First of all, let me say that I’m so sad that I never got a chance to meet fellow columnist Treena Mielke. As you may know, she passed away last weekend.
Like many readers, I felt I knew her through her writing, and considered her a friend. We loved her weekly stories of family, her gentle, positive outlook on life that made the reader feel good about things for a while. I am so sorry she is gone. We will all miss her.
I’m pretty sure Treena wouldn’t have minded me carrying on today with my usual foolish fluff. We had a mutual friend and I’ve been told that Treena thought I was only a little bit crazy and managed to “enjoy” (some?) of my columns. And from her writing I know she loved baseball and hockey, so on a not-completely random note, I was wondering if any of you beloved readers out there have heard of the so-called “White Ninja”? No? Well, you’re about to.
You kind of have to be a bit of a hockey fan to know what on earth I’m on about with this White Ninja stuff. And if you watched any of the IIHF World Junior Championship hockey last week you may, just may have caught a glimpse of him. And you probably didn’t even notice.
The White Ninja is a TSN camera dude who is swathed entirely, head to toe, in white. White shirt, pants, helmet and skates. Even (at the suggestion of none other than Wayne Gretzky) the big TV camera he is carrying is covered in a white shroud. Okay, weird, you may say, why is this guy dressing like Casper the Friendly Ghost?
Well, you see, the White Ninja joins the players on the ice and skates around getting great shots for the TV broadcast. And since TV sports producers generally don’t like to distract viewers by revealing their cameras and camera dudes and dudettes and other gear, the Ninjacam is as white as the ice and virtually “disappears” when he’s out there.
But hold on. He’s obviously not out there when the action is hot and heavy – even a ghost ninja is going to get creamed when the battle ramps up no matter what color he’s covered in.
The White Ninja’s job is to hop on the ice during warm-ups, after a goal is scored, and as soon as the whistle blows a stoppage in play. He then ninjas inconspicuously around, skating with his camera getting moving shots that you would never usually see in a TV hockey game. Close-ups of young sweaty toothless faces, low on-ice angles of pucks and sticks and skates, in-your-face candid shots of the best-teenaged hockey players in the world trying not to swear on national television.
The particular White Ninja for the Moncton games was a regular TSN camera dude named Devin Comeault, who happens to be an experienced goalie and referee as well as a sports camera operator so that explains how he survived as a skating ninja on a fairly small ice surface jammed with large, fast, adrenaline-jacked hockey players.
And he became quite a celebrity during the tournament. Three regular fan dudes actually dressed up like White Ninjas in the stands – all white clothes, with each of them even carrying a fake white camera made of cardboard. That’s a sure sign of success in hockey – like when people start wearing your sweater number.
So next time you’re watching hockey on TV, keep an eye out for a White Ninja skulking around. Because based on fan reaction so far, you’ll be seeing a lot more cool shots and crazy angles that only Casper the Ninja Ghost can get.
Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. You can send him column ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.