Hockey Headlines

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Hockey FUNdamentals

I consider myself pretty lucky when it comes to some of the relationships I've been able to foster through this blog and the radio show. It has led to some incredible experiences, and I'm happy to report that I was invited to participate in another fun experience tonight as I went down to Canlan Ice Sports to take in a session of the Hockey Fundamentals course they are running. I wasn't on skates, but I did get to witness a lively class of women willing to be put through the paces by the instructors in order to improve their games. As far as I could tell, this group of women will undoubtedly be a solid graduating class once they make it through their classes, and I have no doubt that they'll be suiting up for a team at Canlan Ice Sports in the near future!

The range of ages for these women went from ladies in the thirties right through to those nearing retirement. Each and every woman I spoke to tonight really seemed to be enjoying their times on the ice, and all of them wore beaming smiles as they skated over to speak with yours truly. You could tell that they were enjoying themselves, and all of them had incredible things to say about the program.

Trish #1: "This is my first session with Canlan. Last year, I was somewhere else, but it's great! Really great!"

Vicky: "It's alright! I like it! This is my third session, and I have lots of fun. I used to play ringette when I was young and haven't been on the ice in, like, 20 years, so it's awesome!"

Liz: "Oh it's a lot of fun! This beats going to a treadmill in a gym some place!"

Liz, you'll be interested to know, didn't start playing hockey until she was 52! As stated above, this Hockey Fundamentals program is for players of all skills and ages, and the ladies I spoke with all had excellent things to say about instructors Sean, Kyle, and Kayla. It sounds as though half the fun is created by the instructors, and, as they say, a lesson taught with humor is a lesson retained!

Trish #2: "Very competent. (Sean)'s good at modifying things for different levels. He's good at tailoring it for everyone in the class."

That's key in all of this, isn't it? Good instructors who can reach players at their levels and help them improve their skills. Canlan Ice Sports has gone through a number of instructors as they search for great people who are excellent teachers in the sport of hockey. Kyle and Kayla assisted Sean Fisher on the ice, and Mr. Fisher is well-known to those following the University of Manitoba Bisons women's hockey program. Sean is an assistant coach with the program, so he knows how to run drills and get the most out of his students. Sean, Kyle, and Kayla ran the ladies through a pile of drills to continue their growth as players, and you could see the confidence in their smiles as they mastered the fundamentals!

Sean: "I think a lot of the participants we have out here tonight are returning clients who come back on a regular basis - session by session - and I've seen a huge improvement in those players."

I have to hand it to Canlan Ice Sports and Program Director Tyler Stewart for success of the Hockey Fundamentals program. They have had a number of the graduates from past years move on to play adult hockey in leagues at Canlan Ice Sports, and they appear to be close to having very competent, very capable players getting ready to graduate in this year's program as well.

The five players I spoke with all look like veteran players on their skates. While I wasn't there are the beginning, hearing these ladies speak of their significant improvements and seeing the smiles on their faces as they talk about improving their hockey skills is proof enough that the Hockey Fundamentals program at Canlan Ice Sports works.

And most of all, you can't spell "fundamentals" without the word "fun"!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Whose Reality Is This?

Corus Entertainment is a pretty big player in Canadian entertainment companies. They usually do pretty go work, but they officially fall below "infomercial" network with their new "reality" show. Being that you're a reader of HBIC, you know I have little-to-no appreciation for these so-called reality-based television shows. Honestly, it's not reality for anyone but those participating in the show. So it is with great regret that I must announce that Corus Entertainment is kicking off a brand-new reality TV series called Hockey Wives.

