Friday, November 26, 2004

Behind the scenes at Grey Cup 

Another sign that planners had all the vitals covered.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Not a bad idea... 

Get Russ Jackson a star.

More Grey Cup thoughts 

The state of Brad Watters' voice on the TEAM 1200 Monday afternoon told much of how the Grey Cup went. It was a gravelly and weary voice, the voice of someone who has poured every last drop of energy into planning and celebrating the big event.

And what an event it was!

There were a lot of people worn out voices and bodies that dragged themselves into work Monday after spending the weekend as part of the biggest celebration that the city has ever hosted. With 51,242 fans shoehorned into Frank Clair Stadium, it was officially the biggest sporting event that the city has ever hosted. And although
it's a more subjective thing to measure, with 30,000 visitors to the city joining even more Ottawans in the pre and post game celebrations, With over 100,000 passing through the celebrations at Landsdowne alone, Grey Cup week may have been Ottawa's biggest party ever.

Having grown up and lived in non-CFL cities my entire life, this was my first Grey Cup experience. Lured partly by the guarantee of Cup tickets (it was an easy, cheap ticket on the street in the end) I became a Renegades season ticket holder two years ago. Since then I've gone from a very casual CFL fan, to a more dedicated one.

Some would consider me a serious fan, a season ticket holder and I watch most other games on TV. However, compared to the people that make the annual pilgrimmage to Grey Cup week, I'm a rank amateur. Just being around so many intense hardcore fans who have such a true love of the game (and of beer).

Apparently there were a few problems; vendors ran out of beer before the game (although they were able to replenish) and the demand for food was so huge that vendors ran out. However, the only less than flawless operation that I saw all weekend was the mob scene for buses. With such a huge demand for the OC Transpo shuttles, I suppose it was an unavoidable scene. I'm not sure that there was any way that it could have been planned better. Those of us looking to get to some of the suburban shuttles were unable to move past the mob and toward bus stops further down the line, but the crowd was so packed that all you could do was go along with the crowd. Fortunately, the mob pushed me onto a bus fairly quickly and I didn't hear of any incidents afterward

I should also single out the TEAM1200's outstanding coverage of the week. Even when I couldn't be there, their on-location broadcasts gave me a taste of what it was like to be there.

I had sky-high expectations for the week. I wasn't disappointed. Bring on 2012!

The Grey Cup, as seen by an outdated digital camera 

The Lions warm up...

Fiery intros...

The Anthem... 51,242 chime in on O Canada.

Fireworks before kickoff...

The 92nd Grey Cup kicks off...

(It must have been a good game because I forgot to take any more pictures until the) Argos celebration!!
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Monday, November 22, 2004

quick Grey Cup impressions 

You'll have to excuse me, I'm not at my best
I've been gone for a month, I've been drunk since I left
These so-called vacations will soon be my death
I'm so sick from the drink, I need home for a rest...

I'll write something a bit more verbose tonight, possibly even with some of the pics I snapped, but I want to give a few quick impressions of my first Grey Cup.

Relatively speaking, I'm not really much of a party guy, but the pre-Cup festivities are not to be missed. Canada may be regionally divided about some things, but love CFL football is not one of them. While some venues were better than others (the Ti-Cats lair was way too small with some organizational issues), all the parties were good. Fans of all stripes unite to get trashed together. Billionaire Caillou-lookalike owners mix with fans. Ottawans cheer for Toronto.

The Game. Oh yes, it's easy to forget, but there's actually a game at the end of all the celebrations. It felt a bit surreal being at the Grey Cup rather than watching it on TV, like it couldn't really be the Grey Cup if I was there watching it in person. It was fun to watch a game that I had no strong rooting interest in either team. I mostly cheered for whichever offence was on the field.

I was surprised to see Dave Dickenson starting, although he wasn't the reason they lost.

Duncan O'Mahony may have quit his Starbucks job (see Friday's Citizen) a little too early. He wasted no time in burning off the goodwill he earned with his tying and winning FG in the semis.

Finally, I'm thrilled to see a great guy like Pinball win a championship.

Friday, November 12, 2004

67s 2 - Petes 2 

Just returned from my first 67s game of the year. It was an excellent game that had a little bit of everything: a bit of scoring, some hitting, fighting, and lots of goaltending, including a nifty glove save by 67s goalie Anthony Guadagnolo late in OT to preserve the tie.

Mostly though, I just enjoyed being at a hockey game again.

I love the atmosphere at junior hockey games even if the general demographics make me feel like an old fella (at a mere, spry, 28). We had seats in the corner under the overhang in the 67s end. The overhang took some time to get used to. With the tiled roof overhead, it felt like I was in an amphitheatre, watching a 3-D HD TV with a kick-ass surround sound system. They were still good seats, but given the choice, I think I would pick the other side next time.

I figured with the NHL lockout that the 67s would be a tough ticket. I've been surprised that that hasn't been the case so far. Hopefully that will change. There are enough hockey fans that overlap the two teams' fan bases that the 67s should sell out virtually every game. I'm not sure what's holding hockey fans back.

Let me repeat from earlier: it's just nice to be at a hockey game again.


Surfing (do people really still call it that? Browsing maybe?) around prior to heading to tonight's 67s game against the Peterborough Petes I came across an Ottawa 67s blog. I'm glad to see someone blogging about the 67s since I sure haven't been giving them all the coverage they deserve over the last while.

Update: I've added the Ottawa 67s Fan blog to the sidebar.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Book review - Roger's World: The Life and Unusual Times of Roger Neilson 

Stepping aside from my mad novel dash for an evening, I just couldn't resist immediately diving into the shiny new copy of Citizen columnist Wayne Scanlan's new book about Roger Neilson - Roger's World: The Life and Unusual Times of Roger Neilson.

It was a detour well worth taking.

At a fairly svelte 212 pages, Roger's World is a quick read, but it's a good one. Packed with funny anecdotes - the short section with Roger golf stories is worth the price of the book in itself - as well as a few sad and poignant ones. The description of Neilson watching the Senators' game 7 loss to the Devils in 2003 is positively heartbreaking.

While the ending is ultimately sad, the journey is exhilarating. If one thing is clear, it's that Roger lived life to the fullest. From his coaching, to his multiple hockey camps, from traveling around the globe, to throwing parties, Roger's World brings to life the events, and more importantly the people that Roger touched.

While many of the book's anecdotes will be familiar to Senators fans used to hearing about Roger during his time here, there are lots of new stories (at least to me) as well.

While the book rightly focuses on Roger Neilson as a person, it does note the way in which he revolutionized the game of hockey. In addition to his fame as Captain Video, he was also a pioneer in introducing dry-land training, and was one of the first coaches to track and make use of now-commonplace stats like scoring chances, faceoffs and hits. If hockey were to develop a discipline like baseball's sabermetrics, it could be called rogermetrics.

If it were called rogermetrics, he would be proud, as his first love was baseball. Some of Roger's World's best stories come from Neilson's days as a minor baseball coach.

All in all, Roger's World is a must-read for any Senators fan, and a good read for any hockey fan. I'd name it the coach for my Silver Seven of hockey books.

Finally, but importantly, a portion of the book's sales goes to Roger's House.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Posting note 

Posting may be light(er) in November since:

a) no Senators to write about
b) no Renegades news to write about, and mostly because,
c) most of my writing energy will be going toward a mad novel sprint

Of course, since I'll be at the computer hacking away anyway, I may end up posting even more, maybe even on topic. And of course I'll write all bout the Grey Cup.