Thursday, 24 September 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 418

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight as Teebz and Jenna sort through the hockey stories from the past week, and there were a couple of massive stories that need some discussion. The Stanley Cup Final is also underway with the Tampa Bay Lightning up 2-1 on the Dallas Stars, the KHL is currently under siege, there was a pretty big anniversary this week considering the state of women's hockey, and I have a couple of birthday wishes to toss out tonight for a couple of loyal listeners!

If you missed Rick Westhead's look at painkillers and their use by NHL players, I highly recommend that you watch The Problem of Pain. Teebz and Jenna will discuss the information presented by TSN with a look at university hockey and sports where the treatment of pain is also becoming more pharmaceutical. We'll take a look at the ESPN Bubble Confidential piece by Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski on whether this bubble idea, for all its has produced, is worth the trouble and effort. There was a trade that was made, called off, and then killed altogether yesterday that legitimately might be one of the worst trades for one team in its history. On top of that, we have a Lanny McDonald legal update, we'll look at Stamkos' cameo and goal in Game Three, Dallas not getting their big guns rolling, the KHL's COVID-19 problem, and Manon Rheaume blazing a trail for women 28 years ago yesterday with her appearance for the Tampa Bay Lightning!

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 and Jenna go over the pain of painkiller usage, the unhappiness of being in the bubble, the headache of bad trades, the hurt seen in the courtroom, the injury keeping Stamkos off the ice, the heartbreak for Dallas, the wall Rheaume broke through for women's hockey, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: September 24, 2020: Episode 418

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

A Small Celebration

Today's a pretty special day. While it doesn't relate to me directly, indirectly there's a good reason to celebrate as my brother is turning another year older. I don't talk much about him here on HBIC, but he is a hockey fan as he appreciates the work done by Drew Doughty in Los Angeles. He plays a mean game of softball, he works hard, he enjoys his time off, and he's a good dude. For as much as the kid may have lived in my shadow growing up, he's a guy I admire and respect as his talents as many and most of them have helped me immensely!

There have been some notable NHL names who were born on September 22 and celebrate this day along with my brother. Do you know who is the highest-scoring player born on this day? Your answer is at the bottom of this article!

The player who was born on September 22 closest in proximity to my brother would be Foxwarren, Manitoba's Pat Falloon! Drafted second overall in 1991 by the San Jose Sharks, Falloon played 575 NHL games with the Sharks, Philadelphia Flyers, Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers, and Pittsburgh Penguins where he scored 143 goals and 179 assists for 322 NHL points! He was the first player ever drafted by the Sharks in franchise history, and was the Memorial Cup Tournament MVP in 1991 with the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL. Falloon's career never blossomed as much as it did in his 59-point rookie campaign, but he did the 40-point plateau four times in his career. Is he the highest scorer whose birthday is today?

He's actually the third-highest scorer who was born today!

We know that goalies don't score often, but it would hard not to include former New York Rangers netminder Mike Richter on this list of exceptional players after he played in 666 games for the New York Rangers, amassing a 301-258-73 record on the strength of a 2.89 GAA and a .904 save percentage. Richter, in a weird twist, is actually 11th-highest in terms of scorers on the list of 20 players who were born on this day as his 11 assists rank just behind former Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore's 12 points! As we know, Richter backstopped the 1994 New York Rangers to a Stanley Cup championship, helped Team USA capture the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, and earned a silver medal in 2002 at the Salt Lake City Olympic Games with Team USA. Richter had his number retired by the Rangers and he's a member of the US Hockey Hall of Fame. So it's not Richter despite his accolades.

Derick Brassard gets a mention because he's the guy born today who played with the most teams in his NHL career thus far! To date, Bassard has suited up for seven NHL teams that include the Columbus Blue Jackets, the New York Rangers, the Ottawa Senators, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Colorado Avalanche, the Florida Panthers, and the New York Islanders. Brassard won a World Championship gold medal with Canada in 2016 and a World Junior Championship silver medal in 2005, but his scoring in the NHL hasn't been too shabby as he has 186 goals and 297 assists for 483 points. Is he the highest scorer?

He's actually second in all-time scoring for people born on this day!

The highest-scoring player born today is American Mark Johnson! Mark, seen to the left as part of the 1980 Team USA team that won the Olympic gold medal, played with five NHL teams over his ten-year NHL career that included the Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars, Hartford Whalers, St. Louis Blues, and New Jersey Devils. Johnson scored 203 goals and 305 assists - the only play born today to reach the 200-goal and 300-assist plateaus! Mark played his father, "Badger" Bob Johnson at the University of Wisconsin where he was the first Badger to win the WCHA Rookie of the Year honours. In 2002, he was named as the head coach of the University of Wisconsin–Madison women's ice hockey team, winning the NCAA championship in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2019. Johnson also coached the 2010 Team USA women's Olympic squad in Vancouver where he helped them earn a silver medal. He was awarded the 2011 Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States, and was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004. And his 508 NHL points make him the highest-scoring player born on September 22!

There's a little fun for today as my brother celebrates his cake day. I want to wish the men above and the other players who I didn't mention a Happy Birthday today as they all celebrate today! To my brother, have the Happiest Birthday yet, and here's to another great year next year!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 21 September 2020

TBC: Bobby Orr's Skates

I have a collection of books that I'm working through on my bookcase shelf that will make it onto HBIC before the end of the year. The problem with having a number of great books on the go mean none have quite been finished yet, so I'll get to work on that. In saying that, Teebz's Book Club returns to the blog today with a very special book that is for the younger hockey fans as I feel I don't review enough books for the kids in the crowd! Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates, written by Bobby Orr and Kara Kootstra, illustrated by Jennifer Phelan, and published by Tundra Books! This is a great story about a boy, his skates, and his dreams that incorporates a little bit of hockey history and magic into the story!

I'm sure you know the notable name on the list of authors, and it's true that former Boston Bruins defenceman and Hall of Famer Bobby Orr was a co-author of this book! He, of course, revolutionized the defenceman position in the NHL, using his speed, vision, scoring ability, and skating to win the Art Ross Trophy twice, the Hart Trophy three times and the Norris Trophy eight consecutive times. He won the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins twice, earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP on each occasion. Orr retired in 1978 and was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame the following year as the Hall waived the mandatory three-year waiting period for Orr. Today, Orr runs the Orr Hockey Group, a player agency for hockey players.

Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates is the third book that Kara Kootstra has written with respect to Bobby Orr, following her other successful books The Boy in Number 4 and Jay Versus the Saxophone of Doom. Kara's dad is a former NHL player, a retired professor, and a longtime hockey coach, so she grew up loving the game and invested in the history of the game. She graduated from the University of Windsor, and currently resides in the Ontario city with her husband and two children. When she's not using her writing talents for children's books, Kara can be found with music as she's a classically trained singer and pianist!

Jennifer Phelan is a reknowned artist whose works have appeared in American Illustration and 3x3. Phelan's first children's book, Hey, Boy, published by Simon & Schuster, was named as one of the 2017 New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books. Her second book, The Log Driver's Waltz, brings to life a story through images surrounding the iconic Canadian vignette shown on Canadian TV based on the song by Wade Hemsworth. Jennifer currently live in Toronto with her artist husband, Gleb, where she "works as a designer/PM at Hypenotic, teaches Illustration at Dawson College, and serves on the Board of Directors for Art Starts."

