Hockey Headlines

Friday, 26 August 2016

Beer And Hockey Meet Unconventionally

I'll admit that I don't read the newspaper as often as I should, but I always find a way to flip through the local newspaper when I'm out on the road. There are great stories from around the local area that are contained on the newsprint, but one of the sections I always read is the crime report. It's a fascinating look at what crime is like in small towns as compared to larger centers, but the crime we're going to focus on today is one that I haven't seen in all my time of reading these reports. And yes, it has a very distinct hockey angle that has made the crime a little surreal when you read the report and then watch the video. Yes, video!

The picture of the newspaper article above is from Russell, Manitoba where it seem a rather odd crime took place on August 15 at 2:45am. The following is the report filed in the newspaper word for word. Absorb this, readers, because the video that follows will bring these words to life!
A break-in occurred again at the Russell C-Store Beer Vendor. The video surveillance caught a man entering the store wearing a ball cap and his face covered. Shortly after... a goalie, yes a goalie, entered the store to assist the first man in carrying away several cases of beer. He was described as having a medium build, wearing goalie pads, blocker and trapper, and carrying a goalie stick. He was ready to play. Too bad there weren't any refs, as they would have thrown this thieving goalie in the penalty box for a while! The RCMP have never seen a disguise like this before! Police are reviewing surveillance and investigations are ongoing.
Yes, the RCMP have never seen a disguise like this before in a robbery for a few cases of beer. That's the take-away from this crime, I guess. I appreciate that the investigation is ongoing, but I commend the writer who had the task of writing the crime report in his or her efforts to have some fun with this story. It almost sounds like this might be an April Fool's prank with how they focused entirely on the goaltending burglar and not the guy in the ball cap!

You might be chuckling to yourself about this report. I'd imagine you have a picture in your head of what this particular crime may have looked like with a goalie involved. Conjure those images no more, folks, as we have video of the crime happening thanks to Manitoba's RCMP being media savvy! Without further adieu, here is the video from August 15th that features your show-stealing goaltender!
You'll notice the timestamp is actually an hour later than what the newspaper report stated, but how about that goaltender? He's agile as he goes through the broken window without wrecking his jersey or gear nor getting a scratch on him. He has great hands as he hauls two cases of beer out of the store while still carrying his goal stick. He appears to be somewhat athletic as he streaks across the parking lot area, but it appears he could work on that footspeed a little.

What makes this video even better is the description that the RCMP threw up on YouTube with the video. It reads as follows,
On August 15th at 3:38 a.m., a break-in occurred at a beer store vendor in Russell, Manitoba. Video surveillance caught two men entering the store and stealing cases of beer.

The first man was wearing mitts/gloves, a large coat, ball cap and had his face covered.

The second suspect that followed was dressed as a goalie.

However, he may have been a defenceman or forward in disguise as he was wearing jersey #17 – a non-traditional number for goalies.

He is described as having a medium build, wearing a blocker, trapper and carrying a goalie stick.

Anyone with information about this theft or has played against a goalie matching this description is asked to call Russell RCMP.
I love the line of "he may have been a defenceman or forward in disguise" due to him wearing #17. That's priceless! The Russell detachment of the RCMP may unintentionally be one of the funniest hockey writers in the game today!

Look, all jokes aside, this is a crime and these two buffoons certainly should be prosecuted for their criminal activities. If you happen to know of or recognize either of these men, please contact the Russell RCMP detachment at 204-773-3051. The owner of the convenience store/beer vendor probably would like this matter resolved.

In the meantime, enjoy the video above as we discover a new definition for the oft-used goaltending term of "highway robbery"!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Hockey Show - Episode 205

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, returns tonight to discuss a number of hockey stories. With the Rio Olympic Games over, we'll also commend and highlight our favorite moments of the games and what sports we "discovered" as potential new favorites. We'll also do a quick recap of the CBC's broadcast of The Tragically Hip's concert from Kingston as each of us have expressed our respect and admiration for Canada's preeminent rock band over the past few weeks.

