Thursday, 2 April 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 393

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is still working under lock-down conditions this week as the radio station and the University of Manitoba continue to enforce social and physical distancing during these uncertain times. As I said last week when we spoke with Autumn MacDougall, the interviews will continue for as long as needed because of this, and I'm happy to be able to talk to some great people. Tonight's guest is one of those great people in hockey, and we'll learn all about her amazing career and accomplishments!

And if I'm being totally honest, after learning about her in doing the research on her career, we should have had this woman on the program a long, long time ago. But let's correct that tonight!

Tonight, I sit down with the woman pictured to the left as we meet Grant MacEwan Griffins women's hockey head coach Lindsay McAlpine! As you may have heard on this very program, MacEwan will be joining Canada West hockey next year after they were accepted in by a vote last summer, and they'll begin play this September assuming everything gets back to normal by then. Tonight, we'll meet Lindsay, hear about her incredible accomplishments as a player while suiting up for the Alberta Pandas, finding her stride as a coach, winning an IIHF World Championship gold medal, playing a little pro hockey, and turning the Griffins into the powerhouse ACAC team they are with aspirations of continuing that success as they write their own Canada West history in 2020. Tune in tonight because Lindsay's interview covers a lot from a woman who has done and accomplished a lot in her young life thus far! That all happens tonight on 101.5 UMFM and UMFM.com at 5:30pm CT!

Before I post the media stuff, yes, the interview sounds a little echo-y at times, and I'm working to solve my microphone situation at home. Don't kill me for it. As you know, The Hockey Show is committed to doing the show live every week, so I'll figure out this microphone situation this weekend.

Where's the best place can you hear the show if you're outside Winnipeg or not near a radio, you ask? The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! I'm here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz goes one-on-one with Grffins head coach Lindsay McAlpine as we meet a woman who has done just about everything in U SPORTS hockey, has won at the international level, has coached all over the world, will get a chance to write some more history into the Canada West record books as had coach, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: April 2, 2020: Episode 393

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Our First Victim

I wish this was an April Fool's Day prank, but it's not. With everyday people like you and I losing their jobs and their wages because of this pandemic, you would have to believe that professional sports would have a few reserves they could tap into to help people through these times. It seems, though, that one of the KHL's most distant teams from Moscow will suspend operations for the 2020-21 season with those resources they relied upon get shifted elsewhere as Admiral Vladivostok made the announcement they will not play next season.

Admiral Vladivostok posted the following statement on their website.
"Against the background of the deteriorating epidemiological situation in the country and the world, the Regional Operational Headquarters and the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports of Primorsky Krai decided that professional sports teams of Primorsky Krai will not take part in the upcoming season, and the funds that were provided for their financing will be sent to the reserve fund of Primorye for activities to combat the spread of coronavirus.

"Given that the main sponsor of the club - PSC 'VMTP' - is also experiencing crisis and probably will not be able to fully finance the performance of Admiral in the Continental Hockey League, the club will not be able to comply with the League's requirements for the minimum wage of hockey players.

"HC 'Admiral' reacted to the position of the Regional Operational Headquarters and the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports of the Primorsky Territory with understanding and solidarity - the highest value for us, as an organization, remains the life and health of the inhabitants of the Primorsky Territory. In the current situation, there are more vital social areas that right now need maximum support. We hope that the virus will be defeated, the championships will resume, and fans will again see the KHL matches at the Fetis Arena. Currently, the 'Admiral' will make its priority the development of children and youth sports, the education of a generation of strong coastal hockey players.
I know this is a tough announcement for the team to make, but I want to commend Admiral for looking out for the fans, staff, and communities in the Primorsky Krai region. Having their funding cut in order to save lives isn't a decision they made themselves, but their reaction to the news of the funding cuts "with understanding and solidarity" shows that they understand the seriousness of this pandemic.

