a new direction

Son's decision to choose hockey over wrestling is A-OK with the Hart clan



By BRET HART -- For SLAM! Wrestling
 My dad came to see my son Blade, 11, play hockey the other day. He had a big smile on his face, my dad, I mean. Then again, Blade did too.

  Looks like Blade might be the Hart that breaks the chains with wrestling. He wants to be a goalie. Well ... he IS a goalie now -- but you know what I mean.

  After the final Flames home game last season, Dave Lowry invited me and Blade down to the locker room and was genuinely interested enough to talk with Blade and find out that he wants to be a goalie.

  Freddie Brathwaite thought that was the cat's pajamas and ceremoniously signed his stick and presented it to Blade. It was the last stick he ever used as a Flame.

  Blade turned around and hung the stick on the wall of his bedroom, a prized possession.

  Blade played for Crowfoot last year but now he lives with me so, he plays for Springbank. He looks at it like he's been traded. I often thought that, just like in wrestling, there are heroes and bad guys in hockey and when the Springbank Hitmen played the Crowfoot Blackhawks this year, Blade would have good naturedly been their 'bad guy'. As it turned out, he missed the chance to see what it's like to be a 'heel' because he was committed to participating in a charity bowling event with me in California long before the hockey game was even scheduled.

  With no backup goalie, the coach's daughter, Alison Rop, (a great player, by the way) bravely donned the goalie gear and stepped up to the net, having never played goal before. Kudos to Alison for sheer guts, if nothing else!

  I mentioned to Blade if he'd played against the Blackhawks, I bet he would have felt a lot like Brathwaite when he came back to Calgary wearing a St. Louis jersey last week, skating to a stalemate against new Flames star Roman Turek.

  Blade replied confidently, "Nah Dad, we would have won."

  That's my boy!

  You can say what you want about the Flames but I'm a guy who was on the road for 20 years only hearing about the big feud between Calgary and Edmonton. I was envious of every one of you fans who had your butts in the seats. As soon as I retired, one of the first things I did was get season tickets -- and then they didn't have such a great season. Hey, it happens.

  While so many Flames fans were disappointed, I was happy to finally be able to go to the games at all. It was Jarome Iginla who said to me at the end of last season that he felt it in his gut that the team would turn things around this year -- and now look at them. And Iginla is now the leading scorer in the league. I'm really into this!

  As we watched Blade play the other day, my dad remarked to me, "He'd make a damn fine hockey player. Maybe we'll have a celebrity in the family, eh?"

  See, in the Hart family, making it in wrestling wasn't a big deal -- it was expected. But a hockey star, now that's special.

  People ask me all the time, "but don't you want Blade to follow in your footsteps and be a world champion?"

  That'd be cool, if that's what he wants.

  But not as cool as cheering for my son one day when he holds the Stanley Cup up over his head!

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