LOOK AROUND YOU: GIVE THANKS

Robin Brownlee
October 11 2010 03:43PM

The Edmonton Oilers are 2-0, but they could easily be 0-2. If it wasn't for Nikolai Khabibulin, who swiped a couple of points in a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers Sunday, the mood around town might be considerably different today than what it is.

I'm no deep-thinker, as readers here can attest, but it seems to me that a day -- Thanksgiving Day -- that has many of us booked off work and settling in for a feast, or maybe just recovering from one, is as good a time as any for us to take a minute to think about all we have to be grateful for, that 2-0 record aside.

That's not business as usual for me because I'm too often as finicky and entitled and me-me-me as anybody you'll ever meet (maybe you're guilty of that, too), but every now and then it's probably a good idea to do it. For anybody looking for comment or analysis regarding the Oilers in the rest of this item -- funny how fans expect that on a hockey website -- you'll want to click through because this isn't that.

Just some thoughts . . .

CUSHY GIG

As a creature of habit, I've felt a bit displaced on game nights at Rexall Place because I no longer have one of the prime seats up in the press box reserved for me. The best seats are for the beat writers and columnists from both daily newspapers. I occupied those seats for 20 years or so, alongside Jim Matheson and Terry Jones (tight fit).

Now? My credentials have landed me down the line with, gulp, junior scribes, internet writers, radio guys and TV types. I'm Robin Friggin' Brownlee, for crying out loud. This will never do.

How my angst must resonate with fans who have to pay to get into the rink, which is something I haven't had to do since I first walked into Rexall Place in 1989. Poor baby.

Just the other day, I was bemoaning how packed the media parking lot has become in recent years. With the addition of so many outlets in the past 10 years, we're crammed in pretty good. Last thing I need is some knucklehead opening his car door on my ride, Snap. Lose it. Overreact. My parking is free and I still have an A Lot pass. That means I walk 200 feet, at most, to the door.

I've been pissing and moaning since the Oilers started charging for the pre-game meal about five years ago. It used to be free. It's an even worse deal for me now because I can't (or won't) load up my plate like I used to, as reporters are prone to do, now that I'm on this weight-loss kick. I can't even get my money's worth. What a rip-off.

The meal is $10, including all the trips to the buffet, beverages and desserts you want. That's less than fans who've already paid for tickets and parking shell out for a hot dog and a beer. How does $10 sound to the family guy bringing his wife and two kids to the game?

IN PERSPECTIVE

I don't miss the travelling I used to do with the Oilers. Too many long days. Security since the World Trade Centre attacks has made travel, even by charter, a pain in the ass. I don't know how Rod Phillips did it for 37 years. I had no misgivings getting off that merry-go-round in 2007.

Oh, what a grind it was, free hotels or not.

Poor me. Once you've been to Chicago or New York or Los Angeles or Miami 10 or 15 or 20 times, it's run-of-the-mill, right? I thought so, until I started booking (and paying) for similar trips for family vacations and the like. The hotel costs how much a night (and we aren't talking the Ritz-Carlton)? The airfare is what? Business-class seating and free booze and food on the flights, though, right?

Without the salary that comes with being a senior writer at the dailies, I've had to hustle to make up for it, taking freelance jobs that see me working for two or three different outlets on any given day. That includes writing here for Oilersnation, Canadian Press or NHL.com.

Twice a week, I do radio on The Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260. Gregor makes it fun and he's patient, considering I'm OK at best on-air. Still, I get pissed off sometimes that I've got to switch gears so often, depending on who I'm writing for. I don't make as much as I used to.

There's a woman named Ofelia who works at the gas bar where I fill up my cars. Ofelia has worked there for several years and, for a year or so until we got a full-time nanny, she supplemented her income from that with babysitting my son Sam.

I stopped in today and, as usual, she was working. Ofelia, in her 60s, takes all the shifts nobody else wants. "Say hello to Sam for me," she said. "Happy Thanksgiving." On days when I write a story for any one of CP, NHL.com or Oilersnation and do a radio show, I make more in five or six hours than Ofelia does in a week. I'll bet a lot of you do, too.

JUST A THOUGHT

I don't have a lot of patience -- there's a news bulletin -- for some of the comments people write here. Who are these knuckleheads with fake names questioning my take on things? I don't need the aggravation.

