Sunday, 21 October 2018

The Rundown - Week 3

After seeing the shuffle last week in the standings, there were all sorts of match-ups this week in Canada West women's hockey that could change fortunes in the first half of the season. It's becoming very apparent that within the eight Canada West teams, there are no pushovers when it comes to a weekend series and every point in the standings will earned and not given. Can Alberta remain atop the standings? Can Manitoba break out of the scoring funk they seem to be in? Can Calgary and Lethbridge get things going? Week Three of The Rundown will answer these questions!

SASKATCHEWAN at LETHBRIDGE: Lethbridge needed a couple of home wins to move back among the upper teams in the conference, but they'd face a tough test in the Saskatchewan Huskies. The Huskies came in having won both games in Calgary the week before, so the Pronghorns had to come out ready. And they did - they were the better team early on, but Saskatchewan found their legs as the period wore on. Both netminders were good as Alicia Anderson stopped all nine shots she faced while Camryn Drever, making her first Canada West start, stopped the six shots sent her way.

The two goaltenders were just as stingy when it came to goals in the second period. Saskatchewan carried the play until running into some penalty trouble, but the Huskies penalty-killing units remained perfect through 15 power-plays thus far this season as the teams remained tied 0-0 through 40 minutes.

With Anderson having been the busier of the two goalies, she looked like she was in mid-season form in the third period. After stopping 15 shots in the middle frame, Anderson followed up that effort with another 14 stops in the third period. Drever, not to outdone by the veteran Lethbridge goalie, made ten stops of her own in the third period, but neither the Huskies nor the Pronghorns could solve the goalies through regulation time.

Overtime, however, would be short and sweet for one team. After the Pronghorns broke into the Huskies zone to start the overtime period, Leah Bohlken forced a turnover and went the other way with Abby Shirley on a two-on-one. Bohlken made a gorgeous pass along the ice to Shirley who made no mistake in wiring a shot past Anderson just 14 seconds into extra time as Saskatchewan takes the 1-0 overtime win! Drever earns her first Canada West win and Canada West shutout with her 22-save performance while Anderson deserved a better fate after stopping 38 shots for the Pronghorns.

Again, kudos to Saskatchewan on their player GIFs.

SASKATCHEWAN at LETHBRIDGE: After the performances by the two netminders the night before, this game featured the two de facto starters for both teams as Jessica Vance and Alicia Anderson went to their respective creases. In other words, this game may be another low-scoring event with how these two defend the twine.

Anderson was spectacular in the early going as she stoned the Huskies once again including a clear-cut breakaway by Emily Upgang. However, the Huskies' persistence would be rewarded eventually, even if the goal wasn't the prettiest. With a referee's arm in the air after a Lethbridge player committed a foul, Chelsea Debusschere's centering pass from the half-boards deflected up and over the shoulder of Anderson to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead at 16:17! That advantage would hold true through to the intermission, and the Huskies held the edge in shots at 14-9.

The second period opened just as the first did with Saskatchewan pressing, but it would be the Pronghorns who tallied first.
Ashley McCabe made a great play at the blue line to poke a puck away from a Saskatchewan player, and she would turn on the jets. As she was being checked in the Saskatchewan zone, she slid the puck across the ice to rookie Kenzie Lausberg, and the first-year player made no mistake in burying it behind Vance to tie the game at 1-1 at the 4:27 mark!

Nearly six minutes later after controlling the play once more, the Huskies found the back of the net again. The initial shot by Shyan Elias was stopped, but Anderson couldn't smother the rebound before Bailee Bourassa whacked home the loose puck to put the Huskies up 2-1 at 10:19. The Pronghorns wouldn't sit back as the period continued, and they nearly tied it off a shot that beat Vance but could not beat the red iron. The score would hold to the end of the period, and Saskatchewan took a 30-23 advantage in shots and a 2-1 lead into the intermission.

The third period looked like trademark Saskatchewan hockey as they came out and locked down their zone. Shots came at a premium for the Pronghorns, and the ones that did get through were easily handled by Vance. Even with the extra attacker for 1:14, the Pronghorns couldn't generate any dangerous chances as the clock expired on this game with Saskatchewan picking up the 2-1 win. Vance was solid in stopping 27 shots for her third win of the season while Anderson dropped her fourth game despite making 38 saves.

