Over the weekend, a crew from Nation HQ made their way to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to cover the Ryan Smyth jersey retirement for the Moose Jaw Warriors. This is their story…
Friday 6:00 AM – The Alarm…
JS: “WHY THE HELL AM I UP SO EARLY!” I shout to the heavens. Then I DO
remember why and have to lay in bed for three more minutes as I wait for my Smytty Related Boner
BM: Normally, I don’t wake up for two or three hours after this, and I was complaining like we weren’t going to meet Smytty. Luckily, Mrs. Milk laid out most of my stuff the night before so that I wouldn’t have to scramble in the morning.
Friday 7:00 AM – Off to the airport.
JS: We leave the JSBM dungeon to try and get to the airport by 8:15. It had
snowed a billion feet that night, and we were pretty sure the Anthony Henday was going to be
atrocious so we gave ourselves plenty of time.
Friday 7:25 AM – Arrive at the airport.
JS: Turns out we didn’t need to give ourselves quite so much
BM: FML… I could have slept for another hour.
Friday 7:40 AM – Win a free coffee through Roll Up The Rim.
JS: Figured I would document this one
time because it will probably never happen again this year.
BM: One of us won free coffee… Bitter? Me? No way. (I’m totally bitter)
Friday 8:20AM – Jeanshorts sees Jason Gregor walking toward security as we’re waiting for the rest of the gang to
JS: “Excuse me, are you the radio’s Jason Gregor?”
Gregor: “*Smiles politely* Yeah I am… *recognizes BM, realizes who I am. Stops smiling* …I’ll
see you guys at the gate.”
BM: People know me.
Friday 8:45 AM – Board plane. MOOSE JAW HERE WE COME!
BM: At first, I was sitting next to Gregor but there were a lot of seats open so he bailed almost instantly. I assume he was intimidated by my rugged manliness.
JS: Your coffee farts probably weren’t helping.
Friday 9:45 AM – Plane finally takes off after being sprayed with an oceans worth of glycol (stuff
that stops the plane from freezing). Moose Jaw here we ACTUALLY come!
BM: It wasn’t just the plane that was getting sprayed down either – the tarmac crew seemed to be getting a free work-related high from having litres of green stuff blowing into their face. Seems healthy…
Friday 11 AM – We made it to Regina!
JS: The Regina airport is quaint, very “Saskatchewan”, and has more Corner Gas merchandise than any other spot on the planet.
BM: I wasn’t offered a single Pilsner when we landed… What’s up with that?
Friday 11:15 AM – Get into the rental car. Gregor immediately starts eating a salad. Regales us with tales of his new diet plan.
BM: Gregor looks goooooood.
JS: We’re all going to mistake him for Channing Tatum by July! #Abs
Friday 12 PM – Arrive at hotel, and are informed that we can’t check into our rooms until 4PM. Start
questioning Saskatchewan’s customs.
BM: I love that we weren’t able to check in until it was basically time to leave. Classic!
JS: And by my count there were maybe 13 other people staying at that hotel. The new lamps littering the hallway outnumbered the people 15 to 1. To be fair though our room was REALLY clean (and hotter than a sauna at the centre of the earths core).
Friday 1:30 PM – Arrive at Mosaic Place, home of the Moose Jaw Warriors. Wander around, and find our hospitality room.
BM: TMZ Moose Jaw!
JS: The first and last time anyone treats us like some kind of professionals.
Friday 2:00 – Head up to the press box so Gregor can get set up for his show.
JS: I literally move no more than 10 feet to the
right of BM, behind a black curtain halving the press box beside us. I start taking some pictures of the rink.
I immediately get left behind as everyone goes on a dressing room tour without me.
BM: The dressing room was SIIIIICK! Every stall had a Ryan Smyth Oilers jersey that the Warriors were going to wear for warmup.
JS: YEAH WHAT A GREAT EXPERIENCE! (not bitter at all)
Friday 2:20 – In the stands at Mosaic Place
JS: I finally find BM sitting down watching some old timers play, when… HOLY SHIT IS THAT
SMYTTY OUT THERE???
BM: Not only was it Smytty out there, he was still rocking the old Jofa. What a legend! Quality of competition aside, Smytty still had some dangles out there and more importantly he looked like he was having a great time.
Friday 2:21 – Take 9000 pictures of Smytty
JS: We wanted to be somewhat professional and try not to freak out when he looked to be gazing in our general direction.
