Saturday, 21 April 2018

Losers In Lockouts

If there's one thing that looms on the horizon for the NHL and NHLPA, it's another lockout. I know it's the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and I should be focused on those stories, but I have this sinking feeling that we're headed for another long and bitter hockey stoppage when the current CBA expires. Seattle is looking to get rolling, there are a number of teams who are building towards a better future, and there's a pile of individual achievements to celebrate, but that large shadow enveloping the horizon is closer than it may seem to be.

Everyone talks about loss during the lockout. Owners are losing money, players aren't making money and losing time off their already-short careers, and fans complain about simply losing hockey. If there's one segment of the landscape we never mention, it's the loss for the sponsors of the NHL. We never really consider them because they can still market their products another way, but one particular group of sponsors seems to get hit really hard during a lockout: adult beverage makers.

According to IEG research, the top-five most active marketing groups during hockey broadcasts were quick-service restaurants, auto manufacturers, medical, insurance, and beer producers as of 2015-16. Their spending on marketing during NHL broadcasts was up "6.7 percent from the previous year", and totaled some "$477 million in the 2015-2016 season". As per IEG, "Anheuser-Busch replaced Enterprise Holdings as the most active non-endemic sponsor" - the industry term of non-core brands on which the sports industry relies upon - so it would be fair to say that beer marketing money plays a large part in the total marketing dollars spent during NHL broadcasts, and Anheuser-Busch had 71% of the league's teams broadcasting and showing marketing messages for them.

In Canada, we'll go back to 2012 during the last NHL lockout where Molson Coors, the Montreal- and Denver-based brewer, saw cold weather sales of their products virtually disappear when the NHL decided to go AWOL.

"Whether it's people not actually physically going to the venues and consuming there, consuming in venues around the outlet before that, or indeed having NHL sort of parties at home, all of those occasions have disappeared off the map and you just can't replicate them," CEO Peter Swinburn told The Canadian Press in November 2012.

Swinburn's right when stating that there is really nothing else that can replace the NHL in Canada in the winter months. The NBA's Toronto Raptors are more of a regional draw for southern Ontario, the NFL certainly has the same fans, but not the same marketing tie-in that beer sales have had with NHL teams, and both Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer follow the same course as the Raptors in that they're extremely regional. The NHL's affect on Molson Coors' sales is pretty clear when it comes to the importance the NHL plays in getting people to consume their product.

Swinburn told reporters "that once the lockout ends, Molson Coors will seek financial compensation from the league over the negative impact that a lack of games has had on the hockey league sponsor" and that will help to recoup some of those lost sales, but it never fully makes up for what could have been a solid increase in sales year over year had the NHL simply remained on the ice. When you consider that Molson Coors beat expectations the prior year, there was hope their reported $375 million deal with the NHL would continue to see growth, especially north of the border. Hockey was supposed to be a major driver of that growth, but share prices were already falling just two months into the last lockout.

So why should this concern you and I as hockey fans? Local bars, taverns, and watering holes feel that pinch more than the breweries do. Your favorite place to catch the game would see a loss in sales on what normally would be game nights, and that's contributing to Molson Coors seeing less product being sold.

Local watering holes in Canada rely heavily on the 82-game NHL schedule to help boost sales by broadcasting the games. There's usually a beverage deal during the game that coincides with one of the NHL's beverage sponsors, and as a result of these decisions everyone benefits. The watering hole makes money, the beer producers make money, and the NHL makes money via the sponsorship. The trickle-down of the economics would be felt hardest at the bottom where those watering holes rely heavily on walk-up traffic and regular patrons to keep their businesses afloat.

CBC spoke with Winnipeg restaurant owner Tony Siwicki about the costs that he was forced to absorb after the NHL decided to lockout the players in 2012.
Tony Siwicki of the Silver Heights Restaurant in Winnipeg said since the Jets returned last season, he has bought team gear for staff, hired extra security, and even purchased a bus to shuttle fans from his eatery to home games.

"Now we've got all this money out that we … won't get back. We have to sit on it for, [in] the worst-case scenario, for another year," Siwicki said.

"I hope they come to an agreement," he added. "A lot of people … rely on this kind of entertainment to make money, to survive, to support their families."
While I appreciate that the NHL is a business on its own where financial stability is needed in order to keep it afloat, but there appears to be a major collision coming as the players are unhappy about shared hockey revenues and not playing in the Olympics while the NHL owners certainly don't want to share any additional monies they are required to share. With money being one of the key arguments to resolve in the upcoming CBA negotiations, this is more than likely going to be another ugly and prolonged work stoppage as both sides for every additional cent they can gain.

I don't envy local business owners and Canadian brewery owners when talk of CBA unrest comes up. It means loss of business and loss of profits from normally ravenous hockey fans who indulge in their businesses and products. And while the NHL needs to get its house in order, the longer they ignore these negotiations the more hurt they're doing to their partners who make the games and players popular.

While the CBA negotiations loom, some foresight would do the NHL a lot of good when it comes to helping out the people who do a lot of the groundwork in making the NHL the number-one sport in Canada.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 20 April 2018

Second Leg Booked

With their victory tonight, the Winnipeg Jets officially booked the second leg of their playoff journey as they dispatched the Minnesota Wild 4-1 in their series. Like the image to the left, I expect the bandwagon to start filling up quickly as more and more fans start cheering for Canada's most exciting team on ice, but, like the photo above, there are lots of seats on this bandwagon. The Jets showed off their depth in eliminating the Wild and will now have a few days for the bumps, bruises, welts, and cuts to heal as they prepare for one of Nashville or Colorado. If you aren't excited for these Jets, you may want to see if you still have a pulse!

Let's go to the Game Five highlights, compliments of Rogers Sportsnet and, mostly, the Winnipeg Jets.

A few things about tonight's win:
  • Jacob Trouba's goal just 31 seconds into the game broke a Winnipeg Jets franchise record for fastest playoff goal from the start of the game that was previously set at 53 seconds by Randy Carlyle back in 1995.
  • Brandon Tanev now leads the Tanev family in NHL Playoff goals. Brandon has a total of one; his older brother Chris, who plays for Vancouver, has zero.
  • After Minnesota anthem singer John deCausmeaker made his plea before Game Four about letting Winnipeg hear the passion of Minnesota fans, the Minnesota Wild scored a total of zero goals over the next six periods in being eliminated.
  • The sellout crowd announced at 15,321 inside BellMTS Place set a new volume record at one point during the night, registering at 114.3 decibels. That's a level 16 times higher than 70dB, and is 4.3dB higher than the average human pain threshold when it comes to sound. It would be equivalent to standing within one meter of a car whose horn is blaring.
  • The Jets haven't lost a game at home, including three in these playoffs, since February 27.
  • It was 31 years and five days since Winnipeg saw their pro hockey team advance to the second round of the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
  • Preliminary estimates had the crowd outside BellMTS Place numbering over 30,000 (edit: the final number was approximately 36,000).
In the end, the four first-period goals scored by the Jets paced them to the 5-0 win in Game Five, and the game ended with this sequence.

Get your boarding passes ready, folks. The second leg of this incredible flight is now accepting passengers, and you're welcome to join Jets fans in this fun and exciting spring.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 19 April 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 291

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with the first and second of what will eventually be fifteen exit interviews from Survivor: NHL Playoffs sponsored by Lay's and their Show Your Emotions contest. As you're probably aware, both Los Angeles and Anaheim were eliminated in sweeps by the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks, respectively, as the second-round Pacific Division matchup is now set. Like we always do, we'll get in contact with those Survivors to let them know that their Survivor: NHL Playoffs contest is over. Before we do that, though, let's check the board!