Again, Saskatchewan's GIFs are the best GIFs.

MOUNT ROYAL at ALBERTA: Alberta, who came into this game having shutout Manitoba twice, was looking to continue their winning ways against the Cougars. Mount Royal needed to end their two-game losing streak, but tonight's game simply went south in a hurry for the Calgary-based squad.

Alex Poznikoff at 3:20, Regan Wright at 8:54, and Autumn MacDougall on the power-play at 19:49 put the Pandas up 3-0 through the opening period where Alberta outshot 13-5 as their dominance on home ice continued. Zoe De Beauville would take a seat on the bench to start the second period as Emily Severson took over for Mount Royal to try and stop the bleeding, but she would fare no better.

Kennedy Ganser made it 4-0 for the Pandas at 10:06 of the second period while Alex Poznikoff scored on the power-play just 16 seconds into the third before Abby Benning added another goal 24 seconds later to make it 6-0 for Alberta. Amy Boucher would score with 1:01 to play as this game was all Alberta in a 7-0 trouncing of Mount Royal. Kirsten Chamberlin stopped the nine shots she faced for her second win and first shutout of the season while Zoe De Beauville took the loss after stopping ten of 13 first-period shots. For the record, Emily Severson made 15 stops on 19 shots in her 40 minutes of work.

All the highlights of this game can be found here.

ALBERTA at MOUNT ROYAL: After the hammering that the Pandas laid on the Cougars the night before, you had to wonder if Mount Royal would find the resiliency to come out and change their fortunes on Saturday. There would be no time to lick their wounds as the second-half of the weekend series went less than 24 hours later and moved down the highway to Flames Community Arena where Mount Royal would have home-ice advantage.

The Pandas did what they do well in getting out and putting pressure on their opposition, but goaltender Zoe De Beauville was on her game as she weathered the early storm. The Cougars would give their netminder some breathing room when Alberta goalie Halle Oswald kicked out an Anna Purschke shot, but the rebound went to Camryn Amundson who made no mistake with the puck in putting it behind Oswald at 6:21 for the 1-0 Cougars lead! 1:28 later, that slim lead became a two-goal lead when Kate Scidmore scored off a rebound kicked out by Oswald, and Mount Royal held the 2-0 advantage!

Alberta, knowing they needed to up their game, came roaring back with pressure, and Kelsey Tangjerd's shot found its way past De Beauville at 11:04 to close the gap for Pandas to one goal. Despite the growing momentum following the Alberta goal, we'd get no others in the opening frame as Mount Royal held the 9-6 advantage in shots and the 2-1 edge on the scoreboard!

The second period was played fairly evenly as both sides had shots, but both Oswald and De Beauville were equal to the task. Despite Alberta outshooting Mount Royal 9-8 in the period, we'd go to the third period with the 2-1 score holding firm.

The third period saw both teams loosening the defence as they pressed for goals. Alberta had chances. Mount Royal had chances. Both teams pressed. However, it would be a Tianna Ko clap-bomb that would be the only goal recorded when she blasted one past Oswald at 10:40 to put the Cougars up 3-1. Being that I just stated no other goals were scored outside of Ko's goal, you can safely guess that this game finished 3-1 in favour of the Cougars! De Beauville bounced back for her second win of the season in making 18 stops while Oswald suffered her first Canada West loss despite making 18 saves as well.

MANITOBA at REGINA: The Bisons came into Regina having been shutout in two-straight games. Needless to say, they also came into Regina with the Cougars sporting a hot goaltender in Jane Kish and a two-game win streak. Could the Bisons rediscover their scoring ways? Could Regina hand the Bisons a third-straight loss?

Regina was certainly the better team in the opening period despite the shots being almost even. Regina appeared to have their legs under them early, and it paid off midway through the period when Emma Waldenberger's shot was kicked aside by Manitoba goaltender Lauren Taraschuk, but Tamara McVannel jumped off the blue line into the high slot area where she ripped home the rebound to put the Cougars up 1-0 at 11:51! Regina outshot Manitoba 15-14 in the period and held the 1-0 lead through twenty minutes.

