HIO’s lovable, beloved Boone calls it a career – almost

Mike Boone

Charter Habs Inside/Out writers/bloggers/videographers/audio techs (from left) Sid Banerjee (now with Canadian Press), Mike Boone and Dave Stubbs in the Canadiens’ Bell Centre dressing room in the fall of 2006. Sadly, they’re all holding Alexander Perezhogin sticks… and what does that say about them? (The Gazette bought us the jerseys; we had to give back the sticks.)
John Kenney, Gazette

I’m not going to send you racing off to a link to read the last for-Gazette-print column of friend and colleague Mike Boone, who on Friday brings down the curtain on a 38-year journalism career. I’m going to lay his final column on you below, free of charge.

Mike will still be with Hockey Inside/Out readers; you’ll have to read on to learn how.

But for a spell at HIO, considering how news can bump down posts here  quicker than the Habs used to take too-many-men penalties, I’m giving Mike his due. Please, folks: for once, keep the comments on topic. No guff about who should be on the team’s second power-play unit against Western Conference teams when the Habs are playing road matinées.

Embarrass Mike, a fellow charter member of Habs Inside/Out (before our name change), with your praise – or heckle him with your abuse. He lived, and lives still, for both. I’m glad he’ll still be in Seat 40 on the Bell Centre press gallery this season, whenever it begins. Take care, my friend… and promise not to proofread the Sports section with all the time you’ll have on your hands.

– Dave Stubbs

MIKE BOONE
The Gazette

It’s time again for my annual farewell column — and this time I mean it.

A year ago, I was leaving the Gazette City department to begin writing a sports column. Now I’m bringing the curtain down on 38 years in print journalism.

If profligate use of the first-person singular hasn’t stopped you reading this already, I should explain there’s an asterisk beside my “retirement.” I will continue to write a live game blog and About Last Night wrap-ups for The Gazette’s Hockey Inside/Out website. I’ll still be tapping away with two fingers 82 times during the Canadiens’ season, plus exhibitions and, inshallah, playoffs.

But you won’t find my smiling face in what we old farts call the dead-trees edition of The Gazette.

Why hang ’em up now?

I just celebrated my Beatles birthday. And while a disinclination to scrimp and save has deprived me of a retirement cottage in the Isle of Wight, I have modest needs and enough money to last the rest of my life … if I don’t buy anything.

But seriously, folks, it’s been a helluva run. My career has spanned typewriters to Twitter. I want to enjoy whatever days are left to me without having to stare at an empty computer screen (or squint at an iPhone screen) and wonder how I might fill it before deadline.

Also, a sports column demands strong opinions and a flair for proclaiming them. I’m more in touch with my inner J. Alfred Prufrock than my Foghorn J. Leghorn.

I’m also handicapped by being passionate about only the Canadiens, the English Premier League (YNWA, Liverpool) and the NFL, in order of ardour.

That’s too much narrow-minded specificity, like a music critic who can only bear to listen to Bach, Gram Parsons and Bill Evans. Wait, come to think of it …

Some Gazette readers will remember I sucked as a rock critic, after joining The Gazette from the defunct Montreal Star in 1979. To be good at this job … really, to be good at any job … you have to love — or at minimum, like — what you’re doing.

Anything less is a disservice to readers. And I’ve loved nearly every darn day I’ve spent as a journalist.

When I covered the MSO tour of Europe in 1984, Adolfo Bornstein, an acerbic wit who played in the band’s second-violin section and regularly regaled me with timeless wisdom, offered the opinion that too many people spend their working lives doing their second-best thing.

I’ve spent almost 40 years doing what I’ve been good at since elementary school: stringing words together to create the kind of wisecracks that got me kicked out of class in high school, eg. my imaginary lawyer friend, “a master of legal legerdemain who once plea-bargained sodomy down to tailgating.”

Bada-boom. Hey, it beat working.

It’s been my pleasure, down the years, to work with a remarkable variety of people, some of them less crazy than I. Naming names has negative connotations for someone who went to a Communist Party summer camp in the 1950s. Suffice it to say my cavalcade of colleagues runs the alphabetical gamut from Aaron (Derfel) to Zoe (Bieler). It has been my immense privilege to have had peers whose wordsmithery and dedication to craft have been a source of inspiration.

