Hockey Headlines

Showing posts with label all-star. Show all posts
Showing posts with label all-star. Show all posts

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Hockey Show - Episode Seventy-Five

The Olympic Hockey Show returns tonight to 101.5 UMFM with a ton of news to update everyone on. There have been a pile of games at the Olympics already played, and we've seen the best teams hit the ice and win games thus far. We'll talk about all the Olympic action tonight as we look at each and every team!

We'll also have a modified version of the Russian Roundup on tonight as we throw a Swedish Sweep into the mix! Why, you ask? The AHL All-Star Game took place, and the AHL's best players this season battled Swedish Elite League team Frolunda in both the AHL Skills Competition and the AHL All-Star Game! We'll look at that experience in the one-time Swedish Sweep!

We'll also touch on an interesting piece written by Friend of the Show Jessica Scott-Reid featured in The Hockey News all about Barys Astana and the three Manitobans playing for them in the KHL. Nigel Dawes, Dustin Boyd, and Cam Barker are all from Manitoba, and all three are having a major impact on the team this year in terms of both personal and team success! Jessica wrote a great piece on their contributions and struggles in the Kazakhstan captial, and we'll talk about that!

There's lots to tune in for tonight on The Olympic Hockey Show, so rotate that dial to 101.5 UMFM at 5:30pm CT and we'll get you caught up on everything you may have missed! Phone calls are always welcome at (204) 269-8636 (269-UMFM), and I'm watching the Twitter feed at @TeebzHBIC!

The podcast is up and found below, and the streaming radio feed above will be updated before Friday morning!

PODCAST: FEBRUARY 13, 2014: Episode 75

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 10 February 2014

More Musicians In Jerseys

I'll come right out and admit that Neil Peart's only appearance on this article is just to the left. However, Mr. Peart's version of The Hockey Theme has been featured on TSN's NHL broadcasts. The reason I am using the album cover? Hockey and music will meet once more in today's article as I have a ton of musicians to add to the Musicians in Jerseys article I posted before. As stated there, I was working towards building a comprehensive database of musicians in jerseys or holding jerseys to show that they are either true fans (yay!) or simply collecting jerseys (yawn!). Today, I am happy to say that I have a photo that completely blew my mind thanks to a reader. So let's check these out!

Let's start with the Maple Leafs who have two more musicians sporting their jerseys. First off, Keith Urban decided to don a Winter Classic jersey in a recent trip to Toronto, and the Leafs somehow got Grammy Award-winning singer Lorde into a jersey! Personally, I am very impressed with the Lorde addition to the Toronto jersey scene!

The Los Angeles Kings have three additions. First, hip hop artist Dom Kennedy went old-school with a throwback Gretzky-era Kings jersey. We'll go even further back as Glenn Frey is wearing a gold Kings jersey with #12 on it. Why #12? Frey was good friends with #12 Gene Carr of the Kings, and began wearing his jersey in concerts! And lastly, we have KISS' Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley accepting their Stadium Series jerseys from the Kings!

The Montreal Canadiens always seem to have great representation on the music scene, and today is no exception. We'll start with Taylor Swift who basically has a closet full of jerseys at this point. From there, we'll move to Selena Gomez, Swift's friend, who also got a jersey. More tweeny musical acts include One Direction who all got jerseys while in Montreal. The Piano Man, Mr. Billy Joel, got himself a jersey in Montreal. And rapper Pitbull was also given his own jersey.

Canada isn't done with Selena Gomez yet. She got her own Ottawa Senators jersey when she was in the nation's capital as well. My only question is why she was given #11 when she's worn #9 on every other jersey? I know it's probably the year she was there, but she's always #9 in our hearts. Yes, I stifled a laugh there.

One Direction remains on the touring map as they bounced into Hershey, Pennsylvania where they were given jerseys from the Hershey Bears!

From one boy band to another, the Jonas Brothers make an appearance as they accept their Dallas Stars jerseys.

Demi Lovato received a New York Islanders jersey as she was preparing for her role as a judge on American Idol! She seems to be quite happy with her new hockey sweater.

Ariana Grande returned home to Florida for the holidays, and she supported one of the two Florida-based teams as she wore her Florida Panthers jersey! Big hug for grandma Grande as well!

Katy Perry finally makes an appearance on here with all the touring she's done as she received a personalized, bedazzled Minnesota Wild uniform while in Minneapolis/St. Paul. I'm not sure I approve of the bedazzling, but it's a Wild uniform nonetheless.

While she's not as famous as her sister for her vocal talents, Jamie Lynn Spears shows off her favorite jersey as she holds a Colin Wilson Nashville Predators jersey! Colin Wilson, you ask? Apparently, they are just friends and nothing more. Yes, I checked. And then I showered.

From the land down under, singer/model Iggy Azalea sports the Chicago Blackhawks logo proudly. She's an Australian hip hop artist. Her music is, um, interesting. FYI - lyrics are explicit. Turn the volume down when he music is on.

I had Snoop Dogg in a Penguins uniform before, but it appears he had two of the same style. I found him wearing the diagonal Penguins jersey personalized with Jagr's name and number on it as it should be. Much better, Snoop Dogg. Much, much better.

Macklemore makes a couple of appearances on this list. First, Macklemore was in Cedar Park Arena where he received and wore a Texas Stars jersey. From there, he was in Spokane where he wore a Chiefs jersey on stage. And you can see the Seattle Supersonics jersey peeking out from below that Chiefs jersey. Macklemore got two pretty sweet hockey jerseys!

Say what you want about their music, but Canadian band Nickelback is racking up the team uniforms as well. Nickelback received hockey jerseys from the Dubai Fighting Camels while touring in the Middle East! How cool is that?!?

Speaking of cool, Canadian musician Drake has sported the 75th-anniversary NHL All-Star Game jersey in the past, but he's also been photographed in the throwback 1980-81 NHL All-Star Game jersey with Wayne Gretzky's name on the back! Well played, Drake! That, sir, is a fine looking sweater!

Carrie Underwood has pretty much given her allegiance to the Nashville Predators since her husband, Mike Fisher, was traded to Music City. However, Carrie Fisher was given a USHL Sioux Falls Stampede jersey as her tour came through that city! Add another jersey to the "Fisherwood" closet!

Reader Nath T. sent in a beauty of a find as well! Michael Bublé is another hockey-loving Canadian, so he was given a Melbourne Mustangs jersey while on tour in Australia! For those who aren't aware, hockey is thriving in the land down under, and the AIHL's Mustangs are now represented by one of Canada's best crooners! Great find, Nath, and thank you!

Wow! A ton of great uniforms seen there on a number of outstanding musicians! Who is the best thus far? Who has worn the worst uniform so far? Comments are always welcome!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Respecting Captain Serious

There was an interesting report that broke today about the captains of Team Canada. According to reports, Team Canada captain Sidney Crosby sought approval from Chicago's Jonathan Toews before accepting the captaincy of Canada's Olympic team. I'm not sure how often something like this has been done, but that's a pretty impressive showing from Crosby in terms of showing respect for Jonathan Toews. While they may be bitter rivals on the ice, Crosby seeking Toews' approval is, in my view, the ultimate form of respect.

"When we were taking about it, Sidney wanted to make sure it was OK with him, just for the fact he won a couple of Cups,” Babcock told reporters after the Wings' morning skate on Wednesday. "He's held in high regard, to say the least, and he's a huge part of the reason why they win as much as they do."

There's no denying that Jonathan Toews is part of the engine that drives the Chicago Blackhawks. His intensity on the ice has earned him the moniker of "Captain Serious", and his drive to be better as he pursues a third Stanley Cup is relentless. In short, Toews demands a lot of himself in helping the team be better. If he was one of the choices to be the captain of Team Canada, that says a lot about the Winnipegger's game and how much the coaches respect what he brings to the ice.

"He's earned the right to be a captain with Canada: two Cups, Olympic gold," Babcock said of Toews. "I don't know what else he's won. It seems more than that. He's a pro who does it right every day. He's a 200-footer. To me, he's an impressive, impressive man."

That comment alone tells you how much Team Canada's head coach values the work ethic and skill that Toews brings to the ice nightly. To be a "200-footer" shows that Toews will be relied upon heavily in Sochi to carry this team, not unlike how he was relied upon in Vancouver to play tough at both ends of the ice. Toews is Canada's best two-way forward heading into the Olympic Games, and this validation from both the coach and arguably Canada's best player is another accolade Toews seems to sheepishly accept.

"For Sidney to ask guys for approval, I don't think he needed to do that, but it shows the kind of guy he is," Toews said. "Everybody knows Sidney is the guy. I'm just honored to be in the conversation for the captaincy. One way or the other, I'm excited to accept a role like that. If it's more of a leadership role, I'm excited for the challenge."

I'm not here to say that Jonathan Toews should be captain and Sidney Crosby should not. Crosby was a major part of the Olympic gold medal in Vancouver, and he should be given consideration as the team's leader in Sochi after leading the Penguins over the last four years to one of the best records over that time. He is arguably the best player on the planet, so Crosby as captain shouldn't be any surprise given his past performance at the Olympics and his body of work since those Games.

