Thursday, 16 August 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 308

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back with its continuing Summer of Interviews series! This one will be much shorter than usual at the request of the interviewee and his busy schedule, but I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to speak with this distinguished gentleman! Beans and I will also go over what has been a busy summer of signings, moves, and news that we've been neglecting with the amazing people we've featured on the show up to this point. It's going to be one of the busier shows of the summer, so settle in and get ready for another jam-packed episode of The Hockey Show!

I was lucky enough to speak with a legend of the hockey community in Mr. Barry Melrose about his involvement in the new Sparrowhawk Pictures film Ahockalypse! The Hockey Show was lucky enough to get about twelve minutes with Mr. Melrose during his media sweep that included about 100 interviews yesterday, so I want to thank Mr. Melrose for his time! Also on the show tonight, Beans and I will go over everything happening everywhere as there have been a ton of player signings and moves in the KHL, the Krefeld Pinguine played their first exhibition match, U SPORTS has all sorts of news coming out, the Canadian pro women's league will feature a Manitoba Bisons player next season, and we'll even try to squeeze in some additional local hockey news from that rink we have downtown. It's a busy show tonight at 5:30pm CT!

"Holy smokes - Barry Melrose?!? How can I listen?" you ask. Well, the easiest way is for you to download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's literally the 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! Of course, you can do the radio thing at the 101.5 frequency on the FM dial and you can always listen online via the UMFM website as well!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there! 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, Barry Melrose wins Zombie Kill of the Week while Beans and I discuss what's happening in Russia, Germany, the Canadian university hockey scene, the NHL, and more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST:August 16, 2018: Episode 308

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Manual Labour

Let's be honest: Facebook is a bit of a clown show right now with all the bumbling they've been doing and the garbage they've been involved with over the last few years. From messing with timelines to giving away user data to analytic companies to aiding a foreign entity in influencing an election, Facebook's reputation isn't doing so well. Because of their track record, they've been working overtime to fix these issues as well as their reputation, but it's going to take another hit today after the email I received recently.

Here is said email in its entirety.
Facebook has recently made significant changes to their platform. One of those changes includes removing the ability for third party applications, like IFTTT, to publish status messages, link posts, and photos on your behalf to your personal Facebook profile.

The following three Facebook actions will be removed from IFTTT starting today, along with any Applets that used them:

Create a status message
Create a link post
Upload a photo from URL

While it’s unfortunate to see some of your favorite Applets removed, we support Facebook’s decisions to evolve their platform in the way they best see fit.

Thank you for your understanding.
The IFTTT Team
For those that aren't familiar with IFTTT, the acronym stands for "If This Then That" as the image at the top shows. It is a service that HBIC uses to post information to various social media platforms when a new post is added to the blog. Basically, it made posting updates convenient for me so I didn't have to paste links and write up descriptions all over the place. That is, at least until now since Facebook has disabled the ability for IFTTT to post my articles on my Facebook timeline as of August 2.

If you're looking for hockey content on my Facebook page, I'm afraid it's few and far between right now... which goes to show how often I check my Facebook page. In the future, new posts will be posted manually there for people who read my stuff from that site. It's unfortunate that this has to be the case with Facebook, but they sort of did it to themselves. The only problem is that I'm paying for their incompetence.

We'll get the Facebook feed rolling again, folks. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

I Wanna Take Part

I often get taken to task by my co-workers who see me, the lone IT guy in a massive region, sitting in his office "doing nothing" while they slave away in their jobs. I take this good-natured ribbing because I happen to be able to multi-task fairly efficiently, but I often come in earlier or stay later on days where I can so that I get more done in the hope that I don't have to work harder down the line. It never truly works out as I planned, but one can hope, right? Today, though, there may be hope as one New Zealand company is throwing conservative work standards into a tizzy with their novel idea!

According to a report in The Guardian, "Two-hundred-and-forty staff at Perpetual Guardian, a company which manages trusts, wills and estate planning, trialled a four-day working week over March and April, working four, eight-hour days but getting paid for five."
The experiment run by Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes saw the following results:
Jarrod Haar, professor of human resource management at Auckland University of Technology, found job and life satisfaction increased on all levels across the home and work front, with employees performing better in their jobs and enjoying them more than before the experiment.

