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Hockey Night in Dorval

The invitation said it was about team building, but the opening meeting of the 2002-03 season was really a two-hour love-in for hockey and for two men who have helped define sports broadcasting in Canada.

The broadcasters in question were Montreal's own Dick Irvin Jr., and Red Deer, Alberta's Ron Maclean, the latter one of the year's top newsmakers due to his high-profile contract dispute with Hockey Night in Canada and the CBC.

The two took turns telling anecdotes from their broadcasting careers, many of which provoked peals of laughter from the appreciative audience. Both men made a point of crediting their long-time "team-mates" for their success. Irvin reminisced about the 17 years he spent broadcasting Montreal Canadiens games with the late Danny Gallivan, while Maclean told many stories about Don Cherry, his partner on Coach's Corner for the past 17 years.

Following up on their colorful and lively anecdotes, Maclean and Irvin took questions from the audience. One member wanted to know who they thought was the best leader in hockey today. Maclean's choice was Steve Yzerman, who last year not only led the Detroit Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup, but was also an instrumental part of the gold-medal-winning Canadian Olympic team.

Audience members also wanted them to share their favorite hockey memories. Maclean went with the 1987 Canada Cup final between Canada and the Soviet Union, which he said "was the best hockey ever played, by far." Irvin's favorite memory was March 11, 1996, when the Montreal Forum was officially closed with an emotional night of history and ceremony.

Irvin and Maclean also drew on their experiences in the world of hockey to provide advice for the club members in attendance. "What makes a winning team?" Irvin asked rhetorically. "It starts at the top."

Maclean agreed, saying it was all about "ownership's commitment to success . . . You go out and you get the best. Don't jump at the latest trends. Know what you're good at and stay with it."

By Scott Moffatt, president of Pharm Team Communications, an Ottawa-based firm providing custom writing, editing and transcribing services to Canadian health-care and pharmaceutical stakeholders. He can be reached at scottm@pharmteam.ca.

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Have a great summer and see you in September.