SUN Hockey Pool

Former NHL stars meet their heroes

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:49 AM ET

Ever wonder what happens when hockey stars meets their heroes? A lot of that's been happening around here the last couple of days -- wide-eyed, former NHLers rubbing shoulders with rock stars they've admired for years -- culminating in last night's Juno Cup in Selkirk.

Take former Winnipeg Jet Jordy Douglas, for instance.

Douglas is a huge Blue Rodeo fan. Seen them in concert close to 10 times. Their greatest hits CD never leaves his truck.

Several years back, Douglas was introduced to members of the band after a show at the old Playhouse Theatre, and he felt like a total groupie.

This week, he got Blue Rodeo front man Jim Cuddy on his turf. That is, on the ice.

And he still couldn't hide his excitement.

"This is cool," Douglas was saying the other day. "I don't think there's a hockey player out there who hasn't, at one time, wanted to be a rock star."

Perhaps realizing how embarrassing that might sound, Douglas quickly added, "And I think all rock stars are closet hockey players. I think there's some cross-pollination there."

And Cuddy? Well, OK, maybe he wasn't a huge fan of Douglas. I don't think he'd heard of him before the two sat side-by-side in the dressing room before practice the other day.

But he agreed with Douglas's assertion. Sort of.

"They are less realistic about how easy it is to be a rock star," Cuddy said.

COLLIDE

Funny thing is, the two worlds -- the hockey pros and those who write musical prose -- collide more often than you'd think.

Every good hoser knows The Tragically Hip, basically the country's house band, likes to sing about hockey.

But I'll bet you didn't know former NHLers Doug Gilmour and Scott Arniel are buddies with the guys in the band.

"Where am I from?" Gilmour said, explaining why The Hip are at the top of his play list.

He's from Kingston, Ont., of course. Just like Arniel. And the band. They've known each other for years.

Arniel, also a Jets alumni, used to go to a place called the Lakeview Manor ("a pool hall, strip joint -- it had everything") to watch the band in the 1980s.

But he's rarely gotten a chance to skate with them.

Now that they're friends, of course, there are some unwritten rules when they do square off. Particularly last night.

"You gotta be pretty careful with your stick," Arniel said. "All you need is for them to be coming down the Juno aisle with scars or bandages on their faces."

Can you imagine being the guy who puts Paul Langlois' guitar hand in a cast?

Uh, we've got to cancel the tour, Mr. Downey. Paul's out six to eight with a cracked metacarpal.

CONTROL YOURSELF

Of course, some retired players are better at controlling themselves than others.

Gilmour admits he occasionally gets that old competitive feeling again, even in charity games.

So if he's heading into the corner for a loose puck against Hip singer Gord Downey, getting the elbow up is still an option.

"We'll see what the score is," Gilmour said.

Seriously, the rockers are equally thrilled to be skating alongside some of their heroes.

You'll be pleased to know Cuddy, the official organizer from the musicians' side, has become quite the Jets historian since putting this year's lineup together.

He's particularly proud of having the team's first captain (Ab McDonald), its last captain (Kris King) and Hall of Fame captain Dale Hawerchuk here this week.

Then there's singer-songwriter David Francey, who grew up a huge Gilmour fan in Toronto.

Wouldn't you know it, when they needed another goalie this week, Francey found himself stopping pucks fired by his idol.

"It's a huge thrill," said the 50-year-old. "This is like a dream."

Francey is up for a Juno this weekend, but you get the impression whatever happens from here on will be anti-climactic.

"I'm almost happier to do this than the Junos," he said.


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