Hockey Headlines

Saturday, 31 December 2011

HBIC YIR - Part Two

We're back with Part Two of the HBIC Year-In-Review. We have a number of topics that dominated the news in hockey during the second half of the year, and HBIC touched on a number of them. From head shots and concussions to the return of the Winnipeg Jets to historical looks back at the NHL, there were a ton of stories that made headlines on HBIC this year. These are the stories that I found most notable from July 1, 2011 until December 31, 2011. Starting tomorrow, HBIC will introduce something fun for readers to have a little fun with, and, in turn, a chance for me to have you direct this blog in a bigger way. We'll look at that tomorrow, but here's the second half of the HBIC Year-In-Review. Enjoy!

JULY
AUGUST
  • More NHL-WHA History - Another fascinating look at the 1970s when two leagues battled for territory and players.
  • Membership Dues - I take a long look at the exorbitant NHL expansions fees being charged, and track the increase through the years.
  • NCAA Defeats UND Sioux - The NCAA forces one of the most iconic college teams in history to change its identity because of a rule. I'm not impressed.
  • Where The Shirts Have No Names - I take a look back at when the Maple Leafs wore blue lettering on blue jerseys, making their names invisible!
  • POTUS He Was Not - More fascinating WHA stories. This league was crazy!
  • 1991 Was A Barometer - I uncover more info on the ballooning expansion fees charged by the NHL through the 1990s.
SEPTEMBER
  • I'll Miss Him - After losing Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak's life is cut short as well as he took his life.
  • Less Violence = More Players - Along with a number of examples, I make a case that Canadian hockey is actually suffering because of how we play in Canada.
  • Hockey's Darkest Day - Just days after Belak's death, the plane crash in Russia occurs, killing all members of the KHL's Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team.
  • When Reality Outcosts Fantasy - I am shocked and appalled by the cost for attending the Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp.
  • Easterbrook Gets It - I commend ESPN columnist Gregg Easterbrook for his look at head shots and how they should be punished heavily.
OCTOBER
NOVEMBER
DECEMBER
  • Meow Mix Didn't Deliver Blues - A detailed look at how the St. Louis Blues almost left for greener pasture in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
  • My Early Pulitzer Choice - John Branch's look at Derek Boogaard's life in hockey is simply amazing. Mr. Branch needs to be recognized for this effort.
  • Baron Von North Star - The story of how the Cleveland Barons became part of the Minnesota North Stars.
  • Eagles Abandon Nest - The story about how the St. Louis Eagles played all of one season in St. Louis before flying the coop.
  • Cam Ward Help Himself - Ward becomes the tenth goalie in NHL history to be credited with a goal after the Devils help him out.

Ok, so there are my favorite stories from 2011 on HBIC. You may differ, and that's completely cool. Discussions are great, and I really want to encourage you to speak your mind in the comments or via email. Historical articles will continue in the new year, and I'll have something fun so that you can have more fun on this blog.

Until 2012, Happy New Year, readers!

Friday, 30 December 2011

HBIC: YIR - Part One

It's that time of year again, readers, where we look at all the stories that made news on HBIC this year. The Year-In-Review is always a great time for me because I like going back and reading stuff from earlier in the year to see if it still holds true at the end of the year. We have a number of topics that dominated the news in hockey this year, and HBIC touched on all of them. From head shots and concussions to the return of the Winnipeg Jets to various jersey modifications, there were a ton of stories that made headlines on HBIC this year. These are the stories that I found most notable from January 1, 2011 until June 30, 2011. Enjoy!

JANUARY
  • With Authority! - I speak highly of the Canadian Junior team that hammered the Americans in the 2o11 World Junior Championship. Peter makes a good comment.
  • Where It Hurts - I commend the Russians for doing something typical of Canadian teams in that they outworked Canada to capture the gold medal at the WJC.
  • A Job Some Would Kill For - I take Evgeni Nabokov to task for refusing to suit up for the New York Islanders. He signed a contract knowing the risks.
  • Lynch Mob - I admit a mistake in the above article, but I also hammer home that Don Meehan should have seen this coming. His knowledge could have prevented this.
  • Changing Their Course - Tampa Bay rolls out a new look for the Lightning. I actually like these new uniforms, and they have grown on me. I like blue more than black.
FEBRUARY
  • Today In Hockey History - HBIC takes a look back at Gary Bettman's 18 years as NHL Commissioner, and some of the events seen along the way.
  • Recurring Theme - Rick DiPietro is injured again. In an unusual way for a goalie.
  • Head Derails Career - Marc Savard's hockey career is basically over after yet another concussion. There's a some good science in this one, but it's still sad.
  • Why 82? - I look at why 82 games are necessary, and begin to reduce the number of games to make them more meaningful.
  • First Of His Kind - Name the first hockey player inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. Don't know? You might be surprised to see who it is.
MARCH
  • Trip Of A Lifetime - Miss Michelle Nott gave a great recollection of the Petitcodiac/Salisbury Bantam "A" Flyers from New Brunswick and their trip to Whitehorse, Yukon for Hockey Day In Canada.
  • Champions Of Character - Winnipeg-based Westwood Collegiate's hockey team does the right thing after their coaches were trying to cheat their way into an easier game.
  • Another Brick Upside The Head - Hey, hockey parents, leave those kids alone. Official abuse is disgusting, and I'm ashamed by some parents in Winnipeg.
  • More Negative Manitoba Hockey Headlines - February was a bad month for amateur hockey in Manitoba. This as disgusting as well.
  • What Is "Doughnut" In French? - The Montreal Canadiens equal a 62 year-old record. And not a good kind of record either.
  • Sickening Display - Hockey in Texas was going about a poorly as it was in Manitoba.
APRIL
  • More Horrific Footage - Quebec jumps into the highlights with a stick-swinging incident that is horrific to say the least.
  • Radical Ideas - David Andrews, AHL Commissioner, announces that the AHL will play less games next year and shorten the playoffs. And yes, he is sane.
  • Concerns For The AHL Teams - With rumours of the NHL returning to Winnipeg, I float ideas of places that the AHL can move to in the west to improve their footprint.
  • Get The Ilya Outta Here - Ilya Bryzgalov's idiotic comments about Winnipeg give me a few things to write about.
MAY
  • Nobel Prize Novelist On Hockey - William Cuthbert Faulkner was a Nobel Prize-winning writer who wrote an interesting article on hockey. Worth the read!
  • Controversial Avery Once More - Sean Avery stands up for New Yorkers for Marriage Equality, a group that was working for gay persons to be allowed to be married.
  • Loss Of A Great Boogey-Man - Derek Boogaard's death is still shocking to me, and the tragedy shook the hockey world.
  • Wading Through Murky Facts - With the rumours of the Thrashers moving to Winnipeg, campaigns to bring down the Thrashers' owners became ugly.
  • You Want Nudity? - Just because a girl in Vancouver flashed what she was blessed with on national TV, I got lots of hits for people looking for her. Here's my response.
  • Real Interleague Play Would Have Been Awesome - I still wish the NHL and WHA had played each other more regularly. Minnesota would have been divided!
  • Denial No More - The announcement wasn't official yet, but the Thrashers-to-Winnipeg was a done deal at this point. I accept the reality of the NHL returning.
  • Eric Lindros Steps Forward - Eric Lindros give a fantastic interview in MacLean's magazine about concussions. This is an excellent article.
  • 1400 Is The New 1 - On my 1400th article, the NHL is is officially back in Winnipeg with the announcement that the Thrashers will move north.
JUNE
  • Saying All The Right Things - Thrasher players are excited to move to Canada. Their comments seem to indicate that this year may be special.
  • Face It: They're Dead - I continued to receive emails from people holding out hope that the Thrashers would be saved. There were 150 millions reasons why they were dead.
  • Big Bad Champions - The Boston Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship. My dad was overjoyed and thrilled.
  • Winnipeg's NHL Nights - The NHL schedule for the Jets is posted, and I look forward to some of the highlights of the season.
  • Wardrobe Changes For 2011-12 - We got to see the vast majority of new looks for NHL teams at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Some good, some not so good.
So that's the first six months in the books. I definitely wrote a few good articles, and I'm proud to say that my schooling went well from January to April. It allowed me to get a great new job in August, and I really am proud of the work I put in at college. Tomorrow, we'll wrap up the Year-In-Review at HBIC before starting January 1, 2012 with some new stories.

Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

TBC: Overtime

We'll finish off this solid year of hockey literature with the fourth book in Scholastic's Game Time series. If you've been keeping up with the series, our protagonist, Charlie Joyce, is a pretty solid hockey player for Terrance Falls High School. His friends - Pudge, Scott, Nick, and Matt - also play hockey for the high school team, and his previous adventures have seen him tackle a number of issues from starting out at a new school to dealing with bullies. Teebz's Book Club is proud to present Overtime, written by David Skuy and published by Scholastic Canada, and is the follow-up to Making The Cut. This book was an excellent look at a number of problems that are plaguing the students of Terrance Falls High School, and it takes more than just Charlie and his friends to save Terrance Falls High in the fourth Game Time book!

From the Charlie Joyce website, "David Skuy is a lawyer, recreational hockey player, and author of the Charlie Joyce Hockey Series. A popular speaker and advocate for the reading and writing skills of school-age children, he has crafted a series of books designed to capture the imagery, the sounds, the conflicts, and the achievements that typify a young boy’s life, be it in the school yard or in the hockey rink".

While Charlie and the Rebels are having a solid start to their hockey season, some exceptionally bad news is brought forth by Principal Holmes early in the book: Terrance Falls High School will be forced to close while the school's roof is repaired. Because the budget is tight, the students would be split up and sent off to other high schools in order to continue their educations while the education budget at Terrance Falls High School is spent on the roof! This would most likely mean that Charlie and his friends would be sent to different schools!

The students decide to organize a fundraising committee to try and raise the $150,000 required to fix the roof so that the school's budget isn't blown on the roof. With the boys working hard on putting a temporary fix on the school roof thanks to Matt having experience with his dad's construction company, the boys also make some new friends in Julia Chow and her friends. Julia, Rebecca, Alexandra, Michelle, Emily, and Cassie made up the girls' team, and they had just as much talent as Charlie and his friends, especially when it came to ball hockey! The girls and the guys would clash initially, but Charlie's and Julie's friendship bring the two groups together in order to try to raise funds to help the school.

Along the way, the group of students discover a number of problems: the organizing committee's intolerance towards younger students, the increasing rainfall the school is facing, and a major catastrophe that not only defines the young protagonists, but shows that courage can come from all sorts of places.

Overtime is an excellent book that really kept me glued to the pages. Mr. Skuy's writing might be the best of the series in this book, and the ordeals that Charlie, Julia, their friends, and a new friend face really define these young protagonists. Their goal of $150,000 is a lofty one, and they do suffer some setbacks along the way. Do they finally make the goal? What is the catastrophe, and how does this define these students? What happens to Terrance Falls High, and where do all the students get sent? All of these questions are answered in Overtime!

Overall, I really want Mr. Skuy to continue writing books in the Game Time series. Overtime was the best of the four books yet, and I am really liking the development of the characters in his stories. The story in Overtime is solid, and there are some really interesting parts that will keep readers turning pages as they read about the efforts of the young protagonists. I highly recommend getting your young readers into this series as they will not be disappointed. Because of this, Overtime is entirely deserving of the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

I cannot say enough good things about this book. As an adult, I am enjoying Mr. Skuy's writing, and your young readers will find that these books are great to read. The Game Time series, written by Mr. Skuy, really is a great way to finish off Teebz's Book Club for another year, and here's to another great year of literature in 2012!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Underachieving Except In Goal

Quick, name the NHL leader in shutouts. If you're reading between the lines and looking at the goaltender to the left, you'd be correct in saying Jonathan Quick. The Los Angeles Kings goaltender recorded his fifth shutout after shutting the door on the Chicago Blackhawks tonight, and it came as a bit of a surprise to me that Quick had the most doughnuts this season considering how the Kings seem to be underachieving to new heights thus far. The 18-14-5 Kings are currently platooned in ninth-place in the Western Conference, and they look nothing like the team that scared the San Jose Sharks in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. After adding Mike Richards this summer, it was expected the Kings would move up from their seventh-place finish last season, but all we've seen this year is the spinning of tires in La-La-Land. What happened?

It's pretty easy to see that Anze Kopitar has been clicking on all cylinders as his 34 points leads the team. Kopitar was impressive last season as well, so it's clear that he is a star on this young Kings squad. With the majority of the offence running through Kopitar, the Kings seem to go as Kopitar goes.

Mike Richards and Justin Williams are next in scoring as both players have 22 points. Richards leads the Kings with 13 goals - a total that puts him in the middle of the pack when it comes to goal scoring. The Kings seemingly have no one that jumps out at you as a pure sniper, the finisher that will make playmakers like Kopitar look like magicians. Richards is that player right now by default it seems, but I'm not sure that the sniper role is the best fit for a player like Richards.

Williams' point total is somewhere around what was expected, but there's no doubt that the Kings were hoping he could build on his torrid start to end up with somewhere around 80 points this season. Currently, he's on pace for approximately 50 points, and that's a total that needs to be higher for a top-six forward on a talented squad like the Kings.

Dustin Brown has 20 points, but that total needs to move upwards in a hurry. Brown has far too much talent to be scoring in every second game, and I can't believe that he's happy with his production thus far. Brown should be a feared power forward, hut he's nothing more than a fringe scorer right now as he contributes one point every two games. That's not the production he's capable of, and I'm quite certain he knows it. His five game-winners show how valuable he can be, but the Kings need more out of their tenacious captain.

Simon Gagne has 17 points, and that is a total that simply isn't synonymous with a player of Gagne's talent or salary. Factor in another concussion suffered earlier this week, and Gagne's point total will most likely plateau somewhere around the 30-35 point mark this season. This would be the fourth concussion in the last couple of years for Gagne, and it might be time for him to walk away from hockey before his brains are truly scrambled.

The players that are currently weighing down this team are many. Jarret Stoll has a pathetic ten points. Ethan Moreau has just four points. Dustin Penner has a brutal eight points. Besides having all of these players suit up for the Edmonton Oilers at one time, the only other common bond these players have is that they are earning millions of dollars for little-to-no production offensively.

The major concern has to be the lack of production offensively as a team. The Kings are dead last in the NHL in goals-per-game with just 2.08 goals-per-game registered thus far. That's a full 0.15 goals-per-game lower than the offensively-anemic New York Islanders, and a ridiculous 1.39 goals-per-game less than NHL-leading Boston. The powerplay is horrific at 25th in the NHL with a 14.2% conversion rate, and that's disappointing considering the talent above. Clearly, filling the net is a tough job for these Los Angeles Kings.

But where the Kings seemingly have fallen off the wagon offensively, they have shown that they can grind out wins defensively. Only one player is in double-digits as a minus player, and that's Jack Johnson with a -10. No one else is below a -6, and the entire set of blueliners is just -4. That's pretty good for a team that isn't in a playoff position.

