What I want to be when I grow up

That seems like a bit of an odd title for a blog post written by a 22-year-old. Mainly because, I should consider myself grown up at this point. And I do.  But up until this point, I hadn’t decided exactly what it was I wanted to do. I had a very strong, very focused idea, but I hadn’t nailed it down from two or three choices.

As I prepare to begin schooling at the College of Sports Media in September, I figure it would probably be a good idea to get a head start on everyone else there. I already am ahead of the game because of my experience, but this can’t hurt either.  But the bottom line is, I’ve figured out what I want to do, as well as thought about and accepted the road I might need to take to get there.

Being the play-by-play voice of a hockey team is where my heart lies. Of all the things I’ve had the experience of trying my hand at so far, this was the most enjoyable. My time as a radio host was phenomenal, and if there’s a way to work that into my career as well, then I’ll be thrilled.  Fact of the matter is that I believe this is what I was meant to do.  As a little kid, I would mute the volume on my video games to provide my own calls. I’d create games with hockey cards, or the little figures used for table-top hockey games. And every time I provided a narrative for the action I was creating.

When the opportunity came up for me to be the colour commentator for the Carleton Ravens in the fall of 2009, I jumped at it. I wanted the job of my partner, but it was agreed that once he graduated after the season was done, I would have the main gig for my senior year. Luckily for me, Mr. Geoff Ives was called upon to increase his role with Rogers Community TV, allowing me to step into my dream job half a season early. I took the roll and ran with it, and had the time of my life for those remaining games and the entire 2010-11 season. I put a lot of work into preparing for each game, and when I was done, I was proud of what I’d accomplished. I enjoyed receiving positive feedback from fans. People don’t come up to you and compliment your work if they think you stink. They just walk by you, so I can say with strong confidence that my accolades were genuine. I got to know the coaches, and the players, and that was something I really enjoyed. I love that I could bump into two of the Ravens on the street in downtown Ottawa, and I’d be able to stop and chat with them for a few moments. I’m obviously not “one of the guys” on the team, but I’m about the next closest thing. And that’s fine with me. I’ve known for years my dreams of making it to the NHL as player were dead. This is my golden ticket in the side door.

Now I also realize you don’t just jump out of school and say “hey, I wanna replace Jim Hughson on Hockey Night in Canada.” (Although by the looks of it n Twitter, hockey fans of every Canadian team except Vancouver would welcome that move.) I know I’m decades away from the ultimate dream. And there’s a long, mysterious path ahead.  I figure like most players, I’d have to go to junior first. This could be as simple as going down the 401 to call games for Kitchener or London. However, it could mean stretching to the edges of this great country. It might mean going to Halifax, or PEI; it could be Kamloops, or Medicine Hat. I’ve always been fascinated by the west, even though I’ve never been there. Having a job out there might be what it takes for me to finally experience it. And my very brief time in the Maritimes made me fall in love with the area. I’d be more than happy with that alternative as well. I almost prefer a job on one of the edges of the country. Leaving Toronto for Ottawa four years ago for school was one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m happy to be back in Toronto, and hope to be for a long time eventually. But in the interim, I wouldn’t mind being elsewhere.

Of course it could mean heading south, to call NCAA or AHL games first. It’s also a scenario I’d welcome.  See, I haven’t done a lot of travelling, and while neither of these situations offer up exotic, tropical vacations, I’d love to see as much of this continent as possible. Travelling for work would be fun; I can save the other stuff for my holidays. I know I’ll have to put in my work, long hours on buses and grimy hotels and motels with the teams most likely, just like the players that I’ll be covering as we all chase our dream.

It might not be the most glamorous job in the world to some, but to me, there’s nothing I want to do more. Then hopefully one day there will be a generation of fans recalling fondly to each other some magical line or catchphrase I uttered during the game they’ll never forget. Ohh baby. Everything is happening. Or at least I hope it will be soon.


