Saturday 2 November 2013

Behind the scenes: San Jose Sharks hold surprise team meal at Del Friscos

It has been a long time since Canadiens legend Larry Robinson lived in Montreal, but thanks chiefly to his agent and close friend Donny Cape a connection has been maintained with our city.

Cape and Robinson became pals and business partners back in the 1980s. Robinson and his family resided in West Island Kirkland, not far from Cape’s Dollard des Ormeaux home. They ran an auto repair shop together called Dingy. Even after  Robinson left the Habs to play for the Los Angeles Kings and then coach there, the bond between the two men and their families remained. It is sad and almost scandalous that the Habs never reached out to bring Robinson back here as part of their coaching staff. He spent most of his time behind the bench as a head coach and assistant with the New Jersey Devils. Prior to the 2012-2013 lockout season he left the Devils to become an associate coach with the San Jose Sharks. Habs new head coach opted in favor of Jean-Jacques Daigneault to run the defensive corps.

As Robinson’s agent, Cape has handled all of his merchandising, appearances, endorsements and contracts. Very quietly, Robinson spends parts of his summer staying at the Cape home. One of the oufits he endorses is Del Friscos, the popular restaurant at the Galeries des Sources in Dollard. Commercials have been running on TSN 690 Radio for years, with Robinson insisting that this his “go to” place when he comes back to Montreal.
The Sharks players (with Donny Cape front and center) strike a pose.

Well, Robinson is indeed a man of his word. When the Sharks came to town to play the Habs on October 24, Robinson arranged for the entire team to have a meal at Del Friscos the night before. “It was wild,” Cape told me. “Last year Larry told me he was going to do it and I thought it was impossible. Well Larry went ahead and rented a bus and indeed  brought the entire team and coaching staff. Naturally they loved the meal. The bus was a half hour late to pick them up to return to the hotel,  which turned out to be very lucky for the customers as the players stuck around, signed autographs and posed for pictures.”

The Sharks coaching staff, with Robinson third from the left and Cape far right.
Needless to say, Del Friscos owners John, Terry and Jimmy were a pretty proud trio.

Del Friscos is known for serving creative Italian American cuisine in a cozy and welcoming ambiance.  The menu offers everything from traditional Italian pastas, to a variety of fresh salads,  signature veal and wood-burning oven pizzas.  

Wednesday 30 October 2013

The legenday Joe King passes away at the age of 90

In his last email to me just two weeks before he died, Joe King signed off as “the ageless one.”

Joe King

King, a well known  Jewish journalist, author, communications guru, fundraiser and former member of the Canadian Royal Air Force, passed away suddenly on October 26 at the age of 90. He was a tireless worker until his last breath, each day refusing to accept the word “retirement” and undertaking one different project after another. I must say, even at 90 Joe left us way too soon.

A native of Toronto, King’s professional career took him to the four corners of the world, but particularly to the Middle East (19 visits in war and peace). His major publications included a trilogy on Montreal Jewish history (From the Ghetto to the Main,   Baron Byng to Bagels and  Fabled City), The Jewish Contribution to the Modern World  and  The Case for Israel as a handbook and DVD.  

King may have been best known for the decades he spent as the communications director for the local Jewish Federation of Community Service. Then known as Allied Jewish Community Services, King reportedly retired in 1988. He subsequently resurfaced as a communications advisor for several organizations and then assumed the role of executive director of the Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University.  He remained at that post until about 15 years ago, moving on to dedicate himself to writing books and giving lectures. King was a familiar site around town, walking the streets with his small brief case. His press releases went out fast and furiously, usually written at 4 a.m.

The Jewish Public Library’s archivist-emeritus, Eiran Harris, once wrote that “every Jewish community should have a Joe King book written about it.”

Dubbed  the “Historian of Jewish Montreal,”   King poured 40 years of research into his book book From the Ghetto to the Main.  In 30 chapters, his research has turned up sensational findings on the Canadians who schemed to prevent Jews from escaping Hitler’s Europe while assisting war criminals to enter Canada. In one instance, he found that, when the French government sent a warship to bring a convicted (in absentia) killer of Jewish children back to justice, he was tipped off by a Canadian prime minister and fled.