BM: He’s lying to you, we were freaking out.
Friday 2:30 PM – Go get lunch. Pick Gregor up another salad.
JS: Guy is going to be showing
off his abs all summer, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.
BM: That Gregor… So hot right now.
Friday 3:30 PM – Cruise around downtown taking in life in the Jaw.
JS: Moose Jaw’s downtown is really cool. It’s a nice mix of original, old school architecture meeting modern
practicality. Basically lots of buildings that look 100 years old on the outside but have been fully modernized on
BM: Everyone there was also unfathomably nice. Picture a small town with more people walking around. As a small towner, it was easy to feel at home. And don’t even get me started on how cheap parking was!
Friday 3:45 PM – Find a TOTALLY legit massage place next to the arena.
BM: “How much change do you have?”
Friday 4:40 PM – The Smytty presser…
JS: The Warriors held a quick little press conference that was neat to be a
part of. Smytty thanked everyone from the Warriors, spoke about his connection to Moose Jaw,
and how he’s excited and thankful for the night that’s about to take place. Smytty made direct eye
contact with me a couple of times, and it took every fibre of my being to stop my heart from exploding.
BM: Dude, he was right in front of us. My inner monologue basically ran with “Don’t cry, don’t freak out, try not to be yourself…” I WAS FREAKING OUT, MAN! That being said, it was still awesome to be a part of a scrum on a day where Ryan Smyth looked like he was having a great time.
Friday 5:20 PM – Killing time before puck drop
BM: Yes we had beers, but they were work related and we needed sustenance.
Friday 5:35 PM – Frantically make our way back to the arena for 5:40 to be corralled like cows
with all the other esteemed members of the media waiting to get on the ice for the ceremony.
JS: We made friends with Luke, a photographer from the Moose Jaw Times Herald. He was wearing a Soo Greyhounds
toque so, naturally, we ask him a million questions about Darnell Nurse. For what it’s worth, he thinks
Nurse is going to be an absolute killer in the NHL.
BM: Look at us hobnobbing. We’re journalists!
JS: We also caught the end of warm ups. As we mentioned earlier all the Warriors wore Smytty jerseys for it, so it as awesome imaging and entire team comprised solely of Ryan Smyth clones. THAT TEAM WOULD WIN A BILLION CUPS!
BM: Not only were the Warriors decked out in Smytty jerseys, there were handfuls of Oilers fans in the stands which made us feel even more at home. Moose Jaw, man, it’s part of Oil Country! Who knew?
Friday 5:50 PM – Make our way onto the ice.
JS: They rolled out red carpets on the end of the
ice that Smytty and his family and everyone else was going to come out. The media came out of
a side door across the ice from the benches. They were nice enough to set us up on a 15 by 15
piece of carpet about 150 feet away from the door. I thank the heavens that I only had two beers in me
as I daintily traverse the ice, trying not to be “that guy” who took a header on the ice in front of
BM: I wasn’t worried about it. I am the mountain goat.
JS: Gregor REALLY wanted us to fall, I can tell you that much.
BM: Some guy ended up falling on his ass at the end of the ceremony, and afterward Gregor said something like “I was really hoping it was one of the boys that fell down.” Nice.
Friday 6 PM – Smytty’s jersey retirement ceremony.
JS: It was really well done by the Warriors. They
had a nice video tribute. They had a couple people come up and tell stories about his time in
Moose Jaw. The mayor presented him with some kind of painting that no one was able to see
as it was wrapped like a gift. Smytty’s kids all looked adorable in their matching Smyth
BM: The Warriors really did kill it. They pulled out all the stops to put on a retirement ceremony that was good enough for Ryan Smyth. Actually, I’d almost say that the Warriors put on a show that’s on par with anything the Florida Panthers are able to do – there was probably more people there watching than at a Panthers game too. The best part was that the video tribute showed only Oilers clips, and nothing from the lost years in NYI, Colorado, and LA.
JS: My favourite part of the whole ceremony was a moment that I think I was the only one to catch. After the jersey
raising both teams came off the benches (to fight! Just kidding) to shake Smytty’s hand. There is
a massive Swede on the Warriors named Axel Blomqvist. Not only does he have the coolest
name in the league but he’s listed as 6’6”, so on skates he’s roughly 50 feet tall. Smytty went to
shake his hand, realized how far he had to look up to make eye contact and let out a very polite “OH JEEZE” as he processed the fact he was shaking hands with an honest to goodness giant.