Last night at the game on the way up the stairs to the press box, a big guy in an Oilers jersey asked, "What do you think happens tonight, Robin?" I liked it that he recognized me, and he didn't even say, "Didn't you used to be Robin Brownlee?"

The other day in the deli section at the supermarket, I asked a clerk why he was out of the sandwich meat I wanted, my expression making it obvious I wasn't impressed. "I know that voice," he said. "The Gregor show, right?" He went to the back and came out with the product I was looking for. "I really like that show," he said.

There's a lot of people out there who do more important and meaningful work than I do. That list is too long to even contemplate. Nobody knows who they are. Nobody outside their place of employment or immediate family says, "Great job. I love your work." Along the way, if the flipside is that a few people think I suck at it, that's not so bad, is it?

LUCKY MAN

When I got back from the game Sunday after a long day, the exterior lights of the house where on. My wife, Analyn, got into the habit of turning them on to welcome me back home during the years I spent on the road.

It was Analyn's way of making sure I knew she was thinking about me, just in case she was asleep when I got back. Even now, though I'm gone for hours instead of days and weeks, she turns those lights on. Hours or weeks, I can't wait to get home to her.

When our oldest son Michael began his first year at the University of Alberta in September, I almost shat myself when we got the prices of tuition and books. Seems there's been a few increases since I faked my way into journalism school. Michael wants to go into medicine. Analyn and I will be paying for this until I'm 117.

Michael spends every week night studying in his room downstairs, sessions interrupted only by occasional breaks that see him wrestling with Sam or peeling paint off the walls with his guitar. Mercy, the kid can play -- like on my 50th birthday when he cranked out a rendition of Sweet Child of Mine as a present in front of a house full of people.

Michael bangs out wicked riffs and honour-student marks with the same regularity. He's a wonderful brother to Sam and a great kid. You can't put a price on that. Then, there's Sam. You know his story. I can barely talk or write about that little boy without tearing up or getting all goofy, and that buggers up the Big Bad Bronte image good and plenty. So, I'll stop right here.

Happy Thanksgiving Day.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Wanye
October 11 2010, 03:48PM
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Very well said Robin. Happy Thanksgiving Nations.

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#2 sizedoesmatter
October 11 2010, 03:51PM
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love the column robin. ever thought of writing non sports stuff, like a book i,d buy it

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#3 Hal
October 11 2010, 03:53PM
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Great read Brownlee. Well said. Sports is a great release, and somedays we should remember we are so lucky. Thanks for the insight.

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#4 jeanshorts
October 11 2010, 04:09PM
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When I first loaded up this here webspace it said this article was by Wanye. I almost fainted when I got about 5 words in and not only did it make coherent sense, but there wasn't various pictures of cats all over the place. Thank heavens it's been fixed.

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#5 Smug Bar Steward
October 11 2010, 04:13PM
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Nice article Robin. You write from the heart not the head in this one and it shows. Enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving Day!

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#6 knee deep in it
October 11 2010, 04:48PM
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very nice column Robin.

Happy Thanksgiving day to you.

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#7 Fin
October 11 2010, 05:05PM
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Very nice write up. Thanks for reminding us to keep everything in perspective.

Happy Thanksgiving day!

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#8 Wanye
October 11 2010, 05:32PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

When I first loaded up this here webspace it said this article was by Wanye. I almost fainted when I got about 5 words in and not only did it make coherent sense, but there wasn't various pictures of cats all over the place. Thank heavens it's been fixed.

If this wasn't the holidays I would call attention to mistakes you have made in the past.

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#9 a lg dubl dubl
October 11 2010, 05:48PM
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Awsome read Robin, kudos to you! Happy Thanksgiving :)

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#10 Hax
October 11 2010, 06:25PM
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Great article Robin. Sounds like those beat writers have it rough.

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#12 DN
October 11 2010, 06:51PM
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As far as I am concerned Spector, Brownlee, Gregor, Stauffer & Barnes are the major Oiler media folks in town. Let''s all e-mail the Oilers to get Brownlee equal status to the Journal & ( god forbid ) the Sun scribes.

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#14 DDP
October 11 2010, 06:58PM
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Great write up Robin. Really puts things in perspective. At some point you really need to write a book, it would be a crime not to!

Happy Thanksgiving Nation!