However, Jonathan Toews has put together a pretty impressive resumé since the Vancouver Olympics as well. Toews was named to the Olympic All-Star team in 2010, was named as the tournament's best forward, and certainly played a large role in helping Canada win the Olympic gold medal. He then led his team, the Chicago Blackhawks, to a Stanley Cup in 2010 while being named as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner before adding a second Stanley Cup ring to his credentials in 2013. He's the second-youngest youngest Conn Smythe Trophy winner ever, and the youngest captain to win the trophy. Finally, he was the 2013 Frank J. Selke Trophy winner as the best defensive forward in the NHL.

In short, Toews has had a pretty impressive four years since the last Olympiad. It's a pretty classy move by Sidney Crosby to recognize that Jonathan Toews might be an equal candidate for the captaincy of the Canadian Olympic team and to seek Toews' approval for the captaincy. While most may say that Crosby is a no-brainer in being named captain, it shows the level of respect that Jonathan Toews has earned within the hockey community to be sought out for his approval on this decision by his peers.

Respect: it is earned, not given. And Jonathan Toews has the ultimate respect from his coaches, his peers, and this writer. Well done, Jonathan!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Tewsday Newsday And Notes

There's always talk about how players start with a clean slate when a new coach takes up residence behind the bench. There's chatter about new beginnings and opportunities that may not have been there before under the old regime. Teams often see a boost in their energy and work ethic after a coaching change as every player goes back to auditioning for more ice-time and great responsibilities. But did anyone expect the Winnipeg Jets to absolutely dominate the Phoenix Coyotes as they did last night after their recent stretch of uninspired play? We'll start there are we bounce through some news stories on Tuesday.

Sonic Boom

The Winnipeg Jets, despite giving up the first goal of the game to the Coyotes on the power-play, absolutely crushed the souls of the Coyotes last night in their 5-1 win on MTS Centre ice. Winnipeg out-worked, out-hustled, and out-everythinged the Coyotes en route to a fantastic night at the Phone Booth. Again, the change behind the bench could be a big reason why this team was out-gunning the Coyotes at every turn, but if this team needed an "identity", as Claude Noel would say, last night's game should be on permanent replay in the Winnipeg Jets' video room and dressing room.

That was easily the best game this team has played in months. In fact, maybe ever since arriving in Winnipeg. Everyone that stepped on the ice for the Jets should be proud of the effort they gave, and work towards replicating that effort going forward on a a daily basis. It is that kind of work ethic that will not only win games for this club, but win over a vast amount of fans in Winnipeg and across the hockey spectrum. Hard work can beat skill on any given night. That message was on full display last night as the Jets showed the willingness to work hard to generate chances.

I give Paul Maurice credit for adjusting things on the fly as he was regularly seen talking to players as they sat on the bench. He's an excellent coach, sees the game very well, and should be able to provide a lot of guidance to a young club. Credit should also go to former Jets coach Claude Noel. It was still his system that the Jets ran last night, and they showed that it does work if everyone puts in 100% effort. It's apparent that Noel couldn't get the most out of the players nor would the players give him everything, but the system worked last night flawlessly.

The Jets get a couple of days to work with Maurice before arriving in Calgary to battle the Flames, a team that finds themselves seven points back of the Jets this morning. The Jets need to continue to play this up-tempo, hard-working style of play against the Flames after they shut out the Hurricanes last night. However, if this style of play can be replicated, I have a feeling that the Jets will douse the Flames on Thursday pretty quickly.

Dodgers Take Over Staples

It isn't the first time that the Los Angeles Kings have supported the Major League Baseball team in La-La-Land, but this time it was done with a purpose. The Stadium Series in Dodger Stadium game will soon be upon us, and the ice-making crew and trucks rolled into SoCal yesterday. To get the ball rolling, the Los Angeles Kings donned their Los Angeles Dodgers warm-up jerseys before their game against the Canucks last night. I actually find these warm-up jerseys to be pretty decent in that they really do look like the Dodgers' blue uniforms.

Of course, they have worn these uniforms before. Dustin Penner looks absolutely huge in that jersey.

Captain's Honour

Pretty cool news out of St. John's, Newfoundland where it was announced that veteran IceCaps forward and former Manitoba Moose Jason Jaffray would be the captain for this year's AHL All-Star squad. This year's All-Star Game format will be different from past years where Team Canada made up of Canadian AHL all-stars played against Planet USA made up of international and American AHL all-stars. Instead, the AHL All-Star team will play an exhibition game against Färjestad BK of the Swedish Elite League in both the game and the annual Skills Competition! This should be good!

The roster for the AHL All-Stars include forwards Brett Connolly (Syracuse Crunch), Brian Gibbons (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins), Mike Hoffman (Binghamton Senators), the aforementioned Jason Jaffray (St. John's IceCaps), Travis Morin (Texas Stars), Brandon Pirri (Rockford IceHogs), Colton Sceviour (Texas Stars), Colton Sissons (Milwaukee Admirals), Ryan Spooner (Providence Bruins), Ben Street (Abbotsford Heat), Ryan Strome (Bridgeport Sound Tigers), and Linden Vey (Manchester Monarchs).

The defencemen on the squad include Chad Billins (Abbotsford Heat), TJ Brennan (Toronto Marlies), Cody Goloubef (Springfield Falcons), Alexey Marchenko (Grand Rapids Griffins), Brayden McNabb (Rochester Americans), and Frederic St. Denis (Springfield Falcons). The net will be protected by Jake Allen (Chicago Wolves) and Martin Jones (Manchester Monarchs).

Something I think is cool? Brayden McNabb, with his inclusion to the AHL All-Star Team, will now have played in an outdoor game, the Spengler Cup, and against a Swedish Elite League team all in the same season, meaning he's played against teams from Canada, the US, Switzerland, Sweden, and Russia all in the same year. The only country he's missed out on? The Czech Republic as the Rochester Americans and HC Vitkovice didn't meet up at the Spengler Cup.

Drafting In Sunrise

This doesn't require a lot of chatter, but the 2015 NHL Entry Draft will take place in Sunrise, Florida, the home of the Florida Panthers. This will be the second time the draft has been hosted by the Panthers after the 2001 NHL Entry Draft took place there. Ilya Kovalchuk went as the first-overall pick to the Atlanta Thrashers in that draft. The 2014 NHL Draft will be hosted by the Philadelphia Flyers on June 27 and 28 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Kudos To TSN

I am very excited to see the three-part mini-series that TSN is producing called Reorientation. The series will examine the changing culture of homosexuality in North American professional team sports from a once-homophobic culture to an accepting culture thanks to the work done by athletes and officials, especially the You Can Play movement. Former NHL defenceman and current TSN analyst Aaron Ward sits down with a number of players across the sports world to discuss the changing culture in the game and in locker rooms.
Looks like an outstanding series, and I commend TSN for airing this at a time when athlete sexuality is at the forefront. Each segment will premiere on the 6pm of SportsCentre starting tomorrow and running through Friday. Check your local listings for times and channel listings!

That's all for today as I feel like I'm caught up quite nicely with the on-goings in hockey. Speaking of the TSN piece, Hockey Blog In Canada firmly stands beside any athlete who has already stepped forward, and will 100% support any athlete who may want to step forward. I don't care if you're gay, straight, white, black, tall, short, thin or fat. If you can play, you can play. So play on, kids!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Dipsy-Doo... WOW!

The item to the left? A jockstrap. There has been a few players who have sent goaltenders to their local lost-and-found in search of their jockstraps after scoring in the shootout. For example, Pavel Datsyuk has some of the softest hands and slickest moves ever seen. Linus Omark was a YouTube sensation before hitting North America with his array of dazzling dekes. Robbie Schremp used to light up the scoreboards with his work in junior hockey as a puck magician. Today, we have a new name to add to the list as Linus Klasen of Sweden pulls a move off that is amazingly deceptive.

I know other sites have covered this move extensively, so I'm not going to go into great detail about the move. I first knew of Klasen when he was a member of the Milwaukee Admirals and appeared in the AHL All-Star Game in 2010 when I was covering the Manitoba Moose. But to see this move that he pulled off at the Channel One Cup against the Czech Republic and former AHL goalie Alexander Salak? Wow.
Let's not forget that Klasen was no slouch in the AHL. He suited up for 47 games with the Admirals, scoring 22 goals and adding 23 assists. After starting slow with Lulea of the Swedish Elite League last season, he's currently scoring at a 1.28 points-per-game pace this season. The kid can score!

To give you an idea of just how well he's playing, Lulea is third-place in the Swedish Hockey League with a 17-11-5 record. Of those five overtime or shootout losses, only one is a shootout loss. In Klasen's case, he leads the team in goals, assists, and points, and his 41 points are 17 points better than second-leading scorer Niklas Olausson! Think a lot of the offence runs through him?

Again, this is a kid who played very well, I thought, as an AHL player. Clearly, he made a few people sit up and notice when he pulled this move off in the AHL All-Star Skills Competition in Hershey.
Again, he scored 45 points in 47 AHL games, so it's not like he didn't have the talent to play in North America. Yes, I get that he was a little on the small side at 5'8", but the kid could dangle. He also didn't mind going to the high-traffic areas to score goals, seen here as he victimizes the Moose.
The fact that Linus Klasen is making it to highlight reels once more is proof that this kid, like Omark and Schremp before him, should have been given a better shot. He's 27 now, but he was 24 when he was lighting up the AHL. And if there is room in the NHL for Linus Omark, there has to be room for a player of Klasen's skill level.

