By Phil D. Space
Canadians from coast to coast are in shock as news spreads that the McGill Babcock tie has gone missing. The celebrated cravat, which is racking up rave reviews of its YouTube appearance – http://www.youtube.com/mcgilluniversity – was last seen at the Hockey Hall of Fame early last night posing for pictures with delighted tourists. But when custodians opened the Hall this morning, the tie had vanished.
The famed foulard went on display at the HHOF soon after it led Team Canada to hockey gold at the Vancouver Winter Olympics last month, emerging only to spend an eventful day of celebration back at McGill.
“It’s still early in the investigation, but we’re treating this as a tie-napping,” said Toronto police spokesperson Detective Adolfo Bitterbottom. “There were clear signs of a struggle in and around the Hall of Fame display case, so it is pretty clear the tie did not go of its own volition. This tie put up a helluva fight.”
Within hours of hearing the news, well-wishers and fans of the nifty necktie gathered in a daytime vigil at the corner of Yonge and Front Sts. Some held unlit candles, others left mementos in front of a makeshift altar of flowers, hand-written notes and a growing army of tiny stuffed martlets. A sea of handmade signs with slogans like “The tie that binds,” “Anything else, but knot our tie,” and “Blame the Russians!” has been getting steadily bigger with each passing hour.
Similar crowds are reported gathering in front of hockey arenas and upscale haberdasheries across the nation.
In Montreal, one tearful 8-year-old boy was seen placing replica McGill Babcock ties he had made himself around the necks of the four statues that stand guard over the Bell Centre’s Centennial Plaza. “He’s really busted up inside,” said his father, Geraldo, a cattle prodder from Cowansville, who made the pilgrimage to Montreal upon hearing the news. “He used to want to get in the cattle prodding business when he got older, but ever since the Games all he wants to do is become a tailor.”
“It’s really devastating,” said one HHOF employee who asked to remain anonymous. “I mean, there it is, Canada’s most famous tie – a real hero to young and old – but it’s not stuck up at all. You can’t even talk to any of Don Cherry’s ties – they’re total divas. But the McGill Babcock tie is just like one of the guys. On breaks we’d play cribbage and talk about regular stuff like cars and politics and how the Leafs could use a whole crate of McGill Babcock ties just to get to .500.
“Just the other day he wrapped himself around my forehead so we could break up the other staffers with our Jimi Hendrix impersonation,” he continued, before breaking down and being led off by a colleague.
Police spokespeople wouldn’t respond to queries regarding possible suspects in the case – although rumours abound, say haberdashery industry insiders. “Although the McGill Babcock tie is beloved from coast to coast in Canada, it has no shortage of detractors,” said Virgil Hammertoe, president of National Necktie Association. “There are many who would benefit from the disappearance of the McGill Babcock tie – the Ascot Alliance immediately comes to mind. And neither the Redenbacher clan nor the Col. Sanders camp have been thrilled with all the publicity the Babcock tie has been getting of late. I mean, are any of their ties a YouTube star?”
Indeed, not everyone has been swept by the wave of adulation for the McGill Babcock tie following the gold medal game. A University of Toronto tie made headlines last month accusing his McGill cousin of being a clip-on and, even worse, a “polyester imposter.”
That remark inspired the soundbite made famous around the world: “You tell Mr. U of T I can’t hear him because my Stanley Cup ring and my Olympic gold medal are blocking my ears.”
The investigation will continue until noon on April 1, 2010, police sources said.