The second period started with goal before the layer of water had even frozen! Off a Manitoba rush into the zone, Erica Rieder centered a pass from behind the net that deflected off a player out front and past Kish to put Manitoba on the board just 12 seconds into the middle frame to make it 1-1! Manitoba seemed to be figuring out this offence thing as the period progressed, but it would be Regina would led the period in shots once again as they held an 8-6 advantage. There would be just the one goal scored, though, as Manitoba and Regina went to the second intermission tied 1-1.

The third period? It was all about the goals! Madison Cole capitalized on a turnover in the slot as she picked the corner to beat Kish at 2:54 to put Manitoba up 2-1! The two teams would go back and forth as Regina pressed for an equalizer, but it would be Manitoba who would open up a two-goal lead when Natasha Kostenko deflected an Alexandra Anderson shot past Kish at 14:29 to make it 3-1 for the Bisons! That lead would be cut to one goal 56 seconds later as Adela Juzkova followed her own backhander, grabbing the rebound issued by Taraschuk, and beating the netminder to make it 3-2!

Kish would be summoned to the net with over three minutes to play as the Cougars pressed for the equalizer, but it would be Manitoba's Karissa Kirkup who found the abandoned Regina net with her shot at 19:02 to propel the Bisons to the 4-2 victory! Taraschuk stopped 30 shots as she picked up her third win of the season while Kish stopped 30 shots of her own in the loss.

MANITOBA at REGINA: The two teams entered Saturday's contest with similar 3-2-0-0 records, so something had to give. The only question was which team would grab the advantage? The Bisons would hit the scoreboard first as Natasha Kostenko centered a puck that found the stick of Sheridan Oswald, and the Bisons' sniper went five-hole on Morgan Baker at 3:48 to put Manitoba out in front 1-0. Regina would respond just past the midway point of the period when Jaycee Magwood sent Jordan Kulbida in alone on a breakaway, and she would fire a shot over Lauren Taraschuk's glove at 12:54 to even the game at 1-1! Regina held a 12-8 lead in shots at the intermission, but the teams were deadlocked at 1-1.

The second period opened with both teams playing a little more defensively-minded. The Cougars would grab the lead at 6:52 when Jaycee Magwood's rather innocent-looking shot somehow found its way between Taraschuk's pads and slid slowly across the goal line for the 2-1 Regina lead. Late in the period, Manitoba squared the game up when Lauryn Keen took up residence at the top of Baker's crease and deflected a Taryn Kokesch shot past the Regina netminder at 18:47 to make it a 2-2 contest through 40 minutes!

The third period started with Erica Rieder being sent off for a trip, giving Regina the opportunity they needed to take the lead. Emma Waldenberger took a pass from Emily Middagh, broke into the Manitoba zone on the left side, and wired a wrist shot high to the right corner of the net past Taraschuk at 1:43 for the power-play and, more importantly, the 3-2 lead!

This goal seemed to light a fire under the Bisons, one Bisons player in particular.
Wowzers! Karissa Kirkup began this play by circling in front of her own net before heading up ice on the right side. She chipped the puck past Waldenberger, but it went a little too far for her to collect. She continued the forecheck, and forced turnover at the Regina blue line. Upon collecting the puck with speed, she went to the backhand high over Baker's glove to complete an incredible individual effort on a highlight-reel goal as Kirkup's unassisted marker at 6:55 brought the Bisons back to even at 3-3!

Despite the early goals, both team traded chances before the horn sounded. With the game knotted up at 3-3, we were off to overtime! The four-on-four overtime saw Manitoba outshoot Regina 4-1, but we'd see no goals. The three-on-three overtime was nearly decided when Alison Sexton got a step on a defender, took a pass from Kirkup, and went to the backhand, but her shot miss the post after Baker bit hard on the deke. With no goals in the second overtime period, we'd need a skills competition to settle this game!

Jordyn Zacharias and Jaycee Magwood would trade goals in Round One. Round Two saw Courtlyn Oswald and Emma Waldenburger both find the back of the net. This left Karissa Kirkup and Emily Middagh to try and settle this game.
Kirkup's goal combined with Taraschuk's save gave Manitoba the 3-2 advantage in the shootout and the 4-3 shootout victory! Taraschuk stopped 28 shots plus another in the shootout to give her the win while Baker took the loss while stopping 27 shots but went 0-for-3 in the shootout.