As you can see, both Los Angeles and Anaheim have been made transparent and the names associated with them - Barry and Amy - have been written in gray as they will now fade to the background in Round One. Barry and Amy are due up tonight for their exit interviews, so tune in for those!

Tonight, Teebz and Beans dig into Game Five here in Winnipeg on Friday without Josh Morrissey in the lineup and how that will affect the Jets, the loss of Zach Parise for the Wild, the Penguins-Flyers series and why Pittsburgh might just three-peat after all, and we'll touch on the other series and their situations. We'll dig into the Aalborg Pirates of the Metal Ligaen being up 3-0 on the first-overall Herning Blue Fox in the final, the Calgary Flames dismissing head coach Glen Gulutzan, Paul Maurice's shout-out to head coach of the Bisons women's team in Jon Rempel, and we may touch on some more changes to Bisons hockey broadcasts again as there have been some exciting developments behind the scenes! All of this happens tonight at 5:30pm CT on UMFM!

How do I listen, you ask? The easiest way is for you to download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's literally 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! Of course, you can do the radio thing at 101.5 on the FM dial and you can always listen online via the UMFM website!

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 talk suspensions, lineups, injuries, coaches, Pirates, Penguins, and more only on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

PODCAST: April 19, 2018: Episode 291

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Secrets Coaches Share

I know there's always talk of the bond or fraternity among those who hold the same positions, but I was always under the impression that these people never really crossed over too often into other leagues. Jon Rempel, head coach of the Manitoba Bisons women's hockey team, is a well-respected coach among his peers in Canada West and certainly at the national level after winning the U SPORTS Coach of the Year award this spring. I wasn't aware, however, that he and Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice had been chatting over the last few weeks with the Jets getting ready for the playoffs. Apparently, though, they have!

As Paul Maurice took to the podium yesterday to address the media prior to Game Four in the Jets-Wild series, he was asked a very specific question. What surprised was that Paul Maurice gave a very specific response, and it was pretty incredible to think that he mentioned Jon Rempel and something Jon had mentioned about his Bisons women's hockey team this year. Have a watch of the press conference as Maurice singles out what Jon told him.

The transcript of what Maurice said is posted here.
It's funny that Paul Maurice would bring this up because it's something that Jon Rempel said he's really worked on this season with the ladies. He stated that he used to go into the room and yell and scream and rant and rave, hoping that the message he was sending would sink in with the players. Where Jon made a revelation is that while that style of coaching may work for some, it does more harm than good for others. Instead, Jon has been a lot more positive in his messages, worked on getting to know the players a lot better, and encouraged the players to get to know one another so that he can get the best out of them day-in and day-out. You can see real friendships had formed on the Bisons squad this year, and they had themselves a record-setting year in almost all aspects of their season.

Sounds kinda like how the Jets season went, right?

With the Bisons winning the U SPORTS National Championship this season, I'd say that approach has worked pretty well for Jon. The women on the Bisons team literally bled for one another at times this season. They worked doggedly at times to try and pick a teammate up who was in a slump or having an "off game". There wasn't a time this season, having been around the team, where you wondered if they weren't willing to leave it all out on the ice because if someone's night was going poorly, three other women usually rallied that player back to her usual self.

Aren't we seeing that from the Jets right now in these playoffs?

I truly believe in what Paul Maurice said about a close-knit group sacrificing more for one another than a group who may not have those tight relationships. Team-building exercises are one of those things that some players may roll their eyes at, but those exercises aren't done to fill time. They're put in place so teammates get to know one another, chat with one another, and build those friendships with one another. If everyone looks out for everyone else, a team is stronger together.

The Bisons are living proof of that, and I tip my cap to Paul Maurice for giving some credit to Jon Rempel. He didn't have to drop Jon's name in the press conference, but Paul is a coach and he's giving credit to his brother in the coaching fraternity who has had some success. It takes some courage and humility to publicly recognize someone else whose name may not be familiar to NHL reporters, but Paul Maurice did a classy thing for a classy guy in Jon Rempel who may have found the top secret to any team's success.

Well done, Paul.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

On The Precipice

I've never been a slave to the refresh button on my internet browser. I've bid on stuff on eBay and whatnot, but I'm not the guy to sit there and pound away on a refresh button until time runs out. I almost became that guy today as I sat watching the updates on the Metal Ligaen website as the Aalborg Pirates traveled to Herning to meet the Blue Fox in Game Three of their best-of-seven championship series. With the Pirates leading 2-0 in the series in what would be a pivotal Game Three, I needed the updates faster than they were being printed on the website!

Goals early in the second period from Martin Lefebvre and Jeppe Jul Korsgaard put Aalborg out in front 2-0 just 5:07 into the middle frame, forcing Petri Skriko to use his timeout to gather his troops and have them refocus as the Pirates absolutely dominated the opening minutes of the second period. Things settled down for the remainder of the period, but it was clear that the better team was on the visiting side of the scoreboard in the second stanza.

Things were rolling along nicely until Herning's bench decided to run a fire drill by sending too many men over the boards seven minutes into the third period, and the Pirates would make them pay for that impromptu exodus from the bench. Peter Quenneville struck at the 7:37 mark on the power-play, and it was 3-0 for the Pirates in what was as close to a must-win game for Herning if they wanted to stay in the series. While Herning's Branden Gracel would find the next with just over four minutes to play, this game was never in doubt as the Pirates won 3-1 to extend their series lead to 3-0.

Before we start handing out championship trophies prematurely, let's dig into the numbers as these two teams prepare for Game Four in Aalborg's Cool East Arena on Friday night. The Pirates, in these Metal Ligaen playoffs, are 7-0 on home ice while outscoring their opponents 26-11 in those seven games. The closest game was a 5-4 overtime game against Esbjerg in the last series. Every other game has had a two-goal difference or more including a 3-0 win against Herning two days ago. I don't want to jinx anything that's happening here, but it might be time to get those cases of champagne chilling on ice if the trend at home continues for the Aalborg Pirates.

The second-best team in the Metal Ligaen has now won three-straight games over the best team in the Metal Ligaen by a combined score of 10-2. The highest scoring team in the Metal Ligaen this season has been held to one goal on home ice in two games and was shutout on the road. Herning, who rolled through the Herlev Eagles and Rungsted Seier Capital by 4-1 series finals, has yet to even lead in a game in the final as Aalborg has been entirely dominant in three games. To suggest that things will get easier on Friday night for Herning with Aalborg playing at home and looking to end 37 years without a Metal Ligaen Championship to their name would be entirely unfathomable.

The hole that Herning has dug for themselves in this series is more closely resembling a grave right now as Aalborg continues their work-like effort in shoveling dirt on top of Herning. The two goals that Herning have scored have both come in the third period of the game after Aalborg has built a comfortable lead. Again, they were shutout in their most recent visit to Aalborg two days ago, so we're talking about a Herning team who needs every ounce of desperation to try and extend the series, but will walk into an arena where they have yet to light the lamp in the playoffs. Ouch.