I have to admit that I always want to commit myself to more book reviews for younger fans, and I'm very glad I had the opportunity to review Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates. The story of Bobby and his dream of buying brand-new skates only to find hand-me-down skates in their place woven by Kootstra and Orr sounds a lot like a young boy's story who grew up in Parry Sound, Ontario where he played hockey from dawn until dusk and into the cover of night.

What makes Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates so great is that the story is written in easy-to-understand language as younger readers will latch onto Bobby's story as the pages turn. Combined with the amazing artistry found on the pages throughout the book, Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates is one of those books where younger readers and listeners might gain more from looking at the pictures as the story is read than simply imagining it happening. Phelan's artist work really shines as a nice complement to Kootstra's and Orr's story.

Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates contains a nice message of gratitude as Bobby's wish for new skates doesn't materialize when he expects it, but he doesn't complain about his new hand-me-down skates. This subtle lesson written into the lines of the story is a nice touch, and it may lead to a second lesson of good things coming to those who wait. While Bobby didn't get what he wanted, his selflessness in accepting and being thankful for a gift might lead to better things in his future!

If there's one thing that struck me as I read Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates, it was the similarity to Roch Carrier's Le chandail de hockey where Carrier's protagonist received a sweater for the Maple Leafs as opposed to his beloved Canadiens. While the end of the stories are different, the reaction to the gifts that both protagonists have are entirely different, and the lessons learned in the end may reflect the decisions and reactions made at the discoveries of the lesser-wanted items in both stories. That being said, Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates definitely stands on its own two skates as an excellent story similar to The Hockey Sweater.

I made mention of Jennifer Phelan's artistry in the book above, but it needs its own paragraph because she has done an exceptional job in bringing the story to life through her images. For example, her hand-me-down skates diagram comparing the "features" of the old skates to the new, from-the-store skates that have nothing but shine and sparkle on them is worth the price of the book alone. I have to say that I really appreciated the work that Phelan did in Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates, and I suspect both you and your younger hockey fans will appreciate them too!

Overall, Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates is the kind of story your kids will want to have read to them over and over as they take to Bobby's desire for new skates and absorb the amazing imagery on the 40 pages of the book. That may seem like a long story, but each page has a few lines to a couple of small paragraphs, and it would entirely suitable for a bedtime story. From the great writing to the incredible illustrations to the moral lessons written in between the lines, there's no doubt that Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates is deserving of the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

You can find Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates at your local bookstores starting tomorrow as the book is released nationwide on September 22! Based on the story, Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates is recommended for all readers of all ages!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 20 September 2020

The First Of Many

It was always hard for me to cheer for Jaycee Magwood when she was a member of Regina Cougars women's hockey team. She was lethal on the ice for the Cougars against most teams, and she was a monster to play against with her size, her great hands, and her speed. The fact that she's a Manitoban made me want to cheer for her, but I just couldn't until it was her final year in Canada West and I began to appreciate the skills she had and why she was so special. While she unfortunately never got to win a National Championship and was denied a chance at a Canada West title, there was something about Jaycee that made you knew that she wasn't going to be done with hockey once her university career came to an end. She just had that fire that couldn't be extinguished.

Hearing that she signed this summer with MODO in the SDHL made me smile because I knew she was going to play in one of the best professional women's hockey leagues on the planet, and she belonged there with her skill set. As a goal scorer, she was going to find the net over in Sweden sooner rather than later, and we now have a record of that first professional goal scored by Jaycee Magwood!

In the third period with MODO on the power-play, this was the scene.
Jaycee Magwood's first professional goal was scored at 17:55 of the third period on a power-play on September 19, 2020 where she deflected an Erica Rieder shot past Stephanie Neatby! Olivia Carlsson, who cycled the puck down to Rieder on the point, picked up the second assist!

I am super-happy for Jaycee as she notches her first professional goal in just her third pro game! I suspect there will be more, so keep your eyes on this space as the SDHL season progresses!

Speaking of which, MODO, who dropped the game against Linkoping by a 2-1 score, was back at it today as they squared off against Djurgårdens IF as former UBC Thunderbirds forward Mathea Fischer and former U SPORTS Player of the Year and STFX Huskies forward Sarah Bujold visited MODO. Former Bisons defender Erica Rieder recorded her first point of the season on the assist on Magwood's goal yesterday, and she followed that up with her first goal of the 2020-21 SDHL season today!
In vintage Rieder fashion, she collects the puck in her own end while on the power-play, circles the net, breaks past a couple of forwards down the wing, cuts to the middle at the face-off circles, and rips a low shot past Lovisa Berndtsson to put MODO up 1-0 at 8:28 of the second period! That goal was straight out of her Bisons playbook, and it's great to see Erica notch her first goal of the season!

If you continue to watch the video, you'll see Sarah Bujold even the game at 1-1 at 12:41 of the second period while on the power-play as she pots her second of the season off a rebound from a Josefine Jakobsen one-timer, and these two teams would head to the third period tied at 1-1.

Jakobsen would score with 3:33 to play to give Djurgårdens the 2-1 victory as MODO couldn't overcome the deficit late, pushing MODO to a 1-3-0-0 and eighth-place in the SDHL. The ladies from MODO have to give their netminders a little offence, and one goal in each of this weekend's games simply wasn't enough!

It's always good to see former Canada West players scoring goals, and it's especially awesome to see Jaycee Magwood notch her first professional goal. Erica scored her first pro goal last season, but she's got one under her belt this season now and I expect we'll see many more from both Magwood and Rieder before this season is out as I'll work to bring updates on all ten former Canadan West players suiting up in the SDHL this season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Wear The Alternate!

This jersey is affectionately known as the Mooterus jersey as worn as an alternate jersey by the Dallas Stars from 2003-06. While it was universally hated thanks to its logo looking like the reproductive tract of a woman, I happen to own one. Why, you ask? Because, as one Twitter friend said, "I hate hockey," but the bigger picture is that it fits my method of acquiring jerseys that other people hate. I have a handful: the NY Islanders' Fisherman, the Bruins' Pooh Bear, and the Gretzky-era Blues to name a few. The Mooterus, though, always brings out the hate from people who see it.

I proclaimed on Twitter once the Lightning had eliminated the Islanders that I would wear the Mooterus jersey until a winner was crowned in these playoffs. It's not that I don't like the Lightning, but I'm pulling for Rick Bowness who has waited forever to coach in a Stanley Cup Final as a head coach. It's also hard not to like a guy like Joel Hanley, who scored his first ever NHL Playoffs goal tonight, or a guy like Anton Khudobin who has been a good goalie for a while, but stuck behind other netminders in various cities.

With Dallas' win tonight over the Lightning, it was the first time in these playoffs that I had worn the Mooterus while watching a game, and that means the hideous Mooterus jersey is now 1-0 in these playoffs!

Granted, I had nothing to do with the win and me wearing a jersey in support of a team makes little difference in the world when you think rationally, but a win is a win is a win!

