Bobby Mac vs Sportsnet

NHL Twilight Zone – Chapter 2: Bobby Mac Fights Back | By Antony Ta

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental (but would be rather hilarious).

 

Fall 2014 – The Dawn of Twilight

It all started to go South when when Jay and Dan packed it up and went South. The vinegar and salt was rubbed into our wounds when Rogers strong-armed us into submission. Our boys at TSN headquarters were losing key battles left-and-right. It was like we showed up to the broadcaster brouhaha unprepared: like showing with a knife to a gun fight.

No.

Like showing up to a knife fight with a potato.

It’s like trying to trade insults with the Mona Lisa. Amounts to a shouting match with a painting.

Loud noises.

Blank stare.

But I was was hockey’s favourite insider. I was the go-to guy for whether there was official news in the NHL. Even Gary Bettman would never go to a golf tournament without extending an invite. Now I was stuck – for the first time in years – starting an NHL season without being the center-of-attention between whistles and periods. Now, I were living between the lines – the dark times between the trade deadline and the NHL Entry Draft. Now, instead of being the authority on up-to-date news on the NHL, I was revisiting CFL highlight packages and shamelessly trying to sell copies of my new book. Well, it was a good book goddamnit! But it’s a book about hockey and as successful as it was ever going to be, it would never replace for me the feeling of being the heavyweights for the live product on Wednesday nights.

What happened?

 

Winter 2014 – The Twilight is Blinding

I remember 2005.

Everyone wanted to know who I thought would win the Crosby lottery. TSN would always have access. First dibs. Interviews. Photo ops. You name it. Now Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid won’t return my calls. I remember when a wide-eyed John Tavares asked me to sign an autograph at the NHL Entry Draft. Now the only time I spend with John is when the newest set of O-Pee-Chee cards comes out and the star Islander glares leeringly back at me, as if asking me, “what happened to you, Bobby Mac?”

I have no answer.

Now I see Johnny on the street. I wave to say hi. He doesn’t wave back.

Zero recognition.

Blank stare.

 

Summer 2015 – The Twilight is Everything

I get up in the morning and go to the Tassimo. The water tray is dry.

The tap is not working again, either. This hotel sucks. The TSN new annual budget for 2015 doesn’t have disbursements for 5-star hotels. Forget 4,3,2 stars, or even 1 star. I looked up our hotel on the reviews website and it was listed as “Unranked. Be the first to rate this hotel!”I don’t have time to rate this hotel. I’m more worried about the family of rats that moved in underneath the sink, partying like it’s 1996. But hey – at least there’s a kitchenette!

I hate Sunrise. Who names a town after “sunrise,” anyway? What a crappy place for an Entry Draft.

I head up to interview Jack Eichel and I get the stiff shoulder from the security guard. I flash my press pass.

Blank stare.

“Do you know who I am?”

Now I’m just fuming. I have the whole camera crew. I’m calling the Gary. Dale Tallon’s going to know my wrath. The Twitterverse will know my fury. I fling passive aggressive threats at the monolith standing between me and access to the world’s best 17 and 18 year old hockey players.

Nothing changes.

I wave my arms in fake kung-fu.

“Не кажу на англійскай браценік.”

Now the blank stare is my expression and not his. This is going nowhere. I turn around and the TSN producer is standing behind me, puzzled.

This is bullshit.

“I quit.”

This is either a really good idea, or a really bad idea.

Hard to know at the time.

 

Fall 2015 – The Twilight is Dead

I stop by Tim Horton’s on the way to the studio. I’m going to go see Ron today. I pull up to the drive-thru window.

I remembers a time when the young lady would instantly recognize me. She would mention it to her co-workers in hushed tones accompanied by not-so-subtle finger pointing and gesturing. The Timmy’s would erupt with realization that I was passing through.

Now – just silence.

The coffee is served. The transaction is made.

Zero recognition.

Blank stare.

My buddy Ron hooked me up with a job interview with the new Rogers-disguised-as-CBC. He’s humbly accepting his new digs, but I can’t imagine doing that. I remember when every network would try to poach me, while the boys over at CBC were okay with shrinking smaller, year-after-year. But who were we to talk? TSN lost out on the hockey market entirely. We were a nationwide network covering tennis, darts, and cycling events that were NOT the tour-de-France. If anything, this interview would have to be my own personal tour-de-force – I’d have to convince them that I wanted to work for Rogers Sportsnet. I can join the Evil Empire. I can do this.

Then I imagine working, night after night, alongside Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean.

Nick. Fucking. Kypreos.

The red light turns to green. Then back to amber. Again, red.

I do a U-turn and go home.

 

Spring 2016 – New Beginnings, Fresh Twilight

Bob Stauffer left me three messages. I let them marinate on the phone.

The cheesies fall off the couch as I get up and go grab the darts off the calendar. Enough of the old re-runs of the Habs ’93 cup run. I turn off the TV and whale the darts back at wall where I have Bettman’s face taped to the Rogers calendar.

Stauffer calls again.

For some reason, I pick up this time.

“Where have you been man!? I finally got through to him. He wants to bring you on board as soon as possible! Don’t tell anyone I told you though, I’m your anonymous source, okay!” This is almost as gut-wrenching as when Bob texts me smiley faces and other emoticons. I manage to utter a “thank you,” and hang up the phone. I eat my last bag of Cheetos and come to grips with my new reality.

I am now the new Assistant General Manager to Edmonton Oilers’ GM Craig MacTavish. Bill Scott’s bench buddy.

 

A Week Later: Twilight Level – Stephenie Meyer

I show Monday morning and Scott is there to greet me.

“Sorry Bob, there was some confusion. We had to reprint your cards.”

On every single card he crossed out Assistant General Manager and wrote “Assistant-to-the-General-Manager.”

Is this guy serious? Maybe I should laugh. I should laugh, then he will know that I got the joke.

“Good one, Bill, you sure got me that time.” I force a chuckle.

Blank stare.

I can tell Bill and I are going to be best friends. We’re going to be the Jay and Dan of the Western Conference. We’re going to be…

Fuck it. Who am I kidding.

This is bullshit.

“I quit.”

This is either a really good idea, or a really, really good idea. Probably the second choice.

I’d rather cover another Saskatchewan Roughriders game in Regina, than this. Not this. As I drive away I toss the old Tim Horton’s cup out the sun roof and it hits Bill in the chest, dead-center, scattering my old-but-new business cards in the wind. He drops them in surprise. I stop, and look up at him through the rear view mirror.

“I’m Bobby-FUCKING-Mac” I scream as I burnout and drive away.

Bill stands, dumbfounded.

Blank stare.

 

Illustration by Jonathan Doriano

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