Tadeas Galansky has stared down the high-powered offence of the Herning Blue Fox and laughed. Ok, he hasn't literally been laughing, but he has been everything and more that Brandon Reid has asked and expected from his goaltender. In the final, Galansky is sporting a 0.67 GAA and a .972 save percentage - numbers that are almost inconceivable when you consider the offensive talent and scoring that the Blue Fox boasted this season. Branden Gracel has been in both goals for the Blue Fox thus far, but the likes of Toni Kalella - one assist - and Lasse S. Lassen - no points - seem to be caught in suffocating defence that the Pirates are playing. Right now, if you're head coach Petri Skriko, there is no shortage of frustration after watching your amazing regular season in which you finished fifteen points ahead of the rest of the field vanish like a chest full of treasure at the hands of the skillful Pirates.

Friday night is going to be a party that the city of Aalborg hasn't seen for a while as I expect a capacity crowd to be inside Cool East Arena as they look to erase 37 years of "next year" as the Pirates attempt to sweep the regular-season champion Herning Blue Fox out of the playoffs. At the end of the night, Herning will have had to played one helluva game to escape Aalborg for a Game Five, but everything we've seen in this series thus far has suggested that the Pirates will probably lay waste with another blitz of offence to the Blue Fox defence as they siege the goal once more.

I'm not saying to get your eye patch out, but this could be the best Friday night to be a Pirate!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 16 April 2018

Always Take The Weather With You?

This horrible profile picture from the Fox 17 affiliate in Western Michigan is of meteorologist Garry Frank. Garry Frank works in Grand Rapids, Michigan where the AHL Griffins play, but this post has nothing to do with hockey and everything to do with Garry Frank because I can't stop watching him blow up on his co-workers. Honestly, I think everyone has one of those days at work where you just get fed up with everyone's negativity, and you lash out at those who are doing the complaining about every little thing. I know I've done it. The only difference? Garry Frank decided that enough was enough and did it on live TV!

Every time I watch this clip it makes me laugh. Here is Garry Frank delivering the weather - or something like the weather - while dealing with his co-workers' complaints about the cold and winter-like temperatures in Grand Rapids. Enjoy!

Priceless! Good on you for calling them out, Garry! Happy Monday, everyone!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Vive La France!

While this photo of France's Lea Parment flying over goaltender Caroline Baldin may not instill much confidence in most, I can assure you that French hockey fans should be thrilled as the French squad used home-ice advantage in Vaujany over the last week to win the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship Division I Group A! What does that mean, you ask? Well, their win will see the French side promoted to the 2019 IIHF Women's World Ice Hockey Championship with the big teams such as Canada, the United States, and Finland for the first time in the program's history!

It wasn't easy for the French side, but they have constantly improved over the years since France began participating in the IIHF Women's Ice Hockey Championships since 1999. They've seen players move all over the planet to improve, and that includes Canada when the University of Montreal was the home to Marion Allemoz! Allemoz moved to Canada when she was 23, helping Les Carabins win the 2013 and 2016 U SPORTS National Ice Hockey Championships. She now plays with Les Canadiennes de Montreal, and she'll see a lot of her Montreal teammates next season on the opposite side of the ice when France travels to Finland for the 2019 IIHF Women's World Ice Hockey Championship.

The field is now set for next year's top tournament as none of the eight teams that participated in 2017 were relegated after the IIHF passed a motion to increase the field at the World Championships to ten tema. The Czech Republic, who finished eighth out of eight teams, would remain as the eighth-ranked team for the 2019 tournament, and they would be joined by two additional teams for next year's event. Japan had claimed one of those two spots after winning the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship Division I Group A tournament, and France claimed the second spot with their victory this weekend!

France finished the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship Division I Group A tournament with four wins and a loss. After dropping a 2-1 game to Norway on Monday, France went on a tear to find themselves controlling their own destiny yesterday. Norway, the team they lost to, could have caused a multiple-team tie for first-place with nine points if Norway had won in regulation time and if France had lost in regulation time. When it came time for France to play Slovakia, it all was moot as Austria beat Norway 3-0 earlier in the day. That didn't mean France took this final game off, though, as they came and handed a beating to Slovakia in winning 7-1. Even if Norway had won, the regulation win by France would have ensured them promotion next season.

One of the key players in the success of the team is goaltender Caroline Baldin, and she was instrumental in France's rise up the world rankings and on the international stage. Baldin has been playing in Switzerland with ZSC Lions Zurich, and she backstopped the Swiss team to a Swiss League gold medal this season over Florence Schelling's squad! To stare down one of the best international goalies of the game and come away with the gold medal is a huge accomplishment for the 25 year-old goalkeeper. She reflected on Saturday's win to Andrew Podnieks of

"I've made a lot of good friends with my club team in Zurich," she told Andrew. "They're like family to me. Even though they might play for Team Switzerland, that doesn't matter. For the moment, this win today is the biggest win of my life. But last year at the Olympic qualification, we came close to beating Germany, and really close to beating Japan, so tonight it was amazing to finally win."

France knows they're going to in tough against the likes of Finland, Canada, and the US when it comes to next year's tournament. Heck, Russia and Sweden may also prove overwhelming to this upstart French squad. The point, though, is going to the tournament and using it as a measuring stick. Can they beat the Czech Republic? Can they measure up to Japan? Are they good enough to take a shot at Germany? All of these questions will be answered next year, of course, but France can certainly enjoy their victory today as they earned the right to skate alongside the world's best next year.

For the record, Hungarian Fanni Gasparics was named the best forward in the tournament after leading in scoring with six goals and four helpers in five games. French defender Gwendoline Gendarme was named as the best defender and Norway's Ena Nystrom was named as tournament's top goalie. Austria finished as the silver medalists while Hungary captured the bronze medal. Next year's Division I Group A will feature virtually the same field as Austria, Hungary, Denmark, Norway, and Slovakia will return, and they will be joined by Italy who earned a promotion from the IIHF Division I Group B tournament.

They're still a long way off from trying to compete for a medal at the top level of women's international hockey, but France has been invited to the dance after a lot of hard work. Here's hoping they'll continue that push and be part of the World Championships and the Olympics for a long time!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Not Your Usual Casting Call

I was channel surfing after watching the Predators survive Game Two against the Avalanche, and Hollywood film This Is 40 was on one of the channels. It's not an overly phenomenal film by any means, but there is a portion of the film where the characters played by Leslie Mann and Megan Fox run into real-life hockey players playing hockey players at a club in the film. Starring Paul Rudd, the aforementioned Mann, and Fox, the story is a kind-of sequel to Knocked Up, but I personally think it should stand on its own. That digression aside, you may remember this scene due to its gross factor when Megan Fox asks the group of players if they have all of their teeth and then, well, it has to be seen.

Oh, you want to see that scene? Ok, here it is.

Appaearing in the scene are Scott Hartnell, James van Riemsdyk, Ian Laperriere, Matt Carle as they state they're from Philadelphia as they all were Philadelphia Flyers during filming in 2012. Wyatt Russell is Kurt Russell's son and he was a goaltender for the University of Alabama-Huntsville while Phil Burke is a Canadian actor who has no significant hockey notes on his resumé. Burke is on the very right and the first man to speak in the scene while Hartnell and van Riemsdyk stand on Russell's left and Laperriere and Carle appear on his right. Exit scene left.

You might be wondering how the Flyers got into this movie.

