Saturday 30 September 2017

New Den For The Huskies

It's rare that Canadians see a new arena going up in a major city. We often see improvements to arenas being done, especially at the university level, but the University of Saskatchewan will have a new home for its hockey teams next season as construction on Merlis Blesher Place on the university campus nears completion. To have a shiny new rink for a U Sports team is even rarer, so let's celebrate the efforts of a number of people who contributed to this new construction, most notable the arena's namesake in Merlis Belsher. The Huskies hockey program should have the best rink in Canada West once ice is laid next season.

First off, the rink was named in Merlis Belsher's honour after he made the largest donation in University of Saskatchewan history at $12.25 million. That sort of donation are the kind of private donations that all universities dream of, and Mr. Belsher is a graduate of the commerce and law programs at the university.

Another major contributor was a private fundraising contribution led by former NHL head coach and former Huskies player Dave King and former player and current player agent Tim Hodgson called the Home Ice Campaign. The campaign raised over $28 million for the new arena project, the first new public skating arena built in Saskatoon in over 35 years. The city of Saskatoon also kicked in $4 million for the project.

The image above of the ground-breaking ceremony happened back in April 2017, and the event included featured guest Fred Sasakamoose, the NHL's first Indigenous player, who led a Cree blessing and prayer for the arena. Sheldon Wuttunee did a smudge during the blessing and prayer. "The facility that you have, my grandchildren can share that with you," Sasakamoose told the 100-or-so in attendance.

Upon completion, the new multi-use complex will house twin hockey rinks for the hockey teams with home rink amenities for the hockey squads, two gymnasiums for the volleyball and basketball teams with amenities for the home teams, a dozen additional dressing rooms, sports medicine facilities, weight training facilities, storage areas for the Huskies hockey teams, and locker rooms for the Huskies men's and women's soccer teams, and sit just south of Huskies field house. The new complex will also feature room to hold convocation, conferences, exams, trade shows and other special events.

Upon entering the complex, people will notice the two-story main lobby as the building's focal point. This lobby will feature a reception area with views onto each ice surface, food and beverage facilities, a pro shop with skate sharpening services, and space for a research lab. Needless to say, Merlis Blesher Place will be one of the most impressive campus rinks in Canada and possibly across the world.

Some may ask why the University of Saskatchewan is investing $43 million in a new complex. Well, the answer to that question is an easy one. The Rutherford Rink that the Huskies currently call home has stood for 88 years - far too long for any rink to be used for modern hockey. Kohl Bauml of the men's hockey program was asked if he'll miss any of the little idiosyncrasies of the old barn.

"Some we won't miss, such as the rust delays, overcrowded dressing rooms, and the recurring lack of hot water," Bauml stated matter-of-factly. "Some we will miss, like the atmosphere created by the fans who were being squeezed together shoulder to shoulder."

The new rinks will hold 3437 fans with 150 more in standing room only. The key in getting their money's worth out of the new facility, though, was in the university coming to an agreement with Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association for several hours each week for community programming. SMHA, with its 258 teams, will contribute $500,000 annually for the ice-time in this agreement.

Overall, I think this is incredible for the University of Saskatchewan and the other Canada West teams. No longer will the teams visiting feel like they're walking into an outdated, decrepit barn. Instead, they'll have all the modern amenities of a new rink and some fantastic options they may not have available to them in their own rink.

Men's hockey head coach Dave Adolph sees real opportunity for the university with the new facility. "Everybody’s made a big deal about our facility," he said, "and how it was always a negative in terms of our recruiting process. We've always had the good fortune of getting the Saskatchewan kids to come home, but now, maybe we can reach a little farther. It's going to be an elite complex that elite athletes are going to want to come to."

For a men's team that has had some incredible seasons in their history and for a women's team who has been a solid competitor in Canada West, they'll settle in and get the rinks rocking before you know it. It was time to let Rutherford go after 88 years of service. No rink should be expected to be lively and modern after 616 years (in dog years)!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 29 September 2017

Another Giant Gone

This is still an iconic photo. If you haven't heard the news today, Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski has announced that he's leaving the former Yahoo!-run blog for new adventures. It's hard for me, a lifetime loner blogger, to imagine that I'd outlive the snark- and sarcasm-based hockey outlet, but it seems that Puck Daddy will go on - cue Celine Dion music - without the guy who wore the hat for so long. So raise the glass high, Tim Peel, in honour of everything Greg did in making Puck Daddy an important piece of hockey coverage.

