Sunday 13 May 2012

Impact's Olympic Stadium success brings back memories of Le Manic

It is quite extraordinary to see how well the Montreal Impact’s debut in Major League Soccer has began. At first, the fact that news  their new Stade Saputo would not be ready until June sounded problematic. The team announced that the season would start next door at Olympic Stadium.

Tony Towers
Well, they had a giant sized crowd of 55,000 for their opener in March and packed in 60,000 to see David Beckham and the LA Galaxy on May 12.  This reminds me of the glory days of the Montreal Manic. Although the team only survived here for three years in the 1980s, they enjoyed some pretty good periods here and had some pretty huge crowds of their own.  I attended most home games – indoors and outdoors – as a member of the media. What they did absolutely right was get players out into the community and before long names like Tony Towers, Carmine Marcantonio, Thomas Usiyan, Gordon Alec Hill and Bob Rigby were very familiar. There was amiable head coach Eddie Firmani and a rabid base of fans.

Le Manic were owned by Molson Brewery and their decision to try and transform the team into Team Canada for 1984 fell flat on its face. The franchise folded  and four years later the Montreal Supra, predecessors to the Impact, entered the scene. Playing out of Centre Claude Robillard they brought professional soccer back here via baby steps. They effectively became the Impact in 1992 and with the steady hand of Joey Saputo at the helm developed into what is today a top-notch organization.

Saputo worked very hard to bring the MLS here and he deserves high praise for doing so. His decision to hire Legendre as executive vice-president and people like ticket sales boss  Brian Weightman showed that he has a knack for  selecting front office talent. Legendre was a former  pro tennis player, oversaw the Jarry Tennis Stadium and annual world class tournaments and served as a provincial cabinet minister. He was a key hire in getting  Stade Sapuoto built and now expanded.

While Saputo was unavailable to meet  with me, I did spend some time with Legendre at field level and he shared with me some of the reasons why the Impact will probably continue to use the Big Owe each season. 

Here is my video interview:

Irving Epstein's incredible weight loss

Back in 2007, Côte Saint-Luc’s Irving Epstein went to his physician Ilan Benjamin, for a check up.

I will let Irving take it from here:

 I was having problems with walking,” he told me. “I was out of breath and did not have energy. I talked to the doctor about looking into the why and what can be done. His scale went up to 350 lbs and I was more than that. My weight was about 357 pounds. He sent me for tests to the Jewish General Hospital. They tested my heart, my lungs and my blood to look at many other health problems Everything came back ok. Ilan told me that the reason for the problem was that I was too fat. I had to lose weight.  
“We talked about weight loss surgery and I filled out and sent in the form to the Royal Victoria Hospital. I called the CLSC to try to get a nutritionist. They got back to me saying that there was a waiting list and that I would receive a telephone call when a place opened up. I did wait and got a call and then an appointment.  My nutritionist at the CLSC Rene-Cassin was Ella Gorovoy. I worked with her and had to relearn what to eat and what not to eat. For me, going out for lunch or supper was an event. It was a social event. Eating was a very important part of my life. You can say that it was a social event.

“Ella informed me back at the beginning of 2010 that she will be heading a Lifestyle Modification Program at the CLSC Notre-Dame-de-Grace / Montreal-Ouest. As I was border line diabetic she asked me to join. There was a form that had to be filled in by my doctor, who was happy to comply.

“The Diabetes Reference Center was born and my first appointment was April 1 2010. The study was for a period of three years and the team members were a nutritionist, a nurse, a kinesiologist and a social worker.

“At the beginning of April 2011 I received a call from the Royal Vic and had an appointment on April 7 at 10:45 Aam in room S 6.24. I met with Dr. Oliver Court. We had a talk and he showed me a couple of options. The one he suggested was the sleeve gastrectomy. He said that my surgery should be in September of 2011 as they were booked up to the summer.

“On April 18 I received a call from the hospital and said that they had a date for my surgery. The date was May 3. I had to now prepare for the surgery. No more food. I had to get, from them a replacement for my meals. The product was called Optifast. It came in two flavors, chocolate and vanilla.

Epstein (left0 before the surgery.

“I was told that it was important to take some weight off before the operation to help cut down on the bleeding from the liver. So I drank the Optifast, which I learned to hate and looked forward to my surgery day.

“May 3,  2011 came and I had to report to the hospital for  6:45 a.m. Then , three and a half  and a half hours later, the operation was done and I was in the recovery room. I woke up and all was well.

“I was in the hospital till Thursday and I was so pleased with the care I received. As good as the care, I was happy to go home. There is something about sleeping in your own bed and taking a shower in your own bathroom that gives us pleasure.

“I had to follow a liquid and pureed food diet for the first month. I got to eat solid food around June 3.. I was so done with the pureed food that I went to solid food on June 1. The first few days were not the best, but I seemed to get into the swing of things. At this point I did not know what to do with myself. I sat around the house too long. I had to get back to work. I got back to work and my life.

“Looking at the scale now the reading is 218 pounds. The weight is down and I feel wonderful. I enjoy walking and working out. I want to get a bike and get out on the road once the weather is warm and dry enough.

Epstein after the surgery.

“I went to an appointment at the Lifestyle Modification Program at the CLSC Notre-Dame-de-Grace / Montreal-Ouest on January 17 and met with Ella. I had gone for a blood test a week earlier. I was told that this would be my last appointment as I was no longer a part of the study. I was in better health. My family doctor took me off my medication and said to make an appointment in three months. He is so pleased with the results and I have to thank all involved in the life changing surgery.

“It is great to hear from people I know say how great I look.”