Friday, May 06, 2005

LIFE IS DULL IN CANADA

I REALLY MISS the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.

Having said that, I am determined not to get down about it. I am too angry at the people who run the sport of hockey to get down about it. But still, life in Canada is dull.

It's the passion for the sport that I miss: the fans watching the TVs in the windows, wearing their Maple Leaf jerseys and waving their Leaf flags on their cars during the playoffs. You'd have people in sports bars sitting in rapt attention watching Don Cherry say his piece on TV during the playoffs. You'd have fans sitting in the stands at the Dome watching the Blue Jays and suddenly cheering over some goal scored in the playoffs. You'd have fans calling the CBC in protest because their playoff game got interrupted for election coverage.

And Chris Cuthbert would be calling play-by-play from one weird location or another: one year he was calling a 5-OT game from Pittsburgh. Noticed he got a great new job: he'll be the main guy for CFL games on TSN. Don't expect him to do an NHL game ever again, though, because they seem to be gone forever.

And I miss it. It's really the passion for the game that I miss. I suspect you have to go to some soccer-mad populace to find an equivalent situation, although the baseball fans in the Northeast US come pretty close. I know Chelsea fans were going nuts in London last week when their team won the Premiership. Dunno how they feel now that Liverpool beat them in the Champions League. But still, the fans there are nuts. At least there's still a sport they can follow, unlike here.

The hockey season in Toronto is pretty much done like dinner. In addition to the NHL season being torched, all the local teams in all the rest of the leagues have been eliminated pretty early. The Hamilton Bulldogs lasted exactly four games in the AHL playoffs and the St. John's Baby Leafs, who were scheduled to play games 6 and 7 of their series with Manitoba at the Air Canada Centre, didn't even make it that far, getting eliminated in game 5. And the local OHL teams all got eliminated ridiculously early, even the ones who had good seasons. So it's been total hell for hockey fans in Toronto. Me, I stopped caring a long time ago.

I fill my nights these days watching NBA playoffs and baseball games. And while there've been some good NBA games this playoff year, it is definitely not the same.

It's a beautiful spring night and you'd expect me on the porch right now, tuned in to a hockey game on my tiny sports TV. Instead, I'm tuning in to a New York Yankees game from channel 51 from Buffalo. Pretty darned good replacement. In fact, it's amazing how many people in town have suddenly become interested in baseball again. You tune in to the sports stations around here and that's what they want to talk about. Mind you, Canada's playing hockey in the World Championships right now but really, do I care about that? So we might win the world championship. Big deal. Hockey in the afternoon doesn't cut it with me. Not the same.

I've also been watching more junk reality TV to fill the nights. I fell out of my chair last night watching The Apprentice. There was some guy who had some sort of cameo role on last night's show by the name of David Pekush, and I fell out of my chair because I think I went to school with him, years ago in far-off boondock SASKATOON! We weren't in the same grade, but I was in the same grade as his younger brother. How the heck he wound up in New York City I don't know. I'm pretty sure it was him.

Small world. And then during the commercial breaks Global TV runs their entertainment updates and it was Pooja Handa doing the entertainment updates! I know her, too, from Rogers TV days. I guess Cheryl Hickey was off to the Caribbean or somewhere, trying to save people's marriages on Last Chance for Romance.

Of course a few days ago I was at Peter Kent's mad-as-hell media event in St. Paul's. This is weird. My whole life is just a big TV show these days.

Oakland now leads the Yankees. 3-1. All of Steinbrenner's money down the drain, again.

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