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The FINAL Show: Charlatan Live – April 5, 2011

Here it is, folks.  The final Charlatan Live radio show of 2010-2011. And for our cast of characters, it is the last show for us together.  As Andrew, Jeanne, Julia, Pete (this week’s guest-host) and myself prepare to graduate, we were on the radio together for the final time this week.  We had a lot of fun with the show. Jeanne and Pete read fake news, while Andrew and I held our second annual Sports awards show, The Uppies.  Our presenters and guest-appearances came from Dominic Fegan, Erika Stark, Farhan Devji, Taylor Lush and Joel Eastwood.

Thanks to everyone who listened/put up with us all year.  We really appreciate your support. Enjoy the final episode of the Charlatan Live radio show.

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Charlatan Live Radio Show – Tuesday March 22, 2011

The Charlatan Live radio show from March 22 with hosts Jeanne Armstrong and Julia Johnson. Enjoy.

And here is the Sports Update from Matt Di Nicolantonio and Andrew Foote.

Next week we will be announcing the nominees for our awards show, the Uppies, and will be joined in studio by this week’s hashtag game winner, James Craig.

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Charlatan Live – March 8, 2011

Here’s the Charlatan Live Radio show for Tuesday March 8, 2011.

In the sports section, Andrew Foote and Matt Di Nicolantonio preview the important weekend ahead in basketball for both the men’s and women’s Carleton teams. Also, we introduced the updated version of the Hashtag Game. The inaugural winner is @DominicFegan for this week’s hashtag #RareAsARavensLoss.

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Charlatan Live – March 1, 2011

Below is the audio for the Charlatan Live radio show for March 1, 2011. We have conveniently split it up into two tracks; the main show, and the sports. In the sports, we play the first ever edition of the hashtag game. Today’s hashtag was #worsethanfranco, indicating things worse than James Franco’s performance as host of the Oscars. We’ll try it again next week, thanks to everyone for participating.

For the record, Jeanne was not trying to tell me that Andrew’s mic wasn’t working. She was trying to say his audio clip was not available, I misread the hand gestures. It was my mistake. Sorry, Jeanne.

Main Show


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NHL needs to get a grip on itself

To say this was an interesting week in the National Hockey League would be an understatement. Last week in Pittsburgh, we saw a fight-filled affair that featured a scrap between goalies Brent Johnson and Rick DiPietro.

That was the precursor to a 1970s-style game in Boston on Wednesday night. The game had 14 goals, 12 fighting majors, and 180 minutes in penalties. There probably should have been more than that too. No suspensions were handed out, although perhaps some discipline for coach Claude Julien would have been warranted for sending out goons like Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk in the last minute of a three-goal game. Adam McQuaid got a double-minor for roughing, for essentially beating up Max Pacioretty for no reason. Tim Thomas and Carey Price “fought”.

I’m not going to lie, I was excited to see it. My roommates and I leapt from our seats and sat on the floor in front of our TV like six-year-olds watching Saturday morning cartoons. The only difference being we sat there pounding the floor yelling “Goalie fight! Goalie fight!” It’s no secret the fans like fighting, especially when the tenders get involved.

Most of the action in the Boston-Montreal game was fair. Hits that could be interpreted as cheap shots led to scrums, which led to fights. I have no problem with that. Sticking up for a teammate is fair game. When the Bruins enforcers started beating up on the Canadiens’ skill players in the final minute of play, that’s where I draw the line. I highly doubt Jaroslav Spacek and Tom Pyatt were interested in fighting at that point. The NHL could have sent a message to other teams by reprimanding Julien and his band of enforcers.

Which leads in to last night’s debauchery on Long Island. It was re-match of the Islanders and Penguins, and it made the Bruins-Habs game look tame. 65 penalties, 14 fighting majors, 11 game misconducts resulting in 10 players being tossed. In total, a whopping 346 penalty minutes. And most of it was highly unnecessary.

One of the first incidents of the night was John Tavares’ two-handed slash to the ankle of Kris Letang. Tavares received a two-minute minor for slashing, and was allowed to stay in the game. It was a blatant attempt to injure, and he should face a fine at the very least. Bobby Clarke would have been proud of this one.

Then the fireworks really began.

In last week’s game, Max Talbot laid a “questionable” hit on Blake Comeau. I saw it. Didn’t have an issue with it. If the Islanders did, they should have had someone fight Talbot. He’d be more than willing to oblige, and that could have been the end of it.

