Tuesday, September 14, 2004


This is a fabulous week in Toronto. For political junkies, there's the Ontario PC Leadership Convention this weekend, so we'll have our fill of political star-gazing. (Among others, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper will be delivering the keynote speech on Saturday.)

For movie junkies there's the Toronto International Film Festival, with Roy Thomson Hall the hub of most of the activity. I went down there today to see if there was anyone famous there, and someone mentioned that Sigourney Weaver was supposed to show up. Or maybe she was there last night and they were talking about last night. I dunno. The only famous people I saw there today were the entertainment reporters like Citytv's Liz West and Global TV's Cheryl Hickey. They were standing on the red carpet in their expensive showbiz-glam clothes, waiting for something to happen and getting set for their live hits. These entertainment reporters are covering this thing like it's a political convention or something.

The other night was a bad night for the press as Sean Penn showed up for the premiere of his new movie The Assassination of Richard Nixon, and as he entered the movie theatre he refused to talk to the reporters, just sulked his way into the theatre. That was funny.


But the big event is the World Cup of Hockey which will be decided tonight between Finland and Canada. I was down at the Air Canada Centre earlier today just to check it out (actually, the main reason I was downtown was to get a TV demo tape made, but that's another story). It was a carnival atmosphere. All the media were there, and 640Toronto and CBC were all camped out there- I noticed the CBC's Tom Harrington hanging around near all the TV cameras. And there were tons of people there already wearing Team Canada jerseys and the like, and plenty of scalpers. One scalper was selling tickets for $500 for tonight's game! I heard on the radio that tickets were going for as much as $650. That is bleeping ridiculous.

Ridiculously high prices are the norm for international hockey. In fact they're the norm for professional hockey games, period. But really, $650 for one World Cup game is a total waste of money. I don't care if it's the finals. You're better off buying a TV set and watching the game at home!

Canada, of course, very nearly made this a terrible night for the scalpers by almost losing to the Czech Republic on Saturday, but Canada pulled it out in overtime 4-3 and here we are tonight. They are playing probably the best national team Finland has ever produced. That squad is loaded with talent. Right now it is 1-1 in the first period.

Overshadowing the night is the debacle that is the NHL labour dispute; or as they say in the States, labor dispute. The two sides aren't going to even bother holding another negotiation session and Gary Bettman's scheduled a meeting with the owners tomorrow followed by a press conference to announce the big lockout.

Who cares about the NHL. Last Saturday's overtime game proved to me that international hockey at the highest level has the trap-and-fight NHL all beat, both in style of play and in the passion the teams bring to the games. That's why I'm watching and enjoying the World Cup. The NHL could learn a few lessons about putting on a better show by watching how the international game is played.

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