Sushi Day 2000
written by Dave Gutteridge
Sometimes the best action happens "off the ice". Such was the case on May 7, 2000, as Hall of Famer Pete, Rick, and newcomer Jon took up the all you can eat sushi challenge at our favourite apres-hockey sushi joint.
The rules were that you had to eat at least 30 plates in one hour. If you did, everything you ate was free. If you didn't, if you ate 29 or less, you paid. Simple as that.
The event started a little before five. The chefs took a list of the first ten or so plates that the boys would be eating and then prepared, en masse, for the sushi battles.
Rick dove in with enthusiasm, but even he was surprised, as we all were, to see Jon down 20 plates in about 20 minutes.
After the initial panic, Rick settled into a pace, and Jon, confident of his victory, decided to start eating only the really expensive black plates which are usually 500 yen a pop. That proved to be his undoing, though, as the black plates had large and exotic delicacies which were not only hard to stomach, but in some cases hard to recognize as food.
Pete, through all this, ate just as he ate on any other day. To look at him you wouldn't have even known there was any kind of contest going on. Sadly, Rick stopped at twenty plates.
Claiming confidence that he could eat the last ten plates but fearing the repercussions to his body if he did, he bowed out of the competition. Perhaps a sensible move, but he won't see his name on the wall of victory.
John finished early, making the requisite 30 plates for a clear victory, but balking on the shrimp heads he had ordered. He probably could have ate more, but the concept of eating something that people usually throw out was too much. As the other two battled on, he had to unbuckle his belt and sit outside to reflect on the implications of his achievement.
Pete ate his thirtieth plate of sushi as he had eaten his first, with no display of emotion to indicate that anything out of the ordinary had happened. But the crowd of hockey guys looking on knew different. We knew that we were witness to something great. To something that would live on as an anecdote for days, possibly even weeks, to come.
Having made the grade, Jon and Pete had the honour of having their names written on the wall of the sushi place, as the first ever contenders in the history of the establishment to have their names written in katakana. Since, then, however, they've been deposed, and at last check, the most recent patron of the sushi place to take up the challenge had downed forty or more plates.
Thus ended the great sushi battle of the new millennium. Rick went home, slightly humbled, but eager to fight again one day. Jon had proved himself on his first day with the TSHA to be a man of action and daring. And Pete had stoically maintained his reputation as an eater of impressive, if not frightening, capacity.
And as a last note, to anyone who might be interested in taking up the sushi challenge in future days, Jon has this advice: "It only hurts when you stop."