Sunday, 22 December 2013

My Bret Hart Experience

On Saturday December 9th, I had the opportunity to meet one of my hero's- the Legendary Bret "the Hitman" Hart.  Bret Hart is from Calgary Alberta, and is a former World Wrestling Entertainment Champion, a number one best selling author, and in 2004 was ranked one of CBC's top 50 Canadians.  Bret has also explored other area's of entertainment, starring in ‘Aladdin the Magical Family Musical’, as well as work writing autobiographies and even a romantic novel.  Yet, he still has a legends contract with the WWE(World Wrestling Entertainment) and makes TV appearances occasionally.

I have been a wrestling fan as long as I can remember-  the athletics, comedy, and drama all in one manly package.  When I heard that Bret Hart was coming to Ottawa, I had to try and meet him.  I informed my mother who has a contact at the March of Dimes ( ) an organization that supports independence, personal empowerment, and community participation for people with disabilities.  And oh yea, Bret Hart just happens to be an ambassador for the March of dimes.  So, they got in touch with Bret and arranged a visit for that Saturday Morning.  I could not believe it, "the Best there is, the Best there was, and the Best there ever will be" was coming to my place.  He was going to be in my room.   I could not be happier.

Eventually Saturday Morning came along.  I was so thrilled-  it seemed to take forever for the day to arrive.  I had Bret's theme music cued and ready to play for the moment he walked through the door.   When I heard him walking down the hall,  I started the theme music.
And then Bam!  There he was, Bret "The Hitman" Hart,  leather jacket and all.  I started to shake with excitement, as he came over to speak with me.  He was larger then life, yet at the same time, very soft spoken and down to earth.  He sat down in the chair beside me and pulled out a pair of the legendary pink Bret Hart sunglasses, which he then signed and put on me.  I felt like a member of the 'Hart Foundation', a wrestling faction which included his late brother Owen and his two brothers-in-law, the Jim 'the Anvil' Neidhart, and the late 'British Bulldog'.  Bret signed a couple of DVDs I had in my collection focussing on his career and life, as well as my copy of his auto-biography called 'Hitman'.  We chatted for a bit, and then decided to go out and say hello to the other people in the residence.  

Bret seemed happy to meet everyone, and genuinely interested in bringing a smile to everyones face.  And that he did.  His visit wasn't long, around 30minutes, but it left a lasting impression on me.  I started writing more.  I want to grow the audience of, and attend to my blogs on a more regular basis. (  &

Simple visits like this are so important.  They have the capacity to not only make a persons day, but bring about a lasting change for individuals who feel inspired. 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Story of Fernando Pisani

       The story of Fernando Pisani if one of dedication, perseverance, legend, and misfortune.   

       Pisani was born December 27, 1976 in Edmonton, Alberta, and grew up a fan of the mighty Oilers.  He was drafted considerably late, as the 195th overall selection, fatefully to the Edmonton Oilers in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.  Pisani then went on to spend four successful years at Providence College.  After which, Pisani joined Edmonton's AHL affiliate in Hamilton for the 2000-01 season and finished his rookie campaign with decent production in 12 goals and a total of 25 points.  The next season he more than doubled his offensive totals in each category, and finished fourth in team scoring.   In the 2002-03 season, Pisani split his time with both Hamilton and Edmonton, where in 35 games with the parent club he registered 13 points.  And finally, by the 2003-04 season, he competed the entire year at the NHL level with the Edmonton Oilers.  Pisani is generally considered a "late bloomer", because he did not see his first NHL action until the age of 27.

       During the NHL’s ‘Lock Out’ of 2004-05 Pisani played with Langnau of the Swiss National League, and then Asiago of the Italian  National League.  And when NHL play resumed in 2005-06, Pisani, scored a career-high 18 goals, with 19 assists for a total of 37 points. Yet, due to the Oilers overall record they entered the playoffs as underdogs, in the eighth and final seed of the Western Conference.   However, this was going to be a special year for the Oilers, as they were about to embark on a cinderella run to within a  game of  winning the 2006 Stanley Cup Trophy- thanks in large part to the hometown boy Pisani’s heroics. 

