Some said it shouldn’t be done. Others said it couldn’t be done. With the power of hindsight, both will probably be proved correct. But what the heck, let’s give it a shot: Let’s trying an overlapping liveblog of the NHL trade deadline and the Speech from the Throne.
Hockey. Politics. It just might be the most Canadian day ever. The trade deadline is 3 p.m. ET. The Speech from the Throne starts at 2 p.m. The liveblog begins now…
8:00 a.m. EST Live trade deadline coverage begins on TSN and Sportsnet. Seven hours from now, we’ll have a much better sense of which National Hockey League teams are loading up for a playoff run, which teams rank among the favourites to win the Stanley Cup and when the Philadelphia Flyers plan to begin the thawing of Gump Worsley.
8:03 On Sportsnet, the program is called Hockey Central Deadline 2010 and it features a group of guys working the Hyundai Newsbreaker Desk. TSN’s program is called TradeCentre and it features a group of guys known as TradeBreakers. Clearly, a key aspect of TSN’s plan to make the day seem exciting is to eliminate the SpacesBetweenWords. “We have a lot of time,” James Duthie notes. Somewhere, a coyote howls. (But only because it can’t find the remote.)
8:07 On TSN, Pierre McGuire’s microphone doesn’t appear to be working. Or perhaps TSN finally realized that putting a mic on him is redundant. No? In that case, a grateful nation pauses to pay tribute to shoddy Chinese workmanship.
8:12 The TSN team is wearing suits and ties. The Sportsnet team is wearing jackets but no ties. Choosing your network today comes down to whether you want to get your trade news from the cast of Mad Men or the manager of your local Red Lobster.
8:14 Pierre McGuire is worried about Marek Svatos’s shoulder. I’m worried about the fact the trade deadline is more than six hours away and one of the allegedly “marquee” names in the mix is Marek Svatos, or as he’s known among hardcore hockey fans: Who?
8:27 The buzz is Ottawa this morning is about the fact that the title of the Speech from the Throne – A Stronger Canada. A Stronger Economy. Now and for the Future. – bears a striking resemblance to the title of former Australian PM John Howard’s 2004 election platform: “A Stronger Economy. A Stronger Australia.” Complete coincidence, the Tories say. Ditto all the koala metaphors.
8:48 On TSN, James Duthie explains that his network has created four different panels to report on and provide analysis of any and all transactions today. “It’s a cast of thousands,” he explains. Think of it as Les Miserables, except there are 300 Javerts and they’re all hunting Marek Svatos.
9:00 Six hours to go. I haven’t been this excited since there were seven hours to go.
9:09 Pierre McGuire just used the word “bugaboo.” Pierre, easy, it’s nine in the morning. If you start now, you’ll have used up “kerfuffle” and “hootenanny” before noon.
9:16 James Duthie interviews Alexei Ponikarovsky, who was traded last night to the Penguins from the Maple Leafs, which is the biggest upgrade since Ryan Reynolds was traded from Alanis Morissette to Scarlett Johansson.
9:26 Duthie says the Leafs are “interesting when they’re good and fascinating when they’re not good.” Suffice to say that over the last 15 years, they’ve been really fascinating.
9:28 McGuire analyzes the Maple Leafs depth chart and describes it as “scary… frightening.” He’s so frightened by it that he asks the show’s director to put the chart back up on the screen so everyone can have the opportunity to fully appreciate just how terrifyingly awful the Leafs roster is. I’m telling you: this blood-curdling thing stays on the screen a few more seconds and TradeCentre is going to become the first R-rated show on TSN.
9:44 I’m not saying the networks may have come on the air too early to cover the trade deadline, but over on Sportsnet the former agent Bill Watters is telling a story about a 25-year-old trade involving Cam Neely. Rough translation of how the story goes: “Now to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them. Give me five bees for a quarter you’d say…”
9:53 Forget about the Australian plagiarism thing. My own concern with the title of the Throne Speech – A Stronger Canada. A Stronger Economy. Now and for the Future. – is that there might not be quite enough sentence fragments in it. Let’s let this thing breathe a little: A Stronger Canada. A Stronger Economy. Now and for the Future. And Also for the Past. Oh, and for Cats. Cats are Good! And They Don’t Judge You, You Know?