Tonight, Teebz, Beans, and TJ will look at the latest moves by the Arizona Coyotes that include dealing for Lawson Crouse while taking on another horrible contract and why they might be the best team of the future, and we'll discuss the hiring of Dawn Braid as the NHL first full-time female coach. We'll talk about Connor McDavid the reports that he may be named as captain to make him the youngest team leader in NHL history. We'll talk about Taylor Hall's comments on his trade to the New Jersey Devils, and we'll update everyone on the Manitoba Bisons women's team who began their European preseason schedule against KJT-Helsinki in Finland. We also have an announcement regarding some NHL and CIS scheduling, so tune in and hear all of this and more tonight!

The phone lines are wide open tonight for your calls, so get your takes in at (204) 269-UMFM (269-8636)! Make sure your radio in the Winnipeg region is set to 101.5 on your FM dial if you can't make it or listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage!

As new feature for your listening pleasure, if you're an Android user, download the UMFM app for easy listening! The iPhone version is coming soon, so make sure you check back here for its availability. Once it is, we'll post that link here as well!

Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me 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.

Tonight, we commend the Desert Dogs, blow up the Oilers, and talk about the Bisons on The Hockey Show only on 101.5 UMFM!

PODCAST: August 25, 2016: Episode 205

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

It's Called "Progress"

It might be time to give the Arizona Coyotes a lot of credit. They were questioned when they hired a 28 year-old as their general manager, and John Chayka has suddenly become one of the best GMs in the game after leading the Coyotes on a successful draft and free agency period. While they may not be a playoff team just yet, they have built and continue to build an impressive stable of players under the age of 25 while keeping integral parts of their team on the payroll. Today, the Coyotes went off the map again in adding to their coaching staff, and this hiring shows all the moxie you've come to expect from Chayka.

While everyone has used the term "history" when it comes to this hiring, I prefer to use the word "progress". It's about time that a woman be added to a team's coaching staff in a prominent role, and I commend the Coyotes on their hiring of Dawn Braid as the organization's full-time Skating Coach. Braid has a long history of working with NHL teams, and finally someone had the bright idea of putting her on a payroll. Funny how it was the youngest GM in the league that made that decision.

Braid, pictured to the right, worked with the Coyotes as a skating consultant under GM Don Maloney last year, and has also worked with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames at points in her career. She was part of the Athletes Training Center as director of skating development, and has worked with NHL stars such as John Tavares. In other words, she knows her craft and teaches it well.

"It's something that I've wanted to see happen," Braid told NHL.com. "The fact that they respect what I do enough to name me as a full-time coach, or to name me as the first female coach in the NHL, I take a ton of pride in that. I've worked very hard for this opportunity. It's been going on for years and I just look forward to going even further with it."

It's 2016, folks. Women have been working in and teaching hockey and skating for years. While her hiring is historic in becoming the first woman named to a coaching staff in the NHL, this is a very progressive move by a league whose "old boys' club" really holds all the cards. The fact that a 28 year-old analytical general manager made this move shows that it might take new thinking to open up the NHL to women and minorities, but the change is happening.

It's hard for me to understand why great women such as Shannon Miller, Barb Underhill, Laura Stamm, Cathy Andrade, Sarah Hodges, or Rachel Flanangan aren't being promoted through Hockey Canada and considered for positions in hockey by franchises across the continent. All of these women have exceptional skills and understanding of the game, and yet none of them hold positions within the professional ranks of men's hockey despite having these skills and abilities.

The fact that Dawn Braid might open a door for many other women is a significant step, though, and here's hoping that other franchises look to the fairer sex when needing a competent professional to fill a position of authority behind the bench. If the Coyotes show significant improvement this season over their finish from the last campaign, I believe that Ms. Braid will have a lot to do with it. Skating is one of the most important skills in the game, and improvements to skating will only make players faster and stronger on their skates. I'm pretty sure 29 other NHL teams want those same improvements as well.

