Monday, October 8, 2018

Stepping down

Last Thursday (Oct 4th) was my last one behind the mic for the Ottawa Senators. It wasn’t an easy decision to come to – but it’s one that’s best for me and my family. Like a lot of Canadian kids growing up in Montreal, one of my dreams was to play in the NHL. If you’ve seen me play hockey, you know that’s impossible so I had pursue my dream another way.
Fast forward to the summer of 2006 when I became the PA announcer (hired by Glen Gower) for the Ottawa Senators. It was the closest thing I’d ever have to being a player on the ice and I never took the job for granted every single time I walked into that arena.
It was a dream come true.
Calling players names at the start of each game was such a rush – I was nervous and excited every single time I opened the mic. And those players were always so welcoming, they always made me feel like a part of the team… like one of the guys.
When I was diagnosed with Leukemia the outpouring of support from Sens fans, the players, the wives and the organization – from security staff, suite hosts, right up to the front office was incredible. To this day there are not enough words of gratitude and thanks – that feeling of support and love I will take with me forever. But truth is the effects of all that treatment (chemo, radiation) and the medication (that I’m still taking) has finally caught up with me.
I don’t announce calls like I use to, and the act of burning the candle on both ends isn’t something I can do anymore. I would often joke, the Sens gig pays the groceries, the job on the radio at MAJIC 100 FM pays the mortgage.
The role of PA announcer for the Ottawa Senators afforded me so many incredible opportunities – from calling games at 2 Olympics, NHL All Star game, NHL draft, announcer for the NHL awards, NHL outdoor game to name a few.
More importantly, it also allowed me to meet thousands of Sens fans over the years, you’re a passionate fan base. Don’t ever lose that and don’t ever take for granted how lucky we are as a city to have an NHL team in our backyard.
I’ll continue to work with the Ottawa Senators doing some events throughout the year with the Senators foundation and alumni. Until then I look forward to going to games with my kids, it’ll be a new experience that I look forward to, because ultimately family is the most important thing.
To the game night crew, please continue playing Cotton Eyed Joe, and doing what you do best. I’m truly going to miss working with you.
And lastly to the Sens fans, I hope I did you proud each and every game night, it was an honour and a privilege to be your PA announcer over the last 12 years.
Thank you, Un gros merci, GO SENS GO!
(Thanks for the jersey Emily Knight)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cancer car...

 About 3 summers ago I bought a Nissan 350Z "MLCC" edition (mid life crisis car) and much to my amazement my wife was ok with it. Fast forward to last year and Leukemia decides to pay me a visit. After a few months of the fun juice (chemo) I went into remission and still required  a bone marrow transplant. So I celebrated as a typical only child would and bought a newer convertible. Fearing a cross examination from my wife, I justified it this way "this car has 4 seats mine only has 2, and when we go for ice cream, I don't have to pick which child I like better"

When my wife came home that day and looked at the car in the garage, "what's that?" she says, that my dear is my F#$$ cancer car! But there was still one issue. The car is the wrong color, still looks good in silver but black is the way to go. Painting is expensive, so I asked my buddy Roger from Wicked Garage who he suggests? tells me to and see Mike Piecki at auto trim designs.

Well this blew me away when I saw it. Wrapped in Black with carbon fiber accents. The mock license plate was a nice touch.

Thank you to Mike and all the staff at auto trim designs. I'll stop begging my wife for a Ferrari now!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A customer service WIN

What's the first thing we do when we have a bad experience? We immediately post about it. I've done it, you've probably done it or read about it. This is the opposite, and it's a GREAT experience that I want to share. My wife has been having some back issues and the mattress that we bought 7 years ago hasn't lived up to what it promised to do. So I brought the original receipt into the Sears store where we bought it and dealt with a sales associate and explained that we were in the market for a new firm mattress, and showed him the original receipt, hoping that maybe it would get me another $100 off the new one. We purchased all our appliances at that store and have been customers for almost 17 years so I thought, maybe there's some "unofficial" loyalty points! Here's what happens; our sales associate Pierre Levesque narrows our search down, shows my wife some options, she chooses the one she likes and then he informs us that because the mattress is under the 10 year warranty and there's a guarantee, that Sears will replace ours with the new mattress at NO charge. I thought I was on one of those hidden camera shows. That's type of after sales service that I love.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