Look, I didn't always agree with every article he wrote, but that's why the coverage on Puck Daddy was important. It pushed the envelope and challenged traditional viewpoints and thoughts in a lot of situations. As one of the guys who was hired to write for Puck Daddy in the beginning, Greg was a voice that was unlike most when I started blogging as he brought an element of comedy to stories and often called out inaccuracies and falsehoods unlike anyone else.

After nine years, though, it seems that the changes he had witnessed had taken the fun out of the job. On his website, he wrote,
Simply put: I didn't want to spend the next three years trying to recreate something that couldn't be recreated. To try and maintain standards I set for myself, and for you, that couldn't be maintained, given the changes in staff, resources and objectives after the sale to Verizon. This is very much my own hang-up, as I anticipate NHL coverage will continue to thrive on Yahoo. But it was an insurmountable one.

I know myself and how I work, and I've already seen how I reacted to the losses of Leahy and Cooper and Neale this year. It wasn't healthy, and ultimately it was going to lead me in one of two directions: Overworking to overcompensate, which is my default setting, or into a cycle of complacency because we had built a machine that saw record traffic in 2017.

I didn't fancy either option, because I also wanted new challenges professionally, and so I decided to leave. Which it turns out was the most difficult decision I’ve made in my career. But ultimately, I believe, the right one.
I won't lie when I say that I contemplated shutting down HBIC earlier this year after I hit the ten-year mark. I felt I wasn't giving this blog everything I had when it came to content, and I didn't want people to walk away thinking that very thing. I hold myself very responsible in posting something each day, and I feel as though I've done a really good job when I push a debate or offer an argument that gets people talking. While I didn't have Greg's audience each day, the stats showing that there a vast number of hits on an article that drives a discussion makes me feel like it's all worth the effort. What Greg is saying is the decision that I weighed in terms of seeing the quality of the articles fall below a level I find acceptable. The difference, however, is that I would have ended HBIC whereas Puck Daddy will go on sans Greg.

I respect the heck out of what Greg Wyshynski did as a blogger and, eventually, as part of the NHL media. As he wrote, he "got a referee suspended for doing tequila shots with me a New York bar and helped get John Scott voted in as an All-Star Game captain," and both instances saw the NHL improve for the better. It takes a lot of moxie for one man to change how the NHL operates, and in both instances Greg Wyshynski was at the forefront when it came to these changes.

It's hard for me to process that HBIC, as an unaffiliated blog, has outlasted some of the bigger names who were blogging for so long. Granted, I don't have their audiences, but I'm happy to have anyone who stops in for a read. It's going to be tough not getting Greg's take on the hockey world via Puck Daddy any longer, but for nine years he was a voice that made sense out of a lot of NHL news for many people. And whatever new venture he's about to join may bring his voice back to the hockey world where his voice spoke for many.

If there's one video that I think of in regards to Greg's announcement today, it's the following:

Greg certainly is a legend. Thanks for everything, Greg, and all the best where ever you land!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 28 September 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 262

The Hockey Show is back tonight, and we're coming with a message! Well, there will be a few message we send out, but there is one important message that we need you to hear. We'll go over this message below, but Teebz and Beans will dig into the hockey stories this week on which there needs to be commentary! No, we're not talking about Donald Trump's stupidity either. We will talk about Joel Ward's message that he issued today and why it's so important. We will talk about the Canadian and American Olympians making a stop in Winnipeg in December. We'll talk about the UBC Thunderbirds women's hockey team playing Team China. We'll talk about Charlene Labonté retiring. And we'll talk about the even happening below!

It's that magical(?) time of year at UMFM where we conduct our 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. The station has been operating since 1998, and your donations via the Pledge-O-Rama campaign have allowed UMFM to accomplish a number of goals including upgrading the transmitter, gaining better technology so we can do things like remote broadcasts, and making upgrades to UMFM's in-studio equipment and facilities. 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 can do is ask you to donate whatever it may be that you can afford so that we can continue to do great things like broadcasting Bisons women's hockey, broadcasting from community arenas and events, and bring great people on the show. While Beans and I won't see any money directly, UMFM will be using the money this year to redesign our aging website, purchase new computers for use at the station, set up a digital music library, and investing in capital improvements so that UMFM not only remains relevant in the Winnipeg market, but for fans and listeners across the world.

