My old friend Paul was a guitar player in clubs in Toronto for years. And not only is he a tremendous guitarist, but he’s also a big Habs fan. In fact, he painted his Telecaster red and put a nice Habs sticker on it because often at various clubs he was playing around Hogtown, Leaf players such as Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark, and Dave Ellett would come in and Paul wanted them to see who his team was.
For a time in Paul’s life, he and his wife Karen (now ex-wife) lived in LA, and would take in games when the Habs came to town. At one such game, he sat in the press box behind veteran Canadiens broadcaster Dick Irvin, a man loved and respected by mostly just Habs fans. Everyone else thinks he’s a homer. Paul almost spilled a beer on him. (As an aside, Paul also does a nice Dick Irvin impression while my other buddy Mike has Danny Gallivan nailed down. At parties, as the beer and 95 cent Four Aces sherry gut rot flowed and Led Zeppelin wailed, Paul and Mike flew into their hockey schtick.)
Paul had a nice chat with Dick in the press box, and he also happened to have a tape recorder in his pocket, being the musician he is. So when he met Dick, he just turned it on. Dick didn’t know this but I’m sure he would’ve been fine with it.
Later on, Paul mailed me the tape and I just found it. It’s from 1984. And okay, it’s not Peter Mansbridge interviewing Barack Obama. What d’ya want for nothing?
Paul: Hi Mr. Irvin.
Dick: Hi. How’s it going?”
Paul: I’m Paul, this is my wife Karen. We’re from Toronto.
Dick: Oh dear.
Paul: We’re Canadiens fans
Dick: Yeah? Well they let us down tonight.
Paul: That’s right
Dick: Guess they had too much sun and relaxation
Paul: In San Diego for a couple of days?
Dick: Yeah. So, are you living out here now?
Paul: We’re living out here, yeah.
Dick: Like it?
Karen: Laughs. You get used to it.
Paul: Well, I’ll tell you. We sure miss a good Dick and Danny telecast, I can tell you that much.
Dick: Well it’s still on anyway.
Paul: This is only the 2nd time I’ve had a chance to see the Canadiens this year.
Paul: Is this pretty well an indication?
Dick: Yeah, that’s it.
Paul: Are they just a .500 team, or they just not playing up to their capabilities?
Dick: They’ve played like this the whole season and that’s my answer to that question. You know, what you see is what you get with this team. And that’s pretty well it. They’ve been struggling.
Paul: They’re not just a team that’s not playing up to potential?
Dick: No. I don’t think so. No, you know.
Dick: I think it’s gone on too long you know. It’s gone on too long.
Dick: Good luck. What do you do here?
Paul: I’m uh, I play music.
Dick: Oh yeah? Good for you!
Paul: And Karen is with Southern California Broadcasters Association.
Dick: OH! (To Karen) Any jobs? Any jobs out here? Think of me.
Karen: Are you thinking of moving out here?
Paul: Can you sing, Dick? (Dick laughs)
Dick: I yell a lot of hockey