Monday, 18 September 2017

An Unpopular Opinion Grows

With the NFL back in full swing once more and my Twitter timeline flooded with NFL tweets yesterday, I think I want to weigh in on something for which I've never really had much use. As seen to the left, Colin Kaepernick made a significant statement in being the first to kneel during the national anthem prior as a form of silent protest, but I'm not here to speak about his protest. I could be here for days or weeks with all the nuances of that argument. Instead, I may be in the minority here, but I truly would like the practice of having the national anthem sung prior to every sporting event ended sooner than later. Honestly, it's an archaic form of tribute built into today's society that really has no place being continued today.

I know I'm asking a lot here, so bear with me. I'll explain my stance fully after a little history.

This all starts with baseball as games as far back as the mid-1800s saw the Star-Spangled Banner sung prior to special games. Where it really caught on, though, was during the World Series of 1918 between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. This particular series saw a few notable events happen prior to the series starting that saw the anthem used as a way to unite the American people.

17 months prior to the 1918 World Series, the US had entered World War I and there were a number of ball players who had been drafted that summer to serve in the military during this war. The government, as a result of the strain on the economics and workforce, ordered baseball to end the regular season by Labor Day, marking the only time in baseball's illustrious history that the October Classic actually finished in September.

Another event took place on September 4, the day before the first game was scheduled to be played at Comiskey Park. According to reports, a bomb ripped through the Chicago Federal Building that killed four people and injured another 30. Needless to say, the mood was pretty sullen in Chicago when it came time to celebrate baseball's best two teams.

It was in Game One that Babe Ruth pitched a gem, but the 19,000 on-hand to witness the 1-0 Boston victory barely stirred. That is, until the seventh-inning stretch. The military band that was on-hand began playing the Star-Spangled Banner, and it seemed to stir the crowd. Playing in the game was third baseman Fred Thomas who was an active serviceman with the US Navy. While on furlough from the Navy, Thomas received permission to play in the World Series, and Thomas would stand and salute the flag on this day as the military band played the anthem. Seeing Thomas saluting, the remainder of the players on the field turned towards the flag and held their hands over their hearts as the anthem was proudly played by the military band. As the conclusion of the song, the sleepy crowd came alive with an ovation not heard at any point in the game.

The next two games, hosted by the Cubs, also featured the Star-Spangled Banner played during the seventh-inning stretch. Boston, not to be outdone by their rivals, decided to move the song to the pregame ceremonies while having injured servicemen attend the game for free. The crowd at Fenway Park was louder than it had been for most of the season, according to reports, and the Red Sox continued to play the anthem prior to the remaining three games with Boston winning the series four games to two.

As Luke Cyphers and Ethan Trex write on,
Other major league teams noticed the popular reaction to "The Star-Spangled Banner" in 1918, and over the next decade it became standard for World Series and holiday games. In subsequent years, through subsequent wars, it grew into the daily institution we know today.
What makes this funny, to me, is that Congress didn't officially adopt the "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the American National Anthem until 1931. What grew out of a way to honour the soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect freedoms and rights was finally adopted by the country as a way to do the same some 13 years later. Nice job, Congress.

Snide remarks about American politics aside, if we look at the history of the anthem being played before the game, it literally was a one-up by the Red Sox on the Cubs that started this silly tradition. As it was adopted by more sports across the land, it became commonplace to hear the anthem before any game is played. However, there are places such as the Olympics and various World Championships where the anthem is played after the game is concluded, and only the winning nation gets its anthem played.

Look, I have no problem with how the anthem was used at sporting events in the days of yesteryear when it sung and performed on special occasions like opening day, national holidays and championship games. I believe those days and games have special meaning to a wider section of the audience, and the performance of the anthem signifies the importance of those days and events. It makes much more sense than a midweek game between the Hurricanes and Coyotes in January.

It also makes no sense when you look at a few rosters of NHL teams. Why would nearly two-thirds of the Winnipeg Jets sing the Canadian national anthem when they're not from Canada? They stand out of respect for the team, the fans, and the country in which they work and live, but should we force players like Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, and Nikolai Ehlers to take part when they clearly have more national pride for their countries of origin? You can't make the claim that the anthem is being played for the fans to rouse their spirits like they did in 1918, so why do we continue to force this issue 82 games per year and more in the playoffs?

I get that I'm opening up a can of worms here in suggesting this, but I can't think of one good reason why this tradition should continue on a game-by-game basis outside of special occasions and championship games. Maybe you have one - no, your relative signing the anthem isn't a good one - but I'd need some concrete proof why we need to play the national anthems at each and every game when it was originally meant to bring the people of Chicago together during a difficult time and have the people of Boston honour the injured servicemen who fought in one of the worst wars in history.

If you're going to honour the accomplishments of the soldiers who ensured that we get to watch athletes entertain us, play the anthem on Remembrance Day and Veterans Day. But I'm not in favour of dragging it out at every sporting event held in North America. We don't do it at movie theatres when highly-paid actors and actresses are entertaining us. We don't do it at concerts where highly-paid musicians are entertaining us. In saying that, we shouldn't do it at sporting events either.

Have your take in the comments, folks.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 17 September 2017

The End Of The Season

We survived another crazy season of slo-pitch, laughter, and fun as the playoffs wound down today. The rain really did a number on the fields this weekend, so kudos to everyone who got out there and worked on them. As you can see from the image to the left, it didn't quite finish how we would have liked, but I gotta hand it to this team in that we overcame some tests this weekend to give ourselves a shot at defending our championship. In the end, we could have used some better luck through the playoffs to set us up in the final, but that's how the ball bounces sometimes.

There's something about being a weekend warrior that just brings out the fun in everyone. The nice part about the league is that teams that aren't playing usually crash at the community club where the league plays out of for refreshments and laughs. It's always a good time stopping by the club, and I have to admit that there was a rather intense game of Chase the Ace happening for one team. Regardless of what's happening at each team's table, everyone chats with everyone else and it's a great atmosphere.

After starting the weekend with a loss and a tie, there was a sense of dread that we might already be out of the running for a spot in the final. However, three straight wins pushed us to a 3-1-1 record - second-best in the pool and just ahead of another team that finished 3-2-0 (yes, we beat them). Without stating too much drama, we literally played for our championship lives after those two games, and everyone really came together to pull off three important wins to send us into the final.

The final didn't go so well for us. Whatever black magic we were using to hit so well in the earlier two games today dried up. Defensively, we played pretty well, but you rarely win slo-pitch games with single-digit scores. In the end, we just didn't score enough and didn't hit enough to defend the title, and now we'll watch others celebrate with the trophy at the year-end banquet. Which sucks.

Again, we overcame some adversity to make it to that spot for that opportunity, and I have to say that it was fun seeing everyone come together. Despite suffering an injury that prevented me from playing past the Saturday morning game, the loss of my bat in the lineup was hardly noticeable as everyone began hammering the ball and getting on base. To be fair, I'm not sure I would have disrupted the team even if I could have played with the way they were hitting and running. Everyone rallied when I went down, and that was a major part of the fun this weekend!

We also lost two players due to work midway through the season that were quite good. They made a strong middle infield pairing, and the fact that they were working two provinces away didn't make for easy commutes for Sunday evening games. There was hope that they could escape for the weekend to join us once more, but they couldn't get away. Having those two players back in the lineup would have really tightened up the defence while adding some much-needed offence, but those that filled in did an admirable job nonetheless.

