Hockey Headlines

Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Hockey Show - Episode 116

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is beyond excited for tonight's show. We're had some pretty big guests on the show in the past as we're featured current and former players from all different leagues. Recently, we welcomed Brad Lukowich as the first Stanley Cup winner to our show, and he gave an incredible interview. Tonight, we are humbled, honoured, and privileged to welcome our second Stanley Cup winner as we take some time to speak with former NHL great Theoren Fleury!

It will be a short interview with Mr. Fleury, unfortunately, as he's in Moose Jaw for a book signing as he's currently doing a book tour for his new book, Conversations With a Rattlesnake. He scheduled to be at the signing at 5pm, so we'll be pre-recording the interview with Mr. Fleury before he gets into the signing event. In saying that, we'll open up the phone lines after the interview for your comments as we talk about Mr. Fleury, his books, his experiences both good and bad, and how we viewed him as a player.

I also want to point out that he'll be in Winnipeg this Sunday, November 30 for a book signing at the Grant Park McNally Robinson location at 3pm, so get out to see Mr. Fleury when he comes to town! I'm going to be down there to speak with Mr. Fleury and get a scribble on a book or two as well!

We'll also talk about the losses this week of Pat Quinn and Viktor Tikhonov and the impacts they had on the game of hockey, Martin Brodeur getting a shot with the St. Louis Blues, the Winnipeg Jets dropping two and then winning two, the Bisons and their recent games against the UBC Thunderbirds and the upcoming games against the University of Alberta, and, if time allows, even more hockey stories!

We'll be live on the air at 5:30pm and the phones will be open after the interview with Theoren Fleury! Hit us up on 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! Give us a call at 204-269-8636 (269-UMFM) so you can weigh in on the discussion as well! You can tweet us anytime you like by hitting us up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show. There are lots of ways for you to interact on The Hockey Show, and we want to hear from you!

PODCAST: NOVEMBER 27, 2014: Episode 116

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Goalie Things Noticed

The image to the left? A thing of beauty. Marc-Andre Fleury donned his once-familiar yellow pads again as the Penguins took to the ice in their throwbacks, and he looks outstanding. Of course, looking the part means nothing unless he can play the part, so Fleury needed a big game against the Leafs tonight. Sidney Crosby was two points away from 800 in his career, the Leafs wore a special Pat Quinn patch, and Blake Comeau went off. In other words, Fleury's pads became a back story once this game started.

Crosby added a pair of assists to become just the third player in Penguins history to hit 800 points, Blake Comeau's hat trick goal in overtime was the difference, and Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 301st win in his yellow pads as the Penguins downed the Maple Leafs by a 4-3 score.

For Comeau, it's the first hat trick he's recorded since March 2, 2010 when he was a member of the New York Islanders. "I'm getting a good opportunity to play with some really good players and it feels really good to contribute offensively," Comeau told reporters. "Things are going well right now at the start of the season."

Comeau had just five goals with the Blue Jackets last season. He already has eight this season. Clearly, playing alongside Evgeni Malkin is paying off for Comeau.

Who Is That Masked Man?

There was an unidentified masked man sitting on the Buffalo bench last Wednesday during the Sabres-Sharks game, but it was almost fitting. Michal Neuvirth was hurt during the first period of the game, forcing Jhonas Enroth into the game. However, that left the Sabres without a backup netminder with two periods to play. Who did they turn to in their time of need? Goaltending consultant Arturs Irbe!

Irbe has played for a few teams in his career, but he broke into the league with the San Jose Sharks back in 1991 - the same team the Sabres were playing last Wednesday. Irbe wasn't pressed into action, but the 47 year-old former NHL netminder didn't seem to mind suiting up for the Sabres for a couple of periods. It's been seven years since he played in a serious hockey game as a goalie, but he strapped the pads on and looked the part. "I said, 'Ted, I haven't donned a uniform in seven years,'" Irbe said, recalling the conversation he had with Sabres coach Ted Nolan during the first intermission. "And he said, 'It doesn't matter. Now you will.'"

So does Irbe just keep a set of pads lying around the arena in case the Sabres need another goalie? The answer is no. Irbe used Enroth's backup set of pads, Ryan Miller's old blocker and catcher he left in Buffalo after being traded last season, and the equipment staff provided him with the helmet.

"Once a goalie, always a goalie," Irbe said with a wide grin. Ain't that the truth!

Opportunity Granted

With the St. Louis Blues in need of another netminder after Brian Elliott was injured, the Blues began looking for some help for Jake Allen as he prepares to assume the starting role. Who did they turn to in their time of need? NHL all-time wins leader Martin Brodeur!