I admit that the picture is small, but we're going to follow the lives of ten hockey wives as we get a glimpse inside their lives as the ladies behind the men who take to the ice. Included in the series as we go left to right on the image above is:
  • Wendy Tippett (wife of Arizona coach Dave Tippett).
  • Emilie Blum (wife of Iowa Wild defenceman Jonathan Blum).
  • Kodette LaBarbera (wife of Anaheim goalie Jason LaBarbera).
  • Nicole Brown (wife of LA forward Dustin Brown).
  • Tiffany Parros (wife of retired forward George Parros).
  • Noureen DeWulf (wife of Vancouver goalie Ryan Miller).
  • Maripier Morin (girlfriend of Montreal forward Brandon Prust).
  • Brijet Whitney (wife of retired forward Ray Whitney).
  • Martine Forget (finacĂ©e of Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier).
  • Jenny Scrivens (wife of Edmonton goalie Ben Scrivens).
I have no doubt that these women do their absolute best in managing their lives, the lives of their significant others, and the households in which they play a major part. But why is it on TV? I can tell you right now that I'll never be a hockey wife nor do I want to pry into the lives of men who have hockey wives. I just want them to be happy in their relationships and all the best in their chosen careers.

I dove into their individual biographies on the W Network page to see if I could piece together the relationships. Quite frankly, unless you're interested in Kodette LaBarbera' or Jenny Scrivens' relationships with the other women - they have four each - you might be a little disappointed. Noureen, Maripier, Wendy, and Emilie each have one direct link to another woman in their bios, but they may know the others as well. However, it seems the W Network isn't divulging that information, so do these women know each other or will we see them trying to forge relationships amongst themselves Survivor-style?

For the 800 or so hockey wives and girlfriends in the NHL, this is their life. This is what they experience on a day-to-day basis, but that's the life they have chosen to be a part of with their NHL significant other. For the millions of hockey fans across this country and continent, this isn't something we consider because it's not our reality nor will it ever be.

I appreciate what Corus Entertainment is trying to do here, but it's not a reality show in any format. If it were a documentary, that would be more informative. I hope that Corus Entertainment won't vilify any of the women in their portrayal of their relationships. After all, look at the abuse April Reimer takes for simply being the wife of a Toronto Maple Leaf. But in this being a reality show, I'm sure that the editors will take some liberty in the shots they use. That's what reality TV is all about, right?

To the ten women above who support their NHL husbands, maintain the household, and carry on with a normal life, I have no doubt that you're all incredible women. Besides being beautiful, you're the rocks that your significant others lean on, and they wouldn't be as successful as they are without you. The last thing you need is a reality TV show to support that statement.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

TBC: Written In Blue & White

NHL players and general managers go through copious amounts of paperwork each and every season when it comes to contracts and memorandums. Because we're in the electronic age, a lot of it is done via email, but there is still a pile of paperwork nonetheless. In the pre-electronic days, imagine how much paper NHL teams would have used in the course of a season. It would have been crazy! That's the focus of Teebz's Book Club today as I proud to review Written In Blue & White, written by Greg Oliver and published by ECW Press. Mr. Oliver takes a look at the memorabilia collected by Mr. Allan Stitt who has been collecting Toronto Maple Leafs' paperwork for decades! Mr. Oliver dives in and takes a look at some of the highlights of Mr. Stitt's collection of documents.

Directly from the ECW Press website, "Greg Oliver is the author of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame series — The Canadians, The Heels, The Tag Teams, and Heroes & Icons. He has been writing about professional wrestling for over 25 years, starting with The Canadian Wrestling Report newsletter when he was still in high school. Upon completing a degree in journalism from Ryerson University, he worked at the Toronto Sun and for a decade. A freelancer since 2001, he has worked on more than 40 books as an editor, writer and layout artist. At the moment, he has two hockey books in the works. He lives in Toronto with his wife Meredith, son Quinn, and is active in the community, both in Scouting and as a soccer coach."

People collect all sorts of things, but collecting player contracts and memorandums from the Toronto Maple Leafs seems a little less than glamorous. Allan Stitt was at a hockey card convention in Toronto when he got started by purchasing Teeder Kennedy's rookie contract for $300 from one of the tables. Next to it sat a Teeder Kennedy hockey card for $100. Which would you have bought?

"I didn't know anything about the value of either, but I thought, 'That's just crazy, that a hockey card they made thousands of, and wasn't really significant in terms of historical NHL memorabilia, could be compared to a document signed by Hap Day, signed by Teeder Kennedy in his rookie year, and signed by Merv Dutton, the league president," Mr. Stitt told Mr. Oliver for Written In Blue & White. "The relative values made no sense to me, so without knowing whether either of them were undervalued or overvalued, I just bought the contract because I thought it was an incredibly cool document. I think too, because of my background in law, I was interested in contracts."

