‘Shorty’ grateful for time spent with family during NHL lockout
Commentator nervous ahead of Vancouver Canucks’ opener Saturday
When a rumour floated that the NHL season might start up on Jan. 15, Canucks’ commentator John “Shorty” Shorthouse reluctantly broke the news to his young son.
“He was not happy that we might get that close to his birthday,” said Shorthouse, whose son Will turned nine on Wednesday.
“Once the lockout started his whole goal was that I not be on the road for his birthday, so I’m happy we met that goal.”
Shorthouse is the voice of the Vancouver Canucks on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific and Team 1040 radio. It’s a job the Vancouver native started preparing for when he saw his first live Canucks game in 1976 at the age of six.
So understandably, during the lockout, he missed the play by play. He also longed for the camaraderie at the rink.
“I really miss the people. The people I work with are like a second family ... They are my best friends.”
But during the lockout, Shorthouse got a rare opportunity to do things with his immediate family that many of us take for granted: he walked his kids to school and was home on time for dinner.
The family, including Shorthouse’s wife Christina and their daughter Maggie, 6, celebrated Will’s birthday on the weekend, with a party, a trip to see The Hobbit with several of his friends, followed by pirate packs at White Spot.
Shorthouse said the best thing about being out of work was that he got to spend Christmas with his wife’s family in Melville, Ont., something they haven’t been able to do since the last NHL lockout eight years ago.
Christina’s birthday is on Christmas Eve and he was pleased she was able to spend it with her relatives.
Besides spending time with family, Shorthouse was able to indulge in another one of his passions. He’s a major Seattle Seahawks football fan, but because of his busy work schedule and, not wanting to spend precious free time away from his family, he hadn’t been to a game in years.
So during his time off he kicked back at several games. “It was great. I really got swept up in the season,” he said.
After all that down time, however, Shorthouse is worried he might be a little rusty for the Canucks’ season opener on Saturday.
“You know that nightmare that everybody has where they are late for an exam? Well, I’ve been having one where I get to the rink and I can’t figure out how to get to the building ... and I’m nowhere near the microphone.”
He said while he is worried there might be a bit of a struggle at first with the play by play, his confidence is good and he has been preparing for the game, boning up on hockey statistics and watching replays on YouTube.
“I’ll go watch the highlights to get a jolt of confidence to say, ‘I can do this,’” he said. “There are certain games, like Boston last January or the game in Detroit, where there was good energy and we had a good call.”
As for the shortened season, Shorthouse said there could be some fatigue challenges for the players and for the commentators, with a compressed 48 games in 99 days.
But he said he’s not complaining.
“I’m not looking for sympathy here, this is the best job and this is a part of what we do. I feel like I have never worked a day in my life.”
Shorthouse has made a number of notable calls in his lengthy career, but he’s most legendary for a call he made in 2011 when Alex Burrows scored in overtime to lift the Canucks past the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-1, in Game 7 of the playoffs.
“They’ve slayed the dragon,” he screamed, and with that went down in Canucks lore.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun