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Sleepless in Seattle
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Sleepless in Seattle

Thirty-two hours.

That’s how long, it turns out, I can stay awake before I hit the proverbial wall.

It happened at approximately 5 p.m. central time yesterday, a few hours after I touched down here in the bustling metropolis of Seattle where I’ll cover the first-ever game tonight between the expansion Kraken and the Winnipeg Jets.

Fortunately, I managed to still put in a productive Wednesday at the mobile office, cranking out a column on the NHL’s newest franchise, conducting an interview with Seattle assistant general manager (and Winnipeg product) Jason Botterill and writing up a story on our wide-ranging conversation before my head finally hit the pillow for the first time since getting up at approximately 9 a.m. Tuesday.

And, fortunately, I have very good editors at the Free Press who no doubt found, and fixed, any sleep-deprived faux pas.

I wish I had a bit better story to share with you on why I was up for so long. Put it this way: There won’t be a Hangover-style screenplay being written in my honour.

To be fair, I have nobody to blame but myself. It’s actually just a product of being a hockey writer and a hockey dad, plus a bit of an anxious sort the night before an early flight, and all of those worlds colliding.

Allow me to explain. And please, don’t take any of this as a complaint. I’ve said it here before, and I’ll say it time and time again. I truly have the best job in the world, and I love every wacky minute of it, including all those ones I’m awake consecutively for. No, this is just about sharing an experience, which many of you have kindly told me you enjoy reading about. And I suspect can very much relate to in your own busy lives.

Despite a scheduled off-day, I ended putting myself “on duty” Tuesday and going to the Jets game that evening at Canada Life Centre, where I then filed a column on the gong show that happened a couple of nights earlier between Winnipeg and Toronto, including the vitriol being spewed on social media between the two fan bases.

It was one of those situations that had become impossible to ignore, and I wanted to weigh in on the matter while it was still a burning issue. Plus, I knew I wasn’t going to bed early in any event, so I might as well go watch the action live as I typed out my thoughts.

Following the 4-2 loss to Carolina, I dashed out of the downtown rink at about 10 p.m. and headed straight for Bell MTS Iceplex, where my 20-year-old son and his buddies were playing their latest Winnipeg Rec Hockey League game at 10:30 p.m.

Having watched the boy play hockey since he was a tiny Timbit 15 years ago, I still try to get to every game I can, especially with a work schedule that means occasionally having to miss some.

And so I didn’t want to pass up this chance, even though I was staring at a 6 a.m. flight to Seattle on Wednesday morning.

By the time I got home from his game – a 10-9 overtime victory thriller in which he potted four goals, including possibly the prettiest one I’ve ever seen him score – it was 12:30 a.m. The cab I had pre-arranged to get me was coming at 4 a.m.

Try as I might, sleep would not come. It often doesn’t in these types of scenarios, where the fear of oversleeping through every alarm I set keeps me tossing and turning.

By about 3 a.m. I had given up any hope, so the television came back on, a PVR’d show was watched and it wasn’t long before I was off to the airport.

My hope had been to sleep during the three-hour flight to Vancouver, but that was mostly thwarted by getting stuck in a crowded row on an extremely small plane. I may have dozed off and on for the better part of an hour, but all that did was served to make me even more tired.

A way-too-quick layover in Vancouver included a rush through customs to make the connection, and any hope of some shut-eye to Seattle was dashed when the pilot announced it was going to be a 36-minute flight, at a cruising altitude of just 15,000 feet.

In other words, pretty much as soon as we took to the air, we were being told to prepare for landing.

With writing that needed to be done once I got to my downtown Seattle hotel – and it already being two hours later back home – rest would have to wait a while longer.

But boy, did that 5 p.m. nap ever feel good. It only lasted about 90 minutes, as I didn’t want to sleep the entire evening away.

But it refreshed me enough to lead to a brisk walk in the cool air outside to grab some dinner, then return back here to pen this weekly newsletter.

Downtown Seattle (Mike McIntyre / Winnipeg Free Press)

The next few days are going to be busy, with morning skate for both the Kraken and Jets getting underway around the time you get this in your email inbox. I’m planning to catch up with Strathclair’s Morgan Geekie, who is having a solid sophomore season, and former Jets forward Mason Appleton. I’ll also likely chat with Ville Heinola, who was called up by Winnipeg yesterday and could make his season debut as early as tonight.

