Hockey Headlines

Monday, 26 September 2016

Edmonton Mascot Will Haunt Nightmares

Was anyone aware that the Edmonton Oilers needed a new mascot? I wasn't aware. It's always a roll of the dice when it comes to designing a mascot that captures the essence of your team's image and brand while balancing the need for that mascot to be loved by the children of the community. In other words, the Oilers probably shouldn't model their new mascot after Gary the No-Trash Cougar, yet it seems that the team is fine with frightening children and some adults with its newest brand image. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Ladies and gentlemen, I don't mean to do this to you, but I want to introduce you to Hunter. Again, you were warned.

Click Here For Hunter


Holy moly, I was not ready for that. Apparently, Hunter is a Canadian lynx - not be confused with the Irkutsk lynx from Russia - that was named after the first owner of the Oilers, "Wild" Bill Hunter. Wild might be the only thing that Hunter and Bill Hunter have in common. Honestly, how many five year-olds are going to wail when Hunter bends down for a hug? That cat will haunt the nightmares of those kids for years to come.

Reactions have been varied as you may imagine. For instance, the always-popular tweeting sensation known as Roberto Luongo weighed in with his thoughts.

Others, however, were not as kind as Luongo.

Some fans did show support for the first mascot in Oilers history.
In general, the sentiment seems to be that the Oilers missed the mark in introducing Hunter to the world. What do you think? Have your take in the comments below. I'd like to see what readers of HBIC think considering some of the mascots we've seen over the ages. Is Hunter better than any of the current NHL mascots? Sound off below!

I have to get some more work done, so I'll respond to any comments when I can!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Tomorrow, I Invade

I will be off the grid for the next week as I need to tend to some business in the Centre of the Universe. I will be able to answer emails and tweets later in the evenings, but there will definitely be very little action on HBIC and on social media from me this week as I look to take the next steps in my chosen career. No, I won't be moving to the Big Smoke anytime soon, but my journey on this trail takes me to Toronto for the next week.

For those that are thinking I may have ulterior motives, I can assure you I will not be taking in any of the World Cup of Hockey Money games despite Canada being in the three-game final series. I will not be seeing the Toronto Maple Leafs play any preseason games live in person, but I may catch one on TV if the hotel lounge has it on. I won't be visiting any OHL teams, and I don't believe I'll have enough time to get down to Rogers Centre for a Blue Jays-Orioles game either.

No, this trip is being taken for one reason, and I plan on ensuring that my employer is getting 100% from me every day. I will be doing some reading in my hotel room as I've brought a book and a magazine, and I'll post reviews of both as the week progresses. If I see something in my travels that deserves a push, I'll mention it as well, but hockey is taking a backseat to work this week. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Tomorrow, I'll be in the heart of Leafs Nation. I'm hoping the city of Toronto is in the midst of changing seasons from baseball season to hockey season, but I expect the Blue Jays to dominate any and all sports conversations for the immediate future with the tam barreling towards a wild card playoff spot. I'm good with that chatter, mind you, because it means less chatter about Auston Matthews and the Leafs while I'm there.

Now that's a holiday!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Ticket Out Of Town

For the next few months, this might be the only jersey we see defenceman Jacob Trouba in after he announced today that he will not be attending Winnipeg Jets training camp after demanding a trade from the team. This is a bit of a head-scratching move when it comes to the reasons why Trouba wants out of the prairie city, but he has stated his case and left the ball clearly in GM Kevin Cheveldayoff's court as he skates in Michigan to stay in shape for when he is finally traded. While I respect Trouba's wishes to play elsewhere, I find this move by a player who has little to no leverage to be rather shortsighted when it comes to his long-term career. If we see Trouba in the NHL this season, it will only be because he has come to his senses.

To set the scene, here is the statement released by Trouba's agent, Kent Overhardt.
"Our client, Jacob Trouba, will not be attending the Winnipeg Jets NHL training camp. Since May, we have been working with the Jets management in an effort to facilitate a trade of Jacob's rights. Both parties continue to work on this matter.

