Tonight, on the Bell Centre red carpet, Bob Gainey will stand and watch, with a lump of his heart clutching his throat, as his jersey is so rightfully immortalized alongside giants of the game.
He'll make a short and dignified speech, thanking those who have helped him get there. He'll do all this with more emotion than we've ever seen from this most private of men, but likely with less emotion than those whose numbers were honoured before him.
Gainey is a man without fluff and pomposity, and it will be curious to see how he holds it in tonight during an event that is long owed to him.
Gainey the player, is being honoured by the Canadiens for being the best at what he was - a superb defensive specialist who needn't use machismo, illegal indiscretion or charisma to effectively negate the game's best players better than anyone since.
Gainey, the man, is also being honoured by consequence. The current GM of the team might feel a touch uncomfortable being employed by the team as he is honoured, but he will handle all the ceremony with the class he has always been associated with.
There will be moments when Gainey pauses during his words, his thoughts surely drifting to memories of those family members he so dearly wishes could stand alongside him on this evening.
The number 23 will then be raised, and if I had my way, I'd like to see it sit next to number 4 - another class act with similar attributes!
For today's edition of the Habs For Breakfast, in honour of Gainey, I've culled from various sources, 23 different takes on Gainey, both past and present and in both official languages. They include looks at his life and career, as well as pieces on his present thoughts with the trade deadline rapidly approaching.
The chances are slim, but wouldn't it be great if Gainey pulled off a trade on this day. Could you just imagine the frenzy he could create by simply pulling a cell phone from his jacket as his banner was being raised to field a call!
Here is everything I could find on Gainey from this week. Enjoy!
Bo Knows Hockey - The Gazette
"He took this hit and immediately came off the ice holding his shoulder," Dr. Kinnear recalled. "He came into our dressing room. I took one look and it was obvious he had a dislocation. Now there's a difference between a dislocation and a separation. With a separation, it's just rest and the player gets better. With a dislocation, you put your foot in the armpit and you pull like hell. With luck, it goes back in." - Red Fisher
Gainey Awaits Dance Partner - The Gazette
"Teams are in a difficult position, say the position we were in last year, where how do you take a good player off your team when your fans have invested emotion and dollars and time, and everyone has the same goal to make the playoffs?"
Together Again - Montreal Canadiens.com
"Whenever Bob Gainey and Larry Robinson have joined forces over the years, great things have happened. The 2007-08 season will be no different with the longtime teammates and buddies each slated to have their number raised to the Bell Centre rafters."
Click on the Gainey photo to see a cool slideshow
Gainey Recalls Sam Pollock - Habs Inside Out
"Gainey’s career path was largely charted by a man he’d never met. Pollock used the Canadiens’ first-round choice in the 1973 amateur draft, No. 8 overall, to select a rugged 19-year-old winger from small-town Ontario." - Dave Stubbs
Bob Gainey, A Quiet Man With Much To Say - The Gazette
"Don't waste your time, a few colleagues told me when they learned I would meet Gainey away from the arena. You'll learn nothing, they insisted, about a quiet man who hasn't much to say. But I learned a great deal over four hours that January evening as Gainey laid bare his life, while we sat at his kitchen bar and ate the dinner he had prepared." - Dave Stubbs
Gainey An Instant Hit Behind The Bench - NHL.com
"Gainey is in his second stint as an NHL general manager. He took over the helm of the North Stars in 1992 and guided them through their move to Dallas the following year. He continued through the 2001-02 season, when he turned the reins over to assistant Doug Armstrong. Under Gainey's leadership, the Stars won five divisional titles and the 1999 Stanley Cup." - John McGourty
Gainey Deserves The Honours - Globe And Mail
"This much is certain. Tonight's ceremony will be a tear jerker. The Habs do this stuff better than anyone else (consider the closing night at the Forum, versus the closing night at Maple Leaf Gardens), they strike the right balance. And playing in the background will be the knowledge of Gainey's personal struggles, of a wife lost, a daughter lost, and the great dignity with which he and his children have played the hand they've been dealt." - Stephen Brunt
Bob Gainey: HHOF Legends Of Hockey Biography
"Termed the world's best all-around player by Soviet national team coach Viktor Tikhonov, Bob Gainey brought many elements to the Montreal Canadiens during his 16-year NHL career. The burly left winger was a tenacious competitor, relentless checker, respected team leader and capable contributor on the offense. His presence on the Habs' roster helped the team win the Stanley Cup five times in the decade between 1976 and 1986."
