CCC – Clay’s Canucks Commentary for December 6, 2010: The Loyalty of Leaf Nation

December 6, 2010

On a recent trip to Toronto I made my way to the Air Canada Centre on a Toronto Maple Leafs game night to interview some hockey fans. My time there confirmed what I had anticipated: Leaf Nation is certainly very loyal to their hockey team!

I asked people 3 questions:

1. When will the Maple Leafs next make the playoffs?
2. Can you name 5 Vancouver Canucks players?
3. What’s the best Canadian hockey team right now?

The answers range from hilarious to insightful to honest to downright disturbing. My favourites are the woman who answered “3 games” to question #1 and the guy who named “both Sundins and Kessel” among the Canuck players he knew.

Music is “Hockey Night in Canada” recorded by Naturally 7 on their CD “VocalPlay.” (www.naturallyseven.com)

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Following in her Brother’s Footsteps: Kayla’s Fractured Elbow

November 25, 2010

Well, it was bound to happen. 

In February 2008, I wrote a blog called “You Should See the Other Guy” describing just how accident-prone Jacob is.  I compared Jake’s penchant for getting injured to that of the Canucks’ blueliners, which sadly is still an appropriate analogy.  In the blog, I detailed a few of Jake’s unfortunate accidents including falling on his face, bonking his head on a church pew, and fracturing his right arm from a fall in our kitchen just before he turned 3 years old. 

In ending the blog, I remarked how relatively accident-free Sean has been before concluding with this beauty:  “And what about our newborn Kayla Marie? I think she’s safe for now. I don’t think you can really get hurt when all you do is eat, sleep, dirty your diaper, and be carried around.”

So guess what happened this past Saturday?

In a classic example of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, Kayla suffered a fall in our kitchen fracturing her right elbow in the process.  It started off innocently enough:  Kayla was enjoying her lunch while sitting on one of our kitchen stools.  We had just come in from playing in the snow, and were looking forward to a relatively quiet day playing together while Gail worked on her report cards.

Our pleasant meal was interrupted by a loud bang and then some moderately-loud crying.  Sure enough, Kayla had somehow managed to slip off the stool and was now lying on her back.  We carefully picked her up and ascertained from the way she was crying that she thankfully didn’t hit her head.  Also, the fact that she was rubbing her right elbow saying “My arm hurts” helped us turn our attention there.  So we sat with her for the next hour or so, monitoring her arm and her cries.

Although the crying subsided, Kayla wasn’t moving her arm.  So we decided to take Kayla to the hospital.  Gail stayed with her in the emergency area while I came home to do homework with the boys.  Finally after 3 hours, Gail called for us to pick them up; Kayla had fractured her elbow and was wearing a splint.

With Gail having lost the afternoon, I decided to forego going to the Canucks game that night so she could get some work done.  Probably turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I likely would have suffered my own injury if I had gone to the game, either to my lungs (from screaming), my eyes (from watching such a debacle) or to my heart (for another lopsided loss to the Blackhawks).

We made it through Sunday and then I took Kayla back to the cast clinic at the hospital first thing Monday morning.  At first she was very hesitant to go, saying “I don’t want to go back to the doctor…he did this to me” as she pointed at her wrapped arm.  I tried to reason with her that the doctor was going to help her get better and not hurt her further.  Then I remembered she’s two years old.

Thankfully, she was tended to relatively quickly, and the doctor diligently removed the wrap and splint before fitting her arm with a bright pink fibreglass cast.  Kayla was remarkably good during the entire process, largely in part to the yummy orange popsicle given to her by the nurse.  Now that’s good parenting: a popsicle at 8:30am!  Even I have some standards…I won’t drink pop before 10am!  But I digress.

Kayla was happy as a bird as we strolled out of the hospital and towards the parking lot.  Meanwhile, I immediately started calling her “Cowboy” Bob Orton.  She didn’t get it.