King’s career began with The Canadian Press News Agency and then their broadcasting division, Press News, with a time-out to serve in the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II. He was a pioneer in television public affairs broadcasting and, at CJCHTV, Halifax, originated with the support of Senator Findley MacDonald, the hour long television news and public affairs telecast. He was one of the first public affairs broadcasters on Canadian television, a co-founder of the CTV station in Halifax (CJCH-TV), and came to Montreal in 1960 to work at CFCF Radio and Television, in part because of the city's much larger Jewish community.  King  met and interviewed some of the most important individuals in history, Canadian, Israeli and world. He researched, wrote and hosted a television documentary, Cosmonaut and Capitalist, with the world's first spaceman Yuri Gagarin and Cyrus Eaton, who sought to build bridges between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Only last May King launched a trio of handbooks, a “mini-reference library”  in the fight against anti-Semitism and the campaign to destroy Israel. Federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney attended as a guest speaker.

“Joe was a remarkable man of prodigious talent,” commented Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation’s Rabbi Reuben Poupko. “His breadth of knowledge and experience was breathtaking. The Montreal community has suffered an immeasurable loss, and the Jewish People a brave defender.”

Federal Citizenship Judge Barbara Seal, who worked with King at the Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University, said, “Joe was a source of great knowledge. He loved nothing more than imparting this knowledge to others. His kindness and generosity was evident in the pride he took in the achievements of others and celebrating their successes.”

Former Quebec Justice Minister Herbert Marx and his wife Eva were close to King. “We remember Joe for his dedication, hard work and imagination, all laced with his delightful sense of humour and fun,” said Herbert Marx. “ We got to know him when he was executive director of Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University.  As such, he led groups to Israel and we were fortunate to be part of his missions.  He always did much research and planned our trips meticulously.  We remember many special visits, but one stands out. We went to Jordan and viewed the promised land from Mount Nebo, where our forefather Moses stood to view the land of milk and honey, a land he was forbidden to enter.  It was a landscape and a sight we all remember.  As well, every morning when we boarded our sight-seeing bus, Joe read to us excerpts from the Montreal Gazette, keeping us up to date on home news from the previous day.  He also always carried a carefully wrapped gift for one or another of our Israeli hosts.  Joe was thoughtful, caring, well-informed; these were gifts that did not need wrapping.  His many books and articles will live on after his sad passing, but Joe  as a person was a treasure in our community and he will be sadly missed.”

Anne-Marie Withenshaw returns to 92.5 The Beat

92.5 The Beat has announced the return of Anne-Marie Withenshaw and All-Access Weekend to the lineup Sundays from 10 am to Noon beginning Sunday, November 3. All-Access Weekend is distinctive to Montreal radio combining a recap of the week’s biggest entertainment and local stories with a look ahead. Along with Montreal’s feel good music, it includes interviews with the “in-the-now” celebrities from the world of TV, Movies and Music.
Anne-Marie Withenshaw
Withenshaw is an award-winning TV and radio personality and one of Montreal’s broadcast industry’s most respected and recognized professionals.  The new mom is drop dead gorgeous, 100 percent bilingual, full of personality and very well connected. Withenshaw  got her start as a VJ on MusiquePlus then travelling the globe for Quebec’s longest running entertainment show, “Flash”. During her 5 years as a reporter and then host of the show, she attended the Grammys, Oscars, Cannes and Sundance film fests and interviewed hundreds of personalities and newsmakers. Since then, she hangs with the Habs on TSN, RDS and NHL Network USA as the host of the much talked-about “Your Canadiens”, has eaten her way through Quebec with celebrities on Guide Restos Voir, and co-hosts ARTV's flagship TV-critic-gabfest C'est Juste de la TV.
Program Director, Leo Da Estrela says, “We are thrilled to have Anne-Marie back from her Maternity leave and in the lineup.  She is a perfect fit for the personal nature of radio, particularly on Sundays when listeners can spend time with her catching up on all the entertainment stories of the past week and to what’s hot and happening in the week ahead. Anne-Marie’s charm and personality, coupled with the best music mix in Montreal, will prove to be a winning combination and a must listen each Sunday."
Here is a great interview with Anne-Marie.