BlackBerry Billionaire Becomes Latest, Greatest Captain Canada

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BlackBerry Billionaire Becomes Latest, Greatest Captain Canada
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Captain Canada is not just a cartoon character or the name given to the captains of hockey teams representing hockey-mad Canada. It's also the name given to Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau when he was as popular in Canada as President Barak Obama is in the USA.

And now the name has become attached to the BlackBerry billionaire who wants to buy an NHL franchise for Canada.

Captain Canada was a comic book character created by Newfie broadcaster Geoff Stirling, a separate comic book character created by Gary Dunford appearing in Fuddle Duddle magazine and, I believe, by Margaret Atwood, drawing under the pseudonym of Bart Gerrard in Kanadian Kuture Komics. There is also a cartoon character called Captain Canuck (www.captaincanuck.com).

The name Captain Canada is given to any athlete who is named captain of a Canadian national team. It is used by many but it is owned by hockey player Ryan Smyth, who holds a Team Canada record for most games played at 78.

His nickname is "Captain Canada" as he was named captain of Team Canada for the World Championships from 2001 to 2005 and also played for Team Canada in the 2006 Winter Olympics. He won five gold medals at the world junior championships, Winter Olympics, World Championships, and the World Cup.

Other Captain Canadas include Bobby Clark, Denis Potvin, Larry Robinson, and, of course, Wayne Gretzky. The impressive list also includes Mario Lemieux, Eric Lindros, and Joe Sakic.

Steven Nash, the Canadian basketball hero, is also called Captain Canada.

A politician named Brian Tobin was so named for his role in the 1995 Turbot War and 1995 Quebec Referendum.

Captain Canuck, the superhero, first appeared in Captain Canuck No. 1 (July 1975) and was a cross between Captain America and Flash Gordon.

Johnny Canuck was another Canadian cartoon hero, created as a lumber jack national personification of Canada as a younger cousin of the United States' Uncle Sam and Britain's John Bull.

Now Balsillie's name can be added to the above list, according to John Allemang, a feature writer for the Globe and Mail.

RIM CEO Jim Balsillie played in the Champions Alumni Game at the 2008 IIHF World Championships in Quebec City.

Allemang describes Balsillie playing hockey with his buddies and failing repeatedly to find the upper corner with his shots at the same time the National Hockey League has been slapping him down in an Arizona court for trying to buy the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes and move the team to Southern Ontario.

He says, "Mr. Balsillie exudes Canadianness" and lists many reasons for calling him Captain Canada:

1. He calls Peterborough, Ontario, his hometown.

2. He listens to CBC Radio in his car.

3. His favourite vacation was a trip to the Arctic with leaders of the Polar Continental Shelf Project.

4. The meeting rooms at RIM famously are named after Canadian-born hockey stars.

5. He spends hours every day working on his ambitious Waterloo-based Centre for International Governance Innovation (launched in 2002 with $47-million of his own money).

6. He invited the Tragically Hip to play at his birthday party.

7.  His beer of choice is Molson's Export.

8. His dog is one of only four existing indigenous Canadian breeds—a Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever, or toller.

9. His devotion to the national game is so intense that for years he organized a one-man August training camp that had him skating laps at the Kitchener Auditorium at 5:30 AM.

10. He is one of the country's richest, most famous citizens, and he plays pick-up hockey.

Allemang also describes him as a hyperkinetic businessman and a high-flying CEO who strives to be grounded.
 
Here are 10 more reasons he gives for calling Balsillie 'Captain Canada'.

1. His two teenage children attend public schools.

2. He helps to coach his son's basketball team.

3. He likes to sit at the floor level of Toronto Raptors games and bark at the players and the refs.

4. He is a self-made man and a perpetual student.

5. He developed his skills as a triathlete to the point where he was happy to ride with Lance Armstrong and former Canadian Olympic cyclist Steve Bauer.

6. He hired a former Junior A hockey player to coach him at his crack-of-dawn workouts.

7. At the age of 12, he was reading Peter C. Newman's The Canadian Establishment as a guidebook or cautionary tale.

8. He made his way to the University of Toronto's elite Trinity College in 1980 as a scholarship student.

9. He maintains he's much the same person who emerged as a studious, fun-loving, business-minded jock in Peterborough—even if he was the only graduate at his high-school reunion to offer his classmates a ride in his corporate jet.

10. He went from Trinity College and Harvard Business School not to Bay Street or Wall Street but to Waterloo, where he joined a small construction company before hooking up with RIM founder Mike Lazaridis in 1992.

The list leaves you wondering if Jim "Captain Canada" Balsillie will go into politics after he finally gets another NHL team for Canada and become the next Trudeau.

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