Monday, April 23, 2007

That Hockey Illness

Contrary to popular belief, I have not fallen off the face of the earth. I just have not had much inspiration to sit down an pound out a blog entry for some time. I guess the excitement of the Stanley Cup playoffs have really had my attention over the past week or so. And why shouldn't it, last year Vancouver didn't make it to the post season.

Being a hockey fan, especially in this city I am told, is a particularly frustrating past time. The team's recent history has lead to disappointment after disappointment. The franchise has made it to the Stanley Cup finals twice in their history. Losing both times, yet those playoff runs are the stuff of legend around these parts.

My assignments over the past week and a half have involved hockey in some way shape or form. A guy who paints vintage goalie masks and has a life sized replica of the Stanley cup, Toddlers who can recite every Canuck player and their numbers, the business angle, the ultimate fan angle and of course I have been either a live truck op or camera at every home playoff game since the beginning. The only problem with that is I don't get home until the third period. Whats a hockey guy going to do????

I had not lived here during the most celebrated run to the final during the spring of 1994. When I arrived in Vancouver in '97, I of course was excited at the fact that I was living in an NHL town. Going to the occasional game would be great, let alone getting to a post season game or even better , that holy grail of hockey tickets, a Stanley Cup Final Game.

Well were not there yet of course, but we made it past the first round, beating the Dallas Stars in Game 7 to advance.

Now playoff fever has hit this city hard. Cars are sporting window flags of the team. Sports talk shows are talking hockey all day everyday. Even News Talk radio is talking about the playoff illness that has gripped the area.
Daily we are doing stories and items as it relates to the Plague. Restaurants, bars how's game night business. The police, law and order and the drunkin' hockey fan. Streeters asking everyday Joe how he or she thinks the team is playing.
We have even caught the fever out here at the hangar. Yes even Chopper 9 has it's own version of its window flag. The tail camera shot sports a "Go Canucks Go" and a number of smaller team logos to represent each win in the playoffs. At the time of this writing there were 4.

Chopper 9's version of the "window flag"

Yes it's the best time of the season at least for this hockey fan. Here hoping we can put 12 more of those stickers on the machine and we can shoot the Stanley Cup parade on Robson street this year.
World Wide Murman's friend "Rad" in North Carolina was lucky enough to have experience a victory last season with the Hurricanes.

Well we are on to round two, the Ducks. God I love Duck hunting. Here's hoping the Canucks shoot them down and move on to round 3.

Lets play Hockey!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Silver Cross Mother

As I watched Newsnet the other night from my hotel room, the ticker on the bottom of the screen, screamed "Six Canadians Killed by a Roadside Bomb in Afghanistan". Bad news from the other side of the world does travel fast in this day and age and events like this never get easy. Images of a flag draped casket being loaded onto a plane bound for Canada is something that we here in this country never get used to. In the past the names and faces of our young men and women end up on Newscasts across the country. Their young ages, home towns, reaction from friends, comrades and family remind us that these fine young people were indeed special.

This event would be no different. As information became available, names, and the Base of the fallen were released. Five of the six were soldiers of 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment based at CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick. My heart sank. This was the same Regiment that had looked after me and reporter Phonse Jessome during our assignment in Northern Bosnia in 1996. Since our tour there many years ago I had always had a special affinity for the Regiment.
I needed to know more.

A report from Kandahar, telling the viewer what had happened on that dusty road. A roadside explosion, an official statement from the ranking officer, all standard fare. Then all at once the story became very personal. A reaction from one of the families, the mom and dad of Pvt. David Greenslade of Saint John , New Brunswick.

I did not recognize the name, but I did recognize the voice and image of his mother. She had been someone I had grown up with. I had known her and her twin sister since kindergarten. We had been next door neighbours as teens and graduated in the same graduating class from Saint John High School in 1980.

My God, I could not believe it.

The sad fact is Laurie is far too young to have become a Silver Cross Mother. I cannot even imagine the pain that she and her husband as well as the rest of both the Greenslade and Lester families are going through. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

Pvt. David Greenslade of Saint John, N.B. 20 years of age, a fine young man (DND Photo)

Never Forget