Then it’s covering the game itself, followed by another night of little rest with Friday’s early-morning flight to Vancouver looming. I’ll cover the Jets and Canucks game that night, but plan to sleep in a bit on Saturday and do a bit of sightseeing during the day since I don’t fly home until Saturday night.

Thanks, as always, for joining me on this journey.

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre, Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD, BUD:

There are always moments of levity and humour when covering a professional sports team. This isn’t life and death, and I always try to pick occasional spots to have a little fun with the players and break the ice, pun intended.

It gets them off script, out of cliché-mode and allows their personalities to shine a bit, which I think readers appreciate.

One such moment occurred last week when the team’s top centre, Mark Scheifele, was at the podium. After all the usual nuts-and-bolts questions about the team, I asked him about his acting career.

You may have seen the television ads and billboards around town, in conjunction with Manitoba Public Insurance, in which Scheifele warns about the perils of distracted driving.

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Mark Scheifele warns about the perils of distracted driving in new ads by MPI. (YouTube)

They’re actually quite well done, and he appears to really enjoy the experience. But as he told me, he’s not planning to hang up his skates and head to Hollywood any time soon.

“They came to me in the summer. It didn’t take a whole lot of acting. It was nice, they did a good job of kind of letting me be myself. And just one of those fun things to help people stay safe on the roads. Obviously texting and driving and drinking and driving is a problem in our society so I think it’s just one of those things that was fun to do but at the end of the day, it’s serious. You want to keep people safe, especially in the Winnipeg winters. Quick glance at your phone or drinking and driving can cost someone a life so obviously it’s all in good fun but you’ve got to make sure people are safe in this community so that’s the biggest takeaway,” said Scheifele.

Someone asked a follow-up question if he was a “one-take wonder” or if the director had to keep yelling CUT!

“I was pretty good honestly. Honestly, they weren’t that hard as you can see. It wasn’t like I had elaborate lines. It was pretty easy. The production crew made it easy on me so I like to think to pick up things quick,” he said.

“Honestly it was pretty easy. It was more sitting around than anything. They’d have to change sets then I go and do it for 30 minutes and I’d do 100 takes of the same thing for 30 minutes and then go sit in my change room for an hour and a half as they changed sets and then I’d come back again. So it was a long day but they made it pretty easy and pretty seamless.”

There you have it: The hard-hitting news you can use!

 

MASTERS OF YOUR DOMAIN:

Thanks to all of you who answered my call last week on what you’d select if awarded free tickets to any sporting event in North America.

A buddy of mine won that very prize at his office Christmas party a few weeks ago. I listed the various options, along with my own clear choice: The Masters.

Turns out the majority of you who responded agreed.

61 per cent of respondents agreed The Masters would be their choice. 25 per cent chose the Super Bowl. The remaining votes were scattered between the Canadian Grand Prix, the Grey Cup and even the Banjo Bowl.

 

JUST CALL ME KRESKIN:

Not only did I correctly predict both Winnipeg and Hamilton winning their respective CFL games last weekend, but I came pretty close to nailing the final scores, to boot.

Let the record show I had Hamilton beating Toronto 24-19 in my prediction last week in this space. Final score: Tiger-Cats 27, Argonauts 19.

I also suggested Winnipeg would down Saskatchewan 27-23. Final score: Bombers 21, Roughriders 17.

I’ll pause here for applause.

All of this now puts some additional pressure on me to peer into my very reliable crystal ball for a look at how Sunday’s Grey Cup Final is going to play out.

It should be a beauty of a game, with favoured Winnipeg having to win in enemy territory against a hometown Hamilton crowd that should be wired for the first championship game in that city in a quarter-century.

The Tiger-Cats are also looking to snap the CFL’s longest title drought, which they saw the Bombers do against them two years ago in November.

Breaking news: The drought is going to continue.

Give me: Winnipeg 26, Hamilton 20.

Enjoy the game, folks!

What I've been working on


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Plenty of blame to go around for Jets-Leafs gong show

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