       Pisani entered the 2006 NHL playoffs as a man who had struggled and put in work to get to where he was in professional hockey, but he would take advantage of his situation and become the stuff of playoff legend.  By the sixth game in the first round, Pisani had already notched 3 goals against the highly touted and #1-seed Detroit Red Wings.  Yet, it was in that games six that Pisani scored 2 third-period goals, for a series clinching 4-2 victory.   The underdog Edmonton Oilers were miraculously lifted into the second round thanks to Pisani’s efforts.  They would then go on to face a talented San Jose Sharks team, where Pisani recorded another two-goal effort, including the game winner, in a 6-3 game five win.  In the Stanley Cup final, the Oilers team faced elimination in the fifth game against the Carolina Hurricanes.  Going into overtime on the penalty kill, Pisani intercepted a pass and scored his second goal of the game on a breakaway to stave off elimination for the Oilers . It was the first time in Stanley Cup Finals history that an overtime game was decided by a shorthanded goal.  Incredible.   Pisani also scored the Oilers' only goal in a losing game seven effort.  Despite the loss, Pisani finished the playoffs with an amazing and league-leading 14 goals, including a whopping 5 game-winning goals.  Proving that when presented with opportunities, sensational things can happen to those who don’t give up.

       Pisani followed his brilliant 2006 playoff performance with a relatively mediocre 28-point season in 2006-07, and the Oilers failed to qualify for the post-season.   Prior to the start of the 2007-08 season, Pisani was unfortunately diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, sidelining him for the first 26 games of the campaign.  But again, in true form he came back, returned to the Oilers lineup on December 2, 2007, and finished the season strong.  He was nominated for the Bill Masterton Trophy– given to an NHL player for perseverance and dedication to hockey – at the end of the season.

       Sadly, Pisani never really played another full season due to illness and injuries.  He managed to play as many games as possible over those next few years, and was a brilliant mentor to young players in the Oilers organization.  Besides that incredible playoff run, he was never the team's best player, never their best forward, never their best right winger, but he had character and played the game in a splendid way.  His NHL career may have been late to start and early to end, yet he played it in his hometown, and it included some moments of extraordinary achievement.


Pisani attended St. Cecilia Junior High School and Archbishop O’Leary Catholic High-school in Edmonton with fellow NHL’er Sheldon Souray.  Pisani holds dual citizenship with Canada and Italy, deriving his Italian citizenship through his Italian-born father.  He and his wife Heidi have two sons and a daughter.

*special thanks to for the details and statistics included in this acticle.  And to for the video links.

Monday, 9 December 2013

A Tell All Interview with Award Winning TV Personality Arda Ocal

Arda Ocal is an award winning TV personality, announcer and writer.  In 2009, Ocal created, pitched, and hosted "Aftermath TV" weekly on (the former)The Score Television Network following the re-broadcast of WWE Raw on Tuesday afternoons, as well as "Aftermath Radio", which he co-hosted with former WWE referee Jim Korderas.  In 2011, “Aftermath Radio” won a Wrestling Radio Award for Show of the Year, and in 2012, Ocal won for Host of the Year.  Arda Ocal knows his WWE wrestling, both as a interview journalist and commentator, and as a true fan. 

I, Nicholas Wright, got a chance to meet Arda Ocal when he joined WWE Hall-Of-Fame wrestler Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart on a visit to the residence where I live.  This  visit was organized through the March of Dimes Canada (, an organization that supports independence, personal empowerment and community participation of people with disabilities.  Arda Ocal, who is now working with ‘the Weather Network’ here in Ottawa, heard about Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart making this special visit and wanted to tag along because that’s just the good-kind-of-guy he is.  I was totally pumped to be meeting ‘the Hitman’ - a hero of mine, and someone I have watched for years and years. I was so thrilled hanging with “the Best there is, the Best there was, and the Best there ever will be”, that I didn’t pay much attention to anything else, and missed the guy that was tagging along at first.  But, once settled down in my ‘Hitman’ sunglasses, and informed of who the guy was ‘tagging along’ with Bret Hart, I was extremely excited.  For a long time, I have wanted to chat and pick the brains of those behind one of my favorite WWE wrestling programs- ‘Aftermath TV’.  I loved the genuine and honest commentary of both Jimmy Korderas and Arda Ocal on that show, and it is too bad that it has changed hosts over the last couple of years.  So when i got the chance to meet Arda, i was very pleased to find out that he is the fun and sincere character that he seemed on-air.  He even agreed to this ‘tell-all-interview’, and I know this guy will have stories.