Having those three bats in the lineup may have scored more runs in the final, but it also could have meant those that were playing well missed a chance to add their name to an incredible run. I would have loved to see this team win a second championship in back-to-back years, but it wasn't to be this season. I'm still damned proud of what this team accomplished, and nothing will replace that feeling of pride in battling back from an 0-1-1 record to advance to the championship final.

A great season was had, and I'm looking forward to next season already!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

A Soggy Day Off The Grid

Welcome to slo-pitch in September. Today will see me and twelve-or-so teammates attempt to make something out of a windy and wet day on the ball diamonds as we look to defend the title won last season. With it being as rainy and windy as it is, I'm not sure why we're playing, but apparently we have to get the games in "one way or another". I guess that means umbrellas and rain ponchos for all? In any case, I'm gonna spend most of the day off the grid trying to stay warm in single-digit temperatures while we take down teams standing in front of us to repeat as champions!

Tonight, I have the privilege of attending the Bisons women's hockey social where they are raising money to offset costs this season. Honestly, I wish there was more I could do to support this team because they worked their butts off to make this happen, and I really want to see the social make a pile of money for the team. These women have dedicated themselves to the sport like no one I have seen, and they have come together this season with one goal in mind: London, Ontario. Specifically, the U Sports Women's Hockey National Championship at Western University from March 15-18. There will be challengers who want to stop that from happening, especially within the uber-competitive Canada West Conference, but the Bisons are determined to make it happen.

In saying the above, come down to Wayne Fleming Arena at the University of Manitoba and cheer these women on. There's an Olympian, a number of former NCAA players, a pile of talented Manitobans, and a few Saksatchewan- and Alberta-born players who have adopted this city as their own in helping the Bisons achieve their goals. All they need is some fan support as they seem to play twice as hard as they normally do when the stands are full!

The tickets? They're cheap. Like "you can afford a season pass" cheap. Tickets to get into the games are $10 for adults, and I guarantee it will be the best women's hockey action you'll see outside of the Olympics. If nothing else, come out and see how we do broadcasts for UMFM at the games. We occasionally speak about people in the crowd on broadcasts who wear unique clothing, are loud and boisterous, or who come as a group, so if you want a little free recognition for your efforts at the games via radio, you know what to do.

It's game time in about 90 minutes, so I'm out. Support your local hockey where ever you may be located, and get out and support your local U Sports teams when you can!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 15 September 2017

I Thought This Only Happened In Soccer

The uniforms, as seen to the left, are what Ukraine's national hockey teams wear. They actually look much better on the ice than they do in the graphic, but that's not why we're here today. The IIHF announced today that it has begun an investigation into two Ukraine players and has suspended them "from all ice hockey competitions or activities authorized and organized by the IIHF or any IIHF Member National Association as of 14 September 2017" as part of this investigation. If this seems like a heavy ruling while the investigation is on-going, the important thing to note is that this decision was made due to the two players' alleged match-fixing during the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A game between Korea and Ukraine on April 28, 2017. That's a pretty serious allegation.

According to the IIHF, "[t]he players were allegedly involved in a match-fixing attempt in which Ukraine should have lost with a margin of at least two goals. However, the game ended with a 2-1 win for Korea in shootout." Clearly, Ukraine did not lose with a margin of at least two goals, so one has to question what prompted the IIHF to investigate. Again, according to the IIHF, "[a]fter reviewing all available evidence and reports, including evidence of increased betting on a loss of the Ukrainian team by two or more goals, the IIHF has decided to open an investigation".

Varyvoda is a defenceman who recorded one assist in the five IIHF D1 games at the World Championship. The 22 year-old hasn't really been an impact player for Ukraine at any of the international tournament games in which he's participated.

Zakharchenko is a goaltender whose 2.23 GAA and .943 save percentage show more than the single point that Ukraine earned at the IIHF tournament. The 22 year-old was set to join the EIHL's Nottingham Panthers this season until these allegations derailed his hockey dreams.

According to a report on a site called International Hockey Lineal Championship, Zakharchenko and Varyvoda "were paid a sum of roughly $30,000 US by an as-yet unnamed source to help Korea win by a two-goal margin in their final on April 28 in Kiev, ensuring that Korea would clinch silver in the tournament and advance to the Championship Division with a goal differential tiebreaker over Kazakhstan". That, friends, is highly illegal, and now we see why the IIHF is investigating.

How they were caught in the bribery scandal is a little bit more bizarre, and the outcome of other investigations could be devastating to these two young players.
The players, who were exposed when signed letters from the day after the game that they provided, promising to refund the money as they failed to meet the goal differential, were made public. The Ukranian Hockey Federation has undergone the process to discipline the players, and the IIHF has confirmed that they are starting a separate investigation. Additionally, Ukrainian anti-corruption laws could see fines and potential imprisonment in the future for both Zakharchenko and Varivoda if found guilty.
Ouch. Risking suspension is one thing, but risking imprisonment is an entire other problem about which these two probably never even thought. I have never heard of anyone at the IIHF level committing match-fixing before, but, if the allegations are true, this would mark a serious blow to the efforts of Russian sport in having them clean up their acts. Unconfirmed reports indicate that one of the organizers of the bribery scheme is the former HC Vityaz head coach Alexei Lazarenko. Let's call that a double-Russian-whammy.

The letters below were written by the players, with Zakharchenko's letter on the left and Varyvoda's on the right.
The translation of Zakharchenko's letter reads as follows: "I am Zakharchenko Eduard. I play for the national team of Ukraine. I promise to return money, 60 thousand dollars (30 thousand myself) because I have promised to screw up the game Ukraine-South Korea for money. Also I asked to stake my money for our loss to South Korea in two pucks and I haven't managed to do that."


If those smoking guns aren't enough to sink Zakharchenko and Varyvoda, I'm not sure what will. The only way I could see them getting out from this trouble is if they could produce evidence that shows they were coerced into taking the bribes. Clearly, they didn't follow through on what was asked of them in terms of fixing the score, so maybe there's some hope that they didn't accept the bribes on their own volition. Whatever the case may be, I'm guessing their next steps won't involve skates anytime soon.


Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 260

The Hockey Show begins Season Six tonight, and it's nearly appropriate that we feature a number of people who could make the next five years as good as the previous five! It will be a little strange not having Beans in-studio to celebrate this occasion, but he's off conquering other parts of this planet and claiming them for the Teebz and Beans Nation. In having an empty seat, I decided to send out an invite to people we always enjoy having on the show as we get to meet the new kids who will don the brown-and-gold for the Manitoba Bisons women's team this season!

The new Stromtroopers recruits brought on by Lord Head Coach Jon Rempel are a diverse and skilled bunch. We already met Alison Sexton on a previous show, and she may drop in tonight, but there are more notable additions to meet! We won't get all the rookies, but we will meet some or all of Natasha Kostenko, Madison Cole, Emilie Massé, Brielle Dacquay-Neveux, and Lauren Warkentin this evening! Natasha's hockey career is very interesting in terms of where she has played. Madi hails from Lloydminster, Alberta and we'll get her take on attending school in a new province. Emilie has done some incredible things in her career as she looks to add more achievements with the Bisons. Brielle has all sorts of accolades attached to her name as well, and we'll hear about a summer job that made her somewhat famous. And Lauren's hockey career is filled with highlights and amazing moments about which we'll discuss. There will be our standard rapid-fire question period with the new recruits as well, so tune in to learn all about the new kids who will carry the torch for the Bisons!