I will wear it on Monday for Game Two of the Stanley Cup Final, but I do expect a serious push from the Lightning who looked a little disoriented due to Dallas' speed and physicality. Let's hope the Mooterus' second appearance in these playoffs result in the same ending as its first appearance!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 18 September 2020

Lanny's Day In Court

As reported both on this blog and on The Hockey Show last night, Lanny McDonald was a little busy today as he went to court to try to block the publishing of the manuscript that Kirstie McLellan Day had written about his life. As I stated on Wednesday on HBIC, this seems like one of the most bizarre stories to be published here considering the praise that Day has received in writing books about hockey's biggest stars and Lanny McDonald's likeability. The battle that McDonald is waging against Day and, by proxy, HarperCollins who paid both Day and McDonald for a book many months ago doesn't make much sense to me, but that's why lawyers are involved. They're also headed to court today to try and make sense of this whole ordeal.

The book, tentatively titled Call Me Lanny, was supposed to his shelves this fall as this is a key time for publishers to get books out that are applicable for the season. It would also see a boost in sales from a Christmas push as well, but none of that may happen for HarperCollins as McDonald and Day unable to find any resolution. That's why they were in a Calgary courtroom today.

As per Kevin Martin of the Calgary Herald who is quoting McDonald's lawyer, Gary Befus,
"There's a fundamental breakdown in trust between these two parties," Befus said, before agreeing with McLellan Day's lawyer Jason Holowachuk to seek judicial dispute resolution or some other form of third-party mediation. "It's impossible to expect that they are somehow going to work together and work this out."
As you read above, McDonald and Day did agree to enter into mediation, but this seems far from over considering the statement made by Befus.

What was striking today is that Justice Corina Dario "suggested neither side should be speaking to the media about their dispute," meaning we likely won't hear about anything that happens during mediation. Whatever deal the two strike or don't strike will likely go unmentioned as well as I'm sure neither side will want the details of the mediatied decision to be public, especially if one side makes serious concessions.

It seems that Day wrote more a memoir about Lanny's career rather than focusing on his post-hockey playing days where he's been active in the community. McDonald apparently made it clear that this book was not to be a memoir, but allowed Day to continue writing it in the manner she did. McDonald also wanted the book to apparently speak glowingly about him for his work in the community, and the final approval would include his wife's and two daughters' approval of the manuscript as well.

Whatever happens in the resolution of this battle, it sounds like there was poor communication between both parties despite Day getting the green light from McDonald to write the manuscript as she did. I would chalk this one up as a misunderstanding if the problem hadn't festered into a legal matter, but it will now require cooler heads and better communication to solve this stand-off between Day and McDonald.

And thanks to Justice Dario, it sounds like we'll only know if and when this disagreement has been resolved if Call Me Lanny hits the shelves in bookstores across the world.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 17 September 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 417

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, hits the airwaves tonight in a big way. I completely lost track of the episode numbering aside from making sure they're in order sequentially, and it appears we have hit a milestone! Episode 417 today marks the start of Season Nine of The Hockey Show on UMFM! It's hard to believe that we've had nine seasons of stuff to talk about, but that seems to be case as we embark on week #417 of chatting about all things hockey! Being that this is Season Nine's first show, I also have some major news to announce so make sure you're tuning in tonight!

I teased this a while back on the show, but with the new season of The Hockey Show upon us it seems appropriate that I also introduce everyone to the new co-host of The Hockey Show! I won't give that away here - you'll have to tune in to find out who this person is! I assure you, however, this person has a wealth of hockey knowledge, has played the game at a high level, is willing to go on adventures with the show, and eventually be in-studio for all the craziness! While the pandemic continues and UMFM enforces its social distancing requirements, this person's availability for interviews may not exactly line up entirely, but I assure you I'll have the new co-host on frequently!

In saying that, you might be asking where Beans went and what's he's up to, and I have to report he's doing well. As you may know, he has a young family to whom he's deeply committed, and I'm very happy to report that everyone is doing well in his household.

As his kids get older, though, they require more time from Dad, so Beans made the difficult decision to step away from the show earlier this year. While I still plan on bringing him back for roundtable shows and other fun, I fully and completely respect his commitment to his family. At the end of the day, family is more important than anything else, and I'll never fault Beans for making that choice. His voice will still be heard on The Hockey Show; it just won't be weekly as his two boys get older and he and his wife need to shuttle them to all their activities! Beans will be missed, but he certainly won't be gone as he'll always have a place on this show!

As for tonight's show, once we get the new co-host introduced, we'll look at some of the news from around the hockey world that includes the Flames removing the interim tag from Geoff Ward, the Capitals naming Peter Laviolette as head coach, Bill Armstrong reportedly ready to take over the GM seat in Arizona, Jim Montgomery heading to St. Louis, U SPORTS players heading to Europe and a transfer to Ontario, Lanny McDonald being in a bizarre lawsuit, a rather odd Minnesota-Buffalo trade, CCM changing their helmet design, and anything else we can squeeze in on tonight's show! It's the start of Season Nine of The Hockey Show, so join us tonight at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, and on UMFM.com at 5:30pm!

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 kicks off Season Nine of The Hockey Show by introducing a new co-host who will help him examine some coaching moves, some player moves, some legal manoeuvring, some equipment changes, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: September 17, 2020: Episode 417

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Wednesday Headlines

I always like these quick hits from the hockey world to bring everyone up to date on what has been happening here and there. There seems to be a handful of smaller stories that need a little discussion, so today's headlines will do that as we look at a number of interesting stories that need a little breaking down. Let's get into it!

CCM Goes 3D

CCM introduced a new helmet design that has been approved for use by the NHL that sees CCM use 3D printing to make the helmet! Seen to the left, the helmet features a breathable lattice that fits the players head based on scans of that player's head via software used by CCM, and the helmet's interior is then crafted from these scans as the lattice structure you see! Once the lattice is constructed, the hard outer plastic shell we're used to seeing on helmets is put on over top, and the form-fitting, contact-absorbing helmet is ready for action! Technology is awesome!

While this helmet admittedly won't stop concussions, the lattice allows for better absorption of contact and dissipation of that contact throughout the lattice technology. Finding ways to reduce brain trauma is always a good thing, so count me in as a fan of CCM's exploration of this lattice concept.

Using an exclusive 3D printer from a company called Carbon, CCM built the first Tacks X helmet for Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets as he used it throughout the opening round of the playoffs against Tampa Bay including the five-overtime game. While I can't say the helmet was a factor for it, with Jones playing over 65 minutes of hockey it was likely helpful that the helmet was light and breathable while being highly protective.

We'll see who else adopts this helmet in the 2020-21 season, but I suspect a number of NHL players may make the switch with it being form-fitting, light, breathable, and somewhat safer than other helmets on the market today!

From Thunderbirds To Panthers?

Some news out of UBC today as another of their graduates has made the leap overseas to play pro hockey! Celine Tardif is already suiting up for Linkopings, Kelly Murray would be dressing for SDE, and we already knew Mathea Fischer was headed to Djurgarden after than news broke back in July. UBC can add another pro hockey player to its ranks as their leading scorer and leading goal scorer has found a home with a team that seriously can use her ability to find the back of the net as Hannah Clayton-Carroll will take her talents to Göteborg HC for the 2020-21 season, making it ten players from Canada West playing in the SDHL and fifteen in total who have played at least one season with a U SPORTS squad!

