What a show put on by CBC and the city of Lloydminster this past week. For those who don’t live in the area, it is fashionable for the locals to bash the city. Not to be anything of a hypocrite, I find myself doing it from time to time. Hey, I want to fit in with the cool kids at school….which isn’t easy for a 30 year old wannabe like myself! But the truth is while it is a small town and definitely has it’s warts, the good far outweighs the bad. And while I put up with some of the local bashing, when I hear it I also take it a little bit personal despite speaking up. That’s where I grew up, my family lives, the large majority of my friends are from the area, I don’t really get a thrill out of hearing it to put it nicely. ANYWAY, it’s nice to be able to stick the chest out a little and brag it up. Hockey Day in Canada has allowed me to do just that.
Not in anyway a shock to me that this thing was such a huge hit. And it was actually a hit. Sometimes you hear that stuff from the people involved and the bigger names who come for it. You HAVE to say those things no matter how the events go, nobody is ever going to be the guy that says “hey Lloyd, that was terrible, and the city should be ashamed of itself”. But I got the chance to hang around Saturday night after the Bobcats game and talk to some of the alumni players and media members from out of town and off the record they were still singing the praises. Greg Sansone now of Sportsnet was raving about it and said privately all the guys were as well. That stuff really is great to hear and know that those guys aren’t just saying it because they have to.
Obviously the concern on Tuesday was when the one corner of the outdoor rink blew down. The thing that shocked me was how shocked everyone from out of town was that they were able to get the rink put back up in time. Maybe I’m just used to that kind of work ethic from the community. I mean I’m a guy who puts in 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, tries (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to get a workout in and possibly to post something that’s worth your while to read on here at some point after work. Yet there are a lot of days where I question my work ethic because I’m flooded by people who do that and then some every day as well.
Rusway had a big part in putting the rink back together. Well my dad and Uncle’s company (Valley C, for whom I work for as well) do just about every job along side Rusway. Very rarely a day goes by that there isn’t a Rusway/Valley C combination on a job site. There are days where I talk to their foreman Bert more than I talk to guys I work with! But anyway the point is it just never ever crossed my mind that it wouldn’t get done. That’s because that is what I’ve grown up in. Everyone chips in, things get done, they done quickly, and they get done right.
The week seemingly went flawless, at least I never noticed anything going wrong (after the rink was fixed up), all the events were amazing, other than being windy as hell the weather was awesome which made it easy for people to actually want to go out to the events, and the big thrill for me was getting to join Shane Tomayer in the broadcast booth and do color commentary for the game on FASTHockey.com. And Shane did an unreal job on the play by play because I’m sure you all seen the Bobcats uni’s for the game…it was NOT easy to see those numbers!! Add to that, Sherwood Park’s uni’s didn’t have numbers on the shoulders, and it isn’t as if we have a monitor to see the game more clearly than we can from the North East corner of the Civic Centre. Yet the man was flawless in his call of the game, and does not only a damn good call of the game, but an entertaining call as well.
We mentioned it A LOT on the broadcast, but it was so difficult to do with so many distractions. I can’t think of anything witty in this spot so I’ll just go with the cliche…I was a kid in a candy store! Craig MacTavish and Mark Napier standing right in front of us during the broadcast. Lanny McDonald going out of his way to come introduce himself to Shane and I while doing the opening for the game. Dirk Irvin whom I simply had to go mid broadcast just to shake his hand and say hello while he wasn’t being bothered. Darcy Tucker during the 2nd intermission doing the same as Lanny did and since we weren’t on the air talked us up for a good 10 minutes all on his own. Marty McSorley doing the same thing after the broadcast was over. Greg Sansone from Sportsnet who came down to check out some things for Rogers who will be running that show from now on talked to Shane and myself for probably 15-20 minutes near the end of the night. And all chatting us up like we had all hung out before. Now I’m not stupid, they had some “influence” in their system which usually brings the personality out in people….but nonetheless they were all just awesome!
Maybe the most relieving part for me was that the Bobcats were able to maintain a high energy level for the full 60 minutes in a 3-0 win. When it was still only 1-0 after 2, I was pretty paranoid that the Crusaders were going to get that one golden opportunity, and with Devin Green seeing hardly any action all game long they would be able to snipe and take all the air out of the arena. But luckily Green did a great job of staying focused, made the big save when he had to, and the Tanner Dunkle put 2 home at the other end to seal a huge victory not only because it was on HNIC, but the Crusaders and Bobcats are neck and neck in the standings. From start to finish, the Bobcats dominated out shooting Sherwood Park 35-15. Awesome to see!
I’m still not sure how after 30 years of being so hockey obsessed that it’s my sister who gets to stand behind Don Cherry and not me. Just because she was one of the “organizers” and actually put in a lot of work for the event, that’s just ridiculous that she gets rewarded for hard work….in all seriousness that was pretty cool to see, although for myself I was stressing the entire time knowing that she would want me taking pictures of it with HER camera and I didn’t have it…but that’s another story.
Of course I can’t end this without talking about Ron McLean. Grapes gets all the glory, and understandably so. But McLean is simply one of the finest Canadians walking the earth today. Think I’m overstating that? You can think that all you want, I honestly believe that. He lives this event every year more than anyone else. The whole week he is involved in absolutely everything he possibly can be. The man had to of put in hundreds of hours reading up on Lloyd alone, let alone all the other work he would have had to do to get ready for the event. He stands on the ice during hockey day and rattles off fact after fact and stories and name drops the local teams and people he had literally just met and does it with no assistance. No prompter, nobody feeding him this through his earpiece, it’s all him.
My buddy Drew Dalby from the GOAT was telling me that when he came into studio last week, Ron had studied up on Drew! And then name dropped him on the broadcast Saturday! And while I unfortunately didn’t have the privilege to meet him (despite being literally 10 feet away from him most of Saturday night), anything you ever hear about the man is how genuinely nice of a man he is. Has all the time in the world for everyone and nobody has one bad thing to say about the man. He is as hard working, successful, famous and yet the most humble man and I simply cannot say enough great things about Ron McLean.
So hats off to not only Lloyd but the entire region. The people of Kitscoty, Paradise Valley, Marwayne, Lashburn, Maidstone and all the small communities around the region shouldn’t be forgotten. Easy for me to remember that since I grew up with a Lloyd address and phone number, went to school in Marwayne, and played hockey in both Dewberry and PV (is that mixed race?) So many people from the area chipped in to put this thing on and did so willingly. This was a once in a lifetime chance for the city and it sniped top shelf.
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