Sunday December 16 4:30 PM
What a great day to do nothing but eat and drink-oh wait, we did that Friday at our station Christmas party. Snow days like this remind me of elementary school, specifically Churchill school in Chomedey (later renamed Irving Bregman Memorial) where our gym teacher was future Queen's football coach Ian Breck. Those of us who were within walking distance actually looked forward to heading to school on snow days because Ian would gather some fellow teachers in the library for a bull session with students. A couple of times he introduced us to one of his roommates who looked vaguely familiar. Turns out he was an American Hockey League goaltender named Wayne Thomas. (The Canadiens' top farm team was based in Montreal for one year. Their home rink was the Forum. Some of the other players included Bobby Sheehan, Phil Roberto, Chuck Lefley, Bob Murdoch and another goaltender named Ken Dryden.)
The next time I met Wayne Thomas was in the early 1980's very late one night at a bar in Cape Cod. I don't remember how I was introduced to him but I do remember that he said he was part owner of the place. I told him the story about Churchill School in Chomedey. His eyes lit up (just like the rest of him at that point) and he started telling me stories of the Voyageurs. A few minutes later he took me over to another part of the room to introduce me to his partner in the bar. I instantly recognized Nick Fotiu. Oh the stories we could tell...
Ian Breck is currently the head coach of Team Canada's Under- 20 Junior Football team.
The Mitchell Report. Just another in a list of "scandalous moments" in baseball. I keep reading of comparisons to the 1919 Black Sox scandal. How about the Dowd report? Or the cocaine scandal of the early 1980's? Have we already forgotten about the collusion cases organized by Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and the pathetic owners in the mid-80's? (if you don't think collusion helped kill at least one market, consider this-players forced back to their old teams included Tim Raines. But free agency rules being what they were, a player couldn't re-sign with his old team until May 1. So the 1987 Expos played the entire month of April with Triple A leftfielder Alonzo Powell. He batted .195. The Expos April record was 8-12. From the moment Raines re-joined the team ( in 139 games in 1987 Raines hit .330 with 18 home runs, 68 RBI's, 50 stolen bases, a slugging pct of .526, an OBP of .429 and a LEAGUE LEADING 123 runs scored) the Expos went 83-59. A total won loss record of 91-71 was good enough for 3rd place in the NL East, just four games behind the division champion St. Louis Cardinals. And what about baseball's biggest scandal of them all-not allowing a single black player to play until 1947?
So spare me the moralizing. There have been worse moments than this.
Two scenes I'll never forget:
A former Expos catcher tapping me on the shoulder in the clubhouse asking me what I thought about a couple of his teammates who were certainly on something (David Segui was one of them). I said if it's obvious to me what's going on how can anybody directly involved in the sport not seem to know or care? He then asked me if I thought it was fair that he should have to decide whether to bulk up or not. If ever there was a rhetorical question that was it. And it was repeated in every clubhouse in baseball. I salute the guys who resisted the temptation and played through through nothing stronger than the odd greenie or (in John Wetteland's case) an over consumption of caffeine.
A bunch of media types gathered at Hurley's Irish pub. I mention to a baseball writer that players are starting to grumble about obvious steroid use. I tell him it's a huge story about to explode. He agrees but says he can't really sniff around because he'd have his "access" cut off. He says it's more of an investigative piece that has to be done on a national level with a parade of sources and an almost unlimited expense account. And then Ken Caminiti won the NL MVP award.
Saku Koivu goes a dozen games without scoring and he's either washed up or a lousy leader or both. He scores two goals against the Leafs and his critics will say the Leafs were tired. I think we're all guilty of over analyzing after each game or block of games. There's still a lot of hockey left to play. Among Koivu's right wingers this season-Michael Ryder, Tom Kostopolous, Mark Streit, Bryan Smolinski, Guillame Latendresse, Alex Kovalev, Mathieu Dandenault and Sergei Kostitsyn. Who's next-Stephen Harper?
Saku Koivu is a special guy. "Un champion", says Bob Gainey. It takes one to know one. Koivu is not part of the problem, never has been. I'd concede that at this point he might not be part of the solution either. The fact that the Habs seem to go only as Koivu goes is not his fault. It's an organizational failure. But if they are to trade him (out west) they had better hit a home run. Steroid-free.