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

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! Email all show questions and comments to! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Tonight, Teebz meets, greets, and quizzes the new Bisons women's hockey players on their own careers, who they are, and other fun stuff only on The Hockey Show found on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: September 14, 2017: Episode 260

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Stop Abusing Public Funds

Here we go again, folks. It seems the 32 year-old Pengrowth Saddledome is no longer suitable for the Calgary Flames when it comes to a home rink, and now the owners of the franchise and the Commissioner of the NHL are banging the drum loudly once again for the city of Calgary to dig deep and find some money to give the Flames a new home. This is the same Saddledome that two years ago was up for debate in terms of being replaced, and the city of Calgary balked at the idea of using public funds to build an arena. And that will lead to the questions of what has changed since 2015, and why should Calgary pay for an arena that will primarily be used by a team that is owned by billionaires?

I penned a long article two years ago that used an exemplary piece of reporting by John Oliver from HBO's Last Week Tonight that explains why funding stadia with public money is a bad idea. I still firmly believe that using public taxpayer money to fund the building of arena in which the majority of the public may never set foot is a terrible idea. In fact, maybe the worst idea when it comes to the use of taxpayer money in the history of modern civilization.

After a meeting with officials from the city of Calgary, the Flames have now dropped the idea of a new arena, stating that "the group is no longer in talks with the city". The meeting included Gary Bettman, who decided to speak out following the meeting in saying, "This arena can't compete, for example, with Edmonton any longer, because they don't have the resources or the building. I think there were 34 dates of concerts that the new Edmonton arena got that didn't come down here."


It's not that Calgary doesn't want a new arena. Mayor Naheed Nenshi has gone on record in saying he'd like to see a new arena as part of a revitalized entertainment district near the current Saddledome, and a recent survey of Calgarians show support for a new arena. The catch? That survey found that most Calgary residents don't want pay more in taxes to build the arena. I'd say that's fair, but not all Calgarians feel that the city needs a new arena. According to the survey results, "32 per cent said it doesn't and 18 per cent weren't sure" when asked if Calgary needs a new arena. If half your citizens have doubt that Calgary needs a new arena, that's a lot of people not saying yes to the idea.

Back in March, there were rumblings of the Flames needing a new arena when Gary Bettman spoke up again on behalf of the Flames. Bettman was in town lobbying for a new arena that seemed to fall on the ears of Mayor Nenshi's constituents.

"The calls to our office, the emails, the comments have been, I would say, 99.999997 per cent saying please Mr. Bettman stay out of it and no, there should be no public money for this," Nenshi told the CBC's Drew Anderson. This was a mere six months ago where Mayor Nenshi heard people saying that there should be no public money used, and now we're back to today where we're seeing the Flames and Bettman begging the city to use public money to fund an arena.

You can't hold a city hostage when the owners of the business named "Calgary Flames" are billionaires. Flames Vice-President Brian Burke, when speaking to a crowd at the Canadian Club of Calgary in June, spoke of why the Flames should have a publicly-funded arena. Burke was asked by an audience member and longtime season ticket holder why he thinks the Flames should get public monies for a new arena, suggesting that there was nowhere for the team to go if they didn't get the money they sought. Burke's response gave little merit to why the city of Calgary should fork over any money, responding with, "I think most intelligent people get this. Sorry... my learned friend."

Actually, most learned people and almost every economic-impact study done on new stadia show that there is little to no benefit received by the city or the area surrounding the new stadium, so I'm not sure from where Burke is pulling his "most intelligent people" statement. Instead, Burke doubled-down with, "In the U.S., it has long been acceptable to use public money to construct arenas and stadiums. It's long been acceptable to give a pro team a favourable lease based on the benefits pro teams bring to the marketplace."

How does using public money and giving favourable leases benefit the city of Calgary at all? In the end, if the city decides to use public funds or grant a favourable lease, there has to be something given back. Just existing as the Calgary Flames hockey club isn't good enough. It wouldn't be good enough for a Wal-Mart store or an Ikea store, and I'd say they have far more appeal to a wider-ranging audience than the Calgary Flames do. If they pay property taxes and build their own buildings using private money, why is the business of the Calgary Flames any different?

Look, I understand the allure of the new arena. It's a sparkly, new building with all sorts of amenities and concessions that are unique to that venue. Most new arenas dazzle before you even step foot inside the venue, but that does raise one cent for the city nor does it put patrons into the businesses surrounding the arena. For too long, professional sports franchises have trampled on civic pride to get what they want before threatening relocation if they don't get what they want. Personally, I'm glad that the city of Calgary has taken a stand against these threats, and I'll credit Mayor Nenshi for recognizing these tactics used and calling them out in the June CBC article.
"This is me kind of shrugging," he said when asked for a reaction. "This is page 26 of the script. It's always page 26 of the script in every city, and my job now is, I'm supposed to go to page 27 and 28 in the script when I point out that Rogers has given them billions of dollars and they're not going to let them remove a team from a western Canadian market, that in order for them to go to Quebec, they'll have to sell the team to Pierre Karl Peladeau, and he's not going to give them a deal the way they're going to get in Calgary, blah, blah, blah. I'm not interested in doing that."

Nenshi said the city has been "very, very clear on our non-negotiables."

"The first one is the one I always say, public money requires public benefit, so you've got to negotiate," he said.

"Five out of the seven teams in Canada have privately owned rinks, only Edmonton and Calgary are publicly owned, and the Edmonton deal may have been right for Edmonton, where they desperately needed revitalization and construction in their downtown core, that is not the case in Calgary … so we have to find a new model."

There's only so much money to go around, and a sports franchise would fall below important things like infrastructure and police, fire, and paramedic services. Those are essential services that require public funding to help everyone. A new arena for the Calgary Flames is not an essential service in any way, shape, or form, and I'll gladly stand with Mayor Nenshi in finding a new model that meets the needs of all the parties, especially the taxpayers in Calgary.

When billionaire owners are unwilling to spend money on the house they bought for their team, maybe they shouldn't be home-owners.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

King Of The E-Rink

The video game cover to the left hid inside the one game that literally gets played at HBIC Headquarters at least once per week. NHL '94 by EASports is still, in my view, the greatest game ever produced for anything and I will fight you if you try to argue that fact. Ok, I won't fight you, but you have to admit that it's quite iconic. There was so much to love about NHL '94, and I'm not any game ever came close in my childhood to replacing NHL '94. It might be, in this writer's view, the perfect game from top to bottom. Lemieux, Gretzky, Roy, Hasek, Bourque, Lidstrom, Roenick, Selanne, Yzerman, Messier - all the hockey greats from my era were in this game!

If you know anything about me, you know that I love this game. I usually bring my Sega Genesis and copy of NHL '94 into the radio station during the week-long fundraiser we do, and radio DJs will battle out their differences over the classic sports game. I've been known to take the woefully bad Ottawa Senators and somehow still pull out victory over All-Star squads, so I have a bit of a reputation when it comes to my gameplay and most aim to knock me off the tower of NHL '94 power I seem to hold.

Why am I writing about this today? Well, I think I may have found my brethren.
How cool is it that NHL '94 is getting its own documentary?!? For those that love this game, this documentary will hopefully speak to the little kid inside them that chose the Jets to play with Selanne, that chose the Blackhawks to see if Roenick and Larmer could be Lemieux and Jagr, that chose the Kings to see Gretzky win one more Stanley Cup. I can't guarantee this documentary will win an Oscar, but for those of use who love EASports' NHL '94, this is a documentary for the ages!