All I know is that Alexander Salak has the cleaning crew at the arena still looking for his jockstrap after that move pulled on him by Klasen today.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Things I've Discovered

I have spent the better part of the evening looking over statistics and scouring the internet and through books. You may be asking why, so here's why. I simply didn't feel like writing anything today. As I allow the collective gasp to end, I found out that the survey I posted on Sunday is giving me a whole new perspective on this blog and what people take from it. I'll post the link below again because I really would like some more perspectives, but for those who have already filled it out, thank you. I appreciate your feedback. Let's get to the interesting stuff.
  • David Kelley, creator of successful TV shows such as Ally McBeal, Chicago Hope, and The Practice, was the stick boy for the New England Whalers in the WHA. Just to add a little icing to that tip, he's also married to Michelle Pfeiffer. Yeah, not a bad outcome at all.
  • Ben Hatskin, who owned the WHA's Winnipeg Jets and convinced Bobby Hull to sign in Winnipeg, was once offered a World Football League franchise in Hawaii. Surprisingly, he declined the ownership offer.
  • In the last three seasons, the highest scoring player is Steven Stamkos.
  • In the last three seasons, he and Martin St. Louis rank #1 and #2.
  • In the last decade, Joe Thornton has been the highest scoring NHL player.
  • Surprisingly, Martin St. Louis ranks as the second-best player over that decade.
  • Andre Lacroix, who was a star in the WHA, played on six different teams in his seven seasons in the WHA, but he was never traded. Not once. The teams he played on either folded or moved. Interesting times in that league.
  • In his final season with the Detroit Red Wings, Gordie Howe made $100,000. In their first seasons in the WHA, Mark and Marty Howe made $600,000.
  • Charlie Coyle of the Minnesota Wild is planning on wearing #3 this season. He'll officially become the lowest-numbered forward. Taylor Hall of Edmonton held that title before Coyle as he wears #4 for the Oilers.
  • Don't look now, but Ilya Kovalchuk has found his groove in the KHL. Helping SKA St. Petersburg to a 6-1-1 record, Kovalchuk has now tied for the lead in goals with six while posting nine points. If there was any doubt as to who was going to win the scoring title, Kovalchuk is erasing those doubts with every goal he scores.
  • Yaroslavl Lokomotiv head coach Tom Rowe was relieved of his duties after Lokomotiv's poor start, and youth program coach Pyotr Vorobyov has replaced him. One of the assistant coaches brought aboard by Vorobyov? Former Flyers and Maple Leafs defenceman Dmitry Yushkevich. Now there's a blast from the past!
  • Bratislava, Slovakia will host the 2014 KHL All-Star Game. Y'know, in case you were wondering. Book your plane tickets now... or something.
  • Kudos to the Brandon Wheat Kings on opening the season 2-0 with two convincing wins over the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Wheaties will now play a two-game set against the Jets' Josh Morrissey and the Prince Albert Raiders in PA. Keep it rolling, Brandon!
That's some of the findings around the old hockey news wire. Again, please fill out the survey about HBIC so that I may be able to bring you better coverage of the stuff you like and more options for you to enjoy on this site. It literally takes three minutes max! Thanks to those who have responded, and thanks to everyone who read this far today!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A Gretzky Comeback?

Are we seeing Wayne Gretzky once again strap the skates on for some good hockey action? The answer, sadly, is no. This image was taken in 2012 during a Keyano College Foundation "One On One Banquet" where The Great One was the guest of honour. Keyano College, located in Fort McMurray, Alberta, had just received new hockey uniforms for their hockey team, and Wayne Gretzky was honoured by being one of the first people to wear the new uniforms. In seeing this photo, though, it got me thinking about all of the uniforms that Wayne Gretzky has worn throughout his professional career. He's clearly worn a number of interesting jerseys, but I want to focus on one specific team today: the Ninety-Nine All-Stars.

During the 1994-95 lockout, Wayne Gretzky assembled a pile of his friends to play against teams from around the world in order to stay in shape, raise some money for charity, and to promote the game of hockey worldwide. Gretzky recruited players he knew personally from teams he had played on, and even brought some family along for the fun. The Ninety-Nine All-Stars would play eight games during the lockout, but they wouldn't win all the games despite the immense talent they had on the ice.

Tending the nets were Grant Fuhr and Kelly Hrudey. Fuhr, at the time, was a member of the Buffalo Sabres where he had gone 13-12-3 in the previous season with a 3.68 GAA and an .883 save percentage. Not exactly stellar numbers, but Gretzky was hand-picking this squad. Hrudey was still a member of the Los Angeles Kings, and his numbers from the season before the tour went that spectacular either. Hrudey went 22-31-7 with a 3.68 GAA and an .897 save percentage. If nothing else, the similar goals-against-averages and save percentages showed that Gretzky probably didn't care too much about winning as much as having fun. Either way, those two men would be platooned in the blue ice for the eight games.

The blueliners included Paul Coffey, Rob Blake, Todd Gill, Charlie Huddy, Al MacInnis, and Marty McSorley. Coffey was a member of the Detroit Red Wings at the time, and he put up a fantastic 1993-94 season that saw him score 14 goals and 63 assists. Rob Blake was playing for the Los Angeles Kings at the time, and he also came off a stellar season to join the Ninety-Nine All-Stars. Blake scored 20 goals and 68 points for the Kings in '93-94, and was emerging as one of the better young defencemen in the game. Al MacInnis had been traded a few months earlier from the Calgary Flames to the St. Louis Blues when he got Gretzky's call. MacInnis also had an excellent '93-94 season to warrant his inclusion as he scored 28 goals and 82 points in his last season with the Flames. Clearly, these three men belonged on this "all-star" squad based on their '93-94 stats.

I have a harder time justifying the last three defencemen being there outside of the fact that they were friends of Wayne. Todd Gill was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the time, and his 1993-94 season of four goals and 28 points isn't really all-star material. Charlie Huddy was a Los Angeles King at the time of the lockout, and his '93-94 season was nothing to be excited about as he posted just five goals and 18 points. Marty McSorley had been traded back to Los Angeles from Pittsburgh in Feburary, and his 1993-94 season was actually the best of these three men. McSorley scored seven goals and 31 points in being shuffled from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh and back to Los Angeles. Todd Gill was a solid defensive player, but certainly not one of the game's best. Huddy and McSorley proved that it was simply who you knew rather than how they played the game as their inclusions had Gretzky's fingerprints all over them.

The forwards contained some big names outside of The Great One. The list includes Sergei Fedorov, Doug Gilmour, Brett Hull, Russ Courtnall, Mark Messier, Steve Larmer, Jari Kurri, Pat Conacher, Kirk Muller, Tony Granato, Steve Yzerman, Rick Tocchet, and Warren Rychel. Clearly, there are some impressive, all-star calibre players on that list, so let's take a peek at how they may have been chosen.

Sergei Fedorov was a member of the Detroit Red Wings, and had an impressive '93-94 campaign in scoring 56 goals and 120 points to make his inclusion a no-brainer. Doug Gilmour was still a Maple Leaf in 1994-95, and he was coming off a season where he posted 27 goals and 111 points. Brett Hull was one of the most feared snipers on the planet in 1994, and his '93-94 season saw him put up 57 goals and 97 points. Mark Messier had just finished leading the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup, but had a respectable 26 goals and 84 points in '93-94. Steve Yzerman was leading the Detroit Red Wings to new heights as he began his transition to a defensive forward, but still posted 24 goals and 82 points. Even Russ Courtnall, playing with the Dallas Stars, was playing well as he scored 23 goals and 80 points. Obviously, this team had the scoring touch that could make them very dangerous.

The role players, as one may call them, were a varied bunch. No one knew it at the time, but Steve Larmer's career would be over after the 1994-95 season. However, his season previous with the New York Rangers saw him score 21 goals and 60 points as he filled a wing for the Ninety-Nine All-Stars. Jari Kurri's last solid season in the NHL came in 1993-94 with the Los Angeles Kings as he scored 31 goals and 77 points as he looked to rekindle the magic with Gretzky on the Ninety-Nine All-Stars. Rick Tocchet had been traded to Los Angeles in July of 1994, but his 1993-94 season with the Penguins wasn't as good as his previous seasons had been. Tocchet finished the campaign with just 14 goals and 40 points. Again, these wingers had shown the ability to score in the past, and Gretzky was hedging his bets that they would do the same on his all-star team.

And, of course, we get to the "Friends of Gretzky" section where the inclusion of these players is only by friendship with Wayne. Tony Granato of the Los Angeles Kings was included despite his 1993-94 season only bringing seven goals and 21 points. Pat Conacher had an excellent '93-94 season with the Los Angeles Kings as a defensive centerman, scoring 15 goals and 28 points. Warren Rychel was known more for his pugilistic abilities than his all-star scoring touch, but the Los Angeles King had ten goals and 19 points in his '93-94 season. These last three players, though, were the defensive unit that the Ninety-Nine All-Stars employed on most nights, and they were used almost exclusively in non-scoring roles.

Behind the bench were long-time NHL defenceman Doug Wilson and Wayne Gretzky's father, Walter Gretzky.

