If you don’t hold long-term grudges, you may have forgotten that Jason Arnott scored the game-winning goal in double overtime of Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals to beat the Stars in 2000. Then, to add insult to injury, in 2002 we traded Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner for him.
I used to go to the old Valley Ranch practice facility and stand in the parking lot to get players’ autographs. If you remember the building, players got into their cars and had two exits to use. They could choose which side to leave—and often chose the one where the fans weren’t waiting, and they could choose whether or not to stop their cars at all to sign autographs. Joe Nieuwendyk always stopped to sign autographs—even when he was injured and signed them with an ice pack strapped to his hand. We loved Joe, and we loved Jamie.
And we HATED Jason Arnott. I went to that parking lot the day after the trade. It was spring break and we all huddled around talking in low, angry voices about our disappointment in the front office’s decision.
Arnott walked out of the players’ door.
He looked at us.
We glared at him.
Some of us (okay, maybe just me) literally growled at him.
Then, before even getting in his car, he walked over and shook every person’s hand and signed an autograph for each of us. Whether we wanted it or not.
That’s the image I will always have of Jason Arnott, and that was the day I became a fan.