A trip down memory lane

JOHN SHORT

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

There's nothing new in a verbal collision between a media wretch and a coach or general manager.

The fuss over Craig MacTavish's response to a post-game question from television reporter Ryan Rishaug reminded me of the first time I was ever kicked out of a dressing room.

In Game One of the 1967 Stanley Cup final, Ron Ellis had a terrific first period against the Chicago Blackhawks. Dennis Hull was lined up against him and didn't do well.

My first question was simple: why head coach Billy Reay switched the checking assignment.

"I don't have to answer that kind of (censored) question," Reay fired. "If you're going to talk like that, get the (censored) out of here."

FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE

So I left. As players headed toward the exit, I interviewed them in the hallway, so I didn't miss my story but I was uncomfortable.

Ed Van Impe, a rookie defenceman I knew well when he played in the old minor-pro Western Hockey League with the Calgary Stampeders, laughed out loud.

"Billy was just sticking up for a player."

Three days later, Reay and I had a conversation that started in a disagreement and ended in a comfortable cup of coffee in the coach's office.

What did I learn from the experience? There are no bad questions; just difficult answers.

RUNNING OUT OF LIVES?

Now that the Edmonton Cracker-Cats have been ushered out of the Northern League, you have to wonder how long it will take for owner Dan Orlich to realize he'll get the same treatment in every league unless he comes to understand that he's in the people business.

Never was the Northern League the right deal for this city.

Even if the opportunistic Eskimos' sale of the Pacific Coast League Trappers so Nolan Ryan could have them close to him in Texas was bound to happen sooner or later, we should have had a better product than the Northern League provided.

BETTER FIT

The Pioneer League would have been a better fit geographically.

Vancouver is part of it and Calgary could have been. More important, Edmonton could have maintained its direct link with the major leagues, a link that makes it special to watch Casey Blake play for Cleveland and Bobby Kielty for Boston in the American League final series.

The Golden League - how can we care?

FIND A BUYER

Even if the quality was better than the Northern League and the teams were located nearby, the next step should be clear: Orlich absolutely must find a buyer.

Hindsight shows that the Cracker-Cats were bound to fail.

The problem is that they're certain to fail again unless an owner takes over with the commitment and the knowledge to create a positive link with employees and baseball fans.

As far as I'm concerned, the only good news is that Al Coates will continue to broadcast as long as Edmonton has a professional team, whatever the level and whatever happens in the Florida-based ivory tower.


Videos

Photos