There has been no negotiation regarding the terms of a contract between our client and the Jets over the course of the last several months. The situation is not about money; it is solely about our client having the opportunity to realize his potential as a right shot NHL defenseman.

To the Jets credit, the club has two outstanding right shot veteran defensemen and our client simply wants the opportunity to have a greater role. As a consequence of the Jets depth on the right side, we believe it is in both parties’ best interest to facilitate a mutually advantageous trade.

Our client has nothing but respect for the people and City of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Jets, its fans, management and ownership - our desire to get him moved has everything to do with opportunity. We will continue to work with the Jets in good faith to achieve this end."
The initial shock wasn't that great to me because I had called for Trouba's trade during the Travis Hamonic trade party last season. Reportedly, the Jets were not interested in dealing Trouba and parts for Hamonic to the New York Islanders despite it making good economical and roster sense for a team desperately looking to upgrade its blue line. In reading the statement above, though, it appears that Trouba and his camp have a different opinion about his growth and progress as a player in Winnipeg, and he would like to explore those options elsewhere.

C'est la vie, I guess.

It's hard to defend Trouba's stance when he played the third-most minutes on Winnipeg's blue line last year of all their defencemen. Trouba didn't put up all-star numbers when it came to goals and assists, but he certainly was one of Winnipeg's better defenders down the stretch as they battled for a playoff spot. He was physical when called upon, blocked shots, and moved the puck which is exactly what Winnipeg needs from their blue line.

What he sees, it seems, is that he played the third-most minutes behind the other two right-hand defenders in Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers. In other words, two guys are eating into his minutes where he could show more offensive ability, and he had asked in May that he be given the opportunity to ply his trade with another NHL club. As I looked more at the numbers, I can understand that Trouba wants top-four minutes on the right side, shouldn't one have to earn those minutes by outplaying one of Byfuglien or Myers? Trouba didn't do that last season, and Trouba's level play has plateaued hard in the last two seasons. This leads me to believe that he's a bottom-four defenceman at best unless he either gets faster, stronger, smarter, or a combination of the three. With him not attending training camp, we won't know if he improved in any of those three departments.

As I read Overhardt's words over and over tonight, one thought swept over me that would give Trouba the fresh start he desires and the minutes he feels he deserves. In fact, it would be the best of both worlds for the Jets and Trouba if the Jets really wanted to send a message to the unhappy youngster.

Trade him to Las Vegas.

There's no reason why Las Vegas can't make a trade for Jacob Trouba right now. Sure, he won't play all season, but that's currently where he's headed if he doesn't step back from his self-imposed holdout. The longer he doesn't play, the less likely it will be that he's traded at all since teams are routinely in the practice of employing NHL-ready players. Jonathan Drouin learned this the hard way last season, and once he got himself rolling he became a fixture in the Tampa Bay lineup. All it took was the realization that holding out is worse than playing poorly.

In Las Vegas, Trouba would be the face of the franchise - a top-pairing American defenceman with unlimited potential. He would get a chance to help mold that franchise into a winner while playing top minutes on the right side for a team needing NHL-ready defencemen. With the potential new contract Trouba would sign, he'd also get to keep more of the money with Nevada having state income tax, but we should be aware this was not about the money (because if he had gotten his $6 million-per-season deal, he'd still want out, right?). In all honesty, Trouba should be begging to be traded to Vegas where he'd literally be "the man" on the WhateverTeamName's blue line.

The Jets could call in a few favors from the Las Vegas franchise with this trade such as selecting no rostered players off the Jets' roster or by delivering future considerations off their expansion roster. They could deal draft picks to help sweeten the deal in future years. They could combine any or all of these options in securing Trouba from the Jets, and both parties would come out better off than just watching Trouba sit until he decides he's ready to play.

