Top Ten Toronto Sports Personalities - Yes Cherry, No Tortorella

Martin AverySenior Writer IApril 30, 2009

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 10:  Sean Avery #16 of the New York Rangers is taken down in the crease by Andy Wozniewski #56 of the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 10, 2007 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Rangers beats the Maple Leafs 3-2 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

"I don't enjoy hockey-obsessed Canadians. People (in Toronto) are talking about hockey 24 hours a day." - Sean Avery

It's too bad the city doesn't have an NHL team in the playoffs because Toronto has a ton of hockey talk, with all kinds of talk radio hosts, newspaper columnists, and team play-by-play and color analysts (tv and radio). It is, after all, the home of Hockey Night in Canada and TSN, and is responsible for broadcasting Don Cherry to the world.

It was Don Cherry who very famously said, “Anybody who says they don't like fighting in the NHL have to be out of their minds.”

Hockey Night in Canada is the home of this quote: "Hello Canada, and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland." It's an institution in Canada, and also with American hockey fans. It was satirized brilliantly in the Mike Myers hockey movie called "The Love Guru."

Hockey Night in Canada is a television broadcast of National Hockey League games in Canada, produced by CBC Sports. Hockey Night has consistently been among the highest-rated programs on Canadian television, and is the world's oldest sports-related television program still on the air.

The intermission highlight on HNIC is "Coach's Corner", a segment featuring Don Cherry and Ron MacLean.

TSN is The Sports Network, a Canadian English-language cable television specialty channel, and Canada's leading English language sports television channel. TSN is owned by CTV Specialty Television, a joint venture of CTVglobemedia and ESPN.

My favorite Toronto sportscasters are Jay Kell and Trent Leuders, played by Stephen Colbert and Jim Gaffigan, on a fictional version of Hockey Night in Canada in the Mike Myers hockey movie called "The Love Guru."

In 2009, the film won three Golden Raspberry Awards, for worst film (beating "Disaster Movie" and "Meet the Spartans"), worst actor (Mike Myers), and worst screenplay.

They appear at different times in the movie, starting with this introduction:

Trent Lueders: "I'm Trent Lueders."
Jay Kell: "And I'm Jay Kell. Tonight is all about champions. But before we get going, I'd like to start by thanking my own personal champions. The fans who supported me with their cards and letters during my recent addiction to peyote buttons and Frangelico. I've already apologized to my friends, my family, and my god. And now, I'd like to apologize to Dame Judi Dench for my vicious and brutal attack. I'm sorry, Judi, you did not deserve that, and I hope the staples come out soon. Over to you, Trent."
Trent Lueders: (brief pause, eyebrow raised) "Thanks, Jay!"

TSN added NHL coach John Tortorella to their coverage of the 2008-2009 season, but left the network to coach the New York Rangers. He hated a part of the show he was on that included a quiz, apparently, and he said, on the air, very famously, "Enough is enough. He's embarrassed himself, he's embarrassed the [Stars'] organization, he's embarrassed the league and he's embarrassed his teammates, who have to look out for him. Send him home. He doesn't belong in the NHL."

He was talking about the hockey star Sean Avery, who he had to coach as one of his conditions of employment for taking the job with the Rangers.

Tortorella was head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning for seven years, is the all-time leader in wins by an American-born NHL head coach. In 2003-2004, he guided the Lightning to the franchise's first and only Stanley Cup title and was named NHL Coach of the Year.

Tortorella promised to be the same person behind the NHL on TSN desk as he was behind an NHL bench.

''I have not been groomed for public speaking, but that's part of the job as an NHL head coach,'' said Tortorella.  ''It's tough to contain your emotions in the heat of the battle, but I don't know how to communicate any other way but honestly.  And sometimes that gets me in trouble.''

Here's my top ten list, but it's not in order, really.

1. Roy MacGregor is my favourite sportswriter. He is the acclaimed and bestselling author of Home Team: Fathers, Sons, and Hockey, and A Life in the Bush (winner of the U.S. Rutstrum Award for Best Wilderness Book and the CAA Award for Biography), as well as two novels, Canoe Lake and The Last Season, as well as the popular Screech Owls mystery series for young readers.

