Hockey Headlines

Friday, 30 November 2012

Old-Time Hockey Looks Good

I know you're a regular reader of this blog, so I don't really have to tell you how happy old hockey photos make me. The history of the game is something that is often forgotten with all the glamor and glitz and bright lights of today's game. We forget that the guys who blazed a path to what the NHL has become today were paid a pittance compared to the players today, and often had to work a second job in the off-season to make ends meet. Paul Richard Cook, a reader of Uni Watch, submitted a link to the Boston Public Library's Flikr account on Wednesday, and it contained some of the most gorgeous pictures of the Bruins ever seen.

We'll start with this image of Win Green, the Boston Bruins' trainer. Green was not only the medical man, as seen by his collection of bottles and tools on the table, but he also was responsible for equipment repairs and upkeep. He'd repair holes in sweaters, sharpen skates, and look after the equipment the players wore. Like other trainers of his time, Green also looked after the Boston Braves when hockey was in its off-season! If you look closely in the picture, though, you can see his Bruins' sweater has something written below it: World's Champions - 1928-29! Pretty cool, right?

The man of the day in that era was defenceman Eddie Shore. Boston's tough, scoring blueliner was one of the biggest stars in the NHL in the late-1920s and early-1930s, and here's a great shot of him getting into a the ice shower hockey pose. The thing that I noticed in that picture, though? Check out the guy on the right in the background wearing a tanktop! It was a lot colder in the rinks back then, so whoever that is must have ice in his veins!

In a rare pre-game photo, you can see the Bruins and the Montreal Maroons standing for what appears to be the pre-game anthem. I'm going to assume it's the American national anthem being played since some fans in the image have their hats over their hearts. I think it's pretty cool to see all 11 Bruins and all 11 Maroons at center ice together before they hammer away on one another. And note the two referees! Two referees were the standard until the 1938-39 season when the two referees were replaced by one referee and one linesman.

Here's a great picture of the Bruins battling against the Toronto Maple Leafs in NHL action. While it seems strange not to see ads on the boards, I was struck by the absence of the lines and face-off circles on the ice! There's not even a crease for the goalie to protect!

Here's a picture of Ray Getliffe putting his Bruins sweater on before a game. While there isn't much out of the ordinary here, do you know whose locker is to Getliffe's right? I'm guessing that Eddie Shore's locker. How do I know? Shore was one of the first men to wear a helmet in the NHL, and that one atop the locker looks a lot like Shore's chosen helmet. If so, that would mean this photo was taken after 1931-32 as that was the season that Shore first donned the headgear. Reportedly, the date of the photo was 1938. My skills of deduction shouldn't be wasted!

You're welcome to search through the rest of the pictures, and I highly recommend that you do. These are some excellent photos, and I have to commend Paul Richard Cook for finding them and bringing them to my attention!

MO' BRO: The final Mo' Bro is the other half of the battle for moustache supremacy as we look at George Parros' contribution to the battle. As stated all month, the roster for the Mo' Bro All-Star squad included Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, Harold Snepsts, Dave Tippett, Michel Goulet, Paul MacLean, Mike McPhee, Mike Bullard, Bob Murdoch, Rejean Lemelin, Pat Burns, Joel Quenneville, Bill McCreary, Don VanMassenhoven, the NJ Devil, and Jim "Bearcat" Murray. We profiled Mike Brown yesterday as he and George Parros are in an epic battle for moustache supremacy, so let's take a look at George Parros on this final day of Nomveber!

George Parros is probably one of the more recognizable moustachioed men in the NHL right now. After having played the last six seasons in Anaheim, Parros agreed to a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers this past off-season. Parros' 'stache days actually started when he was much younger as he and his brother would have moustache-growing competitions! Since playing in Anaheim, Parros started a clothing line called "Stache Gear" where proceeds from sales goes to The Garth Brooks Teammates For Kids Foundation. A graduate of Princeton, the scrappy winger was part of the 2007 Anaheim Ducks team that won the Stanley Cup! On top of it all, not only does Parros participate in the Movember work, but he gives his time and energy to a vast number of great causes as well.

While Parros' 'stache may have flown east this off-season, his Movember team is doing well! Team ParrosMos has raised $7331 to date! Well done, George Parros, on getting some great cash in to have your team sit 231st out of 14758 US teams! Karl Alzner has raised $1,387 alone! If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches! Today's the last day to help out during the Movember month!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Hockey Show - Episode Twelve

The Hockey Show returns to the airwaves tonight at 6:00PM on 101.5 UMFM. You'll be listening, right? RIGHT?!? In all seriousness, tonight's show should be pretty darn good as we welcome a Canadian kid who has become synonymous with boisterous hockey. You may have seen him a role that has defined his acting career thus far, but his stock is only rising.

Today, The Hockey Show is proud to welcome Jared Keeso, the man more affectionately known for playing Don Cherry in the two CBC-produced movies about the former player and coach. However, the Don Cherry chapter of Mr. Keeso's life is just one small part of what appears to be a fascinating life thus far. We'll talk with Mr. Keeso about his Don Cherry experience, his time in Manitoba filming the movies, his other acting gigs, some new projects he's working on, and, of course, some general hockey talk. It should be a "beauty", if I can borrow that line from Mr. Keeso and Mr. Cherry, so I encourage you to tune in and hear all about it!

After all, you don't want to anger the guy who won a Gemini Award for his portrayal of one of the most fiery guys in hockey, do you?
If you want to ask Jared a question, please get on Twitter and tweet a question to me at @TeebzHBIC. I'll randomly pick a few and work them into the conversation with Jared so that he can answer questions you may have. After all, we may not ask anything close to the questions you may have, and it's always fun to take a few off-the-wall questions. So tweet them over to me!

MO' BRO: I've basically built a team of moustachioed greats for the Mo' Bro All-Stars. So far, the bus carrying these greats has seats reserved for Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, Harold Snepsts, Dave Tippett, Michel Goulet, Paul MacLean, Mike McPhee, Mike Bullard, Bob Murdoch, Rejean Lemelin, Pat Burns, Joel Quenneville, Bill McCreary, Don VanMassenhoven, the NJ Devil, and Jim "Bearcat" Murray! But there are two men in the NHL right now who are leading the way in terms of moustache greatness, and they're going head-to-head in raising money for the Movember cause!

Mike Brown has sported some extremely impressive facial hair in recent months, but he shaved his forest of a beard to compete with Florida's George Parros in who could raise the most money by growing the best moustache. Team Canada, captained by Mike Brown, has $4723 thus far, and is looking for some more help as November comes to a close. Of all the Movember teams, Team Canada currently sits at #816 out of 23051 Movember teams in Canada. New Winnipeg Jet goaltender Al Montoya pledged $500 to Team Canada, so he's even getting in on the fun! If you can spare a few bucks, toss them at Team Canada, and let's help those out cancer research and men's mental health in Canada!

That beard that Mike Brown had made him look like he hadn't been in civilization for about six months! And now he's back to the 'stache and looking like the Mike Brown of old! If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

You Can Thank Luc For That

If you know me well enough, you know that I'm not fond of teams creating a uniform set with a black alternate jersey. To me, this signifies nothing more than laziness and a lack of creativity when it comes to jersey design. There are a few teams, though, that do get a pass from me because they did something new or different to incorporate the black uniform into their wardrobe. If you know about the Los Angeles Kings, you already know that they changed their uniforms when Gretzky arrived on the scene. But do you know why that happened?