But instead, Matt Martin attacked Talbot from behind in an incident that looked eerily similar to Todd Bertuzzi on Steve Moore. Martin skated up behind Talbot, dropped his gloves and fired a sucker punch. He didn’t connect, and it’s difficult to tell whether he eased up or Talbot felt it coming. From there, Martin, Travis Hamonic, and Josh Bailey of the Islanders were ejected. Deryk Engelland, Pascal Dupuis and Michael Rupp of the Pens got the boot. Talbot was on the ice getting beaten down, and did not getting a fighting major. The Islanders obviously felt there was more work to be done.

Under five minutes into the third period Trevor Gillies took a run at Pens’ rookie Eric Tangradi, flying in from the side and elbowing him in the head. Gillies struck Tangradi with so much force that he fell over himself. When he got up, Tangradi was holding his hands to his head in obvious pain. Gillies decided it would be appropriate to drop his gloves and start pounding on his innocent victim’s head. Isles’ enforcer Micheal Haley, called up for this game, went after Talbot. The two fought, and that should have been it.

Of course not.

After Haley finished with Talbot, he skated down the ice to get some revenge on Johnson. The Pittsburgh goalie accepted the challenge (when he really shouldn’t have to). Penguins enforcer Eric Godard came off the bench to defend his netminder. He was ejected, and will face an automatic 10-game ban for leaving the bench in a fight.

The most despicable image to me from this come was Gillies. With Tangradi still on the ice being tended to by the trainer, Gillies was standing at the entrance to the ice near by and yelled at Tangradi. Seriously? You just attempted to knock this kid unconscious, you failed, then you tried to beat him up, and now he’s lying on the ice hurt and you’re still trying to assert your dominance. Grow up, Trevor.

And if that wasn’t enough, Zenon Konopka went after Talbot AGAIN. Both got roughing minors and 10-minute misconducts.

I sincerely hope the NHL throws the book at the New York Islanders, and throws it hard. The Islanders, who were LEADING 6-0, decided to beat down on a team who is playing with an injury-ravaged roster as they fight for a playoff spot. It’s clear the officials let this game get out of hand, but shame on the Islanders. It’s one thing to start up goonery when you’re trailing by a wide margin, but when you start that while winning, that’s just disrespectful to the game.

The Islanders are 15 points out of a playoff spot. They’re clearly not going anywhere this year. None of the players who fought are impact NHLers. The league should suspend them all a minimum of 10 games, and coach Jack Capuano as well. Why would he continue to put out these players and allow them to fight, when clearly the message had already been sent?

Handing out multiple double-digit suspensions will send a message to the rest of the league: this is hockey. Play the game. Yes, fighting is part of the game, but what happened last night in New York was not. It was a black eye on a league that is continually trying to get and keep fans. If die-hard hockey fans are upset about what happened, how does it look to people who don’t follow the league? Gary Bettman, Colin Campbell and the rest of the league’s administration can tell the world they’re serious about policing their league properly. Sadly, they likely won’t, and this kind of nonsense will continute to happen.

Full highlights on YouTube, courtesy of hockeyfights.com:

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Charlatan Live – January 11, 2011

Below you’ll find the link to today’s show as it aired on 93.1 CKCU in Ottawa. The only change is that the song has been omitted. We’re currently working to contact bands to ensure we have their permission to post their songs on the web. For the time being, the song will be taken out. However, I have included the intro, and information about the band as it was heard on the show.

Jeanne and Julia were the hosts today. If you want to fast-forward to Julia’s interview with Graeme Owens, you can find it starting around the 10:00 mark.

If you want to skip ahead to the sports (and I can’t blame you if you do), Andrew and I begin at around the 17:00 minute mark. Total run time is 30 minutes. You may have to wait a few minutes while the whole file loads before you can fastforward easily. Thanks for listening, and enjoy!

One thing I forgot to mention during the sports today is that tickets for Capital Hoops at the end of January are now available. If you need more information, contact Andrew or myself and we can help you out. But do hurry because they will go quickly.

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