Nick: “After meeting Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart, I got the impression that he was a great person who was happy to put smiles on the faces of his fans.  Is he the norm or the exception to the rule in your experiences with WWE athletes?”

Arda:  “This is the rule. Many WWE Superstars tirelessly grant the wishes of many children through Make A Wish, and do unadvertised meetings all the time. I asked Bret in the car on the way to Pop Expo how many meetings like this he has had in his career and he said hundreds. He said it with a smile and you can tell that it's extremely important to him. John Cena for example has granted over 400 Make A Wish requests.. that's incredible. How can you not like a guy who puts in so much effort like that? WWE often doesn't get the credit it deserves for their charity initiatives, just because of the form of entertainment they are and how some people just will never open up to it.”

Nick:  “As a journalist/reporter/commentator you have had the chance to meet many past and present superstars, who was the best interview?”

Arda:  “I have 3, for different reasons. Bret Hart is one, because his stories are phenomenal. One of the best story tellers of all time, in and out of the ring. He remembers events that happened decades ago with explicit detail and that makes for a compelling interview. I think I've interviewed him at least 20 times and once, we just focused on his career in 1992 (which was a huge year in WWE for him). He remember every match, the circumstances, what original plans were.. it was impressive. An interview like that could have gone very poorly, but it was terrific.
Second, Chris Jericho - he's entertaining. Got great stories but makes the interviews fun. In our last interview for example ( we spent some time talking about what was actually in a case of alcohol in this storage room we were in.. just random fun things like that. Chris is a natural performer, especially with improv.
Third, Roddy Piper. One of the best heels of all time. He gives you his heart and you can tell he's speaking sincerely, which I love. You get completely hypnotized by Hot Rod's words and you can't help but focus everything out and just listen to his voice. In an era where ADD is huge and people are checking their phones every 5 seconds, Piper knows how to command and keep attention, which is rare.
Honorary mentions - Edge (he's just a super cool guy). I'm a big fan of interviewing legends... I love stories from yesteryear. From today's roster I'd have to pick Dolph Ziggler - he talks a mile a minute and never seems to flub his words!”

Nick:  “As a fan, who’s your favourite current superstar?  Why?”

Arda:  “Dean Ambrose. I'm a huge fan of the details in pro wrestling, #TheLittleThings as I call them on Twitter. Dean Ambrose is a master at these small details and nuaces that enhance my viewing as a fan. The way he gives and takes a punch, the way he makes a tag.... all meticulous and thought out how he will react. It's art. I love it and watching what he does, it's a lesson in the difference between good and great.”

Nick:  “I loved when ‘the Rock’ would sing his silly songs, what did you think of skits like this?  And what do you think is the best comedic bit in a WWE show?” 

Arda:  “They were fantastic - The Rock is probably the mot charismatic WWE Superstar of all time, and with good reason. Who else branched off and became an A list successful Hollywood actor.. then came back to WWE? He doesn't get enough credit for that - he didn't need to return. He made WWE better because of his return. He gave back to the genre of entertainment that put him on the map. I will always have respect for that. And from some of his responses on Twitter you can tell wrestling is still in his blood.
(As for the best comedic bits in WWE shows), Santino Marella - he's hilarious. Also a Toronto boy, so maybe I'm biased :) It's funny because he's a legitimate Judo champion, a World class athlete, but most people know him as Santino, the goofy Italian superstar who has a cobra sock puppet. But it works for him and I'm entertained by it. Ther is always a place for comedy in wrestling.”

Nick:  “Do you think ‘the Undertaker’ will keep the streak alive at Wrestlemania30?  And how long can he keep going?”

