The news broke around the world: Queen Elizabeth was dead.
News of his funeral and estate will fill us in the coming days.
Until we came across this 20-year-old story, we here at Balle Corb wondered how to approach this topic.
Sharks – Canucks
During Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Canada to celebrate her 50 years on the throne, she performed a ceremonial face-off during a preseason game between the San Jose Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks on October 6, 2002.
With Wayne Gretzky on the red carpet, Queen Elizabeth II dropped the puck at center ice. This washer was lost for a few years before being found in an envelope at Windsor Castle in 2017.
CBC Sports has produced a video on the importance of this puck.
But back to the ritual face-to-face.
Canucks captain Markus Naslund and Sharks captain Mike Ritchie were present when the Queen dropped the puck at center ice. Nasland won the duel.
Observers will say:
Oh the thing. In 2002, the Sharks were captained by Owen Nolan. Not Mike Richie!
In effect. Cowboy wore the C for San Jose at the time.
But why did Mike Ritchie stand next to the Queen??
This is where it is special.
Owen Nolan was absent from this match. Because the Sharks had played the day before, the team had left several players in San Jose instead of going to Vancouver for a preseason game.
But rumors at the time suggested another reason for Nolan’s absence.
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, he does not want to join the Queen’s celebration.
For those who don’t know the history, let’s just say that some Northern Ireland independence groups and the British authorities did not mix well for decades. For more on the Northern Irish conflict, It is here.
Photos of Nolan near the Queen would surely have caused a stir across the ocean.
So, Nolan would have asked Sharks management to leave him in San Jose to “treat a bad back.”
Four days after the start of the regular season, Owen Nolan didn’t have back pain. In the first match of the 2002–2033 season, He had 3 assistsFound the C on his jersey… and its place among the ceremonial faceoffs.
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