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Bob Chase's night at the USA Hockey Hall of Fame banquet was even better than his friends hoped for.
The 86-year-old Komets broadcaster received the Lester Patrick Trophy for service to hockey in the United States on Monday night in Dallas.
``It had to be one of the most memorable moments in my life,'' Chase said. ``You don't move to those heights very often when you spend your life in a sport like this. I'm glad I'll have pictures to help me remember it all. This was top-of-the-mountain stuff.''
The award ceremony was the culmination of an exhausting few days for Chase, who started his 60th season with the Komets on Friday night, called the team's win in Evansville on Saturday and then flew to Dallas early Sunday morning.
Along with his wife, Murph, Chase was joined by his daughter, Karin and her husband, Vic; his son, David; former Komet Terry Pembroke and his daughter Tara; protege and NBC broadcaster Mike Emrick; and Komets owner Stephen Franke and team president Michael Franke.
``What a night!'' Michael Franke said. ``We've been doing this for 23 years now, and for me this was probably the most unbelievable night ever. It was a tremendously humbling experience for Bob because of the gratitude so many people expressed to him. It was greater than I ever thought it would be to see the emotion expressed from everyone.''
Chase shared the honor with Washington Capitals president Richard Patrick, the grandson of the man the award is named for. The Hall of Fame inductees were former Dallas Stars center Mike Modano; longtime player, coach and now broadcaster Eddie Olczyk; and New Jersey Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello.
``Lou Lamoriello started his speech by saying, `Bob Chase, I met you and your family last night,' '' Michael Franke quoted. `` `Your enthusiasm and energy are unbelievable. I need some of that right now.' ''
Chase and Patrick were interviewed by ESPN's Steve Levy during an early portion of the dinner for 15 minutes. Chase choked up a few times, thanking his wife and mentioning a few friends from the past, but he made it through.
``What's that like where there are so many hockey fans in the country that are lovers of the sport because of the joy you brought to them?'' Levy asked.
Part of Chase's answer included, ``I thought very, very seriously about the custodial responsibility I had, not only for the station but also for the sport I was broadcasting. I made many friends with hockey players, moms, dads, you name them, who used to sit and listen to me because their kids were playing in Fort Wayne.''
Levy later said, ``You young kids out there who want to be hockey broadcasters, my advice to you is whenever Bob decides to hang it up, don't be the guy who follows him! You never want to be the man following the man, you want to be the man following the man who followed the man.''
All of Chase's family and friends were stunned by the respect he received from all the dignitaries.
``It was a class act,'' Pembroke said. ``They treated Chase royally, and probably 40 percent of the crowd was all professional NHL people. The number of people who came by and said they listened to Bob Chase when they were growing up was almost overwhelming.''
Chase said he was a little surprised by the number of people who came up afterward to talk, thank him and get their picture taken with him.
``It was just the most enjoyable night,'' he said. ``The pomp and ceremony was pretty unrivaled. Having my name on the lips of a lot of pretty important people made me feel good. That was once-in-a-lifetime night, and I'm glad it happened to me.''