What an incredible experience. Our thanks goes out to Tanner Glass, Derek Jory, Canuck Place, Hasbro Canada, Annie May, and the Canucks organization for helping to make this all happen. Harrison and I are amazed at how our silly little Scrabble challenge turned into an opportunity to raise an estimated $8000 for Canuck Place. We are humbled by the outpouring of support for this little event: thank you.
We got to Canuck Place a little early and met up with our videographer/photographer, Roderick, who agreed to help us out last minute. Roderick was amazing and we're looking forward to sharing the video we're putting together with him. Keep an eye on Canucks.com, however, for the official video of the event. Jeff Vinnick was also on hand and took some amazing photos, while Ed Willes provided comments from the peanut gallery and an excellent article for the Province. I moved into the corner and set up Live Blog Central, which hovered around 200 followers from beginning to end, and had just over 800 readers in total.
In the end, Harrison was victorious, though Tanner and his crew of awesome kids mounted an incredible comeback: the Highlight of the Night was definitely "menswear," though the TSN Turning Point was Harrison's Bingo with "doughier," using two blanks and a triple word score. But I didn't watch the highlights. I watched this game.
- Tanner Glass is a large dude. I understand he's 6'1", 210 lbs, but when you see him on TV on the ice with other players of similar size it doesn't have the same impact. When he walks into a room that has tables meant to be used by children, however, he is massive. It's a good thing it wasn't Scrabble Boxing, or Harrison would have been in real trouble.
- In all seriousness, Tanner was very friendly, even though it was clear he didn't know what to expect from us. I have to give him a lot of credit for accepting the challenge and putting himself out there to benefit the kids at Canuck Place. I suspect he's getting a fair amount of razzing from his teammates and, possibly, opponents. I wonder if that's part of the smack talk on the ice now when someone challenges him: are you sure you want to get in a fight? I might make you forget all the Q without U words.
- Tanner was asked about his educational background helping him out in Scrabble, and he quipped "There's no Scrabble course at Dartmouth. It's no Harvard, that's for sure." Classic.
- Meanwhile, a young lady surreptitiously stood behind Tanner for most of the game with her cell phone out, tweeting Tanner's tiles as @VanCanucks and getting advice from those following the game. The biggest celebrity guest star on the night was @BrentButt, who suggested "inuit." Unfortunately, "inuit" is a proper noun and is ineligible in Scrabble. Instead, Tanner played "dint" for 25 points, completing three other words in the process. I think Tanner could beat Brent Butt at Scrabble. Just saying.
- Some have pointed out that Harrison got some incredible luck with the tiles he drew, getting high-powered letters like X, Q, Z, and J as well as both blanks. It's important to realize, however, that he made the high-risk move to trade in his tiles early on, keeping only the J. It was in that round that he drew both blanks that led to his bingo with "doughier" as well as the Z. It was a calculated risk that paid off.
- Aaron Rome is labelled in the pre-game video as the "Forgotten Scrabbler." He and I should get together and play a game. We forgotten Scrabblers need to stick together.
- True to Aaron Rome's prediction, Tanner played a grinding game, clawing his way back with three and four-letter words and playing a strong defensive game by locking down the triple-word scores as soon as they opened up. He also used some good teamwork by getting advice from the kids, including his best play of the game with "menswear." Jaxson was the brain behind that play and he was beaming. His play in the Scrabble game illustrates why Glass has made himself a staple on the Canucks fourth line: he keeps it simple, plays hard, and is a good teammate.
- Jannik Hansen's smack talk in the pre-game tips video is absolutely hilarious. He claims that Tanner is the third or fourth best Scrabbler on the team and that the North Americans do their best to avoid being beaten by the Europeans, for whom english is a second language. It's clear that Hansen isn't just a dogged competitor on the ice. I wonder if he's ever been able to spell pokecheck in a game?
- My favorite moment in that video, however, comes when Burrows sees the Scrabble Champ t-shirt and Tanner walks behind him, commenting "sick, eh?" then continues on. Major props to Annie May for the design and I love the fact that Tanner is a big fan of the shirts.
- Speaking of the t-shirts, they sold so quickly that Tanner wasn't even able to get one in the right size for his fiancée, Emily. She wore it anyways, supporting Glass the whole way. Harrison and I stopped by the Canucks Team Store after the Scrabble Battle and picked up a couple shirts for family members; there were only 2 shirts remaining after we left. We're hopeful that they will decide to do another run of the shirts in the future; they might be encouraged to do so if people who wanted shirts sent a friendly note to them...
- Thanks to everyone who joined in on the live blog. Some of the jokes and comments were shared with Tanner and Harrison. "Booing the refs" got big laughs and a few groans from everyone, and "We all know a 55-point lead is the most dangerous lead in Scrabble" got a good reaction as well. Kudos to deb and Ione for the wisecracks. I also appreciated Barbara Aucoin dropping by to suggest that I should play her son at Scrabble. Since Adrian Aucoin has clearly retired from the NHL and definitely doesn't play hockey any more, I suspect he spends most of his free time Scrabbling. I'm really not sure if I'm good enough at Scrabble to take him on.
- Final score of the game was 344 - 313 for Harrison. According to the Scrabble website, an average tournament score is 330 - 450 points per game, so an impressive showing for both Mooney and Glass, neither of whom are Scrabble experts (Andy Sutton really wanted to know). Harrison, of course, talks a big game and he definitely is good at Scrabble, but he's not the "Scrabble pro" that he was played up to be. Tanner, on the other hand, was better than we expected as he had downplayed his skill prior to the game. Admittedly, he got a little help from the Canuck Place kids, but he played a solid game. You can see the final board at Canucks.com/scrabble.
- Finally, the presence of an actual trophy and the phenomenal success in raising money for Canucks Place has whet our appetites to do this again. My hope is that we can get more people involved and have a Celebrity Scrabble Tournament next year, involving Canuck players, other local celebrities, and members of the community. Obviously, this is just an idea at this point, but only a few months ago, playing Tanner Glass at Scrabble was also just an idea.