Sunday, January 29, 2006
Ontario Hockey League All Star Cards-2006
All Star fever has reached frenzied levels in the Quinte area.
Let me rephrase that. I asked a friend who is a fervent hockey fan if he is ready for the All Star Fan Fest and related activities and he replied: “ Yes, I suppose so”. Not exactly frenzied, but typically Canadian.
There are very few tickets remaining for the game, for the luncheon, and for the skills competition. But there are other activities related to the event that will provide excitement for the entire family. No reservations necessary.
The OHL All Star Fan Fest has a variety of features for everyone. It takes place at the Wally Dever Arena---the other ice pad at the Quinte Sports Centre---from 4:00pm to 7:00pm prior to the game on Wednesday. Music from Immortality, members of the Canadian Men’s Sledge hockey team, Hall of Fame Displays, local hockey displays including the Wellington Dukes, an air hockey tournament against current Belleville Bulls, and chance to meet many of the Bulls’ alumni.
I have attended a few Fan Fests---in Toronto and Montreal for hockey and baseball---related to All Star games, and they are amazing events. Almost overwhelming for us small town folk. To get through the crowd, just drop your shoulder a little, the way Gordie did, pulling the kids with both your hands, and enjoy the sights and sounds---and smells too! There is food available. Kids are free, with an adult who pays five bucks.
And pick up a set of the Bell All Star Classic cards as well. Do not hesitate. “Do not pass go” until you have your cards. They will be a souvenir from this event that you will cherish for years to come. Imagine pulling out the cards from the first all star game held in Belleville! Yzerman, Gilmour, Verbeek, Al MacInnis, and Kirk Muller, to name a few. They would be worth hundreds of dollars. But they don’t exist!
Which is all the more reason why you should grab a couple of packs of this year’s cards and throw them into your hockey bag.
Almost every one of the players in the set of cards will play in the NHL. There are veterans from the World Junior Championships from the Gold Medal winning Canadian team, from the American team, and Andrej Sekera from the Slovakian team. There are players from the ADT Canada-Russia Series held in November. There are others who won Gold Medals in the Under –18 World Cup last August. Most have been drafted. Scouts will line the rafters at the Yardmen, drooling over the few who have not yet had their names announced at the NHL’s annual cattle call. Impeccable credentials, every one.
Kelly and Lalande from the Bulls, Emmerton and Stewart from the Kingston Frontenacs, Downie and Jordan Staal from the Petes. Pouliot, Bolland, Pyatt, O’Marra, Blunden, and Marc Staal from the Canadian World Junior team. Robbie Shremp, Callahan, and Bobby Ryan from the American team.
And not to forget Dan LaCosta from the Wellington Dukes. The Labrador City Kid now toils for the Barrie Colts in his fourth year in the OHL. He was picked in the third round by the Columbus Blue Jackets, and could be the next Duke to tend the twine in the NHL, following in Andrew Raycroft’s footsteps.
Forty cards in the set. Great photographs from Dan Hamilton, and intelligent blurbs on the back from Aaron Bell. The set is a steal for ten bucks. Get them at the Bulls’ Shop, or at the Fan Fest. This event will take at least another 25 years to come back to Belleville again.
Be there. Keep your stick on the ice.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Super Bowl XL-2006
The Fortieth American Football Championship is set to start on Sunday, February 5th in Detroit. The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Seattle Seahawks for the national title of the United States.
The Canadian issue was settled months ago when the Edmonton Eskimos defeated the Montreal Alouettes in the Grey Cup game---with considerably less fanfare.
The world stops for the SuperBowl. People watch the game to see the new commercials. Others watch to catch the entertainment at half time. There are a few of us who are interested in the game.
The Steelers as a franchise have been there before. This is the first trip for the Seahawks. There are a few Steelers with four SuperBowl rings. Having been to the dance on several previous occasions has its advantages.