The first team that the Ninety-Nine All-Stars squared off against was the IHL's Detroit Vipers at the Palace of Auburn Hills on December 1, 1994. The three Red Wings - Yzerman, Fedorov, and Coffey - did not dress for this game due to the heated rivalry between Vipers owner Bill Davidson and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch. Marty McSorley also missed the game as he was involved in the labor negotiations. The short-handed Ninety-Nine All-Stars were officially playing their first game since their '93-94 seasons ended, but they were welcomed by the 16,239 fans who showed up to watch some hockey. Proceeds from the game went to the NHLPA's former players' fund. The key in all of this? Gretzky and his band of merry men wore NHLPA jerseys and not their Ninety-Nine All-Stars jerseys!

Things started poorly for the Ninety-Nine All-Stars. Joe Day tipped in a Petr Sykora shot past Grant Fuhr to put the Vipers up 1-0, and they doubled the lead when Peter Ciavaglia undressed Al MacInnis at the blueline before burying a shot past Fuhr. The All-Stars would respond before the first period ended, though, when Mark Messier's shot was bobbled by Rick Knickle, ending up in the Vipers' net. Al MacInnis and Kirk Muller would give the Ninety-Nine All-Stars a 3-2 lead in the second period, but goals by Jason Woolley and Miroslav Satan one minute apart in the third period gave the Vipers the 4-3 win over the Ninety-Nine All-Stars.

It was off to Finland for a game against Jokerit on December 3, and the Ninety-Nine All-Stars jerseys would be revealed for the first time. The game was being billed in Finland as "the game of the century" between defending Finnish Elite League champion Jokerit and Gretzky's hand-picked all-stars, but the game itself looked more like an all-star game as there was very little contact and a lot of soft goals. The Ninety-Nine All-Stars would roll over Jokerit by a 7-1 score, but even Teemu Selanne made it clear that this game wasn't very intense.

"They were pretty tired," said Jokerit's Teemu Selanne. "But then again, nobody was out to kill anyone."

The one thing that stood out in this game? Check out the metallic helmets worn by Jokerit!

After that game, the Ninety-Nine All-Stars would battle Ilves Tampere of Tampere, Finland as their European tour continued. Playing on the back of consecutive nights, the Ninety-Nine All-Stars would fall in overtime to Ilves Tampere by a 4-3 score. Sami Ahlberg tied the score late in the third period, and then notched the winner 2:34 into overtime when he broke in with a teammate on Rob Blake on a two-on-one and ripped a slapshot past Kelly Hrudey. For the Ninety-Nine All-Stars' part, they did provide three highlight-reel goals from Gretzky, Tony Granato, and Steve Yzerman to keep the crowd into this game.

From Finland, the Ninety-Nine All-Stars moved into Norway for a one-game exhibition against Norway's best players on December 6, 1994. The Norwegian Spectrum All-Stars came out firing as they went up by a pair of goals in the first period, but it was nothing but Ninety-Nine All-Stars after that. The Ninety-Nine All-Stars would outscore the Norwegian Spectrum All-Stars 6-1 to take the game 6-3 at the final buzzer.

The Ninety-Nine All-Stars would enjoy a couple of days off between the Norwegian All-Star game and their next game against Djurgårdens IF in Sweden on December 9. The time off appeared to help the NHL stars as the Ninety-Nine All-Stars would hammer Swedish Elite League-leading Djurgårdens IF by a 9-3 score with Gretzky scoring his fourth goal in as many games. Perhaps the time off for the NHLers is the right answer?

The Ninety-Nine All-Stars would play another back-to-back as they battled Västra Frölunda HC on December 10, and overcame a slow start to defeat the home team by a 5-2 score. This game would end Gretzky's goal-scoring streak as he was held off the scoresheet as a goal-scorer. However, Tony Granato and Mark Messier both notched their fifth goals of the tour as they continued to play well.

The Ninety-Nine All-Stars would get a day off before facing off against Malmö IF. In my searches, I actually found a report from Sweden about this game! Now, I don't understand Swedish at all, but the highlights are in a universal language. Here's the video. If you want to skip directly to the highlights of the game, fast forward the video to the 4:36 mark.
If you watched all the highlights, you know that Malmö IF downed the Ninety-Nine All-Stars by a 6-5 score in overtime.

The final game of the Ninety-Nine All-Stars European tour would come against a team of Germany's best players in Frieburg, Germany on December 14. The Ninety-Nine All-Stars and German All-Stars would trade goals in a high-scoring game, but the Ninety-Nine All-Stars would prevail in an 8-5 victory. Of note, Mark Messier left this game early as he injured his back, but the injury was not significant.

The Ninety-Nine All-Stars compiled a 5-3 record in their eight games, and, to be honest, the problem was with the goaltending. While the team scored 43 goals in the eight games they played, they also gave up 28 goals. However, like most all-star teams, preventing goals is low on the list of things to accomplish, so I'd say the Ninety-Nine All-Stars did their job in lighting up scoreboards and keeping fans happy.

There is a rundown of the Ninety-Nine All-Stars and their European tour from 1994-95. It's just too bad that the Ninety-Nine All-Stars jerseys are so hard to come by in today's day and age. I'm almost entirely sure I'd pick one up if they were made once again.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Championship Rivalry

I had the opportunity to attend the 2013 Manitoba High School Athletics Association AAAA Boys Hockey Final tonight as my former high school was looking for its first AAAA Provincial Championship in hockey. I attended John Taylor Collegiate for three years, and was part of the 1997 AAAA Provincial Championship volleyball team during that era. Of course, our arch-rivals were the Oak Park Raiders during this time, and this rivalry still exists today with as much vitriol as the Leafs-Canadiens or the Yankees-Red Sox. Tonight, the John Taylor Pipers met the Oak Park Raiders in the winner-take-all Provincial Championship Final.

I have to admit that the level of skill in Manitoba high school hockey has jumped up a number of notches since I was in high school. John Taylor Collegiate has produced some quality teams over the years that have fallen short, but this year's squad was solid from top to bottom on the roster. They work hard, they capitalize on mistakes, and they defend their zone like bees defending a hive. I was hopeful that the John Taylor-Oak Park rivalry would produce a great final, and what was delivered was beyond expectations.

Because these two teams are divisional rivals during the regular season, there is a lot of familiarity between the two teams. John Taylor had won five of six games against Oak Park this season including the Winnipeg High School Hockey League championship final in February. If they were to win tonight, John Taylor Collegiate would become just the third school in Manitoba history to win both the Winnipeg league and the Manitoba title in the same season. For Oak Park, this game meant erasing all of those losses in one fell swoop as they were literally 50 minutes away from glory. Adding in the hatred these two teams have for one another in a heated rivalry made this battle seem more like the Hatfield-McCoy feud rather than a spirited hockey game.

The game opened up with John Taylor applying a ton of pressure. Credit the defence corps of the Oak Park Raiders for bending but not breaking as goaltender Tyler Dodd turned away a lot of rubber thrown his direction. The first period featured a couple of big hits as these two teams looked for blood as the seconds ticked down. Neither team would dent twine, however, as the period closed in a scoreless draw.

The second period was a complete change as the Oak Park coaches stressed getting pucks deep and wearing down the Pipers defence. The Raiders were the dominant team in the middle frame, throwing everything they had at the Pipers net, but Brett Bigourdin stood tall. Much to my delight, John Taylor's Dalton Saari threw a hipcheck at the Pipers' blue line that would have made Scott Stevens smile! However, neither team gave an inch in the second period, and the score would remain 0-0 as the third period approached.

The third period started out with chances at both ends as both the Pipers and Raiders pressed for a goal. With the Raiders defencemen pinching, Nicholas Pierce tipped a puck out to center and was off to the races with teammate Tyler Kemball. Kemball got a shot away on the 2-on-1, but Dodd couldn't wrangle the rebound. Defenceman Graham Philp beat his check to the loose puck and fired a shot to the back of the net to put the Pipers up 1-0!

Three minutes later saw a horrid giveaway where a Pipers defenceman tried to fire a puck up the middle to a streaking forward only to have it knocked down in the slot. Jeremy Hope and Dylan Zeke both got a shot off before Robbie Cairns flipped a backhander past Bigourdin to even the score at 1-1.

It appeared that neither team was content in allowing their opposition to gain an inch, and whispers of overtime could be heard throughout the crowd as the time ticked down. However, a solid forecheck by the Pipers created a turnover in the Raiders' zone, and Raiders captain Tyson Bannatyne was forced to haul Nicholas Pierce to the ice for a holding penalty. The Pipers went to work, moving the puck well, before a slapshot from Graham Philp was tipped on the left side of the goal by Christian Vallance past Dodd for a John Taylor powerplay goal! With just 1:50 to play, the Pipers held a 2-1 lead!

Oak Park pulled Dodd for the extra attacker and applied some serious pressure. John Taylor used some excellent work along the boards to allow time to tick down, forcing Oak Park into pinching again. Christian Vallance chipped a puck past a pinching defenceman and streaked down the right wing towards the open net. A well-placed shot gave Vallance his second goal of the game, and the Pipers were up 3-1 with :55 left in the game.

With a championship within their grasps, the pro-John Taylor crowd started up the "Na na na hey hey goodbye" song as their team skated the clock down. For two teams with a rich history of battles throughout the years, both teams had to be proud of their efforts considering this epic battle tonight. However, one team had to win, and your 2013 Manitoba High School Hockey Provincial Champions are the John Taylor Pipers!
The Pipers ended a 22-year drought in boy's hockey with the Provincial Championship tonight. It's a pretty impressive win for John Taylor when you consider their enrollment is a mere 600 students, and 21 players tried out for the 17-man squad. Needless to say, the team came together through some great coaching and solid friendships. Twelve of the seventeen players have been playing together since they were eleven years-old.