Thanks to a little investigative journalism done by Trevor Williams, he ran with the notion that I had introduced on Uni Watch that Luc Robitaille had been instrumental in the Kings' switch from purple-and-gold to black-and-silver. We had a few emails go back and forth between myself and Trevor on the merits of Robitaille introducing the new color scheme before he got the word directly from the man who made the switch. Here's the article posted on Friday of last week on Uni Watch written by Trevor Williams.
Since the beginning, the color black has been part of the sporting landscape. The 1901 Baltimore Orioles wore a black jersey and black pants, and many other teams have forged black-based identities over the years — think Raiders, Bruins, the Pittsburgh franchises, and more.

Over past 25 years, however, black has become a popular default option, even for teams who had no previous connection to it. One of the key reasons for black’s recent popularity is the Los Angeles Kings’ 1988 switch from purple and gold to silver and black. In a recent phone interview, former Kings owner Bruce McNall explained that after taking control of the team, he wanted to give the team a distinct identity from Los Angeles’s other purple and gold team, the Lakers.

After asking such Kings players as Luc Robitaille, Jimmy Carson, and Bernie Nicholls for their input, McNall received feedback that choosing black would make them feel bigger and tougher. Robitaille had the greatest impact, telling McNall he enjoyed wearing the black and silver of his junior hockey team, the Hull Olympiques.

"Lou probably had more influence on me than anyone else, but then again he should," McNall recalled. "At that time he was our best player and had won the Calder Trophy."

The Olympiques — Robitaille's junior team — had changed their colors in 1985, soon after Wayne Gretzky had bought the team. While Gretzky and coach Pat Burns linked the color change to old Hull Volants of yesteryear, the Ottawa Citizen's article about the switch was titled "Olympiques sporting L.A. Raiders' colors," which shows what black was associated with back then.

With this in mind, McNall reached out to Raiders owner Al Davis before giving the Kings a silver-and-black makeover. At the time, Davis gave the green light for the Kings having the same colors as the Raiders, but he later expressed some displeasure about it in ESPN's documentary Straight Outta L.A.

"I didn't like that any team was going to use black and silver — those were our colors," Davis said in the film. "They did have beautiful uniforms. I will say that for them. It was classy."

In an unusual twist of fate, hockey's most famous trade brought Gretzky to the Kings just months after McNall had consulted with Robitaille about the color change. The Kings used Gretzky's introductory press conference to showcase not only their new player but also their new home jersey. By late March of 1989, the Los Angeles Times reported that Kings merchandise sales were "mind-boggling", as more Kings jackets had been sold in a year than in the previous decade.

The team received further exposure a few weeks later, when the gangsta rap band N.W.A. released their music video "Straight Outta Compton". Band member Ice Cube later described how the band had originally decided to wear black as a way to be uniform and to show their passion for the Raiders. With the Kings' color change, several members started wearing Kings caps as well.

"The black hats just matched with everything," said N.W.A. member MC Ren in the documentary. "Purple and gold wouldn’t have looked good on us."

In April 1991, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Kings constituted 30% of all NHL-licensed merchandise sales in North America. Other teams took notice: By the start of the 1992-93 NHL season, the North Stars, Senators, and Lightning had each issued a black jersey. By 2005, even the NHL's logo changed from orange and black to silver and black.

The impact wasn't limited to the NHL. My research indicates that between 1988 and 2012, approximately 45% of teams of the four major professional sports leagues either added black or made black more prominent in their color schemes for a period of time. Of those teams that made the switch, approximately 25% eventually ditched the black.

While black's influence has begun to wane with major-level pro teams, its popularity has surged in college sports, racing and international soccer. These sports don’t have the lengthy process design-approval process that the "big four" leagues require, so they can change their jerseys yearly – which many of them do — and black is always trendy option. It's no longer the only option, however, as gray, pink, and camouflage have become, in some ways, the new black.
There you have it, folks: Bruce McNall confirms that Luc Robitaille prompted the change to the silver-and-black for the Kings thanks to the Wayne Gretzky-owned Hull Olympiques. It remains a fairly popular color that teams are turning to today, but there has been a trend to move away from black alternates as of recently. Hopefully, this will lead to more colors being used in the NHL, and some new creative ideas for jersey design.

I want to thank Trevor for allowing me to put forth some evidence to help him gather pieces for this story. I think his piece is well-written, and I was glad to help him get this article posted to Uni Watch. Well done, Trevor, on a great article!

MO' BRO: The Mo' Bro All-Stars have a full roster of players, a couple of coaches, a mascot, and a pair of referees ready to call the game. Included on the distinguished guest list are Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, Harold Snepsts, Dave Tippett, Michel Goulet, Paul MacLean, Mike McPhee, Mike Bullard, Bob Murdoch, Rejean Lemelin, Pat Burns, Joel Quenneville, Bill McCreary, Don VanMassenhoven, and the NJ Devil! But what every good team needs is a trainer, and we have a beautifully 'stached man for that today!

Jim "Bearcat" Murray was a fixture on the Calgary Flames' bench from 1980 until his retirement in 1996. Upon his retirement, Murray was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame unanimously by the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society and the Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers. Murray's distinct, moustachioed look actually garnered him several fan clubs around the NHL, most notably in Boston and Montreal where the members of the "Bearcat" Murray fan clubs would sport skullcaps and moustaches to look like the famous Flames trainer! Always quick to hit the ice when a player was down, "Bearcat" Murray earned a Stanley Cup championship in 1989 with the Flames! Not bad for a self-taught athletic trainer, right?

The Mo' Bro All-Stars only have a few days left to fill some important positions, but we'll push on and fill all vacant jobs with a magnificent 'stache! If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

TBC: The Best Seat In The House

I have really been hitting the books over the last couple of weeks, and I can honestly say that I'm enjoying myself by taking in the literary hockey world rather than the hockey world in reality. From funny stories to unknown facts to just general entertaining writing, the hockey world is being lit up with some great books about hockey in general. Today's addition is no different as Teebz's Book Club is proud to present The Best Seat in the House, written by Jamie McLennan and Ian Mendes, and published by John Wiley & Sons Canada, Limited. This book had me laughing from the first chapter right until the very end, and there's a lot to like about everything that Jamie McLennan puts on the pages from his time in the CHL, AHL, NHL, and KHL over his hockey career.

From the biographies on the Wiley page, "Jamie McLennan — known to many as "Noodles" — is an Edmonton-born former NHL goaltender. Jamie spent 17 years playing professional hockey, 11 of those in the NHL, playing in 245 games and dressing for over 550 games with the New York Islanders, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames organizations. Later in his career, he had a short stint in Russia and Asia before retiring and working for the Flames again as part of their coaching and player development staff. Jamie is currently an analyst for TSN and the NHL Network and sometimes writes a column in The Hockey News.

"Ian Mendes has spent more than a decade as a television reporter for Sportsnet, covering the NHL and other major sporting events for the network. A graduate of Carleton University's journalism program, he is also a regular contributor to the Ottawa Citizen and Today's Parent." Mr. Mendes can be followed on Twitter at @ian_mendes where he regularly checks in with stories and comments on the stories he's following for Rogers' Sportsnet. Follow him if you're on Twitter to keep up-to-date on the Ottawa Senators as Mr. Mendes is assigned to the NHL team!

