Scotty Morrison Roasted – by some old chestnuts

By Terrance Gavan

They came not to Bury Morrison; but to praise him!

Good friends, former colleagues, and many Haliburton residents descended on the Minden Community Centre last Friday night.

The occasion?

Ian Scotty Morrison – erstwhile Highlander of the Year, and the driving force behind the Third Annual Scotty Morrison Charity Hockey Tourney – was roasted on an open pit alongside a cackling fire of some old friends, colleagues and soulmates.

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Angela James got another hug from Scotty Morrison after her speech.

Some old chestnuts boasting and roasting tall tales from the hot stove of Scotty’s life, past and present.

On a television screen hung on a wall, passed pictorial mementoes of Scotty’s life as official, referee in chief of the NHL and pastiche of Scotty’s Hockey Hall of Fame career and his induction to the hallowed hall.

And the roast itself?

Well let’s just say they came with guns blazing. But they were shooting blanks. Hard to dispatch an old gunslinger with a rich store of his own ammunition… and stories.

Oh they got their licks in.

And if the tell-all capitulations didn’t quite reach the bold and tawdry heights of the Dean Martin Roasts – thank the Lord – Scotty’s old cronies and former NHL officials like BRYAN Lewis RON Wicks and RAY Scampy Scapinello did manage to come through with enough behind the scene tidbits to keep the SRO charity dinner crowd rolling in the aisles.

Local celebrities Don Popple and Roxanne Casey added to the hilarity with some local color, and the apparently de rigueur short jokes – fear not Scotty we’re still taller than both Bruce Springsteen and Jon Stewart.

Angela James, a Canadian hockey icon was there.  She got to know Morrison when her new Hall of Fame colleague, was the only one of the  dignitaries  to give Canada’s famous first lady of hockey a “big hug” when she was inaugurated as the first of two women – with US player Cammi Granato – into the Hall that Scotty built.

Yes, most of us in Haliburton already know that our own Scotty Morrison was put in charge of finding a new home and redefining the role of the new Hockey Hall of Fame back when he was CEO of the Hall under then NHL comish John Ziegler.

The new CEO and curator of the Hall of Fame, PHIL Pritchard, who was actually hired by Morrison, got up and offered his own insights into the short guy with the great big heart. Pritchard says all of the staff at the current Hall of Fame always address their former boss as Mr. Morrison, a measure of the respect that Scotty still commands at his old shop.

Lewis acted as emcee for the night and Bryan Lewis never calls anyone mister. He and Scampy and Wicks still call Scotty Boss though. And all three former officials did refer to “the boss’s” particular penchant for penalizing minor officiating transgressions with laps and skating drills during conditioning camps.

And not only for ice-bound transgressions.

Lewis once took particular interest in a young woman at a gathering. Shortly after that gathering Lewis was singled out by The Boss at the rink. Bryan Lewis did laps. Then laps. And then some more laps. Until he was well and truly done.

And that was the first and last time any NHL official ever considered hitting on the Boss’s daughter.

Don Popple’s well-researched roast told the story of Scotty’s other life as a respected member of the Highlands community and oddly enough another tale about an earlier life as a baseball umpire, an off-season job that he shared with then Hab’s  player Toe Blake.

The Toe later became one of the most successful coaches in the Montreal Canadiens illustrious history.

Blake was tough, no nonsense and singularly focused and apparently that feistiness carried over to all facets of his life.

Scotty and Toe were inc the change room getting ready to leave after a game when they were informed by the league coordinator that there was a crowd of fans outside looking for, ahem, some justice. They were not happy and they wanted words and maybe more with Toe and Scotty.

The convenor offered to whisk them out the back to avoid a confrontation.

Toe asked: “Which way did we come in today?”

The Convenor replied: “The front door, sir.”

And the Toe replied: “Well that’s the way we’re going out!” Then he grabbed a bat and told Morrison to follow him.

And the story goes that when  Toe waded into the angry crowd with the bat and that famous scowl?

“The wave of angry fanatics parted … like the Red Sea.”

I don’t know about you. I followed the Habs growing up in Ottawa and I idolized Toe Blake.

Now? I love him.

And the stories kept rollin’ on.

The charity dinner like the two that came before it was a huge success.

And not only for the fun and the stories and the camaraderie.

But because it serves to raise awareness for that lovely cause.

Community Care, a Haliburton Highlands organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for an aging demographic.

Great work. Inspired cause. Superb team of volunteers and administrators.

Community Care Haliburton is truly one of those seminal deep-roots organizations; an impeccably groomed and bedrock-solid cornerstone of a  community that has always been tuned into the notion that while it takes a village to raise a child; we must also succumb to the corollary aspect of that definitive statement.

That it takes a village to maintain that level of care from first steps through to old age. A village is a compact union of linked services. We should never forget that a village grows with an unabashed resiliency if and only if we deign to recognize everyone’s right to fluorish.

Community Care reaches out to a part of the village that we sometimes push to the sidelines. The aged, the infirm and the lonely. Look out world. That train is coming.

Scotty Morrison, an NHL legend was named Highlander of the Year a few weeks back not because of his outstanding contribution to hockey in Canada and not because he looks great in a kilt.

Ian Scotty Morrison was named Highlander of the Year for his unstinting and selfless regard for all denizens of his adopted and adoptive home.

When Scotty Morrison makes a commitment to a community, it’s writ large. What that roast revealed last Friday was a man that settles not for the status quo, but seeks to push envelopes.

A man who was not happy just to live here, but to thank the community for sustaining him through the untimely death of a son, and the loss of his wife Joan.

Nothing new here folks.

Just a man who knows that all we can hope to do in one life is snuggle into a notion of karma.

That a life spent improving the lives of those around us will somehow translate down the road.

We’ll know exactly what the fundraiser garnered monetarily for Community Care later this week.

I can tell you that what Community Care gains from the overarching presence of  Scotty’s distinguished profile is absolutely priceless.

No baseball bat required to get this message loud and clear.

We’re lucky indeed to have Community Care and a caring community here in the Haliburton Highlands.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]