A regular columnist for The Globe and Mail since 2002, MacGregor has written for publications including the National Post (1998–2002), the Ottawa Citizen (1986–1998), Maclean’s magazine, and the Toronto Star.

Here's another chunk of dialogue from The Love Guru.

Trent Lueders: "Tonight, game one of the Stanley Cup Finals. L.A. Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs. It's gonna get ugly."
Jay Kell: "Ugly. You wanna hear ugly? At Promises, I shivved a guy with a sharpened toothbrush because he bogarted the rehab toilet hooch that I'd made from apples and pantyhose. That was ugly. Over to you, Trent."
Trent Lueders: (brief pause) "Thanks, Jay."

2. Brian McFarlane is another guy I like a lot. I met him once, when he was a special guest at the launch of a book I wrote about a Canadian Olympic athlete (Alexdra Orlando: In Pursuit Of Victory). He said, "That's great. You should write about hockey."

He was the son of the prolific writer Leslie McFarlane who wrote many of the early Hardy Boys young adult mystery novels.

He is perhaps best known as a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada for 25 years.

McFarlane was also a color commentator on Toronto Maple Leafs local telecasts until 1980, when he made on-air comments that were critical of Leafs owner Harold Ballard. He was subsequently banned from the Maple Leaf Gardens press box. For Hockey Night in Canada, he was moved off Toronto games from this point on.

McFarlane is often incorrectly cited as the creator of the cartoon character Peter Puck. The cartoon puck, which appeared on both NBC's Hockey Game of the Week and CBC's Hockey Night in Canada during the 1970s, was actually the creation of NBC executive Donald Carswell. After the network stopped carrying NHL hockey, McFarlane purchased the rights to Peter Puck from NBC's production partner, Hanna-Barbera.

McFarlane currently resides in the Toronto area and plays hockey with NHL oldtimers at the arena in Pickering -- which is Sean Avery's hometown.

Here's another piece from The Love Guru:

Trent Lueders: "It's a bench-clearing brawl! Remember, kids, this is not how you play hockey. It's just ugly."
Jay Kell: "I like it."

3. Gord Stellick can be heard on The Fan 590 and Toronto Sports Radio every day from Noon to one, on THE FAN, and simulcast on Rogers Sportsnet, with Daren Millard and Nick Kypreos.

Stellick currently co-hosts The Fan 590 Morning Show with Don Landry, and also appears on Hockey Central on Rogers Sportsnet.

Stellick was the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs from April 1988 until August 1989. At the age of 30, he was the youngest GM in NHL history.

He resigned on August 11, 1989, citing interference from Maple Leaf's owner Harold Ballard.

Stellick co-wrote, with Damien Cox, the book '67: The Maple Leafs, Their Sensational Victory and the End of an Empire, about the last season the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup.

Okay, one more piece from The Love Guru:

Trent Lueders: "Game three here in Los Angelas. The L.A. Kings have beaten the Leafs. They are one game away from a Stanley Cup victory. They can't be happy in the Leafs' Locker room right now."
Jay Kell: "I'm sorry, I blacked out for a second. Have they dropped the puck?"

4. Mike Brophy discusses all the latest breaking news and hot topics in the hockey world, featuring the biggest names in the game.

A former senior writer for The Hockey News, Brophy covers the NHL for the Hockeycentral panel as the Insider. Brophy contributes in-studio, on-the-air, and on-the-web as part of Sportsnet’s extensive hockey coverage.

Brophy provides analysis as part of Hockeycentral, Connected pre-game and intermission coverage, while contributing to sportsnet.ca with columns, blogs, features and breaking news. Finally, he co-hosts Hockeycentral at Noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays on Sportsnet Ontario and the FAN 590 in Toronto.

Trent Lueders: "Well, here we go, game seven. It all comes down to this, ladies and gentlemen. Who do you like tonight, Jay? Jay?"
Jay Kell: "I like the Christmas babies, Trent! And I like the way my skin feels when I'm wearing my rainbow jacket! (He makes robotic sounds and acts like a robot) By your command."
Trent Lueders: "You're back on drugs, aren't you?"