That's a pretty impressive total from the western side of the country as Manitoba, Regina, Saskatchewan, Alberta and UBC all have players in the SDHL with four former Thunderbirds leading the way! The other Canada West graduates are Erica Rieder (Manitoba) and Jaycee Magwood (Regina) playing with MODO; Danielle Stone (Saskatchewan) plays with HV71; and, Alex Anderson (Manitoba), Megan Eady and Lindsay Post (both from Alberta) play with SDE! Well done, CanWest!

As an aside, is Göteborg HC's logo a panther? A cougar? A female lion? I have no clue.

From Cougars To Lakers

The other big piece of Canada West news is that former Mount Royal Cougars forward Kennedy Bozek is on the move after she signed a professional hockey deal! She won't land in Sweden, however, as Bozek will suit up for the Lakers Kärnten of the EWHL in Austria! She'll be one of three foreigners on the Lakers' roster this season as per EWHL rules, joining fellow Canadian and defender Tash Scantlebury who played with SAIT in the ACAC and German defender and occasional forward Kelsey Soccio who played with EKU Mannheim of the Frauen-Bundesliga. The Lakers, who have been in existence since 2018, are "the only Carinthian women's hockey team that participates in the EWHL" - their claim to fame, it seems!

Kennedy will wear #24 this season for the Lakers, and she'll need to be ready to go shortly as the Lakers will play their first EWHL game on September 26 against an Italian club in the Bolzano Eagles. Bolzano was 9-6-0-3 last season for fourth-place in the EWHL standings, and they ended up losing the bronze-medal game to Aisulu Almaty. The Lakers will likely have their hands full after they finished in ninth-place of the ten-team circuit at 2-15-1-0.

It should also be noted that there are some rather impressive netminders playing in the EWHL. Valeria Lamenta, who Bisons fans will remember from the 2019 U SPORTS National Championship with the Guelph Gryphons, graduated after winning the National Championship, and she played with KMH Budapest, leading them to an EWHL Championship last season. Her tandem partner in Budapest last season was her old Guelph goaltending partner in Stephanie Nehring, so these two did an incredible job in helping Budapest bring home the hardware!

Along with them, Maude Lévesque-Ryan, formerly of the University of Ottawa, backstopped Almaty to the bronze medal, so there were some good Canadian netminders playing the EWHL last season! No word on where any of these players have signed yet, but it's likely we'll see them back somewhere in the EWHL!

Best of luck in Austria this season, Kennedy! We'll be watching your progress!

From Pronghorns To Lakers

It's hard to think that there are many spots for goaltenders at this point in the season for any U SPORTS team considering that most of the teams in U SPORTS had their recruiting done a while back, but I'm am ecstatic to report that former Lethbridge Pronghorns netminder Chloe Marshall will also be a Laker, just not in Austria! Chloe will head to North Bay, Ontario to give goaltending a shot in the OUA with the Nipissing Lakers who have three goalies on the roster, but none with the pedigree or experience that Chloe has! While this will be her fourth team in her fourth year of university - that has to be a modern day record, no? - it seems Chloe will be given a chance by head coach and former NHLer Darren Turcotte to win a roster spot based on her play in camp.

I'm guessing here, but I suspect that Turcotte may want to a goalie who has more than one year of university experience if he's going to challenge for an OUA championship, and Marshall brings that in spades after spending one season in an NCAA Division-III program, and two years in U SPORTS playing behind Jessica Vance and Alicia Anderson. Anderson, as we know from The Hockey Show, liked that Marshall pushed her to be better in practice, so it seems logical for Turcotte to give Marshall a look and possibly red-shirt his two rookie netminders for this season.

Whatever happens, I am now a Nipissing Lakers fan for the upcoming season after having gotten to know Chloe a little, and I'm hoping she can come in and lead that program to new heights and possibly an OUA championship and a trip to the U SPORTS National Championship! Congratulations, Chloe, on finding a place to play this season, and I'll be watching from the next province over as you dominate the OUA!

Bizarro Lanny

This has to be one of the most bizarre stories I've ever read about someone's memoirs, but it seems this will all be resolved one way or another on Friday. According to a CBC report, best-selling NHL author Kirstie McLellan Day is suing Hall of Famer and Calgary Flames legend Lanny McDonald for "refusing to release the manuscript to HarperCollins" that Day penned about McDonald. The reason for this lawsuit is that McDonald watched an episode of The Voice and took a long walk where he pondered over lyrics "about losing your money, but not losing your soul" and subsequently decided not to continue with the book, according to a letter sent to Day and her lawyer via McDonald's counsel.

nhl Something stinks with this whole situation on Lanny's side. Having read a handful of books that Day has penned about NHL stars and personalities, I can honestly say she does excellent work. Lanny, however, found it troubling "that his wife had been removed from the book at her request," and listed five bizarre claims about the manuscript that seem to hold little water at best.

Whatever is happening behind the scenes with Lanny, it may be put under the microscope on Friday when the parties gather in a courtroom to decide what to do about this loggerhead. Personally, I can't see Lanny winning this legal battle, but we'll see how the judge rules once both sides lay out their arguments. I have a feeling this manuscript will be sent to HarperCollins in the near future.

So there are your Wednesday headlines that I found intriguing and interesting. It's good to see the Canada West women getting a chance to move on and play professionally in Europe, and I suspect they'll find their legs and be productive as the season picks up steam. Here's hoping there's a ton of success each of them find in Sweden and Austria, and here's to Chloe Marshall finding her game in the OUA as well!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Future Islanders Coach?

The news broke today that the vacant head coach position with the Washington Capitals has been filled. Peter Laviolette, most recently with the Nashville Predators, was hired by the NHL club today as their head coach, becoming the nineteenth head coach in Washington Capitals history, and he'll be tasked with getting the Washington Capitals back to the promised land of Stanley Cup glory. Just two years removed from Stanley Cup parades, the Capitals are looking for a new direction, and they believe they've found it with Peter Laviolette's coaching.

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan stated that, following the loss to the Islanders and the dismissal of Todd Rierden, he was seeking a coach who could properly motivate the Capitals' roster. According to MacLellan, he didn't like what he saw from his team in the bubble in Toronto, and he clearly wants that to change as this Capitals team sees its window to win starting to close.

"We have an experienced group. We need someone to come in and push some buttons on some good players," he told reporters. "We're going to need someone that can come in and establish that as a big part of our identity."

Laviolette is seen as someone who can command respect from his players while pushing them to be more. While there's no doubt that he has had success as he ranks 16th all-time in wins with a 637-425-123 record in his career, it also becomes a question of will we see what happened in Nashville happen in Washington where key players simply underperformed in Laviolette's system. Alexander Ovechkin is chasing that elusive Gretzky goal-scoring record, so it might be a clash of personalities if he's asked to backcheck a little more at the expense of 5-10 goals per year.

That's where his communication with the veteran leaders of this Capitals team will be needed, and he's proven that he can work effectively with good locker room leaders in the past. Rod Brind'Amour was a key voice when Laviolette coached the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup. He had Chris Pronger patrolling the blue line of a younger Flyers team when he coached that squad to the Stanley Cup Final. And he's worked with outspoken personalities like PK Subban in Nashville when he coached them to the Stanley Cup Final. Ovechkin is certainly a personality unto himself who has a voice in the locker room, so Laviolette's ability to communicate will be key with this leadership group that includes John Carlson, TJ Oshie, and Nicklas Backstrom.