"But Teebz," you say, "the Jets still need a defenceman!" I hear you, and I suggested this early on in free agency that they sign long-time NHL rearguard Dennis Seidenberg to a contract. Seidenberg, for those that haven't been watching, is having an outstanding tournament at the World Cup of Hockey Money, and Jets head coach Paul Maurice has had an up-close look at the former Bruins defenceman all tournament long. I'm quite certain that Seidenberg would come in for a season or two under Trouba's asking price, so getting an NHL-ready defenceman for the next season or two would be an easy play until one of Josh Morrissey, Brenden Kichton, Jan Kostalek, or Julien Melchiori are ready to jump into that top-six spot.

Whatever happens, I doubt we'll ever see Trouba in a Jets uniform again unless he does a major 180-degree turn like Drouin did. While I'm not blaming agent Kurt Overhardt for the trade, there are some striking similarities between the statement released today and the one that Overhardt made to ESPN when Kyle Turris requested a trade from the Arizona-then-Phoenix Coyotes.
"This has never been about money, we've been upfront with the club from Day 1," Overhardt told ESPN.com Thursday. "We've respectfully requested that the player had the opportunity to move forward in his career by having a fresh start."
Is this some sort of form letter than Overhardt has ready for any disgruntled player? The wording is almost eerily the same in his statement to ESPN in 2011 and the written statement released today. Wow.

In any case, questions will be raised about Winnipeg's development system once more with Trouba's trade demands. People will point at how they mishandled Evander Kane and how they are holding back Connor Hellebuyck, but there have been some young players who have accepted the challenges and used them to get better. Mark Scheifele has emerged as a top-flight centerman in the NHL, and we're seeing the likes of Adam Lowry, Brenden Lemieux, Andrew Copp, and Joel Armia begin to get a handle on their futures. The sky's the limit for Patrik Laine, but he's going to have to work hard in his first season if he wants to move into the superstar tier of players.

Normally, when a company's stock levels off, the company has to do something drastic like re-invent itself or release a new product. Jacob Trouba's stock has leveled off, so he needs to re-invent himself by being better than what he had been in the last two seasons. He still has a ton of untapped potential to draw upon, but he needs to work hard to bring that potential to light. If he thinks that a change of scenery will help, he's under the same fallacy that Jonathan Drouin was under last season before he bought into the hard work and discipline needed to be a dynamic NHL player.

As any young person or businessman will tell you, changing locations doesn't eliminate your problems as they always follow you to wherever you land. The only place where Trouba could be considered a top-four defenceman is a place where they have no top-four defencemen such as Las Vegas. And if it's truly not about money, he'll always be looking at the next opportunity unless he improves his on-ice product past the point of where it has stagnated for the last two seasons.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 23 September 2016

Starting Shorthanded?

I admit that I'm a fan of CIS hockey. The Canadian university system hasn't produced a vast number of NHL stars, but it is constantly restocking the CWHL on the women's side. However, a number of former CHL players are signing up for university degrees after their junior hockey careers have ended, and the results have shown that CIS men's hockey is becoming far more competitive and far more entertaining. With that, however, comes a junior hockey mentality where fighting still happens. Tonight at Wayne Fleming Arena in Winnipeg, that mentality spilled over onto the ice when the Manitoba Bisons hosted the Regina Cougars.

In 2013, the CIS increased the penalty for fighting in Canadian Interuniversity Sports men's hockey. The rules are pretty much identical across the Canada West, Ontario, and Atlantic conferences where fighting is an automatic game misconduct and a one-game suspension. A second fight gets you a game misconduct and a two-game suspension. A third fight gets you a game misconduct and a three-game suspension. You see where this is going based on the trend, right?

The more interesting rule to me, however, is the instigator rule. If a player is given an instigator penalty, that player suffers the game misconduct and the suspension while his combatant simply serves the five-minute major penalty for fighting and the game misconduct. In other words, those that have the inkling to pick fights at the CIS level get punished more severely that those that he draws into the fight. With less goons and less idiots on the ice looking to start a scrap, the game has benefited immensely as the scoring and entertainment levels have gone up.

But there are still fights that happen as we saw tonight. Here's a tweet from ChrisD.ca who caught the second round of fights in the third period between Regina and Manitoba.

