When John Garrett was growing up in Trenton, Ont., his mother Marvel had two things she hoped he and his six siblings would accomplish: get their Grade 8 piano certification from the Royal Conservatory of Music and their Grade 2 theory certification.
“She knew you could get school credit if you did that,” Garrett said Friday. And so he did.
Now, five decades later, he’s resumed the piano playing again. He’d given his old piano to his daughter years ago but a couple Christmases ago his family got him a keyboard and he’s been tinkling the ivories during the past eight months.
His brother Greg, who still lives in Trenton, is a retired music teacher and has been giving the former Canucks goaltender — now a Sportsnet colour analyst — piano lessons via FaceTime.
“He jokes that he can always tell when he loses a student. He knows he has with me after five minutes,” Garrett joked.
To pass the time he’s been reading lots: he just finished A Time for Mercy , John Grisham’s latest, a sequel to 1989’s A Time to Kill , published just last month. And of course, lots of Netflix and Crave — “The Queen’s Gambit and the Crown.” Garrett has a degree in English from Queen’s University in Kingston, so there’s that, too.
Because his daughter works at Surrey Memorial, he and his wife Sharon have been cautious about visiting her and their grandchildren.
“My other daughter lives in Florida. She’s a postal worker so I worry about her,” he added.
He sends his play-by-play partner John Shorthouse a Sudoku puzzle three times a week, snapping a photo of the puzzle that shows up in his daily newspaper. (Yes, he’s still a subscriber to this publication.)
“He (Shorthouse) only likes the hard ones, though, so I send him the weekend ones, not the ones from early in the week.”
Shorthouse, for his part, laughed about how he and his broadcast partner are keeping in touch. They’ve not seen each other in person since March, Shorthouse said.
Other than spending time with his kids and playing the odd round of golf this summer with Dan Murphy — more on that in a moment — Shorthouse has been staying home.
“I’m just trying to be responsible,” he said.
Normally his credit card bill would be a reminder of lunches and dinners in interesting places around North America, but for the past eight months it has simply served as a reminder of the last time he went to the grocery store.
“I’m a comfort food guy. I barbecue a lot,” he said.
In September, though, he and Murphy won the Member/Member Championship at Marine Drive Golf Club, the first duo to ever win the title twice, Murphy said. They’d first won in 2008.
“If we do it again, I am sure they’ll kick us out,” he laughed.
He and his family were able to spend some holiday time together on the Sunshine Coast and in Tofino earlier in the fall, when the infection rates in B.C. were much lower.
“Who knows when it’s going to be normal again,” he said. “We’re fortunate that my daughter’s school has had only one case.”
Murphy got to cover some of the Stanley Cup playoffs this summer in Edmonton and has kept himself busy producing reports for Sportsnet’s digital channels, even if hockey news has trickled to a bit of a crawl of late.
“There’s no highlights to be seen, so it’s really like the off-season. But there is stuff to talk about,” he said. “If there’s anything I can do (for reporting), I do it.”
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