"There's a friend of mine in L.A. who told a PR guy in Philly they're looking for a guy without teeth for a small part. So I give them my name and if it works, it works," Laperriere told Andy Dudones of The Hockey Writers. "Sure enough, a month later we were in L.A. filming and Hartnell, JVR, and Carle were there with me. I was in the right place at the right time with no teeth."

Laperriere actually put off dental work that he was scheduled to get so he could take that bridge of teeth with him to Hollywood to film the movie. In the end, his denture work will likely land him as the only person ever to claim that Megan Fox wore his teeth. Ironically, though, this wasn't Laperriere's first foray into movies as he played Boom Boom Geoffrion in a 2005 film about the legendary Maurice Rocket Richard.

"I'm in for every experience," he told the Associated Press. "I don't want to be an actor, but it was fun to see how they do it behind the camera. Dancing with Megan Fox? None of you can say you did that."

For a guy who is tough-as-nails on the ice, he has a certain charm in front of the camera. While he may not want to be an actor in his life after hockey, no one can take those experiences or the following image from Ian Laperriere.

I'm not recommending to any readers out there to start putting their faces in front of slap shots like Laperriere did in 2010 that resulted in him losing most of his teeth, but I'd say he's done the best with the cards he's been dealt!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 13 April 2018

Clap-Bomb Science

Patrik Laine, Alex Ovechkin, and Steven Stamkos may have the most lethal one-timers in the NHL from the face-off circle today. I was involved in a discussion today about how the flex value of their sticks is the reason for the incredible acceleration that they get once the puck leaves their sticks, and I discovered that one of the people in the discussion had no idea what the flex number actually meant. While we all chuckled about this, it dawned on me that many people may not know the science that goes into a slap shot with a composite stick. Let's tackle that with a little help today, shall we?

I'll be honest when I say that I still use a wood stick for my recreational hockey endeavors simply because I can't justify paying $100 for some fun, barely-competitive hockey. There are some guys who swear by the sticks due to their weight and flex, and I've always wondered why one would make that claim in a non-slap-shot league. Whatever the reason, several of the guys claim their 75-flex to be superior to the 85-flex and all the other flexes that teams have produced. But what exactly is flex and what makes it different from other flex values?

Smarter Every Day dove into the science of slap shot down at the NCAA's University of Alabama-Huntsville, and the findings are actually pretty cool. Give this seven-minute video a watch, and you can wow your friends during this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs with your slap shot knowledge!

Pretty cool, right? Yes, there's actual physics in that video, but learning physics while watching hockey is a pretty cool way to gain knowledge. Regardless of the learning, now you know what the flex values mean, you know that not all flex values are made the same, and you know how a slap shot actually accelerates despite the shooter striking the ice inches behind the puck.

You can admit it: science is cool!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 290

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight with a number of things to talk about thanks to every hockey league on the planet being in playoffs, but we're going to kick off our show with a solemn few moments in honour of the Humboldt Broncos. There's more to talk about, but the extent of this tragedy is massive, and it certainly has affected a number of people both Beans and I know. Tonight, we will do a little work in honouring the Broncos right off the top of the show.

Someone mentioned there was a hockey game in Winnipeg yesterday? Beans and I will break down the opening games of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on tonight's show as well as update everyone on who is playing whom in the Survivor: NHL Playoffs contest sponsored by Lay's and their Show Your Emotions contest. We have updates on the Metal Ligaen playoffs as Friend of the Show Brandon Reid tries to coach his Aalborg Pirates team to the final. We'll have a discussion about what to call the Winnipeg viewing party area as there are a few names that have been floated out on social media. There have been some changes for Bisons hockey broadcasts with TJ now calling Edmonton home, and we'll look at some of the changes happening there because there will be a ton of fan interaction next season. There's a lot to talk about tonight on The Hockey Show, so make sure you're listening at 5:30pm CT!

How do I listen, you ask? The easiest way is for you to download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's literally 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! Of course, you can do the radio thing at 101.5 on the FM dial and you can always listen online via the UMFM website!

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, Beans and myself go through all the latest hockey news from the NHL, Denmark, and the University of Manitoba after we pay our respects to the Humboldt Broncos only on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

PODCAST: April 12, 2018: Episode 290

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

It's Back

As Winnipeg emerges from it's well-known white winterscapes and brutal temperatures, the city has been gripped by the fever of the Stanley Cup Playoffs once more as the second-best team in the NHL embarks on its second foray into what is known as the "second season" in the NHL. With those steps into the playoffs, the fans of the Winnipeg Jets will turn their fanaticism up several dozen notches as the Winnipeg WhiteOut will become reality for the Jets and whomever they welcome to BellMTS Place. It's a playoff tradition in Winnipeg despite the gaps between appearances, but it goes back much further than the 2015 series against the Anaheim Ducks.

Rogers Sportsnet decided to dig into the famous Winnipeg WhiteOut to find its origins. Honestly, there are a few things in the following video that I wasn't aware of, so this is a pretty solid piece of video journalism by the Toronto-based sports network. As is said in the video, though, the WhiteOut is the link between two eras of NHL hockey in Winnipeg.

The Minnesota Wild will be the first - of many? - teams to experience the WhiteOut in 2018, and I suspect that the sold-out BellMTS Place will be louder than ever before. Can the Jets shake off the history of the current franchise and win a playoff game, let alone a playoff series? We'll know that answer shortly, but I suspect the sixth man in the stands will be doing everything they can to push the Jets to new heights.

It may not be winter, but the forecast is calling for a spring of WhiteOuts in Winnipeg!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Pirates Overpower Energy

It didn't come easy. No one said it would. It's always fun to have a seven-game series, but Game Seven means there is no tomorrow for one team. Today in Denmark's Metal Ligaen, the Aalborg Pirates and the Esbjerg Energy met in Aalborg's Cool East Arena with a berth to the final on the line, and, as you can see above, the Pirates are moving on to play for all the glory!

Head coach Brandon Reid commented to me earlier today that he felt the series should have never reached a Game Seven situation, but it's where the Pirates found themselves entering the game tonight. We already know that the Pirates won, but this was a back-and-forth series. Aalborg won Game One 3-1, Game Three by a 5-4 score in overtime, and Game Five on the strength of a 4-2 score. Esbjerg won Game Two by a 5-4 score in overtime, Game Four by a 4-2 score, and 2-1 in Game Six. All the wins came on home ice as well, so there was hope the trend would continue tonight.

Well, it certainly did, and the Pirates rallied to a 4-2 victory after falling behind 2-1 just 21 minutes into the game. Kirill Kabanov, the former New York Islander, scored a goal while Aalborg was on a five-on-three power-play to tie the game, and Mikkel Højbjerg added a goal in the latter portion of the second period and a second goal midway through the third period to put the Pirates up a pair with less than ten minutes to play.

Esbjerg, sensing the impending summer vacation away from the rink, applied more pressure, outshooting the Pirates 12-7 in the final frame, but netminder Tadeas Galansky turned aside all twelve shots to ensure the Pirates advanced to the final with that 4-2 victory.

Perhaps the best moment of the night, however, came prior to the puck being dropped. Brandon Reid, a former NHL, AHL, and QMJHL player, knows all too well about riding buses while following one's dreams, and he rallied the two teams to pay special tribute before the game to the Humboldt Broncos. The teams stood for a moment of silence together around the center ice area like so many other teams have, but it just goes to show that even an ocean away there are teams and players who understand the magnitude of the tragedy and want to pay their respects to their fallen brethren. I commend Brandon for putting this tribute together while coaching a half-dozen time zones away from the tragedy.

