Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fathers and sons

Oh ESPN, how you love to beat a dead horse?

Encircle the corpse and lay waste to even the flies with your bats. If the horse ever opened his eyes, we might read PCLoadLetter in its pupils.

Ad nauseum, the American sports broadcasting giant mentioned the Brandon Sutter-Brent Sutter relationship tonight during the Carolina Hurricanes-Calgary Flames game.

We, as Flames fans, had no choice but to watch the ESPN feed online.

First intermission, Brandon and Brent interviews about this being the first time in NHL history a son has played a team coached by his father.

Second intermission, same thing.

Now you might think this is a rant.

It is not a rant. (Use your Arnold Schwarzenegger voice to say that, please)

In fact, it reminded me of a story from days of yore.

You see, even media folk have opportunities for hazing the newbies.

There I was, a rookie on the Kamloops Blazers WHL beat. It was maybe my sixth game in the press box at what was then known as Riverside Coliseum.

I have no recollection of the opposition that night.

But Bob Gainey was in the building. Yes, that Bob Gainey ... legendary left winger for the Montreal Canadiens, winner of four Frank Selke trophies, a five-time Stanley Cup champion, inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992 and currently executive vice-president and general manager of the Habs.

Back then, he was managing the Dallas Stars.

And his son, Steve, was playing for the Blazers.

Scott Cruickshank, now of Calgary Herald fame, was writing for the Kamloops Daily News. He and I quickly became beat buddies, chatting in the press box and keeping each other up on the play.

This night, he said, 'hey, did you know Bob Gainey's here?'

Still a bit capable of getting a little starstruck, my eyes widened and I said, 'no way!'

'Yup, and he looooooves to talk about his kid. I've done the story before but you might want to catch up with him.'

'Cool. Great idea. Thanks.'

I bet you can see what's coming now.

Yeeeeeah ...

Bob doesn't like to talk about his kid.

In fact, he can be pretty gruff when it comes dealing with such matters.

Scary even.

I excitedly asked Bob if I could ask him about watching the game.

'Stephen is his own man,' he grunted in my general direction. 'Talk to him about the game.'

I slunked off. My tail between my legs.

I got back to press box position, completely forgetting I also gave a brief thought to asking Bob for an autograph, given that my eldest brother has been a lifelong Habs fan.

There was Cruickshank, biting his lip.

'How did it go,' he asked.

'Not well.'

He burst out laughing, slamming his hand against the counter.

I don't remember whether Cruickshank told me he'd gotten caught in the jig, too, or whether he just happened to fall into the Gainey trap.

But I'll never forget that night.

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