To commemorate its first night of hockey coverage, the NHL on TNT released a video of the league’s stars remembering their hockey firsts – memories, sticks, games and goals.
When Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk‘s first made it to the NHL, he thought to himself, “Oh boy.”
“I’m here,” Tkachuk said. “This is the NHL. Buckle up.”
Tkachuk first remembers going to the rink with his dad Keith when he was young, while Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos and New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes recall skating on frozen ponds.
The NHL all-time leading goal scorer Wayne Gretzky’s first stick – or sticks – came at a two-for-one deal for 50 cents. But NHL analyst Paul Bissonnette can clearly detail his first.
“I’ll never forget the Christmas I got my first Gretzky aluminum,” Bissonnette said.
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby’s first stick was a titan, and Buffalo Sabres forward Dylan Cozen’s was a wooden Sidney Crosby.
When Stamkos lined up against Crosby for the first time, it didn’t feel real.
“One of my first shifts was against Sidney Crosby lining up in the faceoff,” Stamkos said. “I felt like I was in a video game.”
And Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews‘ first goal was a relief.
“You have to remember the first [goal], just so much excitement,” Matthews said. “It’s almost a monkey off the back.”
New York Islanders forward Anders Lee focused on putting one foot in front of the other.
“I just remember not wanting to look like an idiot,” Lee said.
After Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse‘s first NHL goal, he said he let out every scream he held in as a child.
At the end of games, seasons and careers, Gretzky said the one thing all professional hockey players have in common is that eventually, they’ll play their final game.
“When I look back at it, to be out there, to have a puck, to have a stick, to skate… everything about the game I truly thought was remarkable right from day one,” Gretzky said.