The MHSAA Hockey All-Stars were announced, and the two finalists dominated the selections:
  • Dylan Zeke (Oak Park Raiders).
  • Tyson Bannatyne (Oak Park Raiders).
  • Tyler Dodd (Oak Park Raiders).
  • Tyler MacPherson (River East Kodiaks).
  • Christian Vallance (John Taylor Pipers).
  • Graham Philp (John Taylor Pipers).
Last, but certainly not least, the MVP of the tournament was named, and goaltender Brett Bigourdin took the honors as he led his team through the round-robin and playoffs of the Provincial Championships with a perfect 4-0-0 record.

Congratulations to the John Taylor Collegiate Pipers, the 2013 Manitoba AAAA Boys Provincial Hockey Champions and Winnipeg High School Hockey League Champions! Nothing like a little high school pride to make one walk a little taller!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Edge Of Glory

I had the privilege of watching some excellent hockey played by some of the best young ladies that Canada has to offer this weekend as I attended the 2013 Female World Sport School Challenge at MTS IcePlex in Winnipeg. If last weekend's Scotiabank Girls Hockeyfest was a good starting point for the next Olympians, these women are definitely on the track to represent Canada at some point in the future. There was a ton of skill and talent on display all weekend, and HBIC is proud to have been at the event to see some excellent hockey!

The round-robin was played over Thursday and Friday as the eight teams worked their way through the tournament. Group A saw Okanagan Hockey Academy from Penticton, BC take top spot with eight points. Edge School For Athletes from Calgary, Alberta finished with seven points, St. Mary's Academy from Winnipeg, Manitoba finished in third-place, and Fort Frances High School from Fort Frances, Ontario finished in fourth.

Group B saw the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy from Kelowna, BC land in top spot with a perfect record. Shaftesbury High School of Winnipeg, Manitoba ended up in second-place in the group. Rothesay Netherwood School of Rothesay, New Brunswick grabbed third-place while Banff Hockey Academy finished fourth in Group B.

With the standings set, the top four teams would play off in a 1-vs-2 crossover to determine which teams would play in the gold medal and bronze medal games on Saturday, while the third-place teams from each group would play for fifth-place and the fourth-place teams in each group would play for seventh-place.


The Fort Frances Muskies and the Banff Hockey Academy would meet on Saturday morning for seventh-place. Banff jumped out to a quick start as they peppered Fort Frances goaltender Calie Clendenning with shots early on. That quick start paid off as Banff's Alexis Westergaard got the team on the board on the powerplay just short of six minutes in. Banff would double their lead before the first period ended as Brittany Erickson chipped a shot over Clendenning's left pad during a scramble that found the back of the net while on the powerplay again. Special teams played a large part in Banff's first period 2-0 lead.

Livia Lucova would make it a three-goal for Banff lead 8:11 into the second as she beat Clendenning. If it appeared that this game might be a blow-out, things started to change midway through the second as Fort Frances found their legs. Shilo Beck used a powerplay to break the shutout as her shot found its way behind Banff goaltender Andrea McDonald, and the deficit was only 3-1. However, Alexis Westergaard killed Fort Frances' momentum by finding some room to restore the three-goal lead. And 3:26 later, Alena Fiala made it a four-goal lead as she slides a puck behind Clendenning to give Banff Hockey Academy a 5-1 lead after 40 minutes.

The third period was played fairly conservatively by Banff considering their four-goal lead, but Fort Frances did chip away. 5:51 into the final frame saw Jessica Coran find twine behind McDonald, and Banff's lead was now 5-2. Banff, though, wouldn't let any other goals by, and they skated to the 5-2 victory and seventh-place in the tournament.


Rothesay Netherwood School and St. Mary's Academy met up for the fifth-place game as both schools were looking to get back in the win column. The problem, however, was that St. Mary's Academy came out wth fire in their eyes, and they didn't let up. If it wasn't for Rothesay goaltender Marlene Boissonnault, the final score could have been counted by touchdowns.

St. Mary's opened the scoring at 9:06 when Saige Patrick chipped a puck behind Boissonnault. They doubled the lead at 18:49 when Kelly Matarazzo's shot found twine in the Rothesay net. St. Mary's threw everything they had at Rothesay in a 16-4 shots margin.

Just 5:18 into the second, Jenna Thompson's booming slapshot from the point on the powerplay settled in the net, and St. Mary's had a three-goal lead. Jordan Zacharias added another goal with a minute to play to give her three points after two periods, and St. Mary's was up 4-0 in goals and 36-7 in shots Again, Marlene Boissonnault was fantastic in keeping the walls from crumbling in on Rothesay.

Randi Marcon made it 5-0 just 3:53 into the third period. Jenna Thompson added her second goal of the game at 9:44. Captain Danielle Krzyszczyk notched a powerplay goal at 12:01 to make it a 7-0 game, and there were whispers of a shutout for Annie Chipman. Those whispers, though, may have been a little early as Rothesay used a powerplay of their own to break the shutout. Brittany Carroll snapped Chipman's shutout with 6:24 to play, but the game was out of hand at that point. St. Mary's took their foot off the gas as they captured fifth-place in the tournament with a 7-1 victory.


In the first semi-final game, the Shaftesbury Titans suffered a 3-0 loss to the Okanagan Hockey Academy to put them into the bronze medal game. Their competition would be the Pursuit of Excellence as they fell 6-4 to the Edge School for Athletes in the second semi-final game. Shaftesbury and POE play solid defensive hockey and have excellent goaltending, so the bronze medal game looked like it might be a low-scoring affair. Sara Besseling got the nod for the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy while Rachel Dyck earned the start for the Shaftesbury Titans.

These two teams played a great game with a fast pace. Both goaltenders were sensational in protecting their nets, and the scoring was, as expected, low. Neither team recorded a goal through the first 40 minutes, but Shaftesbury had been getting pucks to the net as they led in shots by a 15-7 advantage.

It looked as though we might have a chance at a goal as Pursuit of Excellence's Sarah Potomak was hauled down on a breakaway. The puck went back to center ice, and Potomak was granted the penalty shot! Potomak broke in and went to the backhand, but Rachel Dyck moved with her, forcing her to try to spin to the forehand to put the puck past Dyck. It wasn't to be, though, as Dyck held her ground and the scoreless tie carried on.

Just minutes later with Michela Esposito in the penalty box, Pursuit of Excellence finally found a way past Rachel Dyck. Halli Krzyzaniak's point shot with a pile of traffic in front hit twine, and Pursuit of Excellence was up 1-0 with 8:29 to play. With time against them, Shaftesbury mounted a furious attack, including pulling Rachel Dyck with two minutes to play, as they looked to score the equalizer. Sara Besseling denied all shots thrown at her, though, and the final buzzer would give Besseling the shutout and, more importantly, the Pursuit of Excellence would claim the bronze medal!


The gold medal game would feature the highest scoring team in the Edge School for Athletes looking to avenge their round-robin shootout loss to the Okanagan Hockey Academy. These two teams play excellent transition hockey, moving the puck well and capitalizing on the mistakes made by their opposition. Based on how close their first game was, it was expected that these two teams would be separated by a goal at the final buzzer as they matched up fairly evenly. One team would skate off the ice with silver medals while the other would bask in the glory of a championship!

Surprisingly, special teams played a big part in this game as Okanagan found out. Alyssa Erickson and Hannah Miller were in the box when Daria O'Neill scored on the 5-on-3 powerplay at 4:49 to put Edge up 1-0. Just 28 seconds later, Alex Serpico fired a shot past Okanagan Hockey Academy goaltender Hayley Dowling, and Edge was up 2-0 very quickly. Edge goaltender Emma Pincott would ensure that score held true through the remainder of the period. It could have been a larger deficit had it not been for Hayley Dowling in that period as she saved nine of eleven shots fired her way.

The second period saw the rough play of the first period carry over as there were seven more penalties called and one more powerplay goal. The first goal of the second period, though, came at even-strength as Emily Monaghan gave Edge a 3-0 lead at 12:19. But a slashing penalty to Celine van der Molen at 18:15 sent Okanagan to the powerplay, and they would make it count. Alexa Ranahan's shot found a gap through Emma Pincott, and the powerplay goal with 31 seconds in the middle frame would send the teams to the dressing rooms with Edge leading 3-1.

Both teams came out in the third period and played tentatively which didn't make sense considering Okanagan trailed by two goals. Okanagan, though, would press with five minutes to play, and they were rewarded at 17:04 when Hannah Miller fired a goal past Pincott. Okanagan needed one more goal in the final three minutes to tie the game up, so they played the odds and pulled the goalie. The pressure worked as they pinned Edge in their own zone for over two minutes, but Edge caught a break when Karly Heffernan hit the empty net with 53 seconds to play to put Edge up 4-2. Still needing goals, Okanagan left the net empty, and Edge iced the game 29 seconds later when Cassandra Vilgrain added another empty-net goal. Edge skated to the 5-2 win to capture the gold medal at the first Female World Sport School Challenge!

The tournament All-Star trophies were handed out by Mark Chipman, owner of the Winnipeg Jets, as the following girls were recognized for their great play throughout the tournament.