Laviolette's communication will bring with it an identity, and that identity will lead to a new culture in Washington assuming that everything works out for the length of his three-year deal. We know the Capitals can score. We've seen them win games and a Stanley Cup before a few early exits in the playoffs in past years, so what exactly is Laviolette's plan in getting the Capitals on the same page from Player A to Player Z?

"I feel like there's always an opportunity going in as a coach to not only build an identity on the ice on how you want your team to play and an expectation of what it's going to look like on a nightly basis," he stated, "but also how you're going to build your team internally and how hard they fight for each other, how much they care about each other. For me, those are things that you can go in and you can work on a daily basis both in the room and on the ice."

There might be some questions for Laviolette when it comes to goaltending as he won't have a Pekka Rinne-type netminder to lean on if Braden Holtby isn't re-signed by the club, leaving Ilya Samsonov as the new starting netminder. While Samsonov isn't a bad option to have by any means, there might be less wiggle room as compared to having Rinne at the top of his game as Laviolette had for a number of seasons in Nashville.

If Laviolette can tighten up the defence as he did with the Nashville Predators in giving up fewer goals per season, the goals that the Capitals can and do score will making winning games easier. No longer will they need to be in track meets or next-goal-wins types of games if they can begin to reduce the amount of times they're fishing the puck out from behind their own goalies. Laviolette's record in Nashville proves he can get good offensive players to defend, so it will come down to buy-in from the players if they want to make life easier on themselves.

"The communication between the players and certainly the leadership group I think is extremely important because whatever it is that a coach is trying to project it has to be received by the players," he said. "You have a veteran group that's been through it before. I'm sure they want to get back. That's just the nature of the beast of competitive athletes and they want to get back. So the fact that they're a veteran group, I'm hoping that we're going to work together and that I can push in any way that I can so we can back to a level that can get us deep into the playoffs."

If the Capitals want to replicate the success they had in 2018 under Barry Trotz, they needed a guy like Peter Laviolette to come in and get a handle on things just as Trotz did. While it took Trotz a little while to get Ovechkin to buy into his system, things seemed to click like clockwork once the Great Eight saw the light. Laviolette's approach is the same as Trotz's approach in that he demands accountability from every player on the roster while rewarding those who earn his trust. If Ovechkin and company can find that magic once again under Laviolette, it will mean good times in Washington for another winter.

Of course, if it doesn't work out and Laviolette is fired, he might be the next coach on Long Island since it seems he's following the same path as Barry Trotz when it comes to coaching in the NHL. Wouldn't that be something if Lou Lamoriello put Laviolette and Trotz together on the same bench?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 14 September 2020

Ward In Charge

I had made mention back on August 30 that Geoff Ward, interim head coach at the time, had likely done enough to warrant the Flames removing the "interim" tag from his role. His work with the team following the dismissal of Bill Peters saw the Flames down the Jets in the play-in round while playing some inspired hockey to ascend the standings before hockey's shutdown, and I made the case in the August 30 article that Ward is likely the best candidate to lead the Flames into next season and beyond. Today, the Flames did the right thing and gave the reins to Ward full-time after signing him to an extension as head coach.

According to reports, Ward has signed a two-year deal with the Flames as they officially made him the twentieth head coach in franchise history. As stated in my article, Ward led the Flames to a 24-15-3 record after taking over the head coaching duties, and we saw improved performances from Sean Monahan, Sam Bennett, Elias Lindholm, Milan Lucic, and Cam Talbot among many Flames who helped them down Winnipeg 3-1 in the play-in round before Dallas ousted the Flames 4-2 in the normal first round of the playoffs.

Ward's systems and gameplan seemed to work well for the Flames in the short-term, and that's a good sign for a team that has the talent on paper but seemed to underperform at times. They forechecked well, moved the puck in the offensive zone effectively, and they saw good results from a handful of players under Ward's schemes. Goaltending issues aside, the Flames will need to tighten up the defensive zone a little, but that could be said for half the teams in the NHL.

Regardless of how the season finished for the Flames, it's pretty clear that they found some success under Ward after he took over as head coach. Ward's resumé has a Stanley Cup on it as he was an assistant coach with the Bruins in 2011, and he's worked behind the bench for the Devils as an assistant coach as well. Seeing him take this step to head coaching is a natural progression, and the players seem to trust his systems and coaching as they responded well to the systems he implemented and/or changed after Peters was fired.

I said it on August 30: "I do believe that Geoff Ward might be the right guy", and I stand by that statement today. It seems the Calgary Flames also believe this to be true, and they did the right thing by letting Ward guide the Flames for the next two seasons if everything goes well.

Congratulations to Geoff Ward, the new head coach of the Calgary Flames!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 13 September 2020

One Option Down

If there is a need that the local NHL franchise has more than anything else in this writer's opinion, it's a better blue line. The Winnipeg Jets were absolutely atrocious in preventing high-danger scoring chances this year, and had it not been for Connor Hellebuyck it's likely this year's Winnipeg Jets team would have been a non-playoff team long before the shutdown happened. Yes, they still need a second-line centerman, but the Jets should be focusing their efforts on building a blue line that has less AHL talent than NHL talent. In saying that, the player I was hoping the Jets would pursue was traded yesterday from the Carolina Hurricanes as Joel Edmundson is headed to Canada, but not the Manitoba capital.

Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin picked up a second Stanley Cup winner from the St. Louis Blues in a deal yesterday that saw the Caandiens trade a fifth-round pick to the Hurricanes for the 27 year-old defenceman. While Edmundson isn't the biggest name on the UFA market, he appeared to be an affordable, effective option for the Jets if they were looking to upgrade.

With the trade yesterday, that option is now likely off the table.

There's now a backlog of defenders on the left side of the ice for the Montreal Canadiens, and it might be time for the Jets to look at a younger defender like Victor Mete, although his size doesn't add anything to a defence that already struggled to clear the front of the net.

If Mete doesn't fit the mold, who is left? Who can play a physical game while being defensively responsible while providing some semblance of offence?

In looking at players whose salaries won't break the bank so the Jets can re-sign Dylan DeMelo, I'd focus on Nikita Zadorov from the Colorado Avalanche, Derek Forbort from the Calgary Flames, or Erik Gustafsson from the Calgary Flames. While all three of these players bring different elements in their games, I'd prioritize these three players in reverse order based on what the Jets need: Gustafsson, Forbort, and Zadorov.

Gustafsson's play in these playoffs only reinforced the idea that he should rank high on the Jets' shopping list. He was aggressive, he was physical, he put pucks on net, and he defended well. His previous season shows he can play an offensive role if needed as he already has scored 119 points in 221 NHL games, but he's 28 and can play both sides of the ice in terms of being versatile while playing high minutes. He can play the power-play, he has a good shot, and he makes good first passes out of the zone on breakouts. All of these things would help the Jets.

Forbort brings more size but less offence than Gustafsson, but make no mistake that he'd a tough player to push around as a 6'4", 220-pound boulder in front of the net. The dropoff in Forbort's offensive stats might make him more affordable for the Jets, and that can be a major positive if the Jets are doing a full makeover of the blue line. Forbort can play big minutes as well, and he's a solid penalty-killing defender who doesn't mind blocking shots. Again, this is what the Jets can use when it comes to improving on the back end.

