Guy Carbonneau--"Obi-Wan"


Guy B&W"Where he means so much to us is when we’re on a slide. He takes over on the ice and in the dressing room, and gets us to where we’d like to be. You can’t buy that kind of leadership."
—Dallas Coach Ken Hitchcock

During the 1998 playoffs, there was a small flurry of comment in the Dallas press on Carbo’s performance, and the recurring virtue attributed to him was "wisdom." Meanwhile, my friend Jeff informed me that the Stars mailing list was playing at casting various players in "Star Wars" roles, and Guy had been selected for the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi. If that didn’t clinch the issue, nothing did. Can we call this guy "old and wise" when he is still good enough to skate in the NHL and has hardly a gray hair? Well, for the sake of argument, let’s put Carbonneau in the same class as the elderly Jedi sage.

Guy & The CupThe fact that he may not always have been this wise doesn’t disqualify Carbo from accepting the nomination. Earlier in his career he found his license suspended for a year after a drunk driving conviction. Guy’s response was to commit himself to assisting with Canada’s Don’t Drink and Drive efforts. Obi-Wan himself probably made such a mistake in his early Jedi days, and learning from it made him all the more qualified to instruct young Luke.

(And as for the matter of that famous photo of Guy giving the one-finger salute, in my book that doesn't even qualify as a mistake. If a member of the papparazzi is asked nicely to leave some hockey players at peace while they're golfing, and he doesn't listen, he deserves to get flipped off. Another Carbo fan recently confirmed to me that the finger photo really was the reason Montreal traded Guy in 1994. Don't get me started on the foolishness and unfairness of treating a faithful captain this way; all I can say is, when the Habs missed the playoffs for the first time in 25 years the following season, it was justice. End of digression...sorry.)

CALL IT MAGIC

It is not only Carbonneau’s years of experience, his two Stanley Cups, his tenure as captain of the Canadiens that merit the esteem of his peers. No fading laurel branches in his locker earn him that respect, but what he brings fresh to the ice every day. Obi-Wan’s magic is not the stuff of lore—it works every night. He calls upon it fresh each new game, he preaches it and practices it and keeps it alive and imparts it to those around him.

Guy ReachingThat’s why his Dallas teammates appreciate Guy. He’ll dispense helpful advice, or settle down frazzled nerves, or just work his ass off whether anyone else does or not…and so they do. After all, if the old man has legs like that, who can shirk? He’s not a star, he’s not even captain, he’s certainly not coach…and yet he makes so much greater a difference than what his stats alone show. Some key faceoffs…a goal here, an assist there…a few good hits…yet another penalty kill…and more than these, something invisible, something quiet, something powerful.

Obi-Wan would call it magic.

May the Force be with you, Carbonneau.


See also:
"Intensity Keeps Him on the Ice" by Paula Caballero for the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
"Carbonneau’s Wisdom, Guidance Keep Stars Above Ice" by Keith Gave for the Dallas Morning News.Next Chapter

 

 


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'98 #1: Faceoff

'98 #2: ObiWan of Hockey

'98 #3: Le Visage

'98 #4: The Shift

'98 Epilog