Saturday, 11 July 2020

More Opt Out

With the new NHL-NHLPA deal to restart this season, NHL players have until Monday at 11:59pm ET to decide whether or not they'll take part in the NHL playoffs when the games resume in August. We've already seen Calgary's Travis Hamonic opt out for a very good reason, and now three more players have informed their clubs that they won't be participating either as Edmonton's Mike Green, Boston's Steve Kampfer, Dallas' Roman Polak, Pittsburgh's Zach Trotman, Montreal's Karl Alzner, and Vancouver's Sven Baertschi have all confirmed they won't be attending the hub cities as well.

Mike Green cited family reasons for his decision in the same manner that Hamonic did.

"Due to the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 and after much consideration, I've decided for deeply personal family health reasons, not to participate in the return to play," Green said in a statement. "This has been a hard decision knowing I’m going to miss the opportunity to compete in the playoffs with a Stanley Cup contender. I wish the best of luck to the guys and I appreciate the Edmonton Oilers support."

Mike and his wife, Courtney, have four year-old Axel, their son, and seven month-old Luca, their daughter, at home, and I imagine that neither of Mike or Courtney want to risk not only their own health, but the health of their children in any way to this virus. Again, I fully respect any player who puts the health and wellness of their family ahead of the personal gain in winning a Stanley Cup, so Mike Green has my full support in his decision. Well done, Mike.

Roman Polak's decision not to rejoin the Dallas Stars has been known for a while now as he announced back in June that he had no desire to return to the NHL when it decided to start up again. He made that official today by informing the Dallas Stars that he's not coming back.

Polak's time in the NHL may be done entirely after this as the big defender signed a three-year deal with HC Vitkovice in the Czech Extraliga in June, and his contract with the Stars will end once the 2019-20 season has concluded. The 34 year-old former Blues, Leafs, Sharks, and Stars defenceman has 26 goals and 114 assists in 806 NHL contests.

"I am already determined to stay at home," Polak told Pavel Barta of sport.cz in June. "If I really had to finish the NHL, I would go. But I will do everything to make it unnecessary. I will definitely be here next season."

Sven Baertschi's opting out might be more of a case of circumstances as the Swiss-born forward had asked for a trade out of Vancouver prior to the shutdown after having spent most of this season with the AHL's Utica Comets. While Baertschi cited family reasons as the reason for his decision, one would have to think that Baertschi would opt to spend time with his family as opposed to being a black ace for the Canucks while sequestered inside his hotel room.

"Sven informed us late yesterday that he has chosen to opt out of the NHL return to play program," Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. "It was a difficult decision but ultimately one we respect and understand."

Baertschi had been skating with the Canucks in Vancouver as part of the Phase 2 plan, but it seems that he opted for family time over pressbox time with his decision after being one of three extra skaters that the Canucks invited to camp to begin preparations for the restart. I don't fault Baertschi for prioritizing his family over pressbox popcorn at all.

Steven Kampfer made the decision to not rejoin the Bruins in this year's restart after assessing his family's health and the risk that contracting the virus may put on them. Tara, his wife, and their son both have congenital heart defects, as Steven revealed, and his decision was a direct result of how the virus may affect them if he were to contract it.

Steven wrote via Twitter,
"After speaking with my wife, family and my agent I have decided that I am opting out of their return to play. This was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. My wife and son have a congenital heart defect which can cause complications with COVID-19. We have taken this very seriously. Family will always be my priority."
Like Hamonic, this decision should never be questioned. While it was expected that Kampfer might play a larger role for the Bruins in the playoffs, his choice to put family ahead of the game is why he'll always have my respect. Well done, Steve.

Zach Trotman informed the Pittsburgh Penguins he won't be playing in Toronto after he opted out of the restart. Trotman suffers from asthma, so this seems like a very well-informed decision. It should also be noted that Trotman's wife is expecting their first baby, so Trotman likely wants to be there for that moment as well. Either way, this decision by Trotman seems like a very family-oriented decision based on that knowledge.

"We don't get into injuries but it's something that he's trying to work through that could flare when we get into the 'bubble,'" Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said during a conference call with local reporters on Saturday. "And we didn't want to take that chance."

It seems weird that a basic injury could "flare" when in the bubble after Trotman has been skating in Pittsburgh already, so it sounds like it might be more of a precautionary measure that Trotman is taking. Again, I have no issue with players looking after themselves or their families when it comes to health and safety so this seems like the right preventative move if that's the underlying reason for keeping Trotman off the postseason roster.

In saying that, it also sounds like Rutherford will skip the trip to Toronto as the 71 year-old is in that "high-risk" category for the virus. This also seems like the right move, although there's less need for NHL general managers to be in any building at this point in the season. Good on Rutherford for looking out for his health on this one, though.

The last player who has opted out thus far is Montreal Canadiens defenceman Karl Alzner. The Canadiens didn't provide a reason for Alzner's decision, but I suspect that playing with the AHL's Laval Rocket for the majority of this season would have something to do with it. Alzner likely would have sat in the pressbox for the Canadiens, so it sounds like the 31 year-old defender opted for family time over pressbox popcorn like Baertschi did.

Needless to say, the list of players opting out is growing, and it seems that the majority of these players have very good reasons to not risk their own health or the health of their families by playing. It makes little sense for anyone at this stage to put their health at risk after knowing what this virus can do internally to people, so let's take nothing away from these players with these decisions and hold nothing against them for protecting the ones they love.

They'll return to the ice when it's safe to do so. That's the most important part of this equation.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 10 July 2020

Priorities Matter

As you may have heard, the NHL will officially be returning in August to the cities of Edmonton and Toronto to conclude the 2019-20 season in whatever way possible. While I still think the bubble idea in these cities has far too many variables for the NHL to control, it seems they're pretty confident that the Stanley Cup can be awarded to whatever team makes it that far with enough players who can avoid contracting the virus. One player who won't be on the ice, however, is the man pictured to the left as Calgary Flames defenceman Travis Hamonic has made the decision to not resume playing this season in order to protect his family's health. Before you start ripping on the guy like some already have on social media, there's a very good reason for Hamonic's decision and it's one that I fully support.

The other people pictured in the image above are Travis's wife, Stephanie, and his infant daughter, Charlie. In saying that, Travis is a deeply-committed family man after having asked for a trade to be closer to family in 2015 when he was with the Islanders. While we all know that being a hockey player's wife in the NHL means the suitcases never truly are put into storage, this request had everything to do with Hamonic wanting to be closer to family and zero to do with wanting off Long Island.

"I probably wouldn't want to get into more detail," he told reporters at the time, "but I think the Islanders have been great with me throughout this whole process. I know people are going to say and write what they want and all that stuff, but it has nothing to do with the organization or how I've been treated here six years as playing and another two or three since I've been drafted. I've been honestly treated like gold from the start."

In late June of 2017 despite having rescinded his ask for a trade, Hamonic was traded to the Calgary Flames, and he, his wife, and young daughter moved back to western Canada. The fit seemed perfect for both sides - Hamonic was closer to family and the Flames got themselves a reliable defenceman who could play big minutes in all situations. Things seemed to be going well, and the couple even welcomed their son to the family as Travis was trying to help the Flames win the Stanley Cup.

Everything almost came to a screeching halt in January 2019, though, when Charlie, the Hamonic's daughter and eight months old at the time, became seriously ill with a serious respiratory issue. Travis left the team and joined Stephanie at their daughter's bedside as doctors at the Alberta Children's Hospital worked to bring Charlie back to good health, and I'm happy to report that Charlie has recovered.

However, that moment was anything but easy for Travis and Stephanie.

"Everything goes out the window," Hamonic said. "My wife and I haven't left her side, we've been sitting in the room with her 24/7 and we probably won't leave her side, even when she's 50. We play a game for a living and it's my job and I take my job seriously. But my daughter is the most important focal point in my life."

