CARMAN, MB –
He lit up the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for three years as a Portage Terrier and Winkler Flyer, putting up records for goals scored and total points but that was over twenty years and seventy pounds ago and Jesse Anderson is finding it harder to find people who remember his glory days.
“I pretty much dominated the M.J. for three solid years,” Anderson said. “I averaged over a goal a game and got two rings. The women wanted to be with me and the men wanted to be me.”
Time has not been kind to the once dominate athlete and fewer people remember the former superstar’s exploits. In his prime, Anderson could walk into any restaurant or bar in Portage la Prairie or his hometown of Carman and be showered with praise and freebies.
“I don’t think I paid for a drink or a meal for a good ten years,” Anderson recalled. “I’d get deals on everything from cars to groceries just by showing people my rings and letting them hang out with me.”
Anderson still plays hockey, albeit at a slower pace for the local senior hockey team but he is a shadow of his former self.
“Jesse tells us before every game how he scored over two hundred goals in the M.J.” senior hockey teammate Brian Handford said. “He can barely skate anymore and we have to set him up in front of the net for him to get a goal. Most games we healthy scratch him but some of the guys feel sorry for him so he gets in every three or four games.”
Anderson sees his current hockey career a little differently than the rest of his team.
“I help the senior team out when I can. I’m more of a playing coach and mentor,” Anderson explained. “They use me as a power play expert but I’m pretty busy with work so I can’t get to as many games as I would like.”
“He shows up every game with his gear, even if we text him to tell him he’s not dressing,” Handford said. “He usually tears up when we tell him he can’t play.”
Anderson’s invisibility on the ice extends to his regular life and he has found it hard to cope.
“Last week I was at a restaurant in town and the waitress gave me the bill,” Anderson said. “I gave her a sly wink and said ‘Don’t you know who I am?”
It turns out she had no idea who Jesse Anderson was or is.
“This fat old guy was trying to hit on me and he started to flip out when I told him I didn’t know who he was or care,” 21 year-old professional server Olivia Thomas said. “My boss said he kinda remembered him but he was such an arrogant jerk.”
Faced with having to buy his own meals and paying full price for everything Anderson points to what he feels the problem is.
“You know nowadays they just don’t teach enough history. Kids should be taught about my record-setting career in school it would give them something to work toward and dream about.”
Anderson admits it has been years since any woman, other than his wife, has been impressed by his hockey prowess and the day of the free meal might be over.
“I know it’s kind of in the past,” Anderson said. “I still find it hard to believe that more people don’t know who I am. My record still stands and I’m in the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.”
Despite repeated offers to take us on a tour of the Hall of Fame to show us his display CIPP-TV declined and opted to quickly end the interview. Anderson has sent the station numerous emails of newspaper clippings and stat sheets from his time in junior hockey but we graciously declined to publish them.