I Don't Like Mondays — November 9, 2015
“They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them”.— Laurence Binyon
It is 97 years since Armistice Day in 1918 and 70 years since VE and VJ Day. Today, we honor the men and women who abandoned their creature comforts to make a commitment that our current society can scarcely wrap its mind around. In our family, my grandfather returned from serving in the artillery at Vimy and the rest of those horrific WW I slaughters. In WW II, four of my relatives set out from Canada, and just three returned, one with a diminished body and mind. These are not unusual odds from the times.
My uncle Burke Mahoney,’s Lancaster bomber was shot down, killing him and his six crew mates over Magdeburg, Germany. He was a born athlete. A paddler, a golfer and a swimmer, he sought “that tumult in the skies”. My uncle Francis, who picked up Burke’s gear at the base in England, said the hardest part of collecting the effects was the lonely golf bag and its clubs.
He was the star of five brothers and a sister. They called guys like Burke the “flower of society”, and if the words seem a bit Victorian, the sentiment behind them is not. So many who never returned were the fittest and the fastest. That is the nature of soldiery. It is a young man’s and, now, a young woman’s business.
Today, we can see our best and brightest apply their physical gifts in pro sports. For that, we are thankful. Burke would’ve been the first to talk up the Canadiens or Maroons— his team growing up in Montreal. We ask nothing more of these blessed ones than an honest effort for the millions they make. If they fulfill that bargain we don’t begrudge them the salaries they earn doing so.
If they shirk or draw too much attention to themselves, however, we remember the boys in the bombers or on the corvettes or in the foxhole who died cold and lonely. And we should say that today’s celebrity stars owe more to those in their graves in Europe and elsewhere.
Contemporary savants tell us to chill, go easy on today’s jocks. It’s only a game. Relax. Sports are a diversion, yes. An entertainment. A romp. But when we see those who have been given so much and remember the one who will not return, we should also ask a little more, too. It’s only fair to the ones who lie between the crosses row on row.
He was supposed to make Edmonton the House Of McDavid. Across the NHL he was the Connor Comet, the Next One. Certainly if you watched the television promos of the Oilers rookie and the team legend Mark Messier bonding over the Alberta scenery you got the feeling that 2015-’16 was in fact Year One of a new age in the league.
Now, McDavid is on the sidelines for what promises to be months with a broken clavicle. The commercials are shelved, the hype wound down till after Christmas, at least. It’s hardly a tragedy for McDavid. He has plenty of time to create his legacy.
For the league, looking to push more stars in its pre-expansion mode, it’ll mean All Eichel, All The Time in support of Buffalo’s hyped rookie, Jack Eichel. For the Oilers, however, it’s just another dead skunk in the middle of their tortured road back to respectability. Can they keep it on the road the next months, steering a clear course through the mine fields? Or will they once again fall prey to the burdens of promise? There’s the rub.
Had the chance to visit Tiger Woods’ new restaurant in Jupiter, Florida, the other day. There is no truth to the rumor that their owner had to leave the establishment before they could start happy hour. I also noted that nowhere did I see his former caddy Steve Wiilams being treated like slave in the kitchen.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy @NPBroadcaster