Did you catch that last sentence - "my daughter is the most important focal point in my life"? Now you know why Travis Hamonic is opting out of coming back to play hockey in August. The risk of contracting a virus that wreaks havoc on people's respiratory systems is a risk that's just too high for Travis and Stephanie Hamonic with respect to their daughter's health. Playoffs would be meaningless if anything happened to his daughter, and Hamonic made that statement loud and clear with his decision today.

I fully and completely respect his decision not to return, and I will defend his decision from anyone who believes he's made the wrong decision. This is entirely the right choice by him as it shows that family, not hockey and not the Stanley Cup, is the one thing that drives Travis Hamonic. No one will ever deny that he wants to win, but he seems to be fairly grounded in knowing that there will be much bigger wins and so much more to celebrate in his future with his daughter, son, and wife remaining safe and healthy than what the Stanley Cup will bring this season.

To me, that already makes Travis Hamonic a champion, and to question his heart or his character after making this decision to protect his "home" team makes me wonder how some of these social media warriors can face themselves in their mirrors. Hamonic's family will always be there for him just as he'll always be there for them, and that's the team he's chosen to put ahead of all others. And, honestly, rightfully so.

If I needed a person to inspire me, Travis Hamonic would be that person. His devotion to his family and his unwavering character to make a decision that a lot of players wouldn't make tells me that he'll always be a champion because he already wears a ring that means more to him than any other: his wedding ring. He and his teammate in life, Stephanie, are raising two little teammates who will bring them joy, tears, happiness, and laughter for a lot longer than any Stanley Cup parade ever will. Travis Hamonic loves his family, and this decision proves that blood is thicker than any champagne that will flow following a Stanley Cup victory.

I'll never question his dedication to his team that he's built. Ever.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 9 July 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 407

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight as I continue to work my way across the Canada West Conference in talking to some amazing women who call this province home but play elsewhere! Tonight, we meet a woman who took a different path than a lot of players from this province take in getting to university where she plays hockey, but she definitely earned the opportunity with everything she's done!

Tonight, The Hockey Show welcomes Calgary Dinos forward Annaliese Meier to the show! Anna's route to playing at the University of Calgary saw her dominate the Winnipeg Women's High School Hockey League while playing for NorMan up in Thompson, Manitoba before heading east to the Ontario Hockey Academy! Her work with the these teams attracted the attention of the Dinos, and we'll hear all about her adventures playing in Manitoba before we look at her work with the Dinos, her thoughts on the short season with teams added and lost, and more! It's a fun chat with Anna Meier, so make sure you tune in 530pm CT on 101.5 FM and/or UMFM.com!

Where's the best place can you hear tonight's show if you're outside Winnipeg or not near a radio, you ask? The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! I'm here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz chats with Annaliese Meier of the Calgary Dinos about growing up at the rink, exploding onto the WWHSHL scene, travelling to northern Manitoba for games, moving to Cornwall, Ontario before heading west to Calgary, everything Dinos, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: July 9, 2020: Episode 407

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Bad Boys

There won't be any appearances by either Will Smith or Martin Lawrence in this article, but I can understand why you might think that from the title. Instead, if I were to ask you which country would be the most unlikely to start a skirmish in international hockey, my guess is that Switzerland - neutral in almost every other international conflict - wouldn't make your top-three for countries named. However, it seems that a couple of Swiss lads were none too happy with the Finnish team they were playing at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games, and they now find themselves in a little bit of hot water with the IIHF over what went down at the conclusion of the Switzerland-Finland game at this year's Winter Youth Olympic Games.

After Finland had defeated Switzerland in the final preliminary game, Swiss players Rodwin Dionicio and Noah Greuter decided to unload some frustration on the Finns through fisticuffs which, as you know, is a big no-no in IIHF international events and definitely illegal when it comes to Olympic hockey play. Fighting after the game has ended? Even worse.

According to this statement from the IIHF,
"After the loss in the last preliminary-round game against Finland, both Dionicio and Greuter had altercations with opposing players and violated Rule 141 (fighting). In the case of Dionicio he also head-butted his opponent (Rule 142) while Greuter instigated a fight despite the linesman trying to break up the pushing and shoving.

"The incidents happened after the final buzzer but before the players left the ice."
There's a lot of wrong committed by Dionicio and Greuter in that statement, and the IIHF was forced to determine a punishment suitable for their on-ice misdeeds. As the statement reads, "[t]he Deciding Panel considers a suspension according to Rule 110 ii. for one game as adequate and sufficient in both cases."

With both players being far too old for the next Winter Youth Olympiad, the IIHF will apply those penalties of one-game suspensions to their next IIHF-sanctioned event which, as per the statement, would be "Switzerland's first game at the next IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship". While I doubt that these one-game suspensions will affect their chances of making Switzerland's U18 team, you have to wonder if they look back on what they did in the Switerland-Finland game and ask themselves, "What were we thinking?"

I'd say that they should use their heads a little more, but Dionicio already threw a head butt at his opponent. Be smarter, lads. This entire ordeal was completely avoidable had you simply shown some maturity beyond your ages.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Blues Aim Higher

If you were the St. Louis Blues, I'm not sure there's a lot left to accomplish when it comes to on-ice achievements. They're the top-ranked team in the Western Conference when the NHL resumes this season so they're already flying high, and the Blues erased decades of disappointment with a Stanley Cup win that was as good as any. If they can repeat this season, they'll be the first to do so since the Pittsburgh Penguins who are their expansion cousins from 1967. It's a good time to be a St. Louis Blues fan, but what if they could do more? Their announcement today certainly points to doing more, and I think it deserves some special mention because this new effort will open doors for players who might never wear the note on their chests outside of cheering for their favorite team.

I made mention in the chat that I had with Sam Vint, the producer and director of the film The Tournament, that I really needed to learn more about the sledge hockey community. I've been following some of the news stories closer since I met Sam, and I already know how passionate this community is about hockey. What you may not know is that sledge hockey players are even more passionate about getting people of all walks of life onto the ice as a way to remove barriers that may be holding them back. It's with this in mind that the St. Louis Blues today introduced Blues Warrior Hockey!

"Hockey is a sport that teaches and requires many important life skills to play the game including teamwork, acceptance, dedication and leadership among many others, but most importantly it provides an escape from daily routines for those who need it," Steve Chapman, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer of the St. Louis Blues, stated in a release. "We are proud to partner with these brave men and women who fought for our freedom and ensure there are no barriers for them to play hockey in an inclusive and safe environment. We believe Hockey is for Everyone and will continue to work to provide opportunities for anyone who wants to play."

The Blues Warrior team took to the ice today in its first official practice as 24 players who served in the American military - Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force - got their first taste of being St. Louis Blues players. And if you're thinking this is just 24 military men on the ice, Tracy Cockrum of the US Air Force, is listed as a forward and goalie for the squad, making this Blues team even more inclusive as Cockrum will play for the Blues Warrior team!

As the team prepares for its September 12 game against Kansas City, there will certainly be ups and downs along the way. With the support of the St. Louis Blues, though, I'm hoping this team doesn't have too many financial downs that will affect how often and where they may play. The only way these players will enjoy the game is if they can play regularly and against competition, and that will require an investment of money. Hopefully, the St. Louis Blues NHL franchise will be there to assist the Blues Warrior team whenever they want to play on the road or host a team in St. Louis.

"This team will mean so much for the veteran and hockey communities in St. Louis," Nathan Laupp, the St. Louis Blues Warrior Hockey president and Marine Corps veteran, stated. "We will be able to serve and support disabled veterans through the greatest sport in the world. As a lifelong Blues fan, this partnership means a lot personally and also gives us greater reach and a louder voice to help."

When it comes to the phrase uttered by Steve Chapman above - "Hockey is for Everyone" - this effort by the St. Louis Blues shows that they're going to be a supporter of that phrase by helping disabled veterans find a new hobby they'll enjoy. My hope is that the Blues Warrior program can grow with this new injection of money from the NHL franchise to include kids as well as the St. Louis sledge hockey scene grows stronger. Time will tell as to how this partnership will evolve, but getting the clout of an NHL team behind the sledge hockey community in St. Louis will make a difference.

