by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Think of me as the idolmaker. Think of me as LIFE magazine knocking on the door.

I have come for Tim Cheveldae.

I am ready to make him a star.

“So,” I say, pulling out my notepad, “pretty soon it’ll be fancy limousines and fast women for you, right, kid?”

“Huh?” he says.

I know what’s coming. The Stanley Cup playoffs begin Saturday. The Red Wings are a favored team; Cheveldae is a hot goalie.

I know what’s coming.

“What’ll it be?” I ask, starting my tape recorder. “New wardrobe now? Big fur coats? Alligator boots? A white scarf you flick across your neck?”

“Excuse me?” he says.

I know the rules. Goalies get big during the playoffs. The further you go, the bigger they get. If the Wings win it all — and some think they can — then Cheveldae will be hot stuff. I figure I’ll save time, do the story, make him a star right now. Get in on the ground floor.

“Fancy car?” I say. “All big stars have a fancy car. What are you driving, kid?”

“A Ford,” he says.

“A Ford?”

“My dad works for Ford.”

“How about clothes? Got any flashy clothes?”

He laughs like an embarrassed teenager. “Well, last year, my wife bought me a bright yellow sports jacket. I wore it twice. Got abused both times.”

“Hey,” interrupts a teammate. “Chevy hasn’t bought a suit in four years! His wardrobe s—-!”

A bright yellow sports jacket? Starlets? Better scrap that idea

This does not fit the profile. I was hoping for a kind of Ron Duguay thing. The mink coats. The fashion ads. But OK. Let’s talk house. Stars must have a fancy house.

“Where do you live?” I say. “Bloomfield Hills? Mackinac Island? Do you fly in from Toronto on your own private jet?”

“Farmington Hills,” he says.

“Farmington Hills?” I repeat, doodling in my notebook. “Well, uh . . . naturally. But if you could build your dream house anywhere in the world it would be . . . California, right? On the coast? Overlooking the ocea–“



“Where I grew up. I’d build it there.”

Great. There goes the Century 21 deal.

Plain house. Plain clothes. Plain car. He is young, only 24, so I ask about MTV. Maybe he could host. You know, “Friday Night Videos” with the rock

‘n’ roll goaltender, Tim Cheveldae!

“Gee,” he says, “I don’t know . . .”

I look at him in his pajama-blue undershirt and thin, stringy hair.

I don’t know, either.

“Starlets!” I yell. “Hollywood starlets, one on each arm, blonde, brunette, redhead–.”

“I’m married,” he says.

“You’re married,” I say. “OK, no problem. Relationships can work. There’s Wayne Gretzky and Janet Jones. There was Mark Messier and Madonna. Is your wife a movie star?”

“Naw,” he says. “She comes from . . .”

“Don’t tell me. Saskatchewan.”

“Right.” He smiles. “Hey, her father was a professional wrestler.”

“A professional wrestler?”

“Yeah. In the old days. Under the name Scrap Iron Grabowski, or Gabaski, or something like that.”

Scrap Iron Gabaski? All that glitters is not goalie

I look in my notebook. I have almost no star material. Oh, there is the hockey. There are all those games he has helped win by allowing just two goals, or one goal, or no goals. There are all those amazing saves, and that streak where he played night after night, a schedule that would kill most mortals, yet he never lost his touch.

But what about image? I ask more questions. Has he ever been to Hollywood?
“No.” Does he own any sunglasses? “My wife has a pair.”

I ask about his biggest fantasy of being famous.

“To get tickets to the Final Four.”

The Final Four?

“What about children?”

“We have a daughter. Her name is Tia.”

“Well, now. That’s exotic. That’s hip. What made you choose Tia? Famous book? A trip to Brazil?”

” ‘Uncle Buck,’ ” he says.


“The movie, ‘Uncle Buck’? With John Candy? We saw it a week before she was born. A kid in that is named Tia. We liked the name.”

I know what you’re thinking. This is impossible. This is hopeless. No way I turn this kid into a star. He’s too nice. Too . . . normal. “Uncle Buck”?

I refuse to listen. I have my job. I will do my job. I will mold. I will bend. I will spin gold from flax. I can do it. I can make him a star.

“How about TV, Tim?”

“I’d like to do a fishing show.”

“A fishing show?”

“Yeah. Because they always catch fish on those shows, and when I go out, I never catch anything.”

OK. So it’s gonna take some work . . .


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