The cast hasn’t really hampered her or slowed her down, although she has to do the majority of things with her left hand now.  We’re hoping to get the cast removed in mid-December, just before her 3rd birthday.

Although there are a couple of subtle differences between Kayla’s injury and Jake’s 5 years ago (Kayla’s elbow vs. Jake’s arm, and falling from a stool vs. falling from the island), the similarities are quite striking:  where in the house the injury took place (within 3 feet of each other), the body part that got injured (right arm) and the timing of the incidents (right before their respective 3rd birthdays).

I just pray that going forward Kayla will escape the scraped chin, scratched face, busted nose cartilage, and stitches to the forehead. 

And that Sami Salo returns soon…without hurting himself again.

CCC – Clay’s Canucks Commentary for October 3, 2010: Season Ticket Holder Appreciation

October 4, 2010


For the 2nd CCC of the season, I take you inside Rogers Arena for the annual Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Event (held just before the Open Practice). My special guest in this video is my buddy Mike, a long-time season ticket holder. I’m his season ticket “partner” for this season only.

We got a lot done in 2 hours:
-we enjoyed a continental breakfast
-we viewed some of the NHL awards and made our own predictions for this season
-we witnessed the introduction of the 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks
-we got autographs from Luongo, Bolduc, Glass, and Tambellini
-I slapped hands (fins?) with Fin and rammed myself into the glass to check out the strength of the boards

All in all, it was an enjoyable morning as we look forward to the start of the season next weekend!

Music is “Hockey Night in Canada” recorded by Naturally 7 on their CD “VocalPlay.” (www.naturallyseven.com)

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Miss Independent

September 18, 2010

“‘Cause she walk like a boss, talk like a boss…”

These lyrics from Ne-Yo’s popular song “Miss Independent” rang true for me recently as I watched Kayla in her first two weeks of pre-school.  Things started off as expected last Tuesday night at the Orientation Meeting, as Kayla was quite shy.  Jake, on the other hand, treated it like a high school reunion, catching up and laughing with all of the teachers he hadn’t seen since 2008.

I brought Kayla back the next morning for her first day of pre-school ever.  She was understandably quite timid as she made sense of her new surroundings.  We flipped through a book as we waited for class to start.  After the morning prayer and song, the kids were split into two groups; Kayla grabbed my hand and asked me to stay with her for a while.  I sat down with her and 4 other kids and made play-dough structures for a few minutes before excusing myself to go to work.  So far so good.

On our next visit on Friday, we sat down to read before class and she casually made her way to another kid and his parent.  I lovingly dragged Kayla back to me, saying “Read with Daddy” and she complied.   After the prayer and song, I accompanied Kayla to the playroom but only had to stay a couple of minutes before she said I could go.  I walked out, proud that Kayla seemed to be getting quite comfortable quite quickly.  Little did I know just how comfortable she would become!

“She got her own thing…”

We returned the next Tuesday and during the pre-class reading time she spent the whole time with another kid and his parent.  My lovely daughter ignored my repeated pleas to re-join me on the other side of the rug.  So there I was, the only parent there without a kid to read with.  On the bright side, I learned a lot about butterflies.  I sheepishly said good-bye to her as she left the main room for the playroom.

Wednesday was even worse (or better…depending on your perspective).  While she stayed in my relative proximity during reading time and the opening prayer, she didn’t even say bye before leaving for the playroom.

And then Friday came along.

As we arrived, she ran straight to Julie, one of the teachers for the pre-class reading time.  As small consolation, a couple of other kids also gathered around the teacher…but with one big difference: their parents weren’t still in the room!  As I sat there contemplating my next move, Kayla made my decision for me, exclaiming:  “Daddy, you go to work…NOW!”

“Don’t you want me to stay for the prayer?” was my humble reply.

“No thank you.”

“Fine, “ I replied, “I love you, sweetie.  Come give me a kiss.”

Thankfully, she obliged.