Here's the catch if you think you have what it takes to be the King of NHL '94: they're holding a tournament in Las Vegas on September 30 that will allow competitors to see the NHL '94 documentary! And it features a cash prize of $10,000! How cool is that? I won't be in attendance due to work and life obligations, but if they were ever to bring something like this to my neck of the woods, I'd consider it. How cool would it be to be called the King of NHL '94?

If you loved the game of NHL '94 as much as I do, you'll have this documentary on your must-see list this fall. I'm excited to see what some of the best gamers do in the game, and I think it's cool that so many people have held onto their games and continued to play them despite advances in technology and gaming that have changed the gaming experience. I have always been a retro gaming guy, and NHL '94 is my go-to retro game that I love.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Stand In Solidarity

Remember those that lost their lives today. It should be a rather solemn day, but life will continue on as it normally does because the reality of the situation is that the vast majority of us weren't affected directly. However, those that lost someone, anyone, in the events that happened on September 11, 2001 should be given some respect as there are still voids where loved ones, friends, family, co-workers, and colleagues once stood. HBIC will dedicate this space to a moment of silence today - no hockey chatter, no goofiness.

HBIC stands beside all who lost someone and with all those who stand today as heroes who saved lives and helped in the aftermath. The true heroes were those fighting to save lives, and HBIC salutes each and every one of those people. Thank you for your service.

Until next time, raise your sticks high in honour of these men and women!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

In A Pickle: Round Three

It's been a week, folks. That same jar of pickles that I created would be tested once again tonight as I hoped that the chemical reaction in the lacto-fermentation had set in and really soured the cucumbers. In the last taste test, there was good crunch to the pickle, but the cucumber still had a distinctive sweetness that was indicative of the process needing more time. I pledged a week of extra time, and here we are with another taste test! Like I asked before, would I poison myself? Would end up with sort of superpower? It's pickle time!

Once again, I should go over the controls used in this recipe. I made five jars of similar size and contents using old glass pickle jars, so that variable should be fairly controlled. The temperature in my house, thanks to air conditioning, remained between 19.5°C and 22.5°C for all five jars, so this control is also fairly controlled. And all ingredients were carefully checked and measured before being added to the jars including the brine that was made, so this variable is fairly controlled as well.

If you notice, there are two pickles on the cutting board. I figured that if the taste-test pickle went well, I should probably have a celebratory spear. Does that make sense? No. But they're my pickles and I'll enjoy them as I like. Well, if they're good. If they're not, I guess I just toss them back.

Before I get to the results, the carbon dioxide produced inside the jar from the lacto-fermentation process was all but done by the time today arrived. Burping the jars hardly seemed necessary, but I'd rather do that than clean up shards of glass, brine, and pickles due to an explosion. Being that the carbon dioxide production had all but stopped, it seems that the lacto-fermentation process was taken to completion. With the chemistry done, all that remained was the taste test.

You know what? They're pretty good! The crunch was less than expected - the extra time may have let the tannins wear off - but the sour taste of the pickle was distinct. The dill flavour isn't like a vinegar-based dill pickle in that it's far more subtle, but the sour taste of the pickle combined with the salty brine makes up for what one usually expects in a dill pickle. Overall, they are more like deli pickles in that they aren't dill pickles, but sour pickles.

Make no mistake - I had both pickles. They are delicious, and I imagine they'll remain at their crunchiness level once they go into the fridge tonight. While the dill seed and garlic used in the recipe does add a slight dill-pickle flavour, it's subtle rather than being overwhelming as some pickles are. I have to say that rather being that acidic vinegar pickle, these lacto-fermented pickles are a refreshing and delicious change for those who like a good deli pickle. It's not overly salty, and while the sourness isn't overwhelming it really is the star of this pickle recipe.

Overall rating: I'd say I earned Pickle Rick status!

That status might be a long-winded explanation, but let's just say that Rick turns himself into a pickle to avoid going to family therapy. Craziness ensues. In the end, my pickles are nothing like Pickle Rick, but they might be as sour!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Name On The Back

The player pictured above is Jaret Anderson-Dolan. The LA Kings PR account tweeted out this picture of Anderson-Dolan earlier today, and I think it should be mentioned on this blog for its significance. You see, Jaret is a hard-working, skilled player who caught the eyes of NHL scouts for the game he plays on the ice. Every team wants a guy who will give his heart and soul for the logo on his chest. But for Jaret Anderson-Dolan, the name he wears across his shoulders has, perhaps, even greater significance when it comes to showing who he is as a player and, more importantly, a person.

The NHL and most of hockey in general has been working to be far more inclusive of groups who have felt like outsiders when it came to the machismo-laced world of men's professional sports. Groups like You Can Play have been helping hockey find a voice with LGBTQ people while including them in more events and activities. Seeing players from a number of cities joining and walking in Pride Parades across North America is a good start, but there were a few teams who spoke out about Jaret's family situation prior to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Why would that concern NHL teams? Well, Jaret has two moms. He and his brother Dorion were raised by their moms, Fran and Nancy. Fran is Jaret's biological mother, and Nancy is Dorian's biological mother. Together, the four of them have made a pretty great life for their family, and that culminated in Jaret's rise as a high-level prospect with the WHL's Spokane Chiefs.

"It's been a dream of mine to play in the NHL since I was a little kid and the draft is the first step to that," Anderson-Dolan told Mike G. Morreale of "The real work starts after the draft, but it's exciting times right now. My family did the work behind the scenes; they don't get enough attention for it, but I'm very thankful.

"My goal is to be a first-round pick, but if I'm chosen later it would be an honor to just be drafted."

Clearly, he was good enough to be drafted, going 41st-overall to the Los Angeles Kings. Getting drafted is indeed a huge accomplishment for Anderson-Dolan, but he's entirely right in that his family should get more attention because it's 2017 and this level of irrational fear over one player having two moms seems ridiculous to me. When Anderson-Dolan was entering the WHL bantam draft, some teams told him and his family they would not take him because of his two mothers. For Anderson-Dolan, he's a better man than I because he seems pretty level-headed about it.

"I obviously don't know any other way of being raised, so for me it was normal," Anderson-Dolan told Morreale. "There's a couple of times where during a game or at school people may look to say something to me, but like I've said, I'm not ashamed about it. I believe it's very important that I try and make an impact in the community, as well as on the ice, and I won't shy away from doing that."

Fran, Jaret's biological mother, was captain of the Calgary Canadiens in the Southern Alberta Women's Hockey League and won the provincial championship and the 2008 Western Canada Shield. Fran and Nancy met at a hockey rink, and you can see where Jaret's competitive edge comes from as Fran often reminds Nancy that she won whenever their two teams faced one another. According to Jaret, he learned a great deal from his moms in helping him get to where he is today.

"Fran has great leadership ability," he said. "When she played hockey, she was captain of her team. Nancy is clear on what she wants in life. That's important because people are going to treat you how you treat them."

Not only is the kid a great hockey player and a fantastic person, but he's an incredible athlete. Josh Horton of The Spokesman-Review wrote the following about Anderson-Dolan,
Every season during fitness testing in preseason camp at Whitworth University, Chiefs players undergo VO2 testing, which measures the capacity of a person’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to the muscles.