9:57 On Sportsnet, Daren Millard cuts quickly to the Hyundai Newsbreakers Desk where news is being broken that… Philadelphia needs a goalie? Wait, this must be the ObviousBreakers Desk. Next hour, they’ll be breaking the news that Shawn Horcoff is overpaid.
10:03 On TSN, Michael Farber says: “The big moves have already been made.” In other words, there won’t be any major names moving today. In other other words, we’ve got five hours of Cam Neely stories ahead of us. In other other other words: [whimper]
10:09 The first action of the day! Mike Keenan has been acquired by TSN and has suddenly appeared between Mike Peca and Matthew Barnaby on a panel. It’s not yet clear what TSN gave up in return for Keenan — they certainly didn’t trade away the prevailing sense of tedium.
10:14 Dear God: now TSN is talking about which players might be on the Canadian men’s hockey team for the 2014 Olympics. Will someone please put us out of our misery and cut to an episode of The A-Team, already in progress.
10:25 James Duthie cuts to Dave Hodge. Hodge: “We don’t have anything important here.” Trade deadline day fever – catch it!
10:27 A trade! A TRADE!! Sportsnet reports that Derek Morris is being moved to Phoenix from Boston for a fourth-round pick! TSN confirms the Morris trade three minutes later. This is a huge and very exciting deal if you’re Derek Morris, unless you’re a Derek Morris who’s not that Derek Morris.
10:32 TSN analysts have been talking about Derek Morris now for five minutes, which is longer than any previous known conversation about Derek Morris by approximately five minutes. Consensus: Derek Morris is, beyond a doubt, definitely a guy named Derek Morris.
10:40 On TSN, Duthie interviews Sidney Crosby: “Dream come true… ton of fun… We knew what we had to do… Hasn’t sunk in yet… etc. etc.”
10:46 Did we mention the Derek Morris trade? We did? Oh. But did we mention the Derek Morris trade? We did? Oh. [Pause.] Derekmorris!
10:48 I flip over to CBCNN to see if there’s any chitchat about the Throne Speech and… they’re talking about the NHL trade deadline. A reporter declares: “You cannot win the Stanley Cup if you don’t make the playoffs.” In other news, you cannot get on a job on TV if you can’t state the obvious.
10:53 Everyone on the TSN set keeps bellyaching about how cold the studio is, how people are shivering, how they need to fire up a heater. Don’t worry: Another hour without a major trade and they’ll move on to their bunions and “kids these days.”
10:59 Sportsnet’s analysis of the Derek Morris transaction enters the equivalent of the 140th minute of Transformers 2.
11:02 The Leafs have traded Martin Skoula to the New Jersey Devils for a fifth-round pick. Skoula is described as a “throwaway” and a “salary dump,” though hopefully not on the back of his hockey card.
11:10 On TSN, Darren Dutchyshen joins Pierre McGuire for a segment which I believe is titled Two Men Standing a Little Too Closely Together For Some Reason. McGuire’s microphone promptly craps out yet again. Wow, they just can’t seem to get McGuire a microphone that works. What a strange and odd coincidence that I had absolutely nothing to do with, mwahahahaha!
11:13 Sportsnet has a live video feed from the “Situation Room” of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s pretty riveting stuff if you, like me, can’t get enough of white guys sometimes using the telephone.
11:21 A panel on CBCNN focuses on the fact that the Speech from the Throne is expected to last more than an hour, because apparently Stephen Harper hates ears. Either that or, like me, he’s bet the over on slumbering Supreme Court judges. (Don’t let us down, Abella.)
11:35 Dennis Seidenberg has been traded to the Bruins for I Don’t Know and a Lack of Interest to be named later.
11:43 On Sportsnet, Nick Kypreos says that Carolina’s Aaron Ward has been traded to Anaheim for Justin Pogge and a fourth-round pick. If trade deadline day 2010 were a movie, right now it’s biggest star would be Casey Affleck.
11:56 “It’s been a slow start but I’m confident that things are about to get rolling.” Do I get royalties for that? I used the exact same words the night I lost my virginity.