5. Stephen Brunt is a well-known sports journalist. He makes frequent appearances on sports talk radio shows such as Prime Time Sports and has been the lead sports columnist for The Globe and Mail since 1989.

He has authored several books including Facing Ali, a series of stories about boxers who fought Muhammad Ali, and the #1 Canadian best seller Searching for Bobby Orr.

He is also on the Toronto sports talk show Prime Time Sports, a syndicated show on the Fan 590.

6. Bob McKenzie is a Canadian hockey commentator who has covered hockey since joining TSN in the late 1980s.

McKenzie provides analysis for NHL on TSN telecasts, as well as for international hockey events, notably the annual IIHF World U-20 Hockey Championship. McKenzie was editor-in-chief of The Hockey News for nine years and a hockey columnist for The Toronto Star for six years.

Before becoming a full time TSN analyst, he was the Editor-in-Chief for the Hockey News.

7. Dave Hodge currently works for TSN, and has worked in the past for the CBC and CFRB 1010 radio in Toronto.

Joining the CBC, he hosted Hockey Night in Canada from 1971 until 1987, working 15 Stanley Cup Finals. He was often joined in the studio by colorful analysts, such as Howie Meeker and Don Cherry.

On March 14, 1987, Hodge was the in-studio host as the CBC carried a game between the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs, which ended early. The network then switched over to a regional game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens for the end of the third period. It ended in a tie just before 11:00 PM Eastern Time, meaning it would require overtime.

CBC executives, however, decided that only viewers in Quebec, who had seen the game from the start, would get to continue watching after 11:00, while the rest of the network would cut away. "That's the way things go these days in sports and at this network," Hodge said in disgust, flipping his pencil in the air. "We'll leave you in suspense. Good night from Hockey Night in Canada."

Hodge was replaced the following week by western correspondent Ron MacLean and eventually fired from the network.

After the CBC, he was hired by Can-West Global to host their coverage of the 1987 and 1988 Stanley Cup playoffs, which included some games in the finals.

Currently, Hodge hosts a Sunday morning show called The Reporters, as well as providing commentary for the network's NHL coverage.

8. Damien Cox is a long-time columnist for the Toronto Star, Canada's biggest newspaper. He has covered the Toronto Maple Leafs for over 15 years, as well as the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics, and many other international hockey events.

Cox has also worked extensively in radio and television in the past decade and has been a frequent contributor to The Hockey News and ESPN.com, among other publications and media outlets. For three years, he was co-host of Prime Time Sports, heard daily on The Fan 590 in Toronto, and on the Rogers radio network across Canada.

Cox has been named three times to The Hockey News' "100 People of Power and Influence in Hockey."

In 2004, Cox co-wrote the book '67: The Maple Leafs, Their Sensational Victory, and the End of an Empire with Gord Stellick.
Cox wrote his second book in 2005 when he helped New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur co-author his autobiography, entitled Brodeur: Beyond The Crease.

Eight and nine go to Jay Kell and Trent Lueders.

10. Don Cherry and Brian Williams are doing the 25th season of Grapeline available exclusively on THE FAN Radio Network.

Don "Grapes" Cherry, co-hosts the "Coach's Corner" intermission segment (with Ron MacLean) on the long running Canadian sports program Hockey Night in Canada.

Additionally, he recently joined ESPN in the United States as a commentator during the latter stages of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He is known for his outspoken manner, flamboyant dress, and staunch patriotism, amongst other things.

Cherry was a National Hockey League player and coach. He played one game with the Boston Bruins, and later coached them during the days of Bobby Orr.

He is also well-known as an author, syndicated radio commentator for The Fan Radio Network, creator of the Rock'em Sock'em Hockey video series, and was voted as the seventh greatest Canadian in history.

Ronald McDonald MacLean is best known as the host of Hockey Night in Canada and for being Don Cherry's straight man.

Don Cherry is also famous for saying, "The greatest hockey player who ever lived: Bobby Orr, and I love him.”

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