An Audience With Ron and Don

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Apr. 13) – Several hours before the Maple Leafs said goodbye for the season, my children – Shane and Lauren – had the privilege of saying hello to Ron MacLean and Don Cherry.

Lauren had been pestering me for some time to meet the famed Hockey Night In Canada duo and I finally sent an email request to MacLean a couple of weeks ago, Ron being Ron, he quickly replied that we were welcome to visit the CBC studio on a late-Saturday afternoon… which we did this weekend. MacLean and Cherry made my kids feel very special as we toured the Coach’s Corner and Hockey Night intermission sets at the downtown building across from the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Of course, I had my trusty NIKON with me:

ON THE SET OF COACH’S CORNER – WITHOUT ME (ABOVE) AND WITH ME (BELOW).

DON AND RON DURING SATURDAY’S COACH’S CORNER SEGMENT.

          

CBC BUILDING WITH CN TOWER IN THE BACKGROUND; PETER MANSBRIDGE POSING.

CBC  IS JUST NORTH OF ROGERS CENTER, HOME OF TORONTO BLUE JAYS AND ARGOS.

TO OUR PLEASANT SURPRISE, LORD STANLEY WAS IN THE HOUSE.

STANLEY CUP ENGRAVING OF 1961-62 TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS – THE FIRST OF THREE CONSECUTIVE CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS UNDER GM AND COACH PUNCH IMLACH.

SHANE WITH HIS PAW ON THE SILVER MUG.

HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA CONTROL ROOM.

SITTING WITH RON (ABOVE) AT THE HOCKEY NIGHT PRE-GAME AND INTERMISSION SET, AND THE REGULARS (BELOW) DURING SATURDAY’S TELECAST… LEFT-TO-RIGHT: RON, P.J. STOCK, GLENN HEALY, KEVIN WEEKES AND ELLIOTTE FRIEDMAN.

GRAPES SIGNS AUTOGRAPHED PHOTO TO HAPPY LAUREN.

RON SPENDING PART OF HIS 54th BIRTHDAY WITH SHANE.

AND SO IT ENDS…

It probably came as less than a shock that Maple Leafs closed out the 2013-14 NHL season with a whimper – losing 1-0 at Ottawa to complete a 2-12-0 death-spiral in their last 14 games. What looked to be a certain playoff team went straight into the dumper after No. 1 goalie Jonathan Bernier aggravated a groin-strain at Los Angeles, Mar. 13. Upon defeating the Kings that night, Leafs were 36-24-8; pushing hard against Montreal and Tampa Bay for second place in the Atlantic Division. Instead, the team melted down and finished the 82-game schedule 12th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 38-36-8 for 84 points.

Contributing largely to the playoff miss was a minus-25 goals for/goals against ratio: 231-256. Maple Leafs were a marginal 26-16-1 at home; a mediocre 14-20-7 on the road. For what it’s worth, Toronto improved by four points over the last full NHL season – 2011-12 – when the club went 35-37-10 for 80 points. Phil Kessel, in the Hart Trophy conversation before the collapse, played in all 82 games and led the club in each offensive category (37 goals, 43 assists, 80 points). Kessel dropped slightly from 2011-12, when he was 37-45-82. Full marks for consistency but not nearly good enough in the clutch once again.   

FINAL GOAL OF LEAFS SEASON – SCORED ON THE POWERPLAY BY JASON SPEZZA OF OTTAWA NEAR THE MIDWAY MARK OF THE SECOND PERIOD SATURDAY NIGHT.

CFL STARS OF THE 60’s AND 70’s

Any fan of the Toronto Argonauts in the late-60’s and early-70’s – such as yours truly – will fondly remember Bill Symons and Dave Raimey. For a brief period in the 1969 Canadian Football League schedule, Symons and Raimey formed a remarkable backfield tandem under coach Leo Cahill. Raimey tore up his knee against Hamilton late in the season and switched – two years later – to the defensive cornerback position.

Both ex-Argos were on hand for a CFL alumni gathering in the Muskoka Lake of Bays region (below) Saturday. My pal, Perry Lefko – former Argos beat-writer at the Toronto Sun – was at the reunion along with event photographer Mike Kalimin, who graciously sent some images.

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BILL SYMONS – NOW 70 – PLAYED RUNNING BACK FOR THE ARGOS FROM 1968 TO 1973.

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SYMONS AND EX-BACKFIELD PARTNER DAVE RAIMEY (NOW 73) TODAY, ABOVE, AND AS THEY LOOKED ON THEIR CFL CARDS (BELOW) IN THE EARLY-70’s.

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FORMER HAMILTON TIGER-CATS AND OTTAWA ROUGH RIDERS TIGHT END TONY GABRIEL – THE CFL’s MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER IN 1978. IN THE 1976 GREY CUP GAME AT EXHIBITION STADIUM HERE IN TORONTO – THE FIRST I ATTENDED – GABRIEL CAUGHT A LAST-MINUTE TOUCHDOWN PASS FROM QUARTERBACK TOM CLEMENTS TO LIFT OTTAWA PAST THE SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS. TONY IS NOW 65.

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EX-TORONTO SUN FOOTBALL WRITER PERRY LEFKO WITH FORMER ARGOS AND WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS FLANKER PAUL MARKLE, WHO WORKED IN MARKETING FOR THE TORONTO BLUE JAYS IN THEIR WORLD SERIES YEARS.

SO LONG CAPTAIN CANADA… AND THANKS

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