Hockey Headlines

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Paek Your Bags

Remember this guy? That's Jim Paek, the first Korean-born player to play in the NHL and have his name engraved on the side of the Stanley Cup, and Paek faced tremendous odds in accomplishing what he did. Two Stanley Cup rings and two IHL Turner Cup rings later, Paek transitioned nicely into the coaching ranks with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins as an assistant coach, and has helped that team win a Calder Cup in 2005-06 since stepping behind their bench. Paek will have a whole new challenge on his hands, though, as he has accepted the position as the director of hockey for the Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA) and head coach of the Korean Men's National Team! For Korea's national team, a first-time entry into the men's ice hockey even at the Winter Olympics will see Paek once again face tremendous odds in this journey.

The 47 year-old was raised in Toronto and became a US citizen in 2011, but his legacy is still growing in the hockey world. He was Grand Rapids' longest-tenured coach, having served behind the Griffins' bench for the last nine seasons. According to the release from the Griffins, "his influence helped Grand Rapids head coach Jeff Blashill earn the 2013 Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL's outstanding coach for 2013-14, when the Griffins compiled a 46-23-2-5 record". His accomplishments as a coach would nearly equal his accomplishments as a player, and adding the new credentials with the KIHA will only enhance his standing.

"The Detroit Red Wings congratulate Jim Paek on his appointment to the Korea Ice Hockey Association and Korean National Team," said Ryan Martin, assistant general manager of the Red Wings. "We are thrilled and excited for him on his well-deserved opportunity. With the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in Pyeongchang, this is a tremendous opportunity for Jim to oversee the development of hockey players, coaches and administrators across all levels of hockey in his native South Korea.

"As the longest-tenured coach in Grand Rapids history, Jim has been instrumental in the development of many current Red Wings, including Jakub Kindl, Jonathan Ericsson, Justin Abdelkader, Jimmy Howard, Tomas Tatar, Darren Helm, Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith, to name a few. Jim won two Stanley Cups as a player with Pittsburgh and a Calder Cup as a coach in Grand Rapids. He possesses a wealth of experience as a player and coach at all levels, as well as a strong passion for hockey development. Jim's multi-faceted skill set will be a great asset in leading the Korea Ice Hockey Association in developing its national programs."

It's kind of funny to think that three members of last year's coaching squads under the Detroit Red Wings' watch may be in Pyeongchang in 2018 to coach Olympic teams. Mike Babcock is the run-away leader for coaching the Canadian men's team again, and Tom Renney will be there as Hockey Canada's President and CEO after serving as an associate coach with Mike Babcock last season. Detroit may have had the deepest pool of coaches seen in the NHL in a long, long time.

Paek was instrumental in working with the "Black Aces" during the Stanley Cup in 2008 by the Red Wings, earning him his third Stanley Cup ring. He played a big part in the Red Wings’ summer development camps and fall prospect tournaments and training camps, and should be familiar with one player on the Korean roster when he begins work thanks to his work with the Red Wings' prospects. Left winger Brock Radunske, who hails from Kitchener, Ontario, was granted "South Korean citizenship in 2013 and became the first non-ethnic Korean to represent the country in international sport". The 31 year-old Radunske is currently a member of Anyang Halla of Asia League Ice Hockey in South Korea, and was drafted in the third-round by the Edmonton Oilers in 2002 after playing at Michigan State University. Radunske played 20 games with the Griffins in 2006-07, so there should be a little familiarity there. Radunske holds a number of records for Anyang Halla, but the Olympics will be a brand-new game for him.

There is no doubt that South Korea will face a difficult challenge in 2018. Korea is currently ranked 23rd in the world, and aren't close to any of the teams that participated in the Sochi Olympic Games. However, I believe that Jim Paek can push the Korean squad to new heights. He has a solid coaching legacy, and he knows what it takes to beat the odds. Realistically, we're not talking about a medal for Korea in 2018, but they might be able to beat one of the lower-ranked teams that qualify.

The key for Korea isn't to win a gold medal, although that would be pretty impressive if they did. However, the exposure the Asian Ice Hockey League gets thanks to Korea ramping up its hockey focus will benefit that league and nation in a big way in the same way that it helped Japan in 1998. If Jim Paek wasn't a pioneer before for his countrymen with their hockey dreams, he certainly will be now.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Life After Hockey?

In what seems to be the few stock photos available of him on the internet, Patrick Coté is kind of a enigma in the hockey world. Drafted 37th overall by the Dallas Stars in 1995, he was a tough, rugged winger who scored 20 goals and 40 points in his final season of junior. They aren't Eric Lindros or Sidney Crosby numbers, but the Stars wanted him for his style of play. He was 6'3", played the game tough, and could find the back of the net. In other words, he was the kind of guy that NHL teams coveted in the mid-to-late-1990s. His career with the Dallas Stars never really found the rails, though, and he bounced around the hockey world before retiring in 2008. For all it's worth, that may have been the best time of his life considering the trouble he may now be in.

