Thursday, May 14, 2009

KMart and the Tamils

TORONTO – Curling superstar Kevin Martin missed a live radio appearance in Toronto on Wednesday due to the Tamil protests rocking Canada’s largest city.

Martin and cohorts, including third John Morris, are in Toronto for appearances with team sponsor Uncle Ben’s, which will see the curlers attend tonight’s Blue Jays baseball game at the Rogers Centre.

Yesterday, Martin was to appear alongside former pro hockey GM and current Rogers Sportsnet personality Doug MacLean for the last half hour of the Prime Time Sports show on FAN 590 all-sports radio, which is also broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet.

But the latest in a series of metro Tamil protests – which saw some 12,000 people marching along downtown streets while police barricaded all connecting sideroads – jammed up traffic to the point that Martin finally arrived at the FAN studios with just seconds left in the program.

Globe and Mail columnist Steve Brunt was the guest co-host, and he offered his opinion that Canadian curling has the most difficult qualifying procedure of all the Olympic sports, due mostly to the sheer number of elite-level teams that hail from from Canada.

What about hockey, asked host Bob “Bobcat” McCown?

No, replied Brunt, that team is selected and besides, there is still a much higher percentage of Canadian elite players in curling than in hockey.

In case you are wondering, Brunt doesn’t talk or write much about curling, but he has scripted the occasional gem, such as this one from 2007.

MacLean was then introduced and both McCown and Brunt guffawed that “MacLean hates curling anyways”.

MacLean, of course, immediately protested. “No, I love curling,” he said, and the Sportsnet guy then proceeded to declare that he knows “Canadian junior champion Susan Gallant, who is from Summerside, PEI.”

Uh... did MacLean mean Canadian junior men’s champion skip Brett Gallant, who is from Charlottetown?


The show then moved on to hockey, which is at least 80 per cent of the show’s content at any given time.

Martin finally arrived and was rushed into the studio.

“So were back, and we’ve got about sixty seconds,” said McCown. “Kevin Martin is here. Hi Kevin. Bye Kevin.” Laughs all around.

“Welcome to Toronto.” Indeed!

Brunt noted KMart is a “pro curler” and the Old Bear promptly denied this, saying “Nope, there’s no such thing.” Everyone promptly agreed there wasn’t enough time to start debating that issue... which could lead, of course, to this issue.

The only real question for Martin concerned his summer plans. “You take an hour off in the summer and then you’re back at it?” asked McCown.

Martin replied, to some surprise, that he is on vacation now and gets back into training on August 4. And that was that, show over.

Hi Kevin. Bye Kevin.

Martin photo by Anil Mungal/Capital One.
Protest photo by Mark Blinch/Reuters.

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