A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Actually this story happened today, in this galaxy, in the visitor’s dressing room at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
When the Canucks arrived at practice Monday, the home of the Devils was quiet. As the team gathered for a meeting, Jon Abbott (play-by-play broadcaster for TSN 1040) and I checked our phones to see what was going on. A tweet from a New Jersey writer caught his eye; it was a photo of R2D2, the astromech droid from Star Wars, who was somewhere in the building.
Canucks coverage can wait. New mission: find R2D2!
We grabbed Paul Albi (Canucks cameraman) and Jeff Vinnick (Behind the Lens photographer) and took off running.
Nothing. Nadda. No R2. No D2. No familiar chirps or whistles. Not one single beep boop.
So we returned to our regularly scheduled programming and covered practice. Then, shooting a video of Brandon Sutter scoring the winner in a shootout battle, I got the text: R2 IS HERE BY ZAMBONI HURRY!!!
I grabbed Albi and ran. Look, it’s R2D2! The little kid in me was in awe.
The Devils crew was shooting a video with the droid for their Star Wars Night on December 11th, five days before the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
The surreal moment was ruined when I realized there was a problem: while posting photos or video of R2D2 on @Canucks would be cool regardless of context, it would make zero sense. So we headed back to the room for media availability.
Vinnick and I passed moments later and I told him about R2. “I’ll get him to come in the room,” he said.
And he delivered!
As players took their gear off after practice ended, R2D2 came screaming into the dressing room. Head turning, lights flashing, chirps, whistles, beeps and boops. Everything.
Now we’re in business!
The Canucks smiled and laughed and took photos. Jack Skille did his best Chewbacca impression, imitating the Wookiee with ease. Skille was surprised to see the droid, but no one was happier than Ryan Miller.
Miller interacted with R2D2 for a bit before taking a seat just to admire the droid. He’s not a big Star Wars fan by any means, but he couldn’t help himself. The white, silver and blue droid was a part of his childhood.
“I was young, but I remember it being everywhere,” said Miller. “It was impossible to not know about Star Wars growing up in the ‘80s. My dad thought it was a cool movie, and I was two or three when all the hype was going on for the next movie, so I had all the toys, all the character action figures, an ewok village, even a rancor.”
The Empire Strikes Back, the second installment in the original Star Wars trilogy, came out in May 1980, two months before Miller was the born. A New Hope was three years prior to his birth and Return of the Jedi was released when he was three.
Miller never saw any of the Star Wars movies in theatre, but he did watch them at home many times, as we all did and continue to do. Miller will be watching them again very soon alongside his son Bodhi, who turns two in March.
Reliving everything Star Wars through his son’s eyes will bring out the kid in Miller, as seeing R2D2 did on this day.
Interviewing R2D2, with the entire team watching, definitely wasn’t my coolest moment and IT WAS DEFINITELY MY COOLEST MOMENT! I was never a huge Star Wars fan until I dove back in with my son and now I’m sucked in big time and can’t wait for the new movie.
May the Force be with you!
Derek Jory – @NoJoryous