Thursday 31 July 2014

The Hockey Show - Episode Ninety-Nine

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is back with a big show tonight. Besides it being the show-before-the-100th-show, we are proud, honoured, and privileged to welcome to the studio a man whose saves and showmanship have made him a household name. While the team drew a lot of attention after signing Shannon Szabados, Columbus Cottonmouths goaltender Andrew Loewen made headlines all over the hockey world with his dancing skills! Tonight, on The Hockey Show, we welcome Mr. Andrew Loewen to the studio!

Andrew became famous thanks to a YouTube video of him dancing with the cheerleaders at a Columbus Cottonmouths game between periods. Tonight, though, you'll learn that Andrew is a pretty accomplished goaltender, an intelligent guy, and a solid individual. From his play in high school with the Vincent Massey Vikings here in Winnipeg to his time in the MJHL to his jump to the NCAA, we'll go over Andrew's career in detail with him. We'll also ask him about sharing the blue ice with gold medal-winning Olympian Shannon Szabados, his brief stint with the Manitoba Moose, and his call-ups to the ECHL. In short, he's done a lot, seen a lot, and we'll talk to him about as much as we can about everything!

If you haven't seen Andrew dance yet, here is the video. He's been doing this for about two years now, and he dances whenever he's serving as the backup for the evening. He's got the moves, I have to admit, and he puts the cheerleaders to shame with his enthusiasm!
Pretty awesome! I wonder if he has other dance moves? We'll find out tonight!

There won't be a 3 Rounds Deep segment tonight due to Mr. Loewen's appearance on the show, but we'll toss it back on the schedule for next week's 100th show! However, we're on the air at 5:30pm tonight with Andrew Loewen of the SPHL's Columbus Cottonmouths! Hit us up at 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! The phones will be off tonight during the interview, but you can tweet questions for Mr. Loewen anytime you like by hitting us up at @TeebzHBIC on the Twitter machine. 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. You can also ask Mr. Loewen questions there too! We have lots to talk about with Columbus' Andrew Loewen, so join us tonight on UMFM and find out about the dancing goalie's career in hockey!

PODCAST: JULY 31, 2014: Episode 99

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 30 July 2014

He Might Be Right

Pedro Morales is a pretty good soccer player. He currently stars for the Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS, and he's revitalized a Vancouver soccer community that needed a star to help spark the fire in rekindling the interest in the game. While he's been embraced by the soccer community as a phenom with the ball, the Chilean midfielder still struggles with the English language at this time. When being asked questions by reporters, he can occasionally offer up a thought that might ruffle some feathers on the outset.

Craig MacEwan from Sportsnet caught up with Morales who was asked if soccer's popularity is growing in Canada and across the MLS from his perspective. Morales' response was one that caught everyone, including teammate and fill-in translator Omar Salgado, off-guard.
"Soccer can take over hockey one day in Canada. It should happen in ten to 20 years," Morales proudly stated before the Whitecaps boarded their flight to Chicago where they'll play the Fire on Wednesday night.
That'sa pretty bold statement by Morales in a country that is obsessed with hockey. However, and this may raise some eyebrows, he actually may be closer to the truth than he is away from it. Hear me out on this one.

Hockey is an expensive game to play nowadays. Between equipment, tournaments, indoor ice rentals, travel, and league registration fees, the cost of playing hockey has become astronomical for parents today. With the rate that kids grow up, the cost of keeping them in equipment that fits can mean new equipment year after year as they develop into adults. In other words, hockey is becoming a sport that is better suited for those that either have the money upfront and can afford it or for those that are willing to sacrifice a number of smaller things so their kids have a shot at the NHL one day.

The CBC published a report on September 30, 2013 that looked at a number of issues that parents face when choosing sports for their kids. According to the CBC's report, the average cost to outfit a child in hockey equipment is about $740 annually. Comparatively, to outfit a child in soccer gear averaged out around $160 annually. If you're doing the math, that's a $580 difference annually when it comes to outfitting your child in gear. I'm pretty sure that families can use $580 in a multitude of ways when it comes to the overall household budget.

Secondly, we already know that soccer registration numbers are higher than hockey numbers in Canada for children aged 14-and-under. In fact, 42.3% of kids 14-and-under already practice soccer - a number that nearly beats swimming, ranked second at 24.1%, and hockey, ranked third at 22%, combined. In other words, soccer is currently the sporting choice for Canadian kids 14-and-under.

Now you might be asking about adults since they're making the decision for their kids. Consider this fact dug up in the July 15, 2014 article of MacLean's magazine: "Canadians bought more than 29,000 tickets to this year's World Cup matches, according to FIFA. We outranked all other nations that didn't qualify, and were behind only 10 nations that did." Also in that article was this gem: "An estimated 3.1 million Canadians tuned in July 9 to CBC's English-language broadcast of the Argentina-Netherlands semifinal — just 200,000 short of the 3.3 million who watched the final game between the Rangers and Kings."

It doesn't stop there, though. MacLean's Amanda Shendruk also wrote,
Canada ranks ninth in the world when it comes to registered athletes in soccer. According to a 2006 FIFA census, one in 39 Canadians is enrolled in the sport at some level. By comparison, one in 40 Italians plays. In the United States, it's one in 72. Germany ranked the highest with one soccer athlete for every 14 people.
That's a staggering number of Canadians playing a sport that we've long ignored in our own borders. Hockey is held onto like it's the most valuable identity we possess, but we might be clinging to something that is losing its luster because of the high cost of playing that sport. Here's a graphic by Miss Shendruk that helps illustrated the above paragraphs.

We saw the images from Brazil of shoeless kids playing soccer on a beach or in a dusty field. All they needed was a ball and the willingness to participate in order to play soccer. They didn't need nets or sidelines or referees or indoor fields to play, laugh, and enjoy the sport. Soccer is the world's most popular sport, and it becomes even more evident in a microcosm when looking at Canada. Unless you were born into a culture that holds hockey so dear (Canada) or baseball as its pastime (USA), it's pretty evident that those sports fall off the radar for new citizens of those countries. Miss Shendruk wrote,
The Institute of Canadian Citizenship just released a national study exploring how new citizens participate in Canada’s sporting culture. The most popular team sport for new citizens is soccer — 18 per cent report playing the game in their new country. The pastime follows running, swimming and biking. By comparison, only six per cent of new citizens have enrolled their children in hockey or baseball.
There could be a vast number of reasons for new citizens not registering their kids in hockey, but the most obvious answers are usually the most truthful - they come from soccer-playing countries and cultures, and the cost of enrolling kids in a foreign sport for new citizens is not a cost they're willing to absorb. Personally, I know a few immigrant families who have settled into daily life here in Canada quite nicely, and they still feel the cost of playing hockey is far too high compared with the amount of enjoyment that children get out of it.

Additionally, Miss Shendruk wrote, "Nine in 10 Canadians think sports are too expensive, and 82 per cent know a child who cannot participate due for that reason" based on a CIBC report. 90% of Canadians think all sports in general are too expensive to play, and more than four-of-five people know a child who can't play due to the costs! Does anyone see a problem with that statement?!?

Let's keep digging, though. On November 30, 2012, The Globe and Mail published Roy MacGregor's article about the rising costs of the game. I'm going to highlight a number of passages below that should show you the state of the game in Canada. Here we go.
It is a refrain heard again and again across this country, which worships hockey as its national game. Minor hockey, most especially at the competitive level, is fast becoming an elitist sport rather than, as it once was, the winter game of the masses.
Elitist sport? That's a negative.
The cost of kids' hockey is of growing national concern, from the outdoor community rink to the offices of Hockey Canada. Registration has slipped in recent years and one estimate claims barely 10 per cent of Canadian youngsters aged 5-19 are playing organized hockey.
Registration has slipped, and estimates have 10% of kids playing. Not good at all.
There is no doubt that costs – even before registration – can be high. Given the choice between outfitting a kid for soccer rather than hockey can be equal roughly to the choice between walking to the corner store and chartering a helicopter to pick up the milk.
That's actually a pretty accurate comparison for a lot of Canadian families, and that's sad to say.
There is unfortunately a significant Apple Effect in minor hockey: youngsters successfully pressuring parents to buy top brands even when the equipment is far beyond the level being played.
I'm well beyond my "youngster years", and I have never owned a stick that has cost more than $50. In fact, I still prefer wood over composite when playing. Today's young players, though, are seen with two or three composite sticks at $100 per stick. That is sickening.

