Wednesday April 23, 2014






Drinnan: Alone with memories

Good times, fun times . . . it's been cheery time!

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, via Twitter as the 49ers and host Green Bay Packers kicked off on Sunday: "Man (and woman) up, 49ers fans. I dialed my thermostat down to 70. Can see my breath, which is a bad sign." . . . One more from Ostler: "Why did they name the grass at Lambeau after a Toyota pickup?" . . . 

I remember . . . Jan. 31, 2012. The Kamloops Blazers brought Gordie Howe, accompanied by his son, Marty, to town and there was a session with the media. Marty did a lot of the talking and I remember thinking that my boyhood idol is human after all. . . .

"You have to constantly remind people who say Johnny Manziel is too small for the NFL that the kid is bigger than Russell Wilson," notes Mike Lupica in the New York Daily News. . . .

I remember . . . It was April 27, 2008 when I wrote in this space: "Surely it is only a coincidence that Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini and Kamloops Blazers majority owner Tom Gaglardi, two Lower Mainland monied men who used to be friends, both ended up signing general managers with no experience to five-year contracts." . . . A couple of days later I was called into the principal's office and told to "quit poking Gaglardi with a sharp stick." . . .

Here's the headline from the Kansas City Star after the Chiefs lost to the Indianapolis Colts after leading 38-10: "Horse(bleep)." . . .

I remember . . . the look on Mike Moore's face one September evening in 2003. It was after an exhibition game and I had just asked the Blazers' general manager if it was true that Maxine Patrick, the team's long-time office manager, had left the organization. The look on Moore's face told me it was true, but all he said was: "You'll have to talk to our lawyer." That was the beginning of The Daily News' coverage of one of the biggest scandals to hit this city. . . .

It didn't get a lot of media attention, but the UBC Thunderbirds hockey team scored a couple of impressive victories last weekend, beating NCAA Division 1 teams from North Dakota (3-2 in OT) and Princeton 1-0 at the Great Northwest Showcase in Burnaby. Former Blazers defencemen Linden Saip and Brandon Underwood play for UBC. . . .

I remember . . . a day late in May of 2009 when I chatted with Matt Walker of the TRU WolfPack baseball team. All he had done a few days earlier was fulfill a dream by hitting a solo home run with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning to break a 1-1 tie and give his guys the Canadian College Baseball Conference championship. Now that's a memory! . . .

The time has come for WHL insiders and fans to include Calgary Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson in the conversations about the best coaches this league has seen. . . . He got his 400th regular-season coaching victory earlier this season, the 13th man in WHL history to get there. . . .

I remember . . . April 16, 2012. Defenceman Bronson Maschmeyer's goal at 19:39 of the third period gave the Blazers a 7-6 victory over the visiting Portland Winterhawks in Game 6 of a playoff series. The Blazers had trailed 5-2 in the third period before staging a miraculous comeback. When the game ended, the fans stood and cheered until the players came out of the dressing room and took a curtain call. . . . Yes, there were chills. . . .

If you're a hockey fan, here's hoping you got to watch at least the third period of the world junior championship semifinal game between Russia and Sweden a week ago. It was physical with plenty of scoring chances and lots of emotion, everything that world-class hockey should be. . . . "Ten members of the NHL's St. Louis Blues will represent five countries in Sochi, Russia," scribbles Ian Hamilton of the Regina Leader-Post. "In this country, meanwhile, those who thought a certain 38-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning star should play for Canada were left singing the St. Louis blues." . . .

I remember . . . attending a few final nights at the provincial AA high school basketball championships. Young people playing games for all the right reasons . . . now those games were fun to cover . . .

Isn't it about time that the Blazers' owners offered contract extensions to head coach Dave Hunchak and associate coach Mark Ferner, just, you know, as a gesture of good faith after going all-in last season and then saddling them with the poorest team in franchise history in their first season together? . . .

I remember . . . Dec. 22, 2010. When I arrived at my desk, an envelope with a Blazers logo on it was laying there. I thought it might be a donation to the Christmas Cheer Fund. Silly me. It turned out to be a letter informing me that management had barred all members of the organization from speaking to me. . . . It was shortly after that when I made my one and only appearance on CBC Radio's As It Happens. . . .

After the Detroit Lions dumped head coach Jim Schwartz, Steve Schrader of the Detroit Free Press pointed out: "The Lions don't rebuild, they unload." . . .

I remember . . . walking Rivershore Golf Estates in June of 2011 and watching Roger Sloan of Merritt get his first Canada Tour victory at the Western Championship. Unfortunately, the tour wasn't able to find sponsorship and that was the first and last Western Championship. . . .

When Austria named its roster for its hockey team at the Sochi Olympics, it included forward Brian Lebler of EHC Linz. Lebler, who is from Penticton, was a seventh-round selection by the Blazers in the WHL's 2003 bantam draft. However, he never did play for the Blazers, choosing instead to attend the U of Michigan. . . . Phil Mushnick, in the New York Post: "Love that car ad during the BCS final, the one showing a flying Nissan landing on a train. The small-print underline warns, 'Fantasy, do not attempt. Cars can't jump on trains.' " . . .

I remember . . . March 8, 2012. The morning after the WHL honoured Spike Wallace with its Distinguished Service Award, the Blazers issued a news release headlined: Spike ready for next chapter in life. . . . According to the news release, the team and Wallace had decided by "mutual agreement" that it was time for him to move on. . . . As I understand it, that next chapter includes a cash register. . . .

"There's one celebrity couple that seems to last," claims Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald. "Unfortunately, it's Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un." . . . "According to a new study," writes R.J. Currie of sportsdeke.com, "fits of laughter can lead to fatal asthma attacks, heart ruptures and seizures. More bad news for Maple Leafs fans." . . .

I remember . . . covering more than one Canada Cup of Curling with better fields than the Brier and the Scotties and wondering why the event never did take off here. . . .

The Port of Galveston has started charging passengers duty on cigarettes and alcohol purchased during cruises. To which Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, writes: "It being Texas, no doubt guns can be imported for free." . . .

Most of all, I remember a conversation with then-publisher Dale Brin during the summer of 2002. That was the beginning of your Christmas Cheer Fund and what a success story that turned out to be. In 12 years, you handed me and the elves $667,714.68, every penny of which went to local charitable organizations. That was so far beyond even our wildest dreams that it's ridiculous. It also says everything you need to know about the people who call this area home.

We have had some fun over the last 14 years, haven't we? I'll miss you all.

Thanks for being here.

(Gregg Drinnan was sports editor of The Daily News. He is at gdrinnan.blogspot.ca and twitter.com/gdrinnan.)





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