Yes, it’s true, I am ramping up for hockey season and am now free of the corporate fetters that prevented me from blogging.
Not that y’all missed me much–I admit, I lost a lot of what little punch I had after 2006 and before the Great Hiatus. But I’m still me, I’m still opinionated, and I’m going to give ‘er another go.
I want to talk today about Chopper Harrison. Lots of electrons have been spilled over the tragic deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak–may their ancestors welcome them all warmly into their halls.
But nobody really talks about superfans like Chopper. Chopper died on 23 August at his home, after a battle with cancer. He was a year older than my husband, which did kinda hit home for me.
Chopper was annoying as hell. He drove everyone up the wall with his antics and blind homerism (the Warchief even called him on it after one particularly bad game, when Chopper said “yeah you guys played great last night!” and the Warchief said “What are you talking about? We played like crap!”), and after one incident where he said “asses” while doing an intermission whatchamadingding (during the 2001-2002 home opener), Great Leader banned him from doing any more on-ice stuff for the team. Of course, that ban lasted about as long as Dan Blackburn’s career, and Chopper was back on the ice about halfway through the season with his trademark “OVER HEEEEERRRRRRREEEEE!” and “THEY CAN HEAR YOU IN THE LOCKER ROOM!” bellowing. He was a hard drinker, a hard partier, scuttlebutt had the team telling Bates Battaglia and Shane Willis to stay the hell away from him, and eventually his antics drove the team away from him. He became the butt of jokes on message boards like thescoreboards.com and on blogs and among the folks at the RBC Center. I found myself apologizing on behalf of North Dakota for him on more than one occasion–as if my own famn damily didn’t make me ashamed enough to be from that state.
But there was no denying one thing: He was a Caniac through and through. He loved this team like he never loved anything else in his entire life–it was obvious to everyone with half a braincell. He braved Acrophobia for this team, by getting up on the canopy above the RBC Center’s box office as part of a season-ticket drive. For an acrophobe, that is a huge step. He stood up for them when few people in this state would, and was unceasing in his evangelizing of hockey and the Hurricanes to the college ball-watching masses.
Even after players eventually stopped talking to him and the org deliberately forgot he existed and Curtis Media Group fired him after a DUI arrest in 2006, he still loved the Hurricanes with his heart and soul and every last breath in his body–and when it was time for him to fight his final battle, he didn’t go back to Fargo, where he grew up and played hockey for the Spartans of North High. He came home to Raleigh, to be near his favourite team. David Martin, known to so many as Chopper Harrison, was, for all his many flaws, One Of Us–The Few, The Proud, The Caniacs–and the Caniac Nation (est. 1997) is greatly lessened by his passing.
Rest well, David Martin. May your ancestors welcome you warmly and may you enjoy a premium ice-side seat at the Eternal Game.