A Looney Hockey Story

The speech Carl wrote and delivered to become Humorous Speech Contest Champion for Toastmasters District 45 (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maritime Canada) in November 2006.

When I was young, I chased my dream of being a 220 pound Olympic hockey star. By the time I finished college, I was halfway there: I weighed 110. But the Olympic part of my dream actually came true and on February 24, 2002 in Salt Lake City, as Team Canada took on the US for gold, with a Canadian dollar coin frozen in the ice at center.

It's said that that dollar coin - a LOONIE - wrote Canadian sports history that day - but hear this tale, and YOU tell ME if it sounds like something written by a LOONIE!!

You see, that Sunday was the first day I was home alone - with my little Eric: 19 pounds of diaper and squirm.

Now, I was pretty much an old timer at diaper changes - but I'd never stickhandled my way through suppertime - unassisted!!

The game was on at 3, so my plan was to watch the first 2 periods, then set everything up in the living room during the 2nd intermission.

We have an oval shaped rug there. After the 2nd period was over, when I brought the high chair in from the kitchen, there was Eric, crawling around the perimeter of the rug - and on TV, the Zamboni was zipping around the ice. Hmm…

I lifted Eric up into his high chair - and in Salt Lake the crowd leapt to its feet as the teams came back on. Hmmmm…

Then Eric said "gwapes, gwapes" - his favorite fruit - and suddenly the camera zoomed in on Don Cherry!! Spooky.

I helped Eric with his bib - and there was the trainer helping Joe Sakic fix his shoulder pads.

It was only then that I realized what was going on. Eric - my little Eric - was directing the action. The success of this game was riding on the success of this meal. And all the hopes and dreams of an entire, hockey crazed nation were in the hands of - well, his coach, of course!!

The game was tied 2-2. Team Canada Coach Pat Quinn started with Sakic - Iginla - Yzerman. I started with stewed - strained - prunes.

I scooped in the first bite... and Iginla won the draw.

I kept scooping, and Canada pressed forward. Suddenly, Yzerman passed the puck to Iginla, who blasted it into the US net. Score - 3-2 Canada!! I high-fived Eric.

I scooped in more prunes and Canada won the draw again. But then Eric paused to catch his breath - and the Americans charged. I raised a spoonful, but Eric swung his arm around and knocked it out of my hand - and MacInnes got 2 minutes for high sticking.

"ERIC!!" I yelled - and there was the referee warning Coach Quinn to tone it down.

As MacInnes went to the box, I got worried about my bench, because all I had was just Eric and the prunes. Then I remembered the grapes - his favorite food. I grabbed a bunch from the fridge and popped one in - but it didn't work: Team USA was dominating. I popped in another - and to my horror they scored - tie game. It was only then that I looked down and saw the sticker on the grapes - a happy face with 3 dreaded words: "Product of USA".

So it was back to the prunes. Eric ate, and Canada advanced.

But soon, there was that hesitation again. And then his eyes started rolling with every bite. On TV, the Americans were threatening again. "Of course," I thought. "It's the 3rd period - he's exhausted!" I snatched him out of his high chair and clapped his back. "BURRRRRRRRPPP!" he said - and Pat Quinn called a time out.

But I could tell we were losing our momentum - and there were still 3 minutes left to play. Suddenly, I got an idea. I ran to the kitchen and opened a can of beans - because you can always count on beans for a bit of momentum.

I rammed in a scoop - and Team Canada attacked.

I jammed in another, and Lemieux rushed to the net.

I slammed in one last bite, and Kariya passed to Lemieux.

Eric slumped and his eyes glazed - Lemieux shot and his arms raised. Score!!!

Seconds later, the siren sounded. Team Canada celebrated, I danced and Eric…fell asleep.

Now, I ask you again: does that sound like something written by a LOONIE??

Ladies and Gentlemen, Eric and I sat out the Turin Olympics - and look what happened: Canada didn't even win a medal. But in 2010, the Olympics are coming to Vancouver - and we'll be ready!!!

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