Typically, only the veterans participate in this portion, but Anderson-Dolan was invited to participate as a 16-year-old rookie. He hopped on the exercise bike for the test, breathing tube strapped to his face, as then-Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur walked in and announced, "I'm gonna bet A-D wins this."

And he did. By a lot.

Anderson-Dolan's test number was in the mid 60s. Not a single Chiefs player even eclipsed 60 that year.

The next season, Anderson-Dolan's number rose to the high 60s, which would be in contention for the highest score at the NHL combine in most years.
It's a credit to the Los Angeles Kings for selecting Anderson-Dolan for his hockey ability just like the Spokane Chiefs did. His family has played an instrumental role in getting him to where he is today. Even his brother, Dorion, is a solid athlete - a fact that can't be overlooked when talking about their upbringings. Dorion is a student at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology for automotive technology in Calgary, and works as a ski and mountain bike instructor when he's not in classes.

Everything these two brothers have achieved in their lives has been due to having strong family support and a loving family and home to help them on their journeys. The fact that Jaret Anderson-Dolan is a member of the Los Angeles Kings shouldn't surprise anyone because he has talent that should make him an NHL player in the very near future. What should surprise everyone is that there are still teams and management who feel that his family - two moms and a brother - will somehow have a negative effect on what Jaret brings to the ice.

It's 2017. Families come in all forms now and the traditional "man-woman-children" model isn't the only model that works for everyone. The Anderson-Dolan family is living, breathing proof of this fact, and having the "Anderson-Dolan" name across the back of an NHL jersey proves that a loving, supportive home is the best family unit to have regardless of the makeup of those in that family.

This is a promise: I will add an Anderson-Dolan jersey to my collection. I like Jaret Anderson-Dolan. He's a good kid who works hard and gives everything he has on the ice to help his team win. But I like his family even more, and that's why I want to wear his family's name on my back.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Welcome Home!

In all of my travels across this great land, I always seem to discover some place new that literally is in my backyard. Today, I was lucky enough to make my way out to Virden, Manitoba for a U Sports preseason women's hockey game between the Manitoba Bisons and the Regina Cougars. Having never been in Virden - my only stop there was a gas station adjacent to the highway - I was excited at the prospect of seeing the town and its new multi-use recreational facility known as Tundra Oil & Gas Place. Like I said off the top, I've discovered a new place in my backyard to which I'm quite certain I will return!

Bisons forward Karissa Kirkup hails from Virden, so it was an opportunity for friends and family who may not have been able to make it to Wayne Fleming Arena to see her play university-level hockey in her hometown, but she wasn't the only player there with fans! Killarney, Manitoba sent a contingent to cheer on Regina's Jaycee Magwood as last year's Canada West leading goal-scorer was in the lineup. There was a sizable crowd that turned out for the game, but we'll get to those highlights in a few moments.

Upon turning into Virden off the Trans-Canada Highway, one gets the sense that this town of approximately 3200 residents has one main thoroughfare from which all other routes extend. This is nearly true, but you really get a much better view of the town as you travel deeper into its neighborhoods. There are older stone houses, some newer developments, and all the modern amenities that one could want in a town this size, but there's still that sleepy, farming town feel that sweeps through the streets of Virden. Honestly, seeing the old theatre and some of the older commercial buildings felt like one had stepped back in time, but one quickly jumped back into the modern era the moment one gazed upon Tundra Oil & Gas Place.

The new multi-use facility saw construction begin in March of 2010 and finish in June of 2011. The $18 million investment in the community features the hockey rink with 1204 seats, a community hall that seats 500, a fitness area, a walking/running track, retail space, and an outdoor pool. While the cost may have been a discussion point for some time in the community with respect to some of the projects that were also tabled, Virden has only seen good things since the doors to Tundra Oil & Gas Place opened. The facility hosted the regional qualifying games of the 2012 Telus Cup, it hosted the 2014 Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts, and it is the home rink to the MJHL's Virden Oil Capitals, the North Central Hockey League's Virden Oil Kings, and the Manitoba High School Hockey League's Virden Golden Bears. The Oil Capitals - formerly the Winnipeg Saints - moved from Winnipeg to Virden in 2012 and have made the playoffs in each of the last four years.

Having been to a few newer rinks, this multi-use facility really reminded me of the facility in Kenora, Ontario where The Hockey Show was lucky enough to broadcast from during Hockey Day in Canada. Besides being a major place for social interactivity, the multi-use facilities in both cities saw people of all ages using their many venues for exercise and fun. The upgrade in Virden, in this writer's view, is well-worth the money they spent to get the return they're getting from a community and civic standpoint.

Tonight, though, the arena played host to its first-ever U Sports women's hockey game as the Bisons and Cougars met for the first of seven games this season if one considers the three preseason games and four regular season games they'll play. To say that familiarity may breed contempt may not even scratch the surface when it comes to these prairie rivals, and we witnessed just how good this series will be this season with tonight's opening game!

Checking was tight early on as neither team afforded many chances to its opposition, but there were shots that were dangerous. Manitoba's Rachel Dyck was sharp early on as Regina used their speed to find seams in the Manitoba defence while Morgan Baker was equally good as she countered every shot sent her way off the Bisons' cycling of the puck in the early going. It would be a late-period mistake, though, that saw the deadlock end. An errant pass from deep in the Manitoba zone went down the middle of the ice where Jaycee Magwood jumped on the puck. Two strides later, she wired a hard wrist shot over Dyck's right arm into the top corner to put Regina up 1-0 with 3:49 remaining in the opening frame.

Whatever was said in the intermission in the Manitoba dressing room was enough for the Bisons to bring the heat in the opening minute of the second period. The Bisons broke in as a unit, causing Regina to run around in their own zone, and a shot on net was mishandled by Morgan Baker. This allowed Alanna Sharman to corral the puck behind the Regina net where she spotted Jenai Buchanan sneaking in from the right point. Sharman fed Buchanan at the top of the circle, and the second-year rearguard made no mistake as she wired home a puck to the back of the net with bodies in green jerseys lying all over the crease area to make it a 1-1 game just 24 seconds into the middle frame.

It appeared that the close-checking would carry the game into the third period, but a late break up the ice saw Alison Sexton streak up the right wing. Defender Caitlin Fyten spotted Sexton making a break down the ice, and she fired a stretch pass that would get past the Regina defender and find the tape of Sexton's stick for the clear-cut breakaway from the just before the Regina blue line. Having seen Alison dangle a goalie before in a game against Team Manitoba, I suspected she was looking to do the same. She came in on Baker, went forehand to backhand, but Baker followed! Sexton, though, didn't give up and used what little room she had left to flip the puck on her forehand up and over Baker's pad as she skated past the post for an outstanding goal with 24 seconds remaining in the period to give Manitoba the 2-1 lead after forty minutes.

The third period was a lot of the same tight-checking affair we had in the first two periods, but credit Regina for not sitting back as they continued to throw shots at Dyck in the Manitoba net. There were excellent chances, including one right on the doorstep as time expired, but the Manitoba defence and Rachel Dyck stood tall through the final twenty minutes of play to wrap up a 2-1 victory! If this game was a preview of the next six games to be played, we're in for a wild ride as Manitoba and Regina look very evenly matched!

Overall, it was an outstanding day out in Virden. I was lucky enough to be able to explore some of the town, meet some of the fantastic people, and see an amazing hockey game that the "home team" won. If you get a chance to visit the town, make sure you stop by Tundra Oil & Gas Place, especially if the Oil Capitals are playing. I saw a number of Oil Capitals jerseys in the crowd of 400-or-so people at the game, and many left the rink impressed with the quality of play they saw at the U Sports level.