I had a flash of enlightenment during the aforementioned MSO tour. Waiting for the musicians to take the stage of the Philharmonie in Berlin, I gazed in awe around that magnificent concert hall and thought: “Man, you are a putz from Park Ex, sitting in Herbert von Karajan’s living room.”

It was humbling — as were the food bank visits I made to write columns for The Gazette Christmas Fund, as is watching the Canadiens from the Bell Centre press box. I have counted my blessings every day on the job.

As befits a pathologically shy and resolutely non-confrontational person, I’ve had maybe five newsroom arguments — and five million laughs. Some of the best stories never make the paper. A sampling:

• The venerable Montreal Star sports columnist who, spending the workday in his customary alcoholic fog, doubled his suspenders while doing himself up and emerged from the men’s loo bent over and bellowing “I’m paralyzed!”

• The veteran baseball writer misapplying Spellcheck and quoting “Expos manager Feline Aloud.”

• The Toronto Star’s man in Quebec, covering a labour demo and, translating picket-line slogans at the insistence of his editor, filing a story that began “Waving placards and chanting ‘The bosses, the bosses, the communion wafers, the bosses …’”

So many laughs. So many good times. Being a newspaperman has let me practice what I preach: Life is too damn short to be anything but happy.

Happy, but not stupid. With bitterly ideological elections looming in Quebec and the U.S., the fundamental question posed by Harlan County coal miners has never been more relevant: Which side are you on? I’d like my last kick at the columnizing can to reaffirm my loyalty and gratitude to the Montreal Newspaper Guild, the union to which I’ve proudly belonged for my whole career.

Finally, I hesitate to go all David Suzuki on y’all because I’m just a dumb-ass sportswriter. But if you’ll permit me one final use of the first-person plural, we are confronted by immense challenges. Too many problems are a consequence of what people my age have neglected in our stewardship of a fragile planet.

Fixing this mess will be up to my daughter’s generation. I hope they’ll be informed and guided by my Gazette colleagues, who work tremendously hard to make sense of the 24/7 information whirlwind.

I can help by making like a hockey player and getting the puck out of here.

It’s been real.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who took the time to read me.

137 Comments

  1. HabsFan1111 says:

    All the best MB, always a pleasure reading your stuff, best wishes.

  2. shorthanded says:

    We are really really going to miss you, Boone! So glad you’ll still be around with the live game blog and ALN once the season starts (*closes eyes and prays for short lockout*)… Even when I didn’t have cable and couldn’t watch Habs games regularly, I used to follow your livegame blog and see the players name in all caps to know someone had scored – and your hilarious insha Allah’s made me (as a Muslim Canadian Canadiens fan) feel like I was right at home on the hockey loving spectrum … Write often, and enjoy your semi-retirement – we’re glad you’re not going far…

    http://meetmyshadow.blogspot.com

  3. Chester says:

    Well it had to happen sometime I guess.
    At least we still have About Last Night.
    So I guess now we are stuck with Todd …

    Good luck Mr Boone,
    Live Long and Prosper.

  4. Mattyleg says:

    Just got back from the cottage at Lac St. Jean, and read this!

    Hope you’re still checking in on this thread, and I want to wish you all the best in your (semi)retirement, and to let you know that I always enjoyed reading your writing, and I really dug your sense of humour.
    Sorry you won’t be around the Gazoo any longer to pass on your know-how to the youngsters. Someone’s gotta teach them how to do it properly, mate!

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  5. Tourneur says:

    My brothers and I have followed your game blogs for a few seasons now. Happy to hear you’re continuing on with them; definitely Makes watching the rds games more enjoyable. Thanks- habs fans in Alberta

  6. DorvalTony says:

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    “Hi, this is P.J. Stock for Depends.”

  7. OneTimer says:

    First, I read the headline, and panicked. D:

    Then I read the following:

    “I will continue to write a live game blog and About Last Night wrap-ups for The Gazette’s Hockey Inside/Out website.”

    My world makes sense again.

