Rumblings, Ruminations, and Retrospectives

Musings from the mind of the Beast.

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Dinner With The Great One

What’s with me and misleading post titles lately?

No, I didn’t have dinner with The Rock – although that would be incredibly freaking cool. Nor did I actually have dinner with Wayne Gretzky – I’d probably faint before I ever even touched my fork – but it sure felt like I did when I got to go to Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant (clicky) in Toronto last week while I was on course for work.

All pictures can be clicked on for a bigger version.

We roll up to the restuarant, and they have a tremendous sign up at the front:

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When you walk in to the front of the restaurant, there’s a fantastic store chock full of Gretzky merchandise: t-shirts, golf shirts, hats, pucks, tiny sticks, mugs, keychains… all kinds of stuff. And then, as you proceed inside, you see the desert display:

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Would you LOOK at the size of that cake?!? Keep that in mind. I’ll come back to that later.

So once we sat down, the place looked really good. There were two parts of the restaurant – the outer perimeter looked really snazzy, the walls done in a deep red that looked really nice, with art work and magazine covers of Wayne, and even one of Janet on the walls. The accents and tables were nice wood, so it looked cool.

Close to us was the following chalkboard:

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Someone’s got some SERIOUS MAD CHALK SKILLZ.

Our area where we were seated was right in front of the kitchen, so it was more of a diner-like setting, with a black and white checkerboard floor, and our tables were designed like small hockey rinks – each of the designed with a different scoring play from Gretzky’s career on them – drawn like you might see on a play book or football chalk board.

Our two tables had two very memorable plays – ones that I can still remember the highlights of very vivdly – of the playoff goal he scored on Mike Vernon while streaking down the left wing, and of the record-breaking goal he scored against the Oilers, when Marty McSorley made that brilliant little touch pass to a wide open Gretzky for the goal.

Wait a minute.

Did I just use the words "Marty McSorely" and "brilliant" in the same sentence?

Wow.

Anywho… continuing on…

So, we have dinner – which was pretty darned good – and we see the desert menu. Lo and behold, there’s the cake we saw earlier. A slice is $13.99, but it’s TEN LAYERS.

TEN LAYERS.

The four of us decide to go for it (the bill wasn’t mine, so they didn’t have to twist my arm very much). Here’s a shot of the cake (you’ve GOTTA click this for the big version):

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That’s our friend Becky dodging behind the FREAKING GI-NORMOUS piece of cake. Once we laid it down to cut it, IT TOOK UP TWO PLATES!!

Anyway, the cake was awesome. The food was excellent, and the four of us (myself, Stephanie, my co-worker Vern, and our friend Becky) had a real good time.

Then it was time to go sight-see.

This place is AMAZING. If you’re AT ALL a Gretzky fan, you MUST see this place before you die. Put it on your bucket list. DO IT!

Here’s some shots from around the restaurant:

Picture of Wayne with Gordie Howe:

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A framed ROOKIE JERSEY from the Oiler years:

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And right behind our table was this awesome glass display case with sticks and pucks in it. Each item held some significance in Gretzky’s career:

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If you look closely, you can see on that Titan stick up close that it was used when he broke Bobby Orr’s scoring record. HOW COOL IS THAT?!?

Then you got to walk through this AMAZING back hallway, filled with display cases FULL of stuff covering Gretzky’s entire lifetime and career. Most items are noted with their significance (ie: this jersey was worn during his last game in Toronto, or these gloves were worn scoring this point, etc). They even have the puck from his first NHL goal:

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There’s even a jersey from the legendary Vladislav Tretiak, the amazing Soviet goalie that made us all look like fools:

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Here’s a look at the case in chronological order:

As a child: (the score sheet in the background is the ACTUAL score sheet from the year he scored 368 goals as a 10 year old is 68 games. Nevermind the fact he was playing against kids much older than him!

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The teenage years: (marking his time in The Soo, and playing with Indianapolis before moving to Edmonton)

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Of course, the Oiler years, where he became a legend:

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The "Trade Heard Round The World" sent Gretzky to Los Angeles in 1988:

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There’s even some stuff from his All-Star and International play:

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Gretzky was the King of Broadway:

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And for the motherlode… one of these authentic, signed jerseys will be mine SOME DAY!!