Congratulations to Dawn Braid on becoming the first woman to hold down a full-time NHL coaching position. Now it's time for the other 29 teams to step up and show that they understand it's 2016 as well.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Fans Vote To Go Crazy

NHL teams often find themselves looking for new ways to pump fans up, and they usually find this through music. There have been a ton of arena rock anthems over the course of time, and there are specific songs that teams have used that are now associated with that franchise. The Minnesota Wild used Joe Satriani's "Crowd Chant" after goals, and it was particularly noticeable after goals during playoff games when the capacity crowd would sing along to the song. Today, though, the Wild announced that they would be changing the song based on a vote done by their fans!

For the unaware, this is the song that the Wild played after goals were scored by the home team prior to this recent vote. Yes, it gets loud during the playoffs.
Satriani's "Crowd Chant" has been used in multiple arenas across several sports for some time since its release in 2006. It's one of those mainstays on a lot of arena playlists because of its catchy riffs and somewhat-forced crowd interaction. The Wild used it very effectively as their goal song to keep the emotion and electricity high in the arena.

The vote done by fans, however, brought a local superstar's song to the Wild as the fans voted to use Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" as their new goal song! Again, for the unaware, this is the song that is replacing Satriani's "Crowd Chant".
The song was voted in by season ticket holders by a 2-1 vote, but the Minnesota Wild Facebook page shows that not all the fans are in favour of changing the song. Apparently Satriani's song really does resonate with some fans.

That being said, the comment with the most likes reads, "Finally. No offense to Joe Satriani but that song was really lame, especially since other teams used it. At least this has a connection to Minnesota."

What do you think of the change? Sound off below, and we'll see if non-Wild fans agree with the season ticket holders or not!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Distorting The Facts

For the last few months, I have avoided the conflicts and lawsuits that seem to be following the NWHL around. There have been all sorts of rumours and speculation about the league and its finances, and I have done my best to avoid the discussions that concerned these rumours and speculation. Today, however, I found myself watching what seemed to be an interview done with NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan that was nothing more than a distortion of facts and the spreading of half-truths.

Former BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg launched Cheddar, a "finance news network aimed at the under-40 crowd" found exclusively on Facebook earlier this year, and Dani Rylan appeared on the Facebook Live broadcast of Cheddar this morning. Her intention was to promote the NWHL to those people watching the broadcast which numbered at 110 viewers when I was watching, but it seemed that all she was interested in doing was stretching truths and facts into whatever spin she needed.

Here's an abbreviated video from the Cheddar Facebook site. I'll disseminate what Miss Rylan said in the full interview that I watched below.


Ok, let's break this down, shall we?

Rylan mentioned that expansion was a possibility in the future with potential owners "approaching us all the time". I believe that this statement is entirely untrue. Three of her four franchises have already moved to new arenas this season that have a smaller seating capacity than where they previously played. If the league was truly looking to get bigger by a whole team, they wouldn't be downsizing 75% of the league.

Secondly, the loss of two major investors who have filed lawsuits seeking their investments back would most likely scare off other investors. The fact that there is proof of bills not being paid or falling into default would also scare off potential investors. No one wants to throw money into a sinking ship, so the expansion talk is entirely untrue. Yes, she flashed up the map with the stars on new locations, but there is a 99.9% chance of that never happening. Heck, she couldn't even keep a team in New York City where her league offices are located, so where are these expansion franchises going?

Rylan stated that the league was averaging about 1000 fans per game last season. That's a great number for a league in its first year, so why are teams downsizing? The Boston Pride are the reigning Isobel Cup champions, and they have moved to a facility that is outside metro Boston and only holds 660 people maximum. If the league truly is growing its fanbase, the league shouldn't be moving to smaller and more remote facilities.

One can make an argument that costs will be lower at a more remote facility, but that goes against all logic. If the league is growing and more people are showing up, arenas are usually keen to encourage teams to return since they make more money as well. Instead, the league has pulled up roots for three teams and moved them to smaller facilities. It makes no sense unless there are costs that need to be controlled because finances are tight. Maybe that attendance figure of 1000 fans wasn't entirely true?

Rylan made the bold claim that "one-third of the league plays for their respective national teams". This is a disgusting distortion of a fact. We already know that the Russians aren't coming back to the league and it appears that Nana Fujimoto also has walked away. Tatiana Rafter and Sarah Casorso have yet to suit up for Team Canada. So who exactly are these national teams?