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#15 Team Hall
October 11 2010, 07:26PM
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Great article Robin, every time I see a personal article I think I'm gonna hate it and I end up liking it more than usual. I think its crap that with your level of experience they give you no seniority, it's like the 58 year old fella we have at my shop who ranks lower than the kids. Bull shat. I hate that crap, but that's the world we live in. I would like to think the Oilers org is run better than that, but it's just as cold as any business today. Work dehumanizes us all. At the end of your career they just kick you to the curb, or say thanks and quickly move on without you. Anyways, I am thankful for Robin's articles and on air persona. I still think you should get your own show on 1260.

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#16 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
October 11 2010, 07:30PM
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I miss CDN thanksgiving, I worked ! :( Enjoy the bird and pie we live on a blessed continent.

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#17 Terjaybow
October 11 2010, 07:42PM
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I'm thankful for being born in Alberta, Canada. Thanks mom and dad.

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#18 Ender
October 11 2010, 07:51PM
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Thanks for the post, Robin. At first, when I saw it wasn't going to be about hockey, I was prepared for a Reader's Digest piece about Thanksgiving. I was pleasantly surprised. The anecdotes were a nice lift to the evening. Thanks for sharing, Mr. Brownlee. If I see you in the supermarket, I'll thank you in person, right before I swipe the last package of the product that you like.

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#19 SMOKEY
October 11 2010, 08:04PM
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I am thankful for Magnificent Bastard this Thanksgiving... Everyone who agrees say here, here...

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#20 D
October 11 2010, 08:28PM
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Once again confirms why your articles are so much fun to read! Thanks Robin and Happy Thanksgiving.

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#21 David S
October 11 2010, 08:43PM
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Robin - I like many here would encourage you to start putting pen to paper and write that book. A fascinating insider's take on the beat writer's life in the NHL would be a runaway national best seller here in hockey obsessed Canada.

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#22 Archaeologuy
October 11 2010, 09:22PM
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@David S

I would also buy that book.

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#23 Wanye
October 11 2010, 09:22PM
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Ender wrote:

Thanks for the post, Robin. At first, when I saw it wasn't going to be about hockey, I was prepared for a Reader's Digest piece about Thanksgiving. I was pleasantly surprised. The anecdotes were a nice lift to the evening. Thanks for sharing, Mr. Brownlee. If I see you in the supermarket, I'll thank you in person, right before I swipe the last package of the product that you like.

That is classic. I am thankful when Ender jabs Brownlee.

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#24 PabstBR55
October 11 2010, 09:27PM
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Hmm, I spend a ridiculous amount of time reading and sometimes writing my thoughts about The Oilers, The NHL, and pro sports, and I have made a total of $0 doing so.

You're a talented journalist, Mr. Brownlee, and I hope you're thankful for the fact that you get to cover The Oilers, The NHL, and pro sports for a living. Most of us manage spreadsheets, provide legal defense services to strange people, teach young brats, or hawk cars to pay our bills.

The message I deduce from reading this is that nobody can have or retain a perfect life ... at least not forever. We should be glad for what we have or what we've had, and that above status, titles, and wealth, we should always be pursuing our own integrity as the highest honour.

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#25 Robin Brownlee
October 11 2010, 09:30PM
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David S wrote:

Robin - I like many here would encourage you to start putting pen to paper and write that book. A fascinating insider's take on the beat writer's life in the NHL would be a runaway national best seller here in hockey obsessed Canada.

I'm flattered, but Jim Matheson needs to write that book, not me.

Matty was around from the WHA days, from the minute, literally, Wayne Gretzky landed in Edmonton. Five Stanley Cups. He documented hall-of-fame careers. He's written the hockey beat for almost 40 years -- 40 years. I've had a cup of coffee compared to him.

That's a best-seller.

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#26 Robin Brownlee
October 11 2010, 09:46PM
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@PabstBR55

That's pretty much how I see it.

No matter how great your job is or how much money you make, there is always somebody with a better gig who makes more money. No matter how lousy your job or how little you make, there are people with no jobs, no money.

In the end, though, your job and your career isn't what you are, it's what you do. That can change in a heartbeat. If you live only for that and it's taken away, then what?

What matters most is closer to home, however humble or grand that home might be. It took 48 years, until the day Sam was born, for me to get that through my thick skull. As my mom used to say, "Too soon old, too late wise."

Figure out what matters. Appreciate what you have.

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#27 bigrroberto
October 11 2010, 10:17PM
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Great read Robin.

I enjoy reading something that you've wrote.

Whether or not I believe in it or agree with its content, there's no denying your talent and passion for what you do.

Thanks.

