Montana versus Horton

Ed Smith
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When a red-blooded Canadian boy would rather watch some girlie whirligig called Hannah Montana prancing around the television screen in furious pink than feast his eyes on the Toronto Maple Leafs beating the living tar out of practically any other team in the world today, something is awfully awry, even if he is my grandson.
Phew. That's quite a statement, for a whole lot of different reasons, not the least of which is its marvelous length. It takes some skill to pack that many words into one sentence, using only a couple of commas before getting to that period at the end.
I didn't say how much skill. You shouldn't venture an opinion on this because you're probably not a writer and therefore don't know what you're talking about. If you were a writer you wouldn't be reading this, would you?
I'm glad we have that straightened out.
There are those who suggest, by the way, that I treat my intelligent readers with far too little respect. That's not true. It's only my stunned readers who get that treatment. Just put yourself in the appropriate group and you'll be fine.
That first sentence is notable for at least one other reason. It can be misread. For example, I didn't say the Leafs were winning their games, I just said they were beating the living tar out of the other teams. There is a not-so-subtle difference.
My 10-year-old, non-Funk grandson from across the garden who is the subject of that first statement would ask me, nay would demand, that I throw in a couple of related facts. In his minor hockey career, which has admittedly been brief, he has won several trophies.
The first was Most Improved Player - I think that was the year he learned to skate. Actually, he's also earned Most Valuable Player on several occasions, not to mention the player who skates fastest getting off the ice to the bench for a line change. He does love his hockey and he's not bad at it.
So, what does the Montana Kid have that Thomas Kaberle (Leaf's best defenceman) doesn't? They do have something in common: either one would rather be dipped in a bowl of pink liquid wax than throw down the gloves and engage in fisticuffs with anyone other than the stadium organist's grandmother. Kaberle isn't the toughest guy in the Leaf's lineup.
Whatever, grandson's eyes were glued to Missy Montana's person every time she put in an appearance. Give her another 25 years and I might have been right there with him. But I'll tell you one thing: I would not have missed hearing Tim Horton taking Gordie Howe into the boards for a glimpse of her or Jean Simmons, the beauty pinned up on my wall at the time.
Hearing? Of course "hearing." When I was 12 years old, the only thing we knew of Tim was what Foster Hewitt told us over the radio.
Saturday night was Hockey Night in Canada back then just as it is now.
Saturday night was also when young girls were on the road, looking anxiously for their favourite young fellow. That was the only night we were allowed out during the week. But come 9:30 p.m. (the time the radio broadcasts began), every red-blooded young fellow under 18 was home with his ear glued to the radio.
So, what's happening to our youth today? I asked Nicholas about it and he just shrugged his shoulders. I don't think he understood the question. I think, in his universe, Hannah Montana and Thomas Kaberle are two distinct opposites and, East being East and West being West, never the twain shall meet.
What could one possibly have to do with the other?
What, indeed. Perhaps Nicholas has it right. Why give up one in order to enjoy the other? Why couldn't my peers - and I - have stayed out till 10 p.m., or if fortune really smiled on us some evening, until 10:30 p.m.? I'll tell you why. Because we wouldn't have been allowed out again for another month.
Things were different back then. Sigh.
Now that I think back on it, we were real dorks, you know.
For seven or eight months of the year, we gave up Saturday nights and girls for the likes of Teeder Kennedy and Johnny Bower. That was probably the worst move in all of sports, including when the Toronto Blue Jays bought A.J. Burnett and Alex Rios for umpteen millions of dollars and had to practically give them away this year.
I don't know what we were thinking. Well, I do know what we were thinking, but it obviously wasn't what we should have been thinking. The incredible thing about it is that our generation grew up to give Newfoundland and Labrador amazing statistics in the realm of sport - you know, that other sport.
For years on end, we were declared the greatest lovers in Canada. OK, perhaps not the greatest, but certainly the most active. I know the two are not one and the same. Give me some slack, here.
I think Other Half has the answer to the problem with us back then and the new generation today. She says we can't multitask. We can focus only on one thing at a time. I know she's thinking of me when she says that, but press her and she'll admit it applies to all men and only a few women.
Had we not been spending the bulk of our Saturday nights at home with Foster Hewitt et al. in the days of our youth, statistics in that other sports field would've had to have gone international to have any meaning at all.
Actually, I don't think Nicholas is all that different from me. I think it's a technical thing, not a generational thing. Hannah Montana in glorious pink?
In my day, we didn't have colour television.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is

Organizations: Toronto Maple Leafs, Montana Kid, Toronto Blue Jays

Geographic location: Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, Springdale

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