That's why you should head down to your local rink and support women's hockey. It might be the best hockey available in your area that you're not watching! Come on down to the University of Manitoba or to your local Canada West university this year, and check out the action. I guarantee you'll be blown away by these women!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 259

The Hockey Show begins Season Six next week! Holy cow! We actually made it through five years of doing a weekly talk show all about hockey without any major incidents or international crises caused! Somehow, we've established a fairly nice foothold in the radio landscape with our crazy banter and lively debates, but we really have no one but you, listeners and readers, to thank for making us a part of your weekly hockey updates. While we'll never be TSN - does anyone really want to be TSN radio in this city? - we do try to give better coverage of all the leagues than the big guys do, and we hope you appreciate the coverage and the guests we bring into your life each and every week! Thanks for being along with us for this crazy ride!

Tonight, Beans and I will address the elephant in the room as the Winnipeg Jets announced that both GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and head coach Paul Maurice were given extensions on their contracts despite only visiting the Stanley Cup Playoffs once. We'll debate the merits of these extensions, and see where we end up. On top of that, we'll discuss updates on a few Jets players health-wise, free agent signings and professional tryouts around the league, the CWHL announcing they'll pay players this season, some Manitoba Bisons news, some NCAA news, the dangers of the warning line in hockey, and we have a few shout-outs to do before the night is over!

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

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! Email all show questions and comments to! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Tonight, Teebz and Beans discuss contract extensions, injuries from contact, tryouts for contracts, why the warning line causes more contact, paid contracts, who to contact about the Bisons, and more only on The Hockey Show found on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: September 7, 2017: Episode 259

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Night Off In Preparation

I'm claiming this night off because I have a pile of preparation work to do for my little road trip on Friday. I won't say where I'm going yet, but it has to do with the radio and a broadcast of hockey so it's very related to HBIC. Actually, if you follow me on Twitter, you might already know where I'm going, but I'll keep it a secret here on the blog at least until tomorrow's radio show. In saying all of this, I'll be on the road to a destination on Friday!

I think this is something I want to do more of in the future. HBIC and The Hockey Show always like going to new places and broadcasting tournaments and games that deserve a little recognition. As you may be aware, we highlighted a lot of the local attractions and events in Kenora when we were invited out for Scotiabank's Hockey Day in Canada, and I plan on doing a little of this Friday evening as well. If you know of a tournament or game that wants some additional coverage and broadcasting, hit me with an email and I'll see what can be done to make that happen!

Friday night will see me on the road, so stay tuned to HBIC for a recap of where I will be!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Pirates Life For Former AHL Player

I haven't had a lot of updates to send out for my favorite Danish Metal Ligaen team up to this point. The Aalborg Pirates are currently playing preseason games as they look to defend their regular-season crown from last year while taking a prolonged run at the Metal Ligaen championship. The eleven-team league features the best young Danish players while teams accentuate those players with foreign-born players who generally play a major role on each team. Last year, there were a pile of players who had ties to Winnipeg that head coach Brandon Reid brought aboard, but it seems he has expanded his search this season. Today, the Aalborg Pirates may have gotten a little stronger thanks to the addition of a former AHL and KHL player whose career really needs a reboot!

Kirill Kabonov, a third-round pick of the New York Islanders in 2010, apparently has agreed to join the Danish club after discovering that his residence permit prevented him from entering Sweden and joining IK Oskarshamn. A report from Hockey Magasinet's Thomas Guldberg Nielsen translates as follows through Google Translate:
Russian Kirill Kabanov can be very close to playing in Aalborg Pirates this season.

It was otherwise the Swedish club IK Oskarshamn, who long seemed to become the Russians new club, but problems with his residence permit prevent him from entering Sweden, so that's why he has now threw his love on Denmark and Aalborg Pirates, tells the Swedish internet guru mr. madhawk

He will be following Mr. madhawk presented in Aalborg as soon as possible, where he is expected to be a great success after 2 seasons who were bothered by injury, he will now start his career in a smaller league where Oskarshamn was perfect, but it did not matter, maybe great luck for Aalborg Pirates.

Aalborg Pirates CEO Thomas Bjuring will not confirm the rumors.

"It would be great and that sounds very exciting. But it is unlikely to get a player of the caliber to Aalborg. In addition, I have no comments, says Thomas Bjuring to
Well, folks, I went to find confirmation if Mr. Bjuring wouldn't confirm, and the rumours are true. Kirill Kabonov, if everything goes as planned, will be playing for the Aalborg Pirates this season once he gets his papers in order!

Kabanov had a rather non-descript time in the QMJHL with the Halifax Mooseheads where he scored just ten goals and 13 assists in 24 games, but his move to the Lewiston MAINEiacs saw Kabanov put up 11 goals and 17 assists in 37 games in 2010-11. The following season saw him moved to the Shawinigan Cataractes where Kabanov score 21 goals and add 34 helpers in 50 games! While he may have started slow, his last season in the QMJHL gave the Islanders some hope that he could continue to develop into a solid, scoring left-winger.

He was used sparingly in Bridgeport by the Islanders due to injuries and poor play before being loaned to MODO in the Swedish Elite League after being demoted to the ECHL. After failing to find his scoring touch there, he jumped to Skelleftea the following season where he notched 11 goals and 18 assists in 43 games. Following his time in Skelleftea in 2014-15, he saw very little ice time in the KHL with Salavat Yulaev Ufa and Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk over two seasons. Needless to say, there hasn't been much scoring for Kabanov since he left Quebec.

There are some issues that dog Kabanov as well. In 2010, he was removed from the Russian U18 team after his coach said, "I removed him from the team because we thought [he] would help us, but he brought only confusion to the team. Kabanov came and thought 'Here I am, a star from Canada, who will save all.' But it's the team that wins rather than an individual player."

Other points of contention during his junior days were his father's constant interfering with his son's agents. JP Barry, a well-known scout in NHL circles, walked away from Kabanov in 2010 while Ilya Moliver, another scout, was quoted as saying that Kabanov's father was the player's "main problem". The Islanders terminated his contract in 2014, making him a free agent, and he appeared on a professional tryout with the New York Rangers in 2015, but was unable to make the team's roster as the Rangers released him from that contract. said the following about Kabanov,
A speedy winger who plays the game with boatloads of energy and has the hands to make the puck dance, Kabanov's game still needs plenty of work, especially in adding strength to match his enthusiasm on the ice as well as improving his play without the puck.
... and...
His combination of speed, skill and offensive creativity is well-suited for hockey in Europe.
In knowing how Brandon Reid wants to have the Pirates play, speed and energy will be appreciated, but Kabanov's play away from the puck will come under scrutiny if he doesn't fill his lane in the defensive zone. Reid won't tolerate anyone who misses his defensive check, so Kabanov will need to skate hard in both directions if he hopes to play a lot for the Pirates.