How do you donate? The easiest way is to donate online. The page itself is 128-bit encrypted for the highest security, and only our General Manager Jared McKetiak and our Program Director Michael Elves - our two longest-serving employees - have access to process these donations. In other words, we take great care and ensure that your information isn't shared with anyone. And we pride ourselves on that admission.

If you happen to donate, you also get some free UMFM gear! We don't want you going away empty-handed after helping us out, so make sure you go through these options and get what you want from us!
  • UMFM's Friends With Benefits Card: good for discounts and offers at a more than 40 local businesses!
  • UMFM Tote Bag – a classic heavy duty canvas bag!
  • UMFM Beer Stein: we're proudly calling this mug the Dietmar in honor of our favorite German listener!
  • UMFM T-shirts: the artwork was done by excellent local designer Roberta Landreth, and there are two designs you can choose from (of grab both)!
  • UMFM Toque: our new style is made by Carhartt, the premier manufacturer of warm, dependable outdoor gear!
  • UMFM sweatshirt: the same designs on the t-shirts can be found with sleeves and fleece!
  • UMFM earplugs: everyone gets a pair for donating, and we'll even toss in some stickers and temporary tattoos!
Now that you've seen the gear and figured out what you want, what do need to donate to get your wanted stuff?
Ok, so there's a ton of info here, and I apologize for that, but we need to get it out on the internet. If you tune in tonight or in any of the coming weeks, you'll hear us talking about Pledge-O-Rama. If you have questions, make sure you reach out!

So now you might be saying, "Teebz, how can I listen to the show?" We suggest that you download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so go get it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! Email all show questions and comments - including Pledge-O-Rama questions - 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.

Tonight, Teebz and Beans talk Pledge-O-Rama, Olympians, university players versus Olympians, Joel Ward's words, the loss of an Olympic goalie, and other stuff only on The Hockey Show found on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: September 28, 2017: Episode 262

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Rattling Cages

If you check the archives of The Hockey Show podcasts, the man to the left who is signing papers was a guest of ours! Terry Ryan, former first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens, appeared on the radio show to talk about his book and hockey, and he was an outstanding guest with the stories he revealed and the information he brought to the program. Terry has always been proud of his roots, so it was encouraging to see him step out of his comfort zone and offer to stick up for residents of Mount Pearl, Newfoundland by running for city council! While he was known for throwing haymakers on the ice, Terry was now looking to make law and keep order through his efforts in the Mount Pearl city hall board room!

There have been a handful of former hockey players who have jumped into politics - Ken Dryden at the national level and Thomas Steen on a municipal level in Winnipeg - so Terry's venture into politics wasn't necessarily breaking new ground, but Terry saw things happening at the municipal level in his community that he didn't like and decided to try and make those things right by exercising his freedoms to run for office. Honestly, I respected Terry Ryan a lot before, but this only upped the respect level by another few notches.

So why am I writing about this today? Well, the election happened on Tuesday night. Terry was active on his campaign trail, he was engaging via social media with voters, and he certainly has the name recognition to garner a few "free" votes. So how did it go? Here are your results.
As you can see from above, Terry Ryan did not garner enough votes to be elected into Mount Pearl city council. While that's disappointing, don't expect Terry to sit back and wallow in his defeat. He'll still be a presence in and around town, voicing his opinion where it's needed. In fact, Terry posted a note on his Twitter account thanking all who believed in him.
Like the warrior he was on the ice, he tapped his competitors for seats on the helmet after a good tussle. That's honour and dignity, folks, and Terry has that in spades. If you have to learn how to lose before you learn how to win, this opportunity that didn't end in the result he desired shouldn't deter him, but, in fact, it should motivate him. Terry's a bright guy who cares deeply for his community and its constituents, and that's a major part of serving as part of a city council. While he may not be politically savvy when it comes to running a successful campaign yet, he's seen how others do it now and can look to improve upon those skills so that he can be prepared for the next election if he chooses to run again.

