“There’s no such thing as to be too small,” Marcel Dionne said.
“You get that?”
His wide-eyed audience nodded, awe-struck at being in the same space as one of Canada’s all-time hockey greats.
Two hockey teams of eight- to nine-year old boys had a close encounter with Dionne, Guy Lafleur and Mike Palmateer at the Langley Events Centre arena on Saturday, part of the weekend Legends of Hockey event.
Parents of the Vikings and Blue Thunder players may have been even more excited.
One of the dads, Kevan Reeve, told his son that the trio were the Sidney Crosbys of his era.
Reeve, who was an avid collector of bubble gum hockey playing cards as a kid, still had all of his original acquisitions, enough to fill a suitcase.
A search found classic 1970’s cards for Dionne, Lafleur and Palmateer that he was planning to have autographed.
“Meeting these players is a dream come true for the dads and all the parents,” Reeve said.
Before the 19 players on the two teams took to the ice, for a friendly game in front of the legends, there was time for words of encouragement, some of it in quiet one-on-one moments while a jersey was being autographed, and some aimed at the assembled players en masse.
“You’ve got to give your best, you have to make a commitment, you have to do your best,” Dionne said.
“You get that? You come to play.”
READ MORE: Hockey legends come to Langley
Dionne played 18 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992 .
Guy Lafleur was the first player in the NHL to score 50 goals and 100 points in six straight seasons. Over 17 years he played for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques, a career that included five Stanley Cup championships.
Lafleur was named one of the ‘100 Greatest NHL Players’ in history.
Mike Palmateer played in the NHL from 1976 to 1984 for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Washington Capitals.
The trio were among a group of high-profile former players at the 2018 Legends Weekend Presented by White Spot that ran Nov. 16 to 18 at the LEC.
The others were Mike Bossy, Dale Hawerchuk, Mark and Marty Howe, Bernie Parent and Dennis Hull as well as non-player Murray Howe, author of Nine Lessons I Learned from My Father.
The three Howes are the sons of the late, legendary Gordie Howe.