The Best Seat in the House gives readers a unique perspective on the game of hockey as Jamie McLennan was primarily a backup goaltender in his NHL career, backing up the likes of players such as Grant Fuhr, Ron Hextall, Miikka Kiprusoff, and Roberto Luongo. The stories he tells are from the vantage point of a player whose main responsibility on most nights was keeping the guys loose and opening the door at the far end of the bench. It's this vantage point, though, that offers such great and funny stories from a guy who a key cog on a lot of teams as a valued stopper.

McLennan talks about the legends he backed up in terms of the lessons he learned from them and the deep respect in which he still holds each of those men. He speaks about some of the coaches he played for and how each of those men brought a different twist to the game, but how each man's perspective taught him something new that he hadn't known before. And, of course, he talks about his teammates, their intensity on the ice, the kind of person each was off the ice, and the pranks and jokes that teammates played on one another. In short, The Best Seat in the House has lots of stories and a ton of laughs.

One thing that I was slightly shocked at was how candid Mr. McLennan is in his retelling of some of the stories. The chapter where he speaks about Darryl Sutter is very frank in terms of the language he uses, but it's easy to imagine a closed-door meeting between a coach and his under-performing team sounding like it did. Mr. McLennan's encounter with Gene Simmons of KISS also paints a very candid picture of the interaction between them. Needless to say, Jamie McLennan is very open and honest, and the stories told in The Best Seat in the House come across as very believable when reading them.

One such story happened while Jamie McLennan was playing with the Florida Panthers and was teammates with Roberto Luongo who, as you may be aware, is an avid poker player. On the plane, Mr. Luongo liked to play cards, and Mr. McLennan would find himself in the middle of a card game with Mr. Luongo.
"He used to hate playing cards with me on the back of the Panthers' charter plane, because I wouldn't take the game as seriously as he did. Roberto is one of the most intense and competitive poker players in the National Hockey League. You'll often see him in those celebrity poker tournaments because he loves to play so much. But I was one of those poker players who had ADD or a short attention span, so I couldn't get engaged in game for longer than 15 or 20 minutes. And when I'd get bored or frustrated with the game, I would simply lay my cards on the table and go all-in.

"This would frustrate Roberto to no end because I would often beat him by going all-in - and he hated the fact that I took all the strategy and decision-making out of the game. He would rip me and curse me a blue streak when I beat him, vowing that he would never play cards with me again."
I can totally see this being true from the candid way that McLennan tells the story, you can imagine the scene on the Panthers' plane as Luongo's intensity ratchets up just before McLennan gets bored and goes all-in. While McLennan doesn't specify how many times this scene unfolded on the plane, I can guess that the "never play cards with you again" vow was broken on a number of occasions.

The Best Seat in the House really is an inside view of one man's career as Jamie McLennan takes readers through the various stages of his career. What makes the book great, though, are the inside stories of Mr. McLennan's career - inside the dressing room, on planes and on buses, in practices, and on the bench. If anyone wanted to know what goes on when players aren't playing in games, Mr. McLennan's The Best Seat in the House provides a good look at the inner workings of a professional hockey team.

The Best Seat in the House is one of the best hockey books I've read this year simply due to the fact that Mr. McLennan is so open, honest, and candid in his stories. While there are a number of instances of PG-rated language, they all fit into the flow of the stories that Mr. McLennan sets up, so the usage of the coarse language doesn't feel forced or contrived. I'll admit that it only took me a couple of hours to get through this book because it was very funny and very entertaining.

Because of the language contained within the covers of The Best Seat in the House, I'd have to recommend it for a young adult crowd and older. The 238-page book will be a great read for anyone who loves to hear old "dressing room" stories that seem a little out there, so this book would be a great Christmas gift for a large number of hockey fans. Because of the book's honesty, candidness, humor, and great hockey stories, The Best Seat in the House absolutely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

MO' BRO: We have a roster of 22 players, two coaches, and two referees signed up for the Mo' Bro All-Stars, so where do we go from here? How about a mascot? What furry, moustachioed creature can I find to represent Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, Harold Snepsts, Dave Tippett, Michel Goulet, Paul MacLean, Mike McPhee, Mike Bullard, Bob Murdoch, Rejean Lemelin, Pat Burns, Joel Quenneville, Bill McCreary, and Don VanMassenhoven?

The mascot for the New Jersey Devils - NJ Devil - is actually the only NHL mascot with a moustache! While others have full beards or goatees, NJ Devil is the only one to sport a year-round 'stache. He made his first appearance for the Devils in 1993 by throwing peanut shells onto the crowd from the rafters in the old Continental Airlines Arena. Since then, NJ Devil has been a fixture at all Devils games and events! Some little known facts about NJ Devil are that he learned his dance moves from his mother and that he enjoys Charades! Needless to say, he's not a fan of Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, or Islanders. For more info on NJ Devil, click here!

The lone moustachioed mascot finds his way onto the Mo' Bro All-Stars! I would have thought there may have been one or two more mascots in the NHL that wore a soup strainer, but it's not to be! If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Movember's A Hockey Thing

If it isn't apparent already by the lack of Movember coverage being done by other sports, the Movember cause is definitely a hockey thing. Major League Baseball is in their off-season, so they aren't promoting anything right now. The NBA appears to not give a hoot about the cause despite them playing to a large number of male fans. The NFL is predominantly a male crowd, but they aren't doing much for men's health initiatives either. With hockey being the biggest driver for the Movember cause, it's heading to new heights as a couple of teams will be wearing their support on their chests as well as their faces.

One team, the Adirondack Phantoms, already has done so. The Phantoms played host to the Hershey Bears in AHL action on Saturday night, and had a new logo to show off when they took to the ice!
That's goaltender Scott Monroe wearing the Movember-esque Phantoms jersey as the AHL Phantoms welcomed the Bears to Glens Falls Civic Center for a Saturday night game, and those uniforms look pretty good. The Movember jerseys were auctioned off at the end of the night and part of the proceeds went to C.R. Wood Cancer Center at Glens Falls Hospital. Great work by the Phantoms as they downed the Bears 3-1, and then sent a pile of cash over to the hospital to help them out! And those uniforms? Thumbs-up from me!

The second team to suit up for Movember with an added twist are the Las Vegas Wranglers, and they'll be doing so at the end of the week with November 30 on the horizon. That night, the Wranglers will welcome the Orlando Solar Bears to the Orleans Arena, and the Wranglers will take to the ice in these uniforms.
The ECHL teams will battle on November 30, the last day for the official Movember campaign, and the Wranglers, like the Phantoms, will auction off the jerseys after the game with a portion of the proceeds going to "Nevada Cancer Coalition, a non-profit organization that combines state-wide resources to help prevent, early detect and treat cancer". Well done, Wranglers, for helping the cause, and these jerseys are also pretty awesome. Thumbs-up from this writer in helping to support the cause!

Two solid uniforms from two teams who know how to get in on the cause and make a difference. Well done, Adirondack Phantoms and Las Vegas Wranglers, and thank you for helping out your local charities and supporting the overall idea of helping to detect, treat, and prevent prostate cancer!

MO' BRO: We've named the roster, added a couple of coaches, and petitioned the league to have one referee with a magnificent 'stache to call the games. Included thus far are Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, Harold Snepsts, Dave Tippett, Michel Goulet, Paul MacLean, Mike McPhee, Mike Bullard, Bob Murdoch, and Rejean Lemelin as players, coaches Pat Burns and Joel Quenneville, and referee Bill McCreary. If there's one referee, though, there needs to be another so we name the second zebra we'll be petitioning for when the Mo' Bro All-Stars take to the ice!

