Another "moment" from working at the ESA (as it was called in those days.) It was after the Duke-NC State basketball game and Ron Francis' suite had been used by some of the players that night. I was the last Premium Seating staff on the clock and the server and I were waiting for the guys to leave so we could clean and close the suite for the night.
Although there is supposed to be a 30 minute time limit after an event before we start asking people to leave, we were told to let these guys stay as long as they wanted.
Having grown up in NC, at the time I wasn't really "into" hockey yet and as the head of my part-time staff, I was determined I wasn't going to make an a** of myself gushing over thoese guys. LOL
So I went in the suite and asked if they minded if we started cleaning up. They were seated or standing around the bar and the first row of suite seats. The server and I cleaned up the "living room" area of the suite but she was reluctant to go down into the seats and clean up there. So I said I would do it.
Well, Bates was standing on the steps, leaning on the rail with his legs stretched out across the width of the step. I came down the stairs and and said "excuse me." Well, I'm only 5'1" and there was still one step down to the bottom from where he was standing. So when he didn't move out of the way, I stretched out as far as I could and stepped OVER his massive thighs and somehow managed to get down the steps. I looked at him and he had this "charmer" look on his face...this was Bates BEFORE the haircut.
Well, I pretended to not notice just how close I had come to "paradise." But it wasn't for long. Like most people who sit in the suite's stadium seats, the guys had be putting their trash under the seats so they wouldn't walk on it.
Now at the time I only recognized a few players because I was still new at all this hockey stuff. I don't know who it was, but one of the "lesser known" players (remember, this is before the 2002 SC run) decided I'd have to reach between his spread legs to get the trash under his seat. Ok, I'm 2 rows lower than him so when I reach "up" to get the trash I'm in a very -shall I say...GOOD...position. However, when I got to the end of the row, Wesley was sitting in the last seat and he graciously handed me all his trash. What a gentleman.
Then one of the palyers sitting at the bar, who knows who it was, started saying something in broken English and his native tongue to the guys beside him. I don't think it was about me at all but when he said the "f" word several times (you know, "F***ing this and f***ing that") one of the other players who was standing at the edge of the bar by the top of the stairs poped him in the back of the head and then motioned my way...I guess to tell the guy there was a female present and he didn't need to be saying things like that.
For several years i thought the guy who popped the guy was a new player, Rod Brind"Amout, but then I heard him say in an interview that they had about some event they had all come to see on their off day that it was the first time he had been in the suites. This was, of course way, way after my incident. Sigh...oh well.
I'm sure some of you are wondering why I didn't just tell them to move the heck out of the way. Well, as an employee we weren't supposed to interact with the players or bother them, and like I said, I was bound and determined to act like a professional and not some groupie. They were nothing to me then.
Anyway, it has given me some good memories in the years since...