Tag Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs

Hockey Dad

This isn’t about hockey dads. It’s about my dad….. and hockey. My father passed away 4 years ago today. I write a blog about him on this day every year. They started off really sad. Now it’s just random memories that I don’t want to forget. I know my last post was about my dad too, on what would have been his 80th birthday. Apologies to anyone who reads this blog, but I just haven’t been writing lately. I’m sleepy a lot. I like to doze off on the couch more than I like to write. Sad but true lately. Anyways, this isn’t about hockey dads. It’s about my dad….. and hockey. Oh I said that.

I went to the home opener of the Toronto Maple Leafs last night with my sister. The 100th season of the Toronto Maple Leafs, therefore the 100th home opener. It was a lot of fun. They paid tribute to a lot of the former Leaf greats. Players who had been honoured by the team in the past, but never got their numbers retired actually got their numbers retired, so no Maple Leaf player will ever wear those numbers again. Some great names…. Tim Horton (who coffee enthusiasts will know of), Bill Barilko (who Tragically Hip enthusiasts will know of), Ace Bailey (who I believe is my grandmother’s cousin, or something like that…. I should ask my mom to log onto ancestry.com to verify), Johnny Bower (who became a player scout when he was older, and my dad saw him in a half empty arena once, and sent me up to him to ask for his autograph even though I had no idea who he was at the time), Red Kelly (who served as a member of parliament while playing for the Leafs…Whaaaaa???? Did you know that? I just found out yesterday), Darryl Sittler and Borje Salming (who at the very moment I was old enough to start watching and understanding hockey, were basically the only 2 reasons to bother watching Leaf hockey, and more contemporary heroes like Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark and Mats Sundin, among others. Such a fun presentation. Was totally worth missing a Toronto Blue Jays playoff game for.

But did I in fact miss a Toronto Blue Jays playoff game??? NO I DIDN’T, thanks to technology. What I’m about to say will not surprise anyone that is even the least bit astute when it comes to cell phones and technology, but I watched the game ON MY PHONE!!!! I never gave a shit about tech, but I just got my first iPhone, and stuff that was blowing you guys away 10 years ago is blowing me away right now. I was walking towards the arena with a crystal clear image of the Jays game ON MY PHONE. Like George fucking Jetson, I have arrived in the future!!!!!

Those seats we sat in were my dad’s seats. He was a season ticket holder for like everything. Leafs, Jays, Argos, The Royal Alexandra Theatre for crying out loud. The man loved his season ticket subscriptions. He didn’t go to all the games, but he knew enough people who would share the games with him, so he’d just go to a few, but he got all the season ticket holder perks. Once he was even the ‘season ticket holder of the game’ which is a nice honour for long time seat holders. They toured him around the building, introduced him to the crowd, and gave him a Leafs jersey with his name on the back. My sister was wearing it yesterday.

In the 80’s when times were good, my dad would get 11 pairs of tickets per season for himself. Always fair and equitable, that meant he would rotate who he took to the game. Between my mom, sister and I, it would be a 4-4-3 split. The person who only got the 3 games would get first choice, and would choose a premium opponent. The dream was to see a young Wayne Gretzky with the Edmonton Oilers, or maybe a game against the Montreal Canadians who were great non-division rivals. I always took 4 tickets. I didn’t care who they played. I was there to see the Leafs. A horrible fucking team for most of the 80’s but I (like my father before me) was a optomist, and always believed that they would win, even though their skill level was at a clear disadvantage pretty much every time they laced up their skates. Sometimes my mom would get lazy and just give me one of her games because she didn’t feel like going downtown, so if I played it right, I might have gone to 5 games a year. In 2016, if you want to know how much those particular seats cost for 11 games….. well you’d be well on your way to paying some kid’s college tuition I would think.