11:59 Lunch break! Time for a ham and cheese on derekmorris.
12:05 p.m. Is there anything more enjoyable than the obligatory Employee Vacuuming the Senate footage that we get before every Throne Speech? It’s TV’s way of saying: We’ve literally got nothing else we can show you. And those images really get the juices flowing, don’t they? Nothing rekindles one’s interest in the democratic process quite like televised housework. Yeah! Vacuum that carpet! Polish that Speaker’s chair! ARE YOU READY FOR SOME PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE??
12:07 On CBCNN, there’s a clip of John McCallum criticizing the Conservatives for “using Liberal words [such as] ‘innovation’ and ‘jobs of tomorrow.’ Those are Liberal words.” What’s that? You weren’t aware that certain words belong to certain parties? The Liberals have dibs on ‘innovation,’ ‘jobs of tomorrow,’ ‘national child care,’ ‘culture of entitlement,’ ‘entitled to my entitlements’ and ‘gimme.’ The Conservatives own ‘family values,’ ‘tough on crime’ and ‘get the hell off my lawn.’
Okay, lunch now. Back around 1 p.m.
1:03 While I was away, Colorado traded Wojek Wolski to the Coyotes for Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter. Living in Ottawa, I don’t see a lot of either Wolski or Mueller, but isn’t Wolski the superior player in this deal? What am I missing? I’d hate to be out of the loop if the cool kids are all pro-Mueller. Then I’ll never get invited to a rave.
1:07 We’re less than an hour away from the Speech from the Throne. You can tell because the Governor-General is shotgunning her third can of Red Bull. (Little-known constitutional fact: The Usher of the Black Rod has to crush her empties.)
1:16 Exclusive: In yet another subtle attempt to associate himself with the successful and popular Winter Games, the Prime Minister will show up to the Speech from the Throne wearing Jennifer Heil on his lapel.
1:19 The following exchange just took place at the conclusion of an interview on CBCNN:
Suhana Meharchand: Let’s get this party started, as Pink would say!
Ralph Goodale: [blank stare]
1:32 Back on TSN, there’s news that Vancouver has sent Mathieu Schneider to Phoenix, while Los Angeles has picked up Jeff Halpern from Tampa Bay. When they make a big-budget movie of trade deadline 2010, they shall call it Long Day of So Very Many Journeymen. (And they shall cast Rosie O’Donnell as Pierre McGuire, because they want it to seem realistic.)
1:44 The same guys who enticed us hours ago by saying a few big names may be on the move at the trade deadline are now telling us that no big names will be on the move at the trade deadline. This is the worst trade deadline day ever. I’m disillusioned. My faith is shattered. I feel like Charlie Brown thinking about Christmas or Stephane Dion thinking about democracy.
1:58 PREDICTION: Stephen Harper enters the Senate chamber holding Crosby’s stick and gloves.
2:06 Such anticipation! And you can see why: This speech is going to be exactly like the gold-medal hockey game, in that it’s going to take three hours and make many people cry.
2:11 The Governor-General inspects the Honour Guard. Question: What if she finds someone who’s not up to snuff? Untucked shirt, milk moustache, that kind of thing. Does she go all Full Metal Jacket on them? PRIVATE, WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR MALFUNCTION??
2:13 I’m taking a drink every time someone on CBC says the word “recalibrate.” (P.S. I am now 40% beer.)
2:18 A Parliamentary pay freeze? Your move, $56-billion deficit.
2:20 Over on TSN, the fellas are killing time by talking about the 2005-6 Stanley Cup finals. Best guess for next time I flip back? Truth or dare.
2:23 Peter Mansbridge, over a shot of Mike Duffy: “There’s Senator Duffy, looking very regal himself.” Wait, did Peter Mansbridge just call Mike Duffy gay?
2:25 Justices of the Supreme Court or the Many Wives of Santa Claus. You make the call.
2:28 Raffi Torres moves to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a baby beluga and somewhere between two and five little ducks.
2:33 We’re already a half-hour behind schedule. Sitting at home in front of the TV, Don Newman has instinctively started relating historic anecdotes about the Senate chamber, gothic architecture, limestone and the rotation of the Earth’s axis.