CALGARY at UBC: There's no doubt that Calgary has struggled thus far, picking up just one point of a possible 12 points total. UBC, meanwhile, has built a 3-1-0-0 record and was looking to continue their winning ways. Remember how I mentioned how things went south in a hurry for the Calgary-based Cougars? Well, the same thing could be said for the Calgary-based Dinos.

Ireland Perrott opened the scoring at the 6:36 mark of the first period, and Ashley McFadden added a power-play marker with one minute to play in the first period as UBC jumped out to the 2-0 lead.

There would be no goals recorded in the second period, but the third period saw a pair of empty-net goals with Calgary's Kelsey Roberts on the bench. Celine Tardif hit the yawning cage at 17:08 and Mathea Fischer potted her own empty-netter at 18:50 to wrap up the 4-0 UBC victory. Amelia Boughn stopped all 20 shots she faced for her second win and first clean sheet of the season while Kelsey Roberts stopped 36 shots in the loss.

Highlights of this game can be found below!

CALGARY at UBC: After being beaten at virtually every facet of the game one night earlier, Calgary really needed to find another gear if they hoped to earn a victory over UBC this weekend. UBC, on the other hand, was looking for a second-straight weekend sweep, and they pretty much put on a repeat performance of what they did the night before.

UBC played fairly conservatively in the opening of this game, but they would use their speed to open the scoring.
Logan Boyd and Rylind MacKinnon broke in on the two-on-one, and Boyd's decision to keep and shoot was a good one as she fired the puck past Calgary's Kira Wasylak at 7:08 to make it 1-0 for the T-Birds. Calgary amassed most of their shots on a couple of late power-plays, but the UBC penalty-killing units were equal to the task as the Thunderbirds took the 1-0 lead into the intermission.

Calgary's Merissa Dawson would be called early in the second period for using the body a little too aggressively, and that sent UBC to the power-play just 53 seconds into the stanza. That's the break UBC needed to double their lead.
Rylind MacKinnon's blast from the point found the back of the net at 1:39 for the power-play goal, and the T-Birds held the 2-0 lead. Calgary would respond by using speed to dictate the pace, but UBC adapted and would prevent the Dinos from ruining Tory Micklash's evening. After two periods, UBC led 2-0 thanks in part to an 18-8 edge in shots.

In the third period, UBC continue to overpower the Dinos, and their persistence in going to the net would pay off with another goal.
Hannah Clayton-Carroll took the great centering pass from Mathea Fischer, and she ripped home the third UBC goal of the night at 10:35. 56 seconds later, Emily Costales netted another goal for UBC, and it was a 4-0 lead for the home squad. The seven shots recorded by Calgary resulted in no goals for them as Tory Micklash was solid on this night, and UBC claimed a fifth-straight win with the 4-0 decision. Micklash recorded her third win and second shutout of the season in stopping all 15 Calgary shots while Wasyluk made 28 stops in the loss.

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
British Columbia
14 16 4
vs ALB
13 9 5
12 13 5
11 15 10
vs MRU
10 16 16
vs SAS
Mount Royal
7 9 18
4 7 12
1 4 19
vs LET

The Last Word

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the three stars from the Calgary Inferno-Kunlun Red Star game today. Notice that woman on the left? That would be the first star of the game and former Manitoba Bisons star Venla Hovi! Hovi recorded a goal and an assist today in the game against KRS, and her goal actually was scored on a deflection in front of Finnish national teammate Noora Raty! Hovi's assist came on the goal scored by the woman standing in the middle. That's Manitoba native Halli Krzyzaniak who scored her first goal today in being named as the second star of the game! Hovi appears to be settling in nicely alongside the plethora of Canada West players who are part of the Inferno roster, and it's nice to see she's doing well at the professional level! Way to go, Venla, and keep up the great play!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Arizona: Home Of The Blues?

In the current professional sports world, relocation seems to be the only option for struggling franchises. We hear about threats of relocation whenever a team needs a new arena or stadium, but it seems a team relocated on Saturday night without anyone knowing if the graphic to the left is to be believed. Fox Sports Arizona decided to toss up the scoreboard chyron, but I'm not certain they know that their team isn't the one based in St. Louis currently.