I loved EVERY weird part of that experience. From the minute we left the house. Even down to the car we drove. My dad used to work as a Fleet Administrator for a pharmaceutical company, and got a company car as part of the deal. It wasn’t always the same one though. If a different make or model came into the fleet, I suppose it was important for him to ‘test them out’, so you never knew what kind of car he was going to be driving. I loved sitting on the Gardiner in traffic, talking about the Leafs, and getting excited about the game. Parking like a kilometre away from Maple Leaf Gardens to save a couple of bucks, but it allowed for a nice walk in the city, which I otherwise never saw at that age. Walking through Maple Leaf Gardens, and looking at all the black and white photos of all the old Leaf players, and if we had time, stopping to look at each one. He would buy me a program every time, giving me yet another resource to fuel endless amounts of useless hockey information into my brain. We’d go out to our seats, and you could see the haze of cigarette smoke in the upper parts of the facility (I know it sounds disgusting, but I miss that smell). A few times if we got there really early, we might go down to the Gold section and watch the players shoot around. If you were standing in the right spot as they came off and asked the right guy for a hockey puck, you might get one. Now that I think of it, I have no idea how we pulled that off, but my dad was a really likeable guy, and he wasn’t afraid to ask for things. 5 minutes of chatting up an usher could always come in handy. I don’t think that’s why he did it. He just liked talking to people. I think the saying “The world is your oyster” is kind of dumb, but the world absolutely was my dad’s oyster, always. We’d go back up to the Green section to sit in our aisle seats right at center ice. We’d watch the game until the first intermission, and my dad would chat up another usher, always remembering their names and what they had talked about last time. Then if he saw I was getting too bored, he’d try to work me into the conversation. Then we’d watch the 2nd period, and after that was over, we’d go to the concession stand and buy Fruitella candy. So delicious, and I feel like it’s the only place I ever saw it. It might be in every store, but I only ever ate it at a hockey game. By the third period, somehow, the Leafs would always still be in the game. As horrible as this team was, they always played great when we were there. I remember it would drive my dad nuts when people would leave 3 or 4 minutes before the game was over just to beat the rush. We would always stay until the end, and then wait for the 3 stars of the game, and he’d take the heat from my mom if it was a school night. Then the long walk back to the car. At that age it felt cool to be walking around downtown late at night, like I was somewhere I shouldn’t have been. Then the drive home where we’d re-hash the night, or I’d nod off in the car.

It was all fucking perfect somehow. I miss my hockey dad.

25 Random Things About Myself

My wife thought it was cool that her friend had once posted a list like this somewhere (Facebook I guess). I’m 10 minutes from missing out on doing my Monday blog, and I was sifting through notes to self on my Blackberry looking for inspiration. I write notes to myself now when I think of something that’s funny, or a good blog topic. I only started doing this last year. It’s a shame because I was coming up with great ideas for 37 years before that, and I can’t remember any of them right now. If I could give advice to a younger creative person, it would be to write down your ideas. You always think you’ll remember them later, but chances are you won’t. Especially if you’re a space cadet like me.

Anyways….. my wife rolled in 5 minutes ago and gave me a blog idea right at the exact moment that I needed one, and while it’s not an original concept, it’s different for every person that does it, since we are all individuals, and no 2 of us are the same (like snowflakes…… or scabs). What I like about it most is that it allows me to write without any continuity which would have required a lot more energy than I have, and I do love a good list, so without further mindless padding of the word-count, I bring you….

25 Random Things About Me

1. My name is Ryan. I’m 38 years old. I tell people that I popularized the name Ryan. If you’d like to refute that claim, go ahead and try to collect evidence. Think of all the Ryans you know that are over 38. Write that number down. Now think about the Ryans you’ve heard about that are under 38. I promise that there’s way more. Way more!! Why? I don’t want to appear arrogant, but the proof is in the pudding. Check the stats!!

2. I was a Boy Scout when I was a kid. I went to meetings hoping that a game of Dodgeball would break out. Sometimes it did. I used to be embarrassed about this. Now I’m not. I’m proud that I could go into the wilderness and survive for 3 or 4 hours, and I owe it all to the Boy Scouts.

3. When I was a kid I would drink a tall cold glass of milk when I got thirsty. Gross.

4. I have over 13,000 songs on my iPod. That’s a pretty serious music collection by most standards. I’m proud of this. I should have been a DJ. It’s one of about 13,000 things I wanted to do with my life.

5. I’ve worked as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant before. We only had like 3 or 4 customers that would come in during lunch hour. One girl always ordered chocolate milk (in a Chinese restaurant??), and I would run out the back door, across a busy intersection to the convenience store, buy one, run back, pour it in a glass, and bring it out to her. I did this every day. What can I say? She was a regular!

