When Your Team Loses, Big Time

team loses

We all want our team to win. It can be heartbreaking when they lose. Wouldn’t it be great if the Blue Jays went 162-0 in 2018? Imagine if the Raptors won all 82 games they played? Okay, that’s not going to happen, but we all want our team to win as many games as possible. Your team will lose sometimes. But it’s just pathetic when your team loses badly, by many runs, points or goals.

That happened to my team yesterday. I love the Carolina Hurricanes. I have a personal connection with this team going back to the early days in my career, and I always want them to win. They went all the way in 2006, but winning has been a bit of a challenge for this team since then.

So the Hurricanes lose more often than they win over the last few years (though they do still have a winning record this season). I don’t like that, but I have accepted it. When they lose 4-2 or 2-1 or even 3-0 it’s rough. But they lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs yesterday by a score of 8-1.  The Canes were down 2-0 with less than six minutes played in the game. And by the end of the first period the hole was even deeper, down 4-1.

And this wasn’t just any game. They played the Maple Leafs, in Toronto, on the 100th anniversary of this storied Canadian hockey franchise. As the disastrous third period unfolded (two goals scored six seconds apart, really?!), I tried to remind my Leaf-loving son that at least MY team won the Stanley Cup this century and not 50 years ago. He shrugged it off and laughed, as the Leafs scored yet again.

When your team loses that badly it’s just embarrassing. You try to find something positive in the game, and you come up empty. All I could think of was that at least the Hurricanes weren’t shut out. Isn’t an 8-1 loss so much better than an 8-0 loss?

I tried to explain this after the game to my Leaf-loving son who ran around the house in celebration, both of the massive win and 100th anniversary of his beloved team. He laughed at me again. He doesn’t know about the many long, sad years when Leaf fans saw their team lose again and again. But I wasn’t a fan of the Leafs. I was – and am – a fan of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Okay, so my team lost, big time. But they will recover, and they will get ‘em next time. Go Canes Go!

My Team MUST Win

team must win

I want my team to win. I always want my team to win. Why is it MY team? Am I part owner? No. Do I work for my team? No. Did my spouse, father, brother, cousin, friend or next door neighbour ever play for my team? Definitely not. But as I watch my team play, I sit on the edge of my seat and have that feeling deep within that my team must win.

It’s an interesting phenomenon. The love a person has for a sports franchise. Usually (not always) it’s because a person is a homer, meaning the person is a fan of the local sports club. What is a fan? Well, the word originates from the term fanatic. I did a search using my good friend Google and chuckled when I read the definition of the word fanatic. It is a “person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for an extreme religious or political cause” or a “person with an obsessive interest in and enthusiasm for something, especially an activity.”

For many people sports is a religion. For some people their passion for a sport crosses political boundaries. Their love of not only a particular game but of their team is true fanaticism.

Go to any live sporting event between two teams, and the fans for each team are quite clear. Some people wear a cap or jersey, while other people paint their bodies and dress head to toe in the team’s colours. Popular or legendary sports franchises like the New York Yankees, Toronto Maple Leafs, Manchester United, Dallas Cowboys or LA Lakers probably make more money off the sale of merchandise than they do from ticket sales.

I will admit that for the most part I am a homer. Carolina Hurricanes aside (yes they are clearly my team), I am a fan of the hometown team. I love my Blue Jays and Raptors. I have a Toronto FC shirt and you can bet I’m cheering on the Argonauts during this year’s playoff run. Okay, I even tolerate the Maple Leafs. Maybe it’s pride for my city or a warm feeling I have that I am part of a community when I cheer on the local sports franchise.

I cheer on my team whether it’s the best team in the league or one of the basement dwellers. I stick with my team through thick and thin. Each game, if my team is down by 7 runs or 23 points, in my head I say to myself, my team must win.

A true sports fan isn’t always straight in the head. As long as there are only two outs in the inning or a few seconds left in the period, the dream stays alive that my team can win.