Looking ahead, the final will be the best versus the best as the top two teams in the Metal Ligaen will meet in the final. On the one side, you'll have the second-best team in the Aalborg Pirates who will face the best team in the Herning Blue Fox. So how do these two teams stack up against one another? Let's break this one down.

Herning, as stated above, was the top team in the Metal Ligaen this season with a 30-8-8-4 record for 110 points. They scored the most goals in 193 - 21 better than the next closest team - and were second-best in the league in allowing just 124 goals. They easily had the best goal differential, and were the least penalized team in the league with just 492 total minutes in penalties. The Blue Fox put the third-most shots on net this season with 1536 shots recorded, but were only fifth-best when it came to shots-against with 1338 recorded shots on their netminders. This resulted in the third-best shot differential, and they averaged 30.72 shots-for per game while giving up 26.76 shots-against.

Aalborg was the second-best team this season with a 28-15-4-3 record for 95 points. Aalborg was the third in goals-for with 156, but were a league-best in allowing just 111, resulting in the second-best goal differential this season. The Pirates were no strangers to the sin bin, ending up seventh of the eleven teams in total penalty minutes with 683. Aalborg recorded the fourth-most shots this season with 1518 recorded, but they were far-and-away the best team when it came to shots-against as they only had 1161 shots fired on their nets. Aalborg was 168 shots-against better than the next best team, and they had the best shot differential as a result at 357. This meant that Aalborg averaged 30.36 shots per game while only surrendering 23.22.

Before we get to the individual statistics, the page with the goaltending stats for the league is currently down. I've linked the page above in case they resolve it, but as of the time of writing the page was kaput. Sorry about that.

The coaches share a couple of bonds, so let's dig into that a little. Brandon Reid coaches the Aalborg Pirates while Petri Skriko returned to where he finished his career in Herning. Reid has been at the helm of the Pirates for the last three seasons while Skriko left a scouting position with the Calgary Flames to take over the Blue Fox this season. The Twilight Zone part of this coaching tandem is that Skriko spent 15 games as a Winnipeg Jet in his career while Reid played 259 games in Winnipeg as a Manitoba Moose, and both players suited up for the Vancouver Canucks for the majority of their time in the show. Cue the Twilight Zone music!

Individually, Herning had the top three scorers in the league this season as Toni Kallela led the way with 64 points, Lasse S. Lassen recorded 61 points, and Branden Gracel had 60 points. Those three men finished in that same order when it came to goals scored by Blue Fox as well as Kallela had 25 markers, Lassen had 24, and Gracel notched 23 goals.

Aalborg's Julian Jakobsen was the top scorer for the Pirates, finishing ninth in league scoring with 51 points. Olivier Hinse was eleventh in scoring with 47 points, and Mikkel Højbjerg finished with 44 points. Hinse was the top goal scorer with 20 markers while Højbjerg and Kirill Kabanov finished the season with 19 goals apiece.

Head-to-head, the two teams played five games. Aalborg went 2-1-2 while Herning was 1-2-2. Herning went 1-0-2-0 at home, and scored 14 goals on home ice while giving up nine in the three games played at Kvik Hockey Arena. Aalborg was 2-0-0-0 on home ice, and scored 11 goals while giving up just three in the two games played at Cool East Arena. Overall, Aalborg outscored Herning 20-17 in the five games. Herning's power-play was good on 7-for-23 (30.4%) in the five games while Aalborg's power-play was 8-for-21 (38.1%). Both power-plays surrendered a shorthanded goal in the five games.

The aforementioned Branden Gracel had a field day in the five games against Aalborg, recording two goals - one of which was on the power-play - and six assists against the Pirates. Jan Dalecky scored a pair, including a power-play marker, and added four assists while Toni Kallela also had two goals - yes, one was with the man-advantage - and three helpers. Overall, 14 Blue Fox recorded points in the five games.

On the Aalborg side, Martin Højbjerg, who appears to be injured at the moment, led the Pirates with two goals, including a power-play game-winner, and four assists in the five games against the Blue Fox. His brother, Mikkel, recorded five assists, Nikolaj Carstensen had two goals and three assists, and Jakobsen had a goal and four assists. In total, 19 Pirates had points in the five-game series.

In the end, though, all the stats mean nothing. We can try and decipher who will win based on these stats, but they play the games for a reason. Game One goes Friday in Herning before returning to Aalborg for Game Two on Sunday, back to Herning for Game Three on April 17, and Game Four will go in Aalborg on April 20. If more games are necessary, they will be scheduled as necessary.

While the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are starting, the Metal Ligaen Playoffs are coming to a close, and it couldn't be a more exciting ending! Go Pirates!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 9 April 2018

Survivors Ready?

With the final game between Boston and Florida played yesterday, the 2017-18 NHL season has come to a close. That means we know who will play whom in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, and that also means we know who matches up with whom when it comes to the Survivor: NHL Playoffs contest!

As you can see above, your brackets and competitors have been decided. In what has to be the most incredible defeat of the odds, Tom has Pittsburgh for the third year in a row as both he and the Penguins look for a three-peat in the event! The chances, in case you were wondering, on getting the Penguins if the teams were in a static position in the standings was 0.02%. When you factor in that the Penguins could have finished anywhere between second-place in the Metropolitan Division and the second wild card position, the odds are dramatically smaller of landing on the Penguins three years in a row! That kind of luck is almost unfathomable, and maybe Tom should be buying lottery tickets at this time next year!

The prizes are being sorted and we'll announce the challenges where one can win a prize on Thursday on The Hockey Show on UMFM. I can tell you that we have t-shirts, books, and other items to give away along with the grand prize of an NHL jersey and a Lay's Prize Pack! With a couple of days prior to the playoffs starting, I'm already excited to see how this year's contest unfolds!

Tune in Thursday night as Beans and I will talk about the contest, the prizes, and the playoffs. To all the competitors, best of luck this year, and be ready to do your exit interview if and when we call!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

End Of An Era

There were some final games played last night and one more will be played today, but the title of this article has nothing to do with players retiring. Instead, it's a reflection on this blog and how long it has run. No, I'm not shutting it down, but I am closing down a recurring item. The HBIC Playoff Pool, one of the easiest annual contests to play, is officially being retired this season after a lot of thought and decisions. It wasn't easy coming to this decision, but it's the right move at this time. As much as I enjoyed the interaction with readers and friends through this pool, there are things happening this spring that require my time and attention that normally would be occupied with scoring the pool.

I want to let the pool regulars know that this decision didn't come quickly or easily. As stated above, my time is required elsewhere this spring and summer as I've signed up for a class, I've accepted a larger role umpiring in the league I work with, and I have a number of projects around HBIC Headquarters that I want to accomplish. All of these require time that I'd normally have to organize and score the pool, so I regretfully have to cancel it.

One of the major factors in this decision was the fact that the NHL basically took the pool I ran and created their own Bracket Challenge. The only thing they didn't copy was the game-winning goal-scorer for additional points, but the contest is virtually the same. Yes, they use different point totals for their pool, but the point values really don't matter as long as they're consistent. In the end, the NHL can offer prizes that I simply cannot, and I've lost pool players to the NHL's contest as per some of the emails I've received.

In the end, the commitments I have accepted in my real life will result in me having less time than I normally do every spring, and that will mean less time to follow up on emails which is always something I have to do, less time to watch hockey and score the pool, and less time to organize everything. Again, I do regret this decision, but it's the right decision when it comes to managing my time.

