Life with the Leafs
When people find out I'm part of the "Moore in the Morning" team at NEWSTALK 1010, they inevitably ask me one of two questions.
"What's John Moore really like?", or "What's it like to cover the Toronto Maple Leafs?"
John is an absolute gem; and no, "Zack the Wonder Dog" (John's pooch and a regular Friday visitor to the show) didn't growl and force me to say that.
Let's just say that, like John and Zack, they're a very entertaining bunch.
Saturday, the Leafs staged their home opener against the Ottawa Senators and I was part of the media mob that covered both the morning skate and the game itself at Air Canada Centre.
The game-day skate has long been a ritual of NHL life, allowing the players to get loosened up for their nightly battles. Reporters, meanwhile, sit up in the stands drinking coffee, downing donuts and getting caught up with all the latest hockey gossip. While watching Saturday's skate, for instance, I chatted with ex-Leaf tough guy-turned Leafs TV broadcaster Bob McGill. Thanks to the Leafs "Bay Street Brawl" against Buffalo in the pre-season and the fight-filled regular season opener in Montreal that saw Canadiens enforcer George Parros take a face plant into the ice, a lot of puck pacifists are making noise again about getting rid of fighting. But McGill, who racked up over 17 hundred penalty minutes during his NHL career, doesn't buy into that at all.
"The same people who were so upset when Parros got hurt during the Colton Orr fight were the same people up on their feet cheering when Parros and Orr went at it the first time in the game," McGill points out. "Fans enjoy fighting and, more importantly, if you asked Parros if he wants to keep fighting in the game I guarantee he'd answer 'yes'."
Fortunately, there was no scrapping between the media and Leafs Coach Randy Carlyle at his Saturday morning news conference, which is another game-day staple. Carlyle's coaching predecessor, Ron Wilson, had a crusty relationship with the Toronto media but Carlyle seems to have a good time during his regular Q and A sessions. Saturday marked the debut of 19-year old defenseman Morgan Rielly on the Leafs blue line. Carlyle was also a young Leafs d-man back in the 70's and during Saturday's newser, he was asked about playing his first NHL game. It produced a hilarious response that you can listen to here.
If you did punch up the audio, here's a follow-up: No, Rosie DiManno wasn't upset with Randy Carlyle's slip of the tongue. However, Rosie was a little cheezed off with the coach for getting his facts mixed up. DiManno, you see, is a long time Toronto Star columnist who has never worked for the Toronto Sun, so you can forget all about "doing" the Sunshine Boy.
With that said, things are extremely sunny and bright around the Leafs. Saturday night, they ran their perfect record to 3-0 by beating Ottawa 5-4 in a game that went to a shoot-out.
Tuesday, they try to keep the good times rolling when they host the Colorado Avalanche at the ACC. So, another game, another game-day skate, and another opportunity to roll the ol' tape recorder.
After all when you cover the "Mighty Leafs", much like the daily hijinks on "Moore in the Morning", you never know what's going to happen.