6. I am a sports fanatic!

7. I’m not anywhere near as judgemental in real life as I am in my blog.

8. I hate all new stuff that people like. I like all old stuff that I like.

9. You know when you’re a kid and people tell you that other people tease you because they like you? I never got that. Now that I’m older, I tease people because I like them.

10. As previously documented on an earlier blog or two, 6 months ago my father passed away unexpectedly 3 days before my son (his first grandchild) was born. That fucks with me every single day, and it’s every bit as bad as it sounds. Still, I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had him in my life for as long as I did. It was a privilege.

11. My wife, son and I occasionally have random dance parties when he’s in the Jolly Jumper. I don’t think I’m overstating it, but this kid is a dancing prodigy! If I put a Youtube compilation together it would go viral instantly. I’m sure of it. I respect his privacy too much for that though.

12. I’m a procrastinator. To prove this, I intentionally posted this blog on a Tuesday instead of a Monday. (See what I did there? I tried to make it look intentional that I’m a day late?? Like it was an example of procrastination?? Genius!! Oh….. you didn’t fall for it??)

13. My clothes have to match. They don’t have to be ‘in season’ or ‘in style’, but goddamnit they better co-ordinate because life is too short to wear a black belt with brown shoes.

14. When it was clear that VHS machines were on their way out, I started buying up a bunch of movies for cheap thinking that I would purchase one of the last VCRs ever made, and ride it out with my collection of awesome movies I paid almost nothing for. That hasn’t happened as of yet.

15. I think Twitter is the dumbest trend I’ve ever seen #justwrongonsomanylevels #dontreallygiveashitwhatpeoplehavetosayevery10seconds #yourfeedbackoneverylittlefuckingthingoutthereissounimportant
That being said, follow me @T_A_R_I_J_P! I will let you know every time I post a blog, and I will do sweet little else aside from the odd obligatory comment to make my Twitter widget on my blog page seem like there’s some action on it.

16. I’m having a difficult time coming up with 25 things because I just realized I could be blowing 25 potential blog topics by doing this. I’m going to have to make the rest of these more nondescript. Maybe like a generic internet dating profile.

17. I love to laugh.

18. I love long walks on the beach. This has to be my favourite dating cliché. Who says that? I mean, I know everyone does love long walks on the beach, what’s not to love, but how could that possibly be in the top 5 or 10 things you love to do.

19. I just wish Canadians and Americans would spell everything the fucking same!! Fuuuuuck!! I hate spell check on here. It’s American, but I instinctively spell things the Canadian way, but I have a lot of readers from both countries. It’s the same word idiots!!! Why could the forefathers not just have gotten together on this??

20. I love the Toronto Maple Leafs the way you love your oldest friend. You maybe don’t see each other all the time, but when they need you, you’re there. I don’t watch a lot of the games anymore, but when they make the playoffs (which they just did for the first time in 9 years), I’m there. By the way, before any Leaf fans come out of the woodwork and make ‘bandwagon’ comments, I’ve been following this team since Borje Salming and Ian Turnbull were manning the blue line, and Bunny Laraque was in net. I’ve watched every steaming pile of shit team they’ve ever put together. Don’t question my loyalty because I no longer watch them all the time. I did it for my own sanity!

21. I do have a soft spot for ‘girlie drinks’. They taste better, and I don’t suffer from the bullshit bravado that would have you drink hard liquor to prove you’re a man. You have to drink that shit for 5 years before it tastes good, and I don’t have 5 years.

22. I wear boxer briefs. I cannot imagine a scenario where boxers or briefs would be an acceptable substitute.

23. I had quite a few teddy bears when I was a kids. I know that’s not the manliest thing in the world to admit, but they’re stuffed animals….. cute and cuddly…. who wouldn’t like that??? Get over it!

24. My first part-time job was at KFC. Sometimes when you work at a fast food place, you get sick of that food. Many years later my eyes still light up when someone talks about the greasy heart stopping deliciousness that is Kentucky Fried Chicken. No I don’t know what the 11 herbs and spices are. I’m pretty sure it’s flour and the first 11 that you find when you reach into the spice rack.

25. I really did not know how hard this would be. I had to do it over 2 sessions. It made me realize that I don’t like talking about myself as much as I like talking about other people, and my opinions of their poor behaviour. That said, I hope you enjoyed this random little slice of my life. Who wants to hang out with me now? 😉