There will be a contest this summer, but the HBIC Playoff Pool is taking this year off.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

An Emotional Night

It was another emotional night as the sports world came together and honoured the legacy of the Humboldt Broncos after their horrifying accident yesterday. From Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers holding a moment of silence to the various tributes shown at every level hockey to the team to the outpouring of support from thousands of people on social media, the tragedy has reached everyone. Tonight, though, it seemed particularly hard to handle for me as I found myself quite emotional watching Hockey Night in Canada.

It started earlier in the day when reporters asked Mike Babcock, who grew up in Saskatchewan and learned the game there, what he thought of the tragedy. To see a hardened guy like Mike Babcock struggle with emotions, that really pulls at the heart strings.

I want to bring attention to the job that Ron MacLean did on tonight's HNiC broadcast because it was phenomenal. I had tears in my eyes listening to Colby Armstrong and Sheldon Kennedy talk about this tragedy and how it hit home for them, but Ron battled through those emotions to keep the show moving. That's not to say there wasn't emotion in Ron's voice, but he was the rock that kept the show moving. That professional approach was impressive, and the compassion he showed for this tragedy and his guests wasn't lost at any point.

I don't want to make this long-winded. Once again, the people of Humboldt are going to struggle this weekend as they hold a vigil tomorrow evening at the arena to pay their respects to the 15 individuals who passed away in this accident. Hockey Night in Canada put together the images of the 29 players, coaches, and staff on the bus, and it's important to remember that there are still 14 men struggling with injuries in the hospital. Here are the 29 men who were riding the bus on Friday night. "Wheat Kings", sung by The Tragically Hip, was added by HNiC.

It was impressive to see teams rallying to help the city of Humboldt, but the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks may have had the best tribute of the evening as both teams scrapped the usual names on the back of the jersey for the word "Broncos" in honour of the Humboldt Broncos.
A very classy move by the Jets and Blackhawks, and those jerseys will be auctioned off at a future date with all proceeds going to Humboldt.

Today was important as playoff spots were decided, seasons came to an end, careers came to an end as the Sedins, Patrick Sharp, and Radim Vrbata all decided to move on, but it all took a backseat to the struggle in Humboldt. Sometimes, you have to give the sports world a stick-tap because they proved tonight that they understand there are things more important that playoff races and personal accolades. Well done, sports.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 6 April 2018

Prayers For Humboldt

Humboldt, Saskatchewan is a city of just under 6000 according to 2016 figures. It sits about 110 kilometers east of Saskatoon, and was named after German explorer Alexander von Humboldt. Humboldt was a key locale in helping Canada settle the west, a vital location for communications for John A. MacDonald during the Métis uprising led by Louis Riel, and is an important city in the farming industry of Saskatchewan today. Tonight, however, the town is in mourning after news about its SJHL hockey team.

This is a tough subject, but it has been reported tonight that the SJHL's Humboldt Broncos' bus was hit by a semi trailer en route to Nipawin to play the Hawks in their semi-final series.
This is simply awful. The RCMP and first responders respectfully did not release details about the scene, and I commend them for that in today's sensationalized news media. However, that doesn't make the next piece of news any easier to absorb.
As of writing this, there have been reports that there were 14 fatalities from the accident, and a number of other people seriously injured that are being transported to nearby medical facilities and hospitals. Based on numbers alone, that many fatalities means that some players were killed. This is an absolute tragedy of the worst kind, and I don't even want to speculate on the amount of pain and sadness in the Humboldt community and across the SJHL community right now. The hockey world has been pouring out heartfelt messages on social media, but this is terrible.

Tonight, we are all Humboldt. Say a prayer for the team and their families. Say many prayers. Keep this city in your thoughts in the coming days and weeks because there will be many people struggling with these losses. Families, friends, and teammates were torn apart tonight by this tragedy, so the city of Humboldt will be in my thoughts tonight.

Until next time, keep this team in your thoughts.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 289

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, dives into the waters near one of the most exclusive islands on the planet. There are only 16 inhabitants on this island, and that number dwindles down to one every spring and into the early reaches of summer. Not everyone is happy about being forced to leave the island, but when it comes to Survivor: NHL Playoffs there can only be one victor! It's time for the Greatest Hockey Contest on Radio™ to begin tonight as The Hockey Show invites sixteen new competitors onto the island for another exciting edition of Survivor: NHL Playoffs!

If you missed the setup from earlier this week, I suggest you head back and read over this article. We need sixteen participants to call in tonight to fill out the contest bracket, so get to your telephones and get your dialing finger ready for 5:40pm CT because the phones will open at that time and the first sixteen entrants will have an opportunity to join Survivor: NHL Playoffs! We're also going to have TJ back on the show for what will be his final show from Winnipeg for the foreseeable future as he has an announcement to make tonight! It'll be good getting the band back together as we kick off the Greatest Hockey Contest on Radio™ in starting up another season of Survivor: NHL Playoffs!

I wanna listen to this, you exclaim! We hear you and, for you to hear us, 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! Of course, you can do the radio thing at 101.5 on the FM dial and you can always listen online via the UMFM website!

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 is all about fun as Beans, TJ, and myself kick off Survivor: NHL Playoffs on The Hockey Show found only on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

PODCAST: April 5, 2018: Episode 289

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Best Odds

The image to the left is one of Robin Lehner's best saves this season. All joking aside, the Sabres dropped a 4-2 decision to the Ottawa Senators tonight that guarantees they will finish in 31st in the NHL this season, giving them the best odds at the upcoming NHL Draft Lottery. To say this season has been horrendous for the Sabres would be stating the obvious. With them now having the best odds to win the first-overall pick at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, there's hope on the horizon. At least, it looks like hope from this angle.

The Sabres, currently at 62 points, are now five points behind Ottawa after tonight's loss with two games to play. Mathematically, there's no way for them to climb past Ottawa, currently 30th overall, so that now guarantees that the Sabres have an 18.5% chance of winning the first-overall pick. Rasmus Dahlin as a Buffalo Sabre? It could happen.

Buffalo is literally the new Edmonton as they've earned the worst record in the NHL for the third time in five years. The only difference is that they've never selected first-overall despite their futility. In the other two times they finished dead last, the Sabres received the second-overall pick which became Sam Reinhart, after missing out on Aaron Ekblad, and Jack Eichel, after missing out on Connor McDavid. Third time's the charm, perhaps?

It's going to be a long off-season for GM Jason Botterill. Jack Eichel's salary jumps to $10 million next season while Kyle Okposo, Ryan O'Reilly, and Jason Pominville eat up another combined $19.1 million. Add in blue line pillars Rasmus Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian, and Marco Scandella at a combined $14.5 million, and that's a total of $43.6 million for 87 goals and 171 assists. For a team that has scored just 191 goals - and traded away 20 goals and 20 assists in Evander Kane - that's a significant chunk of your anemic offence for a significant chunk of money.

As it stands, the Sabres, who average an NHL-worst 2.35 goals-per-game, appear to be on course to finish as the only NHL team to fail to score 200 goals this season. They're a league-worst 11-25-5 at home, so it's not like having a little home cooking is going to remedy this problem either. No, this team is going to be bad for at least a few more years until they either develop some solid talent or acquire some through the draft, trades, and free agency. The unfortunate part is that they're most likely going to have to overpay to get players to come to Buffalo, so this may get worse before it gets better.