Work-life balance, which reflected how well respondents felt they could successfully manage their work and non-work roles, increased by 24 percentage points.

In November last year just over half (54%) of staff felt they could effectively balance their work and home commitments, while after the trial this number jumped to 78%.

Staff stress levels decreased by 7 percentage points across the board as a result of the trial, while stimulation, commitment and a sense of empowerment at work all improved significantly, with overall life satisfaction increasing by 5 percentage points.
Hi, where do I apply? This idea that Andrew Barnes has sounds absolutely incredible, and it seems to go back to the idea of working smarter, not harder. I totally subscribe to the idea of working smarter, so this makes too much sense to me. At a previous place of employment, I tried to get them to institute a ten-hour four-day work week for my department so that everyone got an extra day off. That was met with both laughter and every way one can pronounce the word "no", so I'm glad to see someone actually put the idea into practice and get tangible results back from the experiment!

Perhaps what encourages me even more to explore this idea was this section from the article.
Helen Delaney, a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland Business School, said employees’ motivation and commitment to work increased because they were included in the planning of the experiment, and played a key role in designing how the four-day week would be managed so as not to negatively impact productivity.

“Employees designed a number of innovations and initiatives to work in a more productive and efficient manner, from automating manual processes to reducing or eliminating non-work-related internet usage,” said Delaney.
If you're going to let me, the employee, design my work week for efficiency and productivity, you've already sold me on the idea. Having the policies and procedures dictated to me from someone who has a very vague idea what I do in my daily routine frustrates me to no end, so having me including in the planning phase to maximize my efficiency lights me up. That's the kind of input that I want my employer to seek when looking for ways to be more productive, so this entire experiment appeals to me in a big way.

I get that most employers want the five-day work week to continue as it's currently designed to offer holidays and other benefits based on the hours worked by employees. I'd counter with the fact that two weeks of holidays rarely scratches the surface for most people when it comes to time they need for themselves, and the idea that "weekends are enough" is laughable to me. When 78% of 240 people feel they can effectively manage their home and work commitments better with an extra day off per week, I'm very sure that the end result is happier, more productive staff which is good for business. Sure, there are likely less sick days used, less health-related benefits sought, and less mistakes made due to a number of factors - complacency, monotony, fatigue, etc. - but the bottom line is that happier staff are more productive staff because they feel valued by their employer, especially when they're involved in making the workplace better. That's just simple psychology.

I know that, for me, I am afforded a lot of freedom in my role thanks to my travel schedule and the requirements of my position. My supervisor and manager are great people who understand the importance of work-life balance as well, and they've allowed me time to pursue things that interest me. There are certainly deadlines and goals that have to be met in my position, but the fact that I meet these requirements regularly has allowed me some greater freedom than being chained to a desk. Don't get me wrong: I love my job thanks to the freedoms I have in it. I'm grateful for these freedoms, but it could be enhanced even further with an additional day off per week. The amount of non-work stuff I could get done with that extra day would be too numerous to count.

I'd love to see this implemented in a North American workplace where it seems more and more employees are living to work just to pay bills and keep a roof over their heads. How great would one extra day off per week be for the psyches of the employees who take part in this experiment? I would assume there would be a major upswing in their productivity and efficiency, not to mention a far happier outlook on life, and that's great for business. If there is a business willing to try this in North America, I would hope that there are credible and legitimate studies done on the results because I suspect that the prison of five-day work weeks the majority of us are stuck in would crumble.

The only question left to ask: which company is willing to try it out?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 13 August 2018

Finally Paired Together

In what seemed like a pairing that would be an obvious connection, the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears and NHL Tampa Bay Lightning have entered a three-year affiliation agreement! The Solar Bears, who previously were the ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs, saw that affiliation agreement expire and Toronto turn to the expansion Newfoundland Growlers as their ECHL affiliate. Tampa Bay was affiliated with the Adirondack Thunder last season, but with NHL teams wanting minor-league players closer to their home bases for call-ups, the opportunity to affiliate with the Orlando Solar Bears makes too much sense.

