Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Dinner-ish with Bruce Arthur

"Inconceivable.... Oh wait, wrong movie."
I recently sat down over dinner (OK, full disclosure, by "dinner" I mean, I ate a bowl of Count Chocula over the sink while I typed this. No idea what Bruce was eating while he typed. I like to think he's a Weetabix, skim milk guy.) with National Post columnist, Bruce Arthur. Bruce is also a regular on The Reporters on TSN, TSN Radio co-host Mondays from 4-7, and he does it all while making smart assed comments on Twitter.

I'd like to think that even though we emailed our questions and answers back and forth, had we actually sat down, it would have unfolded like, My Dinner with Andre without the Gymnopédie No. 1 and turtlenecks. And yes, I called dibs on the Walace Shawn role....

Me: By now, we’re all aware of Canuck's General Manager, Mike Gillis’ very public taking of exception to an editorial written in, The Province calling to trade Roberto Luongo for Vincent LeCavalier.  His (Gillis) main concern was about the lack of accountability taken by the newspaper in not signing the editorial.   What’s your definition of accountability? Was Gillis right, does the media owe a sense of accountability to the Canucks outside of being factual and fair in their assessments? When do you think the media steps over that line?

Bruce: “No offence to Mike Gillis, but he doesn't seem to understand what an editorial is. It's the voice of the paper, presided over by the editorial board, and the editor-in-chief is responsible for it. You don't like it? Call Wayne Moriarty. It's not graffiti on a bathroom wall, or a Twitter account with an egg for an avatar. I think the editorial in question was a little silly, but papers write editorials about silly stuff all the time. Gillis should know by now that this country doesn't have a lot of perspective when it comes to hockey, especially when a team carries expectations around with it. As for going over the line, this wasn't a personal attack, or factually incorrect, or unfair. Just goofy, and it got the whole city talking. Of course, so would portraying Luongo as Dan Cloutier in a photoillustration, but let's hope they don't go there. THAT would be over the line.”

Me:   Let’s turn it around. The Canucks have been the only show in town for so long, and occupy so much of the city’s cultural landscape; what kind of accountability needs to be shown by the Canuck's organization to the fans and media?  Do they need to show any at all outside of winning?

Bruce: “Good question. I'm of the increasingly anachronistic opinion that the team should avoid using its own media over traditional media, which is part self-interest and part a dislike of the kind of state media you get in sports. They have a responsibility to fans, certainly, beyond just winning; I think the recent moves towards depression awareness, and a call for fan civility following the riot, were both part of being a good corporate citizen. They're a part of the fabric of the city, and should remain engaged in it. And of course they should, like every Canadian team charging mind-bogglingly high prices for everything, win.”
Me:. It’s often been said that Vancouver is not a sports town, but it is a Canucks town. Fair assessment? Does that make Vancouver any different than Green Bay or any other city where, “…there can be only one”?  Is it this almost “hive like” mentality or the fact that the Canucks were so lower to the bottom for so long that causes eventual powder kegs like riots and figurative goalie lynchings?

Bruce: “I'd agree with that. It's different from Green Bay because Vancouver's so much bigger; but then, people forget that the Grizzlies drew decent crowds until they started to drive them away. Vancouver, to me, feels a lot like Toronto - the hockey team dominates, and everything else scraps for the rest. There just isn't as much everything else. But hey, YOU try paying for a Vancouver home and then buying tickets to anything else ever.”

Me: Let’s switch gears a bit. You wrote an article about Don Cherry, his apology and how Canada would miss him when he’s gone.  Love him or hate him, we can’t ever deny his imprint on Canada’s culture. What is it that makes him so popular? Who do you think could ever replace Cherry, or do you think once he’s gone it will officially be the end of "blustery, tell it like it is..." media personalities on Hockey Night in Canada.

Bruce:  “Short version: He cannot be replicated. If they plug Mike Milbury into that spot and rename it he'll be a shadow, a pale imitation, an incredible downgrade. Cherry's force of personality is phenomenal; find me another person in the country who stops conversations — and starts them — the way he does. I don't know how they replace him; I've wondered, and it's just hard to imagine. And that's what I mean when I wrote that we would miss him. Hockey Night in Canada has lost or could lose almost anything — the theme, Dick Irvin, Dave Hodge, the Hot Stove, Bob Cole, even Ron MacLean, you name it — and it wouldn't change the tenor of the program as much as removing Cherry”.

Me: You're a great follow on Twitter. During the Stanley Cup final we talked about the Canuck's futility and parents approaching an age where they may not see a championship in their time. Do you ever wake up, your flying V pajamas soaked through, with the thought, "...that could be me."? Do you have a failsafe at the Arthur compound? Cryogenics, brain in a jar, etc... ?

Bruce: “The 1994 final was the most alive I ever felt as a sports fan, but I actually checked in my Canucks fandom several years ago — partly it was being in a business that discourages the notion both overtly and otherwise; partly it was the way my friends defended Todd Bertuzzi on Steve Moore. I still have friends and family who are Canucks fans, and best of luck to them. But I'm a fan of the past, not the present. For those who believe they could go a lifetime without seeing a Stanley Cup, well, look at it this way. The most alive I ever felt as a sports fan was when my team lost on the biggest stage, in heartbreaking fashion. Enjoy what you have. Hell, you're paying enough for it.”

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