There's how Mr. Stitt became the preeminent collector of hockey contracts and paperwork on the planet. His contributions to the Hockey Hall of Fame have made him the largest donor in the Hall's history, and he's had a number of incredible pieces in his collection including a 1977 contract between Wayne Gretzky and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, the statistical sheet from Game Seven of the 1972 Summit Series, and a share in Maple Leaf Gardens. Mr. Stitt is certainly one of the more unique collectors on the planet when it comes to his extensive collection of hockey paperwork.

Mr. Oliver doesn't just get Mr. Stitt's view on his collection. He actually highlights some of the more interesting contracts from the various eras of Maple Leafs hockey. There are notes, documents, contracts, memorandums, and scribbles on napkins from all the men who had a hand in building the Maple Leafs - Hap Day, Conn Smythe, Syl Apps, Punch Imlach, and many more. It's an amazing look at how contracts and documentation changed throughout the years for the National Hockey League, and how salaries changed from era to era as the players began demanding more pay for their play.

Some of the more interesting documents in Mr. Stitt's collection are the hand-written notes. There is one particular hand-written expense report from 1935 that documents the costs of a Maple Leafs' road trip to visit the Montreal Maroons. The total cost of the expense report is $36.59, but includes $2.40 for "Coca Cola" and 50 cents for oranges! Broken down, the Leafs spent $24.50 on travel and $12.09 on supplies! Would anyone have known about this if it weren't for Mr. Stitt's collection? Probably not!

One of the more interesting contracts in Written In Blue & White was Darryl Sittler's contract from 1977 as it featured a no-trade clause! Those clauses are pretty standard now, but they were virtually unheard of in the 1970s. The clause reads,
"Although not expressed as a term of that '77-'78 to '83-'84 contract we wish to confirm to you the understanding reached between our Company and each of you that during the term of the contract the right to the services of DARRYL SITTLER as a professional hockey player would not be traded to any other professional hockey club without his consent."
In the same contract, the Leafs also forced Sittler to purchase two "red seats" to be offered to Maple Leafs Gardens before anyone else, and for him to do two "do 2 personal appearances per year for Maple Leaf Gardens." The contract was a mere two pages long, and Sittler's base pay for each of the five years was $170,000!

If you're a fan of hockey history, the Maple Leafs, or interested in contracts in some way, Written In Blue & White needs to be part of your reading collection. There are so many interesting facts and anecdotes on the pages that Mr. Oliver writes, but even more on the pages from Mr. Stitt's collection that Mr. Oliver has documented. Written In Blue & White is well-written and contains a ton of history on its 192 pages, and it's hard to fathom that Mr. Stitt has boxes upon boxes of additional contracts and paperwork from other teams. Because of the vast amount of historical information and documents, Written In Blue & White absolutely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

You can find Written In Blue & White at your local bookstore for $39.95, but it comes with something extra special tucked inside the the back cover. I won't tell you what - you hve to buy the book! - but I thought it was cool! You can also find Written In Blue & White at your local library, so head down and check out the documents and history!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Seen Not At The All-Star Game

If you're looking at the photo and wondering who that player is, you won't be in the minority. The team represented by Jimmy Bonneau is the AHL's Worcester Sharks, and Bonneau dressed as a goaltender for the first time in his career on Wednesday. Bonneau is better known as a pugilist in the Sharks' lineup who plays wing, not goalie. However, backup goalie Troy Grosenick fell ill before the warm-up against the Portland Pirates, and Bonneau stepped up to help his teammates out - this time with the pads rather than his fists!

"I never played goalie before and the American league wouldn't be the ideal place to start, I don't think, but sometimes you just have to go with what you've got," Bonneau told Jason Galloy of The Guardian. "Someone went down, someone stepped up, fortunately, I didn't have to step up too much. That's how this team is, we have each other's back."

Bonneau saw no ice time in the 3-2 victory after Worcester rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period. So what did Bonneau learn while he watched from the end-boards? "I was shocked how heavy the gear is and how much it restricts your movement," he said. Spoken like a true forward!

