Great Weekend So Far…

Why, in this picture, am I beaming as I stand in between these two guys? If you have to ask that question, and you think you know anything about hockey, I am disappointed. On the left is Paul Coffey, probably one of the best pure skaters in NHL history and a teammate of Wayne Gretzky’s. Coffey was a masterful blueline tactician and was pivotal in every one of Edmonton’s Stanley Cup wins in the 80’s. On the right is Bob Probert, thought of as one of the toughest, meanest players to ever play hockey. During his time with Detroit and Chicago, he was undoubtedly one of the most feared enforcers, and yet had good enough hands to rack up some points too.

Despite my grin, it’s been a tiresome weekend so far. The Juno Awards are in town, and for my wife, it’s the culmination of months and months of work. Not only is it an awards show (this Sunday night on CTV), but for Calgary – and this is where my wife’s work comes in – it’s an opportunity to showcase Calgary as a culturally diverse and artistically inspiring city. The efforts of the hometown arts organizations are to widen the spotlight on Calgary this weekend, and to draw attention to the city’s already celebrated local music scene. Once the awards are over, all of this hard work and the attention paid by national media and the industry are ideally going to leave a legacy for Calgary to leverage and build upon.

My wife’s been at it for months. Her work started, I believe, last September. For me, things started out Thursday after work, when I went downtown to meet up with my friend David at one of the weekend’s many free concerts. This concert featured popular alt-rock groups The Dudes, The New Odds, Bedouin Soundclash, Sloan and Finger Eleven. We stayed for an hour or so, and then left for a new Keg restaurant that was playing host to a VIP party for the Juno Cup – a friendly hockey game between NHL Alumni All Stars and the “Rockers” – musicians in town for the Awards who each signed up to play against some of their heros. Some of the more recognizable names for the NHLers were Paul Coffey, Bob Probert, Lanny McDonald, Geoff Courtnall and Doug Gilmour, while for the Rockers more than 40 musicians signed up, so there were actually 2 teams. Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo), Tom Cochrane, Barney Bentall, Sloan, Zach Warner (Canadian Idol) and illScarlett were some of those playing. The game was last night, and it was a lot of fun.

Tonight is the Gala Dinner and the Awards broadcast show is tomorrow night. Mixed in are events at about 30 local clubs and throughout downtown, so really we’re only about halfway through. Nothing will make me happier than to see my wife finally cross this marathon’s finish line on Sunday night.

On an unrelated note, how exciting is it that the NHL Playoffs are starting Tuesday! My favorite time of the year – when the Playoffs are just about to begin and Calgary’s still got as good a chance as anyone. My sympathies to friends who are Canucks and Oilers fans.

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