The Solar Bears are owned and operated by the Orlando Magic and the DeVos Family and play their games at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Amalie Arena, where the Lightning play, is a mere 90 minutes away by car as opposed to the plane flight between Adirondack and Tampa. Where this affiliation kind of veers off course is that the Lightning has the Syracuse Crunch as their AHL affiliate, and they are a flight away from Tampa but a mere two-and-a-half hours by car away from Adirondack. However, the proximity of the Lightning to their ECHL players will provide greater insight as to player development and player promotion as the Lightning identify players they want on their roster in the future.

"We are thrilled to be able to announce our new affiliation with the Lightning," Solar Bears president Chris Heller said in the release. "This relationship will not only aid in our on-ice performance, but will also help strengthen the profile of ice hockey throughout Central Florida."

While I imagine the relationship with the Lightning will indeed help the Solar Bears' on-ice performance, it's not like they were an afterthought in the Maple Leafs' eyes. I imagine this affiliation with the Lightning will continue to help the Solar Bears maintain a high level of hockey while the partnership between the two teams should hopefully improve hockey's presence throughout the panhandle. It's hard to believe that these two teams hadn't been affiliated after the Solar Bears' founding in 2012, but that's how it went with the Solar Bears being affiliated with both the Minnesota Wild and the Toronto Maple Leafs up until now.

With the Solar Bears having made the playoffs in four of the their six seasons, there's hope that the success can continue with Tampa Bay overseeing the personnel. The Thunder finished atop the North Division last season with a 41-24-3-4 record, good for seventh-best in the ECHL. They lost in the third round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs to the Florida Everblades with four of the five games being decided by one goal, so the Lightning are expecting that success to remain in place with perhaps a few players making the jump to their AHL affiliate in Syracuse.

While I await for the announcements that the Chicago Wolves and Chicago Blackhawks have finally become affiliates or for the Brampton Beast and Toronto Maple Leafs to strike an affiliation accord, the news that the Orlando Solar Bears and Tampa Bay Lightning have finally gotten together warms my heart like the Florida sun. It just never should have taken this long.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Great Start In Germany

It's just about time to swing into hockey season over in Europe, and one German team will have my eyes on it all season long! The Krefeld Pinguine took to the ice today in a friendly exhibition match against Cologne with a new head coach in Brandon Reid behind the bench and some new recruits to the team under his guidance. Krefeld wasn't a great team last season as they finished 14th out of 14 teams, so there was some hope that the new coach and the new players brought to the Pinguine may change the team's fortunes. If their season is anything like today's result, I think the move to bring Brandon to Krefeld will prove to be rather genius!

For a team that won just 11 games while scoring 141 goals in 52 contests last season, today saw the Penguine score 5% of their total goal output from last season today! The Pinguine downed the Kölner Haie, better known in English as the Cologne Sharks, by a 7-4 score! It was a game that saw lots of special teams work on both sides of the puck, but the Pinguine appear to be headed in the right direction with today's result.

Before I start planning a parade route through Krefeld, I know it's only one meaningless exhibition game at this point. But let's be honest here when we're talking about an eleven-win team that any victories this early in the season over a superior opponent should excite the masses of Pinguine fans. Some of the new guys scored. Some of the returning players scored. And at the final horn, the Pinguine, who were 1-1 against the sixth-best DEL team last season, scored seven goals on a team that didn't surrender seven goals in one game all last season. Again, no one is booking town square for a DEL Championship celebration just yet, but it's something to build from when one considers just how poorly last season went for the Pinguine.

Brandon went back to his coaching roots and brought over a few players who found success in the Metal Ligaen in Denmark, and these players made an impact today. Phillip Bruggisser, who played for the Esbjerg Energy last season in Denmark, scored a power-play goal just three minutes into the game and assisted on a second-power-play goal at the six-minute mark. Kirill Kabanov, who played for Brandon with Aalborg last season, also assisted on the power-play goal at the sixth minute, and Martin Lefebvre, who was a Pirate last season after spending time at UQTR, assisted on the Pinguine goal at the 30th minute and added one of his own at the 32-minute mark. Being able to recruit and sign players from the Metal Ligaen where Brandon has had some great looks at good players appears to be a wise move on Krefeld's part.