Jack Lambert was there for the four Steelers wins in SuperBowls 9, 10, 13 and 14. (I will dispense with the Roman Numerals. They tend to confuse the issue, although it has become an American tradition to use them for the big game.) Lambert was the inspirational leader of the “Steel Curtain”---the Pittsburgh defence. Several others played on all four winning teams---L. C. Greenwood, “Mean” Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Donnie Shell, Ron Johnson, Mel Blount, Dwight White, and J. T. Thomas.
When they had the ball, the quarterback was Terry Bradshaw. Always in command, and never a man of few words, Bradshaw now works as a commentator on American Football telecasts. He provides us with insight, knowledge, and plenty of humour. But Bradshaw did not work alone. He has plenty of weapons at his disposal, and used them all---Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, John Stallworth, Lynn Swan.
As visible as Bradshaw is, Lambert is just the opposite. He enjoys his life in the Pennsylvania, often working alone as a game warden. He is a true outdoorsman, often shunning the bright lights. For several years, he attended a golf tournament in Trenton, Ontario, to raise funds for Camp Trillium---raising funds for children with cancer. I met Lambert on one of those occasions, and was astounded by his size. He was small. Relatively so.
But he played large. He is listed at six feet four inches, a little generous. He also played his career between 210 and 220 pounds. Over the years, however, he developed a reputation as a fierce competitor, and was dominant. He was the middle linebacker---the core of the Steeler defence. He ambled back and forth, in and out of the secondary---always on the prowl to sniff out the plans of the opposition’s offence. If you came into his house with the ball, he made you pay.
Another member of the Steeler dynasty had strong local roots---trainer Tony Parisi. He had played hockey in the early 1950s in Belleville, and there was a wonderful picture of him on the tattered walls of the Memorial Arena. As kids, we admired his style portrayed in the nets, in his “Memos” sweater. Hockey took him to the Pittsburgh area in ghis youth, and he remained there as a trainer, both for hockey and football teams. He has maintained his relationship with the famous Goyer family over the years.
This year’s contingent of Steel Town competitors is led by the young giant-Ben Roethlisberger. Only is his second year in the NFL, he has taken his lumps, he has paid his dues. He is now ready to wear the mantle.
But the boys from the West Coast are not ready to hand over the Lombardi trophy just yet. The Seahawks are also a favourite team of many Canadians, as those on the left coast of the country make the short trip to Washington State to watch the American game. The British Columbians are also avid Mariner baseball fans. Geography prevails, occasionally.
Shaun Alexander is everyone’s MVP this year. He has lugged the ball for the Seahawks throughout the season, and has quietly assumed the role as the premier running back in the NFL.
Keep an eye on Number 52 for the Seahawks. Jean-Philippe Darche is a McGill graduate who has been with Seattle for six years. Originally drafted by the Toronto Argonauts, he moved to the west coast in 2000. He has handled the snapping duties for the Hawks for five consecutive seasons. His brother, Mathieu, also played college football in Canada---then moved on to play in the National Hockey League. Pretty fair genes.
And so, the stage is set. Come next Sunday, around six in the evening, most of our eyes will be focussed on the game in Detroit. The Main Event is ready to go.
You may stand for the kickoff, but please, down in front for the rest of the game!
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
A confession of a Sports Fan
I did not think I would ever put this in print, but I have a confession to make: I was once a Leafs fan.
There were a number of reasons for this, the same reasons that most fans support their teams.
The closer one lives to a particular franchise, the more one tends to support that franchise. My God, that language comes right out of a Bryan Helmer
Sociology course. I apologize for that. But you get the point. If you were
brought up in Dorval, chances are greater that you would follow the Habs instead of the Rangers.
Conn Smythe, the architect of the Toronto Maple Leafs, knew a thing or two about marketing and branding before those concepts existed. He gave the old Leaf shirts to the Marlies. When the shirts were too battle weary for the Junior squad, they were turned over to the Weston Dukes, or some other lower ranked team.