And sometimes it happens. If you are a Blue Jays fan, you will remember Sunday, July 30th, 2017. The Jays were down 10-4 going into the bottom of the 9th. They quickly scored a few runs then Steve Pearce came to the plate with the bases loaded and his team down 10-7. And he hit a grand slam. The Jays beat the Angels 11-10, and that win became the biggest 9th inning comeback in the team’s history. For a fan like me, who watched it all unfold, the words running through my head, my team must win, came true.

My son, Matthew, was the inspiration for today’s post while he squealed with delight after his beloved Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins this past weekend in overtime. JVR scored the tying goal with one minute left in the third period. Then Marleau scored the winning goal for the Leafs in overtime. Matthew focused all his energy on ensuring his team would win. And they did.

A sports fan will never change. If you love your team, you love that team with all your heart. I think that’s great. Sports fans, please never change.

I love when the Carolina Hurricanes Visit Toronto

Hurricanes

Last night was a great night, and I mean a really great night. Why? It’s because not only did the Carolina Hurricanes play the Maple Leafs in Toronto, but they beat the Maple Leafs in Toronto. And my Hurricanes didn’t just win, they won handily, 6-3. This brings me great joy.

It’s been a busy week and I did not have a chance to write a post on Sports Wednesday. I had intended to write about my annual World Series fever, but that will have to wait until next Wednesday. So instead there is a special Sports Friday post as I revel in the Hurricanes win over the Leafs.

As I wrote about back in June, I have been a Hurricanes fan since 2001. During the 2001-2002 season the team made it as far as the Stanley Cup Final only to lose to the Detroit Red Wings in 5 games. It just wasn’t their time yet. But I learned what a first-class organization the Hurricanes were and became a fan for life.

The following season I was laughed at. People made fun of me. They heckled me as I kept my promise to be a big fan, even when the Hurricanes finished in the basement. They fought their way back, and my excitement culminated in June 2006 when they won the Stanley Cup.

But I have to say that one of the highs for me goes back to the Hurricanes’ amazing 2002 playoff run during the series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. I proudly cheered on my Canes, when I watched the game at home with friends or in very public spaces. One of my friends who was – and still is – a Maple Leafs super fan – made fun of me and dared me to keep cheering on the “enemy” in the middle of Toronto. Who won that series? The Hurricanes.

My teams has had its ups and downs since the famous 2005-2006 season, but I have always been loyal. I tried so hard to convince my son Matthew to follow in my footsteps and be a Hurricanes fan, but he refuses. This Toronto boy has joined Leaf Nation, with all the disappointment that goes with it.

So, when the Hurricanes come to town it’s always a ruckus and wild night in our house. I loudly cheer on my team and Matthew tries his best to make me be quiet. That was impossible last night, as my team went up by a score of 2-0 less than three minutes into the first period. It just got better from there, ending in the big win, 6-3 over the Leafs. Great game.

Even the Leafs coach, Mike Babcock agreed, when he stated about the Canes at his post-game press conference, “They deserved to win. We didn’t deserve to win.” You got it, Mike. I love when the Hurricanes win, especially in Toronto.

Left Handed People have a Faster Track to Major League Sports

left handed

Yesterday’s blog on my pride about being left handed energized me, so I had to do a second post on the topic. But it’s Sports Wednesday today, so how could I connect the two? I turned on the Cubs-Dodgers playoff baseball game last night, and as I watched the Cubs first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, make a play, it occurred to me. If you want a faster track to the most elite level of many professional sports, you just need to be left handed.

You see, Anthony Rizzo is left handed. So is the Blue Jays first baseman, Justin Smoak. In fact, one-third of first basemen in Major League Baseball are left handed. Remember, we only represent 10 percent of the population.

And the real gems in all of baseball are the southpaws, or left handed pitchers. I am not going to go into the technical details of facing a left or right handed batter and the various pitches that a lefty or righty may specialize in. I am just going to do some basic math.