Zadorov is a bit of a wild card in that the Jets may get a very good, physical player or they may get a second round of an apathetic Dmitry Kulikov. Zadorov led the NHL in hits in 2017-18 with 278, so we know he can be a physical force in his 6'6", 235-pound frame. Consistency has plagued Zadorov throughout his career as his goal and point totals have decreased over the last three seasons while with the Avalanche. The catch with Zadorov is that he's a restricted free agent, but the Avalanche are flush with good, young defenders so a deal to get him should cost a mere penny for the Jets as opposed to trying to outbid other teams for him.

Will any of these players solve the woees that the Jets had in their own end this season? No. There's a significant change needed in either the defensive strategy the Jets are using or the philosophy under which they play, but having more talent on the back end never hurts. Both Gustafsson and Forbort are immediate upgrades on players like Bitetto, Dahlstrom, and Sbisa, so the Jets should be better in theory. The jury would be out on Zadorov, but his value would be similar to that of a Sbisa or Bitetto based on his physical play alone.

The Jets are going to have to get creative in figuring out how to patch the holes in their ship. AHL options are fine, but the Jets need a physical presence on the back end to help the likes of Morrissey, Pionk, DeMelo, Niku, and Heinola. Tucker Poolman showed flashes and I'd let him continue that growth, but it can't be beside AHL talent. He's simply not ready to anchor a pairing at this time if the Jets need him to play as physical as he did in the playoffs.

While there is no one player in the free agent pool who will fix the Jets' blue line, the Jets might be able to "moneyball" a decent blue line by building a defence corps in the aggregate. If they were able to sign both Gustafsson and Forbort this season through some miracle, that would do wonders to help their blue line be significantly more defensive than they were this season.

Get at it, Chevy. You've got work to do.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Need Some Aloe

I am Will Ferrell in this picture. While my day on the diamonds was good overall with only one confirmed, admitted blown call, I came home a little earlier because I was feeling a little warm. It was, after all, a beautiful day with barely a cloud in the sky and the sun was beaming down on all the baseball action. It turns out that the mirror in my bathroom told me why I was feeling so warm as I discovered I have a wicked sunburn across my face and neck. The sun was warm and inviting today, and, like Icarus, I flew too close as I'm paying for it now. Sometimes, getting those last few hours of summer sunlight in is a bad idea.

That being said, this will be a quick entry as I'm gonna hit the hay early while trying to cool off. My sunburn does remind me of a song, though, and I have to say that the word written bu Baz Luhrmann and narrated by Australian voice actor Lee Perry feel quite prophetic today. Here's Everybody's Free by Baz Luhrmann whose advice I will be following tomorrow.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 11 September 2020

The Last Days Of Summer

I'll be busy this weekend doing some non-hockey stuff as the league in which I umpire has its playoffs set for tonight, Saturday, and Sunday. This means I'll be watching very little hockey and will be on social media very little as the weekend's games yield champions of respective divisions on Sunday. It's been a fun season despite it being a short season, and a lot of that is due to the players who I've been lucky enough to get to know throughout the years as they play every season with the hope of standing atop the mountain when all is said and done. Admittedly, I don't get very emotional over this, but this year's playoffs means just one thing: the end of summer in a year where I think we're all craving a little more summer for a little bit longer.

I've been asked if I've been atching playoff hockey, and I have been watching to a certain extent. It doesn't feel like hockey season while I'm umpiring baseball, so it's kind of a weird dynamic to me right now. Playoff hockey and playoff baseball never happens at the same time, so my brain isn't processing the current playoff as playoff hockey at all since we're normally talking preseason hockey during this time.

Adding into the mix is the start of NFL season. Admittedly, I am not an NFL fan whatsoever. Ask me who's playing whom this weekend, and I'd be guessing at the very best to name two teams who meet on the same field. The issue is that with the NHL playoffs and the NBA playoffs - which I also haven't been watching - already underway, the sports world is getting very crowded on television.

Back to the initial paragraph, having local ball end this weekend for me will mean the end of summer. Normally, the end of summer means the beginning of hockey season, but that's not happening. Perhaps I'll get into the Vegas-Dallas series and the Lightning-Islanders series a little more with me having more time on my hands now, but I also feel like an already short summer is now being compounded by an autumn without the smell of ammonia and chlorine as I walk into an arena in anticipation of another hockey season.

It's weird how that smell is what I miss the most about hockey, but it's the smell of freshly resurfaced ice combined with the chill in the air as the door opens into the rink. That's the first thing I think about when it comes to hockey - more than the players, the teams, the arenas, or the games on the ice. It's the one thing that hockey truly has that the other sports don't. It's a smell and a chill that's uniquely hockey.

I'll be off the grid this weekend, so enjoy the games for whichever sport you may be following at this time. I'll be calling balls, strikes, safe plays and outs on the diamond, savouring the last few hours of summer as much as I can. Once ball season is over, the parkas will come out, the boots and skates will be on people's feet, and everyone will be forced into scarves and toques as the winter weather falls upon us.

Let's just hope that the distinctive smell of the hockey rink and that first wave of cool air that embraces us when we enter the arena return this winter. It won't be the same without it.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 10 September 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 416

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns to radios and UMFM-configured internet streams tonight with a big interview as school is sort of back in and that means we sort of have some hockey to chat about regarding university hockey? Ok, none of that is entirely true as university hockey was cancelled for the autumn semester and most students are doing some sort of online learning to complement their in-class learning, but The Hockey Show will forge ahead with an interview always try to squeeze in at this time of year!

It is with great honour and pleasure that I welcome Manitoba Bisons women's hockey head coach Jon Rempel back to the show as it's been a while since we've caught up with him! Tonight, we'll find out what Jon's been up to, how the team is faring in these uncertain times, what changes are in store for the team this year, what changes happened behind the bench with a couple of breaking news moments, his thoughts on adding teams and losing a team in Canada West, and so much more. It's always an amazing chat with Jon when he agrees to be on the show, and this episode is no different! Join us tonight for his thought on everything at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, and on UMFM.com at 5:30pm!

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 goes one-on-one with Bisons women's hockey head coach Jon Rempel as we discuss new seasons, new coaches, new philosophies, new teams, a brave new world for hockey, being a proud dad, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: September 10, 2020: Episode 416

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Pythagorean Expectation

I posted some stats to Twitter last night for Canada West women's hockey, and one of the statistics was something called "Goal Percentage". This is a fairly basic calculation that should give an idea how good teams are in comparison to one another when it comes to scoring goals in games, but it may show a few other things when analyzing the results in comparison to points and standings. What I was curious about was whether a value could be found for what a goal is worth in terms of points in the standings for each of the teams. The math might get a little hairy here, so let's look at last season's stats to be sure we're getting the full info.

