An Extraordinary Woman Passes

     One of my favourite people, Winnifred “Dibs” Stewart, passed away peacefully last Saturday.

     I actually met Dibs’ husband, Jack Stewart, more than twenty years before I met her. Jack was a tax lawyer at the the law firm Fraser Beatty and I was a tax accountant at Coopers & Lybrand when we collaborated on the first book I ever had published. It dealt with the massive early 70s overhaul of the Canadian income tax system. Jack, unfortunately, passed away shortly thereafter. Then, in 1992, I met Dibs.

     During his last year of high school our son Matthew was dating a young lady by the name of Beverley Bateman, whose parents, Margie and Bill Bateman, invited my wife Anne and me to a pre-Christmas gathering at their home. It transpired that Margie was Jack and Dibs Stewart’s daughter. Needless to say, Dibs and I had something to talk about; more than enough, actually, as it turned out that we had the same doctor and a host of mutual friends.

     As the relationship between Matt and Bev continued throughout their university years, and eventually evolved into marriage, Dibs and the MacInnis family would be together a number of times each year, during which time Dibs and I became very good friends, and even compatible, like-thinking bridge partners.

     Anytime we were in the same room (or car, for that matter) Dibs and I spent a lot of time talking to each other. She was well-informed, up-to-date, and articulate on an astonishing array of topics, ranging from the mundane to the earth-shaking. She was never shy about letting her views be known and was always eager and well-armed to back them up.

     I particularly remember one weekend at her summer place on Lake Simcoe when, seeing if  I could stump her, I deliberately steered our afternoon conversation through a variety of topics including all levels of politics, NHL refereeing, the Blue Jays, current music trends, the stock market, movies, and a couple of others that I’ve since forgotten. Not only was she unfazed, I learned a few things.

     I will miss her greatly. Oh, by the way, she was 104 years old.

Another Surprise At That Gathering

     Also present at that 1992 Christmas gathering was Bev’s other grandfather, Dr, James Bateman, an internationally-renowned orthopaedic surgeon and developer of the artificial hip. I spent some time talking to him as well because, incredibly, around the same time that I was co-writing the aforementioned income tax book with Jack Stewart, Dr. Bateman was a client of mine.

Coaches’ Challenge Follow-up

     Last week I railed about the NHL’s off-side challenge rule. This past week we had another example of review idiocy when it took an inordinately long time to eventually disallow a goal by the Leafs’ Auston Matthews because of goaltender interference. 

     The reason it took so long was that Matthews’ contact with the Avalanche goaltender Bernier’s blocker wasn’t discernible in real time by the naked eye. It took a close examination by two referees (I don’t think the NHL war room was involved) of who knows how many super-slo-mo replays and different angles to finally spot the “interference.”

     Toronto Sun writer Steve Simmons, writing about this particular play, suggested that reviews be limited to one minute, and if clear evidence of a wrong call is not found within that time frame the call on the ice should stand. I couldn’t agree more. Another solution would be to limit a team’s total unsuccessful challenges to, say, twenty-five, per season instead of allowing one per game

     Either of these changes would solve the two current problems: the delays would be shortened; and because a timeout is lost for an unsuccessful challenge, coaches wouldn’t be so quick to make them on razor-thin, super-slo-mo-dependent “evidence.” 

More Country Song Titles

     Clever country song titles I’ve recently come across:

            She Feels Like A New Man Tonight

            You Could’ve Heard A Heart Break

            Old Flames Can’t Hold A Candle To You

       Some of you have asked me where I encounter these songs. I often listen to Willie’s Roadhouse (classic country music) on XM radio, in my car, and when I’m doing my daily workout in my basement I aways have Stingray’s country classic cable channel on.

Note To Hockey Trivia Buffs

     The next time you get into a discussion about underrated NHL hockey players, throw in the name Mike Rogers.