Kudos to the St. Louis Blues for this effort, and here's hoping the Blues Warrior program becomes the gold-star standard in the US for sledge hockey just as the men and women who make up the Blues Warrior team are gold-star people!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 6 July 2020

Lehner's Gear

When the Vegas Golden Knights acquired goaltender Robin Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline, it was a bit of a shock in that it seemed they had been comfortable with Malcolm Subban as Marc-Andre Fleury's backup. Obviously, the Golden Knights wanted to solidify all positions heading into the playoffs, and the trade for Lehner definitely did that for the crease. However, the pandemic shutdown meant we didn't see much of Robin Lehner in the Vegas nets, but I really want to see him play more after his new gear arrived during the pandemic shutdown!

Here is Lehner's new mask that he'll be sporting in Edmonton when Vegas takes the ice for the restart and playoffs!
While the demond skulls on the top of the mask remain as they did since his time with the Islanders where he spoke about battling demons, the addition of the angry Pandas in the knight's helmet with the swords is pretty awesome. The hashtag "#SameHere" on his helmet represents the SameHere Global Mental Health Movement that seeks to build a society where people can openly discuss their challenges of which Lehner is a part, and he wore that in Chicago as well.

In other words, Lehner's mask is still pretty awesome.

However, if we're going for full awesome, check out his new gear!
Full marks to Brian's for their amazing custom goalie gear that Lehner will wear. The knights on the pads are incredible, and the Vegas stars on both the blocker and glove are a nice accent for this set. Without a doubt, this might be the best-looking goalie gear in the NHL. Might I dare say, the world? Either way, Robin Lehner is going to be one stylish goaltender when hockey returns, and I'm excited to see him in his new mask and pads!

What do you think of Lehner's new gear? Sound off in the comments!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Canadian Expansion

If there's one thing that can pick me up pretty quickly when I'm feeling a little off, it's news of more opportunities for women to play hockey at a high level. After the disappointment that was spawned through the Lethbridge announcement and the letdown about Alberta taking the season off, it seemed opportunities were being taken away rather than being more available. I'm happy to say that two announcements in March will make the 2020-21 season in the Junior Women's Hockey League a little more competitive as they are adding two teams officially for the 2020-21 season in Canada!

For those unaware of the JWHL's current teams, there are seven teams that call the league home as full-time members of the JWHL. Those teams include the Pacific Steelers (Richmond, BC), the Balmoral Hall Blazers (Winnipeg, MB), the Ottawa Lady 67's (Ottawa, ON), the Ridley College Tigers (St. Catherines, ON), the Boston Shamrocks (Boston, MA), the North American Hockey Academy Winter Hawks (Wellesey, MA), and the Washington Pride (Washington, DC). Those seven teams are spread out across the continent, so they travel on specific weekends for showcases where the teams compete against one another and other invited prep teams such as Shattuck St. Mary's and Gentry Academy.

Two new teams will join the JWHL next season as the league expands its coverage and, with this expansion, its level of competition! The JWHL will welcome Stanstead College from Stanstead, Quebec and the North York Junior Storm from North York, Ontario!

Stanstead's inclusion was seemingly elementary as they've played in a number of JWHL Showcase weekends already, so getting them aboard full-time automatically makes the league stronger with a team that is accustomed to the level of play in the JWHL. At last season's Massachusetts Showcase Weekend from October 11-13, Stanstead went 4-0 with wins over the Blazers, the Steelers, the Shamrocks, and the Lady 67's by a combined score of 21-4. Needless to say, adding Stanstead in as the eighth JWHL team will only force everyone else to raise the levels of their games.

North York was also an easy decision in adding them to the JWHL as they too played in past JWHL Showcase events, and they'll make the league stronger as well. North York was at the Ottawa Showcase Weekend from November 22-24, and they went 1-1-1 as they tied NAHA 4-4, defeated the Shamrocks 4-1, and fell to the Steelers 3-2. Getting North York into the league looks to be a wise move as they showed that they can hang with the best teams in the JWHL that weekend.

Adding these two squads to the JWHL in Quebec and Ontario also gives forty more girls a chance play at an exceptionally high level while possibly being noticed for post-secondary school aspirations. As we've seen in Canada West, the addition of Trinity Western has resulted in a handful of players from the JWHL land there as they prepare for their first season at the U SPORTS level, and there might the same opportunity moving forward with a school like Bishop's who will join the RSEQ in this upcoming season. If Bishop's needs another high-level program from which to recruit, Stanstead is just 30 minutes south of that campus! North York's proximity to Toronto means there are lots of programs who may come down to see the Junior Storm play games as well.

Adding highly-competitive female programs to a league like the JWHL is good for the sport. More girls playing at a high level means that the hockey will continue to get better, and we'll see more exceptional players going to places like Concordia, McGill, Toronto, York, and other post-secondary programs across this nation. While education will always be first at the U SPORTS level, adding more exceptional athletes who will make the play better never hurts.

Giving more girls a chance to play is always a good thing. Here's hoping the expansion of the JWHL can continue in future years so more girls get a shot at chasing their dreams.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 4 July 2020

SDHL Grabs Talent

As you might be aware, I have been banging the drum in support of U SPORTS women's hockey for a long time when it comes to Hockey Canada recognizing the value of the hockey programs operating in its own backyard. For far too long, Hockey Canada has put a premium on NCAA talent when it comes to assembling the women's national team which made sense twenty or even ten years ago. Today, I'd argue that the U SPORTS system is one of the best development systems in the world for young women, and we've seen a good example of that with the talent that has been playing in Sweden over the last few years.

The SDHL is always looking for talented players, and they added two phenomenally-gifted women to the league this past week when both MODO and Djurgårdens IF made splashes into Canadian waters to recruit two of the best women's players coming out of western Canada. While one is a born-and-bred Canadian after growing up in Manitoba, the other came to Canada to improve her game as she looked to make her nation's national team back in Norway.

We'll start with Norwegian center Mathea Fischer first, as seen up top, who signed with Djurgårdens IF. Fischer became a better player each and every year she played with UBC, and her game really blossomed as she learned to play without the puck and away from the net. She showed up in Canada West as a quiet rookie who had the potential to be dangerous as a goal scorer, but she definitely finished as one of the best play-makers in the conference to go along with her great hands and speed that allowed her to open up space and find teammates for goals for the Thunderbirds.

Fischer's first two seasons saw her score five and seven goals, respectively, which is three more collectively than what she scored in her final three seasons. It was her play-making abilities, however, that really picked up as she became a dangerous passing threat on the power-play from the corner and half-boards where she was lethal. Of her career 21 goals and 51 helpers, nine goals were scored with the man-advantage while she set up 20 power-play goals. To say Fischer loved the extra room on the ice might be a bit of an understatement.

She'll join a Djurgårdens IF team that already boasts former U SPORTS Player of the Year Sarah Bujold and Norwegian teammmates Andrea Dalen and Karoline Pedersen as they look to push Djurgårdens IF up the standings from their fourth-place finish despite the loss of Canadian Olympian Jennifer Wakefield. Adding a play-maker of Fischer's quality is never a bad move, and her addition should help Djurgårdens IF in a big way if she can continue to show the same poise and skill she had while playing in Canada West.

MODO also made a splash in western Canada when they inked Regina Cougars sniper Jaycee Magwood to a deal for the upcoming year. Magwood was, by far, the best goal scorer that the Regina Cougars have had over the last five seasons, and she'll add some real pop to the MODO lineup with her shot, her power forward-style of play, and her leadership on and off the ice. Signing Magwood might benefit MODO in a number of ways with the skills and talents she brings to the team and to the ice on a daily basis!

MODO finished in ninth-place last year as they battled a number of injuries and just couldn't seem to get everything going all at once. For a roster that boasts Czech national team netminder Klára Peslarová, Swedish national team players Sofia Engstrom and Olivia Carlsson, former Montreal Carabins teammates and current French national team teammates Lore Baudrit and Marion Allemoz, and former Manitoba Bisons defender Erica Rieder, this team should have been higher in the standings. It appears that MODO isn't happy with last year's finish, so they're bringing in a sniper.