The two Canadian entries in the Original six vied for national attention, and not necessarily on a language basis. Montreal had its Junior teams in La Belle province, but also had several farm teams in the west---including the Winnipeg Carruthers Bantam Habs in 1949.
What a struggle it would be for a kid from Hamilton who likes the Argos. I would suggest hiding in a closet from June to December.
If one of your family members, or a close personal friend, or someone you think you know plays for a certain team, you may become a fan of that team. In the early 1950s, we grew up with small radios pressed against our ears, past our bed times, listening to Foster Hewitt broadcasting the Leafs games from the Gondola. We became Leafs fans. We learned their names. We bought their hockey cards. We ordered their Bee Hive pictures. We hung their cigarette calendars. We supported them.
Then along came Bobby Hull. We morphed. Overnight. To the Hawks.
We thought we would be Hawks fans forever. Then Hully left for the WHA to Winnipeg, and we were lost. It was too difficult to muster the old loyalties to root for the Jets.
Rick Meagher was the next local hero to capture the imagination of the Quinte crowd. His first major NHL stint was with the New Jersey Devils. Even though the New York market seemed inundated with teams---Rangers, Islanders, and the Devils---it was not difficult to cheer for the Devils. He then moved on to St. Louis, rekindled his career, and won the Selke trophy. Many of us changed our loyalties to the Blue Note. When Rick retired, we were left in limbo.
Enter the Belleville Bulls. There is now a long legacy of players from the Bulls to the NHL. Great kids, Fine athletes. Many great players to attract our imagination, and our loyalties. Marty Mc Sorley with the Penguins, then the Oilers, and then the Los Angeles Kings. Dan Quinn, one of the first Bulls to make the grade, played for tat least eight NHL teams. Now that is stretching the loyalty thing! There was always a strong contingent of Sabres fans backing Rob Ray. Yet when he jumped to the Senators, the loyalties did not travel well. That other stellar Stirling native has garnered plenty of support for the Canucks, and with Belleville’s Mark Crawford behind the bench, our support has been solidified. Add former Bull Richard Park to that mix as well. Even the Wellington Dukes had former star Brian Helmer in Vancouver for a couple of years.
Logos and Colours
The actual appearance of the players on the field, or on the ice, can affect how a fan feels about a team. When the concept of the Mighty Ducks as a real hockey team arose, most hockey fans were astounded. They did not believe any team, let alone a west coast team, could survive with a goofy looking duck on its jersey. Nor a shark biting a stick on a teal jersey. Wrong on both counts.
There are serious financial implications in this area. Basketball teams reap millions of dollars from sales of their jerseys and other team paraphernalia, as do teams from all sports.
Management and Ownership
Those that run the franchises may influence its fan base. When Horn Chen took over the Ottawa football franchise, it was doomed. Canadian football teams struggle at the best of times. But the absentee owner concept does not sit well with fans. Unfortunately for Ottawa, local ownership is hard to muster, and now they are saddled with the Gliebermans yet again. They have fired the management and coaching staff, and replaced them with their personal cronies. Harry Ornest didn’t help the Argo franchise much when he was there. Players didn’t wait for the ink to dry when they got their cheques. There are even examples of owners from south of the border purchasing teams---so that their own children have a team to play for!
Any interest I had in the Leafs was killed by Harold Ballard. His Quixotic and ruthless style turned off many fans, some leaving the game forever.
Ditto for the New York Yankees’ Steinbrenner. In George’s case, the premise is simply this: I will buy the best team, and they had better win. And if they don’t, heads will roll---Billy Martin’s in particular. What a charade that was!