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#28 David S
October 11 2010, 10:20PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I'm flattered, but Jim Matheson needs to write that book, not me.

Matty was around from the WHA days, from the minute, literally, Wayne Gretzky landed in Edmonton. Five Stanley Cups. He documented hall-of-fame careers. He's written the hockey beat for almost 40 years -- 40 years. I've had a cup of coffee compared to him.

That's a best-seller.

I suppose you're probably right.

Speaking of Gretzky - "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

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#29 Hemmertime
October 11 2010, 10:28PM
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sizedoesmatter wrote:

love the column robin. ever thought of writing non sports stuff, like a book i,d buy it

Wait till he retires from writing Oilers news. Then the book can be much more interesting. I was tempted to buy Lynda Steeles but Id definitely buy RBs

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#30 PattQuinn'sChesthair
October 11 2010, 10:48PM
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Im thankful for my family, freinds, and job in that order. And after that there's alot of other things that are good in my life including this here Nation and posts like this one.

Thanks Robin.

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#31 Jamie B.
October 11 2010, 11:00PM
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Just spent a great night at my parents' with aunt and uncle, cousins and their significant others, and two little kids running around. (We normally do our family meal on the Sunday, but duh, there was a game last night. I love that that's how we roll in my family.) Great food, lots of stupid laughs, nice night. I hope everyone else enjoyed their weekend no matter what you did. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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#32 Mike Modano's Dog
October 11 2010, 11:07PM
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Hey Robin,

I would love to know who are in those pictures.

Secondly, you aren't second-rate at radio; you're pure gold.

Thirdly (if that's a saying), you are a wonderful writer. I'm thankful for that...and for all your coverage of the Oilers and sports here in Edmonton over the years!

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#33 VK63
October 12 2010, 12:04AM
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10 bucks for all U can eat? I got fleeced for 18 a plate downstairs and I am certain that the smoked brisket of beef came from a cow I owned as a child, (I am now 47).

Great read Robin.

I am thankful for a great many things... the time to enjoy this place is one. Happy thanksgiving nation!

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#34 David S
October 12 2010, 12:13AM
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Mike Modano's Dog wrote:

Hey Robin,

I would love to know who are in those pictures.

Secondly, you aren't second-rate at radio; you're pure gold.

Thirdly (if that's a saying), you are a wonderful writer. I'm thankful for that...and for all your coverage of the Oilers and sports here in Edmonton over the years!

X2

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#35 PhillipSmithson
October 12 2010, 12:25AM
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Great article. Its good to be thankful for the things in our lives. Sorry to say that you don't miss the flying aspect of covering the Oilers. As one of those airport security types that ask for your shoes to come off when traveling to the U.S. we miss the surly journalists that used to fly all the time. I'm kidding of course. But to all the readers on the Nation, please be kind to the guys and gals in Airport Security. We're just following the rules set out by the powers-that-be, and like the rest of you, we're just trying to make a living. (Not that we make enough to go to many Oilers games darn it!)

Happy Thanksgiving all!

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#36 pelhem grenville
October 12 2010, 06:26AM
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"Then, there's Sam. YOU KNOW HIS STORY ..."

...as always, a great read Robin...when i first read your bio/blurb/tag under your copy many months ago,the last sentence announcement reads... 'most importantly, he's Sam's dad'...but i do not know Sams' story...is there a link to what you've written about him? > I don't want to feel left out... I think I'd like to know his story. I lost my son in June of 2002, he was a musician, on tour, and your 'peeling paint' reference made me laff out loud,it touched me deeply, my kid had great hands, with a hockey stick AND a guitar.Like your Michael, my son Jordan ripped me HIS rendition of 'Stairway To Heaven' on MY 50th,two short years before he was gone... So as the words on this screen become more difficult to read as I type, let me quickly take this opportunity to say I've been most thankful to read your words here each and every time you post. You ARE the reason I keep coming back to read YOU and the other Voices Of The Nation...

the "mouthbreathers"? not so much ... maybe at little

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#37 Reagan
October 12 2010, 06:50AM
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There is a soft side of you in there Robin. Great read!

From my estimation there is only a few dozen that actually use our real names here. Kinda sad when you think about it. Wayne could probably let us know. I'm not scared to be a nation follower so why should you?

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#38 Robin Brownlee
October 12 2010, 07:20AM
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@pelhem grenville

I'm sorry for your loss. I don't even want to imagine that kind of pain.