Bob Gainey: HHOF Legends Of Hockey Statistics
Bob Gainey: HHOF Legends Of Hockey Photo Gallery
One On One With Bob Gainey: Legends Of Hockey Spotlight
"It started off to be a regular part of winter life where all the boys in my age category would play hockey for some kind of local team. We had a program that was run through different churches that used to sponsor teams. I continued on and started to push into some of the rep programs, but neither of my brothers had that same desire."
Emotion High As Gainey Sets For Jersey Retirement And Trade Deadline - Hockey News
"I have had the chance in the last few years to see people, some of whom I played with and some I didn't, who have been honoured in the same way, so I'm thrilled," Gainey said as he met with reporters in the team's dressing room. "I'm being selected out of a very broad group of great players."
Busy Times For Bob Gainey - Hockey's Greatest Legends
"Gainey certainly deserves the honour. He was perhaps the best defensive forward of all time, so good they basically made a trophy to honor him and players like him." - Joe Pelletier
Feeling The Heat - CBC Sports
"Bob Gainey had an undeviating plan to restore the Montreal Canadiens to perennial Stanley Cup challengers from the day he was hired as general manager in 2003. The strategy, as Gainey envisioned it, was to shrewdly improve the team with young players who would become the team's cornerstones, and specifically, bolster a roster littered with underachievers." - Tony Care
Greatest Hockey Legends Gainey Profile
"Gainey was a defensive specialist. He was constantly bumping, grinding, tormenting, frustrating and nullifying his opponents. The NHL didn't hand out an award for the game's best defensive forward until 1978, and Gainey's awesome largely responsible for the creation of the award. Gainey was the first recipient of the Frank J. Selke Trophy and won it 4 years in a row." - Joe Pelletier
L' emotion va eteindre Gainey - RDS
"Je vais essayer d'avoir les idées claires et de ne rien oublier dans la courte période de temps que je vais avoir"
"Il y a eu des prédécesseurs, particulièrement chez le Canadien. Je pense à Claude Provost qui a été un joueur formidable. J'ai suivi sa voie et celle de Jim Roberts."
On ne deshabillera pas Paul pour habiller Jacques - La Presse
"Dans le style sibyllin qui lui est propre, Gainey a indiqué qu'il n'était pas prêt à toucher au noyau actuel pour mettre la main sur un joueur qui, aussi bon soit-il, pourrait mettre en danger l'équilibre actuel. "Il y a une très bonne chimie au sein de notre formation et ce facteur sera une partie intégrante de notre réflexion d'ici à la date limite des transactions."
Bob Gainey: L' as cache du Canadiens - La Presse
"L'as caché du Canadien au cours de sa carrière de 16 saisons à Montréal, Bob Gainey sera entouré de quatre dames qui ont marqué sa vie lorsque son chandail numéro 23 ira rejoindre ceux qu’ont portés les 13 autres immortels du Tricolore. Qui sont ces quatre dames?"
Gainey pret a echanger ses jeunes espoirs - Le Journal
"Cette saison, nous avons ajouté bon nombre de jeunes à notre alignement et nous devions le faire. Ces joueurs ont été repêchés, ils sont bons et ils aident notre équipe à gagner aujourd'hui."
Pourquoi le Canadien et non les Maple Leafs - Le Journal
"Bob Gainey a été plusieurs fois courtisé par l'un de ses meilleurs amis dans le hockey, Ken Dryden, alors président des Maple Leafs de Toronto."
"Gainey: "Est - ce que j'aurais obtenu le poste si je n' etais pas billingue?" - Le Journal
"Gainey a réalisé à quel point la connaissance d'une langue seconde est une richesse quand il est allé passer près d'un an à Épinal, en France, pour y structurer un programme de hockey après sa retraite."
Gainey pourrait louer - Le Journal
"Je pense que nous avons vécu une assez bonne expérience avec Alex Kovalev il y a quelques années", rétorque Gainey. Nous avons transigé pour l'obtenir, nous avons donné de bons actifs en échange. Puis il a appris à nous connaître, nous avons appris à le connaître et nous sommes encore ensemble!"
Hommage a l' ultime guerrier - Le Journal
"Gainey a été le plus grand joueur défensif de son temps et probablement de toutes les époques. Si grand qu'on s'est senti mal à l'aise de ne pas pouvoir saluer ses mérites. On a donc créé un trophée juste pour lui. Il a gagné les quatre premiers, un exploit individuel qui n'a jamais été répété."
At the Gainey retirement thread at Habs Inside Out, regular reader J.T. came up with this great notion:
"You know what would be a nice gesture? If those of us who can manage it could donate $23 to the Gainey Foundation today as a tribute to him. I think you can do it online at the Foundation website. "
J.T. is bang on with this, donations are accepted by PayPal. Click on the link and make a difference.