Consider, for a moment, the lot of the Winnipeg Jets.
Up until this past Monday night, I harboured no sympathies for the shiny new Jets and their reported inability to secure a fancy new hanger to park themselves. Looking around my Toronto mansion, cluttered with plastic toys, broken chairs, and flotsam from my father-in-law’s house, I too would have preferred a stately manor in the wilds of Manitoba, surrounded by moats and cornfields. But alas, this was not to pass.
Granted, if suddenly my pay packet were to swell to the point where they started putting a little extra zero at the end of the bi-weekly figure, there is no doubt my wife would want to immediately bump us up a few notches into the highest postal code we could (barely) afford. Seems that most people push themselves to the literal ceiling in terms of house affordability.
Not our Jets. These boys would love to spread around their American cash, investing some of it in renting/leasing fancy digs as they settle into the city of Winnipeg. Turns out there is a dearth of upscale housing in the greater Winnipeg area. This has led to teeth gnashing by those Jets not busy dealing with John Law.
Whispers out of the Winnipeg social scene has it that perspective landlords, flush with the excitement of being flush with oodles of cash, have raised the prices to the point even studly, rich hockey players are uncomfortable paying.
There appears to be no truth to the rumour that, in anger at the prospect of spending the season holed up at the local Motel 6, Jets’ players demanded the public turn their backs and not look at them during the recent unveiling of their curling sweaters.
Also no truth to the whispers that various players will be working the late shift at the local Salisbury House in an effort to make a little extra cash to afford a fancier house.
Take a moment to skate a mile in their shoes; most of these guys spent the past few years in Atlanta, where no doubt there were Southern mansions a-plenty to be had. Who cares if a paltry sum of souls attended your home games? If anything, that anonymity provided a shield from the prying eyes of the hockey mad, mouth drooling, Northern-based hoser. Heck, you could probably even drive your boat and pop open a few cool ones there, and nobody down there would care.
Not in Winnipeg. Not in Canada.
Every move here is scrutinized, analyzed, dissected, interpreted, and duly reported, like football in Texas.
Which explains why these hockey playing migrants require only the best fortress available from the unrelenting waves of unconditional love they are receiving from the populace of One Great City.
Back to Monday night. I had finished doing technical work on the Canadian radio broadcast of the National Football League Monday Night doubleheader.
The post-game following the Denver-Oakland non-classic stretched until just past 2 am eastern time. Subways in Toronto stop running at 1:50 am.
This meant either a rather expensive cab ride home, eating up much of the money I made during that eight-hour shift, or a night on the couch at NHL Home Ice.
I chose the latter option, settling into a rather comfy black leather couch, owned by one Boomer Gordon, who couldn’t find a way to fit it into his apartment.
The couch is a welcome respite during a busy day at Home Ice, a great place for a five-minute pick-me-up.
Not so great for a three-hour snooze. A three hour snooze.
For one, it’s amazing how important a proper pillow is to the entire sleeping experience. A rolled up windbreaker, with keys still in the breast pocket, is not a suitable substitute.
Second, there ain’t a lot of room on the couch. As a result, one tends to sleep on one’s back, which produces a symphony of snoring, not that anyone else was in the building that night. But I think I tripped the alarm in the restaurant next door.
Third, even after turning out all the lights, the constant glow from all the broadcast equipment would have been more than sufficient to guide in a squadron of B-52’s to bomb the place.
Fourth, and isn’t this the way it always is, just as I was getting settled, just as I figured out the mock pillow thing and threw my keys across the room, just as I was dozing off, The Paperboy (C) walked into the premises, switching on all the lights in a blinding blaze of Big Bang glory.
The dude is never early for a shift.
He was on that day.
That necessitated a groggy stumble down the hall to one of the Assembly Studios. And a 90-minute nap on the cold, hard floor.
Waking up around 7:50 am, I prepared my smelly self for my daily appearance on Hockey Today with Mike Ross.
In comparison, the morning crew looked positively chipper, in that annoying All-American blonde cheerleader let’s go team stereotypical way. I, on the other hand, felt like I had been out all night on a bender to end all benders, minus the fun that comes along with such an evening.
Rossy began the show by chirping about some hockey headlines, including the perceived whining of the Jets’ players concerning a lack of upscale housing.
Suddenly, sitting there slumped over in the studio (and aren’t you glad now they don’t simulcast this show on television), I understood the players’ predicament.
They are going from the comfy couch to the studio floor.
They just figured out how to doze off, with the makeshift pillow. Now, they have been uprooted, and are expected to be content with the cold, hard floor.
A thought, please, for the 2011-12 edition of the Winnipeg Jets.
I would join you, but I’m busy readying my windbreaker pillow for a quick nap.
- Mick Kern