The results show that Terry Ryan won't be on Mount Pearl's city council, but that doesn't mean he can't make an impact. I expect Terry to be the same guy who loves his town and province, speaks out when something needs to be said, and who remains a leader within his community. Election or no election, Terry Ryan is a great leader, and I'm sure he'll still rattle some cages around town just like he did when he was flying around the ice as a professional hockey player.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Break Out The Pocketbook

They're coming, folks! This isn't some horror movie premise, though. Instead, the Canadian and American Olympic women's hockey teams will play in Winnipeg on December 5 prior to them heading to South Korea in February 2018 for the Olympics! While details are still being worked out regarding what exactly will take place, we know that these two teams will play on BellMTS Centre ice on December 5 as part of their exhibition tour across North America!

Along with Quebec City on October 22, Winnipeg is the second Canadian city to be included in the tour, and I have a feeling that the great crowds and outstanding support the women have received in Winnipeg in the past went a long way in helping the city get this game. There will be a third city announced shortly in terms of the three Canadian cities on the tour - I'm hearing Edmonton as that location - but we now have two Canadian dates nailed down for the always-epic battle between Canada and the US.

This game comes two days after the battle that these two teams will wage in Minneapolis, Minnesota on December 3 - the second date of the US-based games on the tour. The women will also play on October 25 in Boston, Massachusetts and on and December 15 in San Jose, California as the two teams showcase their talents in an effort to be ready for Pyeongchang. Expect tensions to be high and the excitement to be ramped up due to the short timeframe between the games and the fallout from what happens in Quebec City and Boston and for the Four Nations Cup in November.

"This series is an incredible opportunity to showcase women's hockey in a best-on-best atmosphere and we're looking forward to bringing that to cities across our country," said Melody Davidson, Hockey Canada’s general manager of national women's team programs. "As we continue to look ahead to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, this series marks another critical step in our preparation and will certainly be a fantastic opportunity for fans to watch the top players in North America battle in advance of puck-drop in PyeongChang."

There is one thing I don't like about this game, and that's how True North Sports and Entertainment handles the ticketing. As usual, presale opportunities will be available to Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose ticket package-holders beginning this week while the general public has to wait until Thursday, October 5 to purchase tickets. While I get that True North wants its most loyal fans to have a shot at a big-ticket event like this first, how many of those ticket holders are fans of women's hockey? If there's any indication from rinks around the city, I'm going to say "not many" based upon turnout. However, if that's my only gripe, I guess I shouldn't complain all that much.

I'd say get your tickets early on this one, folks. The games between Canada and the US have always been entertaining, and I'm sure that emotions and effort will be sky-high in Winnipeg on December 5. Winnipeg has always shown some amazing support for the Canadian women's national team, and they're bringing their show back to the city to try and capture more of that support. If you want to watch the best hockey on the planet, get your tickets and get your butt in a seat on December 5 or on any of the other dates already announced!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 25 September 2017

It's Official

I've spoken about my admiration for the woman to the left on this blog before. In the article linked above, it was pretty clear from what Miss Labonté stated in her interview with The Canadian Press that the end of her career was nearing. She had already ruled out the 2018 Winter Olympics, and her plans to follow her dreams in becoming a chef were already underway. The only question left to answer was when she finally was going to take the next step and make that dream her full-time reality. Today - September 25, 2017 - is that day.

Today on Twitter, Charlene Labonté posted the following message.

And with that, Charlene Labonté has retired from competitive hockey.

She'll always be one of my favorite hockey players - male or female. She's an Olympic gold medalist, she's an outspoken leader for the LGBTQ community, and she's an outstanding teammate. She's on her way to being a culinary master, and I have no doubt she will exceed in the kitchen as much as she did on the ice.

Enjoy your retirement, Charlene. Thanks for being a role model on and off the ice to millions of people. You filled Canadians with pride each time you stepped on the ice, and you certainly represented the maple leaf and every logo you wore on your chest as courageously as anyone before you and with the respect each deserved. I have a feeling your culinary career will see you put as much time and dedication into it to become a master of your craft as you did with goaltending.

Thanks for being awesome, Charlene! Bon appetit!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 24 September 2017

Canada's Oldest Fauxback

Were you aware that the WHL's Regina Pats are the oldest junior hockey team in Canada? Well, you will certainly be very aware this season. The Pats are celebrating their 100th Anniversary Season this year, and they'll do so in a special jersey that resembles the sweater worn by the original Pats in 1917-18! The image above shows the jerseys unveiled in 2015-16 and will be still be worn throughout the year, but the Pats will have their special alternate jersey to wear as seen below.