I've mentioned Sam here often. I can look up the items I've written and send them to you if you want. You can also hear Sam's story when I do Astral Media's telethon for the Stollery Children's Hospital again this year. He's one of their many success stories.

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#39 pelhem grenville
October 12 2010, 07:32AM
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"...From my estimation there is only a few dozen that actually use our real names here. Kinda sad when you think about it..."

that's cool Reagan...

I'm Paul Wodehouse

wodehouse@shaw.ca

serious inquiries only please

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#40 pelhem grenville
October 12 2010, 07:38AM
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this ugly mug

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#41 Robin Brownlee
October 12 2010, 07:40AM
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@pelhem grenville

Paul, I had a feeling it was you when you mentioned the guitar reference. I remember Jordan's story. God bless.

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#42 pelhem grenville
October 12 2010, 07:44AM
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again...

thankyou Robin...yes please send them along when you are able...i will also listen if you gimme the date for the telethon ...

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#43 jono
October 12 2010, 08:52AM
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Robin thanks for the reminder, perspective is an amazing thing. How lucky, how blessed... some days it is a bit overwhelming.

I feel like a bit of a suck right now, sitting at the breakfast table with my youngest, recently returned from a short stint at Alberta Children's and right as rain. The story of Sam is an amazing one and should be told.

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#44 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 12 2010, 10:02AM
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Reagan wrote:

There is a soft side of you in there Robin. Great read!

From my estimation there is only a few dozen that actually use our real names here. Kinda sad when you think about it. Wayne could probably let us know. I'm not scared to be a nation follower so why should you?

i have been called "spaz" enough times that i respond if someone yells it out in a crowded room.

it may as well be my real name...

wait, what?

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#45 The Fish
October 12 2010, 11:28AM
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Robin,

While sometimes I disagree with what you have to say, I still think you are one of the best hockey writers in the country. Your articles are the only ones on this site that are a must read for me. I like that fact that you write for this website because you don't have to watch what you say and can essentially just shoot the sh*t with the readers here. Also, it can be fun to get your goat at times.

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#46 The Fish
October 12 2010, 11:30AM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

"Then, there's Sam. YOU KNOW HIS STORY ..."

...as always, a great read Robin...when i first read your bio/blurb/tag under your copy many months ago,the last sentence announcement reads... 'most importantly, he's Sam's dad'...but i do not know Sams' story...is there a link to what you've written about him? > I don't want to feel left out... I think I'd like to know his story. I lost my son in June of 2002, he was a musician, on tour, and your 'peeling paint' reference made me laff out loud,it touched me deeply, my kid had great hands, with a hockey stick AND a guitar.Like your Michael, my son Jordan ripped me HIS rendition of 'Stairway To Heaven' on MY 50th,two short years before he was gone... So as the words on this screen become more difficult to read as I type, let me quickly take this opportunity to say I've been most thankful to read your words here each and every time you post. You ARE the reason I keep coming back to read YOU and the other Voices Of The Nation...

the "mouthbreathers"? not so much ... maybe at little

That is so sad. Sorry to hear that.

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#47 positivebrontefan
October 12 2010, 11:31AM
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That's a good read Robin. We too often take for granted what we have until it's gone. I have two beautiful daughters and could not imagine anything happening to them. I myself almost died at the tender age of six weeks old and it was the wonderful people at the University Hospital that saved my life, (well before the Stollery). My mother to this day talks about the wonderful people there and I can tell how they touched my parents lives with their compassion almost 36 years ago. I am thankful for all the wonderful people in the health services industry, they truly are a special group of people. As far as real names mine is John and I am a fan of the Team 1260 and do very much enjoy your Friday visits to the Gregor show.

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#48 David S
October 12 2010, 11:52AM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

"...From my estimation there is only a few dozen that actually use our real names here. Kinda sad when you think about it..."

that's cool Reagan...

I'm Paul Wodehouse

wodehouse@shaw.ca

serious inquiries only please

One of Edmonton's best journalistic shooters if I recall.

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#49 Jmask5
October 12 2010, 11:57AM
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The Oilers could easily be 1-1 not 0-2. They outplayed Calgary and deserved to win that one. I believe the scoring chances were 22-12 for the Oilers so it wasn't really that close. Besides even Khabibulin himself admitted that the Calgary game wasn't that tough.

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#50 Fake Name
October 12 2010, 12:55PM
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You suck.

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