Sweep in the works

EARL MCRAE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

Last night's game is long over, the dark parking lot empty but inside the silent arena another team is performing and it is performing throughout the night until the breaking dawn -- the team of Tom Conroy, vice-president and executive director of Scotiabank Place.

This team's 45 to 50 players don't sign autographs, pose for pictures, attend community events, get their names in the paper, get recognized in the streets, get paid huge money but they're vital to the cause for which they toil: That when you go to an event at Scotiabank Place, you do not wish to be in a pig sty. Unless you are a pig, which you probably are not.

This team doesn't have a rallying cry, doesn't have a fan club, doesn't have a sexy name. Unless you believe Post Events Cleaning Staff is a sexy name, which you probably do not.

After a hockey game, or any event at the arena, the Post Events Cleaning Staff hits the stands, the private suites, the corridors, the washrooms, but what I really want to know from Tom Conroy is what kind of weird things does his team find left behind, and so when I ask Tom Conroy I'm hoping he'll say some of the weird things his team finds left behind are such weird things as condoms, panties, guns, drugs, inflatable sex dolls, but -- what am I saying? -- this is Ottawa, not Buffalo, Toronto, or New York, and Tom Conroy says: "On the average, we only find about five items an event, sometimes none, but it's usually things like umbrellas, cellphones. The odd toque, or a single glove. Car keys. Or eye glasses. Glasses are a big one."

Items found are placed in big, blue, plastic bins, and they're kept for 30 days, and if no one phones Lost And Found's 613-599-0114 within the 30 days, they're donated to different charities around town. Except for toques and gloves, says Tom Conroy, "for health reasons."

HEALTH HAZARD

No way, I'm thinking, toques or gloves that graced the heads or hands of sanitized, health-mad Ottawans could ever be a health hazard; they had to be from Buffalo, Toronto, or New York. But I do know for sure the dentures are not something I'd have wanted to slap into my mouth after the 30-day period, or any period, even if they'd been in the mouth of a sanitized, health-mad Ottawan.

"The dentures were found around 1998," says Conroy.

"Someone blew his dentures out, cheering or booing?" I ask.

"No, they were found on the counter in a washroom."

Now, that is weird. Why would someone take out his dentures in the arena loo? How could someone take out his dentures in the arena loo, leave the loo, leave the arena, go home, not questioning the reason for the sudden enormous draft in his mouth?

"Someone did eventually call and picked them up," says Tom Conroy.

Someone who had to be from Buffalo, Toronto, or New York -- a sanitized, health-mad, Ottawa someone would be too embarrassed.

I spot Bob Cole outside the Sabres dressing room.

Bob Cole, the veteran hockey play-by-play voice. Are you Senators fans whining again this morning that Bob Cole's biased against your team?

Poor Bob Cole.

He says he's not, but gets it all the time.

"It's the nature of fans. If my voice shows enthusiasm over a great play or praise for a player or a goal being scored no matter what team it is, the fans of the other team are ready to come through the TV at me."

Some days he must wish he was calling curling. He loves curling.

Twice in the early '70s, he skipped Newfoundland's men's team in the Brier.

Some days he probably can't get back fast enough to St. John's where he lives year around, flying out only to do his NHL games.

'UNFAIR AND INAPPROPRIATE'

Don't think the attacks of bias don't bother Bob Cole. They do.

Like after the second period of the final game against Tampa Bay at Scotiabank Place. Bob Cole looked at the giant teletron and what image should meet Bob Cole's eyes but a guy in the stands holding up a sign.

"It read CBC -- Cancel Bob Cole," he says. "That hurt. Why would whoever controls the teletron do that? Why would someone say 'Show that.' It was unfair and inappropriate."

Senators president Roy Mlakar agreed.

"He phoned me to apologize," says Cole.

"He said the teletron person responsible for doing it would also be apologizing to me."

As of noon yesterday Bob Cole hadn't received it. Maybe he got it last night. Maybe he didn't. To Bob Cole, it matters.


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