    * * *

    Nice piece, Boone. A class act as always. :)

  8. AlexTheNextOne says:

    Good to hear you’ll still hang on and blog for H I/O, you’re the main reason I come to this site. Not to downplay the fantastic work that everyone else does, of course.

    Can we also get the occasional take on the Reds, as well? I’m a huge supporter as well, and would love to hear how YOU deal with all the pain and suffering.

  9. ktowncrew says:

    Boone we’re hopeful this means you’ll have more time to come out west to visit your friends in Kelowna- Gorges, Price, and the Lameys…

  10. jo_maka says:

    I joined H I/O rather late, although I lurked around reading it before. On my very first comment on an article, I had the nerve to offer some insight to some tweakings. Then the one and only Mike Boone was the first to reply, hipchecking me in the boards for suggesting that first line is made of what the line can accomplish but not the letter on the jersey. I knew then more than before that H I/O is an opinionated, dynamic and thriving platform where even the big boss don’t mind getting down and dirty with the people, instead of other websites where the author disappear after throwing rocks in the pond. And I appreciate that.

    Thank you Mike, for your past and future contributions to this site. Looking forward to witness the reverse jinx firsthand once again. And thank you to everybody, techs, posters, etc, who makes this place what it is.

    Long live the toque !!!

  11. H.Upmann says:

    mike Boone is a boss

  12. tony d says:

    As an ex Montrealer, I always enjoy reading Mike’s humorous slant on everything Habs related. I’m sure many faithful Gazette readers will miss his wit and talent as a reporter. I’m glad those of us here at HIO will continue to benefit from his unique style and insight.
    Enjoy goofing off Mike.

  13. Marc10 says:

    I read Mike’s post Boston Cup column to my dad and it got us both laughing out loud. My father could care less about hockey, but we connected on that piece and agreed that Mike Boone has a gift. It’s a rare talent that can make you laugh when you’re down or when you just don’t care about the topic.

    Keep up the good work Mr Boone and enjoy your (almost) retirement.

  14. jeu_de_puissance says:

    Booner!

    Gazette’s loss but not HIOs. What a remarkable career! Congrats and enjoy what retirement holds for you.

    Can’t keep a good one down and looking forward to game blogs for yet another season!

    Can\’t F#*k with history!!!

  15. J.J. of Turku says:

    The reason why I allways come back to site… Boone and You folks who are here partly/mostly because of him.

    I’m poor at these… :D

    http://media.turku.fi/kamera1.html

  16. smiler2729 says:

    Mike, Beatles, schmeatles, you are a Rolling Stone, as in the Mick, Keith & Charlie variety, you can cover it all up as “retirement” but realistically it’s doing what you want when you want and how you want.

    Keep rolling, Booner!

    “This could be the last time, I don’t know… oh, no”

    _______________________________________
    “For those of you who still miss the sunny, apple-cheeked Beatles, this is the 8th anniversary of them not getting back together, instead we’d like to salute the Stones, who work the piss and grease side of the street and while they haven’t always prevailed, have at least endured”
    -some Playboy music critic in 1978

  17. 44har48 says:

    Dam…It’s always a bummer when someone you really enjoy reading rides off into the sunset. I’m very happy for you, you enjoy more time for yourself and your family. You have always been one of my favorite, even when I disagreed.

    Cheers!

  18. HabFab says:

    I still think Boone looks like “a right jolly old elf” wearing the Red in the photo above :)

  19. olegpetrov says:

    Mr. Boone,

    Good luck with your retirement. It has been more than a pleasure to read your live game blogs and your post game analysis. Your quirky writing has always been a pleasure to read and I wish you all the best in your retirement.

    Cheers,

    Brendan

    Habs fan…Nuff said

  20. twocents says:

    Boone, congratulations on a fine career and thanks for all the laughs along the way. I am very happy to hear that you’ll be continuing within these virtual walls.

    I wonder if not being a regular working stiff will mitigate your occasional over-reactions after loses… I also wonder if I will ever make my first million.

    Cheers to you, Mike!

  21. Kage says:

    Hey Boone, wish I had something clever to say, but that’s your thing not mine. I’ve enjoyed your work more than anyone else in the biz over the past few years. Enjoy the next stage!!!