Los Angeles is also sixth-best in goals-allowed-per-game. The Kings are only giving up 2.26 goals-per-game, and that shows that they are getting great defensive performances as well as superb goaltending. Los Angeles also sports the fourth-best penalty killing percentage as they are killing off 88.0% of the powerplays they give up. If goaltenders are your best penalty killers, there's a very good reason why the Kings have a great penalty kill.

Which brings us back to Quick. Jonathan Quick is a solid 16-10-4 thus far, and his five shutouts lead the NHL. He sports a 2.08 GAA - seventh for goalies who have played in at least 15 games - and has a sparkling .930 save percentage - sixth for goalies who have played in at least 15 games. If the Kings could provide him any offence, they would be a powerful team.

After tonight's game against the Blackhawks in which the Kings only scored two goals, Quick and the defence had to be sharp. The 2-0 victory gave Quick his fifth shutout, but this lack of offence will catch up to the Kings quickly as the season progresses. The fact that the Kings are pushing for a playoff spot right now while having the worst offence in the league shows how valuable Jonathan Quick has been.

While Tim Thomas is having himself another stellar season, Jonathan Quick is quietly making himself a case for the Vezina Trophy. While I doubt that Thomas will lose in the voting, there's probably a good case for Quick to be considered for the Ted Lindsay Award if he can push his offensively-challenged team into the playoffs.

The Kings arrive in Winnipeg on Thursday, and there will be some stiff competition awaiting them as the Jets are playing some of the best hockey seen in the NHL right now. Jonathan Quick may have to pitch another shutout on consecutive nights if the Kings want to down the Jets.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Cam Ward Helps Himself

When your team doesn't score a lot of goals, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. Cam Ward is credited with a goal as the last Hurricane to touch the puck before Ilya Kovalchuk's pass eludes Adam Henrique in last night's game.

Brandon Sutter was originally credited with the goal, but reviews show that he didn't touch the Kovalchuk pass, and Ward officially is awarded his first NHL goal. This makes Ward the tenth goaltender in NHL history to be credited with a goal, and the first Hurricane netminder to notch a marker.

Bryan Allen, who has appeared in all 39 Hurricane games thus far, now trails his goaltender in goal scoring. That can't feel good.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Where Speling Realy Counts

Pictured to the left with his stick in the air is the celebrating Brett Connolly. As you may be aware, Connolly is normally a full-time forward with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but GM Steve Yzerman thought it may be prudent to send his talented forward to play on the international stage with Team Canada at this year's World Junior Championships. Connolly scored a beautiful goal against Finland today, and Canada really shone in an 8-1 victory over the normally-feisty Finns. While Connolly played well, there was actually something else that stood out about him.

While watching replay after replay of the goal, I noticed that Brett Connolly was missing something vitally important. It's not a piece of equipment or a sign from a teammate or anything that would change the way he plays the game in the slightest. Instead, Connolly's name was misspelled on the back of his uniform as he only had one "L" in his name, meaning that the equipment guys for Team Canada made an "oops" when preparing his game uniform!

That kind of mistake doesn't happen often, especially on an international stage, for Team Canada, but Brett Connolly was officially "Connoly" for one game in this tournament. What makes this even stranger is that Connolly played in three pre-tournament games, and his name was spelled right each time in those games. It seems that someone was just asleep at the wheel for the Finland tilt.

The other NHL player who joined Team Canada was Anaheim's Devante Smith-Pelly. Smith-Pelly was loaned to the team in order for him to gain some international seasoning as well, but his tournament came to a crashing halt in the first game as Smith-Pelly fractured the first metatarsal bone in his foot after blocking a point shot from Finland's Teemu Pulkkinen. The injury will keep the Anaheim Duck out of any lineup for 4-6 weeks.

"Heartbreaking way to end my tournament, but I know the guys will do the country proud regardless. Thank you everyone for your kind words," Smith-Pelly wrote on his Twitter page.

Canada will move on to play the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The Czechs showed some moxie in the pre-tournament games by running with Russia before falling by a 5-3 score. Goaltender Petr Mrazek, a Detroit Red Wings prospect, is most likely to get the start with his OHL experience as a member of the Ottawa 67's. Finland will play the USA on Wednesday, and will have to beat the highly-touted Americans if they hope to finish in second-place in the pool.

Canada got a great start in this year's tournament with the big victory over Finland, and I have to say that I was impressed with the fans in Edmonton. They were loud, they were passionate, and they gave Canada all the support they could ever have wanted. If the fans remain this loud for the remainder of the tournament, Canada has a big advantage in its seventh-man.

And it needs to be said: GO CANADA GO!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas To All!

Merry Christmas, readers!


It's been another great year, and the holiday season is a great capper for this year. Of course, we've seen some tragedies, some heartbreak, some pain, and some tears, and through it all we cannot forget the lives lost and the families and friends affected. My heart goes out to those who suffered loss during this time, and you're loved ones are in my prayers and thoughts.

In saying this, visit your family and friends. Hug one another. Celebrate the holiday season with happiness, smiles, laughter, and cheer as you embrace both the spirit of the season and the people closest to you that matter most. Most of all, be safe and sound during this festive time, and keep a watchful eye on little ones who are enjoying their best Christmas memories to date.

The World Junior Championships kick off tomorrow, and Canada will play Finland in Edmonton in the afternoon. If you have access to a television, huddle around that with your family and friends, and cheer on the boys as they look for gold in Alberta!

Until next time, Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Other Holiday Tournament

With the NHL shutting down for the holidays, you still want some hockey action to add into your festive holiday, right? Well, Hockey Canada will fill that void in two ways. We all know about the Christmas tradition of the World Junior Championships, but the Spengler Cup from Davos, Switzerland always features some of the best non-NHL teams and players playing the game today. If you're looking for some great hockey action while you're sipping egg nog or enjoying turkey leftovers, the Spengler Cup kicks off on Boxing Day, aka December 26, with Canada facing Czech-based HC Vitkovice Steel!

Marc Crawford, fresh off his TSN analyst role, will take his place behind the bench in Davos as the head coach of this year's Spengler squad. He'll be joined behind the bench by long-time Spengler Cup coach Doug Shedden and Anaheim Ducks' assistant coach Trent Yawney. Crawford is, of course, a Stanley Cup-winning coach, so there will be some good experience behind the bench at this year's tournament for Canada.

Thanks to his recent play in Austria, Marty Turco made the jump to Switzerland as his European tour continues. Turco will likely get the majority of starts in this tournament, and the Stanley Cup winner should provide a strong net presence for the Canadians. The second half of the netminding tandem will be Jake Allen. Allen comes to Davos courtesy of the AHL's Peoria Rivermen. The youngster has shown strong play in the AHL over the last couple of years, so this kind of seasoning at a major international tournament should go a long way in helping his development.

A number of returnees mark the Canadian defensive unit. Back from last year's squad are Joel Kwiatkowski (Bern) and Cory Murphy (ZSC Zurich Lions), and Shawn Heins (Fribourg-Gotteron) returns after a one-year hiatus from the Spengler Cup. Doug Lynch (Salzberg EC), Jordan Hendry (HC Lugano), Derrick Walser (Rapperswil-Jona), and Ryan Parent (Chicago Wolves) round out the blueline. There's a lot of talent and good speed on this year's defence, so the Canadians should be solid from the net out.