Nothing beats winning. At least that is the message often conveyed by athletes in all areas of sport. For the fan, it is not easy to be supportive over the years of a team that does not win the big one. I met a former Red Sox fan in Maine in the 1980s who quit cheering for the Boston team in 1949 when one of the infielders let a ball go through his legs to the outfield! White Sox fans are still numb following their success in this year’s World Series. Even though the Florida Marlins, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Dallas Stars, and the San Antonio Spurs have recently won titles, they do not carry the same fan base as the following: the Green Bay Packers, the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Black Hawks, and the Boston Bruins. Those teams have not been on the podium for some time---yet their fans remain loyal, for the most part. Winning helps, but so does class.
The great players attract fans. Gretzky, Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, The Rocket, Hully, Pinball, The Babe, Mario, Guy Lafleur, “Mean” Joe Green…The list is almost endless. If you close your eyes and hear just one of those names---especially those who are known only by their nicknames---there is instant recognition, and usually in a positive.
On the other hand, many of us can visualize Ben Johnson crossing the finishing line in Tokyo, but not without some distaste. Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jose Canseco…not exactly poster boys today.
Not all of the stars were saints. But they knew when to keep the dirty laundry in the closet, and survived unscathed, for the most part.
There’s a word that makes an Expos fan damn angry. For them, it was painful, deceitful, and final. There are lies, half truths, and reality---all mixed into one. Or perhaps you might wish to chat with a Winnipeg Jets fan about this.
When the adult Leafs pulled the Baby Buds out of St. John’s, it was a bitter pill to swallow for the Newfoundlanders. It matters not how it happens---dissolution, relocation, starvation. When ownership pulls the plug, it hurts.
There may very well be other reasons why one becomes a fan, and supports a certain team. For now, the list is a good start.
At any rates, it is the game that is important. And that is what keeps us attentive.
13 Hurst Lane
Box A-2 R R # 1
Wellington ON K0K 3L0
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Belleville Hosts Bell All Star Game 2006
Jack Miller, the voice of the Belleville Bulls, opened the ceremony to introduce the OHL All Star roster. He described himself as “a bit of a packrat”, and unfolded a copy of the All Star program from 1983, the last time the All Star game was played in Belleville.
Most of those present at the ceremony were in awe as he read the names from the roster of that game: Steve Yzerman, Doug Gilmour, Al Bester, Pat Verbeek, Al MacInnis, Joe Cirella, John Van Biesbrouck, Steve Driscoll, Kirk Muller, and a few other future NHL players. Also on the ice that year were two Belleville Bulls: Dunc McIntyre and Dan Quinn.
For Matt “Bud” Kelly, a current Belleville Bull, being named to the All Star squad this year is a great honour. “When Jack read those names from the 1983 team, it was a real shock to me. I really wasn’t expecting this.” Kelly has earned his way onto the squad with his gritty play throughout the year. And he is really looking forward to the opportunity to representing his home city at the game.
Kevin Lalande was named to the team for his stellar play between the pipes for the Bulls. Last Wednesday night, he stoned the highly rated Peterborough Petes, stealing a win at the Sports Centre. Lalande, a Calgary Flames draft pick, will be playing in his second all star game. He played for the Hawksbury team in their Junior “A” game in Nepean. “It was great to get the two points against the Petes”, he told me. “And it will be amazing to play in the Bell All Star Game.”
Former Wellington Duke Dan Lacosta will also be tending the twine for the Eastern Conference All Stars. Lacosta is enjoying his finest year in the OHL with the Barrie Colts, at or near the top in all of the goalie categories.
Dave Branch, the Commissioner of the Canadian Hockey League, indicated the league was pleased to see the game played in Belleville. “It is a token of our appreciation to Belleville in its 25th year. We acknowledge and understand the passion that this community has for the team. This will be a special event in a special place.”
Gord Simmonds, majority owner of the Bulls, said he was pleased to “be able to share the event with families and friends in the community.” He indicated that the event will be much more than a hockey game. Essentially, it will be a celebration of the game in many ways.
The Bell All Star Game will take place on Wednesday, February 1st at the Yardmen Arena of the Quinte Sports Centre. Prior to the game, there is a host of activities for fans of all ages.
