The Habs just got eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. I’m feeling sappy and sentimental. Bear with me.
For a lot of Habs fans, 2014 will be remembered as the year that the Habs got closer to the Stanley Cup than they have since 1993. For a lot of Habs fans, 2014 will be remembered as the year that Carey Price solidified himself as an elite goal tender, and silenced his detractors by back stopping Team Canada to an Olympic gold medal, before carrying the Canadiens further into the post season than they’ve been in 21 years. For me, 2014 will mean so much more.
First, let's back track to 2011, when Zdeno Chara laid out that infamous hit on Max Pacioretty. I thought #67 was dead. I sat in the lazyboy at my dad’s house in complete shock. I was a McGill student at the time, and couldn’t get myself out of bed to go to school the next day. I was overtaken with concern, and sadness. I stayed in my room all day, listening to what was then known as Team 990. Radio had always been an incredibly powerful medium to me (my dream job ever since I was six years old was to be the play by play announcer for the Montreal Canadiens) but in that moment, I knew I HAD to make a go of it, and try to get into radio. I applied for my internship at the station soon after.
Let's jump ahead now, past my internship (where I spent over a year waking up at 3:30 AM every day to work with the Morning Show guys), to when I was hired as a pinch hitter board op. Then, the lockout! But it thankfully ended in time to salvage a shortened season.
The 2013 season was the first time that I had the opportunity to co-host the pregame show on TSN 690. It was actually my first chance to co-host a radio show at all. I learned so much from my co-host that season, Ted Bird. Ted is a phenomenal broadcaster that I grew up listening to, and have come to respect all the more after having had the privilege of working alongside him.
Another first for me in the 2013 was the realization of a childhood dream; a seat in the press box at the Bell Centre for a Habs game.
I remember the day well (let’s face it, it was only 15 months ago, and I’m only 27, so my memory is pretty sharp). I was so nervous, but I hid it pretty well (I think). Ted came with me to the rink to pick up my press pass at the media entrance. He led me up the stairs and down the hall to the work room, where I hung up my coat. We then took the elevator up the 8th floor, walked down the steps and onto the press box. (DISCLAIMER: I have tears in my eyes and I’m getting goosebumps all over again just THINKING about that moment).
As a kid, I thought that I would never get to have that moment. When I told people I wanted to find a way to get paid to watch the Habs, people laughed at me. Well in that moment, I wasn’t even thinking about the nay sayers. The only thing running through my mind were these three words: you did it. (side note: the Habs lost that game 6-0 to the Leafs)
Flash forward to a scary summer, where the fate of TSN 690 was up in the air. I was heart broken. I felt like I had finally found my place in the world. I was finally happy after spending years struggling to figure out who I was and where I fit in. In a tremendous display of support, our listeners literally SAVED the radio station. My eternal gratitude can never truly be expressed for what you, the listeners, did for us. I don’t know what I would have done without my happy place.
The hockey season started back up, and I found myself with a new pregame show co-host, Abe Hefter. A broadcaster who picked up the mentoring process where Ted left off. Abe has already taught me so much about radio, sports, and the Habs. I’m proud to call him a friend.
The pivotal moment of this season for me, came a few months into the season, when the Pittsburgh Penguins came to town. The station was down a reporter, and since I already had a game pass for the game, could I handle reporting duties for the visiting locker room? Sure! Needless to say, I jumped at the chance.
Calm, cool, and collected (NOT), I made my way to my seat in the press box (#86 for those who've been up there). I was nervous, but the lovely Jessica Rusnak talked me through where I needed to go and what I needed to do. Microphone in hand, note book and pen tucked under my arm, I joined the gaggle of reporters waiting to gain access to the Pens locker room after the game. I walked in, and I wish I could say that I had the same sappy, goosebumpy moment as I did when I stepped onto the press box for the first time, but instead I was overcome by the STENCH of sweaty men. For reals. NHL locker rooms smell really gross. But I digress.
Anyway, I made a bee line for my favourite hockey player, el capitano, Sidney Crosby, stuck my mic in his face, and confidently asked him a question about PK Subban potentially being his team mate in Sochi. He smiled, and answered. When I finished up in the locker room, I made my way to the area where head coach Dan Bylsma would address the media. But wait! Who should I walk by? Mario Lemieux. No time to stop. No time to gush. Work mode. Keep moving. Join the scrum of reporters. Rush back up the press box. Upload and edit the audio. Send it into the station. Pack up. Walk out of the building. Call my dad.
I had the privilege of covering several more games this season, and I feel like this is only the beginning. Since making the decision to get into this crazy business, I've done everything from traffic reporting, to producing, to reporting, to board opping, to hosting, to MCing events. I find myself lucky enough to be part of the CJAD and TSN 690 teams, and I couldn't be prouder of the amazing work that we do on both radio stations.
This has been an amazing season, not just for the Habs, but for me. I work with such an amazing group of people, who I continue to learn from every single day.
To Shaun, Elliott, Ted, Sean, Sean, Jess, Abe, Tony, Conor, Rod, Mitch, Mitch, John, Sergio, Amanda, Knuckles, Steph, Simon, Eric, Marco, Dave, Jay, Noel, and everyone at TSN 690, thank you for helping me grow.
To the TSN 690 listeners, thank you for listening. Thank you for saving us. Thank you for supporting us.
My dreams are coming true faster than I could ever have imagined, and I’m so grateful for that.