Don VanMassenhoven broke into the NHL in 1993 by officiating his first game between Edmonton and Boston. Before wearing the NHL stripes, VanMassenhoven actually wore a different uniform - he was a member of the Ontario Provincial Police! Since his 1993 debut, VanMassenhoven has worked 1147 regular season games, and 101 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Some notable games he's worked in include the 2002 NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles, the 2007-08 Winter Classic in Buffalo, the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, and the 2006 Torino Olympics. VanMassenhoven also worked the 1990 CHL Memorial Cup and the 1992 AHL Calder Cup Finals. The 52 year-old referee is still an active member of the NHL Officiating crew today.

With McCreary and VanMassenhoven sporting their moustaches and carrying their whistles, the Mo' Bro All-Star team will have two classy, moustachioed officials calling their games! If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

TBC: Down Goes Brown

I have had the chance to read many books from many published writers who now write their own blogs for various media outlets. Rarely do we see the flip side of the coin where established bloggers become well-to-do authors since it seems there's still a stigma attached to blogging without some sort of journalism or media background. I can honestly say that today's entry in Teebz's Book Club pounds that stigma into submission like Brent Johnson on Rick DiPietro. Teebz's Book Club is proud to present The Best of Down Goes Brown, written by Sean McIndoe and published by John Wiley & Sons Canada, Limited. This book is funny, insightful, and very entertaining, and I have to say that as a blogger, I've always been a fan of Sean McIndoe's work. But you might be asking yourself who this Sean McIndoe character is? Well, chances are you've read his stuff at some point if you've ever followed hockey online.

Sean McIndoe, pictured to the left, is the author and comedic mind behind the blog Down Goes Brown. You may have read Sean's work in the National Post newspaper where he is published twice weekly, on the Grantland blog where he is a featured writer, or on TV and radio where he has appeared on TSN and on TSN radio. Sean started Down Goes Brown in 2008 as one of the few hockey humor blogs, and has since grown it to his own media empire (almost)! While he makes fun of a lot of hockey topics, Sean rarely insults those he is talking about and almost always finds the people involved laughing about his jokes. He is, in this writer's opinion, the best hockey humor writer in society today.

The Best of Down Goes Brown may disappoint some readers if they follow his blog very closely since some of the stories in the book are from his blog directly. However, since I'm one of those who stops by his site often, I didn't find this to be a downfall of the book at all. If anything, it reminded of the stories that I found very funny, and made the book even more enjoyable.

Mr. McIndoe also incorporates some new stories in the book written explicitly for the book, so people who are fans of his blog will still get a bunch of new material to read and at which they can have a chuckle. There are 46 "Greatest Hits" that Mr. McIndoe includes in his book, but 24 brand-new articles are also added in for readers. If you haven't read his work, you're getting "The Best of" as the title states as well as some new "Down Goes Brown" that no one has seen.

Being that Mr. McIndoe is a Maple Leafs fan living in Ottawa, he certainly has to know humor. There is no topic off-limits in The Best of Down Goes Brown as the Leafs are routinely mocked, and he takes jabs at other topics such as Brendan Shanahan's videos on suspensions, Sidney Crosby's diving, the Vancouver Canucks, Jeremy Roenick, and a ton of other stuff that he turns into comedy gold. Again, all of his jokes are light-hearted, but he is very sharp and witty and you have to know your hockey to understand some of his jokes.

Case in point? This funny example the chapter "Breaking Down the Battles: Inside Canada's Provincial Rivalries.
"Playoff Predictablility

Battle of Quebec: You could always expect a hard-fought series with plenty of bad blood.
Battle of Ontario: You could always expect a close-checking series in which goaltending would be the deciding factor.
Battle of Alberta: You could always expect the series to end with an Edmonton player scoring the winning goal."
At first, that one didn't really resonate with me because the Oilers won so many Stanley Cups while knocking off the Flames in the 1980s. Except the Flames also won a Stanley Cup by defeating the Oilers on the strength of a Steve Smith own-goal that eliminated the Oilers! This is the intelligent comedy that Mr. McIndoe shows throughout The Best of Down Goes Brown, and it really makes this book a pleasure to read.

As I stated above, if you're a fan of the Down Goes Brown blog, The Best of Down Goes Brown will certainly resonate with you. Mr. McIndoe's funny, witty, self-deprecating style of writing is perfect for a laugh, and his intelligence in his writing doesn't speak down to anyone nor does it seak above anyone. He's a great writer with a knack for hockey-related jokes, and I read through The Best of Down Goes Brown's 270 pages in less than a day because it was such a great, funny read.

Because of these factors, The Best of Down Goes Brown certainly deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval. While some of the jokes might be a little above some younger readers' understanding, this book is appropriate for adolescents and above. There are no instances of PG-rated language, so feel free to get your hockey fan this book as a Christmas gift if you're looking for that special something!

MO' BRO: We've built an exciting roster of Mo' Bro All-Stars by naming 22 players in Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, Harold Snepsts, Dave Tippett, Michel Goulet, Paul MacLean, Mike McPhee, Mike Bullard, Bob Murdoch, and Rejean Lemelin. We've also named out two Mo' Bro coaches in Pat Burns and Joel Quenneville. Today, we're petitioning the league for all games to be refereed by a moustachioed zebra legend!

Bill McCreary was an NHL referee from 1982 until 2011. He officiated in 1737 NHL games and 282 Stanley Cup Playoff games, and wore #7 throughout his officiating career in the NHL. To his credit, he officiated the men's hockey gold medal game at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and he worked the NHL Stanley Cup Finals each year from 1994 until 2007. He also worked in the 1991 and 1994 Canada Cups, the 1994 NHL All-Star Game in New York City, and a total of 15 Stanley Cup Finals. During the 2004-05 work stoppage, McCreary reportedly worked as a kitchen cabinet builder, showing he is fairly skilled in other trades as well. He started his career in 1984 officiating a Devils-Capitals game in Washington, and finished his career by calling the Sabres-Capitals game in Washington.

McCreary set the officiating standard with that outstanding moustache, and you knew instinctively who was calling the game when you saw him from afar thanks to that magnificent 'stache. If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

A Few Updates

The old blog underwent some cosmetic surgery today as I added a new feature and I'm working on sending out the last of the NHL Playoff Pool prizes for a second time. "Second time?" you ask. Yes, it seems that the United States Postal Service refused to deliver them for being-funded. I find this hard to believe since I mailed them at a Canada Post store a few weeks ago, but I received the packages in the mail earlier this week that I had sent with a kind message of "Postage Due" stamped on the front. Damn you, postal services. But thank you for not sending it through and charging the receivers of the packages. That was nice.

So for Adrian N., Scott M., Jared R., and Peter S., expect a package in the mail again. I apologize for this, but I'm not going to bother with sending it postal this time. It's going to be UPS or FedEx or whatever service I can get to that won't cost me a limb to get your package to you. I apologize profusely for what seems to be some sort of clerical error on Canada Post's part, but I'll be sending out the packages this week through one of the delivery services.

On the other hand, one package that I received back actually did make it to where it was supposed to go, but the recipient refused to pick it up. Frank M., please contact me immediately at this email address since I now have to re-send your prize to you again. Not sure what happened there, but let's see if we can get you the prize that you won.