That image was posted on Twitter by Chris Rongey.
What's entirely ironic about the chyron is the NFL's Arizona Cardinals once called St. Louis home. Of course, the original Winnipeg Jets also moved to Arizona, so there was definite simpatico happening with this chyron. If one wanted to link these three cities together through relocated pro sports franchises, it seems it could be done easily!

Just so we're clear, the Winnipeg Jets downed the Arizona Coyotes 5-3 this afternoon. In the evening, the St. Louis Blues defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. Neither team - Winnipeg or the Blues - met in a game today. I'm glad we cleared that up. Now we just have to hope that Fox Sports Arizona knows which team they cover.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 19 October 2018

A Hero On Multiple Levels

He's the only NHL player to ever hail from the northern Manitoba town of Churchill, and it's just one of the reasons why Jordin Tootoo should be celebrated. The first Inuk to ever lace up the skates in the NHL made the announcement today in Brandon, where he played junior hockey for the WHL's Wheat Kings, that he was retiring from the NHL at the age of 35 after 13 seasons and 723 games in the highest pro circuit. To say he beat the odds in finding his way onto an NHL roster would be an understatement, but for Jordin to make the NHL when the town of Churchill has but one hockey rink is remarkable. He should be hailed as hero and an icon for the Indigenous community, and he's doing incredible work in trying to help Indigenous youth regarding mental health initiatives. Jordin Tootoo will be missed on the ice, but the work he's doing off it will perhaps have a much greater impact.

"When I came to Brandon in 1999, I didn’t think of myself as an Indigenous role model, I was just a hockey player that would fight with everything I had to make the NHL," Tootoo stated in his retirement announcement. "This community embraced me and looked beyond my background and just judged me for how I played the game. And it’s pretty special and symbolic to come full circle and be back here to announce that I have retired from the NHL."

For those that may not know, Tootoo's father, Barney, is of Inuk descent while his mother, Rose, is Ukrainian. He grew up in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut where he was a good athlete, following in his older brother's footsteps as Terence was another talented hockey player. Terence and Jordin both suited up in the MJHL for the Opaskawayak Cree Nation's team known as the OCN Blizzard where they caught the eye of WHL scouts for their scoring and tenacity on the ice.

Things went well for Jordin as he was drafted in the 1998 WHL Bantam Draft by the Brandon Wheat Kings. In 2001, the Nashville Predators made Jordin the first Inuk to be drafted by an NHL team when they took him 98th overall. It seemed the sky was the limit for young Jordin as his dreams would one day be realized.

Things also seemed to be going extremely well for the other Tootoo brother as Terence had just completed his first season in the ECHL with the Roanoke Express where he was named the Express' Rookie of the Year. He returned to Brandon to visit Jordin at the conclusion of the 2001-02 ECHL season, and began working towards cracking the roster of the AHL's Norfolk Admirals in the fall.

The summer of 2002 was a turning point for the Tootoo family. As Jordin wrote in a 2014 article on Sportsnet, he experienced the loss of his brother via suicide after Terence was caught by Brandon police for driving while intoxicated. This led Jordin into a bought of depression which he soothed his woes with alcohol and women. At first, it wasn't apparent, but it gradually got worse to the point where he was pulling all-night drinking binges in Nashville and embarrassing the club with his actions off the ice.

Despite being a fan favorite in Nashville for his rugged and tenacious play, GM David Poile gave him an ultimatum in 2010: go into rehab or get cut from the team. December 27, 2010 saw Tootoo enter into the NHL's and NHLPA's joint substance abuse program where he'd spend a month of time trying to kick his addiction. Tootoo wrote in his 2014 book, All the Way: My Life on Ice,
By the time I walked into The Canyon, I'd been sober for a detox. But I still had to go through a process where they monitor you for a week. I had arrived in the middle of the night, when everyone was sleeping. I got up the next day, walked into a room, and saw all of these F'd-up people sitting around. We were sitting in a circle and I was looking around and thinking, 'Am I really like this? Do I look like these people?'
After completing rehab, Tootoo returned to the Predators and played some inspired hockey. He was signed by the Detroit Red Wings in the summer of 2012 on a three-year, $5.7 million contract, but things in Detroit just didn't work out as both sides had hoped. Detroit bought him out, and this allowed Tootoo to sign with the New Jersey Devils in 2014. In 2016-17, Tootoo would sign in Chicago with the Blackhawks where his career would end with 65 goals, 96 assists, and 1010 penalty minutes in his 723 NHL contests.