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At the end of the night, we stopped off at the merchandise store and picked up all kinds of things Gretzky’s to give to the relatives for Christmas and birthdays. I picked up a sweet looking mug and puck.

But what trip to Toronto and talking about Wayne Gretzky would be complete without talking about the Stanley Cup? After all, Gretzky and Lord Stanley’s Mug are like bread and peanut butter – they go great together and when you think of one, you think of the other.

I was fortunate enough to have 45 minutes in the Hockey Hall Of Fame (damned place closes at 5 PM!!!), and in breezing through the place, I caught the 802 pucks for Gretzky’s goal record, and a whole whack of great jerseys and other things, but I got to see the Holy Grail of professional hockey (and touch it too!) – the Stanley Cup. We got a couple of pro shot pictures. One is of myself and the Cup, and the other is of the Cup with myself and Stephanie.

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I’ve got to go back some day and see all the rest of the great hockey memories, and spent more time just taking it all in and really just enjoying it. This was pretty rushed due to my course hours, but all in all, it was a hockey – and Gretzky – fans’ dream!

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Not In The Cards

Subtitled: Nice Guys Sometimes DO Finish First

Well, I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. Our Oilers fell to the Hurricanes last night, and there went the Stanley Cup along with it.

Buck up, boys. You were an 8th seeded team that took one of the best teams in the league to seven games. Come on back and do it all again next year.

In my last post, I talked a little about traffic in Winnipeg.

Today, let me talk about the assholes.

So, I’m driving home yesterday, and I need to change lanes due to some heavy construction. I drift up to the car in front of me, and – unlike 97% of the rest of Winnipeggers, I actually put on my signal – and look for an opportunity to change lanes. A few seconds later, a spot opens up, but a car races in to fill it. No problem, I can still get in behind them. Another car races in to prevent me from changing. I’m a little upset, but I still have one more chance to get in.

Nope, the bastard in a big Dodge Ram truck saunters in, and – get this – EYES ME DOWN as he eases into position, effectively cutting me off.

WHAT THE HELL?

You HAD TO STOP, and you couldn’t leave me a car length, even though you SAW me signalling, and trying to get over? You DELIBERATELY add stress into my drive by being a complete jerk?

With nothing else I can do about it, I give a big sigh – which the guy catches by the way – and he SMIRKS. The asshole took PRIDE in causing me grief.

I gotta take a sidebar here, and tell everyone that Winnipeggers are notorious for doing this. NO ONE lets people in to change lanes. Doesn’t matter if you’re a regular vehicle, a bus, or an ambulance.

YES, EVEN AN AMBULANCE.

We should take the “Friendly Manitoba” off our license plates and give all cars registered in Winnipeg a special plate that says: “Winnipeg. Yup, we’re all pricks.”

So, back to my particular asshole.

If you don’t have a chance to stop, then fine, I can live with that. But this guy deliberately cut me off and ENJOYED it. So here’s where I cross the nice line and join the riff-raff that is the unwashed masses of regular everyday drivers in this bloody city.

I normally don’t do this kind of stuff, but this guy needed to be shown up.

I see several feet in front of him, so I stick the nose of my RAV4 in between him and the car ahead of him. He doesn’t have a CHOICE now but to let me in. And the funny thing is, the guy starts LOSING it. He’s all pissed off that I’d have the AUDACITY to attempt such a maneuver. And, like a true prick, he tries to edge even closer, and almost hits me with his truck. He’s chirping at me, so of course, I chirp back, using some colorful metaphors (bonus points if you know what movie that phrase came from) – even though we’re both behind closed windows.

Hilarious.

So, traffic begins to move, and I get to push my way in front the guy, taking the opportunity to flip him the finger as I do so, and of course, he doesn’t like it. His balding head goes red to match the color of his face as he spouts of what I can only imagine was some primitive neanderthal jargon – I saw the cro-magnon forehead of this brilliant individual – and Stephanie and I just laugh our asses off at this jerk.

And now, for the ultimate insult.