Magwood can flat-out play - she's physical, she's fast, she has great vision, and she has a cannon for a shot with a deceptively wicked wrist shot. She scored 48 goals and 53 assists in her five years with the Cougars, and finished none of the years with less than seven goals. She scored 16 power-play goals, but she also has 18 assists as she generates shots for tips and rebounds while also using that vision to set up other teammates. Perhaps what sets her apart with her ability to light the lamp is that she does it in key situations as she also recorded 14 game-winning goals over her five seasons with Regina.

For a team that scored just 66 times last season and had just one player to hit double-digits in goals over 36 games, adding the firepower that comes with Jaycee Magwood is an astute move to help buoy the offence in a league that is only getting stronger.

Seeing names like Lindsey Post, Alexandra Anderson, Danielle Stone, Kelly Murray, and Kelty Apperson appear on scoresheets in the SDHL has to make those programs that these women played for in U SPORTS very proud. However, the work is never done as players like Rieder, Magwood, Fischer, Baudrit, and Allemoz will continue to represent U SPORTS and the programs under its umbrella as U SPORTS makes its mark on the SDHL with new talent.

Why Hockey Canada continues to overlook these women is beyond me, but I take immense pride in having watched both Mathea Fischer and Jaycee Magwood become the players they are today. Congratulations, ladies, you earned these contracts, and we'll be watching on this side of the ocean once the SDHL gets back underway!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 3 July 2020

Get More Social

I have to admit that I follow the social media accounts of most of the women's hockey teams in Canada West. I use these follows to keep track as to what's happening with each program as well as trying to keep up with the latest scores and highlights from the games in which those programs are involved. Sometimes, I probably spend more time on social media than I should in the winter due to my following of the hockey news coming out of eight programs which will soon to be nine or ten, depending on Lethbridge's use of their women's hockey Twitter account. Add in a handful of other programs and league news I keep tabs on as well, and it becomes apparent that social media plays a large part in helping me on the Bisons women's hockey broadcasts when it comes to passing on important and relevant information.

As everyone knows, analytics is playing a larger part in sports now more than ever, but it should also play a bigger part in how sports departments at universities operate. I say this because a company named SkullSparks came out with the rankings of each of the 56 U SPORTS schools with respect to social media followings by on the three major social media platforms of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Take a peek at the image below to locate your school.
While I talk almost exclusively on Canada West women's hockey programs on my own social media, it's interesting to see some of the numbers on those lists with regards to each school's number of interactions. As per SkullSparks, "interaction" in this case is defined as:
  • Instagram: any like or comment.
  • Twitter: any like or retweet.
  • Facebook: any reaction, comment, or share.
Let's go a little deeper on a few of these numbers.
  • The Laval Rouge-et-Or's Facebook interactions make up 73.4% of the interactions they have. That's an incredible amount of Facebook interactions for one of this nation's preeminent football programs, but it also shows how well they use Facebook to create engaging content that appeals to fans, sponsors, and players.
  • The Guelph Gryphons, on the other hand, have the lowest amount of interactions on Facebook of any of the top-ten schools listed with just 20.5% of their interactions coming through that medium. Clearly, Guelph is reaching their fans on both Twitter and Instagram a little more. Guelph has the highest number of interactions of all schools on Instagram where both videos and images can be seen by fans.
  • Saskatchewan, listed as 17th-overall on the list, has nearly one-half (47.1%) of their interactions through Twitter, and that speaks volumes to the great content they regularly put out on that medium with short videos occupying a large part of those Twitter interactions. I can speak from experience that the Huskies do Twitter stuff extremely well!
Those numbers aside, it becomes pretty clear that as school's have larger enrollments, they also see more interactions. Of the top-15 schools for enrollment as per The Globe & Mail's 2019 survey, only three of those schools didn't end up in the top-15 of total social media interactions - York, Alberta, and Ryerson.

Honestly, Ryerson was a bit of a surprise to me considering that it's known for its broadcasting and journalism programs, but we should keep in mind that this reviews was done on the main athletics social media accounts only, not specific sports in total, and I would guess that specific sports have done a lot of self-promotion for themselves more than the main accounts would.

This leads back to the bullet points above as Laval's enrollment is seventh-highest in the country, but they crush the rest of U SPORTS with their social media interactions that mainly come through Facebook while Guelph, who has the 16th-highest enrollment in the country, has the sixth-most interactions mainly through their Instagram account. In other words, their main athletics social media accounts are doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to engaging the fans, parents, families, and players of these teams.

Why is this important? Any self-promotion for the individual sports at these schools should also be done by the schools' main athletic social media accounts in order to hit a larger population of people in their communities. Cross-posting shouldn't only happen across various social media platforms for the individual teams, but it should always come from the main athletics social media accounts and posted across those mediums as well. If we're talking about schools and the individual conferences wanting to attract more fans to help their programs, there needs to be a coordinated effort to maximize the reach of these messages.

If we're going to see an uptick in ticket sales and fan attendance at all university-level sports, it starts with the athletics departments making a concerted effort to reach their immediate fans prior to attracting new fans. While those immediate fans do support the athletics at the 56 respective U SPORTS schools, growing the base of support for each athletics department at those 56 schools starts with putting one's self out there a little more through the use of social media in a focused, concerted effort from all sports under the umbrellas of those athletics departments and the conferences.

If you want more people talking about your programs, start by being more social.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 2 July 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 406

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight with an interview with a player who has a unique perspective on this upcoming season. She's a Manitoba-born forward who plays elsewhere in the Canada West Conference, but she's entering her fifth and final year of eligibility at the U SPORTS level which means that this season will be like any other for a number of fifth-year players across the country. Her career has seen some big highlights as well, and I'll talk to this guest tonight as we go through her career and look at the highs, lows, and potentially what could be a final short year of hockey at the university level!

Tonight, I go one-on-one with Regina Cougars forward Chelsea Hallson! Chelsea calls Manitoba home, but she suits up for the Cougars where she's an effective defensive forward and penalty killer who shows some offensive flair! Chelsea and I talk about growing up as the eldest to five younger siblings, her time with the Manitoba Female Hockey League's Central Plains Capitals and a trip to the 2015 Esso Cup, being recruited by and playing for the Cougars, and her thoughts on the shortened season for 2020-21, the additions of the Griffins and Spartans, and the loss of the Pronghorns and the Pandas for her final season of play. It's a great chat with Chelsea about everything hockey in her life, so make sure you tune in tonight at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 FM or UMFM.com!

Where's the best place can you hear tonight's show if you're outside Winnipeg or not near a radio, you ask? The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! I'm here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz chats with Chelsea Hallson of the Regina Cougars about life, the Capitals, the Esso Cup, her life with the Cougars, the strange senior season she may experience, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: July 2, 2020: Episode 406

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Western Expansion

It's a national holiday in this great country thanks to Canada Day where we celebrate our amazing nation and all it has to offer. It has been said that Canada never truly became a country until the east was connected to the west, a moment that happened in 1885 when the railway line connecting the Ottawa Valley to the west coast was completed and fulfilling the commitment made to British Columbia when it joined the Confederation in 1871. Western expansion followed, and it seems we're getting a second western expansion today as two successful hockey academies become one juggernaut hockey academy on the Canadian hockey landscape.

It was announced a week ago that The Rink Hockey Academy based in Winnipeg had purchased the Kelowna-based Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy and Edge of Excellence school subject to approval by the Hockey and the Canadian Sport School Hockey League as The Rink and POE were two separate, competing schools in the CSSHL.

The Rink, it should be noted, added a female midget-aged team this past season in the female prep school division, and they saw their first-ever recruit from that program signed to a U SPORTS Letter of Intent when forward Danica Namaka agreed to become an Alberta Panda. POE, meanwhile, has long been an outstanding school for athletes to attend, and they've sent many players on to higher levels of hockey.

