My notebook has been collecting dust for months sitting next to my Nintendo 64 that saw way more action than I’m sure it bargained for when I bought it in early 2020.
With hockey officially back, I’m happy to continue this little exercise again this season. Part of my preparation for a broadcast is finding as many interesting stories or anecdotes that could add to the show throughout the game. As much as we try, they don’t all make it to air. That’s where this space comes in handy.
Given the state of the world right now, unfortunately I won’t be able to tell stories like the one time Will Arnett told Mitch Marner he was a “big fan” as he passed by where we were standing outside the Leafs dressing room before a post-game interview. Or about the heckler in Boston who had a real issue with the fit of my suit pants. Regardless, let’s have some fun this year.
1. Amidst the hectic six weeks that saw Tim Stützle go from Germany to the World Juniors bubble in Edmonton then directly to starting his NHL career in Ottawa, Brady Tkachuk confirmed to us that “Jimmy Stü” forgot to pack “Jimmy’s suits.”
Thankfully, Stützle’s roommates have him covered until his threads come from overseas.
I spoke to his old teammate from Mannheim and close friend, David Wolf, recently. He told me Stützle is “a bit freaky with his clothes.” Meaning, he likes to get creative with his look. Wolf also said of Stützle, “I’ve never seen someone with as many shoes as he has.”
As more and more players around the league are getting comfortable showing off their fashion sense and unique styles, expect the 19-year-old from Germany to join that conversation real soon.
"We've gotta get him going on the suits and shoe game." @BradyTkachuk71 tells @SNkylebukauskas he helped his new roommate Tim Stützle suit up for his NHL debut last night. #NHLonSN | #HockeyNight pic.twitter.com/HX4sBwfJ7k
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 16, 2021
2. One of my favourite lines from my conversation with Stützle on sportsnet.ca: “Brady already played two seasons in the NHL so, like, he knows everything.”
I’d love to know what the rest of the Tkachuk family thinks of that.
3. When Joe Thornton was in grade 10, he was a standout for the St. Thomas Jr. B Stars while also playing for the Central Elgin Collegiate Institute boys basketball team.
According to his high school hoops coach, Shawn Manuel, “he was the guy, even back then.”
Because of Thornton’s commitment to the Stars, he would miss the occasional game and practice at school. Manuel had team rules about needing to be at practice during the week in order to be eligible to play on the weekend. Thornton completely understood, but he was such a popular teammate, the other kids would approach the coach and try to convince him to let Thornton play anyways.
“He was an incredible athlete. He may not have been the most skilled player, but he was the glue guy on our team,” Manuel said.
Sounds pretty similar to the role he will play with the Maple Leafs. Hopefully he’s back healthy soon.
4. A few days before the league announced it was temporarily removing their “tracking pucks” from games due to quality issues, I found myself seated in the press box not far (but far enough) from the OG player/puck tracking system: off-ice officials.
Pre-COVID, that crew would be snuggled into two booths at Canadian Tire Centre documenting the events of a game. The new setup has the officials safely spread out over what looked like three booths and the seats along press row directly below. Add in the fact everyone is wearing masks, and communication can be a challenge. I heard stuff like this a few times between spotters:
“Giveaway, 65 white!”
We’ve all been forced to adapt our workflow in some way, the off-ice officials are no different.
5. Carey Price’s new mask received plenty of attention when it was unveiled last week. The design is so different than anything he has worn before in his career.
Jordon Bourgeault was the artist/mastermind behind the look. He lives in Calgary, but did not grow up as much of a hockey fan. He did play some baseball as a kid, but his passions were music and art. This meant Bourgeault had to do some serious research if he was going to create the mask for the winningest goaltender in the history of the storied Montreal Canadiens franchise.
When Bourgeault would reach out to Price to run ideas by him, the response he would often get was, “whatever you think.” The goalie trusted him. The only direction Price gave him was that he was getting bored of the “classic” look.
Bourgeault certainly delivered in that regard. The half human/half machine design is fitting for a goaltender who is often known for his machine-like performances between the pipes.
6. Brian McGrattan was nearly in tears the day Austin Watson reached out to him to let him know he was going to wear number 16 in honour of McGrattan and his days playing for the Senators.
The two first met as teammates in Milwaukee of the AHL. Watson was in his rookie season and McGrattan was sent down there as part of a conditioning stint. Both have struggled with alcohol issues in the past, but both have come out on top and turned their lives around.
McGrattan celebrated 12 years of sobriety in December. After he saw Watson score in his Senators debut last week, he texted him the next morning: “Lots of goals left in that number. Great start to the year. Proud of you.”
It doesn’t get much better than that.