Forget the stats. Forget the cities. Jordin Tootoo has been down to the depths of hell and up to the highest points of life in his 35 years, and now he starts a new chapter.

"It's been a great run and now it's time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life," he said, adding he plans to "continue to work to enhance life for Native children who are suffering."

That work started in 2011 when he established the Team Tootoo Fund that helps "a wide range of charitable causes including nonprofits addressing suicide awareness and prevention, as well as those supporting youth at risk." His efforts in helping these causes prompted the New Jersey Devils to nominate Tootoo for the 2015 NHL Foundation Player Award which is given to a player who uses the core values of hockey — commitment, perseverance and teamwork — to enrich the lives of people in his community.

Needless to say, Jordin Tootoo can now focus his efforts entirely on helping Indigenous youth with mental health initiatives and suicide prevention - two issues which plague the Indigenous communities of the north. Being Inuk, Tootoo can serve as a role model and mentor for a lot of kids in northern Canada, and there's hope that his efforts to reach these kids will have a lasting impact on them. From the work being done already by Tootoo, thousands of Indigenous kids have been inspired to follow Jordin's lead.

I'll miss Tootoo on the ice, but it's pretty clear that he's just as effective - if not more effective - in his role off the ice. Tootoo being an NHL player allowed him to reach thousands, and that's entirely how one's celebrity status should work. Tootoo may not be remembered as an icon on the ice very often, but he's already a hero to thousands of people.

Count me as one of them because I have the utmost respect for the work he's doing in northern Canada. All the best in your retirement, Jordin, and I hope a vast number of those Indigenous kids you've reached go on to follow in your footsteps to help the next generation of Indigenous youth!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 18 October 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 317

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with our PLEDGE-O-RAMA show! The ol' radio station known as CJUM-FM 101.5 kicked off its annual week-long pledge drive known as PLEDGE-O-RAMA earlier this week, and we're nearing our goal! We do this every year at the radio station as we ask our listeners to give a little back to our independent transmission that goes out on the 101.5 FM frequency, and our goal this year is $36,000! We do need some help from you, my readers and our listeners, as we're still a little short, so will you lend us some support?

What is this annual pledge drive known as Pledge-O-Rama? UMFM, for those that are unaware, is a volunteer-driven, non-profit radio station located on the campus of the University of Manitoba from where The Hockey Show and other great programming originates. The station has been operating since 1998, and your donations via the Pledge-O-Rama campaigns over the years have allowed UMFM to accomplish a number of goals including upgrading the transmitter (hear us farther!), gaining better technology so we can do things like remote broadcasts (Bisons football and hockey!), and making upgrades to UMFM's in-studio equipment and facilities (hear us clearer!). Basically, the money you donate goes directly into making our programming and our broadcast quality better!

If you're a fan of The Hockey Show, all we ask is if it's within your means to make donation in whatever amount it may be that you can afford so that we can continue to do great things like broadcasting Bisons men's and women's hockey, broadcasting from community arenas and events like we did in London, Ontario where the U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championship was help, and bring great people on the show like we did all summer. While Beans and I won't see any money directly, UMFM will be using the money this year to set up a digital music library among the projects that have been identified by the Board of Directors so that UMFM continues to break new ground and implement new technology to make your listening experience better!

There are a ton of incentives for donating and UMFM is happy to provide tax receipts as an official non-profit entity in case you need to keep the government from putting their greasy mitts on your hard-earned dollars. When you donate, you can choose the incentive package for which you qualify or the tax receipt, and those will be sent out to you or can be picked up from the radio station itself (note that tax receipts will be produced closer to tax season!). As an incentive this year, The Hockey Show will enter anyone who makes a pledge to our show in excess of $50 into a draw for one of the following beauty prizes:

  1. HOST THE SHOW: you can sit in as a featured host with Teebz and Beans and debate all things hockey on a date of your choosing! We'll give away two of these to be used at any time by the winners within the next calendar year (before next year's Pledge-O-Rama).
  2. WE VISIT YOU: The Hockey Show will come out and do the show from your local rink within southern Manitoba! We'll gather up the gear, make our way out to your local team's rink, promote your team or a team of your choosing on the show, and do our one-hour of craziness from your community! We'll give away two of these to be used at any time by the winners within the next calendar year (before next year's Pledge-O-Rama).
  3. TEAM OF YOUR CHOICE: As you may be aware, The Hockey Show holds its Survivor: NHL Playoffs contest every year. If your name is chosen in the draw and options #1 and #2 don't work for you due to distance or some other factor, we'll give you a chance to call your own shot by selecting the team of your choice in this year's Survivor pool. Once your choice is made, however, there's no going back! The prizing for the winner is always worth more than $50, so your pledge may pay off in a big way if you choose your team wisely! There is one of these incentives to be won.

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

Tune in tonight to hear how you can donate while Teebz and Beans discuss concussions and the rash of dangerous hits seen in the NHL lately, the Bisons and their respective schedules, and much more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Follow The Money

See these ladies? They're paid by the NHL. Before you start emailing, tweeting, and commenting how I know nothing about hockey and how the NHL doesn't have any female players, let me assure you that I know these two facts. Yes, I know nothing about hockey and, yes, I know the NHL doesn't have any females who play the nightly games. There's an explanation here that needs to be told, and it will come as a bit of shock that the money actually does tell a story. I'll make a few assumptions here and I'll point those out, but things make more sense once you see the paper trail.

We'll start with the claim that was put forth in an article published yesterday by Associated Press writer John Wawrow. He writes,
The NHL's support of women's hockey included the league stepping in at the last moment to end a wage dispute between USA Hockey and U.S. National team women players threatening to boycott the 2017 World Championships on home ice. Two people familiar with the situation said the NHL agreed to pay USA Hockey to help fund the four-year agreement. The people spoke to AP on the condition of anonymity because the league and USA Hockey have not made that information public.
Ok, so there's always some uncertainty when it comes to anonymous sources, but the Associated Press has some pretty stringent rules for its writers when it comes to using anonymous sources. I will assume that Wawrow and his news manager have vetted the material presented in Wawrow's article, and will stand by its veracity. Note that I am assuming this entire article's base on the Associated Press having done its due diligence regarding anonymous sources. There's some danger in this, but we'll press on.

If the above is true, it seems that USA Hockey doesn't want egg on its face in trying to explain why they had the NHL pay the American women in their demands for better wages as Olympians similar to what Canadian Olympians get. The NHL obviously doesn't want to embarrass one of its partners in USA Hockey with whom it has a solid relationship. Keeping this deal quiet works for both sides, and no one needed to be the wiser about where the money came from to pay the American Olympians.

Except someone talked, and Wawrow published it. This, as you probably can imagine, set off the women's hockey world.
I'm not going to start splitting hairs here, but anonymous sources can't really be your lede as it calls into question all sorts of credibility. Hearsay is not what the Associated Press deals in when it comes to writing articles. You probably want a tabloid for that.

In any case, there was all sorts of outrage and disbelief and gasping and general shock that something like this could ever happen. Rather than taking a look at the actual news and trying to verify its truth, it seems the women's hockey bloggers and writers needed time to continue to build the necessary outrage when it comes to the NHL doing anything positive for women's hockey, let alone their vaunted and idolized gold medal-winning US Olympic women's hockey team.

Here's where thing become a little easier to digest: there has to be a paper trail for this transaction. The NHL and USA Hockey both file tax returns, and, in the case of USA Hockey as a public entity, they post their financial audits on their website. That means there should be some information in there about the NHL dumping some cash on USA Hockey to resolve the players' demands for livable wages similar to their Canadian counterparts.

Before we get into the auditing of the audits, there are a few details I need to spell out here. First, USA Hockey paid the women in the national team program $1000 per month for a six-month period every Olympic year prior to their new agreement. Yes, that's ridiculous for women who are expected to compete at the highest level every four years, so I'm glad that the American women won this battle. They sought fair treatment during the three-and-a-half years between those Olympic camps, and they got it.