This early dismissal actually turned out to be a small blessing as I was able to arrive early to a Funeral Mass that I was attending that morning.  Going forward, I’d like to make it through at least the prayer time with Kayla, as it’s a nice way to offer up the day together as Father and Daughter.

Unless I’m ordered otherwise.

“That’s why I love her…Miss Independent.”

Kayla Singing Jesus Loves Me

June 25, 2010

First it was Jacob singing this song as a 4 year–old (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saQfKXNlavc), and now it’s Kayla doing her rendition as a 2 and a half-year old.

Gotta love child-like faith! “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15

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Kayla Knows her Kitchen

April 3, 2010

Despite keeping her tea kettle in the microwave and her cell phone in the oven, Kayla still knows her way around the kitchen better than I do. Even if she tries to fry up ketchup, corn and bananas in the same pan.

Kayla also sneaks in her current favourite thing to say: “What you doing?”

Check out this fun footage we took after Gail and the boys went to bed. When all else fails…MAKE A MOVIE!

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Final 2010 Olympics Video Blog (#22): Closing Ceremonies, Canada vs. USA, and Oddwalk Makes Good

March 3, 2010

In my 2010 Olympic Winter Games Video Blog for March 1, the final one of the series:

-see footage taken immediately after Sidney Crosby’s winning goal in overtime, lifting Canada over the USA 3-2 for the gold medal in men’s hockey
-Canada’s final medal tally is 26 medals: 14 gold, 7 silver and 5 bronze
-I attend the Closing Ceremonies at BC Place
-I go to the Bell Ice Cube one last time, to see Naturally 7’s final show at the Olympics
-I’ve included some of Oddwalk Ministries’ video of them making good on our wager…it’s very entertaining! See the entire version here: http://oddwalkministries.com/oddblog/?p=5696

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Winter Olympics Special Delivery: Surprise Flowers from my American Friends (Canada vs. USA)

February 23, 2010

I received a bouquet of flowers today in a nice surprise.

After I surmised that they weren’t from my lovely wife Gail, I discovered that they were from Anne Marie and Gene from the east coast of the good old USA, expressing sympathy at Canada’s loss to the Americans.

I appreciate their thoughtfulness as we try and cope with this tragedy.

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Shootin’ Straight with Jeremy Roenick

February 1, 2010

I was blessed with the opportunity to meet 20-year NHL veteran Jeremy Roenick last week. When my cousin Dusty (who is an accomplished hockey player in his own right) called me on Tuesday night asking me if I’d like to meet Jeremy Roenick, I took about 0.8 seconds to say yes! So less than 24 hours later, I was in Jeremy’s hotel room in the Hyatt as part of an informal social gathering.

By the way, for the rest of this blog, I’m going to call Jeremy Roenick by his well-known moniker of “JR”…it’s easier to type and I’m sure he won’t mind. :p

The night started off rather auspiciously for me as I didn’t hear JR ask me what I did for a living (perhaps I was too busy tweeting that I was with JR…haha). But I did hear him say something like “We’ll start with this guy who seems to be ignoring me.”

Having a funny feeling he was speaking about me and to me, I sheepishly looked up and proclaimed: “I would NEVER, EVER intentionally ignore Jeremy Roenick!” This comment was met with a lot of laughter from other people in the room, and I was relieved to see JR smile. More importantly, I was thankful that he didn’t goon me while having an NHL flashback and thinking I was Derian Hatcher or Darcy Tucker.

I told him that I worked for the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, running an office that does ministry for and with young people. He commended me on doing noble work, and I felt a sense of pride.

Later on in the evening, I made some small talk with JR as I helped him return some chairs to his balcony. I asked him where he lives now (Scottsdale, Arizona) and I mentioned that I’ve been to Arizona numerous times, both for church events and to visit friends (who I met through these church events). This led to another quick discussion about my role as the YMO’s Director and he once again affirmed me for serving in a position that allows me to help others. I couldn’t surmise if JR was a Christian, but regardless he seemed genuinely interested in me and my work.

