Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Red Star Has Landed

As we had discussed with Tyler Fines on The Hockey Show on Thursday, there were rumours that the Kunlun squad was looking to send some of its younger players over to North America to participate in leagues here and in the United States. As you can see to the left, Kunlun Red Star's logo is now prominently featured on the doors to Rink 2. The question is where are these doors and which Kunlun teams are playing behind them? Those answers can be found below, but it should be noted that the Kunlun teams in question will be playing in one city and not touring the country on a cross-continent exhibition series.

The rink pictured above can be found at Chesswood Arena in North York, Ontario. According to reports, Kunlun Red Star is basing their U20 and U18 teams at this rink for play in leagues at the arena. There were no mentions whether this meant there would be four teams playing out of the rink - one men's team and one women's team for each age group - but one would hope that the Red Star management group would see the value of sending both the men and women over to play.

While the Red Star have officially moved in after getting some window dressings installed, I'm curious as to who they will be playing. There are midget teams based out of the Chesswood Arena in the Toronto Aeros and the Toronto Red Wings so there will be competition on-hand if the KRS U20 men's team needs some opposition, but I didn't see any women's leagues listed. There may indeed be a woman's league that plays there, but they aren't listed on the Chesswood Arena site. Nonetheless, we do know that the Red Star have landed in North America, and they're getting themselves ready for hockey action this winter!

China certainly is going all-in for 2022 with these developments, and they will officially add more players to the fold when the CWHL Draft goes tomorrow. I can't say whether this plan will work on such a short timetable, but China seems to be going for broke in an attempt to win a medal on home ice in Beijing. They're certainly doing all they can to prepare for their Winter Olympics, but is there enough time?

Getting their younger players into North American leagues with four years to go before the puck is dropped in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics is a smart move for exposing their younger players to some of the best minor-league hockey North America has to offer. You just hope they won't be overwhelmed by this experience.

Big stick-tap to Hockeytoronto.com for the photos!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 18 August 2017

The New Hawks

I'll put this notice upfront: I'm not happy writing about the University of North Dakota's hockey program. As you may recall, they only have a men's program to speak of after they cut the women's program and set twenty-five women adrift. However, today's article is all about what the Fighting Hawks will wear this season as the school decided to update the uniforms to reflect their newer name.

Unveiled on Thursday afternoon, the new Fighting Hawks jerseys will be what you see above. There are a few differences from last season's jerseys that should be noted. UND opted for a new font for "North Dakota" on the front of the jersey that matches what was unveiled last season with the new logo. Also changed is the Fighting Hawks logo on the shoulder, replacing the interlocking "ND" that once called the shoulder home. From the image above, those are the noticeable changes.

Among the changes not shown in the image above, the font for the names and numbers on both the front and back will not follow suit with the new font. They will remain as block lettering on these new uniforms. I suspect this will make either the "North Dakota" or the names and numbers look off since there are now two fonts being used in close quarters. I don't understand this thinking, but people who are smarter than me approved it. Let them deal with it.

I have always liked the green uniforms, but this kelly green jersey looks phenomenal. As I have always maintained on this blog, green might be the most under-utilized colour in the hockey world, so seeing the green road jerseys pop as nicely as they do is a huge plus. On the opposite side of the spectrum is that black jersey which is both unnecessary and awful. I will never understand why a team that has an amazing road jersey opts for a black uniform, especially when white is worn at home. If the black uniforms are only worn on the road, don't sacrifice your best look for black. That kind of thinking gets people committed.

I commend both UND and CCM for using an actual hockey sweater template for this new look. Great arm and hem stripes and a solid shoulder yoke give this uniform a very traditional look. I'm not a fan of the lace-up collar, and I don't really like the idea of the "collegiate look" with the name of the school surrounding the number, but I suppose the latter is appropriate on an actual collegiate team. I'd love to see the Fighting Hawks logo on the road jersey, but it seems people smarter than I approved this design.

The cool thing about these uniforms? They'll first see the ice on September 30 when the University of Manitoba Bisons men's hockey team visits Ralph Engelstad Arena for an exhibition game. The Bisons have yet to win in Grand Forks, so this might be the best time to spoil the party with the Fighting Hawks in new threads. It will take some serious work as UND always has a solid team, but Manitoba should be ready to go after their brief European tour this fall.

What do you think of the new UND jerseys? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 256

The Hockey Show is back on the UMFM radio frequency tonight, and we're going to bring a potpourri-style of a show tonight as we go through a number of stories from around the hockey world. First, though, we have a returning guest who has a unique perspective on some of the major stories from the hockey world this summer. He's still involved in a way with the stories, but he's not as directly involved as he once was. We'll get his viewpoints on the major stories before breaking into a number of cool stories from around the hockey spectrum in the second-half of The Hockey Show!