The cost of hockey is killing the game in North America. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that more kids will play soccer than they will hockey simply because of how tightly-stretched a middle-class family's budget is nowadays. However, there are things that can be done to reduce costs for parents, and it's time that coaches and organizations to follow some suggestions instead of nickel-and-diming these hard-working folks to death. These include:
  • Get back on outdoor ice. While I respect the ideals that kids shouldn't be practicing in -40C weather, there's no reason why teams can't head outdoors in -10C to -20C temperatures.
  • Start mandating fun. Force creativity. Stop teaching systems to kids younger than 10 years of age. If kids have fun, they'll be back. If it feels like work, they'll walk away.
  • Wood sticks only. Kids are developing, and there's no way any of them have Brett Hull-like flex on their sticks before they are teenagers. Stop with the composite dream.
  • Equipment manufacturers should reward families for playing by offering equipment recycling. Bauer, Reebok, Easton, and the likes should give cash back for trading in equipment of a smaller size for a bigger size. And forget $5 or $10 off. I'm talking real value in trading up - half the value of the new equipment. Profiting off kids who just want to play is bad business.
  • More off-ice training. While drills on the ice are important, dry-land training is just as important, if not more important! Kids should run, play, stickhandle, and have fun while training off the ice. Why do NHL players spend a ton of time in the off-season working on off-ice training? Because it's important!
Look, these are suggestions. I know they won't all be incorporated, but I'd like to see one minor-hockey team do this for a season to see if they get the results they want. I think the social experiment would be intriguing, and I'd love to see how the team fares over the season both in the standings and growing closer as teammates. I'm pretty sure that the pocketbooks of the parents would be a little heavier, and that goes a long way to building better hockey families.

I admit that I am a casual soccer fan. However, I love hockey, and we're forcing hockey's greatest resource out of the game because of cost. Kids are our most important hockey resource, and the majority of them aren't able to play.

Maybe, just maybe, Pedro Morales sees the horizon better than we do at this point.

Until next time, keep costs down and the kids in the game!

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Look What I Found

For years, we've been seeing NHL players wear the patch for the Stanley Cup Final on their chests. The only team that doesn't, it seems, is the New York Rangers. Clearly, if they wear the patch opposite the captaincy designations, the patch would sit over the "R" in the diagonal "Rangers" that covers the front of their uniforms. The Rangers, therefore, move the patch to the shoulder where it can be prominently displayed. No other team wore the patch on the shoulder, we've been led to believe, until I made a startling discovery while away this past weekend.

I had plopped myself down in a Buffalo Wild Wings on Friday for some wings, and happened to glance around at the myriad of televisions they have on the walls. Golf was prominently displayed on several, but a couple of TVs had the NHL Network on. The NHL Network was showing Game Six of the 1989 Stanley Cup Final between the visiting Calgary Flames and the Montreal Canadiens. As I watched the action on the screen, I noticed something very unusual.
That's Al MacInnis with the Stanley Cup Final patch on his shoulder! As a side note, MacInnis won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1989 after becoming the first defenceman in NHL history to lead the playoffs in scoring! He had 31 points in that postseason in making history! The Flames also became the first relocated team to win the Stanley Cup after moving in 1980!

What's notable about the patch is that 1989 was the first season the NHL introduced a patch for the finalists, and BOTH TEAMS wore them on the shoulder of their uniforms! Every subsequent Stanley Cup Final has had the patch worn on the chest by the participants except the New York Rangers in 1994 and 2014! That means that officially the NHL has had three teams wear the patch on their shoulders: the 1989 Calgary Flames, the 1989 Montreal Canadiens, and the New York Rangers. The 1993 Montreal Canadiens wore the patch on the front of their uniforms, and the 2004 Calgary Flames had the patch on the front of their uniforms as well.

YouTube has a video of the game on their site, so watch closely in the following video to see the patches on the left arms of both the Flames' players and the Canadiens' players.

Hockey history is awesome!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 28 July 2014

85 Seconds Of History

It's pretty quiet in the hockey world right now. We could probably talk about the Daniel Winnik signing in Toronto, but no one really wants to hear about that. After all, the Leafs have all but been mathematically-eliminated from the playoffs at this point in the off-season, so why bother talking about 2014-15 when 2015-16 is so close? Of course, I'm kidding about that, but the "Anybody But Toronto" stance the rest of the NHL has is pretty fun. In any case, Toronto will play a big part in today's article as they have had a couple of teams mentioned that called "The Big Smoke" home.

Designer Ann Frazier has done something pretty cool that we should examine. There have been many maps produced and published on the internet about where teams have played with respect to divisions and conferences, but Ann went one step further in animating her maps. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to your 85-second history class as taught by Miss Ann Frazier!
Pretty solid, right? Not only does she show where the teams played, but logo changes through the years as well. And if you're a music connoisseur or a Hartford Whalers fan, you probably recognized that background music. That's Brass Bonanza! Awesome music selection for the video, Ann!

Granted, it is harder to see some of the logos in the small space. Full-screen on YouTube might be the best way to view this video in all its awesomeness. Even saying that, though, Ann Frazier has done something truly awesome, and I'm glad she's being recognized for it all over the hockey spectrum.

Well done, Ann! Keep up the awesome work!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 27 July 2014

Stingrays Go Retro

In case you had missed it - and I'm sure a lot of us had since I missed the date as well - the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays unveiled their new alternate jersey for the 2014-15 season on July 18 as seen above. The affiliate of the NHL's Washington Capitals will wear "throwback" jerseys in all eleven Sunday home games this season. They look pretty sharp, to be honest.

According to the release published on the Stingrays' website, the new uniforms will feature "the original Stingrays crest used from their inaugural season (1993-94) to 2000 along with the South Carolina state flag on the shoulders". While they are using the original logo, the jersey isn't a true throwback in itself. Still, this uniform looks pretty solid considering some of the minor-league alternate jerseys we've seen in the past.

"We wanted to incorporate our old logo from the mind 1990s to the early 2000s," Stingrays President Rob Concannon said to Joseph Zakrzewski. "I've always liked the state of South Carolina with the stingray and hockey stick slashing through it. I'm partial to this logo because there are a lot of good memories with it. We won our championship with it in 1996-97. I wanted to keep it clean and with our current colors."

Sunday, November 9 is the first time you'll be able to see these uniforms on the ice the Gwinnett Gladiators visit Charleston, South Carolina for a game against the Stingrays. While footage of the game may be tough to get here in Canada, I'm going to see if I can find a feed to see these uniforms in action. The pre-sale of these uniforms is on now, and the team expects them to be delivered in October.

Could another championship for the Stingrays be on the way in these uniforms?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 26 July 2014

ESPN Says So

If you had to name the sport that would rank as toughest in the world, you could come up with a few mentions of hockey, American football, boxing, Aussie rules football, rugby, MMA, and a few others. All of these sports feature some tough characters, and each requires that the participant receives some sort of punishment in overcoming his or her opponent. I was quite shocked, however, to read the following archived page found on the internet from ESPN. Yes, the same ESPN that no longer carries hockey, instead replacing that sport in its lineup with such fascinating spectator sports as poker and dog shows. Excuse the biting sarcasm.

The Worldwide Leader in Something-or-other published this page on its old Page 2 format, but it doesn't give a date of when it was published. However, ESPN asked a panel of experts to weigh in on the toughness needed to play sixty sports, and they went about the task. I already scanned the backgrounds of the professionals posing as the panel of experts, and none have hockey or a hockey-related interest listed anywhere in their information.

So why am I talking about this? The panel actually ranked hockey as the second-toughest sport in terms of demanding the most from the athletes who compete in it. Yes, ESPN actually had something good to say about hockey! In fact, only boxing demanded more from its athletes than hockey did according to this panel. Hockey also ranked ahead of long-time regulars on ESPN like baseball, football, and basketball.

Let me say that again: ESPN's illustrious panel ranked hockey as the toughest team sport ahead of football, baseball, and basketball. Yes, you're reading that correctly.