Kabanov's career is far from over, but he'll have to work hard to get it back to where it was when he was drafted. In knowing coach Reid, he'll give Kabanov chances to succeed, but only if he puts in the necessary effort to earn those chances. If Kabanov is serious about his hockey career, those are the types of opportunities he should be seeking. We'll see how this plays out as the season progresses for the Aalborg Pirates!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Cougars Look Sharp

With school starting for some tomorrow, it's time for a piece on a school that I've come to admire. I have to admit that I'm a fan of the Mount Royal Cougars. I had a chance to get to speak with a few of their students and parents during the Canada West women's hockey playoffs last season as we set up interviews for the radio broadcasts of the games, and there was a small part of me hoping they'll shock the world this season and knock one of the bigger schools not named Manitoba down a notch or two. This is a program that is really starting to find its legs in Canada West women's hockey, and the Cougars made another impressive move this summer when they announced they were rebranding and taking to the fields, courts, pitches, and ice in new uniforms! The new logo above is already an impressive upgrade to the Cougars' old look, so count me as a fan of what the Cougars are doing!

First, let's roll the video that MRU produced for the rebranding.
Ok, so that felt more like a recruitment video or a first-day-of-classes video meant to hype the school. There were some glimpses, however, of the new logo and some of the new branding the school is doing. Personally, I was impressed with the number of students across all walks of life that MRU included, and that speaks volumes to their diverse representation in a number of faculties and in their athletic programs. Well done, Mount Royal!

So what do the new threads look like?

Wow! I'm only going to focus on the hockey jersey here, but I love the MRU across the chest with the cougar's head in the R's negative space. It's very professional, it's certainly noticeable on the white uniform, and I like its usage on the hockey jersey compared to the other three uniforms (yes, I may be a little biased). The team-coloured Canada West patch above the logo looks great, and I love the old-time feel of the stripes on the sleeves and hem to really give the jersey a slimmed-down, streamlined look heading into this season.

For those who may not follow MRU hockey, the old jerseys looked very collegiate as you can see to the right. Number in the middle with the school's name in a radially-arched design with the school's logo on the sleeve? That's entirely how college hockey used to look before teams began to sell themselves and the school via their athletics programs. The logo, seen below, is almost non-existent on the uniform, but I do love the striping the school used for its hockey jerseys on the old sweaters. I'd buy one of those tomorrow if they were available to be purchased! Comparatively, Mount Royal will move from SP Apparel to CCM with the new threads as well.

The old logo didn't really give off a message about a progressive, diverse, and sophisticated educational institution like Mount Royal University. It feels cartoonish and elementary - something you'd see on a beer league team's uniforms. While it may have worked while Mount Royal was playing in the ACAC, but the Cougars might have the best logo in all of Canada West with the new rebrand. Dare I even say they may be one of the best in all of U Sports now? Yup, I said it.

The more interesting part of the rebrand is that this new look has been in the works since 2016 as Mount Royal worked key stakeholders at every level to capture the essence of Mount Royal University and the pride of being a Cougar.
In 2016, a year-long visual identity refresh project began with strategic planning and included feedback from students, alumni, faculty and staff. Research found that the true value of the Cougars brand was to make it more available and inclusive for everyone on campus and everyone who has a connection to MRU.
I'd say the work done by the internal Mount Royal University committee and Edmonton-based graphic design firm Artslinger accomplished the goal that Mount Royal University wanted because I, as a non-student and non-Albertan, want to wear that logo. While the bookstore has yet to offer any products with the new front-facing cougar on it, I'm going on record to admit that I'll be the first non-MRU-affiliated person in this province to proudly wear the new Cougars logo.

Well done, MRU! We'll see you in January with your new gear!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

TBC: Don Cherry's Sports Heroes

With a long weekend upon us, I decided to use some of that extra time to get some reading in, and I'm happy to say that I did. I love exercising the mind through reading. While some may say that the book in question wouldn't really qualify as "exercise", I actually really enjoyed today's entry into Teebz's Book Club. So without further adieu, Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Don Cherry's Sports Heroes, written by Don Cherry and published by Doubleday Canada via Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Don Cherry's Sports Heroes is less about the guys he follows in hockey, and more about the guys he has interviewed on his former TV and radio show called Grapevine. Sure, there are hockey players that were on the show, but the stories in Don Cherry's Sports Heroes include many other people from the world of sports!

I'm not sure that Don S. Cherry needs an introduction, but let's do one for fun. He is the featured star on "Coach's Corner" on the CBC's Hockey Night In Canada program, and he has produced volumes of hockey highlight videos and DVDs under the "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em" name. Don has written a number of books, and he also has hosted a nationally syndicated radio show with Brian Williams for a number of years. He was a player and coach - most notably of the Bobby Orr-led Boston Bruins - while winning the Jack Adams Award once. Recently, Don Cherry has devoted a large amount of his time to raising funds for Rose Cherry's Home for Kids, a hospice for terminally ill children. The late Rose Cherry was Don's wife who passed away from lung cancer in 1997, and Don has worked tirelessly to try to help as many children as he can. Don is also a proud father to his two children, Tim and Cindy.

For those that have never seen an episode of Grapevine, I've included an episode at the end of this article. The show was first filmed in a studio that was decorated like an English pub, and it wasn't long before filming moved to Hamilton, Ontario to the bar that Don owned called The Grapevine. Don would film live in front of the actual restaurant crowd with the people he interviewed sitting around and telling stories with Don. The show worked really well in terms of its format, and it drew good ratings on CHCH-TV who filmed and aired the program.

Don invited people from all sports to the show with a heavy emphasis on the people that he wanted to interview. Tim, his son, would produce the show and book the interviews, so it may have been easier in knowing his dad when it came to booking guests. Among the non-hockey people who appeared on the show included former MLB umpire, the late Ron Luciano; boxing legend Joe Frazier; Don's agent Gerry Patterson; and, writer, author, and actor George Plimpton. Of course, hockey players like Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour, and Bob Probert also saw time on the show!

Don Cherry's Sports Heroes is literally a who's who of the best storytellers in sports or people who were involved in great stories that were told on Grapevine. Don really does a great job in explaining some gaps in stories while letting the interviews done on the show fill in the main parts. The key about all the people in the book are that they are Don's favorite sports people who touched his life in some way. To get a glimpse into who Don Cherry really respects may surprise you!

I think my favorite chapter of Don Cherry's Sports Heroes was the one with George Plimpton. Plimpton was a journalist and author who would attend training camps with professional sports teams to get an "inside look" at the sport while writing books about the experience. George attended Bruins camp while Cherry was coaching, and he wanted to be a goaltender. His only action was five minutes against the Philadelphia Flyers in a pre-game before the actual preseason game started. For someone who hadn't played a minute of hockey in his life, would this be suicide?
DON: Now, tell us about the big game.
GEORGE: The Flyers scored on the first shot on net. I thought, "Oh no, are they going to score on every shot?"
DON: Then came the penalty shot.
GEORGE: The faceoff was in the Flyers end and the players - I believe Mike Milbury was the ringleader - hatched a plan to let a Flyer have a breakaway. Mike threw his stick, which is against the rules, and the Flyers were awarded a penalty shot.
DON: Yes, and Reggie "The Rifle" Leach took the shot. Tell us what happened.
GEORGE: Well, when he skated down the ice, I hoped he would shoot the puck and not try and skate around me. I just hurtled myself at him and he shot the puck and it hit my pad and I made the save. The five minutes was over and I only let in one goal.
Not bad, right? George Plimpton goes up against the big, bad Flyers and only gives up one goal! The key in that story was that Plimpton left the bench for an interview with Sports Illustrated after his time in the net, and he missed one of the biggest brawls in NHL history!

