The Hockey Experience, Gretzky’s, Cloak, etc

I’ve watched hockey in a lot of circumstances, a lot of places, a lot of states of mind and extraordinary moments. The old classic of course, that is always partly invoked, would be watching the games with my Dad, back in the old days, me obsessed with the Leafs’ fate and furious with the opponents and officiating, exerting will upon every occurance… on the little screen, him all Apollonian, always sophisticated and subtle, always giving it the additional thought, taking the long view, reasoning on the motivation of the objects of my annoyance. I wish I’d seen with him the game where Wayne Gretzky highsticked Doug Gilmour and drew blood, an automatic expulsion from the game that year, and yet was returned to play, and score the winning goal preventing the Leafs going on to play Montreal in the Stanley Cup final. Still today, no question, when Leaf fans gather, voluminous fury quickly takes shape when the memory is raised. Had I watched that game with my Dad I’d have been able to see if his reasonableness truly had no limit, when it came to hockey, despite his lifelong devotion to the Leafs. 9photosfrominterven







But even he thought it was a wrong call, in no uncertain terms. Which kind of makes me happy to report that Gretzky’s bar in Toronto actually lives up to the kid’s insurmountable tendency to extraordinary achievement, and oh how he perseveres with his very specific sense of personal, emphasizing the personal, reputation. Pleased to report that this bar is like an artwork, a personal tribute to not just the joy of hockey but to the subtler nd less known qualities of a place like Brantford, or less difficulty, to the southwestern ontario sense of calm and warmth and welcome, very good versions of all things, a dreamworld of delicately Brantfordian precision. Honestly, I was expecting a glitzy overpriced kind of “celebrity induced oppressive” deep downtown Toronto richfolk world, having never been there, and instead found a true and living memory of the real fun of watching hockey in a bar, all mellow like you were at home, at once with manically festive like it was a big game, (an odd sentence to construct in light of they’re all being big games that were on the splendidly brilliant (and deeply numerous) high quality tvs. gretzkys-panoramabarIt would matter to say, that of the games we watched, titularly, the Boston Montreal game, eliminating Montreal in fact game, was as bad as as any game Montreal’s played in some years. It was just a bit remarkable that they should just so come apart at the seams this series. Injuries are one thing, but chaos reigned. Luckily their real 100th season is next year, by which players like Subban and McDonough, Chipchura and LaCasse will be bringing peace of mind to the NHL roster, confidence, leadership, and a few trades here and there and they’ll be fine. How bad do Habs ever get? (If I was Tampa I’d be envisioning a Stamkos – Tavares combo at centre and dealing LeCavallier to Montreal for a lot of depth. ! Suddenly Brian Lawton looks the genius top 4 of the Conference next year. (Getting ahead of myself qua hockeybar theme: cabal-at-gretzkys

The Cloak is still probably the best place to watch a game, but Gretzky’s was good. A real show, and yet very much a small town Ontario real show almost spiritualized with not just the perception of detail but the detail saultgreyhounds-oiler-99

Can you believe that? The actual jersey! An actual soo greyhounds puck. And so bizarrely, perhaps the most wonderfully Brantford-minded tribute, recordings of interviews over the years, in the – aye – washroom! The first time you go, it results in a type of giddiness, the grand surrealism of it, but in the end one is simply grateful, milleniums better than even free newspapers and hockey magazines would be. And just how awe-inspiring must existence be, to hear Dick Irvin interviewing 10 year old Gretzky, asked who his next favorite player is besides Gordie Howe, and it’s Gilbert Perrault. Spoken with the true passion, Howe the iconic Mr Perfect hockey god, and Perrault as the the real identity style-of-game molder ‘hockey god-of-the-future’ a style Gretzky’s game did in fact clearly reflect, Perrault like Gilmour a player that’d easily have played defense to much the same effect, the forward Orr’s, with the sheer liquid game that the strangest players have, Mahovlich, Bourque, Jacques Plante. Nearly imaginary, definitely, of the mind, which curiously leads into completely other types of players, not wicked skaters like the Grabovski’s and Kennedy’s of the future, who are definitely in the Mogilny Sheehan Lemaire Perrault mode, but other types of players, who are something like “Minds in the Game” – the Brad Smith’s and Joel Quenneville’s – who see everything! – not just prospects with their own linear self-perspective of where they stand in things, but those subtle transcendental players that pick up the vibe of the exact momentary game,  key teammates there at the right time, — On the numerous tvs we saw Washington versus New York R, Toronto Blue Jays versus Texus RANGERS, CHICAGOversusCAlgary and ! They showed the Spits Knights clinching game. Normally on the blog I like to stick my own known photos and ones of me or me and friends that I’ve cajoled someone into taking, but for the Windsor London clinching game, Hall and Elllis and Timmins and Rychel and Shugg and Wellwood versus Tavares Del Zotto Kadri (and the rivalry really does go back, london vs windsor in the 70s was as cut to the bone as hockey gets, Brad Marsh versus a gallery of wolves on the Spitfires,  he’d fight 3 a shift every period in those years, spits and knights 4th and 5th, 5th and 4th all year, hanging on for that last playoff spot. Wayne Maxner was Windsor’s coach back then, and I’d thought he’d brought overly cruel hockey to the team, so I always admired the Brad Marsh’s and Dave Shand’s who’d take them all on in these great 3-2 games, playing the whole 3rd period half the time, or Terrion, when all the d on his team were injured, played about 40 minutes a game left defense in the playoffs, with just 2 other defensemen on the team, versus Spits, and kept them in the games, still led his team in scoring, such a player… unlikely pickups for the leafs years later, marsh, shand, terrion, joining the Windsor and Lakeshore Maple Leafs, Tim Kerr, Quenneville, Pat Boutette, even Wes Jarvis, a former spitfire, (tho Kerr of coursely I could not successfully persuade Leafs to acquire. How different these years would have all been since, had Leafs acquired Tim Kerr. Anderson Kerr Vaive, who thinks their team’s defense would have stopped them as a line? 

The photographer Deb Ray was with us, the Spits were in overtime, the Jays were in extra innings, I think the Hawks Flames game was underway, but it’s warm in that bar and just like going to the washroom it is good to go outside for a bit of air, the so dearly prespring like predawn breezing dans le wind tunnels, so I offered him my camera and to share back, consider this image of end of game Windsor celebrations of their win with London:



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