As I have discussed already, only 10% of the population is left handed, but every baseball team desires a few lefties, on their pitching staff, often at first base and other positions on the team. So a left handed person simply has less competition amongst the general population to make such team. My son, Matthew, often comments on this, and he is dumb-founded that his two left handed parents couldn’t have made him a lefty.  My baseball-loving son tells me he is determined to make the major leagues one day, and he feels it will be harder because he is right handed.

Oh, for fun, here is a list of just some of the greatest baseball players of all time, who all just happen to be left handed:

Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Reggie Jackson, Sandy Koufax, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Tony Gwynn,  and Ty Cobb, 

I came across a fabulous British website, called Anything Left Handed, that was a gold mine of details about the advantages of being left handed in sports, in particular fencing, tennis, boxing and cricket (remember this is a UK-based website!). Here is one paragraph that particularly intrigued me:

The “leftie advantage” seems to emerge in sports demanding rapid reactions and good spatial judgement. In fencing for example 7 of the 16 top world fencers are left-handed, and so are 5 of the top 25 international tennis players and 4 of Europe’s ten best table tennis payers. In boxing, squash and cricket left-handers also enjoy more than average success. Among the scientists who have studied left-handedness in sport one in particular, a French neuroscientist named Guy Azemar, investigated the proportion of left-handers in world-class championships over several years. He reported that about a third of elite fencers are left-handed. One fencing great was the Italian Edoardo Mangiarotti who won a total of 13 fencing medals. Mangiarotti was naturally right-handed but was forced by his father to fence with his left hand as it was thought to be an advantage.” 

The left handed advantage is not just some crack pot theory of mine – there is scientific evidence backing me up!

I found some thoughts about left handedness and basketball on THIS website, where it states, “In basketball, left-handedness has a meaningful effect on the game itself, but it also mostly manifests itself aesthetically. Something about a left-handed jump shot seems beautiful, perhaps just because we don’t see it as often.”

Some of the most memorable lefties in basketball include Bill Russell, Toni Kukoc, Lamar Odom, Isaiah Thomas, CJ Miles, Nick Van Exel, among others.

In hockey, a left handed slap shot really is a beautiful thing. Some left handed hockey greats include Cam Neely, Phil Esposito, Roman Turek, Terry Sawchuk and Tom Barrasso. But I have also now learned, from an interesting New York Times article, that as many as 60% of Canadian hockey players shoot left handed, no matter which is that person’s dominant hand. Maybe they just know that left is best.

Maybe after two straight days of reading my musings you all now know that left IS best.

My Wish for my Daughters: Embrace Sport

sport

My daughter is a little firecracker with enough energy to light up a city. People turn their heads when she enters a room, with this energy she has and her charisma. She is a smart, sociable and friendly little girl. And she has a green belt in karate. My daughter may be only 7 years-old, 3 ½ feet tall and 40 pounds, but I wouldn’t mess with her. She will take you down. And I am proud of her and the way she has embraced a sport she loves and at which she has excelled.

It is a well-known fact that females do not participate in various aspects of sport as much as males. More, but not all, girls participate more widely in activities like dance or gymnastics. While every active pursuit has its merits, I think girls are often underrepresented in traditional sports like baseball, hockey or karate.

I am not going to dive deep into research and quote any statistics about the importance of sport for everyone – children and adults or males and females. Whether you participate in a team or individual sport, I think it is both physically and emotionally healthy to do so.

I am not a, shall we say, natural athlete. I was drawn to the idea of sport when I was a child and was lucky to live on a quiet street where all the kids hung out outside and rotated between various sports each day like baseball and ball hockey. I couldn’t catch a ball (I still can’t), but I could hit the ball down the street with one swing of the bat. I was fearless with my hockey stick and shot the puck past all the big boys in goal.