Musicians Love Hockey

If you've been following HBIC for a while, you know that I'm building a massive list of musicians in jerseys. I've been working on it for a while, and I'm happy to report that there are some new additions to the list thanks to some sleuthing and a few contributors. If you'd like to contribute, fire me an email with the picture! Just make sure you're not sending a duplicate!

Garth Brooks is one of the planet's biggest country stars, and we don't usually see hockey and male country hockey stars go together outside of Nashville. However, when Garth Brooks stopped by in St. Louis, he and a numbers of Blues players teamed up to bring hockey to children at the Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club in north St. Louis. One of the players there was longtime Blue Barrett Jackman, and Garth Brooks returned the favor by wearing Jackman's jersey at his concert that night!

Loudon Wainwright is a pretty famous folk singer, songwriter, humorist, and actor, and is the father of Rufus Wainwright amongst other titles he holds. He's released 26 albums over his illustrious music career, has won a Grammy Award, and has countless appearances on TV and film. The man certainly has conquered television and music. The one thing that he should be known for? Being a New York Islanders fan!

The San Jose Sharks recently held "Metallica Night" where they honoured the band! We already knew that James Hetfield was a Sharks fan, but we can now expand that to the full band as they all got their own personalized uniforms! Keep on rocking, Metallica!

We've seen some opera singers receive jerseys when they sing the anthem or anthems for teams. Like country, the operatic and hockey worlds rarely collide. One man who successfully made opera more popular was former member of The Three Tenors, the late Luciano Pavarotti. He's done a few songs with some mainstream pop and/or rock artists such as U2, and he may have been the most famous of The Three Tenors. However, I found extremely weird to see former Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard giving Mr. Pavarotti a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey! Maybe it's because I don't recall Ballard giving anything way except his opinion!

Finally, I want o thank reader Gerald T. for his contribution. Jeffrey Hanneman was the guitarist for heavy metal band Slayer, and he routinely wore jerseys while performing. Hanneman was a driving force behind Slayer's success, but he passed away on May 2, 2013 in southern California from liver failure due to alcohol-related cirrhosis. Hanneman was a sports fan, and he wore the LA Kings jersey proudly!

Alaskan Superheroes

The ECHL's Alaska Aces decided to steal some thunder from the NHL All-Star Game by encouraging a little fun as they dressed as superheroes and had their fans dress as superheroes! Superhero Weekend ran last night and tonight as the Aces squared off against the visiting Idaho Steelheads. Last night didn't go so well as the Alaskan heroes dropped an 8-5 result to the Pacific Division-leading Steelheads, so there was hope the Aces could rebound in tonight's match as the Aces find themselves 21 points back of the Steelheads after last night's game.

As of the moment of publication of this article, the Steelheads were up 2-1 on the Aces just before the end of the first period. They'll need to rally to help defeat the Steelheads' villainy! And in case you were wondering, the back of the superhero uniforms look like this:

That's all the updates I have for tonight. The NHL All-Star Game goes tomorrow from Columbus. I'll probably have it on as background noise as there's a fantastic book I will be reviewing tomorrow. If you're a Leafs fan or a hockey history buff, this book is one you'll want in your library!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Holy Domi

Canada and the world got to see what Londoners see regularly when Max Domi took the ice for Canada at the World Junior Championships. The Coyotes' prospect proved he has a nose for the net, doesn't mind getting his hands dirty, can skate like the wind, and loves to play the game. In other words, he's a pretty special player. With a World Junior gold medal in his pocket, he returned to the OHL's London Knights to continue their pursuit of the Memorial Cup. You knew there would be highlights still, but I don't think anyone anticipated what Domi did tonight. The Sarnia Sting certainly didn't.

I'll let the video do the talking because wow.

Full speed.
On a breakaway.
Flip it over the goalie.
Bat it out of the air.
Smiles all around.

This kid is gonna be a star. In fact, an NHL All-Star. Max Domi is the kind of player that the Coyotes will be able to build around for a long time. He's fast, he's exciting, he has great hands, and he's a scorer. 29 other NHL teams will be forced to defend against Domi. The only question is how often they'll be victimized!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!