You know, those aren't so bad! There's usually a better-than-good chance I'll find something wrong with a fauxback jersey because teams seem to be unable to contain themselves when it comes to adding design elements. While there are a few additions on this jersey that weren't on the original sweater, the sanctity of holding true to the original sweater worn by the Pats is pretty much intact!

From their announcement, "The simple, classic styling, with its prominent colour band across the chest and arms, emblazoned with authentic Pats lettering, pays respect to the original uniform, first worn a century ago." They also add, "The traditional colour palette also harkens back to a century ago, when a hockey sweater really WAS a sweater. The four embroidered crowns, mirroring the crown on the Regina city flag, signify the four Memorial Cup titles won by the team in its century of existence and the new centennial season crest on the left shoulder brings the jersey design full-circle, demonstrating that Regina Pats pride is alive and still growing stronger in 2017."

Before we go further, some may be confused about why the Pats are called the "Pats". The franchise, when founded, was named the Regina Patricia Hockey Club. The team was named in honour of Princess Patricia of Connaught, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria and daughter of the Governor General who was the Duke of Connaught. As the team evolved, they were associated with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, and the current team wears the "PPCLI" flash as a shoulder patch as seen in the lede photo.

Now that we've cleared up the name, let's carry on.

Marketing speak aside, the grainy image to the right shows the 1917-18 Regina Pats in full uniform, and the jerseys unveiled look pretty close to the original. There will be some give in the fauxback when it comes to design simply due to how jerseys are made today, but the important elements have been reproduced to make them look very similar. What I'd love to see is the jersey have the giant collar like the 1917 Pats wore. Maybe that could be the newest trend in hockey jerseys, replacing the tie-up collar? In any case, I'd say that the Pats did a pretty solid job in bringing their original sweater from a century ago back to life.

What say you, readers? Is this a good look for the Pats? They haven't announced when the jersey will be worn yet, but I assume they'll have that schedule up on their website shortly. Lemme know in the comments if this is a yay or nay jersey!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 23 September 2017

TBC: Best Canadian Sports Writing

A rainy Saturday has derailed my original plan of being in the garden today. In fact, with it being rainy and cold, the day has afforded me time to do something I rarely seem to have to time to do in reading. I spent most of the day with a book in my hands, and I am happy to say I read some very excellent writing. Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Best Canadian Sports Writing, edited by Stacey May Fowles and Pasha Malla, and published by ECW Press. In Best Canadian Sports Writing, Miss Fowles and Mr. Malla selected 38 stories written by a number of excellent Canadian writers who saw their works about a vast number of sports published in a number of different different places. The submissions of these stories were collected and chosen for this book by Miss Fowles and Mr. Palla, and presented as this collection entitled Best Canadian Sports Writing. And there are some great stories written!

From Miss Fowles' website, "Stacey May Fowles is an award-winning novelist, journalist, and essayist. Author of three novels, her bylines include The National Post, The Globe and Mail, Elle Canada, Maisonneuve, Toronto Life, The Walrus, Canadaland, Vice Sports, The Toast, The New Inquiry, Deadspin, Jezebel, The Classical, Rookie, Hazlitt, Prism, Quill and Quire, and many others. She has been a frequent guest on CBC's Metro Morning, is a former member of q's sports panel, and her writing has been anthologized in places ranging from Baseball Prospectus to Our Bodies, Ourselves." She currently lives in Toronto where she writes about books for the Globe & Mail and about baseball for Jays Nation and The Athletic. She can be found on Twitter under missstaceymay.

Pasha Malla is an exceptional young writer who was born in St. John's, Newfoundland before moving to London, Ontario. He was a graduate student at Concordia University. His first book, The Withdrawal Method, won the 2009 Trillium Book Award in fiction that comes with an award of $20,000 and won the $10,000 Danuta Gleed Literary Award the same year. The Withdrawal Method was "also longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for 'Best First Book' in the region of the Caribbean and Canada". "Filmsong", a short story Malla wrote, also won the Arthur Ellis Award. Malla has published two additional books entitled All Our Grandfathers Are Ghosts in 2008 and People Park in 2012, both of which received critical praise. Malla also contributes to, CBC Radio, and the Globe and Mail. He currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

The works contained within the covers of Best Canadian Sports Writing cover a vast number of sports - hockey, baseball, MMA, wrestling, cricket, basketball, and boxing among the topics - but they also cover a vast number of societal issues such as mental health in athletes, economics of playing sports, background and race in sports, and gender equality in sports. If one were looking for a textbook to teach sports journalism that has examples of outstanding writing not only on sports, but on society, Best Canadian Sports Writing would be my nominee for that textbook.