FORWARD: Cassandra Vilgrain - Edge School for Athletes
FORWARD: Sarah Potomak - Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy
FORWARD: Hannah Miller - Okanagan Hockey Academy
DEFENCE: Halli Krzyzaniak - Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy
DEFENCE: Marie-Jo Pelletier - Rothesay Netherwood School
GOALIE: Rachel Dyck - Shaftesbury High School Hockey Academy

To the victors go the spoils, and the Edge School for Athletes are the winners of the first Female World Sport School Challenge! With the victory, they'll be able to hang the banner in their arena and they can display the championship trophy in their trophy case! A quick skate around the rink as they hoist their trophy drew a lot of cheers from the crowd as the girls celebrated, and the ladies finally got down to business as they showed off their golden wares. In a rather cool moment, Karly Heffernan was told her #23 jersey would be collected for display at the Hockey Hall of Fame! How awesome is that?!?

Congratulations to all the girls who participated in the first Female World Sport School Challenge. All of you should be proud for the exceptional display of hockey put on this weekend, and while there can only be one winner, everyone collectively made this first Female World Sport School Challenge extremely special.

I do want to thank the tournament volunteers who helped me out when I was lost and guided me back to the right path. They were invaluable, and they deserve a little recognition as well. I also want to thank Kevin Bathurst for setting me up with media credentials so I could witness the exceptional hockey being played by these eight teams. Thank you, Kevin, for allowing a little radio station like UMFM the chance to attend this prestigious event.

Finally, a big congratulations goes out to Edge School for Athletes from Calgary, Alberta - your 2013 Female World Sport School Challenge champions!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

1990 NHL All-Star Game Program Peek

It's a quieter day on the hockey front, and I still have very little interest in the CBA battle between the NHL and NHLPA. Because of this, I'm heading back into the archives thanks to a friend of HBIC and a program that was sent to me. Doug K. dropped a program from the 1990 NHL All-Star Game in Pittsburgh into the mail some time ago, and I've been looking through it with the intention of posting some info about it here. My only issue? I don't have a scanner, so all I can do is give you details about what is found inside the covers. Roll with it, readers. There's some good stuff.

The cover itself is actually more than just a cover - it's a foldout with artistic images of past and present NHL All-Stars. Alex Delvecchio, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Maurice Richard are featured on the cover portion, but the foldout had Gordie Howe, Denis Potvin, Frank Mahovlich, Bobby Hull, and Ted Lindsay on the inside! The cover illustrations were done by Mark Bender - his site is absolutely fantastic! The back of the foldout has an advertisement for the 1990 Dodge Daytona and Dodge Dakota. Not important, but just some context as to what was on the back.

There is a great article written by Bob Grove found on page 17 about Pittsburgh's hockey history. According to the article, Pittsburgh was the first city to claim a professional hockey team in 1902, but it was an amateur team in 1924 that put Pittsburgh on the map as a hockey city. The Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets won the United States Amateur Hockey Championship in both 1924 and 1925, and featured future NHL legends such as goaltender Roy Worters and defenceman Lionel Conacher. The success of the Yellow Jackets led to the NHL expanding into Pittsburgh for the 1925-26 season as the Pirates joined the league.

The Pirates opened that season with wins over Boston and Montreal in late November of 1925, but dropped their home opener on December 2 in overtime by a 2-1 score to the New York Americans. The Pirates would finish in third-place in '25-26, but the loss of Conacher and Worters in successive seasons would help in the Pirates' plummet down the standings. By 1929-30, the team won just five of 44 games. They would move to Philadelphia for the 1930-31 season where they would play as the Quakers.

There are some fantastic photos and great information on the Pittsburgh Hornets in this article, and I may go through it with a fine-toothed comb in the future. But we must push onward.

In one advertisement, a replica Penguins jersey was selling at JC Penney for a mere $45. Outside of a garage sale or a thrift store, has anyone paid $45 for a replica jersey today? I'm thinking "no". In another advertisement, it was announced that 1989-90 would be the first season that the Center Ice Collection would be offered. If that doesn't sound familiar to you, the Center Ice Collection is the authentic on-ice merchandise sold by the NHL. Can you believe that 1989-90 was the first season authentic on-ice merchandise was offered?

There's a great article on the two superstars of the game in 1990 - Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux - written by Michael A. Berger on, ironically, page 99. The comparisons in the article try to break down the age-old question of "which superstar is better". Again, there are some incredible photos of the two players in their youth, but the article is a pretty impressive examination of the two players up to that point. You're welcome to pick whomever you think was better and post that answer in the comments.

There's a fabulous section on the history of the NHL All-Star Game, and it really should be read by all hockey fans. Every game from the Ace Bailey Benefit game to the 1990 game is reviewed with rosters and scoring summaries. It might be my most favorite section of the program.

Hockey programs aren't usually special, but All-Star Game programs always have some great features and articles. I only went over this program quickly today, but I will work some of the information found in its covers into future stories. The hockey history - something I am a huge fan of - will certainly get a little more coverage.

But seriously... $45 for a replica jersey? Let's go back to those economics!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

KHL Schedule Announced

It seems odd that an ice hockey league would announce its upcoming schedule in detail before the end of June, but the KHL has come out with its schedule for the 2012-13 season today. If the CBA negotiations break down in the NHL, this schedule could become very important to hockey fans needing their fix of the fastest team game on the planet. That being said, let's take a look at the highlights that we should expect in the upcoming season.

Before we begin, it sounds like the KHL experienced a few scheduling problems this year in planning out their season. KHL Hockey Operations Vice-President Vladimir Shalaev said, "[H]ardly any of the clubs in the KHL own their home arenas. Lev of Prague, for instance, has notified us of 39 days on which the rink is unavailable for home games during the coming season. We also sympathize with Salavat Yulaev, who will have a long and arduous spell on the road during the winter while Ufa hosts the 2013 World Junior Championships. The team is also due to play on New Year's Eve in the Spengler Cup."

Despite Mr. Shalaev's complaints about the scheduling in certain arenas, the 2012-13 KHL season will feature the following highlights this year.

The opening night of the KHL's newest season will begin on September 4 in Moscow as last year's finalists - Dynamo Moscow and Avangard Omsk - will meet for the Lokomotiv Cup in memory of the tragedy that occurred last season. As you may remember, Dynamo Moscow won the Gagarin Cup last season, so they'll be looking to add another piece of hardware to their trophy case.

In memory of their fallen comrades, the KHL has declared that no games be played on September 7. September 7, 2012 marks the first anniversary of hockey's worst tragedy in the game's history, and I commend the KHL for this move. The loss of the players and coaching staff of Yaroslavl Lokomotiv last season should never be forgotten as 45 people had their lives and the lives of their families torn apart by this tragedy. Good on the KHL for recognizing the gravity of the situation.

The fifth KHL All-Star Game will take place on January 12 and 13 in Chelyabinsk. Home to Traktor Chelyabinsk, the city's 1.13 million people will get a chance to see the KHL's best players compete in the annual KHL Skills Competition before the KHL All-Star Game as well. The two captains have yet to be announced, but expect Sandis Ozolinsh and Sergei Fedorov to remain as the figureheads for the two teams as they were last season. Just as a note, Chelyabinsk is approximately 1750km east of Moscow - a 23-hour drive on the M7 - for those that are looking to attend the game this season. PLan your travels accordingly!

One week after the KHL All-Star Game, the KHL lands in North America as there will be two games played in the brand-new Barclay's Center in New York City. The borough of Brooklyn will welcome reigning KHL champion Dynamo Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg to the new arena in two games being played on January 19 and 20. More details surrounding the events associated with these games will be announced as these dates near.

The season will run 52 games for each team. The final games will be played on February 17 with the Gagarin Cup Playoffs beginning on February 20. Each playoff round will be a seven-game series, and the final game of the Gagarin Cup Final has been marked as April 19, 2013.

Each team will play against every other team twice – once at home and once as the visitors. There will be an additional pair of games, one at home and one on the road, between the following pairings:
  • Ak Bars – Salavat Yulaev
  • Amur – Atlant
  • Barys – Avangard
  • CSKA – Spartak
  • Dinamo Riga – Dinamo Minsk
  • Dynamo Moscow – SKA
  • Lev – Slovan
  • Lokomotiv – Severstal
  • Metallurg Magnitogorsk – Traktor
  • Metallurg Novokuznetsk – Sibir
  • Torpedo – Neftekhimik
  • Vityaz – Donbass
  • Yugra – Avtomobilist
We'll see a few new teams this season as well. Lev Prague of the Czech Republic, Slovan Bratislava of Slovakia, and Donbass Donetsk will join Vityaz Chekhov, Dynamo Moscow, Dinamo Riga, and SKA St. Petersburg in the Bobrov Division in the Western Conference. The other three divisions will remain as they were this past season, and the KHL will have 26 teams once again. The Western Conference will have 14 teams playing this season while the Eastern Conference will have 12 teams.

There are your outlined highlights. The regular season schedule can be downloaded in Adobe format here if you'd like a hard-copy. Personally, I'm excited to see the new teams in action in the KHL, and I want to see if Dynamo Moscow can successfully defend their title this season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Changing Of The Rearguard

His very first game happened on October 3, 1991 when the Detroit Red Wings battled their division rivals in the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-3 tie at the legendary Chicago Stadium. Twenty years, seven months, and 28 days later, one of the all-time greatest defencemen has finally decided to call it a career in Detroit. Nicklas Lidstrom, one of the classiest men to have ever laced up the skates on this planet, has decided to retire.

