That's when he went too far.
Rent-A-Goalie rocks. It isn't for everybody, but I find it a surreal little gem. It isn't always laugh out loud funny, but now and then it really scores. (Just seeing Etobicoke bar "The Old Sod" as a sitcom setting makes me laugh.) It's not about hockey at all but about neighborhoods, one man's code and his rag tag family of misfit friends. It's different. I like it.
It probably costs less to make than the craft services budget on According To Jim. It's a resourceful little production, like The Red Green Show, a model for how to crank out domestic TV in a small market nation.
Best of all it is not a committee show but somebody's personal vision, creator, writer and star Christopher Bolton. Unlike, say, Mr. Anonymous, Bolton puts his name on his stuff. If you don't like it, fair enough, you know who to blame. Maybe Mr. Anonymous has created something he's proud of, too. We'll probably never know.
Anyway, last November when Rent-A-Goalie returned for a second season on Showcase (Sundays at 9 p.m.), Bolton invited members of the press to come out and play hockey with the cast and crew of his series. I was the only scribe foolish enough to show up. Most press wags jump at free beer; I jump at free ice.
Big mistake. I played on the cast team, with Bolton, Gabriel Hogan and the rest of the dudes. (Ironically, the game was held up a bit as we waited for the real rent-a-goalie. No lie.)
Against us were these waves of 6-foot-3 Teamsters. My neck still hurts from watching them blow past me on defense.
We lost, 6-5. I played crap. "Once again, blame the press," I told Bolton after the game.
We talked about how he chased Tie Domi into a men's room to get him to guest on the series (The Esposito brothers, Tony amd Phil, also made an appearance this year along with former Leaf captain Daryl Sittler.) Bolton got the Espos to play a couple of tough poker players. Bringing famous hockey icons in just to skate around the ice wouldn't be that much of a kick for viewers, he said. "If I wanna watch hockey, I'll watch hockey. I tune into this to watch the characters."
After the game, Bolton gave me the Rent-A-Goalie jersey, pictured above. I protested that, the way I played, I didn't deserve it, but he insisted. What the hell, I thought. Maybe some day I'll get a chance to post it on my blog. Thanks, Anonymous.