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Bob Wakeham: N.L. premier delivers a hallelujah moment

Premier Dwight Ball.
Premier Dwight Ball. — SaltWire Network file photo

Returning to Newfoundland Monday after a week in Trump Land, a country where nearly half the population continues to display an alarming and robotic allegiance to a moron, I started to peruse the local news of the last seven or eight days and, not surprisingly, observed a couple of connections between events here and the nation to the south of us.

Bob Wakeham
Bob Wakeham

 

For example (drum roll here):

I had always thought the most famous guarantee in my lifetime, the one that has a permanent spot in my noggin, occurred in 1994 during the Stanley Cup Playoffs when Mark Messier, the captain of the New York Rangers — the team I have followed religiously since the age of 14 — promised all diehard Blueshirt fans that the Rangers would win Game 6 of the series with New Jersey, a series they trailed at the time, three games to two.

It was a promise that prompted the kind of sensational headlines you’d only get in an over-the-top city like New York: “Mess Sez We’ll Win Tonight” screamed The Daily News; “Captain Courageous’ Bold Prediction,” was the New York Post’s melodramatic description of Messier’s unambiguous forecast.

Ball ordered them to “take your notebooks out,” because he was about to obviously shock the room.

And, of course, New York fans, and all hockey fans for that matter, will recall that Messier scored a hat trick in that sixth game won by the Rangers, who then went on to take the series against New Jersey in seven games, and ultimately win the Stanley Cup that spring for the first time in 50 years.

I was watching that game at a friend’s house in St. John’s, and my frazzled nerves were reflected in a constant “taking of the Lord’s name,” as the believers describe the blasphemy of using “Jesus Christ” as an expletive, to a point where my buddy’s wife, a woman with a grand sense of humour, felt the need to explain to her three young sons: “Mr. Wakeham likes to pray when watching hockey, boys.”

So, for obvious reasons, that was the most significant guarantee I’d ever encountered, until, until, ladies and gentlemen, I returned to Newfoundland from the States the other night and discovered that Dwight Ball had uttered a dramatic prophecy while I was afar that ranks right up there with the promise made by Mark Messier nearly a quarter of a century ago.

And, like Messier, who’d drawn the New York media to his corner of the dressing room before forecasting his team’s imminent win, Ball was obviously aware of the historical significance of his own legacy moment, encouraging reporters, as he did, to hang on his every word just before making his own extraordinary prognostication during a gathering of the Liberal faithful this past week.

Just in case any journalists happened to be dozing off — and you couldn’t really blame them for grabbing a few Zs while a political leader not overly blessed with oratorical skills spoke to a room jammed with paid-up party loyalists — Ball ordered them to “take your notebooks out,” because he was about to obviously shock the room.

And boy, did he ever! He swore to his disciples in the room and, of course, by extension, the entire province, that the Liberals would win the 2019 provincial election. Hallelujah, brothers and sisters! Cymbals must have crashed in communities throughout the land.

We were all worried there for a while, the same way Ranger fans were worried back in 1994. But Mess told us to relax. And now Ball has told Newfoundlanders we’ve nothing to fear. He may have even muttered under his breath a line from Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator” flick: “I’ll be back.”

What a relief to know we’ll have Dwight’s leadership skills and charisma for another few years (the equally dynamic duo of Ches Crosbie and Gerry Rogers must have shivered themselves to sleep upon hearing the clairvoyant premier’s prediction).

And, what terrific timing, because he displayed those God-given talents just last week (in another one of those U.S.A./Newfoundland connections I came across during my own version of NTV’s “Week in Review” of news events of the past week) by showing the world how to deal with The Diabolical Donald: just invite him to a Broadway play — “Come From Away”, to be exact. He even offered to pay for the billionaire’s tickets (at taxpayers’ expense, I would imagine).

I’m quite sure Sarah Huckabee Sanders and company danced a jig in the West Wing when the letter from Premier Dwight arrived in Washington, D.C. (Unfortunately, in reality, the former reality show host probably doesn’t know Newfoundland from Disneyland).

But at least our adventuresome premier showed us all once again why it is we’re tickled pink that he has guaranteed another term for the Liberals on the break wind hill.

By the way, I and several family members were fortunate enough to see “Come From Away” last Saturday, and enjoyed the production immensely; there was a minimal amount of Newfie hillbilly crap, and an abundance of material that caused our hearts to swell with pride.

There: “Week in Review” completed.

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Bob Wakeham has spent more than 40 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at bwakeham@nl.rogers.com

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