The good news is that Botterill worked under Ray Shero during the Pittsburgh heydays when they seemed to attract a ton of undrafted collegiate talent and young free agents, so maybe he can use some of his learnings to see who he can lure to Buffalo and Rochester in the hopes of developing some solid young talent to flank the likes of Eichel, O'Reilly, and Okposo.

The only thing I know is that Buffalo needs some serious help to get better. From the net out, nothing was good enough this season when it came to the squad that Phil Housley rolled out onto NHL ice surfaces this season. Getting Rasmus Dahlin will help if Buffalo has the odds work in their favour, but it's going to take more than one Swedish wunderkind to fix the Sabres.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

An Outstanding Honour

I don't think there are many people in this country who haven't heard the name "Billy Bridges". The five-time Paralympian has been a mainstay on the international sledge hockey stage for Canada, and he's certainly one of the more recognizable names to most hockey fans. Billy has proudly worn the red-and-white multiple times between Olympiads as well, and his service to this country should have him in the same realm as Captain Canada Ryan Smyth. Tonight, Bridges received an incredible honour in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, some 60 kilometers away from his hometown of Summerside.

Bridges and biathlon paralympian Mark Arendz were in the PEI capital to receive a few honours, sign some autographs, and take pictures with fans as they were honoured by their home province for their Olympic performance, but the biggest honour came towards the end of the ceremony as the city of Summerside announced that they will build "a fully accessible park and playground" that will be named Billy Bridges Park while Brookvale Provincial Park will be renamed as Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park!

The newly-announced park in Billy Bridges' name will feature a playground and park area that will leave no one on the sidelines regardless of mobility. For Bridges, this is more than just being honoured by his hometown.

"Now that I have a two year old daughter and I'm now starting to realize the difficulties that there are, with having a child, being in a wheelchair. And my daughter is rambunctious as ever and loves to run and jump and play, and I love following her around, but there's not many place that I can go do it," he told reporters after the announcement.

"To be able to have a park where I can wheel around with her and chase her around and play hide and seek and do all these things that I loved to do when I was a kid, it's pretty special."

Asper Google maps, this is the current playground pictured in June of 2013 that sits on the site of Notre Dame Park where the newly-founded Billy Bridges Park is being planned. As you can see, the accessibility of the play structure is virtually zero for some with mobility issues or someone in a wheelchair, so this new playground and park area that will allow everyone to play is a much-needed amenity for the community of Summerside.

"Up until this year the city has not had one single piece of accessible equipment," City Councillor Tyler DesRoches, chair of the community services and recreation committee, explained to the assembled crowd. "What it means for our residents is that no child will ever be left behind. They'll always be a place for them to play."

Summerside had been working to acquire accessible equipment for nearly two years, but money was finally allocated for the purchase of equipment just this year. With the help from the provincial government in the form of a 50/50 split on the building of Billy Bridges Park at a cost of approximately $80,000, the city and province are hoping to have the park "ready for an unveiling in July when Bridges is visiting Summerside with his family." If they do, that would be outstanding!

In having the privilege in getting to know Billy Bridges, I know that this honour means a great deal to him despite how humble he is. Billy has never asked to be treated differently, but having governments and communities work towards building and designing buildings and structures with greater accessibility is something that means a lot to him. We saw Bridges come to Winnipeg when they unveiled their first all-accessible toboggan slide this past winter, and this new park is another great initiative by the PEI and Summerside governments. In both cases, Billy can now do more with his daughter rather than watching from afar - something that hits home when you see him interacting with his baby girl.

I want to give Summerside and the PEI governments full kudos on these honours for two incredible athletes. It's one thing to be supportive, but it's a completely different level of support when governments open doors for athletes to inspire others to follow them. With these changes, the smallest province in Canada can probably claim that it has the biggest heart when it comes to honouring its decorated athletes and opening doors for all people from all walks of life.

Congratulations go to Billy Bridges as well. His hard work and dedication in spite of some of the barriers he's faced shows the heart of a true champion. This honour reflects those efforts, that dedication, and that relentless spirit. I just hope that everything will be ready in time for your July trip home so you can chase Kenzie around the playground like kids do!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 2 April 2018

A Sedin Tribute

With the announcement today that Henrik and Daniel Sedin are hanging up the skates at the end of the season, it was a bit of a surprise considering their importance to the Canucks in this stage of the team's rebuild. In knowing this, everyone who has ever crossed paths with the two Swedish twins went on social media to express their gratitude for playing with and against a couple of classy gentlemen. Media figures poured praise on the two ginger Swedes. Brian Burke talked extensively how he traded everyone and his knowledge of tying ties to acquire the second- and third-overall picks to get them. In short, the universal praise for Daniel and Henrik truly was universal.

I never got to meet the Sedins. The closest I ever got was when the Canucks were in town to play the Manitoba Moose during the preseason, and they were sitting in a booth at Earl's on Main Street with a few other Canucks eating lunch with a couple of rather large men running interference on anyone who even glanced at their table. I guess Brian Burke was literally protecting his future on this one. I got to see them eat what appeared to be individual salads from afar.

And that was my brush with the Sedins' greatness. It didn't last for more than 45 minutes as my lunch break from an old job only allowed me 45 minutes, but I sat within 30 feet of the Sedins at one point in my life. I know - pretty amazing!

Alright, jokes aside, the Sedins were pretty impressive as a duo as both men racked up over 1000 points in the NHL and appear to be sure-fire Hall-of-Fame candidates when their names are added to the ballot in 2021.

We'll start with January 20, 2017 when Henrik Sedin scored on good friend and former teammate Roberto Luongo for his 1000th NHL point!
Daniel, not to be outdone by his brother, scored his 1000th point on a goal that beat Pekka Rinne on November 30, 2017.
And, of course, who can forget this performance by the duo?

All in all, it was a heckuva career for the two Sedin kids. Here's hoping they continue to do amazing things off the ice in retirement following the last few games this season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 1 April 2018

The Hockey Show - Survivor: NHL Playoffs

Ladies and gentlemen, for the fifth consecutive year, The Hockey Show on UMFM is proud to offer this exclusive contest to the first sixteen people who enter. The Survivor: NHL Playoffs pool is a Survivor-style pool where you select one of the contestants - in this case, an NHL team - from a random drawing board, and that's your team for the contest. You're only out when your team is out, so it follows the rules of Survivor to a tee! Want in? Wanna know how to play? Read on!


There are a few requirements that I need to cover first. These are REQUIREMENTS, so if you can't fulfill them, please don't ruin the fun for someone else.
  1. You must call into the show on Thursday night between 5:30pm and whenever we fill all the spots in the contest. I will be sticking around to ensure we have all 16 spots filled with contestants, so don't think that your opportunity to get in ends when the show ends.
  2. A phone number and an email address. If you're calling us, I'm pretty sure you have at least one of these already.
  3. A desire to watch your chosen team's progress in the NHL Playoffs.
  4. It's helpful to have a Twitter account so that we can tweet you info when needed. Also, we'll be using a specific hashtag of "#NHLSurvivor" so that you can follow tweets about this Survivor contest and respond if and/or when necessary.
So the top two items in that list are the absolute, must-have requirements that you must fulfill. That third one is also pretty important in that if you have no interest in watching hockey, you may suffer a little when it comes to the fun part of this contest. And if you don't want to call in, don't complain about the availability of this contest. If you're calling long-distance to reach us, spend the fifty cents for us to get your info. We'll call you back so you don't take any additional costs on your phone bill. Good? Good.