The forwards have a great mix of veterans. The eldest veteran is this year's captain, and that man would be Stacy Roest (Rapperswil-Jona). Glen Metropolit (EV Zug) and Dominic Pittis (ZSC Zurich Lions) round out the class of 1974 as these three men have a ton of experience under their belts at both the international and North American levels. JP Vigier (SC Bern), Mark Hartigan (Rapperswil-Jona), Byron Ritchie (SC Bern), and Brett MacLean (Rockford IceHogs) round out those players born before 1980. Joel Perrault (Ambri-Piotta), Pascal Pelletier and Kurtis McLean (SCL Tigers), Jeremy Williams (Salzburg EC), Rico Fata (HC Geneve Servette), Éric Beaudoin (EHC Biel), Brandon Reid (Rapperswil-Jona), and Blaine Down (ZSC Zurich Lions) complete the roster for the Canadians at the 2011 Spengler Cup.

I think the Canadians have a very good shot at winning the Spengler Cup this year with this team. HC Davos will provide some very stiff competition in the same pool as Canada, and Czech-based HC Vitkovice Steel will be a good team to measure against in Canada's first game.

HC Vitkovice Steel features former NHL star Marik Malik on defence and one of Europe's best goalkeepers in Roman Malek. I'm pumped for this tournament because it's always filled with highlights and great goals. TSN2 will be carrying the vast majority of these games, so check your local listings, kids!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Follow-Up: Launch Skates

I wrote a little bit about the Launch Skates earlier this week, and I raised some questions and concerns as to the validity of some of the testimonials, as well as having some questions about the science that was backing the testimonials if no one was willing to associate their name to the claims. David Blois, the man whose contact information was on the website, contacted me with an excellent email about my concerns and recommendations that I made. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate Mr. Blois for following up on his original email with this one, and I think it shows that the Launch Skates are indeed for real.

I want to post Mr. Blois' follow-up email here for all to read since I originally posted my concerns right here on this very forum. Again, I think Mr. Blois does an excellent job in reassuring my concerns, and I appreciate the transparency in his approach to keeping his customers aware of what may be happening on his end. With that being said, here is Mr. Blois' email to me.

"I appreciate the positive comments, as well as the concerns and the recommendations. You made some very good points.

"With many new products, the development process can take several years - especially when working on a product as an individual inventor. This is the case with the Launch Skates. It took several years to obtain the Canadian utility patent, develop and modify prototypes and to have the skates tested. The testimonials page includes comments by some of the early skaters who tried the skates to the most recent testing done this year by the CHL in the US. Duane Lewis is the Commissioner of the CHL.

"There are plans to include a video on the website of the skates in action. In addition, I will work on getting permission to add names to the testimonials and will hopefully add more testimonials as more players try the skates. There are no production skates as yet (only the modified skates as you mentioned in your blog), which makes it difficult to get proper testing done - and of course, it can be very expensive for the testing. To date, I have been able to get many players and the others listed on the Testimonials page to try the skates without any cost - the downside is that there is no formal testing as yet with production skates. With the Launch website and great articles/blogs like yours, I hope to be able to get some real interest in the Launch Skates in order to have the skates further developed and formally tested - which will then hopefully lead to the production and marketing of the skates. It may be a bold statement, but I can see a time when most hockey and pleasure skates will have the Launch suspension system.

"Thanks again.

"All the Best for the Holidays!"
First off, thank you, Mr. Blois, for sending me this email. I really appreciate you taking the time to address my concerns, and I think that shows a lot of integrity and respect for the me, Teebz Q. Public. As a result, I can honestly say that I hold the Launch Skates in high esteem, and I will certainly be interested in any new developments. Thank you again, Mr. Blois.

I appreciate the explanation behind why the testimonials don't have names on them, and I understand the testing process in terms of time and costs. Of course, if the players and people using the skates haven't okayed their names being used on the site, that would explain a lot. And if they are just testing free-of-charge, it's probably tough to ask them to set up a camera and gets images and video of them skating in the Launch Skates.

As I stated above, I'm all about keeping in touch, Mr. Blois, and I will certainly email you again with hopes that things are rolling for you. This product looks promising, and I really hope things hit the ground running for you and the Launch Skates. The product seems sound in its science, and that's a great start to build on. Thanks again for writing back!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Havlat's Two-Month Stumble

There's snake-bitten, and then there's Martin Havlat. Havlat is undoubtedly a top-flight player when he's healthy, and it's part of the reason that the San Jose Sharks took a chance on him when they acquired him from the Minnesota Wild for Dany Heatley. He can score, he can skate, and he has all the talent in the world. But there's a big asterisk that comes along with Havlat - he's often injured. Today is just another chapter in Grey's Anatomy: Martin Havlat edition as the sniper is out for another extended period of time after suffering a freak injury.

How did this new chapter in the textbook of injuries to Martin Havlat occur? Let's check the video because this one is hard to believe.

Did you catch that stumble? That, readers, was the injury. I'm not joking in any way, shape, or form.

Havlat's stumble caused a partial tear in a tendon in his hamstring, and that will sideline the sniper for up to eight weeks. Havlat has played in just 26 games this season with the Sharks, recording just two goals and 13 assists. Benn Ferriero has been recalled from Worcester to take Havlat's spot on the roster.

Add to the list of groin, shoulder, and elbow injuries another freak accident for Martin Havlat. He should be able to return for the stretch run towards the playoffs, but anything can happen with Martin Havlat. And it seems it already does.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Eagles Abandon Nest

I've taken to the newspaper archives again because I had a mild interest in learning about a team that spent a single season in the American midwest. They weren't founded there, but the St. Louis Eagles came about when the Ottawa Senators moved south to the "Gateway to the West" and took up residence there. Because the Eagles only lasted one tumultuous season in St. Louis so long ago, it's a little harder to find good information on why and how the team up and abandoned its home. Thanks to the Google digital newspaper archives, I did manage to find some information on what happened. Let's take a look at how the Eagles flew St. Louis.

We fire up the De Lorean to head back to November 8, 1934 where we discover that the St. Louis Eagles were about to open their first season in the NHL against the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks. Eddie Gerard, formerly of the Ottawa Senators, would remain as the manager as the club built itself on the former Senator players who had moved with the club. But we learn that Frank Wainwright, owner of the American Association's St. Louis Fliers, was about to file a $200,000 lawsuit against the new NHL club over territorial rights. Nothing like a little controversy to go along with a team's inaugural game, right?

The very next day, we find that Wainwright was asked to hold off suing the St. Louis Eagles. There is some information as to why Wainwright was trying to invoke the lawsuit. According to Wainwright, the NHL violated a territorial agreement in that they wouldn't place a team west of the Mississippi. The NHL, as expected, contends that this agreement had expired. It is, in my view, interesting to note that the NHL formally had agreed to not expand westward at some point in the past. With cities expanding across Canada and America, you would think that this would be a very shortsighted move.

After losing to the Black Hawks 3-1, we find that the Eagles had defeated the New York Rangers 4-2 on Saturday for their first win as the Eagles. With their 1-1-0 record, the Eagles prepared to battle the Montreal Maroons as they looked to build on their winning ways. The Maroons entered the game as the only team that had yet to open their season. In a rather interesting note, Ralph Bowman of the Eagles scored against the Maroons in a losing effort on a penalty shot, the first successful penalty shot goal in NHL history!

Instead, we jump ahead to November 30, 1934 where we discovered that the game against the Maroons had started a seven-game losing skid, leaving the Eagles reeling with a 1-8-0 record. In an effort to add some scoring, the Eagles purchased the contract of Vic Ripley from the New York Rangers. Ripley would appear in 31 games as his career was virtually at its conclusion. Ripley would star with the Black Hawks for five seasons before being shuffled between the Bruins, Rangers, and Eagles in two years. His time with the Eagles netted him one goal and five assists - not the best contract that the Eagles employed in their short time.

