It's Hip to love hockey

JODY VANCE -- 24 Hours Toronto

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Sunday evening, my day job took me to the Phoenix in Toronto to see the Hip meet hockey, with cameras rolling.

We were shooting a feature about how the Tragically Hip have become synonymous with the game of hockey -- so we took Leafs' Andrew Raycroft, Brendan Bell, Jay Harrison and Matt Stajan for an all-access soundcheck visit with the ultimate Canadian band.

Enigmatic frontman Gord Downie, who is typically quite camera shy, became a kid in a candy store at the sight of Andrew Raycroft.

Downie, a self-professed Boston Bruins freak -- and a goalie himself -- gushed over Raycroft's accomplishments his rookie year in Beantown and how sad he was when the trade to Toronto was announced.

As the two chatted perched on the pool tables in the parlour at the Phoenix, Downie surprised us as he didn't just hit obvious points with Andrew; in fact, they spoke as if it was intermission on game night.

Downie made it abundantly clear that he was meeting one of his hockey idols and the look on Raycroft's face said it was mutual admiration.

Raycroft and Downie could have talked all night if not for the matter of the "little show," another sellout, that needed to go on in a matter of an hour.

Hip guitarists Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker joined us for a quick chat with the whole group before we wrapped. Growing up in Kingston, the band members played hockey on any patch of ice they could find, but as they tour they always carry gear and pick up games in every town they can.

Baker's 15-year-old son is a talented goalie; the proud papa shared, "He's had five shutouts this season alone." Then lamented with a slight grin, "Unfortunately my boy is a Vancouver fan ... not sure how that happened ... you do everything you can to bring your kid up right -- what can you do?"

The band's new album, "World Container," has "The Lonely End of the Rink" as its ever-present hockey song. Here to stay is the bond between the Hip and hockey.

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Jody Vance is a longtime sportscaster and personality with Leafs TV. Her columns appear Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours. jody.vance@tor.sunpub.com.


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