I then asked him: “Is it okay if I ask you a few hockey questions?”

“Sure.”

My first question was “How do you think the US Hockey Team will do in the Olympics?”

“Probably 4th or 5th,” he said, “behind Canada, Russia and the Czechs.”

“Wow,” I said, surprised, “but I won’t quote you on that.”

“Oh, you can if you want,” JR replied, “I’ve gone on record with my prediction. The forwards are good but they’re too young and too inexperienced. Miller (the goalie) will have to be at his absolute best for them to have a chance.”

“Thanks man…are you surprised at how well the Sedins are doing this year?”

JR answered “Not at all. They are remarkable players…especially Daniel.”

I found that answer interesting, considering Henrik is the one leading the NHL scoring race. I wasn’t sure if he was mixing them up, or if he truly wanted to single out Daniel. At any rate, I was thoroughly enjoying the conversation, and he was certainly living up to his reputation as a great interview (or in this case, conversation). All right…enough of the softies, I thought.

“What’s your take on this whole Burrows-Auger thing?”

JR replied, “I believe Burrows 100 percent. But he probably could have gone about it a different way, either through his coach or GM. But I believe him completely.” As we looked out at the city skyline from his 34th floor balcony, JR said “Auger’s ego is the size of this city.”

This was getting good. “So I’m presuming you’ve played in games where Auger was the referee?”

“For sure,” JR said. “And he’s the biggest BLEEP BLEEP and BLEEP BLEEP around.” (As I’m sure you can guess…he didn’t say the word “BLEEP”…there were other more colourful words in there; words that I would have to go to confession for saying).

I completely lost it and started laughing so hard that I thought I might fall over the railing and onto Burrard Street below. On one hand, JR’s response didn’t surprise me, as he’s known as one of the most outspoken players to ever play the game. On the other hand, it did surprise me a bit, considering our nice conversation about church just moments earlier.

We returned inside still laughing, and then took a couple of pictures: one of us arm in arm, the other featuring JR ready to unload a barrage of punches on me. I left soon afterwards grateful for the chance to meet him.

The next morning, the TEAM 1040 Radio station was going to have JR on as a guest. I emailed the TEAM, telling them that I had met JR the previous night, and I suggested that they ask JR for his opinions on the US Olympic Hockey team and on the Burrows-Auger incident. I also attached a picture of us as evidence (not that they cared).

Sure enough, they asked JR about both things, though it might have had nothing to do with my email…they could have been planning to ask him those types of questions anyway. Upon hearing his radio interview, it was nice knowing that he was indeed shooting straight with me, as his responses were very similar to the ones he gave me the night before.

Except for the swear words. Somehow those didn’t make it on the radio!

Emotional Roller Coaster

January 6, 2010

After the 2 extraordinary hockey games on New Year’s Eve (the Canucks storming back to beat the Blues in overtime and the Canadian Juniors staging a dramatic comeback to beat the American Juniors in the shoot-out), I had extremely high hopes for yesterday’s hockey double dip. It was unrealistic to expect the same level of drama and excitement from both games, but I was at least hopeful for 2 wins. Little did I know of the emotional roller coaster that I was about to ride!

Now these games certainly did not have life-or-death consequences, but when you’re a self-proclaimed Ultimate Canucks Fan, you take these things seriously enough.

As an aside and speaking of serious, a few of my friends thought I was serious on Monday, when I tweeted and put on Facebook the following update: “Trying to convince my lovely wife to send Sean on the Canada Line by himself tomorrow for the Canucks game. So far, no go.” I thought it was obvious that I was joking, but some of my friends apparently don’t find me very funny. I received a few replies via Twitter, Facebook and text message ranging from “I’m siding with Gail” to “Are you serious?” to “Got a screw loose?” My answers to those questions: “As per usual”, “No I’m not” and “Likely, yes.”