The Hockey Show is proud to welcome back former head coach of the CWHL's Brampton Thunder, Mr. Tyler Fines! Tyler is now the head coach for the Etobicoke Dolphins Midget 'AA'​ Hockey team in Ontario where he is responsible for the development of 2000-, '01-, and '02-aged female hockey players and the promotion of these players to the PWHL, NCAA, and CIS ranks. Tyler's work in this midget hockey league will see him working with some Chinese-Canadian athletes as well as being able to offer unique insights into the CWHL expansion to China this summer. We're excited to have Tyler back on the show, and we'll try to squeeze as much information out of him as we can!

On the second-half of The Hockey Show, we'll take a look at a couple of stories the CBC ran this week about three First Nations women heading south to play hockey at a prestigious Boston-based hockey school, the Sagkeeng Oldtimers team made up of residential school survivors who will now have a place at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, and the struggles a women's league in Kenora is having in getting ice-time. We'll also touch on the Sudbury Wolves looking sharp, Hockey Canada's U18 women's team kicking off play against Team USA in a three-game set in Lake Placid, New York, and the Aalborg Pirates are back on the ice and winning games so we'll update everyone on how Brandon Reid and his team are doing! There's lots to chat about tonight, so make sure you tune in!

How can you listen to the show, you ask? We suggest that you download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so go get it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there 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, Teebz and Beans chat with Tyler Fines about a new job and the CWHL before bringing up up-and-coming stars, Hall-of-Famers, beer-leaguers, Wolves, Canadian women, and Pirates only on The Hockey Show found on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: August 17, 2017: Episode 256

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

TBC: Changing The Game

As we're all aware, there will be a new addition to the NHL schedule this year for all thirty teams as the Vegas Golden Knights join the league. The NHL has expanded a number of times through its own decisions or via merger, so I thought it would be a good idea to get into another book. Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Changing The Game: A History of NHL Expansion, written by Stephen Laroche and published by ECW Press. If you're into cool facts and interesting stories, Mr. Laroche's book will take you through every expansion team from the start of the NHL right through to the addition of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild with all sorts of incredible detail on each addition to the NHL's fraternity.

It seems Mr. Laroche is very good at staying behind the lens as opposed to being in front of it as I couldn't find an image of him! Nonetheless, from the back cover of the book, "A seasoned hockey historian, Stephen Laroche has a distinct passion and deep appreciation for many aspects of the sport's history. The editor of Beckett Hockey and Beckett Basketball, he is former trading card company executive. He lives in Belleville, Ontario, with his wife, Michelle, and stepdaughter Guenevere."

Changing The Game doesn't just highlight the moments of each NHL team's founding. Instead, it takes you through the founding of each team and the first year of the team's existence before highlighting some key players from that year. There is a lot of amazing information contained within these synopses of the teams, and the research done on the players is top-notch. Needless to say, Changing The Game is thorough and detailed.

There are sections for every NHL team, and there are even small sections that deal with the WHA and the business side of the merger with the NHL. The one thing that Changing The Game doesn't cover, however, are relocations. There are no chapters on the New Jersey Devils, the Dallas Stars, the Arizona Coyotes, the Colorado Avalanche, the Carolina Hurricanes, or the new edition of the Winnipeg Jets. There are mentions in the sections of each of the teams from where they were located on how the team moved, but relocations are not included in Changing The Game. This book looks only at the various expansions done by the NHL.

There are some great examples of history in Changing The Game that may have been forgotten over the years. I know I've forgotten some of the information Mr. Laroche introduces in his book, and there's a pile of information that I learned with the work done by Mr. Laroche. For example, I had no idea there were so many cities looking to get in on the 1967 NHL expansion. Mr. Laroche writes,
Team owners were finally convinced by William M. Jennings that to head off a catastrophe, they needed to double their membership to 12 teams. Clarence Campbell announced these intentions in March 1965. Some of the cities deemed acceptable or potential sites for new clubs included Vancouver, San Francisco-Oakland, Los Angeles and St. Louis. Less than a year later, the NHL was presented with 14 different applications - five from Los Angeles, two from Pittsburgh and one each from Philadelphia, San Francisco-Oakland, Baltimore, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Buffalo and Vancouver.
It's hard to believe, but the Philadelphia Flyers may not exist today had the applicants from Baltimore been better organized with their application. Of course, six of those cities were successful, and we'd see both Buffalo and Vancouver get teams a few years after that 1967 expansion year. I'd be interested in seeing what happened with the other unsuccessful applicants who weren't awarded teams, but that may be another book altogether!

