By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 13, 2009 - 31 Comments
Rick Hillier started with a joke about something his late father had said. Then one about his wife and his propensity to talk. Then one about missing his flight. Then one about his Newfoundland heritage. Then about the stature of his audience. Then about George Stroumboulopoulos. Then about Alex Trebek and Wheel of Fortune.
The occasion was a dinner in a hotel ballroom in downtown Ottawa to mark the beginning of a weekend conference of “conservative-oriented” thinkers. General Hillier, formerly the top-ranking soldier in the Canadian military, was preceded to the stage by Preston Manning, former leader of the Reform party. Manning, with remarkably blond hair for a man of 66, was preceded to the stage by Monte Solberg, a former Conservative government minister who has left politics and now has a blog.
In front of the stage were approximately 20 tables with approximately 10 people seated at each. Each table had a brown tablecloth and a vase of red or white flowers. Men, each in a black or navy blue suit, outnumbered women by a factor of three to one. Waiters in black suits, white shirts and black bow ties served roasted butternut squash with green valley apple bisque to start and a main course of slowly roasted rib eye of western beef with fresh herb pan juices, roasted potatoes and seasonal fresh vegetables.
As guests—including half a dozen Conservative MPs and political science professor Tom Flanagan—nibbled at their dessert (a granny smith and caramel tart tatin with vanilla bean ice cream), General Hillier proceeded with his speech.
“Life is good, isn’t it?” he asked. “We live in the best country in the world … You need to stop and remind yourself of that.” Continue…
By Charlie Gillis - Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 10:35 AM - 788 Comments
A young man dies on the ice. A father hopes for change. Why isn’t the NHL listening?
“You’ll never get rid of it entirely.”
Michael Sanderson spoke those words to practically anyone who would listen in the days following his son Donald’s death. And in a nation suffering no small amount of guilt over a senseless loss, they were received as absolution. In the depths of his grief, this man got it, the self-styled purists said. He’s played the sport. He knows fighting is embedded in it. He won’t use the death of his 21-year-old son—by universal account about the best kid you could ever meet—as a pulpit to rail against that which sets the game apart. “Other people won’t understand this,” Don Cherry told his coast-to-coast audience after attending Donald Sanderson’s memorial service in Port Perry, Ont. “But Mike is a hockey guy.”
Yet on this subject, more so than any other, we Canadians don’t listen closely. Or we hear only what we want to. So if you’ve been gathering your information on this slow-moving controversy from Coach’s Corner, it may surprise you to learn that Michael Sanderson would in fact love to see fighting eliminated from the game. You may be shocked to hear he supports measures that would suffocate the practice. Automatic ejections? “Helluva rule.” Requiring players to keep their helmets and visors on during fights? “Great. If they know they’re going to be punching plastic with their bare hands, they’ll eventually stop.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 18, 2008 at 3:56 PM - 4 Comments
While the Prime Minister should be held to account at all times and made to face the highest of standards and expectations, we would defend Mr. Harper against the suggestion that he is to blame for professional hockey’s inability to legislate hits from behind.
By Nancy Macdonald - Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 1:51 PM - 0 Comments
La première étoile:… Russian Marat Safin caused a sensational upset today at Wimbledon by
La première étoile: Russian Marat Safin caused a sensational upset today at Wimbledon by knocking out top-seed Novak Djokovic, ranked No. 3 in the world. Safin, struggling at No. 75, admitted that he’d already booked himself a flight home to Moscow tonight. Cancel that, eh?
Two minutes to … Gary Bettman for empty posturing. He’s “suspended” Ducks’ owner Henry Samueli after Samueli pleaded guilty to obstructing a securities investigation. Given that Bettman’s now got 3 owners under suspicion or convicted of business misconduct, his avowal that he’ll hold NHL owners “to the highest standards” is hard to take with a straight face. (The other two are Ottawa’s Eugene Melnyk, facing fraud charges and William Del Baggio in Nashville, under investigation for irregularities related to his purchase of the Predators.)
Who’s got tickets? Spain takes on Russia tomorrow in a Euro2008 semi-final. Spain’s solid performance has solidified their status as odds-on favourites. But Russia, looking good since welcoming back star forward Andrei Arshavin, is not to be counted out.
Extra bases: No. 3 seed Maria Sharapova upset Wimbledon traditionalists and British tabloids by announcing that she’ll be playing in shorts, not a skirt. But today, the Sun ran a retraction—under the banner headline Shara’s Shorts: A Sun Apology. After seeing her in action, the tab decided her shorts were sexy—not “manly” at all… Continue…
By Charlie Gillis - Friday, May 16, 2008 at 11:32 AM - 1 Comment
Some speculate that Gary Bettman is celebrating at NHL h.q. that the semifinals are…
Some speculate that Gary Bettman is celebrating at NHL h.q. that the semifinals are an all-American affair. Maybe so, but Canada remains the league’s bread and butter, and there are signs our attention is wandering (you know: more than usual).
This may result in a TV ratings shellacking for the NHL in the next few days, though we’ll have to wait a few weeks for the results. The matchup: Canada v. Sweden tonight at the IIHF championship in Halifax (TSN), versus the Dallas Stars and the Other Swedish National Team (a.k.a. the Red Wings) on Saturday. As Hockey Canada honcho Bob Nicholson notes, last year’s IIHF gold medal game from Moscow pulled 1.8 million viewers—despite a poor time slot compared to tonight’s 5 p.m. ET semi.
Ratings for the NHL semifinals are not yet available. But the comparatives to this point don’t look good. In the second round, the most-watched game out of the U.S. (Dallas v. San Jose, Game 6) drew a measly 800,000 here in Canada. Even the Habs and Flyers were drawing in the 1.75 million range on CBC. The sponsors must be getting restless.
Now we have a star-studded Canadian team in contention in a tournament that is being played on home soil, and might well provide better hockey than the NHL playoffs. If I can choose only one game over the next two days, I know which one it will be.