As for the cosmetics of this blog, if you take a look to the right, you may see one of five animated NHL '94 players. If you click on that player, you'll now find yourself at the page for The Hockey Show podcasts. I wanted to create a place where it was a one-stop shop for downloading episodes of the show. If you're a listener, thank you for listening already. If you're not a listener, what are you waiting for? To get to the podcasts, just follow the directions below.

If you have an .mp3 player of some sort (iPod, generic .mp3 player, any computer or tablet), you can download the episodes and listen to them. The interviews we've done have been excellent thus far, and I really want to thank Steve Christie, Paul Lukas, Kyle Hagel, and Jamie Hopkins for their time in granting us an interview. We're working on more guests coming up, so stay tuned!

That's all for today from this update. Sometimes, I actually do some technical work on this blog, and I just want you guys to remain updated. But I like feedback, so please let me know what you think of the new addition to the menu? Comments are welcome!

MO' BRO: Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, Harold Snepsts, Dave Tippett, Michel Goulet, Paul MacLean, Mike McPhee, Mike Bullard, Bob Murdoch, and Rejean Lemelin are your Mo' Bro All-Star team and we picked up Pat Burns as the head coach for these players. But as you're probably aware, all teams have at least a couple of coaches today, so we'll name an assistant coach today to help Pat Burns out behind the bench!

While Quenneville was a prominent moustachioed NHL player, his greatest success has come as a coach. Joel Quenneville actually won his first Stanley Cup as an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996. After leaving the Avalanche, he spent eight seasons as the head coach of the St. Louis Blues before being dismissed. He moved on to direct the Colorado Avalanche for three seasons before leaving that organization in 2008. He joined the Blackhawks as a scout before replacing Denis Savard as the head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks on October 16, 2008. With Quenneville running the bench, the Blackhawks soared to new heights as they captured the Stanley Cup in 2010. He also won the 1999-2000 Jack Adams Trophy as the league's top coach while with the Blues. Quenneville has over 600 career wins as a coach, and he's doing it in style with his moustache!

You know, though, that you've hit the moustache summit when there are styling guides being published about your 'stache. Blackhawks Magazine published a guide to growing a Q-Stache! How cool is that? If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 23 November 2012

In Oklahoma Lies Gotham City

A couple of weeks ago, we got our first look at what a Captain America-owned team might look like as the Toledo Walleye took to the ice in their Captain America-themed uniforms for a game. I said then that the look of their chosen jerseys for that evening was growing on, and I'm still a fan despite them sort of looking like a throwback version of the Rochester Americans. It appears that the superheroes are coming out in full force, though, as the CHL's Tulsa Oilers decided to honor Bruce Wayne by donning their Batman-inspired jerseys and renaming themselves the "Gotham City Crusaders" for one evening. That's right: Gotham City in Oklahoma. Are we in the Bizarro World?

The idea was actually a combination of a couple of things in that the Oilers were playing on Black Friday and wanted to do something special to bring people out to the game rather than having them at the mall. Personally, for a minor-league team, I actually think this is an incredible idea, and I'm not going to fault the Oilers for thinking outside the box to try and woo fans to the rink for their game. Well done, Oilers, and here's hoping it's a successful night at the box office.

The bigger matter, however, is how the uniforms would look on the ice. We can say that the idea is great in theory, but practical use determines the success of an idea like this. Well, ladies and gentlemen, here's your preview.
Not bad, if I do say so myself. While a photo of the back is not yet up on Tulsa's website, I think the idea up-close will work. If you're further away, the dark colors may not provide much in the way of defining those abs or giving the perception of rippling pectoral muscles. The Batman logo is pretty noticeable, though, so without seeing them in action, I'm going to give these a thumbs-up for now. If nothing else, the idea of attracting people to the rink to see Batman on skates is pretty unique.

MO' BRO: We have the completed roster for the Mo' Bro All-Stars, but we're missing a few vital pieces yet. Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, Harold Snepsts, Dave Tippett, Michel Goulet, Paul MacLean, Mike McPhee, Mike Bullard, Bob Murdoch, and Rejean Lemelin make up the squad, but we need a couple of bench bosses for this team. Today, we name the head coach of the Mo' Bro All-Stars!

I can think of no one more suited for coaching a squad like this other than the great Pat Burns. Burns was a fantastic bench boss, always getting more out of his team than the sum of its parts. He coached for 14 NHL seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, and New Jersey Devils. The former Gatineau police officer won a Stanley Cup with the Devils, and is a three-time Jack Adams Trophy winner - proof that he was one of the best in history as a coach. While his coaching prowess will never be forgotten, Burns' battles with cancer became a bigger story as his health took center-stage. While he defeated colon cancer in 2004 and liver cancer in 2005, lung cancer was the culprit that took Pat Burns from the world on November 19, 2010. We may never see another moustachioed coach that had as much success as Pat Burns.


Rest in peace, Mr. Burns. If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Hockey Show - Episode Eleven

The Hockey Show returned to our normal babbling ways on tonight's show on 101.5 UMFM, and I realized after finishing the show that I uttered an egregious error. I had written about Blake Geoffrion yesterday, and I completely blew it when I mentioned on the show today that he had been hit with a slapshot in the noggin. Epic Failure Award goes to me for saying it, and to Beans for not catching it!

However, we yapped about all sorts of stuff tonight. We updated listeners on how Steve Christie is doing in the SPHL. As you know, we're fans of Christie and, because of his affiliation with the team, the Pensacola Ice Flyers. It's nice to see Steve doing well.

We also spoke about the CBA. We tried to give away a Winnipeg Jets ballcap, but had no takers tonight. As an aside, is anyone out there listening? We just want to give away some free shwag! Call in, tweet in at @TeebzHBIC, or email us at HockeyShowUMFM@shaw.ca!

We also talked about Jets coming back from playing in Europe, specifically Evander Kane and Ondrej Pavelec. We spoke about some of the good results being turned in over in Europe by NHLers. We updated everyone on the Bisons men's and women's hockey teams are doing. And we also took a peek at the St. John's IceCaps and what was happening out on the Rock.

It was a busy show, and the podcast is already up! Just as an aside, I will be creating a podcast page on this blog in order to make it easier to get to the podcasts. That way, you can download all or as many as you like if you want to listen to us in past episodes. I'll be working on that this weekend, so stay tuned for that!

MO' BRO: Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, Harold Snepsts, Dave Tippett, Michel Goulet, Paul MacLean, Mike McPhee, Mike Bullard, and Bob Murdoch make up the 13 forwards, seven defenceman, and one goalie thus far on the Mo' Bro All-Stars. We need a back-up goaltender, so who will be the chosen one?

I had a few options here, but the man who seemed to wear his 'stache the longest was Rejean Lemelin. Lemelin played with the Atlanta Flames, Calgary Flames, and Boston Bruins over 14 NHL seasons. Lemelin was selected to play in the 1989-90 All-Star Game and was shared the William M. Jennings Trophy with his tandem partner, Andy Moog. Throughout his career, Lemelin proudly wore the 'stache, never shaving it off to start a season or after a trade. Because of his accolades and 'stache longevity, Rejean Lemelin was a lock for the Mo' Bro All-Stars!

