As somebody who grew up in the 90's, I absolutely adored this man. He is not only my favourite goalie of all time, but my favourite Leaf of all time. When my friends and I went out for recess, we didn't have to stick the fat kid in net; everybody was fighting to be The Cat for those 15 minutes. Though his play started diminishing in the mid-90's, I was and will always be in denial about it. In true eyebleaf fashion, I still believe in Felix Potvin!!!1
Needless to say, I was quite disappointed when The Leafs signed Curtis Joseph because I knew that meant Felix was gone. Though my heart wept, I had to carry on. I will always remember his lightning quick glove hand and this save
I remember being awe-struck when I saw this save. The next day everybody talked about it at school. I even tried it during our recess ball hockey game which was played on pavement. I was not a smart child...and I don't think I made the stop either.
After Felix was traded, I've always wanted him to do well and wished to see him amongst the league leaders in goalie stats. It never did quite happen. After the lock out, he just seemed to have disappeared. I don't remember an official retirement or anything.
It wasn't for another three years that I would hear of him again. He was going to be at an autograph signing at the Toronto Sports Card Expo. As soon as I heard the news, I took the day off work and started working on making some hockey cards for him to sign.
On the day of November 9, 2007, I finally got to meet him. The line up was quite lengthy but I have stood in line for cheaper thrills (like rides at Wonderland). As I was inching closer, I got butterflies in my stomach and my palms started to sweat. Now I don't usually get star-struck. Most of the time I don't even give a shit about celebrities but this was different, this guy was my hero. When I finally got to him, we shook hands and he asked me how I was doing. My mind was scattered and the best I could come up with was "Great, how have you been?" He told me he was doing well and asked what I wanted him to sign. I took the hockey cards I made out of my pocket and he seemed genuinely excited about them. His reaction was "Cool. I don't remember ever signing these." I told him that I made them and made an extra copy for him too in case he collected those sorts of things. He told me that I did a great job on them and thanked me for the gift.
I wish I got more out of that exchange but I really didn't know what to say. It was only after, when the blood returned to my brain, that I would regret not asking him what he liked about playing here or if he sees himself doing something in hockey now that he's retired. Though the whole thing might have only lasted a minute or two, it will forever be in my memory, just like that diving stop against the Blackhawks.
What's a tribute to this great man without this video? Yes, Philly broadcasters. Hextall really got the best of that one. Go Flyers!