Anyway, back to the roller coaster. As the work day ended, I put a new update up, hardly concealing my excitement for the 2 hockey games: “Trying not to sound spoiled or ungrateful here, but I’m more excited about the game I’m PVRing (World Juniors) than the game I’m going to see live with Sean (Canucks). I guess the chance for a gold medal and global supremacy can do that to you.”

I boarded the Canada Line in Yaletown (to head back to Richmond) at 5:20pm and quickly struck up a hockey conversation with a fellow passenger. As we both checked our phones for updates, we were elated to see that Canada has scored first. HAPPY! During the 20-minute ride, Canada went from up 1-0 to down 2-1 (SAD!) to tied at 2 going into the 1st intermission (HAPPY!).

Gail brought Sean to the Lansdowne station at 5:50pm and I said a quick hello and good-bye to Gail, Jake, and Kayla. Sean and I boarded the Canada Line and headed back downtown. Trying to bring closure to my poor attempt at humour from the day before, I posted: “Sean is on the Canada Line on his way to the Canucks’ game. For the record, I am standing right beside him.”

As we got off the train downtown, the score was now 3-3 heading into the 2nd intermission. Still HAPPY! After a quick sushi dinner (surprise surprise) we made our way to GM Place and got in at 6:50pm. We had to make our way through the hordes of people gathered in the concourse watching the Junior game on tv. The score was now 4-3 USA. SAD!

We made a quick pit stop in the washroom, and upon coming out we learned it was now 5-3 USA. VERY SAD! Needless to say, all of the Canucks fans watching were in a sour mood.

The Canucks game started per usual at 7:07pm, and Sean and I noticed right away that the arena looked more empty that usual. We concluded that there must have been around 2,000 people still watching the Junior game in the concourses. It was a surreal experience…the crowd was very quiet for the slow start to the Canucks game, yet we could hear people “ooohhhing” and “aaahhhing” from the bars and concourses in GM Place.

Sure enough, we heard a loud cheer at 7:11pm when Canada scored to pull within a goal. HAPPY! Then, just 2 minutes later, more cheering, as the Canadians tied the game at 5. EXTREMELY HAPPY! The Juniors then went into a 20-minute intermission before overtime.

Happiness turned into sadness as the Columbus Blue Jackets scored 2 quick goals on Luongo just 5 minutes into the game, forcing people’s attention to the live game in front of them. SAD! The Canucks returned the favour, putting 2 quick goals behind Mason and then going ahead for good before the 1st period ended. HAPPY!

Just as the Canucks’ 1st period was ending, overtime for the Juniors was starting. Sean and I tried to catch glimpses of the Junior game on the TVs in the GM Place bars, but they were too far away. Suddenly at 7:38pm, Sean turned to me just as we heard a collective groan from those in the fringes: “I think USA just scored.” EXTREME SADNESS! With 2 minutes left in the Canucks’ 1st period, hundreds of people flooded in to take their seats (opposite of what usually happens with 2 minutes left in a period).

Then, I posted my last update: Only a Canuck win will slightly off-set my disappointment in Canada’s loss. A lot of goals in this game too!”

Our beloved Canucks scored 6 minutes into the 2nd period, making it 4-2. HAPPY! Then, the Blue Jackets scored just 17 seconds later to cut the deficit to 4-3. Not really SADNESS, but a bit of WORRY. However, the Canucks soon remembered they were playing Columbus and scored another 2 goals to head into the 2nd intermission up 6-3. HAPPY! HAPPIER!

The Canucks ended up winning the game 7-3, making Sean and me very HAPPY! Upon walking past the YMO on our way back to the car, I decided to leave my computer at work, effectively signaling no more work for the evening. HAPPY! And we made it home in quick time, forgoing late night sushi (SAD!), but saving money in the process (VERY HAPPY!).

As you can see, the 2 hockey games toyed with my emotions and challenged my ability to stay sane. I guess that comes with the territory of being a true hockey fan.

I shudder to think of what the Winter Olympics are going to do to me! HAPPY…I hope!