As stated above, Krefeld got on the board early - a signature move by teams coached by Reid - as Bruggisser made Cologne pay on the power-play with his shot to the far corner of the net off a rebound from a Jordan Caron shot put the Pinguine up 1-0 just three minutes into the game. They'd take advantage of another power-play opportunity three minutes later when long-time Pinguine Daniel Pietta found the back of the net off a Bruggisser pass to put the visitors up 2-0. The Sharks would battle back, though, when former Pinguine Pascal Zerressen's shot found its way through a crowd in front of Krefeld netminder Dimitri Pätzold and elude the goalie to make it 2-1 in the tenth minute. Three minutes after that, the Sharks would use a power-play of their own to tie the game when Steve Pinizzotto deflected a point shot past Pätzold to make it 2-2!

And then everything stopped as the fire alarm at Kölnarena 2 went off! After a short delay, the teams and fans were able to return to the rink to continue this contest, but it isn't often that a period ends with a fire alarm sounding. I've seen teams catch fire metaphorically or play fire-wagon hockey colloquially, but rarely does one ever hear a fire alarm go off during a game!

In the 30th minute, Greger Hanson pulled away from the crowd of players, skated in alone, and went high on netminder Gustaf Wesslau to put the Pinguine out in front by a 3-2 score. With the game being an exhibition game, Cologne decided to make a goaltending change as Hannibal Weitzmann replaced Wesslau in the 31st minute. Two minutes and two shots later, Martin Lefebvre converted a gorgeous pass from Pietta into a goal on Weitzmann's third shot he faced, and Krefeld was up 4-2. It didn't end there for the Sharks, though, as the Pinguine would get one more goal while on the power-play in the 38th minute. James Bettauer ripped a shot past Weitzmann, and his power-play marker would send the Pinguine to the locker room up 5-2!

As a footnote to the above paragraph, Swedish-born Greger Hanson is an absolutely fascinating case of player moves. He spent four years at Northern Michigan University in the NCAA from 2007-11 before embarking on a professional hockey career that has seen him play for 15 teams in five leagues over the last seven seasons. In 2013-14, Hanson played in the Central Hockey League with both the Wichita Thunder and Allen Americans along with a four-game stint in the ECHL with the Greenville Road Warriors. In 2014-15, he suited up for both the Cincinnati Cyclones and the Americans in the ECHL after the ECHL absorbed the CHL teams before jumping to the AHL to play with the Oklahoma City Barons and the Worcester Sharks. 2015-16 saw him back in Allen before call-ups to the AHL's San Jose Barracuda and Utica Comets. 2016-17 had Hanson mostly in Allen, but he had cups of coffee with four AHL teams in the San Diego Gulls, the Chicago Wolves, the Binghamton Senators, and the Charlotte Checkers. Last season saw Hanson start in Utah with the Grizzlies before a brief stint with the San Diego Gulls before finally packing his bags, flying to Krefeld, and ending the season with the Pinguine. Have bags, will travel? It seems to be a nomadic life for Greger Hanson over the last few years.

Footnotes aside, the Cologne Sharks needed to find some goals quickly, and they got an early one from their sniper. Steve Pinizzotto struck again on the power-play as he cashed in a rebound off a Tobias Viklund shot to cut the lead to 5-3 in the 46th minute. With the goaltender out and the extra attacked on to make it 6-on-4 advantage in the 57th minute, Cologne pulled within one goal when Jason Akeson found the back of the net to make it 5-4. Cologne would continue to press, but the final minute saw Patrick Seifert score into the unguarded cage to make it 6-4. After a skirmish which resulted in another Krefeld power-play, Chad Costello put another puck into the empty net for the power-play goal with seconds to play to give the Krefeld Pinguine the 7-4 final!

The Pinguine will have a week to reflect on their efforts and to correct any mistakes that Coach Reid may have seen before they battle the Iserlohn Rooster on Friday. There will be occasional updates on HBIC and The Hockey Show all season long on the Pinguine, so make sure you find these places if you're trying to keep up with Brandon Reid's new team!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!