Montreal has Howie Morenz, Rocket Richard, Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur.
Boston has the greatest hockey player ever—number 4 Bobby Orr.
Chicago has Robert Marvin Hull and Stan Mikita.
Los Angeles has Wayne Gretzky. Ditto Edmonton.
Winnipeg has...Timothy Eaton.
What is this all about? Statues. Specifically, statues outside/inside National Hockey League rinks that serve as both a tribute to legendary shinny figures and a gathering ground for worshippers.
Now, if we were to play the Sesame Street game and ask which of the aforementioned people doesn't belong in the group, the answer, of course, would be Timothy Eaton. He certainly is not a legendary shinny figure. His 3,500-pound bronze likeness sits majestically on the second floor of the Little Hockey House on the Prairie simply because the MTS Centre is on the site of the former Eaton's building at Portage and Donald. That, mind you, is not to say Eaton had nothing to do with hockey. He did. His company used to produce a catalogue that had a dual purpose for some young lads—they could sneak a peek at the lingerie ads, then strap the Eaton's catalogues to their legs as a pair of shin pads. True story. Some parents couldn't afford the real thing, you see, so kids would fasten the catalogues to their legs with rubber bands from the lids of mom's preservative jars. Thus, in a roundabout way, Timothy Eaton had a considerable impact on hockey back in the day. Like waaaaay back in the day.
But let's say Winnipeg Jets' two bankrolls, Mark Chipman and David Thomson, decided to dip into their piggy banks and hire an artist to get out his chisel and hammer to sculpt a statue of a legendary figure in River City hockey folklore. Who should it be?
The first man I thought of was Ben Hatskin. There would be no NHL in Winnipeg today had he not hijacked Bobby Hull from the Chicago Blackhawks in 1972. Next I thought of Hull. Had the Golden Jet not accepted $2.5 million from Hatskin and his World Hockey Association rogues, there would be no NHL in Winnipeg today. So perhaps a bronze rendering of Hull's famous contract signing at the corner of Portage and Main would be the ticket.
One more possibility came to mind: A statue of Hatskin, Hull and the two super Swedes, Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg. That would be my choice, because they represent the glory days of Jets hockey.
And, yes, I realize there is no connection between the Jets Fab Four and the MTS Centre. Doesn't matter. Number 4 Bobby Orr wove his magic at the old Boston Garden, not the TD Garden. Hull and Mikita did their thing at Chicago Stadium, not the United Center. Gretzky dangled in The Fabulous Forum in Tinseltown, not the Staples Center. Each of the four flying Frenchmen on display outside the Bell Centre in Montreal wore the bleu, blanc et rouge of les Canadiens in The Forum.
Thus, it really shouldn't matter that the Hot Line of Hull, Hedberg and Nilsson dazzled us at the old barn on Maroons Road. And in a different league.
I realize that it's easy for me to spend some of David Thomson's billions from a distance, but I figure the cost of a statue would be chump change to him. Ditto Chipman. So why not do it?
Gentlemen, start your chisels!