CWUAA WOMEN'S HOCKEY
School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
Alberta
19-8-1-0
59 81 31
W1
BYE
Calgary
17-7-1-3
56 61 42
W2
BYE
Saskatchewan
14-7-3-4
52 55 42
L1
vs UBC
Mount Royal
12-14-2-0
40 43 44
W3
vs REG
Regina
9-13-5-1
38 48 54
W1
@ MRU
British Columbia
9-13-1-5
34 41 59
L2
@ SAS
Manitoba
8-17-2-1
29 34 63
L1
OUT
Lethbridge
7-16-2-3
28 48 76
L3
OUT
Goal percentage is a simple equation that figures out how many goals were scored by a team in all the games played out of the total number of goals scored in those games. The math looks like this: G% = GF/(GF+GA). This is a pretty simple statistic to figure as I stated above, so let's run through these numbers and look at the percentages.
  1. Alberta: 59 points while scoring 81/112 = 72.32%
  2. Calgary: 56 points while scoring 61/103 = 59.22%
  3. Saskatchewan: 52 points while scoring 55/97 = 56.70%
  4. Mount Royal: 40 points while scoring 43/87 = 49.43%
  5. Regina: 38 points while scoring 48/102 = 47.06%
  6. UBC: 34 points while scoring 41/100 = 41.00%
  7. Manitoba: 29 points while scoring 34/97 = 35.05%
  8. Lethbridge: 28 points while scoring 48/124 = 38.71%
If we look at Alberta's percentage, they were a full 13.1% better than Calgary, but only finished three points better in the standings. Clearly, there's something off there when it comes to Alberta's goal percentage in comparison to their point total, and it can be explained that Alberta blew out a few teams this year, ballooning that goal percentage. That's not good when it comes to finding a value of goals in terms of points because those blowout scores devalue the actual point value of the goals they scored.

Conversely, Manitoba finished one point ahead of Lethbridge in the standings despite scoring 3.66% less in their games than Lethbridge did. In knowing that, the goals that Manitoba scored as the lowest-scoring team in the conference would generate a high point value than what Lethbridge experienced with their goals. It could also suggest that Lethbridge was blown out by teams more often, contributing to a lower percentage than perhaps what they deserve, and that too is not good when finding the value of goals in terms of points earned per goal.

So why do we care about the goal percentage? Well, it is one of the ways we can predict standings. As you can see by the results above, the percentages follow a fairly predictable path from top to bottom with Alberta being the highest and Lethbridge being near the bottom. Is it accurate? Not entirely as there have been seasons where teams who finished lower in the standings had higher goal percentages, but it's fairly accurate when needing a quick look.

What I didn't post on Twitter because it needed some further exploring was that goals are directly tied to wins and points. Specifically, if we're looking at three-point possibilities for teams, we need to make some adjustments since shootouts don't factor into the goal-scoring or goals-against totals. Rather than assign a one- or two-point decision for shootouts and overtimes, we'll make them all differences of wins and losses - that is, two-point games are worth 0.67 wins and 0.33 losses while one-point games are worth 0.33 wins and 0.67 losses.

Alberta would finish with a record of 19.67 wins and 8.33 losses. Calgary would finish with an 18.67-9.33 record. Saskatchewan would have a 17.33-10.67 record. Mount Royal would move to a 13.33-14.67 record. Regina climbs to a 12.67-15.33 record. UBC ends up at 11.33-16.67. Manitoba improves to 9.67-18.33. Lethbridge finishes up at 9.33-18.67.

With each record now appropriately set based on wins and losses with extra wins and losses accounted for appropriately, we can now see an accurate display for wins and points and use the Pythagorean Expectation for predictions on both. To find this value, we simply square the numbers in the goal percentage formula for each team, and then multiply by 28 to get the expected wins and by 84 to get the expected points for each team. If the expected number is higher, the team underperformed OR had a number of lopsided games during the season, leading to increased expectations. If the expected number is lower, the team overperformed during the season OR were on the wrong side of blowouts, leading to lowered expectations. Make sense? Either way, we're going to take a look.
  1. Alberta: .8722 expectation for 24.42 xWins and 73 xPts
  2. Calgary: .6784 for 19.00 xWins and 57 xPts
  3. Saskatchewan: .6317 for 17.69 xWins and 53 xPts
  4. Mount Royal: .4885 for 13.68 xWins and 41 xPts
  5. Regina: .4414 for 12.36 xWins and 37 xPts
  6. UBC: .3256 for 9.12 xWins and 27 xPts
  7. Manitoba: .2256 for 6.32 xWins and 19 xPts
  8. Lethbridge: .2851 for 7.98 xWins and 24 xPts
It seems pretty clear that Alberta had a number of blowouts where they won big, leading to big expectations. The 14-point gap between their expected points and their actual points is a nearly unfathomable chasm, but it shows that the additional 4.75 wins they were expected to win with that offensive output wasn't realized. Would I say Alberta underperformed? They did win Canada West, but it seems the blowouts might have masked the fact that they earned close wins against teams that were better prepared for them.

Calgary's expected wins was .33 wins higher than their actual total, and the expected point total was exactly one point better than their realized point total. Calgary didn't underperform, but they were exactly as expected with their offensive and defensive efforts at the end of the season. The same goes for Saskatchewan and Mount Royal who both finished .33 wins below expectation and one point back of their expected point total, so they played as advertised.

We know that Regina went on a mad tear this past season where they rattled off something like eight-straight wins after starting the season ice-cold, and that's one of the reasons why this expected wins and points scenario needs some context. While Regina was .33 wins better than their expected wins total and one point better than their expected points total, the story of Regina was in those two streaks. The expected totals could have been so much better or worse had neither of those streaks happened.

The bottom of the standings is where things get a little wacky. UBC and Manitoba both played through extremely long scoreless droughts this season, leading their expectations to be incredibly lower than where they actually finished. UBC finished the season 2.21 wins above their expected total and 7 points better than their expected point total, so they actually exceeded expectations despite their struggles this season.

Manitoba, for their part, finished a clear 3.34 wins higher than their expected total and a full ten points better than their expected points total. Again, the math works in that 3.33 wins would be 10 points, but Manitoba's scoring woes might have been talked about a little too much when it came to what the stats were showing for an expected finish. Manitoba's actual totals were the highest above expectations for any team despite their scoring struggles this season!

And that leads us to Lethbridge who missed the playoffs and finished last yet again, but still exceeded expectations thanks to being on the wrong side of a few blowouts. They did score 48 goals this season - higher than Mount Royal, Manitoba, and UBC - but the goals-allowed total was off the charts as they were the recipients of a few hammerings. The expectations were lower, obviously, but Lethbridge actually performed better than expected as they finished 1.35 wins higher than expected and four points higher than expected.

So what does this all mean? Honestly, it's simply a way to determine whether teams played or are playing above or below their potentials with regards to their offensive and defensive efforts within a season. Alberta won Canada West again last season, so could they have raised their game to their expected levels? Possibly, but the end justified the means for them. And Mount Royal ousted two pretty good teams in Saskatchewan and Calgary to advance to the National Championship, so let's not take expectations as gospel when it comes to the results.

In the end, goal percentage and expected wins and points are simply ways to predict how teams might finish. Things could go incredibly wrong in the goal-scoring department as we saw with Manitoba, leading to a lower goal percentage and lower expectation than the team below them in Lethbridge. In a 28-game season, there may be wild swings in expected wins and goals based on a week-to-week basis thanks to goals scored and goals allowed, and that's another reason why these expectations and predictions shouldn't be taken as certain things.

I do find it interesting that the math works out in both cases where the goal percentages yielded an almost perfect replica of the standings while the expected wins and points had a few quirks shown thanks to scoreless streaks and lopsided scores. Math can and should be fun, and this little exercise was a bit of fun I had in the middle of the week while I wait for Canada West hockey to return.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

End Of An Era

The Brandon Wheat Kings and the McCrimmon name have been synonymous for my entire existence in terms of my hockey knowledge. That's not to say that there weren't owners of the team before nor will there be new owners in the history of the WHL franchise, but the McCrimmon name was the constant in Brandon when it cames to the Wheat Kings over the last three decades. If everything being reported today is true - and there's no reason not to believe it's true - it sounds as though the Brandon Wheat Kings will enter the 2020-21 season with new owners as the McCrimmon family steps back.