Now you might be thinking that there are a few days left in November, so how can the All-Star 'Stache Squad be done? Well, we'll have a few more introductions coming up as the coaches, referee, and media will be announced! Stay tuned for that! If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

A Scary Injury

I'll admit that I'm a fan of Blake Geoffrion. Sure, he might be a fourth-generation NHL player, but I've always liked his hustle and effort from as far back as when he was a regular with the Milwaukee Admirals. Geoffrion looks like he should have an NHL future if he continues to work hard and catch a few breaks. However, his latest injury is one break I'd wish upon no one as it's as scary as it looks and sounds. Honestly, Geoffrion is lucky to even be alive after you see the video below.

We'll go back to an NHL game on November 9 between the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Syracuse Crunch being played at Montreal's Bell Centre. Looking up at the banners of his grandfather "Boom Boom" Geoffrion and his great-grandfather Howie Morenz, I'm pretty sure Blake never expected the following to happen. Watch this, and try not to cringe.
Yowza. Geoffrion gets hammered by Syracuse's JP Cote, and it appears that Cote's skate catches Geoffrion's head. Geoffrion, of course, made his way to the bench to get patched up as the skate opened up a gash, but that was the least of his worries. It also appeared that Geoffrion's head may have hit the ice or boards, so you know the team would have to take precautions.

Off to the hospital went Geoffrion, and things looked good as the team reported the trip to the emergency room as "precautionary". That's when things went downhill. A CT scan revealed a depressed skull fracture - where a piece of the skull is applying pressure on the brain - and the Geoffrions had to give the doctors permission to start emergency surgery. Suddenly, precautionary had become emergency procedure.

The Geoffrions okayed the surgery, and the doctors began relieving the pressure by removing a piece of his skull. As they work into the wee hours of the morning, it dawns on the Geoffrions that their son may not come out of this. All they can do is wait for the doctors to return.

The next morning, Blake Geoffrion was in a hospital bed, awake and alert. The doctors had been able to fix the fracture and prevent any permanent damage on his brain. While Geoffrion may be stuck in a bed and away from playing for a while, it could have been a whole lot worse.

Fast forward to today, and Geoffrion, at home after being released on November 15, is now taking things day by day, and this writer is hoping we'll see him back on the ice. Like a serious concussion, though, I'd hope that Geoffrion decides to take the rest of the year off and get himself ready for next season by letting his gray matter rest and recuperate. It could be the best thing for him.

While I'm an admitted Geoffrion fan, I'm actually a healthy Geoffrion fan. I'm glad to see that Geoffrion is doing well after his horrific injury, and here's hoping we see him back on the ice next year and not this year! Get well, Blake, and don't rush back!

MO' BRO: We have 13 forwards, six defenceman, and one goalie on the Mo' Bro All-Stars, so I need a defenceman and another goaltender to round out the team. Thus far, Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, Harold Snepsts, Dave Tippett, Michel Goulet, Paul MacLean, Mike McPhee, and Mike Bullard have all been selected. Today, we'll grab our seventh defenceman. Who is it?

Bob Murdoch had a fantastic moustache for the vast majority of his playing days while suiting up with the Montreal Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings, Atlanta Flames, and the Calgary Flames. He skated in the 1974-75 All-Star Game while as a member of the Kings, and won a Stanley Cup with the 1972-73 Canadiens. Murdoch wasn't a flashy offensive player by any means, but he prided himself on not being noticed by playing sound defensively. He didn't rack up a ton of points as he compiled 278 points in 757 NHL games, but his 12 NHL seasons earned him a Stanley Cup ring and an all-star selection.

Bob Murdoch was moustachioed for the majority of his career. He broke into the league sans-'stache, but that was corrected once he got himself started! If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

When There's No Hockey

There have been a lot of questions as to what hockey fans seem to be doing with their extra time now that there are no hockey games to attend or watch. For me, I've been trying to read more hockey books to fill the time, but it appears the city of Edmonton is looking for a population boom. While the image above might be a little extreme when it comes to people's activities behind closed doors, it appears that the people of Edmonton are engaging in some close, personal time where hockey once existed.

According to several adult retail shops, the sales of items from their stores has increased since the lockout began. Personally, I never believed hockey was that big of a distraction for me when it came to some horizontal manoeuvrings with my better half, but apparently the city of Edmonton craves hockey quite badly.

"We'd be gearing up for (NHL hockey) now but there;s nothing so I guess we need to find some better ways to spend our time!" Vinay Morker, owner of the Hush Lingerie and More boutique, told Matt Dykstra while at Edmonton’s Taboo Naughty But Nice Sex Show Saturday.

According to the article, "Morker said his south Edmonton location saw a 15% jump in sales in October, and although the absence of Oilers action has been killing the longtime fan, it could also be the reason more couples have been browsing his wares at the show."

I've been to Edmonton during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and I know hockey fever grips the city like nothing else during the playoffs. It seems, however, hockey has a solid grip on the city throughout the entire season if the increase in boutique sales is any indication.

Again, from the article, "Morker said Hush's main clientele is couples looking to 'expand their horizons' and he’s seen a 15% jump in the sales of their sex toys, lingerie, games and sexual guides, like The Kama Sutra, since October."

Unless there has been unheard of growth in a certain industry in the city, the fact that it's getting colder and there's no hockey would certainly push some folks into finding other activities to fill the time normally taken up by hockey. Especially if they are younger individuals with no children and in the right economic group with some available money.

While it's great to see that some people are devoting more time to their relationships, it just goes to show how important hockey is in Canada. While hockey is one of our official sports and certainly a topic that is talked about ad nauseum in this country, it really goes to show how important hockey is to Canadians!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

MO' BRO: Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, Harold Snepsts, Dave Tippett, Michel Goulet, Paul MacLean, and Mike McPhee have all been named to the best moustachioed team I could compile in the Mo' Bro All-Stars. Who is the next addition?

Mike Bullard played 11 NHL seasons, suiting up for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. He started his career without the 'stache in Pittsburgh, but he allowed it to grow through his career as he moved between teams. Bullard had a 50-goal season and two 40-goal seasons in his career, and helped the Flames reach the 1986 Stanley Cup Final. Bullard never won any major awards in his career, but he was a solid scoring threat through his career, scoring 674 points in 727 NHL games.

Bullard's moustache is one of the better 'staches from the 1980s, and it holds down a roster spot on the Mo' Bro All-Stars! If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 19 November 2012

TBC: My First Hockey Book

I consider myself very lucky to have made some excellent contacts with people in the publishing world. I don't usually pick up a lot of children's books, so I am grateful for the people at Scholastic Books for keeping me apprised of the new books coming out for the younger reader. Today's entry into Teebz's Book Club is geared towards the youngest of hockey players as Teebz's Book Club is proud to present My First Hockey Book, written by Ian Crysler and published by Scholastic Canada Limited. Getting younger kids into sports they like isn't hard as kids seem to like any sport that allows them to be a little rough, but Mr. Crysler's book shows that hockey can be very fun!

Ian Crysler is actually an accomplished photographer, and My First Hockey Book is an excellent look at his amazing photography. Crysler is based in Toronto, Ontario, and he has done a ton of work for various companies according to his portfolio.

My First Hockey Book is a perfect book for little tykes as there are few words but a ton of full color images through the book's 28 pages. From ice hockey to watching hockey to road hockey, Mr. Crysler captures a number of images of people enjoying the game of hockey.

My First Hockey Book will also endure as your child grows as each page feels like the cover! There are no paper pages in the book, so if a younger child wants to point, there should be little fear of a page getting stained with dirty fingerprints or torn from the book with sticky fingers. Scholastic has done their homework in making this book stand up to the test of toddlers!

