The Ottawa Citizen
Shooting from the hip
Jim Munson takes 18 questions from author Brian Doyle on hockey, fires back a couple of metaphors and passes on explaining the Dildos.
Bruce Deachman is on vacation. In his absence, we asked author Brian Doyle to pick an Ottawa personality he’d most like to subject to a grilling. Doyle picked Senator Jim Munson. Earlier this month, Munson joked on CBC radio about his senatorial prowess as a hockey player.
1. Do you see any analogy between hockey and politics?
Absolutely. If you find yourself in a corner, fight your way out. Also, if you shoot from the centre — not too far right and not too far left — you are most likely to score.
2. You are known to be a hard-working senator. Does this work ethic have anything to do with hockey?
Yes, I like to be where the action is — lots of ice time. And I don’t mind drawing political blood.
3. As a boy from New Brunswick’s north shore, did you ever think you’d wind up a senator on Parliament Hill?
I always wanted to be a Montreal Canadien but I ended up a little short, playing old-timers’ hockey with the Canterbury Rusty Blades. My day job is an Ottawa Senator.
4. When you were a journalist, did you play hockey against other journalists or politicians?
Of course, when I played as a journalist against politicians, it was always about winning. When I played as a journalist against other journalists, it was always about having a pint or two or, OK, three after the game. If it was Roy MacGregor, we would talk hockey. If it was Don Boudria, we would read the parliamentary Hansard together.
5. When you were younger, did you get many penalties playing hockey?
I loved to start a fight, but when you are 5 feet, 41/2 inches tall, always make sure you start a fight surrounded by your biggest teammates and then get the hell out of there.
6. Did you ever have body contact with Pierre Trudeau on or off the ice?
It was off the ice. The year was 1976. Monsieur Trudeau didn’t like my line of questioning about the Olympic Games. It was combat parliamentary corridor politics, an epic struggle of 15 seconds of fame. For historical purposes, let the record show he shoved me first and I pushed back. I have a picture of it on my wall. He once described me as a “gutsy little guy.” It’s that little part that still bothers me.
7. When you were posted in China with CTV news, was there hockey? Did you play?
I played hockey every Sunday in a dank stinky rink with other Canadian expats. But the most fun was the annual game against the Russian Embassy. It was an outdoor game which began with the national anthems. The Russians weren’t too bad but I will never forget the look of the ambassador’s wife when she had to hand me the winning trophy. Maybe she was thinking of Bobby Clarke as I accepted the trophy with my toothless grin.
8. Do you think there’s a place in heaven for athletically active senators ?
You bet. It’s a place of unlimited — and free — ice time. With unlimited — and free — cold beer available, too.
9. What hockey great did you ever try to emulate?
Yvon Cournoyer was my hero. I still wear number 12 for the Canterbury Rusty Blades. The only difference between “the Montreal Canadien roadrunner” and myself is about 12 Stanley Cups.
10. If you could be a proverbial fly on the wall in any hockey dressing room at any place at any time, where would you choose and why?
The Russian dressing room at the end of the second period of the 1972 Summit Series. I can still hear the Russian coach saying, “When it gets down to the last few seconds, remember to watch Cournoyer, he is going to try and get the puck to Henderson.” Something got lost in translation.
11. In old-timers’ hockey exhibitions, did you ever skate with any retired NHL stars? If so, what was that like?
I have played a number of exhibitions. There were a number of embarrassing moments. One time Gary Leeman, who scored 50 goals for the Leafs, said that in future exhibitions when any former NHL star missed a wide open net, they were going to call it a Munson. In another game just a few years ago, I played with hockey legend Guy Lafleur in Petawawa. Again I almost scored and told No. 10 if I had scored it would have been the thrill of my life. On the next faceoff, somehow my stick disappeared from my hands. Monsieur Lafleur was last seen yelling, “Remember, Senator, always keep two hands on the stick.”
12. When you left CTV News, did it have anything to do with hockey?
I don’t think so, but the gentleman who was responsible for my liberation notice was a goalie. I actually scored on him in another life.
13. Do the Liberals in the Senate have better hockey players than the Conservatives? The NDP?
Of course! We have the “Big M” Frank Mahovlich. And I am known as the “little m.” Harper was so intimidated by our front line that he appointed Jacques Demers to the Senate.
14. Do you think Prime Minister Stephen Harper would ever put Dany Heatley in the Senate?
It’s too late now. In any case, Heatley isn’t old enough to be in the Senate. The constitution stipulates you have to be 30. Besides, how could he afford the pay cut? And he may have seen the appointment as playing “a diminished role.” Does anybody know the way to San Jose?
15. Are you the best hockey player in the Senate?
Absolutely not! I bow to the greatness of the Big M. But the Government leader in the Senate, Marjory LeBreton, is a pretty good stickhandler. She certainly knows how to hold onto the puck when giving answers.
16. Does it bother you that Ottawa Senators hockey players are actually, according to their logo, centurions, not senators at all?
No. You have it wrong. They are Senators but they are in their hockey uniforms, which include quite an attractive helmet. Everyone knows you can’t skate in a toga.
17. Can you describe briefly your most thrilling goal?
It’s about time you asked the most important question, but I am glad you asked. It was 1963 at the Paul Sauvé arena in Montreal. I was 17 and we won the Montreal Island Junior B championship. My winning goal was scored at 19:59 of the third period. It was also the moment I lost another front tooth. The guy on the other team erased the tooth when I scored but I couldn’t have cared less.
18. Is it true you once played sports on a team called the Dildos?
That’s a question which would be better put to former members of the Richmond Road Football Union. You still might find one or two or even three in the Elmdale Tavern, or I should say Elmdale House.
19. What would like to do that you never tried?
Professional lawn bowling. There are just not enough professional lawn bowlers in the country. The mandatory retirement age in the Senate is 75. I have 12 years to get ready.
20. What would you like your epitaph to read?
He always thought he was tall!