For a few minutes Friday night it seemed as if Sean Adams was, as Will Shakespeare would put it, caught in pickle.
Adams, chair of the Children's Treatment Centre's John Wensink Roast at the Parkway Hotel, announced that he had an email message from Don Cherry to read because, as he noted, the hockey legend doesn't make personal appearances these days.
Then the city lawyer started fumbling through some papers on the podium. Humm. Can't seem to find the message, muttered Adams.
Oh, perhaps the message was back at his place at the head table. He quickly hustled over to his seat and started rummaging through more papers. A couple of catcalls were fired at him from the audience. This had mind-numbing faux pas written all over it, or so it seemed.
Then, seemingly strange at the time, he bolted out the hall's back door. My thought was jeepers, the guy is so embarrassed he is pulling an Elvis and leaving the building. Now what! The three or four seconds of stunned silence was punctured by the wail of bagpipes.
Enter Don Cherry through the back door, resplendent in patent high collar, colourful jacket and all, to gasps and a thunderous standing ovation.
The "lost" email message was a ruse to set up Cherry's grand entry.
Only three people were in on the caper: Adams, his son and treatment centre director Angelo Towndale. John Wensink didn't know. Neither did roasters Gerry Cheevers, Terry O'Reilly, Brad Park, Rick Middleton, Bob Plager and MC Kelly Chase.
In fact, shortly before the dinner, Hall of Famer Park had lamented that Grapes was unable to attend. Fellow Hall of Famer Cheevers also expressed regret that the hockey icon and former coach would not be at the head table this night.
Truth is, until 9:30 p.m. the night before Cherry had not committed to making an appearance. That's when he called Adams to say he would be driving on his own from Toronto late Friday afternoon. And since he couldn't be part of the whole evening, the missing email caper was hatched by Adams to set up the showstopping entry. A bevy of Hollywood scriptwriters could not have done better.
For 25 minutes or so Cherry owned the show with a litany of tales never to be heard on Hockey Night in Canada, or any medium regulated by the CRTC language police.
When done, Cherry joined the head table for a group photo, bid adieu and left to another thunderous standing ovation.
The crowd was still buzzing when the roast resumed with O'Reilly saying what everybody in the hall had their minds, that Grapes was a tough act to follow.
ROAST SLICES Middleton drove back to Boston after the roast. His daughter was playing in a hockey tournament Saturday. ... Cheevers expected to arrive on Friday afternoon but his drive on Highway 401 from his home in St. Catharines was delayed when the highway was closed after somebody jumped off an overpass. He pulled in about 20 minutes before the roast started. He left Cornwall Saturday morning for his summer home in Florida. ... Cheevers played nets for St. Catharines Athletics of the Ontario Lacrosse Association. He was in nets for the first game of the Mann Cup series against Vancouver Carlings (19630) at the Water Street Arena. "When the Leafs (who owned his rights) found out they told me to sit out," he said. His replacement was Doug Favell who went on to play in the NHL. ... Barry Brooks, a Wensink teammate with the Royals, came in from Kingston. He's retired from Sears. ... Chase took an early-morning Saturday flight to Saskatchewan for a charity event that night.
THIS & THAT Hate to break this to the anti-fluoridation folks but for 99.9% of city residents it is a non-issue. ,,, Now that several federal politicians have decided to make their expense claims public, might be time for the expense claims of city hall elected officials to be posted on the city's official website. ... Has there ever been a more popular former mayor than Edward Chester Lumley?
HERE & THERE New bridge opens in the fall with the same temporary/interim Mickey Mouse set-up that could be in place for years. Our friends on the other side (of the border) must shake their heads. ... The price tag for taking down the high-level bridge is expected to be higher than it cost to build the unnecessary sprawling span in the 1960s. ... In a strange way, Cornwall Police Service is creating more crime by cracking down on what Chief Dan Parkinson correctly refers to as "administrative justice." That is, going after the people who breach conditions, etc. imposed by the courts. ... Yes, Conservative MPP Randy Hillier, the law and order guy, is the same person who was arrested by city police during a demonstration at NavCanada several years ago. ... Preem Kathy last week was threatening to call a fall election without first consulting Deputy Preem Andrea. Meanwhlle, the local Libs are still trying to find a sacrificial lamb to run against incumbent Tory Jim McDonell whose 13,132 margin of victory in 2011 was one of the biggest winning spreads in the riding's history. Hard to believe that just a couple of years ago the Libs had a lock on the riding, thanks to the popularity of Jim Brownell who had the support of many soft Conservative voters. ... Grant Crack will have a tough time keeping Glengarry-Prescott-Russell in the Grit fold. His margin of victory was 1,353 in 2011. Not bad but a far cry from the 13,507-vote majority Jean-Marc Lalonde bagged in the 2007 campaign.
TRIVIA ANSWER Phil Esposito of the Boston Bruins broke the professional hockey single-season points record set by Cornwall's Orval Tessier who piled up 126 points (59-67) in the 1959-60 season while playing for Kingston Frontenacs of the Eastern Professional Hockey League. Espo tied the mark in 1968-69 (49-77) then smashed it in 1970-71 with 152 points (76-76).
TRIVIA This Stormont incumbent MP died 10 days before polling day. A byelection one month later elected Lucien Lamoureux, the future Speaker of the House.
SPORTS STUFF Sometimes it is called the National Felony League (aka National Football League). Little wonder. So far this year 27 NFL players have been charged with criminal offences. Ops. Hold the phone. Arrested warrant was issued on the weekend for another player. ... Not since the wacky Harold Ballard has there been a bigger loose cannon in the NHL ownership club than Ottawa's Eugene Melnyk.