We get out of construction, but several blocks ahead, we’re in the right hand lane, and the left hand lane is starting to back up as they wait for people to turn. I slow down and generously let the car beside me go in, then turn to the asshole behind me, and point at my good day for the deed, clearly mouthing to him “That’s how you’re supposed to do it, f*cker.”

Damn, did he ever lose it. That was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Stephanie and I laughed for blocks and blocks.

So come on, Winnipeg. Unclench your asses a little bit. Letting someone in front of you takes only seconds, and doesn’t really affect your drive. Yet, somehow, those two or three seconds is worth showing the world your true colors.

Do the nice thing once in a while.

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He Shoots…. HE SCORES~!

I could have also titled this: “You’re Welcome, Edmonton.”

I should be an NHL coach.

Either that, or some Internet gnome told Oiler coach Craig MacTavish to read my blog, because the Oilers did the unthinkable and won Game 5, while on the brink of elimination.

What did I say? SHOOT THE PUCK!

What did the Oilers do?

They SHOT THE PUCK.

They scored their first goal on a deflected shot from the blueline. EXACTLY WHAT I SUGGESTED. The second goal was a laser beam from Hemsky from the top of the circle. The third goal was a crash play in front of the net. EXACTLY WHAT I SUGGESTED.

Then there was that wonderful breakaway goal in OT.

And – get this – the Oil OUTSHOT Carolina 29-24.

NHL teams looking for a coach – I could use a big payday. I may not win you the Stanley Cup the first year in, but I guarantee you’ll finish higher than Toronto.

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A Frustrated Oiler Fan Speaks Out


I figure that if I’ve got my own blog, and I’m supposedly a hockey freak, then I’d better damn well make a hockey post before the season is over.

Well, tonight could be the end of the season, so here we go.

The Edmonton Oilers.

Once a dynasty, but sorely trying to live up to that reputation for the last 15 years or so. Well, this year, they’ve finally done it. I didn’t know whether to be pissed off or really happy when the Oilers defeated my beloved Steve Yzerman and the Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs, but then I remembered that I’ve been an Oiler fan since the day they stepped foot in the NHL in 1979. It’s hard to believe now that I remember at the age of 4, I was watching Wayne Gretzky step onto NHL ice for the first time.

But now, finally, the Oilers have made it back to the Big Dance, challenging for the Stanley Cup.

But there’s only one problem. Tonight’s game is one game away from elimination and a “Cinderella Loses Slipper After Horrible Beating” headline in the papers.

Come on, guys, it’s the Carolina Hurricanes. Sure, they’re a fine team, but this is the HARTFORD freaking WHALERS we’re talking about here. (You’d better know your NHL history here to get what I’m talking about.) Yes, the Oilers have been plagued by an injury to #1 goaltender Dwayne Rolosson. But Jussi Markkanen stood on his head in game 4. ON HIS HEAD! He can get the job done.

So, what’s wrong?

How about SHOOT THE DAMNED PUCK for starters?

If I had a dollar for every time I screamed “SHOOOOOOOOOOT!” at the TV in game 4, I’d have a numbered account in the Caymans and a young buxom wench cleaning my house every day. (Just a joke, Steph.) When you’re down 2-1, and you NEED to win the game, you can’t run around the ice playing a game of “Let’s see how many times we can pass the puck before it finds its own way into the net.” There was a power play early on where I’m sure I counted at LEAST 15 passes, and not one single shot – even with an open net and the goaltender out of position.

Come on, guys, this isn’t rocket surgery.

You have to SHOOT THE PUCK before you can put it in the net.

Get back to the Oilers hockey that killed Stevie Y’s potential last chance at a Stanely Cup before he retires. Smashmouth hockey. Get guys in there and muck around in the corners to dig the puck up. You did that great in game 4. Keep it up. But you’ve GOTTA set guys up in front of the net and SHOOT the frigging thing! You’re not going to win the Stanley Cup on highlight-reel goals each and every time. You’ve gotta get some garbage goals – bounce a puck off of 5 guys in front on the way past a bewildered Cam Ward and into the net. Crash the net and bury some rebounds. Get your stick on the ice and deflect a shot or three.

Cause if you don’t, you’re going to spend the offseason crying into your beers and wondering “Why”? instead of crying into Lord Stanley’s Holy Grail.