The night before the game, there is a Skills Competition and “Three on Three” game. Following those events, fans can meet the players, take photos, and get autographs at a reception at the Wally Dever arena.
On Wednesday, the OHL Luncheon will be held at the Wally Dever. Guest speakers include former Bulls Craig Billington and Marty McSorley.
The Family Festival continues that day until game time. The theme of the festival is the celebration of hockey in the Quinte area, with a wide variety of participants. Local teams will be featured: the Wellington Dukes, the Trenton Sting, the Quinte “AAA” teams, women’s hockey teams, and tributes to teams of the past---including a special display of Belleville McFarlands’ memorabilia.
The Bulls have arranged a special alumni reunion, and a chance for fans to beat them in a table hockey game. Food, fun, and even music from the local band “Immortality”.
Ticket packages for the game and the Skills competition are $ 30. There are also Luncheon tickets available at $ 20. They may be obtained at the Bulls box office, or by calling 966-8338, extension 3885.
Dale Hunter, the coach of the Western Conference, boasted that he had eight players from the recent world junior championship teams lacing up the blades for his team. Brian Kilrea, the Eastern coach, was not terribly intimidated. With both of the Staal boys, and the effervescent Steve Downie from the Petes, the boys from the East will not be bullied by the western stars.
It will be a great experience for Quinte hockey fans. As Branch put it succinctly: “The game brings the best of the best together.” And it doesn’t get much better than that.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Feasby Hangs ‘em Up
Following a long and distinguished minor pro hockey career, Scott Feasby has finally hung up the blades for the last time. He has traded in his sticks for pitch forks, and his focus lies more with corn silage, than with stick lies and blade edges.
The number of stops he made along the way is most impressive. After toiling with the Belleville Bulls for three years, and the Ottawa 67’s for a year, he began his pro career with the Roanoke-Valley Rebels of the East Coast Hockey League in 1990. He also played in the Colonial League, the International League, the American League, and finished in the United Hockey League.
Stops along the way include: Brantford Smoke, Raleigh Icecaps, Phoenix Roadrunners, Kalamazoo Wings, Detroit Vipers, Los Angeles Ice Dogs, Rochester Americans, Grand Rapids Griffins, and for most of his career, the Muskegon Fury.
The United Hockey League Media Guide lists “Career Statistics” on page 118. Second on the list of games played is Scott Feasby, at 699 games. Change that to 700.
Last weekend, at the Walker Arena in Muskegon, Feasby warmed up for his 700th game. He had signed a one game contract, following his retirement last spring. He handled the puck three times in his first shift, a ceremonial shift, and headed to the bench. When the whistle blew at the 1:09 mark of the period, his long and distinguished career came to an end.
One final skate around the centre ice circle, before a standing crowd of 4, 322, then off to pack his equipment for the Sunday morning tilts with Pearl and the boys in Oshawa and Port Perry.
“The Farmer” has achieved legendary status in Muskegon. Perhaps fifty fans sported “Feasby” jerseys at the game.
Michelle Patulski’s sweater was a “game-worn, Colonial Cup sweater”, she told me. “I got it from a silent auction. We are truly sad to see Scott leave.”
Cara Yonker’s sweater had the captain’s “C” on it. @We really enjoyed Scott. He is so personable. He gets along with everyone. As a booster club member, I even did a yearly scrap book for him one year.”
Alan Langlois didn’t mince words. “Scott Feasby has been the best defenceman in the UHL since he’s been here. Langlois converted his mother-in-law and his wife to hockey. His wife’s office walls are covered with photographs she has taken at Fury games.
Another fan wearing the Feasby sweater was Bob Harrington. While busy selling 50/50 tickets, he told me that Scott was his favourite player “Because of his style of play, and because of the way he handles himself off the ice---always a real gentleman.”
Vicki Rondeau won her Feasby sweater. She felt that Feasby was a “crafty” player. She once heard him say: “You always have to know where the referee is looking to be successful on the ice.”