YOU have Cancer

We all have moments that define us. It’s a time in our lives when you have to face the fear of the unknown. On Monday February 15th of this year it hit me like a brick wall, when I learned I'd been diagnosed with Leukemia. I’ll never forget that scene, sitting in the emergency room of the Ottawa General. I had spent all afternoon at the Civic to try and figure out why I was having 2 hour nosebleeds, terrible migraines and bruising on my hands. Late in the evening I was about to go home and wait for the hospital to call me with the results the next day and just as I’m putting on my coat, a doctor runs in with a look that I’ll never forget and says, “He’s been transferred to the General”. I had no idea how serious it was and the Senators doctor Don Chow (who came by to see me) took me home to get an overnight bag and off we went to the General. The next part of the story is foggy but clear at the same time. I was sitting on the examination table, the hematologist was on my left and said “Your blood levels are extremely low and.....” at that point I knew something was wrong. She paused and said “You have Leukemia..” and said it’s curable but we’re going to have to admit you for at least a month. It’s amazing what goes through your mind when something like this happens, as the first thing that jumped into my head was that I had to emcee a charity event with my MAJIC 100 work wife Angie Poirier on the Friday night which was just 5 days away. Don Chow looked at me and said, “Well Stu, you’re going to beat this and become a Cancer survivor!”. We called my wife and I had the doctor give her the news. As expected, it hit her hard and I asked her if it was ok to share the news on Facebook. I needed an outlet, somewhere to get comfort and support so I pulled out the phone, shot a short ninety second video and posted it. Was admitted that night, met Sarah who was my nurse and she walked me through everything and was the comforting soul that I needed. It was just after 11pm and they started giving me blood transfusions right away. I lied in my bed awake until 3am and wondered “why me? What did I do to deserve this?”. The following morning, I woke up, looked in the mirror and vowed to beat it and to try and do something to raise some money for the hospital at the same time. The next few weeks I went through chemo, losing my hair and posted on social media everyday and took everyone on the journey. The doctors met with us a few weeks later and said that while I’ll be able to get into remission, a bone marrow transplant was necessary for long term survival. As I write this, I’m 8 weeks into a new immune system thanks to a generous donor who I hope to meet one day and doing my best to be a boring patient for my doctors. You don’t go through a journey like this without caring nurses who’ve been my sounding board on many days, doctors who just want to see you get better or an amazing wife and kids who’ve had to adjust around me and my new world. I’m forever grateful! #StuStrong 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Sid the Kid, drawn by a kid!

My son's drawing of Sidney Crosby winning the Cup. In a world dominated by apps, it's nice to see when they just draw!

Monday, September 9, 2013

I'll have a Martini please..

Sitting at dinner with the kids my wife notices an elderly couple and there was something about them that stood out. The man is wearing a black suit and his wife is all made up, a long skirt, purple sweater and pearls. We guess their age somewhere in the mid 70's and here we are, dressed in our sweats and looking like we're coming from gym class. We overhear their conversation with the waiter and the man really wants a martini. The place we're at doesn't usually make those but the waiter insists he'll make him one. The wife orders a glass of wine and my wife leans over and says to me "We should buy them their first drink". 

"Why do you know them?" I ask..

"No, but hopefully that will be us one day, all done up in our Sunday best and they look like a sweet couple".

We let the waiter in on our plans with instructions that the couple is only told at the end of the meal. When they ask why, we just wanted them to have a nice evening. Nothing more..

We've since left and enjoying an ice cream at the spot next door and the couple track us down to thank us. They say they really enjoy this particular restaurant and always make a point to visit when in town. I ask where they're from and they say from a small town about 2.5 hours from Ottawa. They drove in for a medical appointment tomorrow at 8am. We think the man may have suffered a stroke based on the way his face looks, but he's an intimidating fellow and appears very genuine. My son goes over and says "I hope you had a nice evening" to which the man says "Bless you.." (I think he was a minister).

Anyways.. point of the story:

Do something nice for someone this week.. Just do something at random wherever you are.

It made us feel good and maybe, just maybe our little gesture added another bright spot to their night out. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Firefighter for a day

Charity events are a great place to buy experiences and at the Paul Rushforth golf tournament there was a package to hang out at a station for a day and since it went to a great cause (D.I.F.D), how could you go wrong? Instead of hogging all the fun for myself I asked my kids to come along and play firefighter with Dad. Our guide Jimmy Fata explained about the importance of doing a family emergency plan which only takes a few minutes and I wonder how many of you reading this have done it (we hadn't until now) plus it could save a life. You don't have to do it at 2am, but just go through what to do in case something happens, and have a plan B ready. 

The tour consisted of going up in the bucket, putting out a simulated fire, sitting in the trucks, Dad putting on the gear and going into a smoke filled training building (new appreciation, that gear is heavy!) and having lunch with the crew. Thanks to Jimmy, Malcolm and the amazing team at Ottawa Fire station 36 for being very accommodating on a day when it felt plus 40! 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thank YOU

I'm not writing this as the PA announcer for the Ottawa Senators, but as a Dad. You can even replace "Sens" with your team if you like.  

My 7 year old played hockey for the first time this year and more importantly the Sens showed up on his radar. He wanted to know the outcome of every game, including who was the starting goaltender. After his own games he asked which member of the Sens he played like on that night. He cheered with every Sens win and wanted to dissect every loss. 

The names of Alfie, Phillips, Neil, Spezza, Karlsson are now part of his vocabulary.

His younger sister just likes chanting "Go Sens Go" and is happy Spartacat isn't going anywhere. 

So, this Dad thanks the Ottawa Senators. For giving my kids something to cheer for and for making them fans. 

