Monday, February 11, 2008


It's somewhat cringe-inducing, but mostly awesome that Kingston Frontenacs GM-for-life Larry Mavety got tossed from Sunday's game for stepping on to the ice, apparently to try to challenge Plymouth Whalers coach Mike Vellucci Greg Stefan to a fight.

It was a bit buffoonish, but the crowd of 1,975 which took in the Frontenacs' 7-4 win over Plymouth loved it, so let the majority rule. It was a perfect topper to an utterly enjoyable afternoon spent paying final respects to the Kingston Memorial Centre, which will host only two more OHL games before the Frontenacs move into the Krock Pot.

The Fronts, like a lot of other major junior teams have in the past few years, are moving into a mini-version of a modern NHL building, a place or a centre, not an arena. Putting a team in that setting usually helps instil a desire in the coaches and players to act like NHLers-in-utero, never having a hair or word out of place. It reduces the chances of someone letting their id hang out like Mavety did yesterday, when he tried to call on a guy twenty years his junior who was separated from him by 92 feet of slippery, slippery ice.

That's part of what's being left behind, but this isn't some sad bastard's lament. The M Centre is a barn and the only stock a lot of people in and around Kingston put in the Fronts is laughingstock. That likely won't change as long as Doug Springer owns the franchise.

However, when you went to a game there, it was all about the game. You went to cheer on the good guys, but mostly you hoped to see some good goals, a few good scraps, see the coach jaw with the refs and the other team's resident pest get straightened out but good, the way Plymouth's Ryan Hayes did, courtesy Kyle Bochek's right hand, on Sunday.

Kingston's team, through three nicknames and about 15 coaches, hasn't always provided that over their, uh, rather uneven history, but the current Fronts, from Andris Dzerins with his quick stick to Bochek with his fist, did yesterday.

The place was almost like a museum exhibit, only it was more like one that depicting the average Canadian living room from 1975. Part of the kick out of going there, as a hockey buff, was looking at the pictures on the walls, from being able to pick out Don Cherry's father, Del Cherry, from a 1930-era baseball team photo -- he looks exactly like Grapes' brother, Richard, who taught me Grade 9 math at Bath Public School -- to the haircuts and the Cooperalls on the mid-'80s players, to big Bill Winkel sporting a huge shiner in the 2002-03 team photo.

The Memorial Centre still has the team benches on the opposite sides of the ice, long after the NHL and the feeder leagues in their infinite wisdom mandated they be on the same side. There's the double-seaters in the stands, the portrait of the Queen behind the net that never goes out of date and even that 200-by-92-foot ice surface, a remnant from the days when that was the standard Oympic size.

It's about time Kingston moved on from that, decided to live in the present. There's just a sense today of what we're leaving behind. The Krock Pot will have come to have its own memories -- maybe they'll include the Frontenacs winning a playoff series sometime this century instead of being oh for the 2000s -- and it will probably have 100 times the amenities of the M Centre.

However, it will seem like every other rink for the first little while. That means no more catwalk to a tiny pressbox. It means the ice surface will be the same 200-by-85 that it is everywhere else, so you won't be able to keep a laugh to yourself when you hear an 11-year-old kid in the row behind try in vain to explain to his friend the ice is actually bigger than what the NHL guys play on. It also means benches on the same side, so if Larry Mavety really wants to get at the opposing coach, he'll be a lot closer. And that's a shame.

(Video by Mister DB from Fronts Talk.)


Dennis Prouse said...

Don Zimmer thinks that Mavety's actions are completely understandable...

Tyler said...

Who on earth was attacking an official in the stands and didn't get ejected from the arena?!

sager said...

According to the message board, it was a regular who attends all the games, and let's just say ... how do you put this politely ... his blender doesn't go all the way to Puree, if you get the drift.

It was probably better to calm him down and let him stay. Then again, junior hockey is not exactly famous for sophisticated security protocols. I once had a guy kick me in the back when I was trying to take a photo, and all the team president would say is, "That's the city's concern."

Andrew Bucholtz said...

And, Mavety gets suspended...