Looking for more scoring help, the Eagles tried to make waves on December 4 by trying to acquire Toronto's Harvey Jackson for $50,000. The Leafs asked for $100,000 for Jackson's services which, ultimately, killed that deal. In more personnel moves, the Ottawa interests controlling the Eagles interviewed former Senators star Frank Nighbor about taking over for Eddie Gerard in order to help the ailing club. Nighbor would eventually turn down this offer.

Looking to improve their goaltending situation, December 20, 1934 saw the Eagles throw a contract offer at Herb Stuart of the IHL's London Tucumsehs - the same team that Frank Nighbor managed! Both Stuart and the Tucumseh "club officials" (read: Nighbor) thought that the offer was too small for a goaltender of Stuart's stature, and Stuart rejected the offer. Not that it would matter much because the Eagles had themselves a pretty solid goaltender right under their own noses.

December 21, 1934 saw the Eagles use their goaltending as an advantage as they tied the powerful Toronto Maple Leafs with a 1-1 game. Bill Beveridge, goaltender for the Eagles, turned in an outstanding performance with 48 saves, but surrendered one goal that equaled the number that got by George Hainsworth in the Leafs' net.

In a rather interesting note, Beveridge was one of the last surviving members of the original Ottawa Senators club when the NHL awarded an expansion franchise to Ottawa in 1992. As the last goaltender to record a shutout for the Senators, he lived to see Don Beaupre record the first shutout for a Senators goaltender in the modern era when Beaupre closed the door on the Philadelphia Flyers on February 6, 1995 in the lockout-shortened season. Seven days later, Beveridge passed away in what seems like a closing of the book from one Senators era to another.

With the calendar turning to 1935, the Eagles and Montreal Canadiens were battling it out for who would occupy the cellar in the NHL's International Division. With both teams struggling, George (Buck) Boucher was brought in to coach the 2-11-0 Eagles to a higher standing than their current position after Eddie Gerard had resigned, and it appeared the Eagles were on their way up on January 10, 1935 after posting a 3-3-3 record since Boucher took over. If the Eagles were to continue on this upswing, they were poised to catch the New York Americans by season's end!

The problems with a losing team is that it creates fan apathy towards the club. With apathy at an all-time high in St. Louis thanks to a team stuck in last place, the club noticed that attendance was plummeting. So the Eagles made a cardinal sin in order to attract fans - they reduced ticket prices. While attendance climbed from 4000 fans to approximately 7000 fans, the Eagles still lost their fifteenth game of the season to the Boston Bruins by a 2-1 score.

With the team floundering in the standings and at the box office, the Eagles began the second phase of cardinal sins on February 12, 1935 - selling marketable stars for cash. Syd Howe was arguably the best player that the Eagles ever had on their roster, and Ralph Bowman was a serviceable player. The loss of either player alone would have weakened the team, but their loss together weakened it considerably. The Red Wings, receiving the two players, became a better team instantly. The $50,000 received by the Eagles would be little more than a windfall of cash that would service the team's mounting losses while Teddy Graham was little more than a stop-gap for a team that was dealing away one of its best players.

As a note, the newspaper clip states that Scotty Bowman was involved in the trade, but the legendary coach of the Blues, Sabres, Canadiens, Penguins and Red Wings was born September 18, 1933 - making him all of one year-old when the Eagles were playing in St. Louis. Clearly, this was an error as the only Bowman on the Eagles' roster was the penalty-shot scorer Ralph Bowman. Just wanted to clarify my writing versus that of the Rochester Evening Journal and the Post Express.

It was no secret in April that the St. Louis Eagles were in dire straits. Their 11-31-6 record to finish the season was the least of their worries as extreme travel costs and fan apathy had the club bleeding red ink. A group of investors from Cleveland, led by AC Sutphin, had spoken to NHL President Frank Calder about having his city join the ranks of the NHL, and there was some discussion about moving a team to Cleveland. While there was some talk about St. Louis being one possible team, the article from The Montreal Gazette makes it clear that the Montreal Canadiens are the team that is interested in relocating! Could you imagine the Canadiens not being part of the NHL? It almost happened in the mid-1930s!

In perhaps the quietest announcement ever for a team folding, September 28, 1935 saw The Pittsburgh Press run a tiny article about the Eagles suspending operations for one year. Interestingly, the players from the Eagles would be distributed amongst the worst teams in the NHL, and would be available for recall one year later if the Eagles were to return. Would any team today even consider this possibility? Would the NHLPA even allow it? It was a different world for the NHL back in the 1930s.

Just over two weeks later, the Eagles were officially done. For an undisclosed amount of money, the NHL would assume control of all assets and contracts held by the Eagles and distribute them to teams amongst the eight-team league. The Montreal Canadiens showed interest in as many as four players, but each of the NHL teams wanted a shot at the Eagles' remaining players. I'll have a rundown as to who went where after the assets were divided, but, officially the Eagles were no more.

October 16, 1935 saw more information come out about the sale of the Eagles to the NHL. Each of the eight NHL teams contributed $5000 for a total of $40,000 payable to the owners of the Eagles. Eighteen players were distributed while five would move to minor-league teams. The only team not to select an Eagle? The Chicago Black Hawks.

This article, from The Leader-Post in Regina, shows the distribution of the players to each of the teams. There are also some great photographs of the Eagles players in their sweaters. The players were distributed as follows:

  • New York Americans: Pete Kelly, Eddie Finnigan.
  • Montreal Canadiens: Bill Beveridge, Irv Frew, Paul Drouin, Henri Lauzon.
  • Detroit Red Wings: Carl Voss, William Peterkin.
  • New York Rangers: Glen Brydson, Vernon Ayres.
  • Montreal Maroons: Joe Lamb, Bill Taugher.
  • Boston Bruins: Bill Cowley, Teddy Graham.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs: Gerry Shannon, Cliff Purpur, Jim Dewey, Mickey Blake.
And with that, NHL hockey in St. Louis was done until 1967 when the St. Louis Blues were founded as an expansion franchise. There's no denying that the Eagles were a bad team and that moving them again might have been inevitable even if they had been able to survive the '34-35 season. The St. Louis Eagles, once the Ottawa Senators, were the officially were scrapped as an NHL entry on October 15, 1935.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Bourque To Sit

I'm going to be as transparent as I can be right now: hits from behind are dirty. I don't like them, and, as a defenceman, I'm always aware when a player is on my tail when I'm racing to pick up the puck. I won't shy away from telling you that I've allowed forwards to streak by me when I know they have a head of steam because I don't want to get plastered into the boards by some kid who is trying to earn a full-time beer league roster spot. Sure, it drives my teammates mad because they know I had a step on the kid, but it's the difference sometimes between winning the race safely and getting destroyed the next time.

The hard part for me, when I do get hit from behind as infrequently as I do, is whether I believe there was intention behind the hit. Did the jerk who hit me actually mean to hit me from behind? Did he stumble into me perhaps? Did I turn at the last second?

Normally, I can tell when a hit is meant to hurt - the lasting pain after the hit means that it was definitely intentional. Hits from behind, for the vast majority, don't have this same pain element as much as it is the element of surprise for the player being hit. Therefore, in the vast majority of the cases I've been involved in, the hit, in my view, was not intentional.

That brings us to the hit that Rene Bourque threw on Brent Seabrook. This hit looks bad, but I believe that Bourque's intention is to not line up Seabrook between the numbers. Check the video.