As I grew up, in the 1980’s, I had a few female friends who played competitive hockey or maybe soccer or lacrosse. But for the most part, our parents signed us up for dance, piano, gymnastics, figure skating and maybe swim lessons. It wasn’t on their radar to put their daughters on a local baseball team or power skating class. And it didn’t occur to most of us girls to do anything different.

But for me, in 2017, as I raise two daughters, I want them to embrace sport. It doesn’t really matter to me what sport they choose, but I want them to know this is a choice they have. We signed up our kids for karate when they were quite young, and my daughter in particular has shined. She is a natural at this sport, and as she trains and becomes quite skilled, she loves it more. Karate has taught her about self-discipline and respect for others. She has learned self-defense and has tremendous muscle strength. She may be small, but wow she is mighty.

The baby can’t even walk yet (but she could beat me hands down in a bum-walking race across the kitchen!), but as she grows up I hope she wishes to pursue a sport of her choice. I want my girls to know that they can do anything they set their minds to. I want them to dream big. If my 7-year-old wants to get her black belt in karate or if the baby wants to be the star pitcher on a baseball team, great.

In my house, the pursuit of sport is open to my son and my daughters, and I hope that is the case in every household. Girls thrive when they are involved in sport, so let’s all stand with our girls to be active, competitive and successful.

One Season Ends and Another Begins

season

In October, the seasons are supposed to be changing, from hot days to cooler, from flowers in bloom on trees to the leaves turning bright colours and falling to the ground. I know that any day now Fall will truly arrive. But that’s not the focus of today’s blog post. When I refer to the word season I am talking about sports. In my house, the baseball season, or at least the Blue Jays’ season, has come to a close. But hockey and basketball are just beginning.

My son Matthew is a huge sports fan. In fact, he is the inspiration behind Sports Wednesday. He just can’t get enough of sports. While I have been a sports fan all my life, Matthew takes it to a new level. For him sports is his life, and life is all about sports. So, the changing seasons are all about what sport is ending and what sport is beginning. For Matthew, it’s all about the life cycle of sports.

We all know that the Blue Jays did not live up to the potential that we had all hoped when the 2017 season began. They were out of playoff contention by April 30th. I won’t go into all the things that went wrong this season. The season is over for the Blue Jays, and we can all look ahead to next year. And hey, the baseball season is not over. October is all about the playoffs, and if you are a true fan of the game, not just one team, then this month is exciting.

If you are a sports fan in general, or at least a sports fan who lives in North America, October is an exciting month. It’s playoffs time for baseball, the football season is in high gear (Canadian and American), the playoffs will soon begin for Major League Soccer and a new hockey and basketball season are both about to begin.

Matthew can’t decide if he is more excited for the new hockey or basketball season. He loves to play basketball (he has set up a mini net in our living room!) and doesn’t like to miss a minute of any Raptors game. Matthew knows who almost every player is in the NBA and can quote stats like a walking encyclopedia. But then there’s hockey. He is a good Canadian boy and knows the importance of hockey in our society. While he doesn’t play hockey, he has grown to love the game.

I will admit that I failed to convince my son to be a Carolina Hurricanes fan. With the excitement in Toronto last year from the new young Maple Leafs’ team, Matthew was hooked. Yes, my son has joined Leaf Nation (it makes me cringe to type that). Tonight is the dawn of yet another NHL season. I am sure that hundreds of thousands of Torontonians believe that THIS season could be the one when their beloved team hoists the Stanley Cup. We’ll see.

So, as we say farewell to one season, we welcome the new one with open arms. Go Hurricanes go!

Extra Innings: Love Them or Hate Them

extra innings

Are you ready for Sports Wednesday? Are you exhausted, like I am, this morning? As a big baseball fan, I try my best to watch or listen to as many Blue Jay games as I can each season. Quick, efficient games are fun sometimes, but as I love the sport so much, the longer, more drawn out games are great too. And then there’s the games that go into extra innings. Like last night’s game.

