Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wherein Gallos Steals Toronto's Mojo

My R-Bar hat with Gollum's Frodo's (oops) finger still thrust through it...
We arrived in a driving rain after a journey of more than 1400 miles (don't ask, it won't make sense) to the very heart of hockey here on middle earth.  We came for many reasons, mostly to move my buddy's boat, but also to take away that which has launched the Maple Leafs to an uncharacteristically good start this year.  It can't be the firing of Brian Burke, since he built the team.  It must be some dark power that makes them rise from the pits of suck in which they have been mired these many decades.  Thus, the journey had a level of risk that would daunt the hearts of lesser men.

By way of a diversion, my companion was not a hockey fan.  This served to confuse the many guardians of the game that we would encounter.  It would seem that all he was concerned with was moving his boat from
The baleful eye of Sauron watches the ramparts through
which we must pass...
Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. This would prove to be useful many times.

After we had transferred our gear to the boat in the driving rain, we proceeded to the restaurant to refresh ourselves.  The place seemed to be well lit and alive, which looked good.  We entered, and I looked at the posted menu.  Holy smokes!!  By amazing good luck, we had stumbled into none other than Don Cherry's Restaurant, in Port Colborne, Ontario.  A hockey bar if ever there was one.

We proceeded up the steps to the second floor restaurant, with the image of Don Cherry glaring at us with each steps.  Perhaps it was me, but I felt that his eyes followed our every step.  Fortunately, my buddy's disguise as a successful businessman helped divert attention.  I was
clad as a simple hockey fan, barely recognizable to those in this throbbing center of power.  I mean really, what kind of self-respecting fan of an original 6 team wear a hat with a cannon logo?  I quickly order a Molson Canadian (probably the functional equivalent to ordering a Bud Light to the locals, but they were tasty!) from my seat at the bar.  There, in front of me were four flat panel TVs with nothing but hockey on them.  I had made it to the center of the hockey universe!  But wait!  Something felt wrong.

Slowly, I turned my gaze to the couple next to us at the bar.  Damn!  A Bruins fan!  These mercenaries are everywhere!  I looked back to the TVs, and yep, I realized what was wrong, the Bruins game was on.  Keeping my cool, I made some small talk, observing that I had been to the Bruins game the last weekend, and that Lucic was a freaking load.  Suddenly the Boston fan blurts out... Nathan Horton is from right around here.  Yup indeed!  He is from Welland, Ontario, the next major town down the canal that we had yet to pass.  I had not known this.  After some more small talk, the Boston fan departed.  Whew.

I then turned, as casually as possible to the barmaid, and asked, 'Any chance we can get the Habs game on??'  Wry looks, frowns, shaking heads...finally a murmured 'we don't root for them around here'.  I replied that I thought not, but that I was a Blue Jackets fan, and we were playing there that night.  They brightened considerably when they realized that I was rooting against Montreal, and quickly scanned the satellite for the game.

Boone Jenner provided the critical link of CBJ history in the
NHL to Don Cherry's restaurant
And there it is, we turn to the game, and Ooohhh.  Down 3-0.  Not good.  Then, as I watch, Boone Jenner scores his first NHL goal!  That was it!  I had succeeded in establishing a link in hockey history between the Blue Jackets and Don Cherry's restaurant.  My quest was partially achieved.  After watching quietly for awhile, we returned to the boat to start preparing for our journey.  We had lured the bar patrons into a sense of complacency regarding our presence.  The stage was set.

After conducting some repairs to our vessel, we returned to Don Cherry's restaurant for more food.  In the drowsy early watches of the afternoon I made my move.  Forsaking my CBJ Cannon headgear, I donned my coveted R-Bar hat, and we plunged into the seat of power of the hockey universe.  By wearing my R-Bar hat into Don Cherry's restaurant I had completed the link necessary to siphon off the power from Toronto back to our CBJ.

By feigning to the part owner of the restaurant that we needed some golf cart batteries to make our boat work, we bummed a ride with him out to Birdie's Golf Carts.  Having gained our batteries, and seduced them with our quiet ways, all that remained was to complete the forging of the link.  As we unloaded the batteries in front of Don Cherry's, I casually remarked, 'If you're ever in Columbus, and you want to go to a hockey bar, you should go to the R-Bar".  He was unmoved.  SUCCESS!!!  I had brazenly brought CBJ hockey to the heart of the hockey universe, and forged an indelible link to hockey history!!  If I could only get back to Columbus it would complete the siphon!
Barad-dur looms on the northern horizon....
The next day we prepared to flee.  Perhaps sensing that what we were up to, the hockey powers subjected us to a large rain storm.  But, our purpose complete, we remained in hiding on our trusty vessel, the Lazy Days.  The following day, we fled down the Welland Canal toward freedom.  As we left, a waterspout loomed behind us.  Clearly, the bastions of power had been shaken to their foundations.

With the threat of darkness looming, we nonetheless gained the dubious sanctuary of the Niagara River and the US Boundary.  From there we continued to lay a false trail by heading into New York.  The hockey powers would assume it was those damn Rangers at it again!  Ha, ha, we fooled them!!  Lashed by high winds, we arrived after many travails in Sodus Bay, New York.  We cached our trusty vessel where none could find it, and retired to my buddy's castle to recuperate.

Only one leg remained.  The dash from Rochester to Columbus.  Leaving early the next morning, I started a high speed run back to Columbus with my booty.  Unfortunately, this once again brought me within the long reach of the center of the hockey universe.  Entering Pennsylvania, they realized that I was not with the Rangers, or Buffalo.  So they started pelting me with snow squalls across the Lake which they call Erie.  By the time I got to Cleveland, the hockey powers had cast an inch of snow across the road to stop me, but my trusty car got me through.  At 271 I fooled them by cutting south.  They probably figured I was heading to Detroit with my prize.  Bursting into the sunlight, I finished my run to the south.  One final leg remained.

Reduced to impotent futility by the distance, the powers of the hockey universe nonetheless threw a crazy work day and brutal traffic in my way on Friday.  At this stage, none could stop me though, and at 5:30 I entered the R-Bar to complete the link.  Fortified with food and refreshment, but nonetheless surrounded by the soldiers of the enemy, we worked our way into Nationwide Arena, and our sojourn was complete.

At the crucial moment, Dubinsky stuck the dagger in their heart, and our victory was achieved.  Toronto was defeated.  Though fraught with peril, our journey was well worth it.  As I hoarsely savor our victory today, I know that I played a small part in it......


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