Feasby has spent thousands of hours on the buses. Currently, there are fourteen teams in the league in six states. No air miles---all trips on the pavement. Physiotherapy, rehabilitation, massage therapy, medication, surgery, long spells away from family: part of the grind---but still, worthwhile.
Following the game against the Port Huron Beacons, whose line up included Matt Goody, the tenacious former Trenton Sting star, Feasby signed autographs for an hour.
The following night, prior to the game against the Missouri River Otters, the lights were dimmed, and team President Tony Lisman took centre stage.
“Since 1960, more than one thousand professional hockey players have worn the Muskegon sweater---Lumberjacks, Zephyrs, Mohawks, and the Fury. Only seven of those numbers have been retired.”
Joe Kastelic wore number 6 for the Mohawks, now retired, and he helped Feasby unfurl the baner which simply reads: “Feasby, 20, Fury, 1993-2004”. The first Fury player ever to have his number retired.
Several family members including his brother Mike, a former Wellington Duke, were in attendance. Father Stan had chores to do in Port Perry.
Mayor Steve Wormington gave Feasby the key to the city, without specifics about what doors or locks it would open.
Teammates skated by, shook his hand, and Feasby headed off the ice to a standing ovation, and the sounds of “Simply the best”.
A fitting tribute to “The Farmer” from Port Perry.
Hockey Hall of Fame Induction---2005
2005 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Prior to his induction day on Monday, November 7, 2005, Cam Neely had never been to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“I would strongly encourage hockey fans to check this place out,” he told me following the induction day morning interviews. As is usually the case, there is a special display of inductee material near the entrance to the Hall---featuring Neely, and his two fellow inductees: Murray Costello, and Valeri Kharlamov.
Last year the Boston Bruins retired his number---number 8. During the interview, Neely told me that he requested two other numbers when he was traded from Vancouver to Boston---21 or 12. Neither was available at the time, and the trainer gave him 8. The player who wore 12 was traded midway through the season, and Neely asked the trainer for that number. The trainer told Neely he’d get back to him. After some delay, the trainer finally told him: “Harry (Sinden, the Bruins General Manager) likes you in 8. So you’ll stay in 8!” That’s the way it was in Boston at that time. And things haven’t changed drastically since then.
When asked about tough opponents, without hesitation he replied, “Scott Stevens. He was so big and so strong---almost impossible to move. Whenever he played the Canadiens, he knew that Craig Ludwig would be over the boards as soon as he hit the ice. As far as a nasty, pesky, annoying opponent: “ Claude Lemieux, no doubt about it.”
During one of his fifty goal seasons, Neely felt the magic in his stick. But he acknowledged the efforts of his line mates at that time: Adam Oates, and Joe Juneau. Brett Hull, who recently retired, had most of his prolific seasons with Oates at his side as well.
Although he was never a first all star, Neely finished his caree
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Buffalo in December---Bills, Jills, Chills, and Thrills
If you happen to be walking near the New England Patriots dressing room, you can almost make out the tune that quarterback Tom Brady is humming before the game: “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!”
And snow it did prior to the recent Patriot-Bills game on December 10th in Buffalo. Nippy cold. Zeros degrees in Canada. Thirty on the other side of the Peace Bridge.
That kind of weather doesn’t faze Brady. He has won eighteen straight games in frigid weather. He has yet to lose.
Our party headed from “The County” in blustery conditions. Naturally, the most difficult weather we encountered was from Hillier to the Carrying Place. But on a December morning, the trip was smooth sailing all the way to Buffalo—even the customs stop took less than five minutes.
In less than five hours we were at the gates of Ralph Wilson Stadium---amid the hoopla affectionately known as “tail gating”.
