Whether you know him from his time at TSN, FS1, or as the highlight guy from Global Saskatoon, Jay Onrait has certainly been a part of your sports life at one point or another. Jay Onrait has a new book (available now) and to help promote he was willing to spend a few minutes chatting with me about everything from growing up in rural Alberta to when the Oilers will win the Stanley Cup. This is part of our conversation.
Baggedmilk: How are you aging so well? I assume it has something to do with having easy access to Vanhout Bakery when you were growing up?
Jay Onrait: Flattery will get you everywhere. Perfect way to butter up your interview subject. Well done. As for the Van Hout Bakery in my hometown of Athabasca, those donuts made Crispy Cremes seem like health food. I have been spoiled for any other donut ever since.
BM: Coming from small town Alberta, did you ever imagine that you’d end up doing national broadcasts? Was it always your goal to appear on camera? How did you expect things to go?
JO: I absolutely did not expect to be doing national broadcasts, in fact my dream was to host “Sports Night” on ITV (now Global), just like Darren Dutchyshen did. In fact, my first broadcasting “job” was volunteering at ITV studios. Once I got my first real on-air job hosting a similar highlight show in Saskatoon I started to get the confidence that I might be able to do the job long-term.
BM: Was there a broadcaster that you looked up to and tried to mimic, or did you always have the idea of doing your own thing?
JO: I never tried to mimic anyone, but I looked up to Dutchyshen and Rod Smith. I also loved Fred Hickman and Nick Charles of “CNN Sports Tonight.”
BM: What makes Dan O’Toole the perfect fit as your cohost? How much convincing did it take for your former bosses to give you the leeway to do the kind of show you guys ended up doing?
JO: Dan and I are just very similar people. We think the viewer should be entertained but at the same time we also feel it’s important to finish watching our show feeling that you have all the sports info you need. At first TSN pushed back on some of our antics, but they were always very supportive and I think we owe them a debt of gratitude for giving us the platform to try and do the show in a different way.
BM: I assume working for FS1 limits the number of Peterborough references that Dan is able to get through?
JO: Dan still talks about being from Peterborough all the time thanks to all the NHL’ers from that city, like Corey Perry.
BM: Are you guys still able to force a little bit of Canadiana into your shows? What’s the major difference between the Canadian and American market?
JO: Not so much “bits” but we certainly don’t start the show with 40 minutes of hockey anymore — sadly!
BM: Do you still have the Geno Reda mug?
JO: No. I wish. I think it’s in the Smithsonian.
BM: What do you miss most about Canada?
JO: The people and all the hockey. Oh and the Coffee Crisps.
BM: Any advice or words of encouragement for your boy Bobrovsky? He’s not having a great start to the season.
JO: He’ll bounce back. Every goalie has slumps. His slump just happened at the beginning of the season.
BM: Have you been following the magical journey of Connor McDavid this season? Thoughts on how he’s looking so far?
JO: Even better than I expected. Just incredible speed and vision. Oiler fans are in for such a treat for the next 15 years or so.
BM: How long do you think it’ll be before the Oilers legitimately have a shot at making the Stanley Cup Finals?
JO: Finals? Five years. Playoffs? Two.
BM: Tell us about your new book – Number Two: More Short Tales from a Very Tall Man.
JO: It starts with a bunch of stories about growing up in Athabasca and pissing off my dad with my childish antics and then moves into stuff from our recent move to L.A., as well as our trip to Sochi to cover the 2014 Olympics. All the chapters are short and easy to read. It’s a perfect gift for that guy or girl in your life you always struggle to find a present for, and fits perfectly into a stocking too!
BM: Are there any stories that didn’t make the book that you can share with us?
No! That’s for book number three.
BM: Fine, I’ll take it. Thank you for not deleting all my emails!
WIN NUMBER TWO
As a thank you to Jay (yeah we’re on first name basis now) for doing the interview we are going to give away three copies of his new book – Number Two: More Short Tales from a Very Tall Man. What do you have to do to win? Write your favourite Jay and Dan moment in the comments below and we will randomly select three Nation Citizens to win a book. The only catch is that you have to be a Nation Citizen so that I can email you at the email address associated to your account. If you don’t have a citizen ID feel free to sign up for an account at the top of the page.
I will announce the winners in the comments section at some point tonight. I’ll also be sure to include the winners in tonight’s Wrap Up. Good luck, everyone!
***THE WINNERS ARE****
- Chilly Canadian