Usually, the pre-game warm-up on "HNIC" is a cue in our house to set up the TV tables and get some comfort food set out in time for faceoff.
This week, our pre-game routine was thrown for a loop, the bacon for the BLT's left to smoulder, as we sat riveted to the drama during, of all things, the pre-game warm-up.
Toronto's Darcy Tucker, back from injury, stirred things up with Ranger Sean Avery. They jawed and jostled along the boards, sticks up, almost coming to blows. The game puck was still cosy in the freezer yet to be dropped at centre ice!
Things between the two warriors calmed just enough to send us to a commercial and then, just when I thought it was safe to head back to the kitchen, no! Don Cherry appeared for a rare pre-game rant.
The bacon could wait -- it's burned anyway -- we'd order in.
Grapes, of course, was vintage: "The two should have settled things right there and then, toe to toe -- let's go!"
Most times I'm right there with the "Rock 'em Sock 'em" mentality Mr. Cherry puts forth, but this time, not so much.
Fights pre-game? I don't think we need to go there.
You know I, like many of you, agree that a good scrap adds excitement to the NHL, but pre-game? That's where the line should be drawn. In-game is fair game and the pair of No. 16s dropped the gloves at the 13-minute-mark of the game -- bringing Leafs Nation to its feet.
Much to the chagrin of those in attendance, round one went to Avery. The Pickering native set up Brendan Shanahan's goal, then just 47 seconds later netted one of his own -- not to mention his team won in the shootout.
Rounds two and three are Dec. 6 at MSG, then back in T.O. Dec. 29.
Best to have dinner on the table in time to watch the warm-up, or have the fire extinguisher ready.
-- Jody Vance is a longtime sportscaster and personality with Leafs TV. Her column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.