"We are incredibly excited to add POE Kelowna into our RINK Hockey Academy family. We are looking to implement positive change to maximize constructive, progressive outcomes for all parties involved," RINK CEO Brad Rice stated in a release. "[President and CEO of POE/EOE] David [Roy] has done a tremendous job creating a strong program and foundation for student athletes here in Kelowna and we can't wait to see what the future holds."

While BC Hockey has yet to release their approval of this purchase, I would say that it's simply an administrative matter at this point as the CSSHL will likely approve the matter in order to continue both program's hockey academies' inclusion as part of their league's schedules. I would imagine that the two schools will continue to operate two hockey programs with "The Rink West" and "The Rink East" being separate teams who will occupy their current spots in the CSSHL.

This expansion back into British Columbia by The Rink Hockey Corporation is, admittedly, a little surprising given how they left the Kootenay area with fans still sore over the WHL's Ice moving to Winnipeg, but business is business and adding a high-quality hockey academy such as the Pursuit of Excellence will allow The Rink and its staff to combine two world-class hockey programs under one umbrella.

"Our goal for student athletes is to maximize their potential by combining their excellence as a hockey player, student, and as a person," POE President and CEO David Roy said in a statement. "With the RINK's acquisition of POE, we are now able to tap into their outstanding skill development programs and facilities, both in Winnipeg and now in Kelowna. This will provide young hockey players with an opportunity to develop as 360-degree players beyond what I could have ever imagined."

The transaction was scheduled officially for today as The Rink became the owner and operator of the POE/EOE campus in Kelowna, and it leads me to ask if this good for hockey as a whole when we see hockey academies raising the costs for students to attend and becoming far less inclusive. While I don't dispute the success that The Rink has had in its five years of existence, the costs to attend the hockey academy were fairly high with the numbers coming in at a five-figure dollar amount. That cost alone is extremely prohibitive for a lot of families, so I'm hoping we may see The Rink opt for more economical solutions for students who aspire to attend one of the Winnipeg or Kelowna schools.

There's no doubt that these two schools combining forces will make them stronger as a whole. The hockey landscape will change with both schools getting better, and that only means better players and better hockey in the long run. However, if the cost to get better players and better hockey keeps going up, one has to wonder where that success plateaus in the future as the game becomes too expensive for some.

Let's hope this new, bigger version of The Rink Hockey Corporation can figure out how to keep more kids in the game in more places across this great nation. That would be truly Canadian of them.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Let's Make A Deal For $50

My apologies to comedian Wayne Brady on this one, but I'm going Canadian with the lede image as Winnipegger Monty Hall takes center stage from his time on the popular CBS game show Let's Make A Deal. For many people, Monty Hall's lasting legacy will be persuading contestants on the game show to choose one of three doors which had prizes behind them. This led to an interesting probability paradox that confounded scholars for years known as the "Monty Hall Problem", but that's not what I'm writing about here today despite the interesting fallout from that problem that plagued one scholar. Instead, I want to look at the one year that Monty Hall broke down games for the New York Rangers as a hockey analyst on the radio!

Hall was born Monte Halparin on August 25, 1921 in Winnipeg, Manitoba where he attended Lord Selkirk School and St. John's High School in north Winnipeg. Hall was a good student who worked hard, but his love of sports shone through as he was a dedicated Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan and cheered for the local minor hockey teams.

Hall would enroll at the University of Manitoba where his work in theatre was secondary to his love of science where he worked hard to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and zoology after his dreams of being a doctor were dashed due to the university's secret quota on allowing Jewish students into the program. With Hall's application to the School of Medicine denied, he earned his chemistry and zoology degree while serving as the University of Manitoba Students' Union President and continuing his work in musicals and drama productions.

Thanks to his growing number of emcee jobs and productions seen across the city, Halparin found work on the radio as a radio host on CKRC (now 99.9 BOB FM in Winnipeg). While he found work at the Canadian Wheat Board for a short while, his passions took him to Toronto where he landed on CHUM radio in 1946. An error on a promotional material saw his name listed as "Monty", and he opted to work under his new performance name as "Monty Hall"!

Hall would continue to work in Toronto for CHUM and CFRB before moving to CBC television in 1952, but his run at CBC was cut short when the station cancelled his programs and offered him no additional work. Hall returned to Winnipeg disappointed, but not disillusioned.

In 1955, Hall moved to New York City where he traveled between The Big Apple and Toronto doing various radio and television jobs. It was in 1959 where Hall had an interview with Herb Goren, public relations manager for the New York Rangers, and the discussion went well as both men shared a passion for the game of hockey. Goren suggested that Hall meet with Les Keiter at WINS - a CBS radio station - as the station was looking for a colour analyst for New York Rangers games!

Keiter's interview with Hall was just a formality as Hall was virtually hired on the spot. Neil Best of Newsday wrote,
"'All I said was 'hello' and he just hired me,' Hall said. 'No tryout. I guess my qualifications were that I came from the Far North and played a little bit of hockey in my time. It was a dream job for me... Anyone who comes from there has hockey in their blood.'"
In an interesting twist as Best notes, the budget to pay Hall for each game was $75, but Hall was only plaid $50 as Keiter pocketed the other $25! Hall didn't seem to mind, though, telling Best, "I told him I would have done it for nothing."

While Hall only spent one year on the radio working New York Rangers games, he was part of a game-changing moment on November 1, 1959. If you're a hockey historian, you'll recall that day as the game between the Rangers and Montreal Canadiens where Andy Bathgate's rising shot early in the first period caught Montreal goaltender Jacques Plante on the cheekbone, opening up a large cut across the goalie's face. With no backup netminders in that day, the game stopped while Plante received medical attention.

Plante had been wearing the mask in practices and during warm-ups for a while, and Hall noted that Plante had been wearing prior to the Rangers-Canadiens game. While Plante was receiving his stitches to close the wound, Hall remarked on the radio broadcast, "It wouldn’t surprise me if he comes out wearing that mask," wherein the Madison Square Garden crowd welcomed a masked Jacques Plante back to the ice with a chorus of boos after seeing the netminder return with his new face protection. Undeterred by the Rangers' faithful, Plante's play seem unaffected by the mask as he backstopped the Canadiens to a 3-1 win on that night with only Camille Henry's power-play goal in the third period to get by him.

With Hall having called a monumental piece of hockey history, it seemed like his job as the New York Rangers colour analyst was a dream come true for the Winnipegger, but he moved to California in the fall of 1960 to host a new CBS game show called Video Village. It would be the start of something life-changing for Hall, though, as he developed and created a new game show called Let's Make A Deal that aired on December 30, 1963 for the first time. The show would endure through six decades of television across all three major US networks - CBS, NBC, and ABC - airing for 3200 episodes between 1963 and 1976!

Hall was always proud of his work as a Rangers analyst and loved to keep up with hockey, but I found it somewhat odd that Hall never really found a way to get back in the game following the 1967 NHL Expansion. While he would attend Los Angeles Kings games, Hall's work in and around the NHL never really materialized in California despite making friends with players and personnel of the Kings. Whatever his reasons were, I believe Hall made out pretty well with his television career, so maybe there wasn't a need or want to get back into hockey from that angle.

Monty Hall passed away on September 30, 2017 at the age of 96, and it was clear that he had a major impact on television during his life. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 24, 1973 and received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in 2002, becoming the third game-show host to receive the honours in both countries as he followed Alex Trebek and Howie Mandel. After years of raising money for a number of charitable organizations - estimated to be close to $1 billion - Hall was the recipient of The Order of Canada in 1988 and he was appointed as a Member of The Order of Manitoba in 2003. On October 13, 2007, Hall was one fo the first inductees into the Game Show Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, Nevada, and he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Daytime Emmy Awards.

It's pretty clear to see why Hall was beloved on television and for his charitable work which he never refused to do. It makes me proud that Monte Halparin - Monty Hall - was a proud of his Winnipeg roots, and it tickles me to know that Hall was part of the one of the most important dates in hockey history when the goalie mask went from "odd quirk" to "essential protection".