While it didn't hit all the major news outlets, it seems, Patrick Coté was convicted to a prison sentence of 30 months today after he confessed to robbing two banks in Quebec. The 39 year-old was arrested after his car had broken down in Candiac, located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River across from Montreal. When responding officers ran the plates on the car he was driving, it turned out the car had been reported stolen. Police, rightfully, had him hop in the back of the squad car for transport to the police station for questioning.

Coté confessed during questioning that he had robbed a CIBC branch in Brossard in May and a Laurentian Bank in Saint Constant a couple of days after the first robbery. Needless to say, the driving of a stolen automobile suddenly seemed less important. However, the stolen car and the two bank robberies appear to be the latest crimes in what is turning into a history of criminal activity for the former NHL pugilist.

In February 2008, Coté was arrested in Montreal "after a man was severely beaten during an altercation outside a restaurant south of Montreal". The article in the Cape Breton Post states,
French-language daily Le Journal de Montreal reports Cote appeared in court Friday to face charges of assault, breaking and entering and mischief.

The report also says police allegedly found crack and cocaine inside Cote's vehicle when he was arrested Wednesday in the restaurant parking lot in Ste-Catherine, Que.

The newspaper reports police expect to lay drug charges against Cote in the coming days.
It doesn't end there, though. In July 2011, Coté turned himself in after violating his parole in northern New York, surrendering to US officers at the border crossing in Champlain. According to The Associated Press' article, "Cote was arrested in Malone in 2002 after police found 30 pounds of marijuana in his car. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of conspiracy. A New York judge issued a warrant for his arrest in 2004 when Cote failed to report to Canadian probation officials." It seems that the drugs caught up to Coté, and his job and lifestyle suffered for it.

Coté's NHL career lasted all of 105 games where he scored a lone goal and two assists while racking up 377 penalty minutes. 91 of those games were spent in a Nashville Predators uniform where he accumulated all three points in 1998-99 when he played 70 games. He also appeared in eight games for the Dallas Stars and six games for the Edmonton Oilers. Without being too much of a jerk, Coté will be better remembered for his rap sheet than his scoresheet.

Best of luck in prison, Monsieur Coté. And get some help.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Another Russian Split

You won't see this face at Washington Capitals games anymore. That's Maria Kirilenko, the former fiancée of Washington Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin and star tennis player, sitting in the crowd. You probably caught the word "former" in the previous sentence. While Russia tries to recapture or whatever it's trying to do with Ukraine, the Ovechkin-Kirilenko engagement is now off and the two athletes have parted ways. There reportedly were some incidents over the last few months that pushed these two apart, and it came to an end with Kirilenko announcing that she had called off the engagement and the two are no longer together.

Kirilenko gave a statement to R-Sport who tweeted the information out, and was retweeted by Kirilenko herself. Translated from Russian, the statement reads,
"I have made a decision to break up our engagement. There are a lot of reasons, but I wouldn't want to go in detail. I'll say just that our relationship is over, but I respect Sasha as a person and an athlete and sincerely wish him athletic success in the future.

"I'm currently concentrating on preparing for my tennis tournaments and I hope that soon I'll be able to please my fans with news about my success as an athlete and not just in my personal life."
I'll admit that I'm not for reporting on a player's personal life because it's that player's life outside of the microscope of sports. I'm not comfortable talking about a player's foibles when it comes to his personal relationships or behavior unless it becomes a black mark on the city and its fans that he or she is representing. This news about Alexander Ovechkin and Maria Kirilenko is sad as they were often seen together in pictures and at events, but it seems that Miss Kirilenko and Mr. Ovechkin started drifting apart based on Miss Kirilenko's comments.

I'm not going to assume anything because that's irresponsible of me. Miss Kirilenko has decided to keep the reasons she feels this relationship ended under wraps, and I respect that privacy. No one wants to see laundry aired when it comes to a failed relationship. Things can be said that can offend the other party, and that will only lead to increased hostility. Miss Kirilenko has done an admirable job at respecting the privacy of both herself and Alexander Ovechkin, and she deserves some credit for showing tact in light of a difficult time.

As for Alexander Ovechkin, last season was a bad one statistically and professionally when it comes to expectations. He scored a pile of goals, but he certainly didn't help his cause on the defensive side of the puck. While I'm loathe to suggest that his relationship was a distraction, he should have but one focus this season at this point: helping the Washington Capitals get back to the playoffs and beyond.