Arda:  “Here's my opinion on the streak - if the situation was right, it would end. But to me, right now, the only guy who I would believe could actually end the streak against the Undertaker would be John Cena. Nobody else is even near the conversation. There are all these rumours and chatter about John Cena going heel one day - how better than to have him defeat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania? Imagine how many people would hate him then? Imagine if he did it in dirty fashion? He cheated to win and the streak was broken? I'd be hooked to that story line.  But, if the streak didn't end, I dont think anyone would complain. My only hope is that we get opponents that make me believe they can win - I haven't felt the Streak has been in jeopardy since Wrestlemania 21 vs Randy Orton. Every other year I felt it was a lock for Taker (even CM Punk, after they introduced the urn into the story line when Paul Bearer passed away).”

“Speaking about ‘the Undertaker’, What do you think of his bother Kane’s new corporate role with TripleH and Stephanie McMahon?  How would ‘the Taker’ react?”

Arda:  “I love it! Kane speaking eloquently makes me laugh and will entertain me for weeks. I hope eventually he is just called "Glenn" instead of Kane. I dont think the Undertaker would be too happy with his brother right now. I hope they don't have a match at Wrestlemania about it though... two was enough :)”
“You are obviously a wrestling fan.  I saw a twitter pic of a bookcase that you once had full of WWE memorabilia.  Why is it now empty?  What’s up with that?”

Arda:  “Well, Nicholas... sometimes you just gotta grow up :) Just kidding, everything is in boxes in my parents garage. I moved to Ottawa for a job and I didn't think I should bring all my memorabilia. I brought three wrestling action figures - one of Mean Gene and Howard Finkel (along with Jim Ross my three heroes in wrestling), and one of me that a fan made a while ago. It reminds me what I want to do in life.. sort of like a tableau. I look at it every morning and am proud and blessed that I can be part of entertaining content every day, and to strive for dreams and goals.”

“Do you / Did you have a most favourite piece of WWE memorabilia?  And where is it now?”

Arda:  “Good question - probably my collection of VHS tapes.. it reminds me how much of a nerd I was (... umm... AM :)  ). In high school when everyone was drinking at bush parties, I'd spend my Friday and Saturday nights going to video stores renting and buying WWF Coliseum Video tapes, bringing them home and watching them over and over. That's all I ever wanted to do. I'd have marathon viewings... hours upon hours. I'd be proud if I could beat my marathon best. Once I watched wrestling on a Saturday for 15 straight hours and I thought I was the coolest guy in the world. It was like 4 pay per views and a couple episodes of Wrestling Challenge and Superstars.”

Nick:  “Which system did you go with and why?  XBox One or PS4?”

Arda:  “Nicholas my good friend, I'll have to choose the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, with every Super Mario Brothers and Megaman game. I am obsessed with Megaman... the music was incredible. I listen to original soundtracks and remixes sometimes on my iPhone, seriously! I play the games weekly.  Dr. Wily has nothing on Arda Ocal!!!!!!!!!”

Nick:  “Also, why don’t you like marmite and vegimite?  i think they are brilliant, top-shelf.”

Arda:  “Really? You're a better man than I, good sir. I gagged. Maybe I ate it wrong. Marmite was worse than vegemite.. although I did eat Marmite directly out of the jar, which apparently is a huge no no. Excellent question by the way, you really did your homework!”

Nick:  “And this isn’t a question, more of a statement- ‘Leafs Suck’.”

Arda:  “THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER!!!!!!!!!!! haha just kidding, sometimes it's hard not to agree... but when you bleed your teams colors you stick with them through thick and thin.. so listen, when (WHEN!) the Leafs win the Stanley Cup, wanna be my guest to the Stanley Cup parade? :)”

Thanks Arda- you “the Man”!

Arda:  “YOU the Man!!! Thanks for meeting with us the other day. Looking forward to keeping up with your blogs!”

Sunday, 22 September 2013

2013 FAN FEST - A Cold Tale

Yesterday, along with 5,999 other people, I attended the 2013 Ottawa Senators Fan Fest.  It was .... interesting.  The event wasn't quite what I expected - there were too many young children for my taste.  I had hoped to get up close and personal with some of my favourite players, but the only ones I rubbed shoulders with were paper cutouts (that's me and Marc Methot)!