Brodeur will practice with the Blues as they evaluate the netminder's play, but you have to know that Brodeur will take this opportunity very seriously in order to continue his career. While it's doubtful that the Blues will sign Brodeur to a one-way deal this season, it's a chance for the future Hall-of-Fame goalie to practice and get some work in with an NHL team.

Brodeur will join the Blues on Friday for the morning skate before the game against the Edmonton Oilers that night, but it's expected that he won't be suiting up with Allen getting the start and Jordan Binnington backing him up.

While I may have called for him to retire earlier this year, apparently there still might be work for the 42 year-old Brodeur yet. And he'll certainly try to make the most of it.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Almost Made It

Bryan Little was one second short of tying a record tonight. The man to the left? He holds the record. I won't tell you who he is just yet, but Bryan Little missed out on tying the fastest goal in franchise history tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Little scored his goal just nine seconds into the game which is one second more than the record this player set on December 20, 2003 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. This player would actually go on to play for the Penguins later in his career, but he scored just eight seconds in on Sebastien Caron. Who is he? Who is this heroic individual? I shall reveal all after the video!

Here is Bryan Little's goal against the Blue Jackets tonight. Most people hadn't even got to their seats before the Jets were up 1-0 in this game.
Brian Engblom's idiotic commentary aside, that was a great individual effort by Little as he wound up in the neutral zone, used some great speed to enter the zone and split the defence, and Andrew Ladd fed him perfectly. It was the start of something great as the Jets prevailed 4-2 tonight over the Blue Jackets in which Evander Kane scored a pair of goals.

As an aside, when was the last time I wrote "Kane scored a pair of goals" when referring to Evander and not Patrick? No clue. It's been a while.

So who holds the record as described above? Set up by Vyacheslav Kozlov and Marc Savard, Robert Petrovicky scored on Sebastien Caron eight seconds into the game against Pittsburgh! He would add an assist late in the second period on an Ilya Kovalchuk goal, and the Thrashers would go on to win by a 7-4 score.

It just goes to show that scoring early often leads to wins!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Loss Of Great Leaders

There is no denying the impact that both Viktor Tikhonov and Pat Quinn left on the sport of hockey. Both men were incredible players, leaders behind the bench, and both men built teams that were perennial championship favorites. Tikhonov was, of course, the architect and bench boss of some of the greatest teams in international hockey when he ran the Soviet Union's program. Pat Quinn oversaw the building of the Vancouver Canucks, and then ran the bench in Toronto where the Maple Leafs were continually a solid team throughout the latter half of the 1990s into the new millennium.

I'm not going to run down both men's lives here, but I do want to point out the highlights in their illustrious careers.

Mr. Tikohonov received the Order of the Red Banner of Labour in 1978, awarded to honour "great deeds and services to the Soviet state and society in the fields of production, science, culture, literature, the arts, education, health, social and other spheres of labour activities". He received the Order of Friendship of Peoples in 1981 for "accomplishments in strengthening of inter-ethnic and international friendship and cooperation, for economical, political, scientific, military, and cultural development of the Soviet Union". In 1983, Mr. Tikohonov was awarded the Order of Lenin - the highest decoration given out by the Soviet Union - for outstanding services rendered to the State, promoting friendship and cooperation between peoples and in strengthening peace, and for meritorious services to the Soviet state and society. Mr. Tikhonov was awarded the Order of the October Revolution - the second-highest honour given out by the Soviet Union - for services furthering communism or the state. And we haven't even started talking about the honours he received for his hockey contributions, although they played a big part in the above awards.

In 1996, he was given the Order For Merit to the Fatherland for services to the State and outstanding contribution to the development of national hockey. In 1998, Mr. Tikhonov was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame as a builder for his work with the Soviet hockey program. In 1999, he was awarded the Medal "For Distinguished Labour" given to individuals to recognize and honour high performances in labour or contributions in the fields of science, culture or the manufacturing industry. In 2000, he was given the Order of Honour for outstanding contribution to the development of national hockey. In 2010, he was given the Order of Friendship for outstanding contribution to the development of national sport as seen to the upper right. He was also named as a Chevalier of Olympic Order and was awarded the Medal "For Military Valour", 1st class in his distinguished career.

Mr. Tikhonov was also a defenceman with VVS Moscow and Dynamo Moscow from 1949 to 1963, winning four national Russian championships. He was the coach of the Soviet Union team that won eight World Championship gold medals and three Olympic gold medals in 1984, 1988, and 1992. Mr. Tikhonov also led CSKA Moscow to twelve consecutive Russian SuperLeague championships during his time behind the bench.

Needless to say, he's a well-decorated hockey icon.

