Before I tell you about my experience at the taping of CBCnewsworld’s The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos here in Montreal, I have to tell you about a particular day back in the winter of 1986.
At the time, I was a nine-year old playing Novice ‘BB’ hockey for Dollard des Ormeaux. The greatest news of my life came when I was informed that my team, along with a slew of other novice hockey teams, had been invited to the Forum to watch the Montreal Canadiens practice. Watching these superstars in person was special, but what followed was a moment I will never forget.
Shortly after the practice ended, it seemed that every kid in the building had the exact same idea as I did – to swarm the lobby in the hopes of meeting a player and getting an autograph.
Sitting here right now, I can tell you that there are only two things I remember from that day. The first: defenseman Petr Svoboda dodging the enormous crowd of kids and peeling away in his Jeep, never looking back. The second: defenceman Chris Chelios planting himself in the middle of the crowd to sign autographs and take pictures with every single kid in the lobby. It took me over an hour to get my picture with him. Needless to say, I have been a loyal Chelios fan since that moment.
Nowadays, every time I hear of a celebrity or athlete dodging their fans, I can’t help but recall that image of Svoboda speeding away in his jeep. Look, I know everyone’s busy these days and ‘time is money’ but why don’t we ever read of ‘celebs’ speaking to their fans the way Chelios did?
Fast-forward to the taping of The Hour last Thursday. The highlight of the evening for me was not the actual taping of The Hour, but the way George Stroumboulopoulos took questions from the live audience for the entire hour leading up to the taping of his show. Not only that, but immediately after the show ended George stuck around for over two hours to chill out and chat with whomever, about whatever.
Although I didn’t speak with George, I saw him engage in many conversations with people about everything from third-world politics and global poverty, to the bustling music scene here in Montreal. I was absolutely mesmerized by his sincerity, intellect, sense of culture and worldliness (certainly not your run-of-the-mill ex-Much Music vee-jay).
I’ve had the opportunity to meet many athletes and celebrities during my time working for Disney in Orlando and living in NYC the past two summers, but none of those moments compare to the honesty and genuineness that I felt when I met Chris Chelios and George Stroumboulopoulos, more than two decades apart.