If you watch that video closely, it looks as though Seabrook turns ever so slightly, causing the hit to be from behind rather than partially from the side. While Bourque only had a split-second to react to the change that Seabrook made, I think the NHL, in particular Brendan Shanahan, will go a little easier on Bourque because I don't believe the intention was for Bourque to destroy Seabrook.

Regardless, players have to know that if you're going to attempt a hit and you can see the numbers on the back of the jersey, there's a chance that your hit could end badly. This is what I believe happened on this play involving Bourque and Seabrook, and, as a result, I believe that Bourque will sit for this hit.

The NHL needs to keep sending the message: players who don't respect the safety of their teammates and opposition will lose money through fines and/or suspensions. If that hasn't become apparent with the way that Shanahan has been fining and suspending people thus far, I'm not sure how much clearer it can be.

If you want to hit from behind, be prepared for a hit to your wallet. It's the only way some of these players will learn.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Equipment Watch: Launch Skates

The skates you see above are called Launch Skates. If you notice, there are two very distinct additions to the skate chassis that you can see. Those, readers, are high compression steel springs. What's the purpose of springs in skates, you ask? Well, that's what we're here for, and HBIC wants to take a look at this new innovation called Launch Skates.

First, let's get a little info on what these Launch Skates are all about. According to their website, "High compression steel springs are mounted in the front and back of the blade holder, allowing the blade to move up and down - utilizing kinetic energy and gravity as weight and motion are applied by the skater". That's pretty interesting, I'd say.

Getting science involved to make skaters faster by better utilizing the motions of the foot seems like a good idea. Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and others have been doing it with running shoes for decades, and the Nike Shox shoe is made to "absorb impact from heel strike while running" while springing back to add more power to the runner's stride. It sounds like the spring action idea is now being incorporated into skates!

The one thing that makes me a little leery about the testimonials and reports is that there are no names attached to the comments. I can understand why they can't name the NHL player since Launch Skates are not licensed by the NHL, but why not name the professional hockey instructor? Why not name the amateur hockey player and former Junior A player? Do they have some sort of contract with an endorsement deal that would prevent them from testing out the Launch Skates?

The gallery of images was pretty cool because of the Launch Skates prototypes. You can see that they used regular hockey skates to test the chassis, and that's pretty conclusive evidence that these chassis would at least work on hockey skates. There are no images of the skates being used on the ice, however, so I'm not all that certain that these skates actually work the way in terms of how they are presented. And no video? Anything that proves that these skates actually work in the manner that they are presented?

There is some contact info if you want to find out more, but it seems that the Launch Skates are still very early in the testing phase of development. The email sent to me by David Blois came from the email address on that page, so there definitely is someone checking that mailbox.

While I'm not going to rain on the parade thrown by Launch Skates, there needs to be some more concrete evidence shown on their site - video or pictures of players using the skates - about how these skates make a player faster and how the science works behind the suspension in the chassis. Naming some of the "testimonial" people would also bring instant credibility if these are recognized people, so that would be good as well.

Overall, the skates look promising, but I just want to see more concrete evidence that the skates work as the Launch Skates website claims they do.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Selanne-peg

There are players who are loved by fans in a certain city for all that they have done there. Wayne Gretzky is still held in high esteem by people in Edmonton. Mario Lemieux is loved in Pittsburgh. Steve Yzerman might be the most celebrated sports figure in Detroit. While he has played for four teams and is favored in Anaheim, there is no denying that Teemu Selanne is one of the most popular people to have ever been part of the Winnipeg sports scene, and may actually be bigger than Bobby Hull when it comes to how much the people of Winnipeg love the "Finnish Flash".

It's hard to imagine that Teemu Selanne could have been playing for the Calgary Flames had it not been for a shrewd business decision by Jets' management to match a $2.7 million offer sheet given to Selanne by the Flames. Selanne had yet to play one second of hockey in the NHL, and his entry level deal was already a large sum of money for the small market Jets.

"There was some controversy around it all because here was this guy coming from Europe who was getting which was then a very big contract for an entry-level guy," Winnipeg-based Don Baizley, Selanne's longtime agent, said to Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times.

"I always thought he was motivated by the speculation that, geez, this guy wasn't worth this money, that kind of stuff. Then he came in and got 76 goals."

While the money considerations would handcuff the team in 1996, forcing Selanne's trade to Anaheim, there was no doubt that he was the most celebrated sports figure in Winnipeg history since Bobby Hull signed his cheque at Portage and Main. Selanne also was extremely generous with his time while he was here as a Jet, always signing one more autograph and always stopping for one more picture. Gestures like this have kept him as part of the Winnipeg sports lore for more than 15 years while he played in Anaheim, San Jose, and Denver.

For the game here last night, Selanne brought his family with him so that his kids could see what hockey in Winnipeg was like. What the Selanne clan witnessed was a city and a player making amends for his unwanted departure as Selanne was given a standing ovation when he appeared on the Jumbotron during warm-ups and cheered loudly every time he touched the puck during the game.

"My boys, they are growing up in California where hockey is not as big as here so that’s why this was very special for them to come here and realize the passion that these people have here. They are going to remember this for sure the rest of their lives," Selanne told Paul Waldie of The Globe and Mail.

Dad was also able to turn his celebration into a lesson for his kids. Selanne added, "I’ve tried to teach them when you treat people well they are going to treat you well also." A very good lesson exemplified by both people of Winnipeg and their dad.

Here is the tribute done by the new Jets in honour of Teemu Selanne, one of the most memorable Jets to have ever played the game.

They showed Teemu's family a couple of times there, and they have to be proud of Dad and impressed by the outpouring from the fans towards Teemu Selanne. Win, lose, or draw by the Jets last night, I don't think there would have been one person in MTS Centre that would have booed Teemu Selanne at all regardless of the outcome.

As one final great moment, Teemu Selanne was named the third star of the game, and got his chance to have his moment on the ice all by himself in front of 15,000 of his biggest fans.
As the announcer stated, Teemu Selanne is a classy guy, and it's nice to see that he got a chance to return to bid adieu to the fans where the magic began in 1992.

Not many players get that opportunity, but I'm glad Selanne did. He is the epitome of a selfless, classy player. All the best, Mr. Selanne, as you continue to play the game at an exceptionally high level.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Brought To You By Fleecy

I was sitting at home today, awaiting the broadcast of CBC's Hockey Night In Canada, when news of a trade broke in the NHL that literally left my jaw gaping. I still, for the life of me, don't understand how this trade went down from the perspective of one team while the other team has to be overjoyed. There isn't a shadow of a doubt in my mind that one team got fleeced in this deal because of what they put up in the deal. If you're still unsure of what happened today, read on because I'm quite certain that one team was a definite winner in today's deal.

Look, I'm excited for the Jets-Ducks game tonight because not only will it be on CBC, but Teemu Selanne will finally be back in Winnipeg to play professional hockey. While he's not playing with the Jets, there's no doubt that the people of Winnipeg still hold Selanne near and dear to their hearts, and he'll undoubtedly hear the cheers from the Winnipeg faithful tonight. But alas, I want to look at the trade today, so tune into tomorrow for some additional Selanne coverage.

Around 2PM ET today, the Ottawa Senators sent highly-regarded defenceman David Rundblad and a second-round pick to the Phoenix Coyotes for forward Kyle Turris. Yes, the same Kyle Turris who thought it was better to hold-out for a ridiculous amount of money over a ludicrous amount of time than to actually play the game and do something more than a career-best 25 points. As for right now, the Ottawa Senators are slotting him into their second line, and the Coyotes are laughing all the way to the draft with David Rundblad becoming an important piece of their solid, young defence corps AND a second-rounder to spend at this year's NHL Entry Draft.