Now, if you're aware of the Survivor pools, you basically just pick a name out of a hat, and that person on Survivor is your person for the run of the show. If he or she is voted off the island, the game for you is over. We're going to something similar. Whomever calls in will need to select a number between one and sixteen. Those numbers will have a corresponding team assigned to them randomly. Whatever number you've chosen will select your team for the playoffs. Sounds easy, right?

For example, Beans calls in at 5:30pm. We put him on the air, and he chooses #7. The team associated with #7 is the San Jose Sharks. Beans is now cheering for the San Jose Sharks. I call in, and I chose #10. Team #10 is the Toronto Maple Leafs. I am now cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs... regretfully.

I'll post an image with the corresponding names on HBIC, and we'll let the games play out. If San Jose meets Toronto in the Stanley Cup Final, Beans and I will face-off in a Survivor-style match-up where one team will advance, and one team will be sent home/voted off the island. If San Jose beats Toronto in their series, my Survivor: NHL Playoffs is over.

Once a team is eliminated, we will call you back so that you may be ready to deliver your thoughts on your team's effort in the playoffs in a Survivor-style ending like the one below. Let me repeat this: WE ARE GOING TO CALL YOU ONCE YOU ARE ELIMINATED. Make sure you're around so we can call and get your team's exit interview done! Here's former MLB infielder Jeff Kent with your example.
There won't be any money for the winner, but there will be prizes. But please don't whine like Jeff Kent did. You can say "my team sucks" or whatever, but we're working on getting those people who are eliminated on the air to discuss their teams' issues that led to their demise. Of course, you may not even care about the NHL Playoffs, but we do expect you to be able to speak about your chosen team's problems, so please watch SportsCenter at least.

As stated above, there will be prizes. Not everyone, though, will get a prize. Like Survivor, we'll randomly award prizes based on specific events happening. We'll organize the winner's prize once we finish getting everything together, but here are some examples of past challenges: first team eliminated, first shutout earned, and first hat trick. Prizes will be awarded to the contestant who successfully "wins" challenges, so there's hope for everyone in this contest in terms of possibly getting a prize.

Sound good? If you have questions, please email me. If you have comments, leave them below. If you simply hate this idea or hate me, leave that info in the comments too. I'd like to address all concerns before we get this contest rolling on Thursday again. Thanks for reading, and here's hoping we hear from you on Thursday! I'll post all the contact info on Thursday so we can get this contest underway!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 31 March 2018

A Cool Initiative

If you're here for a hockey article today, I'm going to let you down softly as there is no hockey here today. I'm going to talk a little bit about a cool initiative of which I hope Americans will take advantage because I've never seen it done here. For you see, local libraries in the United States have begun to catalogue and share seeds that one can plant in their own gardens! I really like this idea, and I'm hopeful that libraries in Canada start to do it because I think it's a great way to really promote local plant species and species that grow well in our environment!

Katherine Davis-Young of Atlas Obscura dug into the story of American public libraries and their caches of seeds. The Phoenix Public Library system has seen a keen interest in the program, and I think it would catch on in other parts of the continent as well.
"The Phoenix Public Library first put seeds on the shelves at one of its branches in 2014. Franklin says they were immediately in high demand. Now the library distributes an average of 1,000 seed packets per month across nine of its 17 branches. Franklin says the program has proven to be sustainable with minimal costs — around $300-$500 to bring a seed-sharing program to a new branch of the library. And, Franklin says, the organizational tasks of offering seeds fit seamlessly with the library's existing cataloguing system."
For the cost of a few marketing dollars, the Phoenix Public Library has seen a big upswing in its interactions with the public, meaning that they're getting more foot traffic into its nine current branches offering the program. For a library, that kind of traffic is huge and it could give libraries the shot in the arm that they need in this digital age.

"It's innovative, it's different, it's another way for people to interact with the library," says Lee Franklin, the library's spokesperson. "It's been really well received."

Some branches of libraries across the continent may not have the startup money, and that's ok too. Rebecca Newburn, co-founder of the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library in Richmond, California, has a way to take some of the cost off the top while being a sustainable resource at the library.
"Some seed libraries just give seeds away, while others rely on participants to grow a plant to maturity, capture new seeds, and contribute back to the collection. Many seed libraries are run by nonprofits, clubs, or school groups, but Newburn says public libraries, with built-in resources for community outreach and educational programming, have become the most common place to find these programs."

As a home owner, planting a garden can be time-consuming, but the rewards are entirely worth it. The costs of seeds occasionally makes me cringe, and I'm not always certain that what I plant will respond well to the conditions in my garden. If one could potentially test a few seeds for free, one could make better decisions about the plants, fruits, and veggies that one will plant in future years. With better output from plants who produce well, one can return viable seeds to the program to keep it running! To me, this is a win-win for both the library and the library cardholder as the library also has lots of books on plants for researching growing methods and harvesting!

Ok, that stuff about the library having books on plants seems really obvious, so let's get back into Miss Davis-Young's findings. Newburn told Miss Davis-Young that "the common goal of seed libraries is to educate people on the unique plants and specific needs of the region, be it high-altitude, humid, urban, or rural. But each seed library is a little different."

As I stated above, the libraries are holding seeds for conditions in their immediate areas. It wouldn't make sense to plant palm trees in the arctic just as it wouldn't make sense to plant succulents in the desert. By doing this, the seeds are able to evolve and adapt over time to different conditions, something of which Joy Hought, executive director of Tucson-based seed preservation nonprofit, Native Seeds/SEARCH, is seeing less and less thanks, in part, to large agricultural companies producing vast amounts of food.
"As plant species reproduce, new generations develop unique adaptations to different environmental conditions, resulting in diverse heirloom varieties. But when large companies control most food production and seed distribution, and work to hybridize and streamline agriculture, those regional differences can disappear.

"'I don't see us as competing against large industrial seed producers, we just want to make sure that biodiversity is still available to people,' Hought says. She also notes that, as climate change alters the environment, she hopes access to more varieties of seeds will prepare food growers to cope with extreme conditions."
It's funny that Miss Hought stated that because I've planted several species of tomatoes in my garden with varying degrees of success. The Roma tomatoes and cherry tomatoes seem to thrive in my garden whereas species like the purple tomatoes haven't produced one piece of fruit. By working through these issues, I know what grows well in my garden for future plantings, but I wish I hadn't spent the time, garden space, and money on something that wasn't going to be viable. In any case, I now know for future gardens which tomatoes will thrive.

So I've talked up seed libraries for little bit, and you might be thinking that this is good idea for your own public library or perhaps a school library. Luckily, there's a how-to on starting a seed library from scratch that you should probably read. It's going to take some effort to get this going, but I'm pretty sure it will benefit many once it starts.

With the NHL having gone green in the month of March to promote sustainability, I may have waited until the last minute with this article, but I feel it should be shared. Sustainability doesn't just mean turning off a light or recycling plastic. It means re-using items that can and should be re-used. It means reducing emissions from cars, ice rinks, and other places that generate harmful gases that are released into the air. It means sustainability for the planet, not just humans, as we try to keep this world green on the ground and blue in the water.

One way we can help sustain humanity and, in turn, the planet? Planting and consuming more fruits and veggies.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!