While the actual details on what pay and benefits they receive have not been released (nor should they be), let's assume that the agreement they made continues with the same pay from USA Hockey as they received for the six months leading up to the Olympics. That is, let's assume that they'll earn $1000 per month for every month they are part of the national team program. A reasonable assumption, right?

The women were going to boycott the 2017 IIHF Women's World Championship that was being held at the end of March 2017, so we can also safely assume that the deal reached between USA Hockey and the US women's national team would need signatures and ratification by both sides. If we believe that there would be a reasonable time period in which this happened, let's say that this new agreement began in May 2017 after one month of time in which both sides got everything signed, sealed, and delivered. Again, a reasonable assumption, right?

Assuming that the rate of pay and the time period needed to ratify the agreement are true, we should be able to find proof of this infusion of cash into USA Hockey's pockets from the NHL. The next place we should look? Hockey USA's financial statements.

Because this happened in 2017, there is an audited financial statement on Hockey USA's website for that year. Let's get the shovels out and dig into this, shall we?

I might be a little rusty with my accounting skills here, but it seems that the NHL increased its total payment to USA Hockey by $200,000, pushing it up from $9.2 million in 2016 to $9.4 million in 2017. That's a significant amount of money that the National Hockey League is pouring in when you consider that the only larger contribution to USA Hockey's bottom line was "Membership registrations and dues" from programs across the United States.

There is a curious addition to the NHL's line on the statement that reads "Note N". What does Note N state?
Wait, do mine eyes deceive me? Does that note state that the NHL specifically provides cash for initiatives involving women's hockey? Indeed, it does, and that would mean that the balance of the money left over once USA Hockey spends money on "existing costs associated with the national team development program and junior officiating development program", the rest goes towards initiatives that include women's hockey.

You might be asking how this relates to the US women's national team and their fight for livable wages. We'll take those fair assumptions made above and work the numbers at this point.

If there are 25 women on the national program's roster at any one time and they earn $1000 per month each, the total per month that Hockey USA would need to pay the team would be $25,000. If the agreement started in May and ran until December 2017 in terms of the 2017 financials, that would be eight months of pay that the women would receive. Eight months of $25,000 in wages would be $200,000 in total wages for the remainder of 2017.

Assuming the NHL didn't demand a reduction in spending by USA Hockey on "existing costs associated with the national team development program and junior officiating development program" nor a reduction in spending on offsetting "costs associated with new
initiatives, specifically the American Development Model, Women's Hockey, and membership development, plus support for the United States Hockey League and College Hockey Inc.", this $200,000 increase in funding from 2016 to 2017 wouldn't just be some arbitrary funding increase without some sort of impetus for the increase.

What if the impetus was $1000 per month for 25 players until the end of the calendar year? Coincidence?

Let me go on record and state that none of this is concrete evidence. Perhaps there was another reason altogether for the increase that USA Hockey received from the NHL in terms of its financial support. However, it states very clearly in USA Hockey's financial audit that the NHL does provide monetary support for its women's programs, including the US national women's team, and it appears that support is significant based upon the report filed by John Wawrow.

If the NHL is funding the costs for the national team program and the junior officiating programs, this $200,000 increase would perhaps fall under that jurisdiction since the US women's national team would possibly fall under that "national team program" purview. As stated in the audit, "[t]he balance is to be directed to offset costs associated with new initiatives" after those costs for the national and officiating programs are paid, and I cannot see the NHL arbitrarily tossing more money into USA Hockey's remaining pile of money for new initiatives without USA Hockey making a clear case on where the money is going. That's the entire point of accounting - tracking where the money is spent.

While a detailed financial audit would certainly provide more answers than the financial audit posted on USA Hockey's website, there are simply too many puzzle pieces that fit together nicely based entirely on the idea that the US women's national team is earning $1000 per month, similar to their Canadian counterparts. Again, I made assumptions that make the narrative in this article work, but these are reasonable assumptions based on past events.

Maybe I'm entirely wrong. I can accept that. It's the downside of making assumptions, and I prepared to live with that if that's the case. Maybe my understanding of accounting practices is completely out of touch with actual accounting practices, and I can admit that reading financial statements is as much fun as watching paint dry. But if John Wawrow is standing by what he wrote regarding what his sources told him, I feel fairly confident in this breakdown of why the US women's national team is on the NHL's payroll.

All one had to do was follow the money.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!