I remember Matthew mentioned to me last night, somewhere just after 9:00 pm, that the Blue Jays game versus the Boston Red Sox was moving along rather quickly. It was already the 7th inning, I believe. Well that was the kiss of death. The Jays were up 2-0, and I knew that meant they would lose their lead and head into extra innings that night.

I was right.

I won’t get into the actual mess of the bottom of the 9th, where the Blue Jays lost yet another lead at the end of the game. A score of 2-2 at the end of nine innings means extra innings. It could be one more inning, or in the case of last night’s game, ten more innings!

You see, my problem is that I don’t have a strategy in place to watch extra innings in baseball. They are unpredictable by their very nature. Most sports use a set amount of time when the game is tied at the end of regulation. They play five minutes of sudden death in hockey, followed by the dreaded shoot-out. Basketball plays for five minutes, and if they are still tied, they do another five minutes. And so on. It’s rare that they are tied for too many of these five-minute periods.

But baseball? Well, they play on and on, with no time constraint. If the visiting team scores in the top half of the inning then the home team still has a chance. If the home team ties things up, well, they go to the next inning. But if no one scores, they keep playing.

That’s what happened last night. With everyone asleep in my house I made myself comfortable on the couch, ready for a few extra innings of baseball. Then it was 11:00 pm, and it was still going. And I was tired. I still had to make school lunches. Okay, I figured, I would do those then maybe the game would be over.

Nope. I puttered around the house a bit more and by 11:30 pm decided to head to bed and “listen” to the game on the TV in my bedroom. The Blue Jays had so many opportunities to score, and they never did. By midnight I was falling in and out of sleep, trying so hard to follow the game during shorter and shorter periods of wakefulness.

I remember hearing Buck Martinez say, “we are headed to the 16th inning” and couldn’t believe it was still going. Then I fell asleep. I don’t remember the 17th or 18th innings, but I do kind of recall that the Red Sox got a double in the 19th inning, after 1:00 am. I just knew, I just felt it, that this was it. Hanley Ramirez walked up to the plate and hit a single, which scored the game-winning run.  He did it six hours after the game began.

The Blue Jays lost 3-2, early this morning, in 19 innings. I don’t know whether I love or hate extra innings. There is something exciting about them, that keeps you on the edge of your seat, or at least it does for the first few innings. The stress on fans can be rough. Will their team win? Will they lose again? Or will the game go on so long that all we worry about is how exhausted we will be the next day. I was at that point by the 16th inning, when sleep started to take over.

So today I’m tired, and my team lost. I don’t know if I like extra innings.

What’s in a Name? Best Names in Sports

names in sports

Sports Wednesday is back! My apologies that I didn’t get my act together last week and write a post for you. This week I was thinking about memorable, interesting, funny and unpronounceable names in sports. The idea got into my head recently when I wrote an email to Matthew at camp and wanted to tell him about a new player on the Jays roster who had a great night. I couldn’t remember the player’s name because I couldn’t pronounce it! The player is Rob Refsnyder.  I  typed it I realize now it’s not that difficult a name to say or spell.

So, I am going to dive deep and look at some other players, current or past, with names I just have to write about. Let’s start with baseball. Every time I hear about Coco Crisp I want to go to my pantry and eat a bowl of cereal. I believe his actual full name is Covelli, but I prefer to call him Coco. He played baseball for 13 seasons and retired at the end of last season. Milton Bradley is a baseball player but also the founder of the board game company that bears his name. No, they are not the same person.

Then there is John Olerud,. He was one of my favourite players on the Blue Jays during their 1992-93 World Series run. I feel like his name was accidentally spelled backwards and should really be John Durelo. Don’t you agree?

Then there are the baseball players whose names need no explanation, like Dick Pole, Johnny Dickshot, Boof Bonser and Rusty Kuntz (less disturbing when you learn the last name is pronounced Koontz).