With Admiral Vladivostok suspending play for at least one season, the questions will begin to creep in now about the health of other teams who rely on funding from governments and industry in Russia and across Europe and Asia. This will certainly affect both men's and women's hockey on those continents as teams will be forced to make tough decisions if they find themselves losing sponsor dollars they came to rely on each season.

In a 2017 report, then-KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko published a report that spoke of the reliance that KHL teams have on state funding. The excerpt from that report that's important reads,
"The KHL has just returned a profit for the third year running, but on average 52% of the clubs' budgets derive in some way from state funding, and not all the teams spend this money in a way that justifies these subsidies."
Admiral was one of those teams who relied upon funding, and they now find themselves not playing hockey after the state-run Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports pulled the funding for the team. At the time of the report, 15 of 29 KHL teams were in the same boat as Admiral where they were receiving funding, so you have to wonder how much changed in three years since Chernyshenko published his findings.

I will admit I respect Admiral for recognizing the bigger picture here and accepting that there are things more important than hockey. While suspending a team is never good news for any league, I'll give Admiral Vladivostok some credit here by doing the right thing for its fans and its community. Hopefully, we'll see them back in 2021-22.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

More Positive Hockey Tests

As we continue through this period of self-isolation and mandatory quarantines, I cannot stress enough the importance in staying home and away from others now that hockey is starting to see its share of positive COVID-19 cases as symptoms emerge in players and testing is done. We already know of four NHL players and two NHL broadcasters who have contracted the virus, and now it seems that a team who was preparing for an upcoming IIHF World Championship has also been affected by the virus as China is reporting that its women's national team, who were practising in Washington, DC for the upcoming World Championship in Poland, has had two of its team members test positive for the virus.

The Chinese Ice Hockey Federation released the following details on Sunday.
"With the pandemic surging in the U.S., the team returned home on March 13 and none of its 11 members had a fever when their body temperature was checked upon landing. Then they were put in quarantine for 14 days as required and two of them were test positive at the end of the quarantine period.

"Now the two infected players are receiving medical treatment in a designated hospital, both feeling well with mild symptoms. The rest of the team are healthy and will receive further medical observation under quarantine."
Again, let me stress the importance of staying home, staying safe, and keeping the physical distance requirements in check while this pandemic is happening. After that reminder, though, you may be asking where the Chinese National Team was practising because that seems to be highly-relevant information when asking questions about where and when they may have contracted the virus.

As per this report on Xinhuanet.com, "the team participated in the Junior Women's Hockey League (JWHL) Challenge Cup at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Washington from February 14 to 18." That doesn't mean they contracted the virus there if they only showed symptoms towards the end of their self-quarantine in late March. It's more likely they contracted the virus somewhere else away from the hockey rink against JWHL teams, but it should mean that anyone who had contact with the team in the first two weeks of March and specifically the last few days prior to and around March 13 was likely a carrier of the virus.

When medical experts talk about the spread of the virus, the twelve-day incubation period in humans is how this virus gets spread quickly without carriers showing virtually any symptoms as the team was in Washington and didn't have traces of the virus until they got home and nearly completed their quarantine. This is why we all need to stay home and be safe because that two-week gap between contraction of the virus and symptoms emerging is how this virus spread so fast across the globe.

I'm hoping that the two women from the Chinese National Team recover from this virus. Here's hoping these may be the last hockey players to report a positive test when it comes to COVID-19. And remember: stay home, stay safe, keep your distance.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 30 March 2020

Summer Hockey Dates

As you may be aware on this very blog, I usually dedicate years in which the Summer Olympics are held to the field hockey competition at the Olympics. I happen to like the sport and the nuances that it make it unique, and I like covering the athletes that represent their teams on the national stage from countries that may not make it on to HBIC very often for ice hockey. That being said, the International Olympic Committee and Japan had already agreed to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but they did come out today with new dates on which the Summer Olympiad will take place.