According to the panel, ice hockey ranked 11th in endurance, tied with tennis. I can actually believe that after watching some of the men's games go five sets and deep into a tie-breaker in that fifth set. Most tennis players collapse after winning that final point out of exhaustion, so I'll give the panel a pass on that one. However, to say that basketball, ranked tenth, requires more endurance than hockey players? Well, they are human so mistakes can happen.

Hockey ranked eighth overall for strength, and there aren't many arguments one can make about the sports than rank ahead of them. I'd argue football should be ranked lower, but some of those linebackers and linemen are specimens, so I'll let this one go.

Ice hockey was fifth on the power rankings, tied with rodeo's steer wrestling and sprint cyclists. While power is defined in this ranking system as "(t)he ability to produce strength in the shortest possible time", the idea of steer wrestling seems like it has little to do with power. Yes, it does take some power, but the majority of the time you see the rodeo cowboys simply use their weight to bulldog the calf into the ground before roping them. Requirement of power? You just have to use momentum to win that battle. Swing and a miss, ESPN.

Hockey ranked fourth in the speed category, tying it with middle-distance track-and-field runners. No arguments about where hockey ranks here, and the three sports above it - track sprinters, speed skaters, and sprint swimmers - all should be ahead of hockey players.

Hockey was also fourth in the agility category, placing behind soccer, basketball, and tennis. Soccer, maybe. Basketball... that's stretching it, but some players show some pretty solid moves in the paint. Tennis absolutely requires agility, and, in my opinion, should have been ranked higher than the other two sports. That being said, I have no qualms about hockey ranking fourth.

In a rather strange ranking, hockey ranked in as 26th in the flexibility category. In a sport where goaltenders make rather acrobatic and often unbelievable saves, hockey finds itself ranked lower than steer wrestling, skateboarding, fencing, basketball, and diving. Yes, diving. Where divers are supposed to remain rigid as they enter the water. Simply amazing, ESPN.

The next category was nerves, and hockey players find themselves ranked 18th. Yes, 18th! According to the definitions provided, nerve is "(t)he ability to overcome fear". We should ask goaltenders about how much nerve it takes to stare down Zdeno Chara, Al MacInnis, Al Iafrate, or Shea Weber slapshots and say "not on my watch". We should ask the defencemen how much nerve it takes to drop down in front of one of these cannons and sacrifice their bodies for a win. We should ask players about the nerve it takes going into corners with guys like Chris Pronger. We should ask players the nerve it took to stand across from Bob Probert when he was angry. According to ESPN, skateboarders, bobsledders, and divers have more nerves. I'm going to wholeheartedly disagree with those assessments because once they have done it once, it's over. Hockey players face a new set of dangers every single night.

Ice hockey was ranked third overall for durability. Boxers were first, and I saw they take one helluva beating and keep on fighting. That's a solid choice for top spot. Football was next, and I'm not sure that 18 games over 18 weeks with practice in between measures up the same way as 82 hockey games per season plus practices. I'm not saying that football players don't take their licks in games, but they have a week to recover between games. Hockey players usually get two nights at best. You do the math.

Hockey was ranked seventh in the hand-eye coordination rankings. Baseball, a few racquet sports, and team handball ranked ahead of hockey, and I'm ok with that. Auto racing somehow snuck in there, and while I'm not saying that drivers don't have good hand-eye coordination, I am suggesting that a sport must actually require athleticism. Otherwise, chess, checkers, competitive video gaming, Scrabble, and tiddlywinks are all sports by the definition. If you don't actually physically participate, I can't allow that to be called a sport. Sorry to the race fanatics out there. It's my blog and my opinion.

Ice hockey ranked first in the analytic aptitude category, tied with soccer and auto racing. This is one I won't argue with in any capacity, and I'm not going to bring down the other sports tied with hockey. Hockey is a fast game that requires players to process an immense amount of information every second they are on the ice. Players make mistakes, and goals get scored. If there is one category I would have fought hard for, the analytic aptitude category would have been it. Well done, panel.

When totaling the scores up, hockey ranked second of the sixty sports and as the top team sport in the rankings. However, I contest that the panel knows very little about sports like rugby, lacrosse, and field hockey to accurately judge those sports, and the fact that they grouped bobsledding and luge together as one shows they failed poorly when arranging these sports.

I will give credit to ESPN, though, in giving hockey its high score. It might be the only time ESPN has ever given hockey its full due.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 25 July 2014

Capital Offences?

I'll fully admit that I am no Capitals fan being that I have a liking for their division rivals in the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh and Washington had some epic battles in the playoffs in my youth, and the Crosby-vs-Ovechkin battle re-ignited the rivalry between these two proud hockey clubs and their fans. I will say that I wanted to see Barry Trotz hired in Pittsburgh, but Washington made the leap before anyone else as Trotz agreed to coach the Capitals. Today, Neal L., known for his segment on Gentlemen, To Your Corners here on HBIC, submits a piece on the Capitals' recent moves!

Without further adieu, here is Neal and his thoughts on the Washington Capitals!
Before I get started, I figured I would give a little foreword to my first solo blog on the site. I never figured six months ago that I would be writing a hockey blog and for a Canadian site no less! While hockey is king in Canada, I'm in the short-attention-span, sports-saturated, east coast United States. While I would admit that hockey probably is not my favorite sport, it has to be my favorite sport to talk about. Hockey fans in general are the most intelligent of all the sports, and, except for a few, are usually open to multiple points of view. It's why GTYC is such a fun segment for me and I hope to continue to be involved in. The best part of that segment is that it's something John and I have done for what seems like every day for years. We just now get to privilege of publishing our arguments. If I didn't delete most of our conversations from the past, an excellent piece would have been just to post some of our arguments over the years. So with that said, I hope you guys enjoy reading my blogs. I know I have fun writing them.

My piece today is about what I consider to be the next tire fire in the NHL. Of course, some people may say that this situation has already been in flames for a couple of seasons now. I think this situation is about to get a whole lot worse. What I am talking about? I'm talking about the current situation of the Washington Capitals. I feel like this team, who seemed like a shoo-in a few short years ago to be a perennial cup contender, just made a terrible coaching hire and other personnel moves to potentially make it a bottom-feeder team in the future.

My first argument is my case against Barry Trotz, the new coach of the Capitals. Around the league, it is noted how much respect Barry has and what a steady hand he had in creating a solid foundation in Nashville. While in some respects this is true, my argument is that he is pretty overrated in my book. How can I say such a thing? I would say the record speaks for itself in multiple ways. First, we all know how Trotz took over an expansion team and turned it quickly into one of the league's better teams by the middle of the last decade. I'm not going to discredit him for that. After all, in the first couple seasons, he did as well as anyone could. Where I discredit him is that despite being consistently one of the league's better teams over the past ten seasons, his squads have produced a total of two playoff series wins. Simply put, that's not very good. In most other situations, only having two series wins would get you fired well before Nashville decided to can Trotz, but maybe their standards are a bit lower. Some people would also argue they often ran into extremely tough competition in the playoffs. Let's make no bones about it: to win in this league you have to beat tough teams. There are no "gimmies" in the NHL, and to use the reasoning we ran into tough teams is a pretty lame excuse.

The other piece of evidence I have against Trotz is his inability to develop real offensive playmakers. While guys like Hornqvist and Erat are decent enough players, you can't really think of one impact forward that the team has developed. While some of the blame for the lack of forward prospects rests on GM David Poile, it is often the coach and his staff's responsibility to develop his players. Some people would argue that some of that has to do with Trotz's defensive style, but isn't that also an indictment of the coach? It should be the coach who adjusts his system to maximize the talents of his players. Rest assured, if Patric Hornqvist nets forty goals for the Penguins this year, I would consider that to be indicative of Trotz's methods.

This issue makes things worse for the Caps. Let's face it: outside of Ovechkin and Backstrom, who do the Capitals have up front that can contribute on a consistent basis? The Caps are rated as having six forward prospects rated 7.0 or better by, so can Trotz be trusted to develop it? Consider that in the same period the Predators came into the league, Minnesota had Marian Gaborik, Columbus had Rick Nash, and bumbling Atlanta managed to get Kovalchuk and Heatley. Elite forward prospects usually are available in the top-five picks in the draft, and the fact Nashville couldn't develop any of their forward picks in its infancy is inexcusable. By those numbers, I don't like the chances of the Capitals' forwards developing. That doesn't even count how Alexander Ovechkin will react to Trotz's defensive style this season!