Monty Hall's legacy will likely never be equaled, and I'm proud to call him one of my city's greatest individuals.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 29 June 2020

A Case Of The Mondays

When i first watched Office Space, this particular scene resonated with me because there was a woman in my office who used terms like "case of the Mondays" when she was poking fun at people. Like Peter in the movie, it grated on my nerves, but that was a while back and I've since switched to a new company where I have less people coming at me with cases of Mondays. The weird thing is that today, being a Monday, hit me hard in that I found myself busier than usual, but feeling less motivated to do anything. It could be because I begin a short holiday on Wednesday which is also Canada Day and usually Free Agent Frenzy Day, but everything is different this year. No free agency, no big signings, no earth-shattering free agent moves.

Because I feel entirely unmotivated in writing about COVID-19, hub cities, the NHL's testing of 250 players, the more-than-1450 tests given to those players (seriously? Five tests per player?), the 26 cases found to go along with the 10 cases seen in the spring, and anything else to do with this whole pandemic and the craziness of trying to set up a bubble for 12 teams in each conference, I'm taking the night off for some rest and relaxation.

It's sweltering in my neck of the woods today, and I really don't feel like sitting in front of a computer screen when it's 40°C outside. I'm going to fix myself a cool beverage, lie low with the air conditioning on, and take the night off. Tomorrow is another day where there will be another story to write about the pandemic and the NHL, so I'm tapping out on this one.

Besides, there's carrot cake in the fridge just waiting to have a piece taken out of it, and I'm already halfway out of the chair to do just that!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 28 June 2020

A Year In France

Today's hockey stars often have homes in warm climates where they retreat to during the off-season and when their playing days are over. Most times, these warm-climate places are where families are raised and roots are put down as NHL stars settle into normal life. It's not often you find NHL stars leaving North America to continue playing elsewhere once their storied careers are over, but Bob Gainey retired from the NHL and the Montreal Canadiens after being beaten by the Calgary Flames in the 1989 Stanley Cup Final only to find himself as the player-coach in the 1989-90 season for the Épinal Écureuils of the National 1B League in France! How did Gainey land in France? Why did he take the position of player-coach for a relatively obscure team? Let's find out as we explore Gainey's lone season playing in northeastern France!

Gainey had no need to go play in France for one season after winning five Stanley Cups, four Selke trophies, and a Conn Smythe Trophy with Les Glorieux in a career that needed no additional hockey accomplishments. It seems that Épinal bringing Gainey to the French city was identical to how Bobby Hull was wooed to join the WHA - a collection of various sources of money.

Following the conclusion of the 1988-89 season that saw the Calgary Flames emerge victorious over the Montreal Canadiens in six games, Bob Gainey announced his retirement after the series ended. It was at this time where Épinal's hockey team - mired in unstable ownership - saw Épinal mayor Philippe Séguin and Écureuils president Michel Latour made the pitch to Gainey to join the club for the 1989-90 season as player-coach after having first discussing the idea with Gainey nearly one year earlier.

Gainey was touted in Épinal as the biggest hockey star to ever suit up for a hockey game in France, but there was still work to be done. To compensate their new star, Séguin and Latour rallied sponsors, supporters, and the city to the tune of $1 million for Gainey to join the club. Gainey accepted the deal, and, on July 12, 1989, French newspaper La Liberté de l'Est announced the signing of Bob Gainey by Les Écureuils!

Again, you might be asking why Gainey would make this jump from the NHL at the age of 35 to a second-tier French team, and Gainey told David Winch of The Gazette on October 21, 1989, "I know I needed a change. This gives me a taste of something new."

The Gaineys would arrive in August as they began their new life in the city of 30000 people. There was a lot of work to do with Les Écureuils to have them play the style of game that Gainey was used to playing with the Canadiens while assessing the squad that he was given for their first season in the National 1B League.

"It took a while to get used to the players," Gainey told Winch. "We had about five days’ preparation. We were moved up to the second division, where the season begins earlier, while we'd been expecting an October season opener. We've got a group of young players. Some fit in while others didn't, and as coach I had to make some changes."

Gainey's experience as a player was easily seen in comparison to his teammates' experiences, but the season started with two lopsided losses as Gainey opted to set up teammates while playing more defensively.

"He had all sorts of chances to score in those two games the team lost," Pascal Balland, hockey writer for the daily L'Est Republicain, told Winch. "He had open shots on net he passed up. Instead, he held back, feeding passes, playing defensively, setting everything up. He played for the team."

For Les Écureuils, regular-season crowds of 600-700 fans doubled in size as Gainey's legend in the city grew. In their third game of the season, 1600 fans packed La Patinoire to witness Gainey put the team on his shoulders as he logged somewhere near forty minutes of ice time to help Épinal beat the previously-undefeated Anglet by an 11-6 score. Gainey, who started the season as a defender - a position he hadn't played since prior to joining the OHL's Peterborough Petes - moved himself back to his usual forward position he was seen playing in the NHL, and the results saw Gainey choose to remain as a forward for Épinal for the remainder of the season.

Gainey played on a line with Eric Lamoureux and Frédéric Favre which saw him rediscover some of his offensive flair. Favre was a solid linemate who came in from playing in the top-tier Ligue Magnus with Bordeaux while the young Lamoureux brought speed and skill after spending a season in the third-tier French league with Deuil-la-Barre. Combined with a defensively-minded forward in Gainey, the two saw a ton of success while flanking the former Canadiens star as Lamoureux would finish fourth in league scoring in 1989-90 with 35 goals and 60 points in 28 games while Favre, as the captain, has no stats listed online, but he seems to have had a career year as well based on articles written. For the record, Gainey finished the season in 21st-place in overall scoring with 14 goals and 26 points.

While Les Écureuils d'Épinal didn't win the National 1B League in 1989-90, Gainey's influence on the team and region saw the team's stature in European hockey rise. Gainey would leave following that single season in France to become the head coach of the Minnesota North Stars in 1990-91, but Épinal saw other European players of prominence join the squad in the following years.

It didn't end with a championship, but that's a quick summary of Bob Gainey's one season with the second-tier French squad known as the Épinal Squirrels. Of course, Gainey would return to work with North Stars and Dallas Stars, earning himself another Stanley Cup ring in 1999 as the general manager of the Dallas Stars. He would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992, and his #23 was retired by the Montreal Canadiens on February 23, 2008.

That's a pretty solid career for a Squirrel, I'd say.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Worst Travel Agent Ever: Part Two

It's hard for me to sit here and celebrate anything that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has done after he gutted the post-secondary education system's grants and contributions that the government had made for years, leading to the eventual suspension of the hockey programs in Lethbridge as they look to find funding while Alberta has opted out of this abbreviated season. I generally don't like piling on top of people after they've already made some rather amazing errors in leadership like Kenney did when he posted this ridiculous video to his social media in an attempt to convince the NHL to pick Edmonton as a restart hub city, but more news came out today that Jason Kenney's choice of video might have been one of the all-time stupidest blunders by a government leader in the history of sports.

Tonight, a woman by the name of Lori Andrews posted the following comment on Twitter. From Lori's brief biography on the social media site, she's an "insanely happy interior designer and photographer" whose work you can see here.
You mean to tell me that the video Jason Kenney used wasn't even produced by his government? Worse yet, he took them without asking, didn't credit the video team, and used them without payment, credit, or permission? That's a serious allegation, but it seems Miss Andrews has the evidence needed to make a claim, so let's dig into this.

You might be wondering where Kenney lifted the video from since Miss Andrews' tweet doesn't give much reference. Well, another gentleman stepped up to the plate and delivered a clutch hit when Joseph Shea, a musician and mountain-loving climate observer, dropped this little video as a reply to Miss Andrews after he recognized the vocal artist on Kenney's video as Ellen Braun who is part of his band!
This video was produced by Pursuit Collection and posted to their YouTube channel on July 11, 2019! Pursuit, as their YouTube bio reads, "is about our extraordinary life journey and the memories we create together along the way. We are a collection of leading experiential adventure experiences in iconic destinations in Alaska, Montana, Western Canada and coming in 2019, Iceland."

