The Road to the Outdoor Classic – Episode 4

mike babcock can smile

Episode four of The Road to the Outdoor Classic is here! It was a cracking game so let’s see what the behind the scenes stuff held for us. Although we’ve come to the end of the road, still I can’t let go.

Let Mike Babcock’s smiling face lead you to a recap and the vid with all the good Leafs stuff.

I started to clock it and then spaced out in the beginning, but Mr Narrator Man was prattling on about how important building something is and this is the most important thing we could possibly build which seems a bit of a stretch given all the times we’ve gone to space or that time wifi got invented. But I was intending to see how much time was racked up with these long meandering tales of aimless setup in the beginning of each episode where the narrator does his best Don Draper winging it in a meeting. And it is there about three minutes. There are major motion pictures that spend less time talking at the audience and just get down to the story. I mean, Pacific Rim establishes the world with about three sentences and BOOM we are fighting giant monsters.

These games are apparently a result of “the ideas of the NHL has produced” which when you get down to it is kind of bleak. These games are a tremendous event which are only accessible to those with the money to make it happen. And further, this is a sport which keeps pushing players crimes under the rug and just claiming it is as character building and trials to overcome. If anything this series serves to show the disconnect of the NHL of the past and what the future holds – and a league that still can’t grasp what players like Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri means to kids just learning to skate.

Babs continues to be in fine form. I wasn’t surprised to learn he drives to work at 5:30 in the morning when the roads are empty and by 6:20 he’s already at it reviewing tapes and notes. He continues to acknowledge the Leafs of the past (because that’s how the Leafs are always measured which is against themselves) and sees a clear future with the new core of young players on the team.

tyler bozak hat demo

And the young players are getting ready to practice playing outside and Tyler Bozak, in peak dad form, is explaining how to stay warm with a demonstration on using a balaclava with Mitch Marner. “That’d be great for Call of Duty!” Bozak closes the demonstration with “you can look weird or be cold” which is just parental guilt swirling under the surface.

The player stretch before going out to practice and Bryan McCabe laughs and remarks: “Used to drink coffee. That was the warmup!” Willie Nylander is desperately trying to play it cool while he collected signatures from the legendary Leafs who will be in the alumni game. The puppies do their best to be series and say “thank you” and “mister” even if they are quietly exploding from being in the same room as Lanny McDonald. Let’s take a look at this guy: 

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 3.37.21 PM

Nazem Kadri smiles as he tries on an old school helmet and he’s actually concerned about how little it does to protect your skull. This is a nice thing to hear when there is still that contingent of players and fans that don’t believe in safety. Babs smiles and explains how the way the helps were screwed that in a fight, you’d just get your face cut up.

For an extended period of time, the narrator compares the games to just another game of pond hockey but then proceeds to tear down why it isn’t so. Just imagine Ron Burgundy saying everything he did and you can see how little is added to this by his yammers. I should note the show used the word pageantry at least twice which is my favorite word to describe all this going on. DO YOU THINK THEY READ OUR BLOG, YOU GUYS???

The day of the game I joked on Twitter that the Leafs lost the lead in the game just so Auston could get his hero moment in overtime and make for a better narrative. I’m still possibly right. 

We close out the series with somber piano music and a montage of heads bowed and some words going on about what we’re capable off like this is the West Wing and Aaron Sorkin paused from a furious walk and talk and opted for a calm office soliloquy. And then it’s another three minutes to tie it all up.

Here’s the video all edited down into a nice package for you. 

What was your favorite moment from the show?

Thanks for sticking with me through the recaps and thanks for watching. 

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