The other argument I’m going to present is based on the construction of the Capitals' roster. When the Capitals were one of the best teams in the league under Bruce Boudreau, the Capitals often employed a high-octane, full-court press style of hockey that kept opponents on the ropes. During the period, they were often the most fun team in the league to watch. Ovechkin instantly became a fan favorite, and all seemed to be well in the nation's capital. A few disappointing playoff exits later - with a trip to the conference finals something more than Trotz can say - it was determined that a shake-up was needed and Boudreau was let go in favor of Dale Hunter who employed a strict defensive style. The hope was that employing a more defensive game would be better in the playoffs where other teams often tighten up, and the fast breaks that the Capitals were so dependent on wouldn't be as effective. In his one season as coach, the Capitals did make the second-round of the playoffs though Hunter often clashed with Alexander Ovechkin over his defensive play. Of course, Hunter was replaced by Adam Oates whose system I still can't determine other than "here Alex, go make a play".

While what Hunter did might bode well for Trotz, the fact that a rift can occur with his star player might be catastrophic for the team. From the Capitals' perspective, if you had the most success under an up-tempo coach, why wouldn't you hire one when the opportunity presented itself? Peter Laviolette would have been an excellent hire. Simply put, the Caps really are not constructed to be a defensive team. John Carlson and Dmitri Orlov are developing into very solid defensemen. Newly-signed Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, however, are not exactly known for defensive prowess. Although plus/minus can often be a bogus stat, before this season's +33 Niskanen had never been better than a +9 and was often a minus player. That doesn't even include defensive black hole Mike Green who is essentially a forward playing on the back end, and ironically enough was a +39 one year during the Caps' heyday - better than any year of Niskanen to date! Even if Trotz can get his stars in Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom to buy into his defensive system, it may be the defence that who could prove to be his downfall. It's not Shea Weber back there anymore to bail the team out.

In conclusion, the Capitals do have a team that should contend for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but I don't know if they are a lock. The hiring of the defensive Barry Trotz is puzzling to me from a pure fit perspective. They are still smarting from early playoff exits from a few seasons ago when they were a Stanley Cup favorite, yet they brought in a coach who has made a job of exiting from the playoffs early. If the Caps are improved and win consistently under Trotz, I will be the first to eat crow on this blog.

However, I just don’t see it happening.
Wow! Great article, Neal!

Now I'm going to speculate that a number of Capitals fans and bloggers will take issue with a few of Neal's assertions. That's why we have discussions. Neal feels a certain way about the moves the Capitals made with regards to the coach they hired, and he's entitled to his opinion. If you'd like to engage with Neal, leave a comment below. He can respond there as well.

Personally, I think it will be interesting to see how Alexander Ovechkin approaches this season knowing that Barry Trotz will demand more focus on the defensive side of the puck. Combine that with his recent break-up with Maria Kirilenko and we could see fireworks if Ovechkin comes into camp with a chip on his shoulder. However, if Ovechkin comes in with an open mind with regards to the season, the Capitals may surprise everyone.

It should be interesting in the District of Columbia this season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 24 July 2014

The Hockey Show - Episode Ninety-Eight

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, returns tonight with a guest, some interesting topics, and a great update from a friend of the show. As you're aware, Beans and I try to keep our ears to the ground when it comes to hockey and hockey-related events, and we're going to talk to someone in the business of hockey tonight as well as cover a few stories that have made headlines in the last week.

Tonight, Beans and I are honoured to welcome Mr. Jason Goulet of Top Shelf Hockey! Top Shelf Hockey makes high-quality hockey sticks in Winnipeg, and was founded by former Winnipeg mortgage broker Rod Westendorf some six years ago! Jason will drop by to talk about the company, give us some history on the company, promote some of their products, and chat some hockey! If you haven't heard about Top Shelf Hockey before this evening, you may want to give a listen as they produce quality sticks for fairly reasonable prices!

Tonight on 3 Rounds Deep, Teebz, Beans, and Jason will tackle a topic to which everyone can relate. It's a simple question: what arena, past or present, would you want to watch a hockey game in? There have been a lot of old barns that simply were magnificent in terms of their acoustics and game experience, but the modern lights, lasers, Jumbotrons, and pyrotechnics have their own charm if you prefer a more visual experience. Neither are wrong, so we'll discuss the three arenas each of the men would want to experience a hockey game in on tonight's 3 Rounds Deep!

If you wanna be a part of 3 Rounds Deep tonight, give us a call during the segment at 204-269-8636 (269-UMFM) and we'll put you on the air! Same rules as always as we can't repeat picks made by others and neither can you, so it will get a little tougher as people start participating. We'll start it off, then open up the phone lines and hit Twitter for everyone else to participate. If you want to toss some names in electronically, the Twitter link is below where you can go 3 Rounds Deep!

Going 3 ROUNDS DEEP tonight: where do you want to watch a game? You know what to do!

We'll also weigh in on the charges and suspensions handed out for the attack on officials during a game between Stonewall and Lake Manitoba First Nation on March 30, talk about the CWHL looking to expand, discuss the hiring of Jim Paek to try to bring the Korean Ice Hockey Association's standing back to respectable before the Olympics in 2018, update everyone on the recent playoff game played by the Dirk Digglers hockey team, and we have an update on Jared Aulin's summer and how his mom and sister are doing in their fights against cancer. It's going to be another busy show as we get closer to Show #100!

We're on the air at 5:30pm to tune in for some hockey fun! Hit us up at 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! We'll be available via phone at (204) 269-8636 (269-UMFM), so give us a call and play 3 Rounds Deep or share your thoughts on any of the topics we cover! You can tweet us anytime you like by hitting us up at @TeebzHBIC on the Twitter machine. 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. We have lots to cover, so join us tonight on UMFM and be a part of the action!

PODCAST: JULY 24, 2014: Episode 98

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Paek Your Bags

Remember this guy? That's Jim Paek, the first Korean-born player to play in the NHL and have his name engraved on the side of the Stanley Cup, and Paek faced tremendous odds in accomplishing what he did. Two Stanley Cup rings and two IHL Turner Cup rings later, Paek transitioned nicely into the coaching ranks with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins as an assistant coach, and has helped that team win a Calder Cup in 2005-06 since stepping behind their bench. Paek will have a whole new challenge on his hands, though, as he has accepted the position as the director of hockey for the Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA) and head coach of the Korean Men's National Team! For Korea's national team, a first-time entry into the men's ice hockey even at the Winter Olympics will see Paek once again face tremendous odds in this journey.

The 47 year-old was raised in Toronto and became a US citizen in 2011, but his legacy is still growing in the hockey world. He was Grand Rapids' longest-tenured coach, having served behind the Griffins' bench for the last nine seasons. According to the release from the Griffins, "his influence helped Grand Rapids head coach Jeff Blashill earn the 2013 Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL's outstanding coach for 2013-14, when the Griffins compiled a 46-23-2-5 record". His accomplishments as a coach would nearly equal his accomplishments as a player, and adding the new credentials with the KIHA will only enhance his standing.

"The Detroit Red Wings congratulate Jim Paek on his appointment to the Korea Ice Hockey Association and Korean National Team," said Ryan Martin, assistant general manager of the Red Wings. "We are thrilled and excited for him on his well-deserved opportunity. With the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in Pyeongchang, this is a tremendous opportunity for Jim to oversee the development of hockey players, coaches and administrators across all levels of hockey in his native South Korea.

"As the longest-tenured coach in Grand Rapids history, Jim has been instrumental in the development of many current Red Wings, including Jakub Kindl, Jonathan Ericsson, Justin Abdelkader, Jimmy Howard, Tomas Tatar, Darren Helm, Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith, to name a few. Jim won two Stanley Cups as a player with Pittsburgh and a Calder Cup as a coach in Grand Rapids. He possesses a wealth of experience as a player and coach at all levels, as well as a strong passion for hockey development. Jim's multi-faceted skill set will be a great asset in leading the Korea Ice Hockey Association in developing its national programs."

