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Manning, Vigneault & Jory

Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault apologized to me Saturday night. It wasn’t work related; we both know our roles there. He coaches, I stay out of his way.

On game days I have one rule: don’t speak unless spoken too. It sounds old school, but these guys are professional athletes and coaches and if they’re in the zone, I don’t want to be the one to knock them out of it with my tomfoolery.

Coach said he wishes I had stopped him and introduced him to Peyton Manning, whom I’m BFF’s with, and by that I mean I met him in the hotel lobby pre-game in Denver Saturday.

Now, when I say I met him, I mean that I introduced myself, we shook hands (he said it was nice to meet me!!!) and I asked if I could throw a couple of hockey questions his way.

My objective here was twofold: 1. Talk to Peyton Manning, the myth, the man, the legend; 2. Get enough out of him about hockey to write a story. He’s the biggest name in sports right now and a feature on Canucks.com would be pretty swell.

I’m guessing you’ve realized that I failed in one of those objectives.

We were waiting for the 5 p.m. bus to take us to the Pepsi Center when a black SUV rolled up to the hotel. A few of the Canucks training staff had seen Peyton the night before when he was checking into the hotel, so we knew he was here. As soon as the exquisite ride pulled up, I knew it was him.

I did the only logical thing I could do. I ran inside and prepared to walk past him in the hallway as if meeting him by chance. Have I mentioned how smooth I am?

Anyways, I get inside and I see Peyton walking in, so I strike. I introduce myself, we shake hands, and I tell him I’m with the Canucks and am wondering if he’s a hockey fan at all.

“I don’t really know hockey,” he said, looking at me through thin sunglasses with his blue polo shirt tucked into his jeans that are worth more than my car – not that I was checking him out because of a man crush that may or may not exist.

“I lived in New Orleans, then Indianapolis, so there wasn’t much hockey going on.”

At this point we’ve been walking and talking for close to 20 seconds and I know time is of the essence. Big guns, here we go.

“So the rumour that you chose to play in Denver based on the fact that it has a hockey team is false?” I inquired, thinking I’m the most funniest best question asker man on the planet.

“Something like that,” he laughed, meaning no, get out of my luscious blonde hair.

Then the moment of truth came and I opened my mouth to ask for a photo with him. Before I could spit anything out, one of the elevators we had made our way to, the one to the far right, opened and coach Vigneault came out.

It all happened so fast.

As coach jetted past, he walked between Peyton and I, giving the future hall of fame quarterback, who now calls Denver home, a chance to trim the fat, aka lose me, and get to his room in one piece.

“Nice to meet you Derek,” he said (he remembered my name!!!), to which I replied, “great to meet you too Peyton.”

I turned to my right just as Jeff Vinnick was walking up, massive camera with a lens bigger than my leg in hand, ready to take a picture I’d cherish forever.

The elevator doors closed and that was that.

Jeff was busy doing his job shooting Behind the Lens photos while all this was going on, otherwise I’d have a nifty photo to show you.

Instead, I have a story of what could have been.

After Vancouver’s 3-2 comeback win Saturday over Colorado, the team gathered in the hotel restaurant, where I ran into coach. I asked him if he knew it was Peyton I was talking to. He recognized him right away, but it wasn’t until a few feet past us that he remembered from where. He then told me I should have stopped him and the three of us could have gotten a nice photo together.

I should be kicking myself, but I read the situation and acted as I saw fit.

The above photoshopped hack job will have to suffice as my photo with Peyton and Alain.

Oh, for the record, Vigneault is willing to back up my claims of meeting Peyton to anyone who doubts them.

Just not on a game day.