Pat Quinn, nicknamed "The Big Irishman", also had a host of accolades to his name. Mr. Quinn was named the Jack Adams Trophy winner in 1980 and 1992 with Philadelphia and Vancouver, respectively. During that 1980 season with the Flyers, Mr. Quinn coached the team to a record breaking 35-game unbeaten streak the ended with the Flyers losing to the Islanders in the Stanley Cup Final. He was part of the Team Canada coaching staff that captured the gold medal in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games, and followed that up as being part of the coaching staff that won the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. In 2008, Mr. Quinn led Hockey Canada's U18 men's team to a gold medal in Kazan, Russia, and followed that effort up in 2009 with a gold medal at the World Junior Championships in Ottawa. He was also a silver medalist at the Spengler Cup in 2006 when Canada lost to HC Davos in the final.

Mr. Quinn also found success on the ice as he was a member of the 1963 Edmonton Oil Kings team that captured the Memorial Cup. He had originally signed with the Detroit Red Wings, but played his first NHL game as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1968. In 1970, the Canucks selected Mr. Quinn in the expansion draft, and, two years later, he was selected by the Atlanta Flames in the expansion draft. Mr. Quinn would nine play seasons in the league with the Maple Leafs, Canucks and Atlanta Flames. As a part-owner of the Vancouver Giants, he would win a second Memorial Cup in 2007. The Parkdale Arena in Mr. Quinn's hometown of Hamilton, Ontario had been renamed in 2005 as the Pat Quinn Parkdale Arena in his honour.

We lost Viktor Tikhonov and Pat Quinn today after both battled long illnesses. Mr. Tikohonov passed away at the age of 84. Mr. Quinn passed away at the age of 71. The hockey world has lost two of best minds in the game of hockey today.

Rest in peace, gentlemen. It was an honour to be able to witness your genius.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Hockey In Barcelona

I'll admit that there are some things in the hockey world that I have forgotten. I usually remember a lot of little details, but I occasionally stumble across something from the past that grabs my attention in a big way. Such is the case today as I was digging through the interwebs. There have been many hockey competitions at the Olympic Games held throughout time, but I had totally forgotten that the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain had held a hockey event! Unlike the Winter Olympic Games, though, this was one that was borne out of Spain's culture.

I have written about "quad hockey" or "roller hockey" in the past. However, I neglected to mention anything in that article about the 1992 Summer Olympics and how roller hockey was a demonstration sport at the Barcelona Olympics. I would have been an adolescent at the time of the Barcelona Olympics, so I don't recall a lot about the Olympiad myself. However, Joe DeLessio wrote a great article on it for Sports on Earth, and I think his article deserves a little recognition.

As per Mr. DeLessio's article,
Rink hockey dates back to the nineteenth century, when an Englishman named Edward Crawford adapted ice hockey for play on a wooden skating rink, and the earliest version of the sport used a wooden puck or flat disc as well as flat sticks. According to an informational booklet prepared by the IOC in advance of the '92 Games, the sport grew in popularity quickly, especially in England, where there were more than 600 roller rinks. By 1905, England had its first association of roller hockey clubs. In 1924, the sport had its first international federation. Two years later came the first European championships, and a decade after that, the first world championships.
In other words, roller hockey goes back as far as ice hockey does here in North America, and the 1927 European championships show that it is nearly as old as the National Hockey League crowning its champions. That's pretty impressive. Again, hockey history doesn't just exist on ice as we can see!

According to Mr. DeLessio's article, "the best players were able to play professionally in countries like Spain and Italy. In the United States, though, it remained something of a fringe sport. Its heyday in the U.S. spanned from the late 1970s to the late '80s, with its popularity mostly limited to pockets of the country, such as Texas and the Pacific Northwest. Various estimates put the total number of players nationally in 1992 at somewhere between 500 and 1,000." So it appeared the United States began to develop the game in its borders at one point, but somehow the popularity and novelty of the sport wore off. No reason is given why.

As I pointed out in my article, Spain was already a solid competitor at international events, so including it as a demonstration sport the Olympics was a bit of a no-brainer. As Mr. DeLessio pointed out, then-IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch had played the game himself. He also writes, "countries qualified for the '92 Games based on their finish at the in the 1991 World Cup in Portugal, organized by the Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports, a governing body that oversees not just rink hockey but all roller sports. The United States, while hardly a dominant power, was among the countries that made the cut." So that's how countries qualified for the competition.

The countries that were invited to participate in just a men's tournament included Spain, the United States, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, Angola, Switzerland, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, and Japan. Group A would feature Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Switzerland, Japan, and the USA. Group B featured Spain, Brazil, Australia, Angola, the Netherlands, and Germany.

Here are some of the highlights from the preliminary round.

Japan, who finished last in Group A, got bombed in the preliminary round by Portugal (38-0), Italy (25-1), and Argentina (13-0). They gave up 95 goals in their five games, and scored just four - half of which came against Switzerland in a 9-2 loss.