The arena was pretty chilly (has this hockey fan forgotten how to dress for games?)  Maybe I just thought it was still summertime.  Granted, I was sitting in the wheelchair section and without a crowd around me, I was a bit like a popsicle.  The on-ice action wasn't enough to take my mind off my freezing hands - the team hasn't come together yet.  But, as we Sens fans say every year, it's a young team.  

Good choice of Spezza for Captain, but he'll have to prove himself.  He skated well yesterday, but how he leads in the locker room we don't know yet.  Sens fans are good at being patient, so we'll just have to hurry up and wait again to see if this team can win the cup.  

I'll keep my fingers and toes crossed if and when they thaw out. 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Season's Tickets -Yeah Man!

For two reasons, yesterday was a GOOD day for this sports fan.  Why?...

#1:  I paid my first visit to The Real Sports Bar in my home town of Ottawa.  Fellow Sens fans will forgive me - this magnet for sports nuts and beer lovers is owned by.... wait for it....Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.  I nearly choked on my wings and fries when I found out!  But then, I chatted with Assistant Manager, Trevor McCalder, who advised me that Real Sports is a great destination for Sens fans wanting the big screen experience during away games.  I've decided I am going to be a regular at this bar.  The Sam Adams on tap is such a sweet memory.

#2:  In my email inbox was the schedule for my 2013-14 Senators half season ticket package. Woohoo! It looks like a terrific selection -- Montreal [with the dreaded PK Subban], Boston [with the 15 foot Chara], Toronto [booo], Chicago, Detroit [with the return to Ottawa of our beloved and sorely missed Alfie] and the New York Rangers with their new coach. I get to go to eleven games in total in the regular season. And if the Sens make the play-offs, which of course they will, I hope to attend a few of those games as well. Of course there will be no NHL action in February as the Olympics in Sochi, Russia will be underway. I can`t wait to see Canada go for gold again.  And here`s hoping that my buddy Marc Methot will be on Team Canada!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Alfie Returns

Daniel Alfredsson, the 40 year old heart and soul captain of the Ottawa Senators has decided to play at least one more season. Alfredsson told Swedish reporter Marie Lehmann that after taking some time off, he still had a desire to return. Alfredsson reported that he still had the urge to train and prepare for the season. He mentioned that the 2014 Olympics did not a play a role in his decision but that he would still like to try for another Gold Medal.

This is great news for the Ottawa Senators organization and for it's fans. Alfredsson is the face of the franchise, spending his whole career in a Ottawa uniform. He is the franchise leader in games played with 1,176, the leader in goals with 426 and the leader in assists with 682. For a combined total of 1,108 points in 1,176 games.

40 year old Alfredsson showed that he can still play at a high level, and led the team in points during the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs with 10 points in 10 games.

So welcome back Alfie, we will never get tired of seeing you in a Ottawa uniform. You are a class act both on and off the ice.


Thursday, 20 June 2013

The BudLite Goal Light Lights Up My Life!

Canadian hockey fans will be familiar with Budweiser's newest ad campaign offering diehard fans like me an authentic looking (and sounding) red goal light.  Well, fellow hockey fanatics, yesterday my goal light finally arrived.

Once I cracked open the cardboard box and threw away the packing paper, I got to work synching the light to my Ipad.  I programmed the siren and goal light to go off for every goal in last night's game.  Lucky for me that the score was 6-5 for Chicago equalling a deafening and blinding total of 11 explosions of sound and light.

So.  My verdict on the game was 10/10 for excitement and my verdict is the same for the BudLite goal light.  It is awesome - a total 'Wow'.  It's an interesting idea for an ad campaign and well worth the $150 cost (well, my parents paid cuz it's an early birthday gift, but I'm telling them it's worth it)!

This year, the cup is up for grabs - there is no obvious early winner.  Keep scoring high guys - I'm loving the goals and the goal light and so are my neighbors!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Snoozer of a Game

The Ottawa Senators game versus the Winnipeg Jets was the worst game the Senators have played so far this year. There was no flow to the play of the game and the puck could not seem to stay on anyones stick. Karlsson, who is having an unbelievable year, looked like Joe Schmo playing beer league hockey. I am not judging the effort level of the players, but that jump they had against Carolina on Thursday was not there yesterday afternoon.