It's kind of funny to think that three members of last year's coaching squads under the Detroit Red Wings' watch may be in Pyeongchang in 2018 to coach Olympic teams. Mike Babcock is the run-away leader for coaching the Canadian men's team again, and Tom Renney will be there as Hockey Canada's President and CEO after serving as an associate coach with Mike Babcock last season. Detroit may have had the deepest pool of coaches seen in the NHL in a long, long time.

Paek was instrumental in working with the "Black Aces" during the Stanley Cup in 2008 by the Red Wings, earning him his third Stanley Cup ring. He played a big part in the Red Wings’ summer development camps and fall prospect tournaments and training camps, and should be familiar with one player on the Korean roster when he begins work thanks to his work with the Red Wings' prospects. Left winger Brock Radunske, who hails from Kitchener, Ontario, was granted "South Korean citizenship in 2013 and became the first non-ethnic Korean to represent the country in international sport". The 31 year-old Radunske is currently a member of Anyang Halla of Asia League Ice Hockey in South Korea, and was drafted in the third-round by the Edmonton Oilers in 2002 after playing at Michigan State University. Radunske played 20 games with the Griffins in 2006-07, so there should be a little familiarity there. Radunske holds a number of records for Anyang Halla, but the Olympics will be a brand-new game for him.

There is no doubt that South Korea will face a difficult challenge in 2018. Korea is currently ranked 23rd in the world, and aren't close to any of the teams that participated in the Sochi Olympic Games. However, I believe that Jim Paek can push the Korean squad to new heights. He has a solid coaching legacy, and he knows what it takes to beat the odds. Realistically, we're not talking about a medal for Korea in 2018, but they might be able to beat one of the lower-ranked teams that qualify.

The key for Korea isn't to win a gold medal, although that would be pretty impressive if they did. However, the exposure the Asian Ice Hockey League gets thanks to Korea ramping up its hockey focus will benefit that league and nation in a big way in the same way that it helped Japan in 1998. If Jim Paek wasn't a pioneer before for his countrymen with their hockey dreams, he certainly will be now.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Life After Hockey?

In what seems to be the few stock photos available of him on the internet, Patrick Coté is kind of a enigma in the hockey world. Drafted 37th overall by the Dallas Stars in 1995, he was a tough, rugged winger who scored 20 goals and 40 points in his final season of junior. They aren't Eric Lindros or Sidney Crosby numbers, but the Stars wanted him for his style of play. He was 6'3", played the game tough, and could find the back of the net. In other words, he was the kind of guy that NHL teams coveted in the mid-to-late-1990s. His career with the Dallas Stars never really found the rails, though, and he bounced around the hockey world before retiring in 2008. For all it's worth, that may have been the best time of his life considering the trouble he may now be in.

While it didn't hit all the major news outlets, it seems, Patrick Coté was convicted to a prison sentence of 30 months today after he confessed to robbing two banks in Quebec. The 39 year-old was arrested after his car had broken down in Candiac, located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River across from Montreal. When responding officers ran the plates on the car he was driving, it turned out the car had been reported stolen. Police, rightfully, had him hop in the back of the squad car for transport to the police station for questioning.

Coté confessed during questioning that he had robbed a CIBC branch in Brossard in May and a Laurentian Bank in Saint Constant a couple of days after the first robbery. Needless to say, the driving of a stolen automobile suddenly seemed less important. However, the stolen car and the two bank robberies appear to be the latest crimes in what is turning into a history of criminal activity for the former NHL pugilist.

In February 2008, Coté was arrested in Montreal "after a man was severely beaten during an altercation outside a restaurant south of Montreal". The article in the Cape Breton Post states,
French-language daily Le Journal de Montreal reports Cote appeared in court Friday to face charges of assault, breaking and entering and mischief.

The report also says police allegedly found crack and cocaine inside Cote's vehicle when he was arrested Wednesday in the restaurant parking lot in Ste-Catherine, Que.

The newspaper reports police expect to lay drug charges against Cote in the coming days.
It doesn't end there, though. In July 2011, Coté turned himself in after violating his parole in northern New York, surrendering to US officers at the border crossing in Champlain. According to The Associated Press' article, "Cote was arrested in Malone in 2002 after police found 30 pounds of marijuana in his car. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of conspiracy. A New York judge issued a warrant for his arrest in 2004 when Cote failed to report to Canadian probation officials." It seems that the drugs caught up to Coté, and his job and lifestyle suffered for it.

Coté's NHL career lasted all of 105 games where he scored a lone goal and two assists while racking up 377 penalty minutes. 91 of those games were spent in a Nashville Predators uniform where he accumulated all three points in 1998-99 when he played 70 games. He also appeared in eight games for the Dallas Stars and six games for the Edmonton Oilers. Without being too much of a jerk, Coté will be better remembered for his rap sheet than his scoresheet.

Best of luck in prison, Monsieur Coté. And get some help.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 21 July 2014

Another Russian Split

You won't see this face at Washington Capitals games anymore. That's Maria Kirilenko, the former fiancée of Washington Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin and star tennis player, sitting in the crowd. You probably caught the word "former" in the previous sentence. While Russia tries to recapture or whatever it's trying to do with Ukraine, the Ovechkin-Kirilenko engagement is now off and the two athletes have parted ways. There reportedly were some incidents over the last few months that pushed these two apart, and it came to an end with Kirilenko announcing that she had called off the engagement and the two are no longer together.

Kirilenko gave a statement to R-Sport who tweeted the information out, and was retweeted by Kirilenko herself. Translated from Russian, the statement reads,
"I have made a decision to break up our engagement. There are a lot of reasons, but I wouldn't want to go in detail. I'll say just that our relationship is over, but I respect Sasha as a person and an athlete and sincerely wish him athletic success in the future.

"I'm currently concentrating on preparing for my tennis tournaments and I hope that soon I'll be able to please my fans with news about my success as an athlete and not just in my personal life."
I'll admit that I'm not for reporting on a player's personal life because it's that player's life outside of the microscope of sports. I'm not comfortable talking about a player's foibles when it comes to his personal relationships or behavior unless it becomes a black mark on the city and its fans that he or she is representing. This news about Alexander Ovechkin and Maria Kirilenko is sad as they were often seen together in pictures and at events, but it seems that Miss Kirilenko and Mr. Ovechkin started drifting apart based on Miss Kirilenko's comments.

I'm not going to assume anything because that's irresponsible of me. Miss Kirilenko has decided to keep the reasons she feels this relationship ended under wraps, and I respect that privacy. No one wants to see laundry aired when it comes to a failed relationship. Things can be said that can offend the other party, and that will only lead to increased hostility. Miss Kirilenko has done an admirable job at respecting the privacy of both herself and Alexander Ovechkin, and she deserves some credit for showing tact in light of a difficult time.

As for Alexander Ovechkin, last season was a bad one statistically and professionally when it comes to expectations. He scored a pile of goals, but he certainly didn't help his cause on the defensive side of the puck. While I'm loathe to suggest that his relationship was a distraction, he should have but one focus this season at this point: helping the Washington Capitals get back to the playoffs and beyond.

While players deserve to have personal lives as well, the expectations that are carried by Alexander Ovechkin are huge. We saw how poorly Mike Ribeiro played and acted in Glendale last season, and it was revealed during the press conference in Nashville that he was having personal family problems that led to some of that erratic behavior. I'm not sure if this is the case for Mr. Ovechkin's poor defensive play last year, but there is one certainty for this upcoming season: he won't be able to use that as an excuse if he doesn't improve his defensive game.

I wish nothing but the best of luck for Miss Kirilenko on the pro tennis circuit, and I expect a big year out of Alexander Ovechkin. While his personal relationship didn't end up in a good place, his relationship with the fans in Washington can be repaired by a deep playoff run.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 20 July 2014

Ever Since I've Been The Champ!

