Cliff Ronning was my hero growing up. Why? He was short, and I was short. And yet that dude got it done.
Find yourself in a no-stakes hockey game with Ronning and you’ll know in an instant how the former Canuck carved out an 18-year career despite standing a relatively unimposing 5’8″: he can’t turn it off. Nevermind that it’s a charity game, or that he retired a decade ago — Cliff Ronning is incapable of not trying. On Saturday at the Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer event in Vancouver, Ronning was averaging about a goal a shift in his games, shooting from everywhere, picking corners and making fools of everyone that dared try to separate him from the orange ball.
Having witnessed this a few times now, I can tell you that that’s just classic Ronning, and it’s been going on forever. Heck, even his video game version from 20 years ago always seemed like the lone sprite that didn’t realize he was just data on a cartridge.
Early video game aficionados will likely remember Ronning’s incredible skills in NHLPA ’93, the second game in EA’s now-legendary franchise, where he was unforgettably (and if he was on the opposing team, infuriatingly) good. A guest list over at Puck Daddy once listed NHL ’93 Ronning as the fourth-best hockey video game character of all-time, behind only NHL Stanley Cup’s invincible goaltenders, NHL ’94′s Jeremy Roenick, and the fat guy from Nintendo Ice Hockey. Why was he so good? Puck Daddy got the secret. He knew the game’s designer.
And thus, Ronning was never better than when he was inside the EA star — not even during the 1994 Stanley Cup run, in my opinion — which is why this photo, snapped yesterday after Ronning had finished having his way with us all, is so cool:Continue Reading —›