The game as terrible as it was should not be setting off any alarms, as Ottawa has a young team that is bound to hit many highs and lows in this shortened NHL season. The one plus I could find out of yesterdays snoozer, was the play of goalie, Ben Bishop. Though I do find "Big Ben" sometimes looks awkward in the net, I do think he can be a serviceable NHL goalie, just not with the Senators; the game showcased him in a positive light. Hopefully, Ottawa can at least get there second round pick back when they decide to trade him later on this year.

So Sens fans, try and forget yesterdays game. I am sure it won't be too hard. McLean will have the team ready to play against the Sabres on Tuesday; Karlsson will bounce back; Andy will be in goal and the universe will be set right. GO SENS GO!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Success Without Spezza

     So, I am finally back to blogging after a long hiatus. Three weeks into the schedule, every game is as important as the next, especially in a shortened season. The Ottawa Senators continue to exceed expectations, currently seated fifth in the eastern conference (6-3-2). Even without top centerman, Jason Spezza, and young defenseman, Jared Cowen, the season looks bright.

Craig Anderson
      I had some doubts about starting Andy, especially while not playing during the lockout. Robin Lehner was my first choice as he had been playing extremely well down in Binghamton. Obviously, Coach Paul McLean made the right choice in playing Anderson, who has been lights out. When he is on his game he just might be the best goalie in the NHL. He is playing with such confidence and swagger, and likely to continue his play throughout the shortened NHL season. His numbers are phenomenal, second in goals against average with a 1.49, second in save % with a .950, and tied for first in wins with 6. I have a feeling the fans at Scotiabank place will be chanting Vezina soon enough.

 Erik Karlsson 
      After a Norris trophy season, who would have thought that he could be any better this year. Karlsson may be the best player in the game at this moment. I cannot think of one other player that controls a game like he does from the defensive zone out. His defensive game is so much more complete then in the past. He has the best stick/ poke check in hockey right now and is leading the league in take-aways. When Karlsson decides to get the puck out of his own zone he skates out himself. He knows the game so well and does things out on the ice that leave other players and coaches wondering what happened. I always thought that it was Spezza who would be the engine that made this team run, but after watching Karlsson playing these first 11 games, I am certain his effort will run this team for years to come. 

The Young Guns
     The Senators young players have been given a chance to play, and they have not disappointed. Young blueliner's Patrick Wiercioch and Mark Borowiecki have both proven that they can and will be NHL players. Wiercioch who has a nice blend of skill and size has started to show the elevated offensive skill that Ottawa was looking for when they drafted him in 2010. Borowiecki is a bruising blueliner who has shown that he can make a nice first pass. Though he might not play the whole year with the big club, I believe that he provides some much needed grit to the back end. Forward Mika Zibanejad is giving Senators fans a reason to be optimistic. After a slow start down in Bingo, Zibanejad has made an impact up with the big club. He has provided the team with some youth full energy, playing a fast north/south style of game. I cannot leave out the play of both Jim O'Brien and Eric Condra. They have both been playing outstanding hockey and are the type of role models that Ottawa will need going forward. O'Brien has 3 goals already, Condra has 1 but has been doing everything else right.

 The Veterans
      Senators management and fans can not ask for anything more then the heart and sole play that Chris Neil has provided. He is leading by example whether it be by dropping the gloves, making a big hit, or scoring one of his 3 goals. Neil is a big impact player for his team on and off the ice. Daniel Alfredsson's game has really started to pickup since Spezza's injury. Alfie is looking younger with every game, and is showing that age is just a number. He continuously proves that he can still be a productive player at the age of 40. Having Alfie playing with young Swedish players like Karlsson, Silverburg and Zibanejad, will only help groom the team for when he retires. With these players already in place and with the player's that are developing down in Bingo, and let's not forget the 3 first round picks that are still in junior, Ottawa's future looks bright. They are proving that they are a good team and that last year was not a fluke.