    PS. GO Toffees! [Liverpool's real team ;)]
    ———————————————————-
    “I need players who hate to lose!”

  22. Feraco says:

    Wow Mr Boone, truly touching article! It has been a hell of a ride and I could not have it enjoyed it any more than being able to click on my Habs Inside Out App (on my iPhone ;)) and linking into a block, column or news. So for that a heartfelt thank you.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your final paragraph in reference to David Suzuki…I may be your kids age or grandchildren (28) and I can assure you through all of the hardship, turmoil and negative press in the world, the path in which my elders and gentlemen like yourself have positively laid, will be passed into good hands.

    It has been a pleasure and I look forward to the Game Blogs.

  23. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …talking from the perspective of an ex-Montrealer, with ‘Montreal’ (and, Quebec) still very much part of My soul, I wish to tell You how significant HIO has been to Me
    …I have always been ‘a loner’ …in the sense, never interested to join clubs, organizations, cliques or groups of any sort, of any interest
    …which,of course, did not mean I had no interests
    …I traveled the World, I created businesses, I always had passion to discover new people, cultures, information, and interests …but, it was always for whatever reason, most enjoyable one-on-one, or on the outside looking in, or in companionship with a singular ‘special person’
    …Mary, My wife of almost 25 years, whom I lost in 1998, was that singular companion and intimate confidant
    …it was very painful, …She was everything to Me
    …I found Myself a single father to 2 infants …decided to retire from My profession to be with them 24 hours per day
    …I don’t want to repeat words so many others have already expressed so well to You this morning, …but one day I accidentally came upon HabsInsideOut
    …the one continuum of My ‘little boy’ inside Me, like I learned is also a common thread among so many of the wonderful ‘commentariat’, was My memories and inexplicable ‘essentiality’ within My being, the indelible love and passion for My Montreal Canadiens
    …You expressed My own connectivity in a way few if any professional writer ever did …in fact, I can not think of You to this day as a ‘professional writer’ …You are simply an eloquent Fan, that mirrors most of My own thoughts and opinions, except far more charismatic-ally
    …except for girls (before Mary :) ) and waking up in the morning, I never had ‘a habit’ in My Life
    …that changed when I found HIO, Your addictive Game Blog and ALN, as well ‘the community’ within
    …this summer has illustrated to many of Us how mundane HIO is without Your daily contribution …I hope You will not be restricted from writing/blogging multi-times a week on all subjects, and not solely on game dayz :)
    …whichever, really glad You will remain the heart n soul here Mike …’retirement’ has been full and rewarding for Me, as I hope it will be for You

    Chris

    _________________________________________________________
    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

    Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

    …and, last, but not least: FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

  24. Boomer says:

    You the man Mr.Boone

    Occupation: Professional Hedonist… aiming low and exceeding expectations ;)
    Hobo with a laptop

  25. Habitant in Surrey says:

    ‘ I grow old … I grow old …
    I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

    Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
    I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
    I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

    I do not think that they will sing to me. ‘

    T.S. Eliot: excerpt from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

    …first, if T.S. Eliot can use ellipses, …WHY ??? can’t I ???

    …Mike, second, after having the advantage of getting up later out here on the Wrong Coast, and having the opportunity to read all the kind words for Yourself and the significance You represent to most of Our special community, …I think ‘the mermaids’ are indeed singing to You

    _________________________________________________________
    What I WANT ! is an aircraft carrier at centre and nuclear destroyers on each wing going to the net like bats out of Hell !, …NO MORE rubber duckies !!!
    _________________________________________________________
    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

    Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

    …and, last, but not least: FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

  26. Greg says:

    Mike, I don’t always agree with you, but you always make me laugh. That makes you interesting AND funny. A solid combination that can’t go wrong. Enjoy your retirement, and for the love of all that is good and holy keep writing your ALNs. What will I read before work if you ever stop?

  27. Stu says:

    Congratulations on your retirement. Enjoy

  28. pH-Habs says:

    All the best Mr. Boone!

    It’s not often I post on this site, but I do read the board almost daily (even in what was the dead zone of august).