Now compare that video to the one that Kenney posted on his social media five days ago to entice the NHL.
It seems as though there are different videos spliced together from the "Banff Jasper" collection of videos that Pursuit did for their own business that Kenney is trying to pass off as his own! What exactly is going on at the Alberta legislature where Jason Kenney doesn't even vet the videos he's putting out on his social media? Why is this guy being allowed to lead anything when he legitimately stole video from Pursuit and passed it off as his own?

This is legitimately plagiarism - he stole copyrighted work done by someone else and passed it off as his own. Yes, there likely was some staff member who produced the video and didn't tell Kenney that he or she had stolen and spliced the video, but Kenney is still responsible for vetting the video if he's tweeting it out as an official video from him. This is basic work that clearly his government has little regard for or care to do after his first copyright fiasco led to a second copyright fiasco over stolen logos.

For all that he promised, Jason Kenney is an unmitigated disaster in office. From destroying the post-secondary education system to these repeated, flagrant copyright violations, this Alberta UCP government might go down as the worst in the province's history.

If Vancouver doesn't want the NHL games played there by choice, Edmonton should now lose the right to host the games as punishment for stealing someone else's work. The video was ridiculous at first, but with this new wrinkle in the story it just got criminally bad. That kind of behaviour deserves punishment, not reward, and the NHL should consider this when deciding on its western hub city.

If you're caught cheating, you don't get to win. Do the right thing here, NHL, and eliminate Edmonton from the hub city competition for this grand display of outright stupidity.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 26 June 2020

A Tough Choice

I would admittedly be cynical of the NHL's Draft Lottery process as well if I were a Detroit fan after seeing the Red Wings drop from a league-worst finish at the time of the "pause" to fourth-overall at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Upon closer inspection, though, it should be noted that since the introduction of the lottery, the odds-on favorite to win the top pick in the NHL Entry Draft has happened just twice when Toronto selected first-overall in 2016 and Buffalo selected first-overall in 2018. What bothers me more, however, is that a team who was to miss the playoffs based on points percentages and will now be playing in August thanks to the play-in round for the NHL Playoffs will pick first-overall as the worst teams will see a team markedly better than them improve drastically with the additional of Alexis Lafreniere.

If the fifteen-worst finishers had simply been dropped into the draft lottery while keeping their respective percentages of winning the draft, the likelihood of this mysterious "Team E" winning the draft would remained the same. That team, for the record, would have been the Winnipeg Jets, and I cannot tell you how important that Lafreniere pick would be in shoring up the center position for the Jets.

Therein lies the problem for the sixteen play-in teams who need to decide whether it's better to win a Stanley Cup in a city not their own in an empty arena or have a 1-in-8 shot at drafting a potential franchise-altering centerman in Alexis Lafreniere who is, by all accounts, the consensus top pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

We've heard the rhetoric for the lottery as it's designed to prevent teams from tanking, but I honestly believe that it punishes teams who are legitimately bad as well since the lottery has never favoured the worst teams in the NHL historically. I get that no system is ideally perfect, but to see two incredible bad teams in Ottawa and Detroit draft 3-4-5 this year when they absolutely need a franchise player makes me wonder how this system could have been improved if, say, a decently-performing team such as Edmonton or Pittsburgh stumbles in the play-in round and finds themselves standing at the podium with the first-overall pick.

What do you do if you're a team like Winnipeg who seemingly might win a play-in round only to lose in the official first round of the NHL Playoffs? Is it worth tossing away a chance at Lafreniere for a handful of extra games?

What do you do if you're Montreal who could desperately use a franchise-altering, Quebec-born, French-speaking superstar centerman, but likely can beat a team like Pittsburgh in the play-in round if Carey Price plays as well as he is known to play?

I'll go on record right here in saying that no player will ever want to utter, admit to uttering, or listen to any sort of tank talk at any time. Players have pride in themselves and their teams, and I seriously doubt that any NHL player would even consider the idea of tanking for Lafreniere when there's a chance to win the Stanley Cup. With the length of NHL careers, it's unfathomable any player would give up the opportunity to win no matter where they are in their careers.

For management, though, the dilemma is real. The difference between a general manager on the hot seat or a general manager envied by his peers is one superstar draft selection. While Peter Chiarelli benefitted for a year or two from the Connor McDavid selection, the reality was that the Oilers were terrible under his watch which lead to his firing. Assuming that the Oilers didn't land McDavid, it's reasonable to assume that the Chiarelli experiment in Edmonton may have ended earlier. Could Marc Bergevin, John Chayka, or Dale Tallon extend their management careers with the selection of Lafreniere? The answer seems it would.

While no one will fault the managers on a five-game play-in series loss, there will be changes made at the management level at some point for these play-in teams as no owner wants his team stuck in mediocrity. The chance to draft Lafreniere and build a team around him is the stuff that GMs dream of, but no owner, manager, or player will ever give up a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup. Unless there's a monumental shift in thinking at all management levels, I can't see anyone sacrificing a chance to win the Stanley Cup by simply playing out the play-in games.

Would you play for the Stanley Cup or would you just write off the season and hedge your bets on a 1-in-8 chance to win the Lafreniere Lottery? Whatever you choose, NHL GMs, may the odds forever be in your favour.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 25 June 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 405

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight to discuss a topic about which, frankly, I know very little. I try to seek out people who are smarter than me about all sorts of hockey stuff, and I desperately needed some guidance as I jumped into the game-worn jersey business of hockey! I have a closet full of jerseys in my collection - a select few are game-worn - so I turned to an individual who has been in the game-worn jersey game for some time as his expertise outpaced mine in a big way!

In trying to learn more, I turned to the man in the old-school New England Patriots helmet as I welcome Stu Eckert to the show! Stu's been doing some buying and selling of NHL game-worn jerseys for a while, and he has a wealth of knowledge about the subject. I will admit that the auctions one sees on the internet might be a little pricey, but Stu will give us an idea on how to get started without breaking the bank! Along with that, I discuss the NHL hub city fun and why Vancouver hockey fans deserve some kudos for standing up to the NHL and I take a look at the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees while making a case for a handful of players who legitimately should already be in the Hall of Fame. All that happens tonight on The Hockey Show at 530pm CT only on 101.5 UMFM!

Where's the best place can you hear tonight's show if you're outside Winnipeg or not near a radio, you ask? The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! I'm here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz speaks with Stu Eckert as we learn about how to get into the game-worn jersey game, what to look for, some of Stu's collection, and where you can start if you have an interest in this before Teebz talks Vancouver as a hub city and the Hockey Hall of Fame's list of players who need to be added as soon as possible exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: June 25, 2020: Episode 405

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

A More Inclusive Class

The 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees were announced today, and I have to say that the Class of 2020 is a decent selection of players and builders. Honestly, I was shocked that there were a few names left off the list, and I think it's time that we start holding the Hockey Hall of Fame to a higher standard than how they currently promote some inductees. That's not to say that this year's group of inductees aren't talented; rather, the players who seemingly are overlooked year after year for some reason who have changed hockey for the better should, in my view, get more promotion than someone who collected a Stanley Cup and a couple personal awards.

The Absolutes

Jarome Iginla was always set to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer based on his body of work in the NHL, on the international stage, and off the ice with his charitable ventures. Besides that, Iginla is universally known as one of the nicest guys in the game, but his carrying the Calgary Flames for so long along with his efforts for Team Canada made this induction a sure thing. Honestly, being just the fourth Black hockey player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame is a little disappointing when one considers the number of players already inducted.