There's a lot of work that goes into a successful radio bit. Working in radio has given me an appreciation for the preparation and work that goes into a show, let alone a successful daily bit. One bit that worked extremely well is The Champ, a funny clip from a former boxing champ who mistakes what people say. "Brother" Jake Edwards, who works for The Team 1040 in Vancouver, is the man behind The Champ, and I have to say that I've missed The Champ on local airwaves. I don't know what the syndication charges are, but some radio station near you should be picking up this hilarious bit.

Because he's a former boxer, he doesn't chat about hockey very often, but there's one clip floating around the internet that's pretty funny. I warn you in advance that this clip is PG-rated at best thanks to the joke Edwards makes, but it's still pretty darn funny for three minutes of your time. Enjoy!
Yeah, I'm not sure if that joke can be told around the kids, but the adults will get it. But that's the whole schtick with the Champ - he hears something that's quite innocent, but misinterprets what was actually said. I have a couple of his CDs, and some of the episodes are quite funny.

If you want to hear other episodes, there's a great archive found on The Team 1040's website. The Champ covers lots of topics and mishears a lot of statements, and it ends with laughter as he snaps and loses it on someone.

Kudos to Jake Edwards for creating this awesome radio bit and letting it ride for the last fifteen years! That kind of longevity is proof that if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 19 July 2014

From Goalie To Kitchen Guru

I have to admit that recent events in my life have caused me to evaluate my dreams and goals. Sometimes things don't turn out as one has planned, and re-evaluation is needed when looking at long-term ideals. While my re-evaluation doesn't necessarily change my day-to-day life, it does have an effect on the immediate future and potential long-term future. I discovered another person who went through this evaluation by tuning into The Food Network of all places!

Chef JohnRoss Woodland, pictured to the right, is a chef at a Mississauga, Ontario restaurant called Tu Casa Fine Dining. Chef Woodland was also a contestant on a recent episode of Chopped Canada, pitting him against three other chefs' culinary skills as they work with the mystery ingredients in the baskets. With each round seeing one chef eliminated after the judges' evaluations of the dishes made, the pressure to make a delicious dish in each round grows as the number of chefs dwindles. It's kind of like the pressure of hockey playoffs where the pressure to perform at one's best grows each time one advances further.

So you're probably asking why I'm writing about a food creation competition on a hockey blog. It's a valid question considering the topic I normally write about, so here's why I'm talking about JohnRoss Woodland: he was an NCAA goaltender who traded in his dreams of playing in the NHL to become a chef!

JohnRoss Woodland, born in Picton, Ontario, played three seasons for NCAA Division III school Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Woodford was a goaltender for the Wildcats, posting a GAA of 4.34 and a save percentage of .889 in his three years at the private American university. One of the faculties at JWU is a Culinary Arts school. The university is actually the largest food service educator in the world, so you have a quick background on how JohnRoss Woodland found his second calling.

They have a number of notable alumni in the culinary world, including:
  • Anna Olson - celebrity chef, Food Network Canada personality, and Home Hardware culinary spokesperson.
  • Sam Talbot - Season 2's winner of Top Chef.
  • Aarón Sanchez - celebrity chef and judge on Chopped.
Julia Child and Emeril Lagasse have also both received honorary doctorates from JWU, so there's a little more naming-names about the university. Needless to say, JohnRoss Woodland graduated from a highly-respected culinary program from one of the most-respected universities on the planet.

He gave up on his NHL dream after realizing his college hockey career wouldn't lead him to the NHL as he had hoped. He went to school, learned from some of the best in his chosen field, and has now appeared on national TV as a certified chef in a competition that has eaten up and spit out some excellent chefs.

So how did the 25 year-old do? Well, you'll have watch to find out. I'm not going to give away the ending, the middle, or any of the rounds in which Chef JohnRoss participated. Some of the ingredients he was forced to use in his challenges included mussels, instant coffee, orange drink crystals, and spruce tips! A challenge indeed!

Congratulations to Chef JohnRoss Woodland on his success as a chef, and for not letting one set of unfortunate circumstances ruin his goal of being successful!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 18 July 2014

What Would You Say You Do Here?

It occurred to me yesterday that there are a number of hours in the day that I use for menial tasks. Things like eating, using the washroom, reading articles on the internet, and general socialization could be better spent learning a new language, finding a(nother) new hobby, or a number of other things. It dawned on me that I'm not sure what an NHL General Manager does all day in the off-season when he has nothing going on. It's like a void when it comes to accounting for the work done during the day from my point of view, so there must be more than just sitting at a desk reading blogs like this and laughing at rumors conjured up by internet fantasy GMs, right?

I'm sure there are different levels of work put in based on the number of free agents a team has, whether or not there are holes in a lineup that need patching, and the job of finding players who can build up the minor-league affiliates so there's a capable player who is ready when called upon to fill an injury. However, let's say that your GM was astute and had a solid minor-league affiliation who needed no holes patched in its lineup. And let's also assume that your GM took care of the free agents and holes in the NHL lineup that needed to be signed or re-signed. It leads me back to the question: what does that GM do all day?

The one thing I know happens is that general managers, like the players, tend to get away from the game after the free agency frenzy dies down. They vacation with their families, they engage in hobbies and activities they enjoy such as golf, and they do some charitable work. In other words, they get away from hockey as much as they can for a few short weeks in the summer as much as they can before the looming season starts again. However, if your team was eliminated in April and training camps don't open until September, that's a long five-month break for the guy who is responsible for the on-ice product.

Granted, there are now development camps that engage the GMs in assessing the talent in their systems that run over the summer. The rookie tournaments usually kick up at the beginning of September. In looking at the calendar, though, there is approximately three to six weeks of time where there isn't a lot of activity for GMs whose teams didn't advance past the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. What exactly do these guys do with all that extra time of not running a team?

If you're looking for examples, I can provide a couple. The first guy I have to ask about is Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. The Jets have yet to make the playoffs since arriving in Winnipeg, and look like they are going to miss the playoffs again this season. Yes, I can boldly make that prediction in July because I'm not sure what Cheveldayoff is being paid to do on a daily basis. He made one free agent signing, he let a couple of players walk, and he's currently negotiating with restricted free agents and the one guy who is going to arbitration. He's probably spent more time diffusing the Evander Kane situation than he has working the phones and drawing up contracts. Sure, he was at the Jets' development camp where he saw potential future Jets playing hard, but he could have sent his head scout to do the same work.

Therefore, since the Jets have not been a playoff team since April and the only player transactions made were the signing of Mathieu Perreault and couple of AHL players, Kevin Cheveldayoff, what would you say you do here?

Another GM who done relatively little in terms of improving his team in this offseason is Florida's Dale Tallon. Oh sure, he dumped trucks of money on free agents who needed the lure of the greenback to wander down to Sunrise, but he hasn't improved his team a whole bunch. They also drafted Aaron Ekblad first-overall at this year's draft, but I could have trained a chimp to do that. Ekblad was clearly the best player coming into the draft, and the Panthers made sure they claimed him. Heck, my dog knew Ekblad was going first-overall. It's not like Tallon had a lot of work to do in researching this kid.

So after unloading a pile of money on second- and third-line players on July 1 and 2 that will make these players virtually untradeable in the future based on their production and after drafting the consensus best player in this year's draft, the Panthers have gone silent. While the players they've add will make them a marginally better team, they are still going to miss the playoffs in a competitive Atlantic Division. So Dale Tallon, what would you say you do here?

I'm willing to sit in with a GM for a few days and see what he actually does all day. Since my local NHL team's GM was mentioned in this article, he would be the ideal candidate for this experiment. I am, though, extremely curious what these two men do now that the craziness of free agency and development camps are over.

Anyone want someone to sit with them for a week as a shadow?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 17 July 2014

The Hockey Show - Episode Ninety-Seven

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is nearing 100 shows on our beloved UMFM. It's quite amazing to think we've been at this a couple of years, have produced nearly 100 shows, and have yet to be sued for anything. Of course, that's a joke and we're not looking for lawsuits to be thrown at us, but we've been having a pretty good run. Of course, we'll be giving a few things away on Show #100, so you'll want to tune in August 7. That means you have to be listening!