While players deserve to have personal lives as well, the expectations that are carried by Alexander Ovechkin are huge. We saw how poorly Mike Ribeiro played and acted in Glendale last season, and it was revealed during the press conference in Nashville that he was having personal family problems that led to some of that erratic behavior. I'm not sure if this is the case for Mr. Ovechkin's poor defensive play last year, but there is one certainty for this upcoming season: he won't be able to use that as an excuse if he doesn't improve his defensive game.

I wish nothing but the best of luck for Miss Kirilenko on the pro tennis circuit, and I expect a big year out of Alexander Ovechkin. While his personal relationship didn't end up in a good place, his relationship with the fans in Washington can be repaired by a deep playoff run.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Ever Since I've Been The Champ!

There's a lot of work that goes into a successful radio bit. Working in radio has given me an appreciation for the preparation and work that goes into a show, let alone a successful daily bit. One bit that worked extremely well is The Champ, a funny clip from a former boxing champ who mistakes what people say. "Brother" Jake Edwards, who works for The Team 1040 in Vancouver, is the man behind The Champ, and I have to say that I've missed The Champ on local airwaves. I don't know what the syndication charges are, but some radio station near you should be picking up this hilarious bit.

Because he's a former boxer, he doesn't chat about hockey very often, but there's one clip floating around the internet that's pretty funny. I warn you in advance that this clip is PG-rated at best thanks to the joke Edwards makes, but it's still pretty darn funny for three minutes of your time. Enjoy!
Yeah, I'm not sure if that joke can be told around the kids, but the adults will get it. But that's the whole schtick with the Champ - he hears something that's quite innocent, but misinterprets what was actually said. I have a couple of his CDs, and some of the episodes are quite funny.

If you want to hear other episodes, there's a great archive found on The Team 1040's website. The Champ covers lots of topics and mishears a lot of statements, and it ends with laughter as he snaps and loses it on someone.

Kudos to Jake Edwards for creating this awesome radio bit and letting it ride for the last fifteen years! That kind of longevity is proof that if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

From Goalie To Kitchen Guru

I have to admit that recent events in my life have caused me to evaluate my dreams and goals. Sometimes things don't turn out as one has planned, and re-evaluation is needed when looking at long-term ideals. While my re-evaluation doesn't necessarily change my day-to-day life, it does have an effect on the immediate future and potential long-term future. I discovered another person who went through this evaluation by tuning into The Food Network of all places!

Chef JohnRoss Woodland, pictured to the right, is a chef at a Mississauga, Ontario restaurant called Tu Casa Fine Dining. Chef Woodland was also a contestant on a recent episode of Chopped Canada, pitting him against three other chefs' culinary skills as they work with the mystery ingredients in the baskets. With each round seeing one chef eliminated after the judges' evaluations of the dishes made, the pressure to make a delicious dish in each round grows as the number of chefs dwindles. It's kind of like the pressure of hockey playoffs where the pressure to perform at one's best grows each time one advances further.

So you're probably asking why I'm writing about a food creation competition on a hockey blog. It's a valid question considering the topic I normally write about, so here's why I'm talking about JohnRoss Woodland: he was an NCAA goaltender who traded in his dreams of playing in the NHL to become a chef!

JohnRoss Woodland, born in Picton, Ontario, played three seasons for NCAA Division III school Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Woodford was a goaltender for the Wildcats, posting a GAA of 4.34 and a save percentage of .889 in his three years at the private American university. One of the faculties at JWU is a Culinary Arts school. The university is actualy the largest food service educator in the world, so you have a quick background on how JohnRoss Woodland found his second calling.

They have a number of notable alumni in the culinary world, including:
  • Anna Olson - celebrity chef, Food Network Canada personality, and Home Hardware culinary spokesperson.
  • Sam Talbot - Season 2's winner of Top Chef.
  • Aarón Sanchez - celebrity chef and judge on Chopped.
Julia Child and Emeril Lagasse have also both received honorary doctorates from JWU, so there's a little more naming-names about the university. Needless to say, JohnRoss Woodland graduated from a highly-respected culinary program from one of the most-respected universities on the planet.

He gave up on his NHL dream after realizing his college hockey career wouldn't lead him to the NHL as he had hoped. He went to school, learned from some of the best in his chosen field, and has now appeared on national TV as a certified chef in a competition that has eaten up and spit out some excellent chefs.

So how did the 25 year-old do? Well, you'll have watch to find out. I'm not going to give away the ending, the middle, or any of the rounds in which Chef JohnRoss participated. Some of the ingredients he was forced to use in his challenges included mussels, instant coffee, orange drink crystals, and spruce tips! A challenge indeed!

Congratulations to Chef JohnRoss Woodland on his success as a chef, and for not letting one set of unfortunate circumstances ruin his goal of being successful!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!