    I don’t have any warm-hearted success stories such as Ian, but I too will miss your posting. You’ve built a hockey empire, and we the pundits your army.

    Enjoy your days, and until the season begins!

    To your health, happiness and HIO!

  29. Mike, very few people are good at their jobs, and almost no one stays as good at what they do for as long as you have. You’ve left your mark as a voice of reason in an often unreasonable town, and for a long time, it’s been a real privilege to read your work. I wish you the happiest of semi-retirements, and if I ever bump into you at a pub, you’ve got a scotch coming your way.

    Mike Boone: “With Gainey at my side, I’d walk into any dark alley in the world.”

  30. howtathor says:

    Thanks for the many moments of mirth Mike! Glad that you are staying on for the Live Blog and ALN. Looking forward to it if we ever get a season going and get PK signed.

  31. Bill says:

    Congratulations on your semi-retirement, and thanks for making this such a fun place hang out for so many dedicated fans. Over the years this has become a genuine community, one big enough to be important yet small enough that it’s various members can be familiar with one another. That is a pretty rare thing on the web, and I think – with no disrespect intended to all the other HIO operators – that it is mainly due to your live-blogs and ALN columns, where we have been able to engage in so many almost real-time conversations about the Habs.

    So thanks for being there, for the shrewd analysis, for the pot-stirring, for the irascible wit, and for all the laughs. Thanks for making this place a part of our everyday routines. And thanks most of all for agreeing to keep this place going when you should probably be moving to Florida!

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  32. New says:

    I can not imagine how you have done this so well for so long. You may love writing but you also have the skill to do so. A happy happenstance for your readers.

    Your work has always been refreshing. Ok, some times it has been depressing. Can you be refreshingly depressing? But it mirrored the sense the fans had, the highs and the lows. You have more fans than you imagine.

    Respect Mike. YNWA.

  33. Chris says:

    Best wishes in your retirement, Mike. Along with Dave, Sid (and later Kevin), you have created a community for fans of the Montreal Canadiens to come and shoot the breeze.

    I’ve spent countless hours (and if I’m being honest, probably far, far too many!) on this website. I didn’t frequent the live blogs as much (I’m much too simply to multitask, and I get far too emotional during games and fear that I would post a lot more nonsense than I normally do), but the About Last Nights were must reading.

    Thanks for all that you have done for we fans of the Montreal Canadiens, spread all around the world, and I look forward to your continued contributions to this wonderful site that you helped create.

  34. SmartDog says:

    Thanks Boone! And glad you’re sticking around for the live blog. No other journalist is as honest about which players suck.

    I would read the blog just to see someone on your side of the fence be open about Scott Gomez’s playing the periphery like a frightened school child.

    PS: who’s gonna be on the 2nd line this year?
    PPS: isn’t it GRAHAM Parker? :)
    ————————————-
    Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

    • Mike Boone says:

      Plekanec, Gionta and … well, that’s the big question at camp.
      Louis Leblanc?
      The Geoffrion kid? But for me, he’s half a step slow and soft.
      We’ll see.

      And Google GRAM PARSONS, man.
      You’re in for a treat.

      Mike Boone
      Hockey Inside/Out blogger
      Gazette City columnist
      mboone@montrealgazette.com

      • HabFab says:

        You learn something new (Gram Parsons) every day. My third most favorite thing from this site…the music.

      • SmartDog says:

        Ok – thanks for that! I didn’t think anyone could be that in love with Graham Parker. The Joshua Tree connection is cool too.

        I don’t see Geoffrion on the 2nd line either. But if he has a good camp, I’d put money on him anyway. It looks to me like the new Habs are eager to please the French masses… as well as ice a tougher hockey team.

        ————————————-
        Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

  35. habitual says:

    Hey Boone: It’s funny how people in the media you’ve never met become part of your daily groove. You became one of mine.

    Your parting column contained self deprecation, but I came to know Solomon Burke through you. I’ll bet I could have learned a lot more about scotch, but you didn’t take my offer up. I’d like to think were both just a little poorer for that, but no question, I’ve had the better of the HIO relationship.

    How cool you get to retire without retiring. Not many get to go out that way. Let’s call it karma.

    Enjoy.


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.