According to the boxscore from the game, it appears that the first fight kicked off the rough stuff at 13:06 of the third period when Manitoba's Jesse Paradis and Regina's Brody Luhning dropped the mitts to solve their differences. Minutes later, Manitoba's Rene Hunter delivered what appears to be a vicious cross-check that earned him a five-minute major and a game misconduct which led to the video captured above of the second donnybrook between Manitoba's Jonah Wasylak and Regina's Tyler Bell.

Looks like the CWUAA disciplinary committee will have some work to do early in the 2016-17 season.

I expect all four players who fought to be suspended for the opening game of the season for their respective teams. I also expect Canada West to investigate the cross-check by Rene Hunter and the actions of Regina's Austin Bourhis who was given a game misconduct at the 17:05 mark. I would not be surprised if all six players were given the night off on October 7 when the season opens. After all, this is preseason CWUAA hockey where fights should almost never be seen.

I am rather shocked that these events happened in a preseason CWUAA game whose result was never in doubt once the midpoint of the third period had passed. The Bisons led 7-0 at that point, and I realize and understand that there's a pride factor that the Cougars want to uphold, but it's a preseason game. Neither head coach spoke to the media following the game, but I truly believe that neither head coach would want to "send a message" to the other team when it means that players will be suspended. That's the definition of "cutting one's nose off to spite one's face".

You hope that both teams got this rambunctiousness out of their systems in this preseason game. They meet in Regina on October 21 and 22, so let's hope that the Bisons come back to Manitoba with a couple of wins and a full roster for the following week. As much as I like a good hockey fight, the action on the ice tonight seemed to be entertaining enough for those fan who attended. Instead, they got to witness what will likely be the first suspensions in the CWUAA this season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Hockey Show - Episode 209

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is back to kick off YEAR 5 of the greatest non-affiliated hockey show on the planet! As we do with any birthday, we are going to have some fun, give away some cool stuff, and chat some hockey on tonight's show. Why? Because we appreciate each and every one of you who have been listening all this time. To show our appreciation, we're giving you the presents! How cool is that?

We have some autographed stuff to give away. We have a few books for your reading consumption. There are some clothing items that can be won. And there are chances for you to jump into the hockey chatter with your phone calls! Among the hockey topics we'll discuss will be the white pucks used by the Florida Panthers, Sergei Mozyakin breaking the KHL record for career goals a week or so ago, Brandon Reid and the Aalborg Pirates kicking off their season against the Odense Bulldogs on Friday, and the Manitoba Bisons women's team heading to Regina for the Mandi Schwartz Tournament and what TJ and Teebz saw from the team in their preseason games against the Winnipeg Avros. We're giving away a bunch of stuff tonight while we chat hockey, so make sure you tune in and listen for your chance to win!

I can already hear a large portion of those reading this preview saying, "I don't get your radio station in my neighbourhood." Believe me, we're very cognizant of how far we reach at UMFM, so we're pushing forward into the digital age like a charging bull in order to give you more options and better options for listening to The Hockey Show and all the other great UMFM programming. Ladies and gentlemen, there's an app for that.

If you're a proud owner of an iPad, iPod, or iPhone and want to listen to The Hockey Show, you had to go to UMFM's website and listen via the stream and it was a pain in the butt because it only played a couple of ways and tuning in was a big hassle. I get it. I've been there. That's why UMFM went ahead and made an awesome new app for you to download that will allow you to listen to UMFM with ease! Just follow this link on your iDevice and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show, and we're giving away prizes tonight so you can win as well!

If you're an Android user, we've had the app out for a few weeks already so you should already have it on your phone or tablet. You do have it, right? What do you mean you don't have it? Why not? Look, get yourself on the right path by following this link and getting the Android app!

As a small hint, there will be a prize available for someone who has downloaded the app as there will be a question posed that relates to the app, so you'd be wise to download the UMFM app and get familiar with it prior to the show. It'll also be valuable for listening to CIS sports, a ton of great shows and music, and some fun talk shows outside our little hour!

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're cleaning out the prize closet and chatting about white pucks, Russian goals, Danish starts, and women's hockey on The Hockey Show only on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: September 22, 2016: Episode 209

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!