It was hilarious and quintessential Smytty.
BM: The kid made us all look like smurfs. We may need to contact his billets and find out what they’ve been feeding him. I think Nugey may need to get on the same program – maybe we’ll have to ask Gregor where he gets his salads from.
Friday 6:30 PM – Make our way to our luxury box to watch the game and drink our weight in
JS: Super huge thanks to the wonderful people at JLB Electric for having us as
guests in their suite. They’re huge Oiler fans so why don’t you go ahead and give them a follow!
— JLB Electric (@JLB_Electric) February 7, 2015
Friday 7:15 PM – SMTTY COMES INTO OUR BOX!
JS: We both cower behind Gregor as Smytty schmoozes with the JLB Electric crew.
Gregor eventually introduces us, so we pulled ourselves together the best we could. Shake hands with
Smytty. Congratulate him on the jersey retirement. Thank him for everything he did as and Oiler
and an Edmontonian. Take a couple pictures together.
BM: Again, JS is trying to play it more cool than we actually were. From the moment that Smytty walked into our box, to the moment that Jason introduced us, we were both trying as hard as we can to blend in with the carpet. I was happy enough just to be breathing the same air as Smytty, let alone him actually acknowledge my existence.
Friday 7:30 PM – Spend the next hour texting and tweeting everyone we’ve ever met about meeting
BM: My phone was blowing up, son! Now I must know how that kid from the Sixth Sense feels every time they replay that movie on TV.
Friday 9 PM – The Warriors fall 3-2 to the Spokane Chiefs.
JS: It was a good, entertaining game.
More competitive than most Oiler games we’ve watched over the last few years. We gawk down at the
ice below as Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter’s son Liam does a post-game interview. “Jarrett Stoll was
almost your step-dad” we think to ourselves.
BM: All I could think of was whether or not Rod Stewart would attend a dad’s trip if the Chiefs had one?
Friday 9:15 PM – Let the party begin (or, uhh, continue)
JS: Gregor tells us there’s an after party hosted by the Smyths, and that for some
reason we are allowed to come.
BM: We got lost on our way to the room holding the party, and were told by multiple security guards we were not allowed in whichever part of the building we snuck into. Eventually, Gregor had to come find us so that we could be chaperoned down to the after party.
Friday 9:30 PM – Trying not to get caught staring at Tim Hunter’s nose.
JS: It’s glorious!
BM: You forgot to tell them that the booze was free!
Friday 10 PM to 2 AM – *SCENE MISSING*
Saturday 9 AM – The race is on.
JS: I wake up and ask BM what time we’re supposed to meet Gregor in the lobby. BM
tells me he just got a text from Gregor telling us we’re already 10 minutes late. Scramble to put
pants on and make sure we don’t leave anything behind.
BM: Book the earlier flight, he said… Let’s get home early, they decided.
Saturday 10:15 AM – At the airport waiting to board our flight home.
JS: Do you remember which bar we ended up at last night??
BM: No idea.
Saturday 10:30AM – JS Looks at hand
JS: According to this stamp it was a bar called Champs.
BM: Hmm. Well I don’t remember that, but I’m sure we had a great time!
— Ramone (@thesquireyeg) February 7, 2015
Saturday 12 PM – Arrive back at the car in Edmonton.
JS: BM proceeds to leave most of the double vodka
sodas he had at Champs in a nice pile next to a parked car. As the “puker” in our group of friends growing up it was nice to see someone else get their comeuppance for once (PUN FULLY INTENDED).
BM: I wasn’t puking, I was giving the city of Leduc a free modern art exhibit.
Saturday 1PM – Get back home.
JS: “OH GOD THE OILERS AND THE LEAFS PLAY TONIGHT??” What a terrible way to ruin the buzz of an amazing trip!
BM: “The Leafs are on an 11-game losing streak – what could go wrong?” As always, the answer was everything. *sigh*
Once again a huge thanks to everyone we met along the way on Friday. The incredibly kind and alarmingly good looking people of Moose Jaw. The even kinder and even better looking folks at JLB Electric. Tourism Saskatchewan for inviting us to their beautiful province. Jason Gregor for not murdering us. And most importantly Ryan Smyth and his entire family, for allowing a couple of jackasses to be a part of this special day.