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(Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)
(Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)

DRAWN OFF TOPIC

Comedian George Bowser on the NHL lockout Add to ...

George Bowser is half of the musical comedy team Bowser and Blue. They will be performing at the Newmarket Folk Society in Newmarket, Ont., on Nov. 17, at Mazon in Montreal on Nov. 27 and at the Montreal West Curling Club on Dec. 1.

Are you a hockey fan?

Principally when I get free tickets, or it’s the playoffs. My wife is a bit more of a fan, so we go together. Of course it’s the Habs. Last year was tragic.

Do you play hockey?

I used to play quite a lot.

Well?

Terrible. I was born and raised in England and I had never skated until I was about 45. But then some friends persuaded me to and it was great, great fun and I joined a beer league. I think they call it an “executive league.” I enjoyed that, although I was never any use. When there was a penalty, they’d ask me to sit it out.

I gather you don’t play any longer.

Well, no. I injured my collarbone. It was broken, actually. I was lying on the ice. At least two of the team were doctors. They said, “Don’t get up. Just stay there.” Then another guy, an accountant, skated over and said, “Look, if we move the goal, we can go on with the game half-ice.” I thought it was hysterical!

You say you’re not a hockey fan. Are you a union fan? Are you a member of a union?

I’m a member of the American Federation of Musicians. And Actors’ Equity.

Are you a fan of sunbelt billionaires?

No. I gotta say my sympathies are with the players to some extent because they do so much damage to their bodies. A lot of people never make it to those lofty heights, those lofty salaries, because they can’t even walk. Hit and battered by opponents who want to make it more than they do. If you remove those big salaries for a few short years, I dunno how many people are going to take those risks.

Do you care about the NHL lockout? If hockey were gone forever, would you care?

I would care. That would be a tragedy.

How about if hockey were gone for a season?

I’d still care. I’m really hoping they get this resolved by Christmas. I think they’ll be back on the ice before the new year.

Will the fans return? Will they forgive and forget and dig deep for tickets?

Yes.

What about you? Will you be back – free tickets assumed, of course?

That’s because it’s so hard to get them here [in Montreal]. You have a better chance of seeing the Canadiens play if you happen to be in Tampa. It’s crazy. Tickets are hard to come by, so if opportunities arise. … My kid goes down to the Bell Centre and gets a couple of nosebleed seats on game day.

Does he have to sell a kidney to get them?

I think they’re over a hundred bucks [each]. Frankly, I find the accommodations appalling. There’s no room for my knees because I’m quite tall, and the beer’s expensive. I don’t really enjoy the experience.

But those owners are hurting – they say – and they have to sell those overpriced beers and cram as many bodies into their arenas as possible to make ends meet …

Well, everybody’s got to make a buck. I’ve got nothing about people making money. We used to go once a year come what may, and I’d still like to do that.

Lacrosse can claim what it likes, but hockey is Canada’s national pastime. As such, shouldn’t job action and labour disruptions in the national pastime be declared unconstitutional?

Sounds like a Rhinoceros Party platform! In all seriousness, you can’t force these people to play.

Many locked-out NHLers are playing in European leagues or stepping down to the American Hockey League. Is it fair that these wealthy NHL players can bump lesser players from their jobs?

Its cheesy. I’m surprised it’s allowed.

The opposite is not happening. The NHL is not getting 700 Europeans and AHLers in to be the scab Montreal Canadiens or Toronto Maple Leafs.

Exactly. How come it’s a one-way street? That strikes me as a bit off.

As a fan, or a quasi-fan, do you feel you’re being used as a bargaining chip by both the owners and the players?

I’d say, taken for granted. And probably for a good reason. Because they can. The fans are going to come back.

Is that a given?

I can’t see the fans going on strike. Once those tickets go on sale, the fans will come back. They might boo the overpriced players, but that’s about as far as it will go.

For “fan” then, could one substitute “sucker”?

Yeah, probably.

 

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