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  April 3, 1999



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Great effort!
By BRET "The Hitman" HART -- For The Calgary Sun
  My biggest enjoyment in the past year has come from hockey. Always loved it. Always will. Congratulations to our Hitmen for a hard-fought, first round playoff victory over the Kootenay Ice.

 Last night's win in the seventh and deciding game at the 'Dome advanced the Hitmen to the WHL's Eastern Conference semifinal against our northern neighbours, Red Deer Rebels.

 Oh what a series it was! Who ever said home ice advantage doesn't mean anything in the playoffs? Each of the seven games in this series were won by the home team. The Saddledome clearly favoured a good skating Hitmen team, who didn't enjoy the smaller ice surface in Cranbrook. With guys like Curtis Rich and Lyle Steenbergen out of games with injuries, Calgary was short staffed on tougher, defensive players who would excel on a smaller sheet of ice. But give our opponents credit. How could anyone have predicted that this blue-collar Kootenay squad would push our boys to a seventh game.

 Congratulations are also in order to Ice owner Ed Chynoweth and the hockey fans in Cranbrook for approval by the city to build a new arena for the 2000 season. Edmonton's loss is your gain, so enjoy!

 Now I guess you want to hear about why I quit on Nitro.

 The tragedy of life is not that we die, but what dies in a man when he lives. Wrestling in the WCW is killing me.

 I've always taken great pride in the fact that never, in my entire career, many thousands of matches, did I ever say, 'I quit'. Now I'm proud that I said it.

 Sometimes the only way to win is not to play the game.

 That WCW didn't even mention it on Thunder proves my point better than anything I could say here. And you know what, not one single WCW wrestler called me to see what's up. I think they all need a reality check.

 The lawyers are locking horns about my sudden departure and I don't really care. I'm under contract to WCW until Dec 1. I had far more to lose by staying than going. You can't put a price on respect and dignity.

 A fan in Rochester held high a sign that said, "Price of WCW ticket $25. Price of parking, $6. Seeing Bret Hart wrestle -- priceless." Thank you my friend -- and all the rest of you who have supported me through thick and thin. I hope you don't feel that by quitting I'm abandoning you. In fact, I'm quitting in large part because of you. Because of all your letters telling me how you can't stand it that I wasn't getting any respect in WCW. I went to WCW to build on my reputation, not destroy it.

 I would like to have left on a nicer note, but saying goodbye to my fans would be hard and the WCW would probably have cut to commercial anyway. If I've opened people's eyes to the de-evolution in pro wrestling during the past couple of years, then quitting has already served a purpose.

 Besides that, I proved that I'm still the best. I beat the top guy in WCW and I did it in a way that out-smarted both Goldberg and WCW. It means a whole lot more to me that 17,000 fans --Canadian fans -- counted 1-2-3 then if it was just another crooked referee.

 And I beat the top guy in the WWF, Steve Austin, every time I fought him. Wouldn't you think the WWF would have waited until after Austin could score a win over me before they screwed me? It must drive Austin nuts that he never got even.

 My 'advisors' tell me that I undid 15 months of damage in 15 minutes. Seems like this would be a good time to say `see ya later'. I'm not saying that I'll absolutely never wrestle again. What I am saying is that I do a lot of my best thinking on my bike, so don't be surprised if you see me peddling 'round town a lot like Magilla Gorilla.

 Oh yeah, I forgot, I'll be grounded by nursing my phony groin injury. The way I feel right now is that I have nothing to prove to anyone in wrestling any more -- not even myself. Maybe my feelings with change. I doubt it. But I am looking forward to tossing a few pointers to the kids wrestling in Stu's dungeon at Easter time. I said, 'I quit', but I never said that I quit wrestling. It's more like wrestling quit on me.

 The most important thing on my mind right now is my brother-in-law, Davey Boy Smith (Bulldog). He's stuck in ICU with a staph infection in his spine. Davey, our prayers are with you for a speedy recovery. That puts it all in perspective.

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