There is no doubt that My First Hockey Book is geared towards the pre-school crowd as each page has a simple one-line introduction for the picture behind it. There are no words that kids won't understand, and the images are bright and clear. If you have a little one who needs their hockey fix, this book will set them on the right path for the love of hockey.

Because of Mr. Crysler's gorgeous photography and simple writing that makes each picture speak louder than its thousand words, there is no doubt that My First Hockey Book deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval! If you're searching for a book for your pre-kindergarten child for Christmas, I highly recommend this one!

MO' BRO: We'll add another name to the already-impressive Mo' Bro All-Star roster that includes Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, Harold Snepsts, Dave Tippett, Michel Goulet, and Paul MacLean. Who is the next Mo' Bro?

Mike McPhee played 11 NHL seasons as a checking forward, and turned out to be one of the most unsung Canadiens in their history. McPhee earned a civil engineering degree from the NCAA's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before jumping to help the Nova Scotia Voyageurs win the AHL's Calder Cup. He would begin his rookie season with the Canadiens in 1984, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 1986. In 1988-89, McPhee appeared in his only All-Star Game with the Wales Conference. McPhee would suit up for the Canadiens, the Minnesota North Stars, and the Dallas Stars during his career, amassing 399 points in 744 NHL games while wearing his moustache!

Mike McPhee had one of the most recognizable 'staches in the 1980s, and he helped two teams to their respective league championships! That's a successful moustache if I've ever seen one! If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

TBC: Dropping The Gloves

As stated yesterday, I was doing some serious reading on the roadtrip that I was just on, so we'll look at a book that I simply couldn't put down. I seem to gravitate towards books that are written like I'm listening to a guy talking to me at a sports bar or something, and today's entry gave me that feeling as I absorbed the words on the pages. Teebz's Book Club is proud to present Dropping the Gloves: Inside the Fiercely Combative World of Professional Hockey, written by Barry Melrose and Roger Vaughan, and published by McClelland & Stewart Ltd. Barry Melrose is probably best known for leading the 1993 Gretzky-captained Los Angeles Kings to the Stanley Cup Final, but this book offer so much more about Barry Melrose that I didn't know.

From the cover's dust jacket, "Barry Melrose is one of the few athletes who has played and coached in all three major organizations within the sport of hockey: Junior Hockey, the American Hockey League, and the National Hockey League. As an NHL coach, he took the Los Angeles Kings - and Wayne Gretzky - to the Stanley Cup finals in 1993. For the past fifteen years, Melrose has been a commentator and hockey analyst for ESPN TV."

The other man behind the book is just as fascinating. Roger Vaughan was born in Massachusetts, and graduated with a BA in English from Brown University. Vaughan worked for both the Saturday Evening Post and LIFE magazine during his career. He wrote his first book, The Grand Gesture, about a struggling America's Cup syndicate. Since then, he's written fourteen books including biographies on Ted Turner, former Berlin Philharmonic Music Director Herbert von Karajan, and Roy Disney. Vaughan met Melrose while working as a writer at ESPN where he co-authored the film Wind. Roger Vaughan lives with his wife, Kip Requardt, and their many dogs and cats on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Dropping the Gloves is more about Barry Melrose's life in terms of how he got to the NHL as a player, a coach, and an analyst with ESPN. He explains his ideas and philosophies on coaching and playing in the NHL and provides some very good insight as to why he believes he's been successful. I truly found a new light to view Barry Melrose in after reading this book, and I hold him in much higher respect now.

Barry Melrose grew up in Kelvington, Saskatchewan, a small farming community about 400 miles northwest of Winnipeg. From the surrounding communities, Melrose grew up with Wendel Clark, Joey Kocur, Lyle Odelein, Dennis Polonich, and Bernie Federko! Trent Yawney and Kelly Chase grew up within a hundred miles of these guys as well! It seems that northern Saskatchewan is a hotbed for hockey players!

While Melrose advanced through the ranks of Saskatchewan minor hockey by working hard instead of relying on talent, he was noticed by the New Westminster Bruins while playing with the Weyburn Red Wings. His rights, though, were traded to the Kamloops Chiefs, an expansion team in the WHL. He played well enough to be noticed by the Montreal Canadiens who drafted him in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft! But rather than signing with the extremely deep Canadiens, Melrose went in a different directon.

His professional game would be played in Cincinnati with the WHA's Stingers. There's a great chapter on how the WHA basically drove the NHL mad with their tactics, and Melrose was in the middle of it. He also married a hockey cheerleader - Cindy Melrose was a Honeybee for the Stingers! There's some great info about he wooed her, although I'm sure there are far more stories that should be told about Melrose wooing his future wife than the couple of paragraphs he fills.

Melrose talks about his various NHL stops, AHL stops, and his eventual start in coaching with the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL. His coaching philosophy in terms of how Melrose likes the game played really starts to show in the later chapters as he talks about rising through the ranks to coaching the AHL's Adirondack Red Wings to the NHL's Los Angeles Kings. It's a very interesting read, and I found his thoughts on the game very interesting.

Dropping the Gloves doesn't miss out on the humour, though. Melrose tells some pretty funny stories about players and situations that only he and those involved would know. One particular passage that had me laughing was the following. Melrose writes,
"We have a hockey tradition in Canada. When your kids are toddlers, you give them an IQ test. If your kid is really smart, you make him a defenceman; if the kid is average, you make him a forward; and if the kid flunks the test, you put him in net."
I found myself chuckling to that paragraph for a few pages as I was thinking about former teammates in this regard. I can't say that all goalies are missing a few bricks, but there were some that fit the mold perfectly.

Overall, Dropping the Gloves is an excellent read throughout its 240 pages. There are a few instances of some PG-rated language, so the book is probably better for hockey fans who are teenagers or older, but that should come as no surprise since the majority of topics that Barry Melrose covers may not resonate with younger readers.

Dropping the Gloves is funny, insightful, honest, and a very good read. Because of all these reasons, Dropping the Gloves absolutely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

MO' BRO: The Mo' Bro All-Star roster includes Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, Harold Snepsts, Dave Tippett, and Michel Goulet, so what NHL player is being added today?

He could have been added as a coach with his current soup strainer on his face, but Paul MacLean always had a fabulous 'stache on his mug when he played. MacLean was born in Grostenquin, France, but grew up in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. MacLean played ten NHL seasons with the Winnipeg Jets, the Detroit Red Wings, and the St. Louis Blues. He racked up three 30-goal seasons and tree 40-goal seasons as Dale Hawerchuk's winger in Winnipeg, and is the highest-scoring French player to ever lace up the skates in the NHL. A rib injury cut his career short, but MacLean still racked up 673 points in 719 NHL games. MacLean was an NHL All-Star in 1984-85, and also represented Canada at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Games.

MacLean was nearly a point-per-game player in the NHL, and his strong work ethic helped the former NHL All-Star be one of the greatest wingers to ever wear the Jets jersey. His moustache, though, is certainly one of the best, and he's the next Mo' Bro All-Star! If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Roadtrip Reading

If it wasn't apparent, I spent the last week traveling through the northern United States of America directly below my home province. I needed to get a jump on Christmas shopping, so my better half and I planned a week away where we could do some serious shopping. While the sales weren't as great as in previous years, we did find some great gifts to wrap up and put under the old Christmas tree. One of the things I always try to do when away on a trip, though, is devote some time to reading. Starting today, HBIC will be reviewing a good number of books this week, so stay tuned if you're looking for some reading material for your hockey fan!