Brandon Wheat Kings owner and governor Kelly McCrimmon — yes, the same Kelly McCrimmon who is general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights — announced today that the team has been purchased by Brandon's Jared Jacobson of the J&G Group of Companies. If everything is approved, ownership will officially change hands on September 15 with Jacobson taking over the reins from McCrimmon. A new era of hockey will begin on that day.

"This was an extremely difficult decision for our family," said McCrimmon said in his statement. "The Wheat Kings have been our life, from playing here for two years and then operating the team for 31 years, 28 of those as an owner.

"There have been so many incredible moments, the victories, the people, the staff and of course the many players over the years that have worn our uniform. I started as GM when I was 28 years old. Brandon became our home, we love the city and we love Manitoba."

McCrimmon mentioned the need for strong leadership and the importance of finding someone who recognized the importance of the Wheat Kings to a city like Brandon, and Jared Jacobson appears to be a very good choice as the man to succeed Kelly McCrimmon as the owner.

Jacobson's biography from the J&G Group website reads,
"Born and raised in Brandon, Jared has been actively involved in the Jacobson & Greiner third generation family business from an early age. After completing his secondary education at Brandon University, Bachelor of Business Administration, in 2003 he returned to his roots and continued working for the business. Always looking to improve his industry knowledge, Jared completed his MREA and became a licensed Realtor. In 2004, Jared took over the operations of Jacobson & Greiner, which at the time included J&G Homes and Rona, under the mentorship of his dad, Jack Jacobson. Today, through Jared's leadership, determination and vision, the organization has grown to include 32 companies, encompassing all areas of construction. Jared focuses on maintaining the image as a quality builder, which has aided in the companies' growth over competition. He is hands on within the company and values the relationships he builds with his customers."
It's pretty clear that Jacobson has strong roots in the Brandon community, and his interests won't be moving the Wheat Kings to some other city in Canada that's closer to his home. Brandon, Manitoba is his home, and it looks like he'll be a solid owner with good financial backing and a passion for the game and the WHL in Brandon.

The WHL has built its brand on strong ownership groups who have a great local ties to their respective communities, and it seems that this transition from the McCrimmon family to the Jacobson family will continue that tradition. While the WHL and its owners will lament the loss of McCrimmon and his acumen both on the business and hockey sides of things, they are getting a guy in Jacobson who has some pretty good business credentials himself. Will it lead to future success for the Brandon Wheat Kings? We'll see how everything unfolds in time, but Jacobson is getting a WHL franchise that could be considered a model franchise in the WHL.

I'd normally wish Kelly McCrimmon a farewell, but he's not retiring at this time. He's simply making a change. Regardless, I wish Kelly and his family well in his current position as he's the man in Las Vegas when it comes to player decisions, and here's to a new era of Wheat Kings hockey under the watch of Jared Jacobson in Brandon!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 7 September 2020

Nine Years Ago Today

It's hard to believe that it's already been nine years since the tragedy that claimed the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team. When I heard it had been nine years, my jaw nearly hit the floor as it certainly doesn't feel like that much time has passed since that horrible news, but it did happen back on September 7, 2011 when the plane carrying the KHL club crashed. It was a rather brutal summer in 2011 with the news of Rick Rypien, Wade Belak, and Derek Boogaard already succumbing to mental illness, but this tragedy just made it a summer to forget altogether. Today, on this September 7, 2020, I look back on those who were lost in that accident.

From my article in 2011,
"Amongst those who perished in the accident were Lokomotiv head coach and former NHL defenceman Brad McCrimmon, Lokomotiv assistant coach and former Ranger and Stanley Cup champion Alexander Karpovtsev, and Lokomotiv assistant coach and former Winnipeg Jet Igor Korolev. Players who were lost in the accident include former NHLers Pavol Demitra, Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek, Karlis Skrastins, and Ruslan Salei. KHL stars like Stefan Liv and Jan Marek were also lost. 20 year-old Yuri Urychev was injured and not supposed to accompany the team to Minsk, but he wanted to cheer his teammates on. He also perished."
Consider the coaching talent alone - Brad McCrimmon, Alexander Karpovtsev, and Igor Korolev - for what they did in their hockey careers as players, and know that this was a massive loss. McCrimmon and Karpovtsev were Stanley Cup champions while Korolev won six Russian hockey championships - five with Dynamo Moscow and one with Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Karpovtsev also won a gold medal and a brozne medal at the IIHF World Hockey Championships while McCrimmon was named as the 1977-78 WHL Defenceman of the Year.

The names of the players who were still active is just as impressive. In terms of award winners, Josef Vasicek was a Stanley Cup winner, a World Junior Championship gold medalist, and a World Championship gold medalist. Pavol Demitra was a high-scoring winger who played in three NHL All-Star Games, led the 2010 Winter Olympics in scoring, and won the Lady Byng Award in 2000. Karel Rachunek won an IIHF World Championship gold medal in 2010 and a bronze medal in 2011.

Ruslan Salei didn't pick up a ton of personal accolades, but he once held the record for most games played by a Ducks defenceman at 594 regular season games, and he was actually traded for the next player in this list in 2008. That player was Karlis Skrastins, traded by Colorado to Florida for Salei, and he set the NHL mark for consecutive games played by a defenceman at 495 games, breaking the mark once held by Tim Horton at 486 games.

Stefan Liv was a highly-decorated player outside the NHL where he had earned a 2006 Olympic gold medal, a 2006 IIHF World Championship gold medal, a 2004 IIHF World Championship silver medal, and two IIHF World Championship bronze medals while tending nets for Sweden. He was named as the Swedish goaltender of the year in 2002 and Swedish player of the year in 2008. He also played in the 2011 KHL All-Star Game as a member of Sibir Novosibirsk.

Jan Marek was a teammate of Karel Rachunek on the Czech Republic squad that brought home the IIHF World Championship gold medal in 2010 and a bronze medal in 2011. He led the KHL in goals in 2008–09 with 35 in a season where he scored 71 points in 53 games with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

The players, aside from those I pointed out above, who lost their lives that fateful day include Vitaly Anikeyenko, Mikhail Balandin, Gennady Churilov, Robert Dietrich, Alexander Galimov, Marat Kalimulin, Alexander Kalyanin, Andrei Kiryukhin, Nikita Klyukin, Sergei Ostapchuk, Maxim Shuvalov, Pavel Snurnitsyn, Daniil Sobchenko, Ivan Tkachenko, Pavel Trakhanov, Yuri Urychev, Alexander Vasyunov, Alexander Vyukhin, and Artem Yarchuk.

The eight-member crew saw one lone survivor as flight mechanic Alexander Sizov survived the accident. The cause of the crash was determined as a combination of factors that included poor maintenance and pilot error, but those findings would do little to fix the holes left in so many lives caused by this tragedy.

Let's hope that something like this never happens again.

Until next time, raise your sticks high in memory of those involved in the Lokomotiv tragedy!