I’m obliged to apologize, oddly enough, for a previous column that dealt completely and – without further apology – a litany of apologies.
What seemed like a playful poke at the cartoon version of The Roadrunner ruffled the feathers of a few Montreal Canadiens fans.
Someone from St.-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, a sleepy parish of 1,300 mostly Francophones in the same province that gave us hockey Hall of Famer Yvan Cournoyer, aka The Roadrunner, expressed a degree of rage normally reserved for serial killers. They pointedly hammered home that any reference to roadrunner is the exclusive domain of Cournoyer, who was gifted with that moniker long before Black Press committed the colossal crime of hiring me 18 years ago this June.
Another rankled reader in Trois-Pistoles, a pint-sized port in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region of La Belle Province, mailed me one of those little ornamental hockey sticks. They also included crude, painfully explicit, step-by-step directions on how and where it should be installed; their version of appropriate punishment for writing anything construed as inflammatory about the Habs legend ironically immortalized for the flaming speed of his skates and 10 Stanley Cup victories. Someone from Lac Memphremagog, not far from Sherbrooke, birthplace of the dying breed of wooden sticks, demanded my membership as a card-carrying member of Habs Nation be revoked immediately. Before you reach for your Google Earth machinery, be advised these towns do exist. The letters, however, not so much.
I’m looking at an autographed photo of The Roadrunner as I write this. It sits on the corner of a desk I share in the bride’s music room, along with her expanding collection of ukuleles, eight at last count.
The photo was a gift from my sister-in-law, Cynthia, and my nephew, Josh, who was six or seven years old when they approached The Roadrunner at a book signing in a Langley Mall many years ago. Cynthia told me how Josh asked a very accommodating Cournoyer if he would sign something for his Uncle Rick, explaining that I was “an expert on the Montreal Canadiens,” something that made The Roadrunner smile and still prompts me to laugh out loud occasionally.
It’s not easy being a fan of the fabled team that hasn’t made the playoffs in three of the last four years, especially at this time of the year. I called my son to hopefully coax some optimism out of him on the Canadiens’ future, but he was busy trying to set fire to his Marc Bergevin bobblehead, a monthly ritual for Chris dating back to the P.K. Subban trade. I decided it’s best to leave him alone for now and let it work its way out of his system. Kinda like how this column has helped me deal with several disturbing issues such as my recent hyper-fixation with hyphens.
Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.