Whether you're just getting into the game or have deep knowledge of the inner workings of hockey, Changing The Game has something for all fans. Newer fans could use Changing The Game as a textbook on how the teams got started while those who have followed the game for years may find some new facts to complement the depth of their current knowledge. Changing The Game is an incredible book of facts on the beginnings of all the current NHL teams. Because of the research and information contained within the covers, Changing The Game absolutely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

You can find Changing The Game at all major bookstores and libraries. I would recommend purchasing the book, though, and keeping it handy as a reference book when it comes to the amount of information stored on its pages.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Sudbury Goes Old-School

There are certain elements of a hockey jersey that make them look like old-time hockey sweaters. They usually include things like the hem stripes, the sleeve stripes, and a traditional V-neck-type collar. Anything else might be team-specific, but those are the generic "old-time" features of a hockey jersey that make the jerseys timeless as they are for the Canadiens, Blackhawks, Rangers, and Red Wings. Junior hockey clubs seem less inclined to make sweeping changes unless necessary, so there are still some timeless jerseys seen in the CHL as well. One team that decided to move away from the traditional sweater look was the Sudbury Wolves when Reebok got involved a decade ago, but it seems that Sudbury is going backs to its roots with yesterday's changes and it might be the best jersey unveiling this summer!

Let's start with the old look that the Wolves introduced seven years ago as modeled by Owen Lalonde.
First off, you already probably know that I hate the vertical apron straps on these jerseys, and it makes the logos and captaincy designations worn on the front of the jerseys look absolutely ridiculous as seen on Marcus Foligno to the right. His alternate captain's "A" is basically in the middle of the jersey at this point! In past years with the apron strings, the Wolves applied the captaincy marks over the vertical piping, but both looks are absolutely ridiculous. The shoulder yoke simply extends to the wrist, eliminating sleeve stripes, and the hem stripes are non-existent. Basically, this was "Reebok design" to a tee, and I was never a fan of it.

Let's jump seven years ahead to present time where the Wolves will wear the following this upcoming season.
Now that's more like it! While the uniform clearly is still modern with today's lightweight fabrics and the slimmer cuts, the traditional elements have returned to make the Sudbury Wolves look more like a hockey team and less like an aggressive Chopped Canada team. There are great stripes that use the secondary colours well, there are traditional shoulder yokes that really makes the colours pop, and the logo is now the focal point for the eyes when looking at the jersey. This is what hockey is supposed to look like, and the Wolves are looking fantastic!

"The new look is really a fresh design, with a clean look that salutes some of the more successful seasons of the organization wearing the blue and whites," Andrew Dale, VP of Marketing & Development, told reporters at the press conference. "Launching a new jersey designs is one of the most fun aspects of working in sports and marketing. We consulted with key stakeholders to get their opinions; from alumni and players to fans volunteers and as an organization we felt the timing was right to signal a change in the new era of Wolves' Hockey. The jersey change is a symbol of what this edition Wolves organization believes – respect for the past, our history and tradition but a firm grasp of a fresh clean and bright future."

That past is one that is hasn't seen a ton of winning, but going back to the team's heady days where they looked great isn't a bad thing. As seen on Marc Staal, there are a few differences due to the modern jersey template, but the style elements have returned. Sudbury's play on the ice needs to be improved as much as their jerseys have as they currently hold the OHL's longest championship drought and the third-longest drought in the Canadian Hockey League. They've only been to the OHL's J. Ross Robertson Cup Final twice, and lost both times in their 45 years of being in the OHL. However, they do develop serious NHL talent as they have sent 77 players to the NHL including the likes of Mike Fisher, Mike Peca, Dave and Dale Hunter, Pat Verbeek, and the aforementioned Staal and Foligno.

So what do the players think? "When we got a sneak peak at them in the spring before leaving for the summer with some of the guys, we were stoked to see this change," Reagan O'Grady told reporters. "I think that this small change reflects the feelings that Wolves Hockey matters and that people are excited about what's going on at the arena. This year there is just a completely different feeling going into the season and that's exciting."

If you look good, you feel good. That may translate into more on-ice success for the Wolves this year, but they're already light years ahead in the fashion department for the changes seen here today. I never really had the Sudbury Wolves among my favorite teams, but these changes have brought the hockey look back to Sudbury, and that's a great look for the upcoming season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!