2:36 “It’s amazing the number of broadcasters who are in the Senate,” Mansbridge subtly hints astutely observes.
2:37 Trumpets! Time to take our seats at Medieval Times! (No cutlery? How old-timey!)
2:41 I’m not currently on Twitter, but my instinct is that we just passed our 1,000th joke about the “black rod.”
2:46 There’s nothing in life that quite matches the thrill of witnessing members of Parliament with bad haircuts proceeding down a hallway at a leisurely pace. (Possible exception: competitive crochet.)
2:50 It begins. “We are a country whose citizens do not turn away from challenges, whatever they are.” Unless the challenge is voting, in which case 40% of us can’t quite hack it.
2:53 As I stare upon our Governor-General, I cannot help but think to myself: my wardrobe does not currently feature enough medals.
2:54 Old people? Still good. (I thought they were recalibrating!)
2:56 On TSN, James Duthie interrupts a phone interview so the TradeBreakers can breathlessly announce that a Nashville defenceman is… not being traded.
2:58 Are you like me? Do you stare at Michaelle Jean and her husband and think to yourself: those are the exact chairs that Archie and Edith would have sat in had they won the lottery?
3:01 “Canadians live within their means.” Always good to open with a laugh line.
3:03 The government vows to eliminate appointments to “unnecessary” positions at boards, agencies and Crown corporations. Appointments to unnecessary cabinet portfolios will continue.
3:05 This just in: After four-plus years in power, the Harper government has suddenly come to the realization that unfair tax loopholes are bad. I knocked this recalibration thing but it’s obviously proved to be quite a period of revelation: God, why have we been making these “unnecessary” appointments and allowing these “unfair” tax loopholes?! We should definitely eventually get around to not doing those things!
3:06 Who’s directing this broadcast? All we really want to see is how many senators and judges are already asleep. Did Mike Duffy hear about the pay freeze and storm after Jim Flaherty brandishing a mace or a New Democrat? We need to know this.
3:12 The government is now vowing to get rid of “unnecessary job-killing regulation.” Wow, unnecessary appointments, unfair tax loopholes, job-killing regulations: This Speech from the Throne is making very clear that whoever’s been running this country the past four years has been doing one piss-poor job of it.
3:16 Now the Governor-General is talking about the burden of bureaucratic red tape. Thank God that Stephen Harper has come along to save us from the four years of apparent inaction we just endured under that incompetent buffoon Stephen Harper.
3:18 If there are Senators asleep in the chamber – and according to some tweets I’ve seen, there are – and the networks aren’t showing them, aren’t they guilty of kowtowing to the government? Gazing upon sleeping senators is our birthright as Canadians! We pay to run that ridiculous chamber and you’re denying us the one drool-based pleasure we get from it??
3:19 Criminals? Bad. (And let me tell you: Stephen Harper is definitely not going to let his tough-on-crime legislation be scuttled yet again by the short-sighted, tactically minded Stephen Harper.)
3:25 Government to introduce Seniors Day. Once again, Shoppers Drug Mart leads the way policy-wise.
3:29 Get this! Apparently the government that was in charge during the last Parliament allowed “unfair” rules regarding EI benefits for military families. Those bastards!
3:33 I think the GG just said we’re moving to a “gender-neutral” national anthem. Since we’re changing it, let’s also work in all the gods, not just the one. What rhymes with Vishnu?
3:40 As we move through the portion of the Throne Speech devoted to “maritime traffic,” let me just state the obvious by saying it’s a good thing that 2005 Stephen Harper isn’t in attendance today – or by God that man would just savage this speech. Harper 2005 had this weird idea that a government with a million priorities was a government with no priorities. He was kind of a dick about it, actually. I wonder whatever happened to him.
3:43 Fifty-three minutes in and the Governor-General begins to stumble over the words. Then again, it’s the part about the government taking climate change seriously, so she might just be trying to stifle a laugh.
3:48 “Hope is born on the wings of prosperity.” That’s a great closing line, because you can use it in a speech and it gives Celine Dion the chorus for her next song.
3:49 Fifty-nine minutes. The man recalibrated an entire country in less than an hour. Take that, Lenscrafters.