The truth is that of the 68 rostered players - 17 players per team - one-third of them would be the 22 US national team players and Janine Weber. Weber plays for the Austrian national team. 23 players of 68 total players is one-third of the league, but only two national teams are represented and Americans make up 96% of that one-third. She would have been better off stating that one-third of the players in the league have represented America on the international stage. That would be entirely truthful and accurate. Instead, she distorted the truth about her league to make it sound more prestigious.

Rylan stated, "We are a media company." Do the players know about this? The NWHL is not a media company whatsoever. They produce content that is carried on some medium - internet, TV, radio, etc. - but they are not a media company. I get that Miss Rylan isn't an English major, but you cannot claim to be something you're not. Otherwise, HBIC is a media company. And I can tell you that it is not. Nor will it ever be unless I am gifted some large amount of money or the keys to some media company. I produce content, but the medium is the internet. Confusing the two terms is a major blunder.

Rylan stated that the NWHL is seeking the same types of commercial and sponsor deals that the men get. I appreciate this honesty because it would help the league immensely, but there are problems with her statement in that even her main sponsor in Dunkin' Donuts hasn't given the league the cash infusion it truly needs. Sources indicate that the deal negotiated with Dunkin' Donuts provided the league with $80,000 cash - not even enough to cover salaries for one month of play - while Dunkin' Donuts got prime real estate on jerseys and a ton of free publicity with the players using their individual $400 gift cards.

While she may be seeking the same types of deals that the NHL and the minor-pro leagues get, there's a major difference in that they have lasted the test of time and have generated a major fanbase in each of the markets in which they reside. Keep seeking these deals, though, as they will help your league. Just don't be surprised if they don't materialize.

In talking about these new commercial and sponsor deals that she is seeking, Rylan stated that the fans of the NWHL give the "same number of impressions" when compared to men's hockey. This is entirely a lie. In fact, it's laughable. If she thinks she generates the same number of "impressions" as the AHL or the ECHL does with their sponsors, she's delusional. There are zero metrics for her to base this statement in any sort of truth. She doesn't even reach the same number of fans on a seasonal basis as the ECHL averages per month. Therefore, this is a bold-faced lie.

Rylan's claims of players in the NWHL making salaries "almost comparable to minor-pro leagues" is technically true, but also a distortion of the facts. The average NWHL player will earn a salary around $15,000 for a 24-game schedule or about $625 per game. That's not bad money for a startup league, but there are some items not covered by the team that the lower-tier minor-pro leagues cover.

The SPHL, the league that Shannon Szabados plays in, pays its players somewhere between $300 and $325 per week due to the weekly $5600 salary cap, but apartment rent and most meals are covered by the team. They also help find jobs for the players in the communities in which they play which do not conflict in any way with the team's schedule. Looking at that, it's $300 clear above rent and most food, making it easier for the players to live on what appears to be a meager player's salary. Add in some extra cash from the jobs they work in their off-ice time, and some of the players get by fairly nicely.

The NWHL doesn't provide for housing or meals from what I have been able to gather, and I have yet to see them find job placements for any player. If they have, those announcements have been kept very quiet which is contrary to good marketing. In order to attract players, you'd think that the league would want to celebrate its achievements in helping players. Instead, we hear crickets. Suddenly, $625 per game doesn't really feel like a lot of money when you factor in rent, food, and transportation to and from games.

Look, I know that Dani Rylan is going through some tough times right now both as the league's Commissioner and on her own. The lawsuits from failed friendships and investors have to weigh on her somewhat, and there are rumours that additional lawsuits are on their way as companies begin to take action for bills unpaid or delinquent. However, the last thing she should be doing is distorting the facts about her league in order to make it sound better.

I'm concerned about the future of 68 women who could arrive at a rink one day to find out that games have been cancelled. In the end, the women on the ice are the ones who will suffer, and it's not fair that they have to bear the burden if things don't come out positively for the NWHL.

The show that Dani Rylan appeared on was called Cheddar. It's almost appropriate with all the cheesy lines she was using on the program.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!