Overall, Don Cherry's Sports Heroes is a fun book that takes you through a number of funny stories that happened on the Grapevine TV show. There are some interesting tidbits of information in the stories told, so you may even learn a thing or two along the way as you read through Don Cherry's Sports Heroes. I enjoyed the stories told and picked up a few new pieces of information and, for that, Don Cherry's Sports Heroes certainly deserves the the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Find Don Cherry's Sports Heroes at your local bookstore or library, and enjoy the stories that were told to Don Cherry on his iconic show!

As promised, here is an episode of Grapevine found on YouTube. In this episode, Don Cherry interviews Detroit Red Wings scorer Dino Ciccarelli and enforcer Bob Probert! There's a chapter in the book about this show!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 2 September 2017

In A Pickle: Follow-Up

As you may have read on HBIC, I decided to partake in a chemistry experiment known as lacto-fermented pickles. The pickle spear to the left? That's one of the many that were plunked into brine with a litany of spices. I promised a taste test as we approached the day of reckoning - aka "put 'em in the fridge day" - and I decided that five days would be the first opportunity to taste-test the results of my chemistry experiment! Would I die? Would I poison myself? Would end up with sort of superpower? We'd soon find out.

First, I should introduce some controls. I made five jars of similar size and contents using old glass pickle jars, so that variable should be fairly controlled. Second, the temperature in my house, thanks to air conditioning, remained between 19.5°C and 22.5°C for all five jars, so this control is also fairly controlled. Lastly, all ingredients were carefully checked and measured before being added to the jars including the brine that was made. Again, this variable is fairly controlled.

Today, five days into the pickle-making experiment, I cracked a jar and sampled my work! And it should be noted that I enjoyed the above spear as best as I could. Because it was not ready. Not even close. Wow.

The chemical reactions hadn't finished what it needed to do as there was still some sweetness to the cucumber. The crunch was definitely noticeable - the tannins from the raspberry leaves are definitely recommended if you embark on this chemical endeavor.

With that sampling, the lid went back on and we'll give it more time. How much? We'll see. It definitely feels like it needs another week, so maybe we'll let it go that long. Once the lacto-fermentation process is done, it should be easy to see since there won't be as much carbon dioxide given off. In any case, it's back onto the counter for another week.

More pickle updates to come! Stay tuned!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Show Me The Money!

As news broke this morning, the first thing that crept into my head was Cuba Gooding Jr.'s iconic line from Jerry Maguire in which he tells Jerry, "Show me the money!" If you haven't heard, the CWHL will pay its players this season, but there were yet to be any details on how much, at what rate, and what the total compensation would be for players and teams. An early article from Rachel Brady in The Globe & Mail gave us all those details and more!

Let's start with what we know from Miss Brady's article.
Each player will make a minimum of $2,000 and a maximum of $10,000. Each of the league's seven clubs will get a $100,000 salary cap, and that pool of money will be divided among the players as each team sees fit.
This is less than what the NWHL promised and delivered in its first season of pay, but it's almost equivalent to what they paid last season at $5000 per team per game. That's not a "livable wage" by any means, but it's a start. Any move in the right direction regarding the best women's hockey players in the world being paid to entertain the fans is a positive. While the CWHL will still take of incidentals and expenses such as travel and equipment, getting some extra coin in the players' pockets is what needs to happen.

Miss Brady follows that paragraph up with the following:
CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress said the league, which admitted two Chinese expansion teams this season, has generated revenue from the marketing, broadcasting and licensing rights from those new clubs. She added that the Chinese teams have also attracted other new corporate sponsors. CWHL games will be broadcast in China as part of the country's widespread efforts to develop hockey players and promote the sport before the country holds the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Andress says other factors have also contributed to the CWHL's growth in revenue and profile. The league increased sponsorships in Canada, and forged collaborations with NHL teams in Toronto, Boston, Montreal and Calgary and staged some special games in NHL arenas. Sportsnet broadcast key games, including the Clarkson Cup playoffs. Attendance has grown, but the league is still a long way from popular.
There should be some concern here. The "growth in revenue and profile" and "increased sponsorships in Canada" shows that the league is finding a footprint in the sports landscape, but one has to question if it would have been enough to pay players this season without the benefit of the two Chinese expansion teams. As it stands, it doesn't appear that the five teams would have received pay this season based on that statement had it not been for the addition of two teams who are flush with money. That needs to change before the five-season contract with the Chinese Hockey Federation runs out.

However, I'm not here to rain on a parade. The first puck on this season has yet to drop, and there are a number of stars on both Chinese teams while the five North American teams will still be stocked with high-level talent. Once the Olympics are over, there will be a pile of additional players who are the best-of-the-best that need places to play, so we could see even more talent be absorbed into the league. All of this leads to more fans in the seats, more interest in the league from potential sponsors, and greater exposure via interested television partners. While Year One of the five-year deal may not be as star-studded as the next four, the framework for potential major revenue generation has been laid.

Miss Brady received a quotation from Miss Andress that should have the CWHLPA and its members cautiously happy as the league moves forward over the next few years.
Without pointing to the NWHL, Andress said the CWHL's board of governors proceeded cautiously, making sure not to pay players until they were certain they could sustain it. She said this was the season they had targeted all along.

"We still have a long way to go, and as a women's hockey league we still have a long up-road battle to make sure that sponsors and media pay attention to us so we don't go away," Andress said. "We know this plan is sustainable, it won't just be paying them for one year. We have a plan in place and each year we will grow those stipends."
While promises are only as good as the people making them, there's no reason to believe - at this point - that what Miss Andress said is untrue. She hit the nail on the head in stating that there is a still a metric tonne of work to be done to get sponsors and media to remember they exist, but they have a plan to ensure that pay doesn't disappear or be reduced and, in fact, be increased year after year. If the expression "nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight" is true, the CWHL has a lot of fighting to do before they can provide a livable wage so that the players don't have to work full-time to play hockey full-time.

Again, the framework has been laid. Now it's up to the league - both players and management - to live up to what it promised so that all benefit. Garbage in will yield garbage out, so the players need to get out there and put out the best product on the ice, management has to do its homework in the boardroom, and, together, this league will reach new heights with pay that will be unrivaled for any professional women's player in the near future.

There will always be scrutiny that comes out of an announcement like this - is the money from the Chinese teams the only reason the CWHL is playing players? What kind of sponsors and broadcast partners do these Chinese teams have? Why aren't there partnerships in North America like this? - and the CWHL will need to work hard to silence these questions. If they can't generate the kind of revenue needed within North America to continue to follow their announced plan to increase stipends every year, the scrutiny will follow just as it did for the other league.

In saying that, the ace card that was always waved in the CWHL's face was that they weren't paying their players like the other league was. With a level playing field, players will now need to choose based on opportunity and strength of the league - exactly like what happened during the NHL-WHA feud in the 1970s. There were players who opted for bigger pay days in the WHA while the NHL's stability appealed to other players. Once the NHL figured out that they needed to pay its players fair market value, players had to weigh other options such as location, ownership, and stability.

With a decade of success behind the CWHL, paying its players was long overdue. That will be resolved this season, but the league and its players can't just kick back and relax now. More than ever, their hard work that is starting to reap rewards needs to be maintained or even increased in order to see more rewards in the future. If the model is sustainable, as Miss Andress has stated, the results should mean that more money can go to players if revenues grow. In other words, both the league and its players will thrive if everyone continues to work hard.

Getting paid is a big step for the CWHL players, but it's only a step towards a destination. The key in all of this? It's a step in the right direction for the league, its players, and its fans!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!