MONTREAL, QC. –I wasn’t in a great hurry to watch 49′ers quarterback Alex Smith hand a victory to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. A friend had suggested that CBC’s “Battle of the Blades” was worth a watch. I had taken a peek the previous week but sat down for my first complete viewing.
The first question that came to mind was, who is the target audience for this show?
Part of the appeal for me was just pure curiosity to see how former NHL’ers would look paired with professional figure skaters. It also helped that so many former Canadiens are part of the cast namely, Patrice Brisebois, Valeri Bure, Russ Courtnall, Georges Laraque, and PJ Stock.
Although technically correct, it’s odd seeing the last name on the list. With 20 games played and only a handful of fight losses as his legacy, Stock hardly seems worthy of the Habs alumni label. But I digress.
After watching a full episode of this show and part of another, I freely admit: I don’t get it.
Now before you get the wrong impression, I could never be accused of being a one-dimensional, knuckle-dragging hockey fan who can’t wait to open hockeyfights.com every morning. Don’t ask me to explain the scoring system in figure skating, but I’m a casual watcher who can appreciate the athleticism of a free-spirited pair like Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler.
I was as upset as the next Canadian in 2002 when the adorable Jamie Sale paired with David Pelletier were robbed of a gold medal in Salt Lake City. It would eventually be proven that a French judge, Marie-Reine Le Gougne, took a bribe that effected the outcome. When justice prevailed with Sale and Pelletier getting their golds, I celebrated.
But for me, there are just some things in life that don’t belong together. I like peanut butter, and don’t mind chocolate but will never be a fan of Reese’s anything.
“Blades” is like that. If you haven’t seen it, imagine a TV reality show about the rough and tumble boys from the sport of water polo, donning makeup, sequined bathing caps, and nose plugs before not-so-gracefully beginning their synchronized swimming performance.
The CBC has done their best to draw from their Hockey Night in Canada audience. Ron MacLean hosts, on skates, no less. The quotable Jeremy Roenick keeps network censors on their toes as part of the judging panel.
But when it got to the former hockey players, I really didn’t know how to react seeing an enormous Georges Laraque gliding around the ice doing an overhead press with his very petite partner, Anabelle Langlois, as the apparatus. His 270-pound frame was somehow shoe-horned into spandex. The music accompanying them was the “Theme from Rocky.”
You know that feeling that you get when you see a really bad horror flick? You start wondering, ‘Is this intended to be a comedy?’
The word is that Stock needed weeks of extra instruction to teach him how to skate all over again. “PJ was the worst skater by far,” said fellow competitor Kelly Chase. Do I really want to see this?
The only former NHL-er who looked like he truly belonged in this arena was Patrice Brisebois. Give him marks for performance, posture and graceful partnering with ice-dance champion Shae-Lynn Bourne. Canadiens fans only wish that Brisebois had discovered his true calling as a figure skater about ten years ago.
I realize that this series is nothing more than entertainment. It likely has a following with reality-TV enthusiasts. And maybe, like NASCAR viewers, those who watch waiting for the wrecks.
Personally, I’d rather remember hockey players with sticks and helmets rather than toe-picks. So, I’m out. As of Monday night, so are Courtnall and Laraque.
That said, I feel like I need some cleansing. I’m off to watch a clip of a Russ Courtnall goal against Buffalo. Speeding down the left wing, he beat everyone to a cross-ice shoot-in from Guy Carbonneau. His arrival was perfectly timed to tip the puck past Sabres goaltender Daren Puppa.
I’m feeling better already. Hockey will always be the ultimate Battle of the Blades.
Russ Courtnall Goal
posted on YouTube by rainman12953
(Feature photo courtesy of Insight Productions and CBC | Laraque photo by Perry Mah, Edmonton Sun))
Category: Fan Focus