Italy and Argentina finished in a 3-3 tie on the first day of the competition before Italy went on a tear. They defeated Switzerland 8-0, the USA 13-2, Portugal 5-2, and Japan 25-1 to close out the preliminary round in first-place of Group A with a 4-0-1 record. Portugal finished in second-place with a 4-1-0 record while being the most offensively-prolific team in the tournament with 59 goals-for. Argentina finished third in the group with a 2-1-2 record, and these three teams would advance to the semi-final round. The United States finished the preliminary round in fourth-place with a 2-2-1 record, Switzerland finished fifth in the group with a 1-4-0 record, and Japan would finished 0-5-0.

Group B didn't quite see any teams fall to Japan's level of play, but Australia finished in the same place in Group B as Japan did in Group A. They were destroyed 17-1 on the first day of the competition by Spain, 12-1 by the Netherlands on the fourth day, and scored four of their seven total goals on the fifth day in a 7-4 loss to Brazil. To Australia's credit, though, they only surrendered 42 goals in the competition.

Spain cruised through the prelims with a 5-0 record to finish atop the Group B standings. Brazil's only loss came to Spain as they finished second with a 4-1 record. In a battle for the third qualifying spot, Germany and the Netherlands met on the fifth day with both teams vying for that spot. The Netherlands used a 3-1 first-half lead to pace them to a 5-3 win, giving them a 2-2-1 record, better than Germany's 2-3 record. As a result, the Netherlands finished third and Germany finished fourth. Angola finished in fifth-place as they brought home a 1-3-1 record while Australia went home with an 0-5-0 record.

In the semi-final round, the top-two teams would battle for the gold medal while the third- and fourth-place teams would battle for the bronze medal, so every game counted. The Netherlands, unfortunately, would not record a win in finishing in sixth-place in the semi-final round, being outscored 29-5 in their five games. Brazil would also head home as they finished in fifth-place with a 1-3-1 record. Their win came against the Netherlands, but the draw they recorded came against Spain in which they played their best game of the tournament, posting a 2-1 halftime lead to tie the powerful Spaniards 3-3. It wouldn't matter in the end, though, as they fell to Portugal a day later, making it impossible to catch Italy for fourth-place in the round.

The bronze medal game featured fourth-place Italy (2-3-0) and third-place Portugal (3-2-0). They had met on the first day of the semi-final round where Portugal outscored Italy 3-2 in the first half and 2-1 in the second half for a 5-3 victory. Portugal jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the first half of the bronze-medal game on goals by Luís Ferreira and Victor Hugo Silva while Francesco Amato had Italy's goal. In the second half, though, Italy played a dominant defensive game, holding Portugal off the board while getting goals from Massimo Mariotti and Roberto Crudeli to pace the squad to a 3-2 victory and the 1992 bronze medal for men's roller hockey!

That leaves just two teams for the gold-medal match, and they come from both Europe and South America where the game of roller hockey is extremely popular. The home country of Spain finished atop the semi-final group with a 4-0-1 record while Argentina finished with a 4-1-0 record - their only loss coming to Spain by a 3-2 score. Would the host team get the same result in the gold-medal game?

While the semi-final contest was closely contested with neither team giving an inch and capitalizing on the few mistakes the other made, the gold-medal match was and offensive explosion! The two teams battled to a 5-5 halftime score meaning that the first-ever gold medal in roller hockey would be decided in the second half. A 3-1 score in the second half for the Argentinians would be all that was needed for the country to claim gold as they downed Spain by an 8-6 final score. Argentina would win the first-ever roller hockey gold medal!

This was the only Olympiad to feature roller hockey. The IOC had decided in 1989 that demonstration sports would no longer be included in the Olympics beyond 1992, so it would have to be included as a full Olympic sport beyond Barcelona. However, it was killed off at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games after some political in-fighting. Mr. DeLessio writes, "[S]ome in the United States Amateur Confederation of Roller Skating (now known as USA Roller Sports) pushed hard for the Atlanta Games to include not just rink hockey but also other roller skating disciplines, like artistic skating. At the time, he said, the U.S. federation was run by artistic-skating people, and they saw rink hockey as a sort of stepping stone to getting the other disciplines into the Games as well. The idea was that if they all didn't get in, none would."

If roller hockey was a fringe sport in the US, artistic skating was practiced even less outside US borders. The IOC would have liked roller hockey to remain, but it was hesitant to include any other roller skate sports. As a result, roller hockey would only award medals at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

There's a great historical look at one of the forgotten hockey events at the Olympics. Again, I have to credit Mr. DeLessio for prompting this article as I happened across his excellent and informative piece while searching for some information on inline hockey. I recommend reading through his piece as it's an excellent article on roller hockey in the United States!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!