“Don’t touch it,” I whispered to Zacharie as we waited in the long snaking line on the concourse outside section 217 of the Saddledome.
Inside the arena, the Calgary Flames were down 3-1 to the New York Islanders midway through the second period. It was nearly 9 o’clock, and my six year old was fading.
After being invited to the game to sit in the Press Level Seats to see Joe Nieuwendyk become Forever a Flame, we moved to the lower level of seats after my friend and his five year old left after the first period.
We waited for a whistle, and then climbed the stairs and walked around to the other side of the rink. As we walked, I told Zacharie about The Stanley Cup, how it’s awarded to the champion of the NHL and how you’re not supposed to touch it.
I told him about my visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame years ago and how, even though I leaned close to The Cup, I dare not touch it.
“I want to win it one day,” I told him. “And if you touch it, you’ll never win it.”
But as we sat in the line, fan after fan after fan, caressed and kissed The Cup. Everyone was touching it.
“I’m going to touch it, Daddy. I want to know if it’s rough or smooth,” he said.
And so, when it was our turn with the trophies, my son reached out. “It’s rough, and bumpy, Daddy,” he smiled as his small hand ran across the engraved names from decades past.
He touched The Cup. It’s over. He’ll never win it.
But I didn’t touch it. I dare not touch it. I still have a chance.