Lidstrom may not have been the flashiest player on the ice, but you always knew what you got when #5 went over the boards. He was a consummate professional, and relished the job he was given in shadowing the opposition's best while still playing at an exceptionally high level in the offensive zone. He was a rock for Scotty Bowman and Mike Babcock, and he really became the foundation of the franchise after the tragic accident to Vladimir Konstantinov in 1997. With legends such as Howe, Yzerman, Lindsay, and Sawchuk already donning the Winged Wheel, Nicklas Lidstrom carved out a career that put him in the same echelon as the greats that once wore Detroit red-and-white.

Seven Norris Trophies leaves him one shy of Bobby Orr's record of eight, and he is tied in Norris Trophies for second with another legend in Doug Harvey. He earned the 2002 Conn Smythe Trophy, and added his name to the Stanley Cup four times. He was the first European born-and-trained captain of a Stanley Cup-winning team in 2008. He played in 12 NHL All-Star Games. He never missed the playoffs. He score the gold medal-winning goal for Sweden in the 2006 Turin Olympics. He met the President of the United States, and presented him with two Red Wings jerseys for him and his father. He played in a Winter Classic. He scored a total of 1325 points for the Detroit Red Wings over a twenty-year career. In today's day and age of free agency and big money, he was one of the few to play his entire career in one city for one franchise. In short, Nicklas Lidstrom was someone special.

Nicklas Lidstrom went from this fresh-faced kid, pictured with Vladimir Konstantinov, in 1991...
... to one of the NHL's all-time best rearguards to have ever played the game. The respect he earned from his teammates and opponents can be clearly seen.
A new era begins in Detroit in 2013. It is an era where #5 will not take the ice in training camp or exhibition games as players begin to work off any rust from the off-season. It is an era where a new player will be forced to hold the torch high and continue the excellence that Nicklas Lidstrom forged in Detroit. The past era, forever known in Hockeytown as the "Lidstrom Legacy", will be a benchmark all future eras can be measured against for all of time.

When a player like Nicklas Lidstrom leaves the game, the game itself changes. And for all that Nicklas Lidstrom did in his career, he is certainly a living legend amongst the hockey community. There may never be a better defenceman to pull on the Winger Wheel sweater, and, if that's the case, I'm happy to have lived to see Nicklas Lidstrom play the game beautifully in his gifted way.

Heroes get remembered, but legends, especially those of Lidstrom's status, never die. Enjoy your retirement, Mr. Lidstrom, and may you and your family experience many more great moments after hockey.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

His Agent Says No

It seems as though the Alexander Burmistrov story that HBIC commented on yesterday did have an unresearched second side to the story. It was reported that the young Jets winger had been contacted about playing for the KHL's Ak Bars Kazan next season. Burmistrov's agent, Mark Gandler, was actually contacted by the Winnipeg Free Press in the wake of this story breaking in order to get the low-down on what was actually happening with Burmistrov for the next season. Burmistrov had a career-high of 28 points last season for the Jets, but really looked like he was finiding his own in some games. Granted, he did disappear for games at a time, but the young Russian showed flashes of brilliance that had the Jets high on his game. So what gives from the Burmistrov side of the story?

To recap, we heard the story told by the Cult of Hockey blog yesterday about how Ak Bars Kazan reached out to Burmistrov about coming to play for his hometown team, but Mark Gandler firmly and emphatically shot down those rumours yesterday and today about his young client.

"Alex Burmistrov is under contract to the Winnipeg Jets," Gandler told Winnipeg Free Press reporters Ed Tait and Gary Lawless. "Neither Alex or I heard from that team, so that’s the end of that story."

When asked by the reporters if Burmistrov intended to honour the final year of his contract and report back to the Jets for next season, Gandler bluntly answered, "That is correct. End of story."

There had been times this past season where the Jets coaching staff spoke to Burmistrov about his play. Honestly, this isn't uncommon as younger players need to be kept on track when it comes to their development at both ends of the ice. From the linked report above, it sounds as though Burmistrov took this as a sign of disrespect from the coaches if we are to believe the unnamed veteran player who spoke out about Burmistrov.

This could have factored into the story being spread yesterday about Burmistrov listening to offers from Ak Bars Kazan, but I'm going to believe that Mark Gandler has his client's best interests in mind when it comes to his development, his talent, and his pay. After all, agents do earn a commission from their clients, and the KHL may differ greatly from the NHL in how the KHL deals with player agents (if they do at all).

The problem with Burmistrov is the same with a lot of the younger players that Atlanta employed: they were rushed to the NHL. Alexander Burmistrov wasn't the first to be put on a pedestal as the Thrashers went with youth to try and build their franchise. While players like Heatley and Kovalchuk have immense talent to make up for some of their defensive liabilities, there's no denying that players like Burmistrov, Kari Lehtonen (now with Dallas), Niclas Bergfors (now in the KHL), and Anthony Stewart (now with Carolina) all could have used a little seasoning down on the farm to ease the transition into playing against the men in the NHL.

Instead, Burmistrov's speed and hands kept him in a Thrashers uniform as the Atlanta front office and coaching staff employed a "trial by fire" method of making him into an NHL player. Burmistrov still isn't there at the age of 22, so it might be time to pull the line on him and let him develop against AHL talent a little more.

Don't think that'll work? I beg to differ. Check out this list of players in the 2010 AHL All-Star Game. You'll note a common theme in their 2012 work: Michal Neuvirth, Lars Eller, John Carlson, Jonathan Bernier, Logan Couture, and Tyler Ennis. Did you find the similarity? If you said that they all played significant roles for their NHL teams this season, you'd be right.

The 2009 AHL All-Star teams featured a pile of additional players that starred in the NHL this season: Johnny Boychuk, Cory Schneider, Teddy Purcell, Artem Anisimov and Ben Lovejoy. The 2008 AHL All-Star Game saw PlanetUSA line-up three goaltending greats as their three netminders as Jimmy Howard, Pekka Rinne, and Tuukka Rask all saw action in the All-Star Game along with Bobby Ryan, Joakim Lindstrom, and Alex Goligoski. Putting young players into a developmental league will, ironically, help them develop!

If the talk surrounding Alexander Burmistrov is to send him to St. John's for some AHL training, that may have prompted the chatter from Ak Bars Kazan to put out the feelers on Burmistrov. After all, it's a significant paycut for the youngster - from $1.5 million to $67,500 - if he does play as an IceCap, and the play in the KHL is very similar to that in the AHL. The difference? The KHL has a much bigger payday than the AHL does for emerging talent.

I'm going to take Mark Gandler at his word that Burmistrov will return to the Jets next season. Again, it makes no sense to have him contractually-bound to the NHL team if he decides to jump to the KHL in the hopes of returning and signing elsewhere one day. While there may be a blow to his pride by sending him to St. John's, Burmistrov is going to have to learn that sometimes you have to take a step back in order to take two steps forward. At his current pace, he's standing still in terms of his development.

If he needs some advice, though, I will offer this: swallow your pride. It's a team game, and individuals don't succeed without the team around them.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Grading The Entrants

The papers have all been graded, and there were some very good efforts put forth by a number of participants in the HBIC Exam. I won't lie when I say that this might have been one of the most interesting pieces I have put together, and I'm very happy with the results that people turned in. While the numbers were lower than I would have liked, the dozen or so people showed off a ton of hockey knowledge in figuring out some of these questions. The one thing that seemed to catch a lot of entrants was the fact that some of the answers were found in the history of the WHA. That being said, a lot of the questions were certainly NHL-based, but I found myself impressed with the efforts put forth by all of the people who submitted answers.

Pat yourselves on the back, people, because you did very well. The marks for the 11 people who entered ranged from 78% to 84% - very good marks and everyone showed a lot of knowledge. There was only one person who scored 84%, so that person will be named the winner of this HBIC Exam contest. I'll post his name below. For now, let's check out the answers.

