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Rainy Nights in Canada


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Game One

by Lisa Ovens
Nov. 14th 2006

Okay, more like rainy nights in Vancouver. Now that the city is soaking wet and is a few weeks into Darkness at Five PM mode, I find myself cozy, warm and getting into a couple of new hockey themed television shows every Sunday. The first is Making the Cut, Last Man Standing, a hockey reality show by Vancouver sports production company, Network Entertainment, and I am enjoying it just as much as the original Making The Cut, which aired back in 2004.

Rainy Nights

Mike Keenan and Jack Birch are back and are selective as ever as they make life tough and suspenseful for 17 hockey playing hopefuls competing the be the last man standing. The winner receives a $250,000.00 endorsement contract and representation from a top NHL agent. The concept: there are plenty of good players out there, un-drafted, or unsigned that may have slipped through the cracks. Why not fly them into Vernon BC during the summer, sequester them in a ski resort lodge and then put them through the training camp of their lives. Assemble a Pro hockey operations department and let the fun and agony begin.

Each half hour show is jammed pack full of action, skill, sweat, and emotion peppered with quiet, thoughtful analysis that really opens the viewer’s eyes to just how tough it is to make the NHL. They have selected an interesting bunch of players, with a couple just oozing with character and presence (Jarret Lukin and Dan McWhinney are my personal favs, although my money is on another fav, Adam Taylor, to be the last man standing.)

The hockey operations department pulls a few surprises with off ice challenges, and so far the highlight for me was the Boxing challenge. Adam Taylor and Dylan Stanley received a crash course and then fought it out for three rounds in the ring. Mike Keenan showed up for the fight in a dark suit, a fedora, smoking a cigar: he looked cool and added a theatrical touch to the proceedings. Adam won the fight, but both received praise and respect from their teammates for having the nads to go through with it. Just under half of the players have been cut, so be sure to tune in as the competition really starts to heat up.

Do you like swearing? How about bathroom and sex humor? Take those and add a teensy tiny amount of hockey and voila, you have Rent a Goalie, a Showcase original series. The fictional series is set in a café in Toronto’s Little Italy. The cast is huge and during the half hour season premiere they made sure to give everyone some screen time, making things a little confusing. Now that we are seven episodes in things have settled down and I am actually starting to like Cake, the lead character and goalie renter. Highlights have included cameo appearances by Tiger Williams and Phil Esposito. Tiger’s stint was all right, but Espo’s was brilliant. Man can that guy swear! His F bombs stole the show! If you plan on watching, visit the website and read up on the characters first…

Finally, I close with this little tidbit for the NHL…one day soon, during my next spa treatment I hope this happens:
I’m in my spa waffle robe, comfy slippers as the spa attendant leads me into the tranquility room to lounge on a sofa, and wait for my spa specialist to arrive. As I enter the tranquility room, I stop in my tracks and stare. I look at the attendant and say “What’s Markus Naslund doing here?” and the attendant says, “Oh, Miss Lisa, He’s here to remind you the hockey season has started.

Yes, I have enjoyed the new NHL ads, which include hockey stars like Sidney Crosby, Peter Forsberg, Jonathan Cheechoo and Marty Turco. Come on NHL…you are so close now: two years in a row you’ve included women in the TV spots…isn’t it time you show us women as fans for once? Please? I offer you the above spa scenario as freebie – I dare you to have your creative ad agency make it…see if you can get Renee Zellweger to play me.

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