TSN western correspondent Farhan Lalji watched two historic events unfold right before his eyes this past Wednesday.
The first was 10-month-old daughter Nora taking her first steps and the second was teaching four-year-old Lukas how to spell his name on a game board.
For the first time in a month, Lalji was enjoying a day off with his wife Mary and the kids. He’d been filing Super Bowl previews from the San Francisco 49ers camp when the TSN assignment desk suggested he remain in California to cover the Canucks in Anaheim Friday, San Jose Sunday and Los Angeles Monday “just in case” the long anticipated Roberto Luongo trade finally happened.
Lalji is in his 16th year with TSN. Incredibly, he also found the time to resurrect the New Westminster Hyacks football program 10 years ago where he spends countless hours as an administrator and coach. In December 2012, the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce named Lalji Citizen of the Year.
While he has enjoyed the thrill of covering five Super Bowl games from the sidelines for TSN in the past, Sunday he will be right in his element with 80 young football players from his Hyack teams watching the game on a jumbo screen at the Moody Park Youth Centre. Mary, Lukas and Nora will be there, too.
“When I travel covering sports for a living it’s awesome,” Lalji says. “But when I get time at home with my family and my football guys on a Super Bowl Sunday, it makes me feel like the luckiest man in the world.”
HERE ‘N’ THERE: A Vancouver NFL diehard fan also felt like one of the luckiest men on the planet when his loving wife presented him with a birthday gift in the form of two prime seats to Sunday’s game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The tickets cost her $3,500 but she beat the inevitable price hikes by ordering early. Hubby has since paid almost three times that much to cover the cost of airplane tickets to New Orleans, hotel accommodation and car rental. “The big surprise was that my wife decided to join me instead of me bringing along a buddy who’d pay half the expenses,” the happy but now financially challenged fan says. “She hates football.”
SHORT HOPS: The thought of the Canucks wearing the Vancouver Millionaires ‘V’ patch on their third jerseys from time to time is a welcome departure from the monotonous routine NHL teams go through these days. With visiting teams always wearing white uniforms, fans are cheated out of enjoying the colourful dark combinations that travelling clubs once showcased on the road, especially those from the Original Six era.
END ZONE: Hockey Day in Canada is celebrated coast-to-coast Feb. 9 with all seven Canadian NHL teams getting Hockey Night in Canada exposure. Check out the local event at the Richmond Olympic Oval. From Guy Lafleur signing autographs at a sports collectors marketplace to Trevor Linden leading Canucks Alumni in a ball hockey game, from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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