Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Carns and the Crushed Can

Some of my best WHL memories are from the Crushed Can.
And some of them involve Rob Carnie, a friend from days of yore who once was the radio voice of the Moose Jaw Warriors on CHAB. He now is a 'Featured Personality' on CHAB and  is the host of the 800 CHAB Morning Show and The Heartland at Noon.

This being today’s hockey world, his nickname was, uhh, Carns. Unless you were the late Bill Hicke, then a co-owner, GM and sometimes coach of the Regina Pats. To Hicke, Carnie was Brother Love. Might have had something to do with the white suits.

Anyway . . . I got a message from Carns on Wednesday that included something he had written on his Crushed Can memories.

This, hockey fans, is what the Crushed Can and memories are all about . . .
“I started attending hockey games and playing hockey at the MJCC in the fall of '74 when the Carnie family moved to Moose Jaw from Regina. I played in ‘Learn to Play’ for a season and among the other boys was my childhood friend Greg Thatcher. I remember his father Colin ‘coaching’ us while smoking a cigar and telling me I would never be able to take a backhander with a ‘damn curve on the blade of your stick." Why the hell do I remember that?
“I CLEARLY remember my next season . . . in the Church Minor Hockey Association with the St. Joseph Seals, my first ‘real’ team! We practised every Monday morning at 7 in one COLD Civic Centre. We won the championship that season.
“I remember everything was painted orange and blue, including the ice cleaning machine which was an old Willy's Jeep with the ice cleaning apparatus welded on. It even had a name . . . The Connor's Pup. I have no idea why it had a name.
“I remember an old gentleman named Sid who took tickets. He was always smiling and always well-dressed.
“I remember the Regina Silver Foxes coming into Moose Jaw to play the Canucks and my sister's boyfriend, Dave Desautels, who wore No. 10 for the Foxes, blowing out a knee in front of my eyes. He taught me to skate.
“I remember the Japanese national team playing at the Civic Centre and a young man named Doug Smail dominating for the home side in a 4-2 victory. The place was packed.
“I remember what a wonderful player Chris Chelios was as a boy . . . he played two seasons in Moose Jaw.
“I remember hundreds of people smoking while watching the games . . . cigarettes, cigars and pipes . . . and the blue haze that hung over the ice after each Canucks game.
“I saw every home game in a five-year stretch where the Moose Jaw Canucks went to the SJHL championship final versus the Prince Albert Raiders every season. We lost every time. I remember a full-scale brawl in the pregame warmup of one of those games. There were sticks and gloves and helmets, blood and hair all over the ice. There were no penalties.
“I remember the Warriors moving here from Winnipeg. I thought we should have called them the Canucks.
“I remember Graham James. Shame.
“I remember stepping into the broadcast booth as a cocky 21-year-old to assist Bryn Griffiths, then the voice of the Warriors, and thinking I was ‘The Goods!’
“I remember some wonderful young men wearing Warriors jerseys and some wonderful young hockey players. No one was more dynamic and entertaining than Theoren Fleury. No one.
“I remember the adrenaline flowing through my body minutes before ‘Showtime’ on 800 CHAB. I loved that. I used to live for it.
“I remember my old Dad walking up the steep stairs before Warriors games and looking up at me in the broadcast booth and grinning. He was proud of me. He never told me that. I just knew it. I loved him more than I can describe. I miss him.
“And . . . I'll miss the Civic Centre!”
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