Speaking of tuning in, we'll welcome back Columbus as she calls in with an update on her summer vacation! She was reportedly back in Winnipeg last week for the Folk Fest, so we'll get an update on what bands she saw and who she recommends for your summer music choices. We'll find out when she's coming back to take over the show once more, and we'll talk about how the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul feel about the Thomas Vanek signings and the chances for the Wild this season in the Central Division. Of course, we'll probably end up not talking much hockey with her, but Beans and I do have some topics to discuss on which we'll get her two-cents.

Tonight's edition of 3 Rounds Deep will plunk Beans and I into the Winnipeg Jets' GM chair as we dig through the remaining free agents to see who we'd sign if we were the GM. There are still some quality guys on the market that could make the Jets better if they were willing to drop a few dollars in the water, so we'll take a shot at who we want to see compete for a job here in Winnipeg. This is one where we could start some serious arguments!

If you wanna be a part of 3 Rounds Deep tonight, give us a call during the segment at 204-269-8636 (269-UMFM) and we'll put you on the air! Same rules as always as we can't repeat picks made by others and neither can you, so it will get a little tougher as people start participating. We'll start it off, then open up the phone lines and hit Twitter for everyone else to participate. If you want to toss some names in electronically, the Twitter link is below where you can go 3 Rounds Deep!

Going 3 ROUNDS DEEP tonight: who would you sign if you were the Jets' General Manager? You know what to do!

It's been pretty quiet over the last couple of weeks in the hockey world, especially with the Jets lying low this summer once again. We will discuss the signings of Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy in Nashville as Winnipeg continues to fall further behind the horses in the Central Division. We'll chat about the hiring of Tom Renney as Hockey Canada's new president and CEO and what that might mean for Hockey Canada going forward. The Leafs re-signed Peter Holland while Carter Ashton accepted his qualifying offer, meaning the Leafs will still miss the playoffs this season. The Buffalo Sabres re-signed Tyler Ennis, meaning they'll probably miss the playoffs again. And we'll toss around some chatter about how the Toronto Maple Leafs were the only NHL team to make the Forbes list of the fifty most-valuable franchises.

I have recently - read: since yesterday - been overly occupied with Weird Al Yankovic's newest video from his upcoming album, Mandatory Fun. I'm not going to get into the Robin Thicke discussion about his music and the messages within it, but Weird Al's take on Blurred Lines is absolutely hilarious. For those of you who write or enjoy writing, this one should speak volumes to you. Here's the video.
Absolutely classic! It's like an advanced English class in three minutes! Kudos to Weird Al for this song!

You'll want to give us a listen tonight as we debut a brand-new song from a great Canadian band as well. These guys are hockey-loving musicians, so tune in at 5:30pm to catch the new tune! Hit us up at 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! We'll be available via phone at (204) 269-8636 (269-UMFM), so give us a call and play 3 Rounds Deep or share your thoughts on any of the topics we cover! You can tweet us anytime you like by hitting us up at @TeebzHBIC on the Twitter machine. 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. Hit me up on Twitter, give Facebook a follow, and/or call us tonight to weigh in on anything in the hockey world!

PODCAST: JULY 10, 2014: Episode 97

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Monarchs Look Like Kings

If there's one thing I know about monarchies, it's that I don't know much. I know there's someone who occupies the throne and they call the shots, and there's usually someone in line to take over the throne if something were to happen to the king or queen. While all of that is great, usually there is some distinction in terms of how each rules and, to a lesser degree, how each dresses while on the throne. The men in King Richard's time, for example, wore tunics with billowy sleeves, skirts, velvet hats, and overcoats similar to what King Richard wore. It seems that history has a way of repeating itself, though, as the Los Angeles Kings are building a monarchical dressage for those that serve them.

The Manchester Monarchs debuted the new uniforms they will be wearing next season, and they look a lot like their NHL affiliate. Gone is the purple that the Monarchs used to wear, and they've brought in a very recognizable look to their coast. Basically, the Los Angeles Kings will now book-end the country from New Hampshire all the way west to California. In fact, if it wasn't for the logo on the chest, you could be forgiven if you said these were the jerseys of the Los Angeles Kings. Chalk this up to one more AHL team falling in line with their NHL affiliate.

From the Manchester Monarchs' release, "The new design for the jerseys features a black, grey, and silver Monarchs lion head logo on the chest. The home jerseys are white with black and grey strips along the waist and elbows. A black stripe accents the shoulders and sleeve of the jersey, and he Kings shield logo is featured as shoulder patches. The road jerseys are black with white and grey stripes along the waist and elbows, and a grey accent along the shoulders and sleeves."

"These jerseys tie us to our parent club, the Kings," Monarchs President Darren Abbott. "The Monarchs have so many players that have gone on to play for the Kings and have helped them win Stanley Cup Championships in Los Angeles that we wanted to bring their identity into our uniforms."

That's a nice, sentimental statement to make, but let's look at this objectively. The Los Angeles Kings spend a lot of money shipping guys across the country when they have a call-up from or return to the AHL. The average flight costs about a $1000 and is rerouted through Chicago when flying from Manchester to Los Angeles. There's also additional costs when preparing equipment for the player to use when he arrives in Los Angeles, and that equipment doesn't get re-used unless the player returns. By having Manchester in the same colors as the Kings, the Monarchs can send the gloves, helmets, and breezers of the player to Los Angeles with the rest of his equipment without having to prepare and store Kings' equipment for the player.

In other words, they're saving some cash without being too obvious about it. The sentimental statement from Darren Abbott is true in terms of sending players to Los Angeles who have helped the Kings in their two Stanley Cup runs, but it didn't really warrant a uniform change whatsoever. However, like the Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins, and Winnipeg Jets to name a few, the NHL and AHL franchises will look like long-lost twins now, removing any identity the AHL affiliate had in the past.

The other announcement out of Manchester today was that the Kings and Monarchs have hired former Moose Jaw Warriors head coach Mike Stothers as the Monarchs' new head coach. Stothers was a long-time AHL player, playing 11 seasons in the American League for the Maine Mariners, Hershey Bears, and Newmarket Saints. He served as an assistant coach for the Bears in 1991-92 before returning to the Bears in the same capacity from 1994-96. From there, he jumped to the Philadelphia Phantoms as an assistant coach from 1996-2000 before joining the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers as an assistant coach from 2000-02.

In 2002, he accepted the head coaching position of the OHL's Owen Sound Attack where he went 160-134-46 in his five seasons there. He joined the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins in 2007-08 as their head coach before taking a few years off, leading the Griffins to a 31-41-8 record and missing the playoffs, ultimately leading to his dismissal. In 2010-11, he resurfaced in Atlanta where he was an assistant coach of the Thrashers before accepting the head coaching position of the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors. He compiled a 91-97-28 record in 216 games at the helm in three seasons, including leading his team to the third-round of the WHL Playoffs in 2011-12.

Stothers is a good coach who should be able to get the young players of the Monarchs working hard for every puck. Stothers and Mike Futa, who is now the LA Kings' Vice President of Hockey Operations and Director of Player Personnel, inherited a mess of a team in Owen Sound and made it competitive during their time in the Ontario city. He expects a high fitness level from his players, and his team will be tough to play against as he enjoys a hard-hitting style of play. Losses, especially careless or listless games by his team, will result in hard skates. He expects his team to work hard, and they get rewarded for winning the "right way". In other words, there are no shortcuts with Mike Stothers, and the Monarchs will be better off for his approach.

A few changes for the Monarchs should make the Kings' monarch a little better. And there's nothing wrong with cementing a legacy like that.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 15 July 2014

The Mark Of Approval

Helmets in the NHL are a peculiar thing. There are several different makers of helmets, and players are free to choose whichever helmet they like best. The trainers then apply a number of sticks to those helmets in order to bring them up to code as per the NHL uniform guidelines. Things like team logos, jersey numbers, and any team-applicable charities can be added, but the one thing that is common on every helmet seems to be the NHL shield logo. Every single helmet has some sort of sticker representing the NHL on it, and I was asked a question by about the NHL's representation on helmets.

Good friend and uniform maven Paul Lukas - he of Uni Watch and ESPN - posed the following question to me that got the shovels out as I began digging into the information I had at hand. He wrote,
Hi, Teebz...

