A grand old time with the Sens

EARL MCRAE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

The Senators played their milestone 1,000th game last night, and I'd be remiss if I didn't weigh in with my own personal memories of covering this team, and let me start with (trumpet fanfare) my colleague Bruce "Boo Boo" Garrioch.

Boo Boo wrote about his favourite memories in yesterday's Sun, but forgot to mention the one involving himself.

The Senators are in Pittsburgh. It's late at night. Suddenly, there's a loud pounding at my hotel room door. I peer through the peephole. It's Boo Boo. I open the door. He's red in the face, sweating, hyperventilating, his hair dishevelled. I think he's having a heart attack.

"You all right?" I ask.

"This street guy," he gasps, stumbling in. "He's stalked me all the way from the arena to the hotel. He's in a long coat and he's got a toque down over his eyes. The faster I walked the faster he walked. I think I ditched him, but he might still be outside."

We have a couple of beers. Boo recovers nicely.

The Senators had played the Kings in Los Angeles. We're at the airport. It's a hot day. I'm wearing a pink T-shirt, black shorts, white socks, sneakers.

'YOU LOOK DISGUSTING'

Head coach Rick Bowness strides over to me. "You can't get on the plane," he says, grimacing.

"What?"

"You look disgusting. This isn't a barbecue, you know. You're gonna have to change."

"What about the other reporters? They're not exactly fashion plates either."

"They don't look as ridiculous as you. There's a dress code. You're not flying with us."

"But, this is all I've got, my suitcase has been checked through."

Bowness can't play it straight anymore, he breaks up laughing. Sheesh. For a moment there, I thought I'd have to hitchhike back to Ottawa.

Mike Peluso is the Senators' tough guy. My colleague Eric Francis wrote a piece with an innocuous reference to Peluso's girlfriend. Eric interviewed Peluso over the phone. They haven't met.

"Is that %$#@ Eric Francis in here?" Peluso asks me in the crowded dressing room after a game.

"No, why?"

"I'm gonna kill him. Where does he live? I'll go to his house. You tell the %$#@ he's dead meat."

I tell Peluso I don't know where he lives. Every time I see Peluso, he asks me how to find Francis. Right up until Mike leaves the team. Eric later moves to the Calgary Sun. For all I know, Mike's still looking for him.

Senators winger Tomas Jelinek is from the Czech Republic. His English is virtually non-existent. In the dressing room, half the team is bellowing out the Eagles song Heartache Tonight. The chorus goes:

"There's gonna be a HEAR-R-R-Tache tonight...a HEAR-R-R-Tache tonight I know...there's gonna be a HEAR-R-R-Tache tonight...a HEAR-R-R-Tache tonight I know."

The players are singing the right words, except for Jelinek, who hasn't a clue what he's braying: "Dobbla bong um M-A-W-W-Wblunk objite...um M-A-W-W-Wblunnk objite, ohblow...dobbla bong um M-A-W-W-W-blunk objite...um M-A-W-W-Wblunk objite, ohblow." Hockey writer Roy MacGregor and I are in stitches. If Tomas' play is as good as his voice, he's got a future with the Sens. It's not.

Randy "Son of Peter Lorre" Sexton is the Sens GM. I've been going at him in columns, questioning his moves. Randy didn't like my red-hot language in one of them. He angrily tells the Globe and Mail newspaper he wants to get me alone. In a phone booth. I decide never again to make a call from a phone booth in case Randy dedicates his life to monitoring phone booths, looking for me. He and I going at it in a phone booth wouldn't be fair to the phone booth.

Crazy and fun times, just a few of some wonderful memories.

Earl McRae recalls a gasping Boo Boo, a wisecracking coach and an irate enforcer on the occasion of the team's 1,000th game

- Sens vs. Leafs: Sports pullout

earl.mcrae@ott.sunpub.com


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