Olympic City With Leafs – Two Years Later

By HOWARD BERGER

VANCOUVER (Feb. 17) – Can it possibly be 24 months since the Winter Olympic Games of 2010 were dominating every inch of this city and surrounding area?

I can remember when two years had commensurate value in my life – feeling exactly like that amount of time. Today, it seems condensed into two long weeks. Good memories, however, tend to linger and the Winter Games here proved to be the highlight of my 23-year term as a reporter at Canada’s first all-sports radio station, The Fan-590. Working as a rights holder alongside such former colleagues as Nelson Millman, Doug Farraway, Dan Dunleavy, Andrew Nie, Alex Seixeiro, Ryan Fabro and Ryan Walsh – assembled, as we were, on the upper floor of a Travelodge hotel in suburban Richmond – will always rank near the apex of my radio career.

Teaming with Dunleavy and established pros Peter Maher and John Garrett on the broadcast crew for all of Canada’s hockey games was an incredible privilege; I will always covet the amateur video I shot from our broadcast location at Rogers Arena of Sidney Crosby scoring the “Golden Goal” (as superbly and eloquently described by Chris Cuthbert of TSN) to lift Canada past the United States in overtime of the championship match. That moment stands alongside the honor of broadcasting the Opening and Closing ceremonies live across the nation with Farraway and Dunleavy – the first-such undertaking on radio in Canada.

I arrived here for the first time since the Olympics on Thursday, flying in from Edmonton, where the Maple Leafs earned a 4-3 overtime victory the previous night. The Leafs and Vancouver Canucks face off just after 4 p.m. on Saturday (7 p.m. EST) in the finale of Toronto’s three-game western journey. My hotel is directly across the street from renovated B.C. Place Stadium – venue for the above-mentioned ceremonies. Its air-supported roof has since been replaced with a permanent cover and I was taken aback by the rather awesome sight when I opened the curtains of my hotel room.

B.C. PLACE STADIUM (ABOVE) LATE THURSDAY AFTERNOON FROM THE WINDOW OF MY 14th-FLOOR HOTEL ROOM HERE IN VANCOUVER, WITH ROGERS ARENA – HOME OF THE VANCOUVER CANUCKS – AT FAR-LEFT IN PHOTO.

There’s lots of chatter at the moment about Rick Nash possibly being acquired by the Leafs – a common thread every time a star attraction is available either in free agency or on the trade market. Ultimately, players choose to sign with – or waive no-movement restrictions for – teams that are viewed as Stanley Cup contenders and I expect a club further ahead than Toronto in the development process to land Nash… if, in fact, his onerous contract can be dealt by Columbus.

Like all sports fans, I was saddened – though not surprised – to learn that Gary Carter had died on Thursday morning. The Hall of Fame catcher with Montreal and the Mets succumbed to inoperable brain cancer that was diagnosed last May. He was only 57 years old and his hundred-megawatt smile will surely be missed by those who knew and admired him.

Come with me, now, on my travel-log from Thursday: 

IT WAS A BRIGHT, BEAUTIFUL MORNING IN EDMONTON – THE EARLY-DAY SUN SHINING OFF REXALL PLACE (ABOVE), WHERE THE LEAFS HAD PREVAILED OVER THE OILERS ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT.

ARRIVING AT EDMONTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TO FLY WESTJET FOR THE FIRST TIME (I ENJOYED IT), WE TOOK OFF (BELOW) FOR VANCOUVER AROUND 11:45 A.M.

      

 

WHEN FLYING FROM ALBERTA TO BRITISH COLUMBIA IN WINTER, TRY AND RESERVE A WINDOW SEAT ON THE RIGHT-HAND SIDE OF THE PLANE. IF YOU’RE LUCKY – AND THE WEATHER COOPERATES – YOU’LL BE TREATED, AS I WAS ON THURSDAY, TO SPECTACULAR VIEWS OF THE SNOW-CAPPED CANADIAN ROCKIES (ABOVE AND BELOW).

 

      

KEEP THOSE MOUNTAIN IMAGES FRESH AS IT WILL PROBABLY BE RAINING WHEN YOU LAND HERE IN VANCOUVER.

PULLING OPEN THE CURTAINS IN MY HOTEL ROOM, I WAS GREETED BY THE SIGHT OF B.C. PLACE STADIUM DIRECTLY ACROSS BEATTY ST., WITH ROGERS ARENA DWARFED TO ITS LEFT.

LOOKING LIKE ASTRONAUTS, THESE TWO WORKERS (ABOVE) WERE TREKKING UPON THE STADIUM ROOF MOMENTS AFTER I ARRIVED AT MY DOWNTOWN HOTEL. A CLOSER LOOK (BELOW) AT THE HOME OF THE VANCOUVER CANUCKS – WHERE SIDNEY CROSBY SCORED THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER FOR CANADA AT THE OLYMPICS TWO YEARS AGO, AND THE BOSTON BRUINS PREVAILED IN GAME 7 OF THE STANLEY CUP FINAL LAST JUNE.

BETWEEN 5 P.M. AND 2 A.M. AT THIS TIME OF YEAR, B.C. PLACE IS ILLUMINATED WITH A DIFFERENT COLOR EACH DAY OF THE WEEK – A BRILLIANT GREEN ON THURSDAY – THE ABOVE PHOTO LOOKING SOUTH FROM MY HOTEL ROOM.

HAD DINNER THURSDAY WITH MY PAL, MATT SEKERES (ABOVE RIGHT), WHO RECENTLY LEFT HIS POSITION AS VANCOUVER SPORTS CORRESPONDENT FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL TO CO-HOST THE 10 A.M. TO 2 P.M. WEEK-DAY SLOT ON THE TEAM-1040 ALL-SPORTS RADIO HERE IN TOWN (I’LL BE GUESTING IN STUDIO WITH HIM AT 11:30 A.M. ON FRIDAY). MATT IS POSING WITH HANIF MAMDANI, AREA DIRECTOR OF THE BOATHOUSE RESTAURANTS IN THIS CITY – I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE MISO-CRUSTED HALIBUT AS A MAIN COURSE.

    

NIGHT-TIME VIEWS OF ILLUMINATED B.C. PLACE (ABOVE AND BELOW) WERE SPECTACULAR.

 

Email: howardlberger@gmail.com

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4 comments on “Olympic City With Leafs – Two Years Later

  1. My boryfiend (like many Toronto males is a die hard Maple Leafs Fan). Ever since the pre-season started in every bar/restaurant we went to his eyes are glued to the television playing hockey and he would teach me the basics and the stats of each player. For dates (we’ve been dating for 6 months and going strong) we went to watch the Jays (and has already converted me to into liking baseball and yes I am proud to say I love the Blue Jays and excited for the next season!), he brought me to watch Toronto FC (which sadly I couldn’t get into) and we already planned out a Raptors game. I would love to surprise him with tickets to watch the Leafs this season because he hasn’t been to a live game (and neither have I). I am sure once I go I will be converted in to a crazed hockey fan (Leafs Jersey, painted face, flags, etc) . BTW Where can I get a I <3 T.O. tee? I love it!

    1. Absolutely, smart-ass, but if you knew anything about photography, you’d understand that shooting down-sun rather than into the sun makes for better images. Chew on that for three or four hours. It should sink in.

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