Everything about Dino’s night was just about right

Somehow everything that happened on the night they retired Dino Ciccarelli’s number seemed just about right.r

Ciccarelli, the former London Knight, National Hockey League star and now co-owner and director of hockey operations for the Sarnia Sting, came back to London last night as the Knights retired his No. 8 at the John Labatt Centre.r

rIt was a fitting tribute to a player who was one of the most devastating scorers in the game. But the evening was not only to honour his ability as a hockey player but also to acknowledge his will to compete and survive despite his size and a broken leg that would have stopped most other players.r

For a man who has a reputation of being tough, intense and guarded, it was obvious Ciccarelli enjoyed the evening.r

And why not.r

The place was sold out with 9,076 in attendance. The Ciccarelli clan needed 75 tickets for family and friends. Some 35 family members attended, including his brothers Rob and Larry, co-owners of the Sting, Dino’s wife Lynda and two of his three daughters, Ashley and Kristy, who were presented with flowers, and his mother and father, Celeste and Vic.r

Also present where Ciccarelli’s billets, where he lived for four years in London, Laura and Roy Chaffey.r

“They were tough. They were like second parents,” Ciccarelli said. “Probably because my parents where breathing down their necks.”r

Longtime Knights coach Bill Long and wife Dorothy were also present.r

“He taught me everything about hockey,” Ciccarelli said of Long. “I didn’t like it all but now I know why you did it.”r

Representing the Knights at centre ice were coach Dale Hunter and friend and trainer Don Brankley.r

It was appropriate that Motrin, the pain relief medication, was the sponsor for the evening. Ciccarelli suffered a great deal of pain in his career, inflicted a great deal of pain and some would say he was a royal pain when he played.r

It was a classy ceremony. Ciccarelli received a standing ovation as the walked to centre ice. He added a nice touch to the proceedings when he began to speak.r

“I have to do something tonight,” he said. “I hope you give me a minute. I just don’t feel comfortable this way.”r

With that he took off his jacket, took out his old No. 8 Knights sweater and pulled it over his head.r

The crowd loved it.r

“That sweater was in a frame at his house. He took it out of the frame so he could do that,” Rob Ciccarelli said.r

Few people knew he was going to do that.r

“I told him I thought it would be a nice touch,” Rob Ciccarelli said. “I didn’t mind him wearing it as long as he took it off right after.”r

Dino Ciccarelli spoke from the heart. For a guy who claimed he wasn’t much on speaking in public, he did a great job.r

“I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “I was told never to forget where I came from or my roots. I’ll never forget London.”r

It was a real homecoming for Ciccarelli. From the moment he walked into the building he was signing sweaters and autographs.r

“I was nervous,” he said after the ceremony. “I’ve never spoken in front of that many people. But the more I was out there the better I felt. I really felt that I was among friends.”r

On an evening for Ciccarelli, a lot of credit has to go to Mark and Dale Hunter, owners of the Knights. Mark worked for Ciccarelli as a coach for the Sting and their parting wasn’t the most amicable. But they did the right thing having the ceremony. Good for them.r

“Dale and I talked about it in the summer,” Mark Hunter said. “He was great for this team, he played hard, scored a lot of goals.r

“I’ve learned hockey is a lot of things and one of them is entertainment. Fans like this,” Hunter said.r

“We didn’t want to do anything in the Ice House for Dino.r

“Dale and I are thinking of redoing something for (Rob) Ramage and (Brad) Marsh later on.”r

The numbers of Ramage, Marsh and Darryl Sitter are also retired. There are plans to retire Brendan Shanahan’s number next year.r

But last night was for Ciccarelli.r

“It was a very special evening,” he said. “I’m going to remember it for a long time.”r

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