What is Operation Orange? (cont’d)
Then came the pre-game meal – a humongous buffet filled with chicken, pasta, salads, desserts, and drinks (primarily juices). The players went first but that didn’t matter – the hotel just kept bringing out huge bowls of whatever started to disappear. All the fans on the trip sat in one area and we were encouraged to eat as much as we wanted – but there is a limit: it’s called the size of one’s stomach!! There was lots of energy throughout the room (a section of the hotel’s ballroom); but, the fans were respectful and tended to keep the focus of chats just to our tables. Eventually all the players were done and some from our table decided to get some dessert. Alas, not to be, that was the one bowl (other than the salads) that was completely bare (and it had been re-filled a couple of times but just as quickly as it had, it was cleaned out!!).
Lesson to be learned: players like pasta and chicken, but they love desserts. That was fine with me anyway as I was opting out of dessert again and I received a bonus – the General Manager (Ed Hervey) does not eat with the team. He came in just as we were leaving and I stopped by to wish him well. Surprisingly, he invited me to sit and chat while he ate his pasta & chicken (without dessert!!). We had a great conversation on his approach to shaping the team including the way he is recruiting players and selling them on the team, the vision and opportunity within the team as well as benefits of the life-style on the west coast. He is very happy to have landed Posey (ahead of the Argos) and he also is really enjoying working with Wally. It would appear an effective transition is occurring in the GM’s role from the Wally era and there is a firm trajectory in place to move the team forward into next year and beyond. There is a sense of optimism he exudes even about this season and as the conversation unfolded, it was hard not to get caught up in it. There was no rah-rah ranting, just thoughtful, respectful insights into why the team will surprise many people if it just sticks to what it can do best, and does it. As the conversation drew to a close I thought that in the off-season I might try to get him to Penticton to speak to Rotary, the high schools, etc. much like I did on PEI when I managed to convince André Drury to come there during the year after he won the Jake Gaudaur Trophy. Ed Hervey is an interesting person to meet and talk with.
There was still a little bit of free time before the buses were to leave for the stadium and as I was walking up the stairs from the dining area, where should I find myself but right outside the Senateur. And there appeared to be a different bar manager on duty. Well, the opportunity to meet a new bar manager seemed to be too good to pass up; besides I wondered what this individual might recommended – turned out to be a favourite of mine: 15 year Dalwhinnie… the conversation with the bar manager was less engaging due to the individual having other tasks to undertake. But that was okay, I was enjoying the scotch and caught up on some e-mails and phone calls. As my second double was ebbing away, the call came to get on the bus – superb sense of timing for sure.