Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/4/2009 (4502 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
More than anything, it's a sign of respect earned and respect required inside a dressing room.
The letter C is worn on a hockey team as a badge of honour and trust.
Six men have worn it for the Manitoba Moose, each of them worthy players and distinguished people.
One, however, had the toughest job of them all. Oh, there were ceremonial faceoffs and a few photo ops, but mostly, Randy Gilhen, the franchise's inaugural captain in Winnipeg, had the most thankless job imaginable.
He was the captain of a team in a city in mourning, leader of the rank and file who were poorly coached and managed by Jean Perron.
There wasn't a lot of winning, there were no Gilhen bobblehead nights, no key to the city, and barely the time of day from so many NHL snobs.
"There's no doubt it wasn't an easy year," said Gilhen, who's now 45 and a successful distributor of orthopedic medical devices and still living in the area. "No. 1 was that everyone was still bitter over the Jets leaving. It was a tough pill for people to swallow.
"And the real tough part for us was that you only get one chance to make a first impression and our first impression wasn't good. But I really give the Moose credit now. It's taken them a long time, but they've really turned that one year of a terrible first impression and changed it all around."
The first impression included personal, parting shots from a fired Perron -- whose worst crimes were that he turned out to be the master of impertinence, as well as bad timing -- labelling Gilhen a villain and a traitor.
"He had the ability to take the high road," current Moose GM Craig Heisinger, then the team's equipment manager, said of Gilhen's conduct through the piece.
"You know the old saying: When you argue with an idiot, he argues back at one," Gilhen said this week when asked to sum up those memories.
"That's the way I tried to approach things. I knew the people close to the team, the ownership, Randy (Carlyle, who took over as coach), Zinger (Heisinger), and I hoped that the people who knew me throughout my career knew the things being said weren't true."
And, Gilhen laughed: "It may be tough for you to hear this, but I think people realize that everything they read in the paper isn't true."
Gilhen's NHL career included 490 games and a Stanley Cup. He knew the pressure of playing in one's hometown, having played two stints with the Jets. He had inside exposure as a teammate to some of the game's greatest leaders in Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Mark Messier.
Captaining the first Manitoba Moose team, though, was clearly no bed of roses.
"That was one tough year for everybody," said Scott Arniel, who succeeded Gilhen as captain the next season and today is the team's head coach. "Gilly always had to answer to the media a lot. There were things that year that weren't a lot of fun."
Trying to lead through a turbulent, troubled time certainly jolted Gilhen but clearly did not ruin him. He wasn't long from retirement, but those Moose, after Carlyle took over, made a spirited run to the finish.
They were too far behind and eventually didn't have enough legs to catch up and make the playoffs, but it can be fairly said now that what didn't kill them --and Gilhen -- eventually made the franchise stronger.
"I'll be perfectly honest with you: I don't think about it," Gilhen said. "It was just one of those things in a career. I had great support from Mark Chipman, from Zinger, Randy, Scott Arniel, and the guys that we had that were part of the team knew what was going on.
"The only hard part about it was that everywhere you went, it was brought up."
To this day, it remains part of Moose lore and a lesson on why a team always needs a good captain.