Looking at more names in sports, let’s move on to hockey. The National Hockey League has mainly attracted players from across North America and Europe, and sometimes the names make more sense in their original language. Or sometimes the name comes from a country where the local language is pronounced or spelled very differently than English. Sometimes the name is just strange.

Take Radek Bonk for instance. He is Czech, but it seems to me that the word “bonk” has a clear meaning in any language. Bill Quackenbush played in the NHL in the 1940’s and 1950’s. This is a Dutch name that means “swamp wilderness.” Håkan Loob is a Swedish name, and he played for the Calgary Flames in the 1980’s. Does “Loob” mean something less silly-sounding in Swedish?

The NBA attracts players from around the world, including of course North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. There is quite a variety of names in this league. My local team, the Toronto Raptors, has a number of players with great names. Serge Ibaka is a good one, and of course I just love Jonas Valancuinas. Not only does he have a cool name but he wears a jersey with #17 on the back. Anything with #17 is great, of course.

Ruben Boumtje Boumtje, from Cameroon, enjoyed a short NBA career, and at 7.0 feet tall and 260 pounds no one ever made fun of his name! Other notable names are Detlef Schrempf, Luc Richard M’bah-a-Moute and Al-Farouq Aminu, just because they sound great.

I could probably go on forever, but for now I will just add a few more of the best names in sports in general. Dean Windass played soccer in the English Premier League, Yourhighness Morgan (no joke), a former football player, another football player named Fair Hooker and Kim Yoo-Suk, a Korean Olympic pole vaulter (unfortunate only in English).

What do you think are some of the best names in sports? Do you have a favourite or one that is unique or memorable? Leave a comment here, or post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

My Local Sports Broadcast Crew Must be a Homer

broadcast

Kinetic Motions is back to Sports Wednesday today. My son, Matthew, was my inspiration to devote at least one day each week to sports or a sports-related topic, and it’s challenging to be inspired with my muse away at camp. It did not occur to me that when Matthew is not home that there’s no one with whom to discuss strikeouts, trades and off-season signings. I have only, the internet, radio and television to get my sports fix, and that is just not sufficient.

And speaking of sports and radio and television, it occurred to me last night, while I watched the Blue Jays’ game on Sportsnet, that there is something comforting about listening or watching your home team’s broadcast. What do I mean by that? I will explain.

When I went to journalism school I learned that to be a good producer, writer or reporter, I had to be fair and unbiased. It was imperative to tell all sides of the story and be objective. But, that’s not the case in sports media, and it’s something I love about it.

When I flip on the radio or turn on my television for my local team’s hockey, baseball or basketball game, I expect the broadcast crew to be homers. Sports is about passion and excitement. If the play-by-play person didn’t shriek with delight when a goal is scored or a grand slam home run happens I would be terribly disappointed and would be less interested in listening or watching the broadcast.

I look forward to hearing Jerry Howarth’s “And there she goes” or Buck Martinez excitedly yelling, “get up ball” as he just wishes for the ball to jump over the outfield fence. I grew up listening to Joe Bowen screaming like a maniac “Holy Mackinaw” on the radio. Every city, large and small, with any kind of sports team, needs a play-by-play crew that roots for the home team.

The whole experience of watching the game is hugely enriched when the broadcast crew is a fan of the team. Last night, as I watched the Blue Jays game versus the Chicago White Sox, Rogers Sportsnet experienced some transmission issues. I don’t blame them – it happens sometimes, and it was clear they were trying everything humanly possible to get the game, with Buck and Pat, back on the screen.

While they worked on their technical issues they flipped a switch and aired the WGN broadcast of the game. WGN is a Chicago-based network, and it airs White Sox games. Naturally the play-by-play team were White Sox fans, and I felt almost empty and uncomfortable as I watched. My screen looked different, with the score and statistics graphics in a different location. While they were familiar with the Blue Jays players, they clearly did not know them personally like Buck and Pat do.