Does anyone here think this is an EA Sports trade?

If that reference doesn't hit you, the artificial intelligence in most of EA Sports' NHL Hockey series trade on the strength of player ratings. Draft picks are held to a higher standard most often, so you often have to package a solid player with a good pick to get back a player that has huge potential. If you have another player that can step in, you can usually swindle the artificial intelligence for a solid player and a high draft pick for a player that may not offer much beyond a good year or two.

I understand that David Rundblad wasn't turning out as well as the Senators had hoped. They watched Erik Karlsson turn into a star, but Rundblad was certainly holding his own in both zones and was nothing to discard at this point, especially when dealing for a player who has had a vast number of opportunities in the desert, but has never panned out to this day.

Turris will get a load of opportunities in Ottawa, but there are two things that Turris never picked up while playing for Dave Tippett: a work ethic, and the defensive responsibility that comes along with being a solid two-way centerman. Ottawa is short this season in two-way players, but there is reason to believe that Turris may develop into one under the watchful eye of Paul MacLean.

Had that been the end of this trade, and all would be forgotten as two young players swap jerseys in the hope that they can become something bigger than what they were with their previous teams. Instead, Ottawa tosses in a second-round pick to sweeten the deal for a guy who has 46 points in 137 NHL games!

That would be like exchanging $20 for two $10 bills, and then throwing in an extra $20 for a tip. In short, it's idiotic, and I hope someone is writing up Bryan Murray's walking papers as you read this! If stupid trades define a career, Murray is currently etching out one of the best careers ever written, and this trade may define his era with the Senators.

Of course, if Turris decides to show up, play hard, skate his butt off, and score some goals, everything may change. That second-rounder may be forgotten if this trade propels the Senators into the playoffs. My guess, however, is that it won't, and Turris won't even scratch the 25-point mark this season.

The nation's capital needs some help, and I doubt they'll find it in Turris. This trade is brought to you by Fleecy because Bryan Murray didn't just get taken to the cleaners. He got fleeced.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 16 December 2011

TBC: I Hate Hockey

I received an interesting email from a Mr. Peter McCambridge a few weeks back. Mr. McCambridge wanted to know if I'd be willing to review a book that he had been involved in. Of course, Teebz's Book Club is always looking for new literary works to review here on HBIC, so I gladly accepted Mr. McCambridge's offer to review the book. TBC is proud to present I Hate Hockey, written by François Barcelo, translated by Peter McCambridge, and published by Baraka Books. While the title seems like something you'd never hear on HBIC, the book itself was an interesting read. It's not solely about hockey, but hockey has a major theme in the book in terms of the story's twists and turns. While I found myself wanting more hockey action, the story written by M. Barcelo will certainly make some people uncomfortable, but it should stir emotions one way or another.

Born December 4, 1941, François Barcelo is a very accomplished French writer, but he wasn't always an author. M. Barcelo was involved in the world of advertising until 1988, having served as Vice-President of the J. Walter Thompson Company. M. Barcelo has always had the talent of a good writer, though, and this was seen early on when he won a literary prize for young writers from Radio-Canada in Quebec. In 1997, he was nominated for the Governor General's Award for his story The Far Side of the Stones, and has twice won the Literary Grand Prix de la Montérégie for his work in 1999 and 2003. Today, Monsieur Barcelo serves on the board of the Montreal Book Fair, and he continues to add books and stories to the 40 published works that have already been produced.

Peter McCambridge is a professional translator and a serious hockey fan based in Quebec City. He has an MA in Modern Languages from Cambridge University. His MA thesis is on the Montreal Canadiens and popular culture in Quebec.

I Hate Hockey is the story of Antoine Vachon's down-on-his-luck life over a few days. The story takes place in what literally seems like four days of his life, but we learn a great deal about our poor, unfortunate protagonist in this short time. The story contained within the covers of I Hate Hockey is more a crime drama than a hockey story, but there is a major hockey component to the story that allows the mystery to unfold.

We learn that Antoine Vachon is unemployed after the Saturn dealership he was working for is closed by GM. We also learn that he's in the midst of divorce proceedings after he was caught by his wife in bed with her intern after a power outage at a sports bar forced her early return to their home. And we learn that despite Antoine's living in Quebec, he absolutely hates hockey. Colombe, his ex-wife, absolutely loves the Montreal Canadiens, and their son, Jonathan, lives with his mother and plays hockey as well. Needless to say, Antoine doesn't have a very good relationship with them, and his life in general suffers.

The story takes a twist when Antoine receives a phone call from Denis Beauchemin, the president of the Saint-Zéphyrin Sports Association. Mr. Beauchemin calls to beg Antoine to coach his son's hockey team after their former coach, Don Mosian, is found dead outside his home. Of course, Antoine protests this appointment to bench boss since he hates hockey and wants little to do with it, but Mr. Beauchemin eventually talks him into it, and the team is on a bus on their way to Morinville for a game against the Loons.

While the game itself is more an inside look at what's going on in Antoine's brain as he watched the players go through the motions, you can tell that he likes the game despite his insistence that he hates it with all his being. He knows enough that he's knowledgeable, and that can go a long way. But it's after the game at the the hotel that Antoine makes a startling discovery: former coach Don Mosian had been murdered with a baseball bat! And this, of course, starts his mind racing with potential who-done-its and why it may have happened.

I'm definitely not going to tell you anything beyond this point because I Hate Hockey twists and turns in all sorts of different directions after this point in the story. Whether the themes of a broken family trying to mend itself to a man torn in different directions compels you to read this book, one thing is for certain: I Hate Hockey will provoke some emotions to present themselves within the reader.

At one point, I found myself very uncomfortable with where I thought the story was heading, only to find out that Antoine's moral compass points him in the right direction. Needless to say, M. Barcelo has done a good job at evoking emotions, and that's a skill that not a lot of authors can boast. I Hate Hockey certainly is worth reading if you're looking for a good crime story with a hockey element.

While only 100 pages long, I felt that I Hate Hockey really could have played out over a few hundred pages if M. Barcelo had wanted it. Instead, we get a nice story that's easy to read on a plane or trip in the car. The topics and some of the language are more geared for an older audience, however, so I would recommend this book to older teens and adults due to some of the material covered. The story itself is compelling, and it certainly takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions and thoughts are you struggle along with Antoine to make sense of his discoveries.

The drama, the story, and incredible twists that I Hate Hockey makes over its 100 pages are worth the read, and, because of these factors, I Hate Hockey certainly deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval! This story is not just for the hockey fan, but it's a more general story that can appeal to both male and female readers as it is less about hockey and more about the drama that unfolds because of hockey. Recommended reading if you're a mystery lover!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Can't We All Just Get Along?

It's hard to believe that with the number of festive seasons upon us in December that people still have to act like complete heathens when it comes to sports, especially when children are involved. I get that no one likes it when they lose, but I bring to you today another story of a person who has taken things just a little too far. And by "little", I mean the line he crossed is somewhere past the horizon in his rear-view mirror. A man in Winnipeg was convicted on Monday of assault and uttering threats to kill and criminal harassment for an incident that took place at his son's hockey game in December 2009.

Reportedly, the incident occurred at a Winnipeg arena in the canteen area. Paul Buchanan, the guilty party, had just finished watching his 12 year-old son's Fort Garry team defeat a team from St. Norbert, and found himself in a heated discussion with one of the parents from the St. Norbert team after making a snide remark about a player who Buchanan used to coach as part of the Fort Garry team, but was now part of the St. Norbert team.