Here's to the #PeskySens for a memorable season and Alfie coming back for one more year.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Kids on the Block

Are coming to Ottawa...MAJIC 100 is giving away tickets, so we decide to shoot a music video to promote it.

NOTE - your ears may never recover!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Michael Bublé in the UK

Is London on your bucket list of places to visit? How about spending somebody else's money? If so, take 1 minute and watch this:

Video #2

Video #3

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Dear United Airlines

The mission: Take a mini vacation to NYC with my wife for the weekend. Go see Jersey Boys on Broadway and take in the sights.

The result: Got to see United Airlines at their worst and no vacation.

Flight was supposed to leave at 2:55pm on Friday Mar 1. Knowing how airports work, the rule is try to be there 90 minutes before. We did our best to get there with time to spare, but arrived an hour before. While driving to the airport we learned that it was delayed and now leaving at 3:45. At check-in we were met by someone who was likely on her first day and learning the system. No problem.. we all have to start somewhere. Where our journey with United starts is here, as the supervisor who was obviously having a long day started on me about not being there on time and her attitude was showing but I brushed it off because we've all had a bad day. There was confusion at check-in about what time the flight was closing and nobody seemed to know (incuding the supervisor) but again, I'm about to start vacation so no big deal. 

After going through security and waiting for our flight, we learned it's now been delayed until 4:30 with some confusion on where the flight is and what's wrong with it. I approached the gate to inquire more, but was met by an agent who was clearly frustrated (I'll call her Miss United, cause there was no name tag) and given the amount of connection flights she was now try to re-book I went back to my seat. The flight has now been delayed again and the last update was another delay, now leaving Ottawa at 6:30pm. 

By this point, it's a frustrating situation but it's part of air travel. That's fine.. it's how you treat your customers is where this story prompted me to tweet at United and when my patience started to run thin. As we start boarding the plane, Miss United calls us back. She's not sure why and no information is given. There's already about 15 passengers on the plane and she tells us the flight has been cancelled (but no reason) and intructs everyone to follow another agent down through security to claim our baggage. Miss United and the other agents didn't know how to get back to security and led us down hallways and there wasn't any real plan in place.

I'd hate to see what would have happened in a real emergency..

Now waiting by the carousel to get our bags for our cancelled flight (still no reason given) and Miss United is doing her best to answer questions from tired and confused travellers. One lady asks where to get her luggage and that's when Miss United snapped at her. "Maam, did you not hear me say it four times?. That's when I opened up with "Dial it back a little please. We're all tired, and since nobody seems to know what they're doing you could be a little more professional with your passengers". Well Miss United didn't like that "sir I've had to re-schedule 3 flights today, I don't have time for this" and she walks away throwing her hands in the air.

Not sure where that one shows up in "How to treat a customer"....

Now waiting for our luggage and an employee of YOW (Ottawa International Airport) comes over and says "apparently the flight is a go and you have to go back upstairs and get checked in again". He was nice and professional. (Young, tall kid... didn't get a chance to get his name).

Back at check-in and being told by United to hurry up because the plane is going to take off soon. Back through security and rushing through the gate, Miss United is there again. She's had a long day and rushing us back on the plane. Once on the plane the flight attendant says "I've been working since 5am so hurry folks, find your seat so we can quickly take off". It's now about 7pm and about 10 minutes into sitting on the tarmac the pilot comes on to tell us that the plane must be de-iced and shouldn't take more than 20 minutes. 

Now here's the part that really pissed everyone off. While waiting I was listening to the flight attendant (flight #4439) answer questions from passengers and one answer stood out. "Look, I'm just a little employee and they won't listen to my suggestions. It's up to you to go online and voice your concerns or complaints because passengers are money and once they see no money then they (United) will listen". Its now 8pm and the plane has been de-iced and ready to go.

That's when we hear this:

"Due to FAA regulations I've worked a 16 hour day and not legally allowed to fly, so we're sorry but the flight is cancelled tonight. You may call our 1-800 number, visit our website and get re-booked at the check in but I can't fly...sorry".

Now remember, this flight was supposed to leave at 6:30... not 8pm. The lack of compassion, professionalism and courtesy I witnessed wonders why anyone would fly United again. I've heard similar stories from other airlines and have friends who work in the industry, but you have to treat passengers with respect and not like cattle. 

I tried to send a copy of this to United on their website, but the comment section only allows for 2500 characters. I will call them on Monday morning and request an email where I can send this.

UPDATE: March 4 - Well there is power in social media and I heard from United today and it wasn't the standard "we're sorry letter". Fingers crossed all will be worked out. They were not happy to hear what happened and are looking into it. Hopefully that means improved customer service in the future.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Don Cherry would be proud

$250,000 raised at last night's Ferguslea Sens Soiree! This year's theme was "Graffiti", so I grabbed an old jacket, added spray paint and had it lettered and numbered like a jersey. The whole team signed it, then I auctioned it off for $3000 (to the lucky winner in the photo, bottom right). What an amazing night! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sorry for this..

Thankfully the NHL is back and I can announce Sens games again. Less nights at home trying to come up with things to do.