So here's something I'm having a hard time pinning down: I know NHL teams began wearing the NHL logo on their rear jersey hemline in 1990. But what about the NHL logo decal on players' helmets - do you know when that started?
A very interesting question, and one that I've actually never given much thought to as I watch NHL games. It is part of the uniform guidelines, I believe, since every team wears the NHL logo, but when did that start?

Every helmet worn in the NHL would have to be approved by the NHL as a league partner and for safety, so one could assume that if it gets the passing grade by the safety department it would probably receive the logo. My first guess would have been in 1969 after Bill Masterton's death from hitting his head on the ice, but the league actually didn't mandate helmets be worn until the 1979-80 season. They grandfathered the wearing of helmets in, allowing players such as Brad Marsh, Craig MacTavish, and Guy Lafleur to skate without one.

In researching this, the logo appears to be a recent addition as I've found a couple of pictures where the NHL logo doesn't appear to be on the back or could be concealed on the helmet based on placement of the NHL logo, but it appears this rule took effect sometime in the mid-1990s. Initially, I thought the best place to start was at the 1995 NHL strike since there was a new CBA drawn up at that time. This would lead me to start looking at the 1995-96 season as the focal point in looking for logos on the back of the helmets since I can conclude that it wasn't worn before that point in time.

My biggest issue in digging into this problem was that a lot of images on the internet aren't dated in the description or on the page they are found. For example, this image of the Penguins celebrating a Mario Lemieux goal has all the makings of a pre-1995 picture - correct jersey style, and all four Penguins players played for the team pre-1995 - but there is one dead giveaway that this picture is actually from 2000 or 2001: the Buffalo Sabres jersey. Buffalo didn't start wearing that black uniform until 1996. By that time, both Kevin Stevens and Martin Straka had moved on from the Penguins to different teams. However, by 2000 all four players wore Penguins colors once more. Basing my research off photos was proving to be more difficult than I had anticipated.

The only other place I could turn to was YouTube. Video doesn't lie unless someone messes up the description of the video, and there are usually a few instances of old hockey footage that can be found. Isolating the back of a helmet may be tougher depending on the coverage, but I'm up to the task so we'll start with the 1996 Stanley Cup Final that featured the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. While I couldn't isolate any Panthers, there's a great shot of Alexei Gusarov on the bench at the 2:45 mark of the video with his back to the camera. In checking that, there are no rear stickers other than his jersey number on his helmet. Scratch 1995-96 as the starting point.

We move to the 1996-97 season where the Detroit Red Wings met the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Final. It took a while to find some isolated shots of the back of helmets, but Eric Lindros' helmet at the 5:14 mark clearly shows no NHL logos. During the Red Wings' celebration, Steve Yzerman has no NHL stickers either. Scratch 1996-97 as the starting point.

The 1998 Stanley Cup Final featured the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals. It's fairly clear that the starting point of the highlights on that YouTube video give us the answer. Neither the Red Wings nor the Capitals are wearing the NHL logo stickers, so this one was put to bed very early. Scratch 1997-98 as the starting point.

The 1999 Stanley Cup Final was all about "the goal" as the Dallas Stars and Buffalo Sabres met for hockey's biggest prize. There are a pile of notes about the Dallas Stars' uniforms in this series, but we'll start by looking at the helmets. Lo and behold, we have an NHL logo sticker on Sergei Zubov's helmet! In another video, we clearly see the NHL logo on Mike Peca's helmet! Two confirmed sightings in the NHL Stanley Cup Final on two teams means we can accurately pinpoint that the 1998-99 season was the starting point for the NHL logo appearing on players' helmets!

There are a couple of things to note, as stated above, about the Stars in this series besides the NHL logo stickers. They wore their alternate jersey throughout the playoffs as they had told the NHL that it would become the primary jersey in 1999-2000. While unofficially their new primary uniforms, it would mark the first time that an NHL team had won the Stanley Cup while wearing their alternate uniforms. Additionally, the 1998-99 season would be the last season that they wore the "Dallas" pants in an NHL game. In 1999-2000, they switched to a standard black set of pants without the added "Dallas" down the leg. The Stars pulled off two major uniform changes in that season that took effect the following year, and have yet to win another Stanley Cup. Coincidence?

Now you might be asking what other stickers have been worn on helmets. Honestly, there have been lots. I'd need a team of researchers hunting these stickers down for a month if I wanted to build a comprehensive list. However, I will throw a few below that have been featured on helmets.
Basically, there are a ton of stickers out there that have been worn by teams. While I won't compile a database, just know that historically these stickers didn't start showing up until the 1998-99 NHL season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 14 July 2014

Renney's The Man!

Tom Renney has been enjoying his summer. Renney was a part of Mike Babcock's coaching staff for the last couple of seasons, helping the Red Wings advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in both seasons. Since the end of this season, he's had some time to unwind, and apparently he's been fishing if the picture to the left is to be believed. What most didn't expect, though, was that Renney was listening to job offers. Today, he chose one that has all the benefits of high-level hockey but may come with additional pressure based on his new position.

It was reported today that Tom Renney will take over Bob Nicholson's former duties for Hockey Canada president and CEO going forward with the announcement happening tomorrow from Hockey Canada's headquarters in Calgary. Renney brings seventeen years of hockey experience with him from the WHL and NHL, and has ties with Hockey Canada's programs as he won a silver medal in the 1994 Winter Olympics and been a part of ten World Championship teams. In other words, Renney brings a pile of experience with him.

At the time that he resigned, Nicholson was hopeful that his successor would be passionate about hockey in all forms, stating, "Make sure that you're in Flin Flon and all the small minor hockey across the country. Talk about sledge hockey, talk about women's hockey. The other stuff'll come. The NHL, the Canadian Hockey League, we have good partnerships there and it'll continue to be strong."

Tom Renney's appointment to the positions of president and CEO will certainly cement that wish.

Renney brings with his a pair of seasons as head coach with the Kamloops Blazers before being appointed as head coach of the Canadian Olympic team that participated in the 1994 Winter Olympics. In his two seasons with the Blazers, Renney compiled a 101-37-6 record - simply outstanding! He left the Olympic team after earning the silver medal before signing on as the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, replacing the fired Pat Quinn, in 1996-97 where he led the team to a 35-40-7 mark but missed the playoffs. He didn't last a second season, unfortunately, as the Mike Keenan era began in Vancouver.

Renney would resurface in New York with the Rangers as the Director of Player Personnel. He was promoted Vice President of Player Development on June 21, 2002, and was the main force behind the founding of the NY Rangers Development camp at Madison Square Garden in the off-season. In 2003-04, he stepped behind the bench once more as an assistant coach with the Rangers before taking over with twenty games to play as Glen Sather relinquished his coaching duties. In nearly four seasons as the head coach on Broadway, Renney compiled a 164-121-42 record and twice advanced to the Conference Semi-Finals. On February 23, 2009, Renney was fired from the Rangers as the team looked like it was going to miss the playoffs, being replaced by John Tortorella.

Renney jumped at the chance to be an associate coach with the Edmonton Oilers in 2009-10 as he joined Pat Quinn behind the Edmonton Bench. The following summer, Renney took over from Quinn, being named the Oilers' head coach on June 22, 2010 after Quinn was named as Senior Adviser of Hockey Operations for the Oilers. Renney spent two years as the head coach in the City of Champions watching them restock with a lot of young talent such as Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, and Jordan Eberle. Success didn't follow, though, as Renney's two seasons saw him put up a 57-85-22 mark as the Oilers missed the playoffs in both seasons. The Oilers announced after the 2011-12 season that his contract would not be renewed.

The following season saw Renney join Mike Babcock in Detroit as an associate coach, working with one of the best in the business. Add in that Babcock was the chosen man for the job at the last two Olympic Games, and there is no reason to think that the former Detroit associate coach would look anywhere else unless Babcock firmly states that he has no interest in coaching the Canadian Olympic squad in the future. Even then, you'd think that Renney would still put the bug in Babcock's ear whenever he had the chance as Hockey Canada's president and CEO.

All in all, this is a good signing. Renney has had junior, professional, and international experiences that have taught him a lot about the game. He's still passionate about hockey, and he knows the business and the people inside the business well. Hockey Canada will do well with this hiring. Renney is a good choice to replace Bob Nicholson, and he'll push Hockey Canada to new heights.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!