We were certainly not the only Canadians in the park. There are thousands of football fans who cross the border for the games in Buffalo, and in Cleveland. Road trips are booked in the previous spring in anticipation of the fall season. Bubba and Darlene Dale organize a fabulous busload every year to Orchard Park. Bubba coaches one of the Trenton entries in the Belleville Minor Football league, and is always on the lookout for new plays. The crew from Starboard Communications also frequents the park for Bills’ games, then hosts the Monday night Football Game at Crabby Joe’s. They have also lined up a Super Bowl extravaganza at the North Front Street eatery in Belleville.
To my good fortune, I sat with a wonderful man from Maine, who had coached football and baseball at Bowdoin College. . Howard Vandersea now works as the Northeast Region Coordinator of the National College Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. The organization finds opportunities for young athletes to attend college. Howard shared some of the nuances of the game with me, thankfully without being condescending---although his position was definitely slanted toward the Patriots! Also employed at Bowdoin is Belleville’s Terry Meagher---a recent inductee into the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame. Meagher began coaching at Bowdoin in 1983, following an impressive collegiate career at Boston University.
At two minutes past one, the Bills kicked off to get things under way. Both teams were ineffective in their first possessions, until Bills’ second year Quarterback J P Losman hit wide receiver Lee Evans for a long strike to the Pats ten yard line. Following two ineffective plays, and two false start penalties---inexcusable at that time---Losman lofted a pass into the end zone in the general direction of Sam Aiken. The Pats Asante Samuel picked it off, and according to a wizened old sage, “That was all she wrote”.
The New Englanders took possession on their own 20 yard line, marched the ball downfield with military precision, and Brady rolled into the Bills’ end zone to chalk up the first six points. The Bills did not get another sniff of success until the Patriots had racked up thirty-five points.
Another local hero who played for the Bills for three years, and Canadian favourite Doug Flutie came into the game for the Patriots mid way through the fourth quarter. He garnered more applause from the Buffalo faithful than did most of the Bills did all day. Flutie threw a couple of balls, ran a little, and scramble once or twice to let us know that there is still magic in those forty-two year old wheels.
I spoke with Flutie after the game as he sat quietly in the locker room. He flashed a smile when I indicated I was from the other side of the border. He is on record as saying that his greatest football days were spent in Toronto---leading the Argonauts to two Grey Cups. He also picked up a ring with Calgary in 1992. He was the MVP in all three Grey Cup games. Always gracious, he added: “It was really nice to be received the way I was when I went into the game”. When asked about Brady’s game, he added: “Tommy just stood out there and threw the ball. He amazes me every week. There’s always some aspect of the game that comes up. Today he managed the game, the conditions, everything.” Flutie previously had spent three seasons with the Bills, and they have struggled to find an acceptable substitute in the interim.
For many Bills’ fans, there will be no rest until they return to the glory days. Callers to the radio talk shows have all kinds of suggestions to help the team. There is talk about bringing back Marv Levy to coach. He will celebrate his 80th birthday next year---perhaps a ten year deal would be wise! Not! Others suggest resurrecting QB Jim Kelly. It has been ten years since he took a snap. Move on, people.
President and General Manager Tom Donahoe and Head Coach Mike Mularkey are the targets of most of the venom from the fans. Tough crowd, tough crowd.
Losman gained a little respect for the Bills when he hit Josh Reed for a TD with less than three minutes remaining in the game. That score averted a zero on the Bills’ stats sheet, silencing the hounds, momentarily. Final score---35-7.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has five Super Bowl rings to his credit. He was most pleased with the way his team played throughout the game. They converted many third down opportunities---the offence rang up 32 first downs. That eclipsed a previous team record of twenty-one. He said that his team played their best game in all three areas: offence, defence, and special teams. But his mind was set on preparation for his next game against Tampa Bay.
And that’s the way it is in the NFL. It’s a “What have you done for me lately?” mind set. And until there is a hint of success in Buffalo, the natives will remain mighty restless.
13 Hurst Lane
Box A-2 R R 1
Wellington ON K0K 3L0