All right, before we get into the meat of the day – Masai Ujiri’s doing his end-of-the-season media availability at 10 a.m. from whatever Zoom studio The Mighty Quinn and her pals have set up somewhere and that might be eventful – I’m gonna let y’all in on a secret.
Keep it to yourselves, okay?
Way back in the day – and I’m talking way, way, way, way, way back in the day, probably before a whole lot of you were born, I’d bet – not much got Yuteful Doug more juiced than Leafs-Habs.
Now, it was a different time, indeed. You might see two hockey games on TV in a week, baseball was a once-a-week thing, I don’t remember seeing an NBA game before the Buffalo Braves got on one of the local affiliates out of Western New York and, heck, you actually had to get up from the couch or the chair and walk across the room to change the channels on the TV. Seriously, you did! Weird, I know.
So Leafs-Habs was an event.
It was the rivalry everyone talked about, it was The Two Solitudes Vs. Each Other and it was big.
It was especially big on the odd night they played at the Forum, where you’d look in awe at those red sweaters with the horizontal stripe, you’d get to listen to Danny Gallivan and that was special. It was one thing when they played at Maple Leaf Gardens, sure; it was something else when it was from the Forum and you can bet that Little Dougie was on the chair next to Dear Old Dad listening to him scream and holler at the TV like Red Kelly or Dave Keon or Allan Stanley could here his exhortations.
What it all means is that maybe, just maybe and in some ways hopefully, this impending Toronto-Montreal playoff series can rekindle at least some of those memories.
It certainly won’t be the same, it couldn’t possibly be like it was and I know that, but given the nonsense of the last year or so, given the anxiety of these times, given all the crap we’ve had to put up with the listen to and live through, maybe a good old Leafs-Habs playoff series can either harken back to simpler times or at least
And I cannot think of a sports series that cries out louder for fans than this one. The electricity in the buildings would have been fantastic and I know it would have even translated to fans watching at home. I know players love the juice of a boisterous crowd but they’ll be driven by their own competitive nature, people watching from afar could really use the noise to ratchet up the energy and 2,500 fans maybe in the building if there’s a Game 6 is not going to cut it.
I don’t have a real big rooting interest – it’d be nice if the locals won their first playoff series since 2004, I guess – but I will tune in a lot just to see how much the emotion has disappeared.
You all know the great respect and admiration I have, everyone has, for Wayne Embry, right? I cannot tell you how proud I am to say I know him.
He was honoured twice this week, at the Hall of Fame ceremonies on the weekend with the Mannie Jackson Basketball Human Spirit award and then yesterday with the unveiling of a statue in his honour at Miami (Ohio) University.
When this whole work thing is said and done and it comes time to take stock of what I’ve gotten out of this career, I suspect the fact I got to meet and know and talk to a guy like Wayne Embry is going to be right at the top of the list.
I remember when Richard Peddie first brought him on so, so many years ago being a bit intimidated by him; Wayne’s history, his accomplishments, his physical presence can be overwhelming.
But he is as good a man as I have ever met and I’m just so glad I was able to.
We got a few early submissions for Ye Olde Mailbag, I see after taking a quick glance at Ye Olde Inbox yesterday but there’s always room for more.
All it takes to play along is clicking on email@example.com and dropping me a line.
Go ahead, it’ll be nice to hear from you.
One teeny tiny rant before we go for the day.
I don’t know what the last straw is going to be in this pandemic and its handling – I fear we have not come close to seeing/feeling/experiencing it – I will say this:
If there is one single solitary rapid COVID-19 test being stored by the provincial government that it got from the federal government and it is not in the hands of health units that could better get it to people who truly need it while pharmacies and grocery stores are SELLING these tests for forty bucks a pop, that’s as close to the last straw as I hope we ever get.
My buddy Baseball Steve and I were discussing this just last week, that the one story we want to read more than any other when this is all over is the tale of the money because someone, some company, some board of directors is going to found to have gotten filthy rich off the suffering of hundreds of thousands.
I want to know about them and I want to know who they’re connected to. And how deep those ties are.