This, of course, set the course of events in motion, and, after having both men say things they probably regret, Buchanan "angrily shoved the man into a wall, screamed obscenities at him and threatened to kill him". Keep in mind that the game is over, Buchanan's team won, and this is a game being played by 12 year-olds!

But it doesn't end there. Several parents tried to break up the fight, but one woman reported being punched in the breast by Buchanan. Eventually, Buchanan was escorted outside, but he waited for the parents outside where another fight broke out between the two men. After this scuffle was broken up, it was thought that insanity might be over.

Except it wasn't. Buchanan then had the nerve to go home, fire up the old computer, and bomb off a number of threatening emails to the St. Norbert father. He also phoned the woman he punched all night, making threats via phone, and it finally came to an end when the woman and her partner called the police well after midnight and filed a complaint against Buchanan.

"He was ranting and raving, yelling and swearing," she told the court during Monday's proceedings.

Now all of this evidence is pretty compelling in that it seems Buchanan might have a problem. For his part, Buchanan admitted that he may have overreacted with the number of phone calls made and the things said, and he told the court that he suffers from "social anxiety". He also said that alcohol and medication may have been partially to blame for his rage that night.

In his defence, he stated that he had been "humiliated" by what happened, and that he wanted to make things right in light of the events that had unfolded. He stated that he had not started the fight at the arena, and that he simply wanted to extend a friendly greeting before the St. Norbert father verbally and physically attacked him.

I'm not buying it. And Judge Robert Heinrichs? He didn't buy Buchanan's recollection of events either.

"His behaviour spiralled out of control. His evidence on what happened that day is not accepted. The conduct was completely reckless on his part," said Heinrichs.

Thanks to USA Hockey, we finally have an image of what the confrontation may have looked like. This is just an artist's rendition, mind you, but it seems to fit the profile of this case fairly well.
Relax, man. It's just a game being played by 12 year-olds.

Mr. Buchanan, your actions are, quite frankly, disgusting when considering that this was a game played by 12 year-olds, and I'm quite happy that Judge Heinrichs made it clear that this type of nonsense will neither be tolerated or condoned in the eyes of the law.

"Am I facing jail time? All over a 12-year-old hockey game?" Buchanan said loudly in court following the verdict. "Thanks, thanks a lot," he added to nobody in particular. While the Crown indicated that they won't seek custody of Buchanan over this incident, the only person that Mr. Buchanan has to thank is himself.

Good sportsmanship came with a heavy price on Monday for Mr. Buchanan, and I doubt he'll ever forget the cost associated with it.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

I'll Vote No

Modern plumbing is a fabulous thing. We have great luxuries like flushing and urinal "mints". I find it absolutely idiotic that people would want to move backwards when it comes to sanitation, but it appears that fans of the Winnipeg Jets would prefer to go back to the "good ol' days" when it comes to peeing. It's not all Jets fans, mind you. No, it seems that the only fans who want to jump back in time are of the male persuasion because they are pushing for the return of the "trough" that once lined the walls of men's bathrooms in the old Winnipeg Arena.

Apparently, the long waits for a urinal or bathroom stall at MTS Centre are a downer for fans who have to go. The line-ups are causing some fans to miss portions of the game when nature calls, and that has caused an uprising of some 300+ Jets fans to call for the troughs to be brought back from their final resting spots.

"Oh, it's killer, it's killer, especially when intermission comes. It's very long waiting," Jets fan Don Lavallee told CBC News at the NHL game Tuesday night. I hate to point this out to Mr. Lavallee, but it's always been like this at MTS Centre. While there were rarely 15,000 fans at Moose games, the lines have always been long while waiting for a urinal or stall. In fact, most arenas I have been to experience some sort of slow-down when you're waiting for a place to release some pressure during an intermission.

If you want to sign the online petition to bring back the urine trough, you're welcome to it. Personally, you won't find my name on it. I've stood beside too many drunk dudes who thought it was "cool" to splash you with their urine while they stood there with their pants around their ankles. In fact, it looks something like this:
Not really my idea of fun, especially when your ass is hanging out at the same level as some of the kids in the washroom. It's gross, the place reeked of urine, and getting bumped while you peed always meant there was a chance you were coming out of the washroom wetter than when you went in.

It sounds like the people responsible for these decisions at MTS Centre see the value in using semi-private urinals. I can't see any value of giving into a few people who prefer to pee into the trough than planning their washroom visits accordingly. If you're one of those people who enjoy the smell of urine, like crowding around a metal conduit of urine, and enjoy the risk of walking out with urine on your clothes, sign that petition.

Don't get angry if it doesn't happen, though. Just remember that it's better being pissed off than pissed on.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Jets Run Wild

It's starting to become a bit of a trend, but there's no denying that the Jets are using an "extra attacker" in every home game. The Jets have been playing extremely well at home, and it seems that opposing teams that roll into MTS Centre are finding the fans to be a major handicap in their chances of winning. Case in point? The game against the NHL-leading Minnesota Wild saw the Wild go up 1-0 before the fans came alive, and the Jets followed their fans' lead. Goals by Eric Bogosian and Bryan Little gave the Jets a 2-1 win over their future conference rivals, and a big win over the best team in the NHL. If you're keeping track at home, the Jets have beaten Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Minnesota on home ice. The MTS Centre is a hostile environment if you're not wearing Winnipeg blue.

I'll be honest when I say that Ondrej Pavelec has been outstanding after starting slowly in the early weeks of the season. His reaction time is incredible, and his game-saving save on Kyle Brodziak, Minnesota's leading goal-scorer, in the late stages of the game was downright robbery.

If you had to give an MVP award early on this season, I have to believe that Ondrej Pavelec would get a pile of votes after he has been incredible in his eleven victories thus far. Could we see a 25-30 win season out of Pavelec?

In a rather scary moment at the end of the game, Eric Bogosian bumped Pierre-Marc Bouchard from behind into the endboards, leaving Bouchard's face bloodied. Personally, this one looked bad in person, but, after seeing the highlights, I'm not so sure that there should be a suspension on this. Take a look.
First, the announcers jumped a little quickly in handing down suspensions. Bouchard did turn his back as Bogosian was throwing his hit, so I'm pretty sure this will NOT be a suspension. A fine? I'm almost certain that Shanahan could pass down a hit to Bogosian's wallet. But a suspension? Bouchard should not put himself into a bad situation like he did, so I'm thinking no suspension. Brendan Shanahan may feel differently, but I don't think this hit warrants time off because Bouchard put himself in a bad spot.

In a rather interesting piece of news, the Tampa Bay Lightning went out and signed former KHL player and Minnesota Wild forward Antti Miettinen to a two-year, $3 million contract with a no-movement clause thrown in. That clause was added because Miettinen had started his season in the KHL as a member of Ak Bars Kazan, and would have to clear re-entry waivers to join the Lightning.

Well, the Jets are looking for some help with injuries mounting and AHL call-ups patching the holes, so they took a flyer on Miettinen and claimed him. Personally, I like this move because he brings a little tenacity, a little scoring, and a little hustle in his game - something the Jets seem to be building as they show signs of being a hard-working, blue-collar team. Miettinen is a very blue-collar player, and I think he'll fit in nicely as he'll boost a penalty killing unit that needs some additional leadership.

Overall, it was a pretty great day for the Jets: a win over the best team in the NHL with a solid effort, a brand-new player who should be able to step in and contribute, and another night where the fans were loud and went home happy. Ain't it great to be a Jets fan?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!