Every time the Sportsnet broadcast flashed on my screen I felt excited then disappointed again when WGN returned. Finally, the transmission issue was fixed late in the game, and I heard the familiar voice of Buck Martinez. I will admit that this was late at night and soon after I fell asleep and missed the rest of the game.

I’m a big sports fan, and it makes me happy that the people who broadcast the games I watch and listen to support my teams. They do a great job, and I love to listen to them and watch them. Speaking of which, there is an afternoon baseball game today, and as I sit at my desk and work I am looking forward to listen to Jerry and Joe on the radio, and maybe hear, “And there she goes” a few times. Maybe part way I will flip on my TV to hear Buck’s excited screams of “Get up Ball” as it sails over the left-field fence.

Why I am a Fan of the Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes

 

It’s time for sports Wednesday! My son told me that Wednesday is the only day of the week he reads my blog because all he cares about is sports. Today I am going to share my story about why I love the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Carolina Hurricanes.

How could someone from Toronto, with no connection to Raleigh-Durham or any part of North Carolina, be a fan of the hockey team that plays there?  It’s simple – they’re good people.

My personal connection to the Canes goes back to the fall of 2001, when I worked as a producer in my first job at the Team 1050 sports radio station. I was young, inexperienced and had few connections in the industry. I did not produce my own show as I was more of a floater, producing the evening and weekend shows and filling in for producers during the day. I didn’t have a black book full of phone numbers of players, coaches and management in sports. I want to thank my colleagues at that radio station once again for giving me names and phone numbers so that I could build my own black book.

By late in the fall I started to produce a regular Saturday hockey talk radio show and found it challenging to book players, coaches and management from Canadian hockey clubs. Every journalist wanted to interview them. But I had to fill my show. So, I looked south of the border and decided to contact hockey personalities in American markets where hockey was not so popular.

That’s when I found the Carolina Hurricanes.  This team was having a good but not great season and somehow, I felt they were going somewhere. And nobody noticed them or gave them really any attention. I contacted the team’s public relations department and asked if the captain, Ron Francis, could be on my show. They were thrilled to help me out and Ron was booked.

That Saturday Ron Francis was the featured interview on the show. He was knowledgeable, polite, friendly and really everything a great guest should be on a radio show. I had a chance to speak with him after the interview, and he actually thanked me for booking him! He told me that they don’t get too many interview requests in Carolina and that he and other players would be happy to come on my show again.

For the rest of the NHL season I regularly booked various people connected with the Carolina Hurricanes on my hockey show and other shows, and I saw for myself that this was a first-class organization. When they won their division and made the playoffs I was excited to keep the relationship going and to continue to feature them on my shows.

Because of my loyalty to the Canes all season the public relations staff thanked me by giving me great access to interviews during the team’s incredible playoff run.  I remember that I got one of the first interviews with their General Manager, Jim Rutherford, when they won the first round of the playoffs. Even though it was 15 years ago I clearly remember our conversation after his on-air interview. He told me that he appreciated my support for the Canes all season and that I would get some of the first interviews with him, the head coach Paul Maurice and the various players each time they advanced to the next round.

At that moment I knew I had become a fan of the Carolina Hurricanes and I told Jim as much. I told him they were going to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals and that I would be there to support them all the way. They didn’t win the Stanley Cup that year, but they did make it to the Finals! Jim Rutherford, Paul Maurice, Ron Francis and so many of the team’s players were guests on my shows during that incredible playoff run. I told them all that because of them I had become a fan for life of the Carolina Hurricanes.

I can’t even begin to explain the excitement I felt a few years later, in 2006, when my Canes actually WON the Stanley Cup. I wasn’t working in sports media anymore, but it didn’t stop me from cheering my team on and wearing my Carolina Hurricanes baseball cap proudly.

 

I will always be a fan of the Carolina Hurricanes and the players, coaches and management associated with the team during the 2001-02 season. Thank you to all of them for making my time as a hockey producer so memorable.