  1. What was Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Aldege Bastien better known as? Baz
  2. What NHL star did Gordie Howe call "Little Beaver" after a comic strip character? Marcel Dionne
  3. What was the name of the line comprised of Hooley Smith, Babe Siebert, and Nels Stewart? The S Line
  4. What one-time Maple Leafs centerman answered to "Hinky"? Billy Harris
  5. What New England Whalers sniper was nicknamed "Hawkeye" in the WHA? Tom Webster
  6. What was Leafs forward "Mirko" Frycer's first name? Miroslav
  7. What Leafs legend inspired author Vincent Lunny to call him "a Rembrandt on the ice, a Nijinsky at the goalmouth"? Syl Apps
  8. What was the name of the line that featured Charlie Simmer, Marcel Dionne, and Dave Taylor? The Triple Crown Line
  9. What hockey player did Bill Mazer dub "The Golden Golden" on US national TV? Bobby Orr
  10. What Chicago Blackhawks defenceman answered to the name "Whitey"? Pat Stapleton
  11. What Minnesota North Stars coach and GM was nicknamed "Bird"? Wren Blair
  12. What Los Angeles Kings defenceman was dubbed "Captain Crunch"? Gilles Marotte
  13. Which NHL coach was known as "The Fog"? Fred Shero
  14. What former Blackhawk was nicknamed "Stash"? Stan Mikita
  15. Which Montreal Canadiens star did Russian coach Viktor Tikhonov call the world's most technically perfect hockey player? Bob Gainey
  16. What New York Rangers captain was called "Bubba"? Barry Beck
  17. What was the name of the line that featured Gordie Howe, Sid Abel, and Ted Lindsay? The Production Line
  18. What New York Ranger was called both "Mr. Ranger" and "Mr. Hot Rod"? Rod Gilbert
  19. Red Wings goaltender Roger Crozier has what unusual nickname? The Dodger
  20. What was Hockey Hall of Famer David Schriner's nickname? Sweeney
  21. Chuck Rayner, Americans and Rangers goaltender, had what unique nickname? Bonnie Prince Charlie
  22. Who was "The Popcorn Kid"? Mike Palmateer
  23. Who did francophones call "Le Demon Blond"? Guy Lafleur
  24. What was the nickname of former NHL referee Ian Morrison? Scotty
  25. Which member of the French Connection line did Punch Imlach say was "the greatest natural scorer I've ever coached"? Rick Martin
  1. What is a goalie's goals-against average if he yields four goals in 80 minutes of play? 3.00
  2. How many Stanley Cup-winning goals did Maurice Richard score in his career? 1
  3. What Canadiens goaltending legend retired with 14 career playoff shutouts? Jacques Plante
  4. What Western Hockey League professional legend played a record 1425 games over 22 seasons? Guyle Fielder
  5. How old was Lorne "Gump" Worsley when he stopped his last NHL shot? 44
  6. What defenceman donned #5 in his first NHL All-Star Game in 1968? Bobby Orr
  7. What number did Bobby Hull wear immediately before switching to his iconic #9? 7
  8. What is the maximum curve, in inches, of an NHL stick's blade? 3/4"
  9. Who was the first player in NHL history to score 60 or more goals and not be named to the NHL's first all-star team? Phil Esposito
  10. What Red Wings centerman set a record for shorthanded goals in one season in 1974-75 with 10? Marcel Dionne
  11. How many games did each NHL team's schedule increase by for the 1967-68 season? 4
  12. Which team was the first North American hockey club to boast three 50-goal scorers on its roster? Quebec Nordiques
  13. Of the 40 road games that the Capitals played in 1974-75, how many did they win? 1
  14. Which player became the first to score 50 goals in a season without scoring a hat trick? Vic Hadfield
  15. Chicago's Sam LoPresti faced 83 shots against the Bruins on March 4, 1941. How many saves did he make? 80
  16. What NHL defenceman scored an NHL-record five goals against the Detroit Red Wings in 1977? Ian Turnbull
  17. What number did Russian defenceman Alexander Ragulin make famous? 5
  18. How many times did the Edmonton Oil Kings win the Memorial Cup during the 1960s? 2
  19. Whose #11 was the first number retired by the Vancouver Canucks? Wayne Maki
  20. How many times does defenceman Bill Gadsby's name appear on the Stanley Cup? Zero
  21. Who was the first Maple Leaf to notch 50 goals in one season? Rick Vaive
  22. What number did rugged Canadien John Ferguson wear as a member of the Canadiens? 22
  23. Who scored a franchise-record 56 goals for the Hartford Whalers? Blaine Stoughton
  24. How old was Gordie Howe when he won the WHA MVP in 1974? 46
  25. What number did Pierre Larouche wear as a member of the Canadiens after being traded by Pittsburgh in 1977? 28
  1. Which of the NHL's 1967 expansion clubs was the first to advance to a Stanley Cup Final, and in what year did they perform this feat? St. Louis Blues in 1968
  2. What player became the first NHLer to be assessed a triple minor penalty, and what team did he play for? John Ferguson of the Montreal Canadiens
  3. What NHL expansion team modeled its uniform trim on that of the Toronto Maple Leafs? Buffalo Sabres
  4. Which soon-to-be NHL bench boss coached Jean Béliveau for two seasons with the Quebec Aces? Punch Imlach
  5. What NHL star was the spokesman for and user of Grecian Formula? Maurice Richard
  6. What former Boston Bruins forward scored the first goal in New York Islanders history? Ed Westfall
  7. Before switching to Easton's aluminum sticks, what brand of hockey stick was Wayne Gretzky famous for using? Titan
  8. What Detroit centerman was awarded to the Los Angeles Kings in a compensation dispute by the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals? Dale McCourt
  9. What Schenley Award winner with the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers spent the off-seasons playing hockey for the Toronto Maple Leafs? Gerry James
  10. What former Maple Leafs star and coach represented Waterloo South as a member of parliament in Canada's House of Commons from 1951 to 1953? Howie Meeker
  11. What animal appeared on the front of the jerseys for the Czechoslovakian national hockey team? A lion
  12. Before Glen Sather took over behind the bench for the first time, who coached the Edmonton Oilers? Bryan Watson
  13. What four men coached the Canadian team at the 1976 Canada Cup? Don Cherry, Scotty Bowman, Al MacNeil, Bobby Kromm
  14. What general manager did The Globe and Mail's Dick Beddoes call "the smartest man... connected with hockey in any front-office job"? Sam Pollock
  15. What player, who never could crack an NHL roster, rewrote the American Hockey League's record book for 16 seasons with the Cleveland Barons? Fred Glover
  16. What Red Wings player lost the sight in his right eye after being clipped by Doug Mohns' stick in 1966? Doug Barkley
  17. What former NHL coach was behind the bench for Swiss Second Division club Sierres during the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons? Jacques Lemaire
  18. Who was the last Maple Leaf to win the NHL scoring title? Gordie Drillon
  19. What rookie goaltender did Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion beat for his 50th goal during the 1960-61 season? Cesare Maniago
  20. Besides $500, what did the Detroit Red Wings give Gordie Howe when he signed his first contract with them? A Red Wings jacket
  21. What goaltender was the first player to make the NHL first all-star team with three different teams? Glenn Hall
  22. What former rugged NHL defenceman coached the WHA's Toronto Toros in 1975-76? Bobby Baun
  23. What team posted a 9-7-3 win-loss-tied record when the NHL Stanley Cup Champions played the NHL All-Stars? The NHL All-Stars
  24. Who assisted on all three of Billy Mosienko's goals for the fastest hat trick in history? Gus Bodnar
  25. What former Los Angeles Kings coach was once the player-manager of the Innsbruck team in the Austrian national league? Larry Regan
  26. Who broke down and wept after being fired as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs? Roger Neilson
  27. Whose last mask, adorned with a red maple leaf, now sits in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Jacques Plante
  28. What Leafs defenceman led the NHL in penalty minutes for eight consecutive seasons staring in 1932-33? Red Horner
  29. What nation shocked the hockey world by tying Canada 3-3 at the 1982 World Championships? Italy
  30. What college did Tony Esposito tend nets for? Michigan Tech
  31. What player was the first in professional hockey to score 50 goals in less than 50 games from the start of a season? Anders Hedberg
  32. What Canadiens defenceman was offered - and rejected - an offer to tryout for baseball's Boston Braves? Doug Harvey
  33. Before the goal light was introduced, what did NHL goal judges use to signal a goal? A white hankerchief
  34. What innovation in hockey did referee Fred Waghorne initiate in 1900? The face-off
  35. What distinction made the St. Catherines Orioles unique as a hockey team? Canada's only all-black hockey team
  36. Who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the New York Islanders in overtime in 1980? Bob Nystrom
  37. Who was the first player to win a scoring title as a member of the 1967 expansion teams? Marcel Dionne
  38. What former NHL goaltender provided color commentary for ABC's television coverage of the 1980 Olympic hockey tournament? Ken Dryden
  39. What former Penguin and Scout was sentenced to seven years in prison for cocaine importing? Steve Durbano
  40. What former NHL owner was once a Canadian speedskating champion? Harold Ballard
  41. What was NHL President Clarence Campbell referring to in 1968 when he coldly stated, "They are available"? Helmets
  42. In the 1967 expansion draft, who did the Los Angeles Kings select as the first goaltender? Terry Sawchuk
  43. What was the first NHL team to have a goal against it credited to an opposing goaltender? Colorado Rockies
  44. What former Ranger was a model for Sassoon jeans? Ron Duguay
  45. In the 1976 Stanley Cup Final, what did Flyers coach Fred Shero ask for a measurement on, resulting in a penalty against the Montreal Canadiens? Ken Dryden's goal pads
  46. Who was the first Czechoslovakian goaltender to play for the Maple Leafs? Jiri Crha
  47. Who sung the mega-hit Honky the Christmas Goose? Johnny Bower
  48. Who said, "Dad taught us never to immediately rush at somebody who takes a shot at us"? Marty Howe
  49. Who is the only Canadian Governor-General that has been immortalized in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Lord Stanley of Preston
  50. Whose single-season NHL scoring record did Wayne Gretzky eclipse with 212 points? His own
Ok, so the person who scored 84% was David F. He did very well, scoring 24/25 in the Nicknames section, 22/25 in the Numbers section, and 38/50 in the General Knowledge section. David has been sent an email with the details of the prizing - a Buffalo Sabres "Buffa-slug" jersey and a Winnipeg Jets t-shirt - where he can choose between a couple of different styles. Once he has his selection made, the prizes will be mailed out. Well done, David, and excellent work in earning the top mark on the exam!

For everyone else, well done to you as well! You still have options for prizes, though, as the 2012 HBIC Playoff Pool is now open and awaiting your entry! Get your picks in, and you'll be eligible for prizes in this contest as well!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!