November 01, 2009
Sunday Funnies: Meeting John Denver
I've read A LOT of hockey books this season already. One of the funniest passages I've read came from Ralph Mellanby's new title Let The Games Begin.
Mellanby, the long time Hockey Night in Canada producer was also a 5 time Emmy Award winner for his television work on Olympic Games. This book has plenty of hockey in it, but with an Olympics focus.
There is no shortage of funny stories in Mellanby's book, but his introduction to the legendary John Denver was my favorite. Mellanby had just arrived in Sarajevo for the 1984 Olympics. He had just worked the NHL All Star Game, immediately flew across the Atlantic on a long and particularly bumpy flight, and, with the time zone changes not helping any, he was dead tired when he checked into his hotel room.
"It was ten o'clock at night when I got into my room, and the first thing I heard was music blaring from the room beside me. I'm thinking, what the hell is this? At the Olympics, everyone works on different schedules, at all hours, so you're expected to be mindful of your neighbors. In other words, keep the bloody noise down.
"I walked into the room, grabbed my bag and whipped it against the wall. It made a heck of a racket. Next thing I knew, there was a quiet tapping on my door, and when I open it, there was a little fellow standing there, kind of squinting at me with a big smile on his face. He said, 'Hi, neighbor. I'm in the room next door.'
'Are you the son of a bitch who's playing the loud music?' I asked.
"He looked at me with a big smile and said, 'Yeah, I need to play my music.'
"I said, 'Have you ever been to the Olympics before? Because here are the rules: no music before 9am and no music after 9pm. that is the rule between you and me. And if you don't follow that rule, I'll kick the shit out of you!'
"I paused and added, very pompously, 'I'm Ralph Mellanby, the hockey producer for ABC.'
"He looked at me, stuck out his hand and said, 'Hi, neighbor. I'm John Denver.'
The country music legend was there on behalf of ABC. Denver bought Mellanby a beer, and immediately became the best of friends.