In the announcement by the IOC and Japan today, the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games will now run from July 23, 2021 with the Closing Ceremony falling on August 8, 2021. The 2020 Paralympic Games will also shift to next year with the new 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games running from August 23 to September 4. These changes will ensure the health and safety of everyone involved with the Tokyo Olympics, and should enable all athletes to resume training in time for the Olympics in 2021.

If you may recall, the Canadian men's field hockey team pulled off a miraculous comeback against the Irish in October 2019 to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, so there will definitely be a Canadian element to the field hockey stories I cover next year. While the women's team fell short in their efforts to qualify for Tokyo, there will be equal coverage given to both tournaments despite the Canadian gals not participating. That's how this blog works, so don't even bother questioning it.

If you're looking for more details about this great sport, check out the piece I did on how the game is played. There's also a an article on how teams qualify for the Olympics, some rule changes and explanations before the 2012 London Olympiad, and the teams who have had success in the Olympiads from 1980 until 2012. Heck, I even live-blogged a match between Argentina and Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

We now have one additional year to get up to speed on who will be competing at the Tokyo Olympic Games, so expect an overview of the teams who qualified for both the men's and women's tournaments next summer as opposed to this summer. I'm not sure if teams will make roster changes before then, but you can be assured I'll have everything covered here on HBIC next year for the 2021 Toyko Summer Olympic field hockey events!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 29 March 2020

When One Is Too Many

I often say that sports is a microcosm of society, and there are usually instances in sports that mirror what we see in society. We've already seen the Ottawa Senators go into full lock-down mode after tow of their players tested positive for COVID-19, and now it appears there will be a second team instituting full quarantine measures after a second case of coronavirus was detected in a player yesterday. The Colorado Avalanche had their first case confirmed on Thursday, and the team announced that they had a second positive test yesterday in a second player.

The Avalanche also announced that the first player who tested positive had already recovered, but there's now four positive tests in the NHL in total with the potential for more with some of these athletes being asymptomatic. It should also be noted that Ottawa Senators broadcaster Gord Wilson, a TSN 1200 employee, has also tested positive for coronavirus after he came down with symptoms, and was on the plane that was in San Jose where it's suspected the Ottawa players contracted the virus. Joining Wilson from the broadcasting side of the coin is St. Louis Blues play-by-play announcer John Kelly as the St. Louis Blues made that announcement on Friday.

It should be noted that because there is very limited data on the coronavirus that medical professionals and scientists don't know if a person is a carrier once they recover nor do they know if a person can be infected again by the virus. Because of this limited data and testing, the NHL shoudl exercise greater precautions when it comes to allowing those who tested positive to return to hockey if or when hockey returns.

Both Ottawa and Colorado were the last teams to play in San Jose before the NHL shut down, so it seems like these cases regarding the players may have originated in Santa Clara county. The problem with this entire situation is that the incubation periods in people seems to be around twelve days, so there may be other players and staff who are currently infected. Once again, and I cannot stress this enough, everyone needs to stay home and remain in self-isolation.

With the NHL cancelling all June events, it might be time to just accept the reality of the situation, be intelligent about keeping everyone safe, and abandon any idea of hockey until at least September. We've seen the Spanish flu take out the 1919 Stanley Cup Final and we've seen a lockout kill the 2004-05 season, so it's not like there haven't been years where the Stanley Cup hasn't been awarded. Adding 2019-20 to that list in order to secure the safety of everyone involved in putting on NHL games seems like a small sacrifice in the bigger picture.

With COVID-19 finding its way inside the NHL, the isolation that the players and staff are under will help curb the spread of the virus further. If sports is a microcosm of society, we should be doing what the NHL players are doing and isolating as much as possible in order to prevent the virus from spreading further. Four cases is still too many cases when one considers that the NHL wants to kick things back into gear in June, but it could be much, much worse considering all the interactions NHL players and personnel have on a daily basis.

For once, the NHL may have gotten something right during these trying times. Stay home, be safe, and keep your distance!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!