Kim St-Pierre was the backbone of a dominant Canadian team as she earned a plethora of gold medals at the Olympic and World Championship levels while also winning a Clarkson Cup at the CWHL level as one of the best women's goaltenders to ever walk the planet. She became the first woman to win a men's hockey game at the U SPORTS level when she backstopped the McGill men's team to victory in 2003. St-Pierre set the original standards when it came to the goaltending position for the Canadian woman, and she set the bar high for others to follow as she has the most appearances and the most wins of any Team Canada women's team netminder. St-Pierre is just the eighth woman to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

They're Good, But...

Marian Hossa was always a good player in the NHL, and his work for the Slovakian National Team was well-regarded. Hossa's numbers are good enough to break the 500-1000 barriers to make it into the Hall of Fame as he piled up 525 goals and 1134 points. He won three Stanley Cups in five trips to the final series, and his game really blossomed defensively as he became a good two-way winger. With zero personal trophies to his name and no international success, Hossa's induction is really only based on his NHL numbers. To me, that isn't good enough this year.

REPLACED WITH: Reggie Leach. Leach was a big part of the 1975 Stanley Cup victory that the Flyers celebrated after he and former Flin Flon Bomber teammate Bobby Clarke reunited in Philly. His 61 goals were good enough to win the goal-scoring race in 1975-76, and he's still the only non-goalie player in NHL history to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy as a member of the losing team in the Stanley Cup Final in 1976. While his .713 points-per-game average is less than Hossa's .866 rate, Leach's achievements in the NHL as an Indigenous player should be recognized as he and his son, Jamie, are the only Indigenous father-son combo to win the Stanley Cup. It's been far too long for the third member of the LCB line to be left out, so it's time for the Hockey Hall of Fame to pays its respects to Reggie Leach.

Doug Wilson might be a bit of a surprise, but it's hard to argue the consistent play of Wilson when he was playing in an era with names like Coffey, Bourque, Chelios, and Mark Howe. Wilson won the 1982 Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman, and 0.81 points-per-game rate of scoring ranks him as one of the best offensive defenders in the league's history. His lack of international play, though, makes it a little tougher to warrant his inclusion outside of his NHL work. Like Hossa, he's good, but not good enough this year.

REPLACED WITH: Alexander Mogilny. Mogilny's work on the international stage is unquestionably good as he was a star with the Soviet Union on a line with Pavel Bure and Sergei Fedorov. He gold medals from the 1988 Olympics, the 1989 World Junior Championship, and the 1989 IIHF World Championship, and those alone should establish a base for his inclusion. However, we need to look at what he sacrificed to open the doors for his countrymen as Mogilny's defection from the Soviet Union in 1989 opened a crack in the Iron Curtain. With Mogilny's defection, we'd see other players such as Sergei Makarov, Igor Larionov, Vladimir Krutov, and Viacheslav Fetisov find their ways over to the NHL from the Soviet Union. Had it not been for Mogilny, North Americans might never have known those names as well as we do.

From there, the Buffalo Sabres rookie scored his first NHL goal against Quebec Nordiques just 20 seconds into his first shift. He scored 76 goals in 1991-92 to tie Teemu Selanne as the top goal-scorer that season, and he'd find himself as a part of the Triple Gold Club after winning a Stanley Cup in 2000 with the New Jersey Devils. While he would only win the Lady Byng Trophy as a personal award, it's prletty clear that Alexander Mogilny was one of the best wingers on both the NHL and international stages for a long time while opening the door literally being the sole reason for so many Russians to follow their dreams of playing in the NHL.


Kevin Lowe will be added to the Hockey Hall of Fame as the six-time Stanley Cup champion will join a host of other talented Oilers in the Hall of Fame. Mainly viewed as a defensive defenceman, Lowe was Edmonton's first NHL draft pick, he scored their first NHL goal, and he was often given the task of checking incredibly gifted forwards in the Smythe Division such as Dale Hawerchuk, Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Roberts, Trevor Linden, and some guy named Gretzky. He holds the record for games played by any Oiler in NHL history, and he never once played a game in the minors over the course of his career. There's no doubt that he's one of the great leaders in NHL history, but he only represented Canada twice internationally. That isn't good enough this year.

REPLACED WITH: Jiri Holecek. If there's one thing the Hockey Hall of Fame does poorly among a number of things it does poorly, it's recognizing international stars of the game who never played in North America. Jiri Holecek is one of those players, and some in the international hockey community think he was a better goalie than Vladislav Tretiak in their playing days. In twelve tournaments where the two goalies played, they both earned the "best goaltender" or all-star awards six times. The Czechoslovakia team that played in front of Holecek was often seen as inferior to the Soviet team in front of Tretiak, so it could be argued that Holecek was the better netminder. Holecek is seen as a pioneer of Czech goaltending as he learned the spread-kneeling position - an early prototype of the butterfly stance used by Canadian netminders - and refined it to where he was highly successful with it. He has 164 international games to his credit, and he was part of the Olympic silver- and bronze-medal Czechoslovakian teams. Holecek was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 1998.

Does the Hockey Hall of Fame know there are two spots for women to be inducted annually? It hasn't happened since Angela James and Cammi Granato both went in, so let's correct that egregious error as well since the Hall of Fame seems intent on letting the bare minimum of women in annually.

REPLACED WITH: Riikka Sallinen. Sallinen is a legend in the Finnish hockey community, recently retiring from the sport at the age of 46! Sallinen began her career on the international stage at the 1989 Women's World Championship, and she'd represent Finland in three IIHF Women's European Championships where she won three gold medals, eight IIHF World Women's Championships where she won six bronze medals and one silver medal, and four Olympic Games where she won two bronze medals. In her international career, she scored 109 goal and 95 assists while spending a mere 24 minutes in the penalty box, and she led the 1998 Nagano Olympics in scoring with seven goals and five assists in six games en route to capturing the bronze medal. She has been named the IIHF Women's World Championship Best Forward twice in 1990 and 1994, was an IIHF Women's World Championship All-Star Team three times in 1992, 1994, and 1997, and was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2010 as just the fourth woman to be inducted. Along with Marianne Ihalainen, they were the first women inducted into the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007, and she still holds a pile of records in the Naisten Liiga in Finland.

Ken Holland goes into the Hockey Hall of Fame for his work in building the Detroit Red Wings into the powerhouse it was for nearly two decades. His shrewd acquisitions of key talent while retaining some quality players and drafting some exceptional players can't be overlooked when it comes to the success the Red Wings had through the 1990s and into the 2000s. His hiring of Scotty Bowman, his hiring of scouts all over the world, and the work done by Holland in keeping this unit intact over a long stretch of time is a lot of the reason that the Red Wings had all the success they did. However, there's another Red Wings executive who deserves this honour before Holland.

REPLACED WITH: Marguerite Norris. Norris was named as the President of the Detroit Red Wings at the age of 25 after her father, James E. Norris, died in 1952. Immediately, Norris went about making changes that would prove wise as reports stated the arena was "visibly cleaner", the interior of the arena was painted, ushers were issued new uniforms, restrooms have been improved, and "a wire screen was erected" to protect fans from flying pucks. Norris was the first female President and executive in NHL history, and she presided over the club as they finished in first-place from 1953-1955, culminating in two Stanley Cup victories over those three seasons. In one of her few permitted efforts as a woman, she lobbied the other five owners to grasp the idea of televised games, sensing this was the future of hockey. She was a visionary for her few short years at the helm of the Detroit Red Wings, and the NHL was better with her as part of the game than without her.

No Rain On This Parade

Look, I'm not here to call into question the legitimacy of the six people who are being inducted this year. All six have resumés that anyone would take pride in, and that's what the Hall of Fame seems primarily to represent. What I am drawing attention to, though, is the fact that Hockey Hall of Fame is primarily the NHL Hall of Fame, and that's not the purpose of a Hall of Fame that is supposed to represent ALL of hockey. That means there should be more People of Colour, more women, and more international stars going into the Hall of Fame than NHL players, but that monumental shift has yet to happen.

Let's start making those corrections with the 2021 Hall of Fame Class, Induction Committee. There's no better time to start inducting some of these incredible hockey people, and it would be best if we did it before they're gone.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!