I had the pleasure of cracking the spine of The Hockey News' latest collectable issue entitled The Best Of Hockey History. While I'm always skeptical when someone proclaims something to be the best, there's no doubt that The Hockey News was and is one of the best hockey publications on the planet. The writers and researchers know the game, and know where to find the tidbits of information that make you warm inside. So does this magazine hold carry the torch?

In short, you bet it does. There were a ton of cool facts and stories from the old pages of THN and images from the Hockey Hall of Fame that may have never been seen before. I found myself shaking my head at what I didn't know that the staff at The Hockey News had included in this magazine. This is easily one of the best publications this year in the world of hockey.

The magazine is broken down into six distinct eras: the Creation of the NHL (1917-1942), the Original Six (1942-1967), the Grand Expansion (1967-1979), the Live Puck Era (1979-1993), the Dead Puck Era (1993-2004), and the Post-Lockout Era (2005-present). Each section's introduction is penned by a different author, and there are a ton of fascinating facts on each page about each year in that era.

For example, were you aware that flooding the ice between periods became mandatory in the NHL in the 1940-41 season? Or that the NHL limited the curve of the blade on a hockey stick to 1.5" in 1967-68? There are all sorts of facts like that spread out through the book as you read through the pages.

Also brought out of the archives are old articles written by THN staffers back in the old days. One article, written by Paul Chandler and published on February 10, 1951, deals with the ten bachelors on the Detroit Red Wings and what they are looking for in a lady friend. It's actually quite funny to read what each of the interviewed men, including Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay, are searching for in a potential squeeze. Who do you think said this about his dream girl?
""I'll marry anytime now. I'm just waiting for the right girl. On the average, there's no difference between Canadian and American girls. Brunettes or blondes are fine, but I can't get along with another red-head. We always clash. I want a wife who's a good cook, but I hope she's good-looking, too."
The answer to this can be found at the end of the article, but there are some definite clues in his words!

Honestly, like the other collectable magazines that The Hockey News puts out, The Best Of Hockey History is definitely a treasure for a hockey fan. The hockey history is so rich and vivid, and there's definitely something on the pages that even the most knowledgeable hockey fan won't know. I know I found myself shaking my head at some of the facts presented in this magazine.

If you're looking for a stocking stuffer, The Hockey News' The Best Of Hockey History will keep your hockey fan occupied for an hour or two on Christmas day!

MO' BRO: Because I missed yesterday's entry into the Mo' Bro All-Star squad while looking at Rockford's Mexican jerseys, we'll do two today. The current Mo' Bro All-Star roster includes Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr, Dennis Maruk, Larry Robinson, Mike Ramsey, Derek Sanderson, Lanny McDonald, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych, Dave Schultz, Rod Langway, Jamie Macoun, and Harold Snepsts, so who can we add today?

Dave Tippett makes the cut today for playing moustachioed for eleven NHL seasons. Tippett actually played with the Canadian National team before signing with the Whalers, and he represented Canada at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. He would don the Maple Leaf once more in 1992 as the team captured a silver medal at the Albertville Olympiad! Tippett's NHL career was more modest as he played a checking role very well. After playing with the Hartford Whalers, Tippett moved on to play with the Washington Capitals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Philadelphia Flyers before retiring. In 721 NHL games, Tippett recorded 262 points while wearing a moustache! A silver medalist in 1992 can certainly make the Mo' Bro All-Stars!

The second man to make the squad today is sniper Michel Goulet!
Michel Goulet actually started his pro hockey career with the Birmingham Bulls, but he was missing his upper lip decoration at that time. It took the jump to the NHL to get him on the moustachioed track. Goulet spent 11 of his 15 NHL season in Quebec City before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. In Chicago, Goulet went sans-moustache a few times, but was better remembered with his 'stache than without it. He would put together four straight seasons of 50+ goals with the Nordiques, and help the Blackhawks to the 1991 Stanley Cup Final. Goulet proudly represented Canada a number of times, and also played in Rendez-Vous '87 amongst his many All-Star appearances. In 1089 NHL games, the Hall of Famer 1152 scored 1152 points - most of which came while sporting the moustache!

Two more solid Mo' Bro All-Star additions to finish off this article in Tippett and Goulet! If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

And before I go, the man who uttered the quote above about his dream woman? Leonard Patrick Kelly, also known as "Red" Kelly!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 16 November 2012

When Rockford Goes South

Minor-league hockey teams are known for their wild and crazy promotions. There used to be "Fight Nights" in the southern United States when certain teams with specific tough guys rolled through town, and the local southern hockey team wanted to draw fans by capitalizing on the violence. There have been Halloween jerseys, Christmas jerseys, and all sorts of other jerseys produced by minor-pro teams to celebrate whatever they felt was necessary. Tonight's game for the Rockford IceHogs may have just hit a new low in the hockey spectrum.

The Rockford IceHogs are holding "Los IceHogs Night" in order to honour Latino Americans when they play the Houston Aeros tonight. While this could have been done tastefully, the IceHogs appear to be more "gringo" than Latino with their choice of uniforms for this evening's events. Take a look.
From the sombrero on the IceHogs' logo to the very stereotypical moustache (viva Movember, anyone?) to the poncho-like sublimation of the uniform, the IceHogs seemingly went for any and all Mexican imagery that Latino folks try to avoid themselves. So why would the IceHogs do something like this?

"We're trying obviously to bridge the gap between two different cultures," Mike Peck, the IceHogs Director of Communications, said. "Obviously there's not a lot of Hispanics or Latinos that attend hockey games so what we’ve tried to do is figure out a way to do a night for the local Hispanic or Latino community here in Rockford."

When informed that the uniform may be slightly on the offensive side, Peck answered, "First, we apologize because that wasn't the intent, and secondly, it's something that has been inspired through the Coalition of Latino Leaders. From our end, we wouldn’t have done this on our own, by any means."

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, though. So who is this "Coalition of Latino Leaders" that Peck outed in his statement? One member of the coalition, Rudy Valdez, too the opportunity to speak out for the Coalition.

"It's been a wonder experience having this collaboration between this IceHogs and the Latino community," said Rudy Valdez, a member of the Coalition of Latino Leaders. "We look forward to future partnerships with the IceHogs, RAVE and BMO Harris Bank Center that gives us access to more entertainment for our community."

Really? I can't see this as making any sort of inroads for the Latino community in and around Rockford in any way when you see players skating around in these.
Look, I'm all for a good time, and I'm glad to see that money is going towards a charity in tonight's game, but this uniform screams "we know nothing of the Latino community". Again, the good news is that a portion of the proceeds from tonight's game are being donated to La Voz Latina, an organization dedicated to serving the Rockford region's Hispanic community through education, workshops and youth programming.

Local band Aires de Guamajuato will perform sets after pregame warm-ups, during both intermissions, and briefly after the game. The IceHogs will cap the Latino night by having goals and penalties read in Spanish, and Public Address Announcer Chris Toltzman's announcements during the game will also be read in Spanish.

Personally, minor-pro jerseys should never offend the group you're trying to honour, so these uniforms would have to rank as one of the worst in hockey history. Sure, it would be cool to own one, but there's not many places you could wear it without people staring you down.

Here's hoping that the IceHogs raise a ton of money tonight to get the Latino community back on their side because I'm not sure that this night of honour makes any Latino person proud.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!