Now that I've called Best Canadian Sports Writing a textbook, I can hear a number of you saying, "Nope, not for me," but it's not written like a textbook in any way. The articles contained in Best Canadian Sports Writing are from reputable outlets such as Sportsnet Magazine, The Walrus, Toronto Life, and Sports Illustrated. These aren't dry, scientific papers with a pile of footers to reads through - although some do that footers - but rather a number of well-written, well-researched stories that connect the reader with the subject. In the end, reading Best Canadian Sports Writing felt like, to use a technology term, an RSS of the best Canadian stories on sports at my fingertips.

There were a couple of stories that really jumped out at me - Sheryl Swoopes' legacy in women's basketball was incredible, and Kimbo Slice's work in helping his son and others with autism find hope was inspiring - but it was Dan Robson's story from the May 12, 2014 copy of Sportsnet Magazine about the boys from Whale Cove, Nunavut that really show just how good Canadians writers are at framing and telling a story. Dan's story follows a ragtag group of boys from Whale Cove to Winnipeg and then to a small town in northwestern Ontario called Longlac where they are treated like rock stars for simply making the trip. It's here where we discover that these feisty young men from Whale Cove not only can play hockey, but are pretty amazing young people as well.
The journey to Toronto came next, after the series - a two-day bus ride with players from the Geraldton High team into a new world. None of the ten from Whale Cove had ever been to a city so large - it was a place they only saw on TV while watching the Leafs play. As the yellow bus wobbled along the single-lane highways of northern Ontario, the boys leaned on each other, resting in the tiny seats as they watched the trees blur by. Sixteen hours and 1,200 kilometres later, those trees gave way to concrete buildings, the single roads morphing into an eight-lane highway and a mountain of a rising city. They stared at the cars and the people that passed - so many anonymous faces. They passed people lying on the streets, cold and alone, and anonymous, too. And Demitre stopped to give one food. And David and Simon stopped to give another some of the cash they'd saved to buy new clothes. And so the Whalers did as Whale Covers do - "You would never see someone without a place to go in Whale Cove," says David.
Stories like Mr. Robson's piece are found throughout Best Canadian Sports Writing. While the focus is on the sport, there is so much good written alongside the athletes in question that give a glimpse into humanity that I didn't want to put the book down. From learning about the people who created a thriving Filipino basketball league in Whitehorse, Yukon to reading about the Raonics and how Milos found his passion in tennis to reading about the experiences and challenges of five black journalists, Best Canadian Sports Writing will open your eyes to some of the best writing ever produced in Canada!

While it's not a story that one would read from cover to cover, the nice thing about Best Canadian Sports Writing is that the 38 short stories are only a few pages long save for one long article on professional wrestling. If one were looking to take breaks between chapters, the short stories and pieces in Best Canadian Sports Writing certainly afford that and make it easy to plan reading sessions. I liked this design for the book, and the fact that the stories were mixed together in a jumble of sports meant that each new story often was a new sport with a new story to discover.

Overall, the 393 pages of Best Canadian Sports Writing contain 38 stories that take you across the sports landscape and introduce you to people whose stories are bigger than just the sport each plays. It's in this writing and this discovery that I believe readers of Best Canadian Sports Writing will find true value in this book. While HBIC focuses on hockey, the hockey stories in Best Canadian Sports Writing take you beyond the rink and into people's lives for a better understanding of each subject's full examination. This happens in every story in Best Canadian Sports Writing, and it's entirely why I believe that Best Canadian Sports Writing deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

You can find Best Canadian Sports Writing at all major bookstores and libraries in the New Release section as it was officially released on Wednesday. I recommend this book to all sports fans despite some occasional PG-language!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 22 September 2017

We Did The Unthinkable

Tonight, I had the pleasure of covering for our normal public address announcer at the Bisons men's hockey game. The game itself was played at Seven Oaks Arena on the opposite side of town from the University of Manitoba as the CFL's Blue Bombers and their fans had taken over Investors Group Field at the university. Being a neutral site game, we had none of the comforts we normally do at Wayne Fleming Arena and it forced us to improvise with other options - music, announcements, and a completely new timing system. We made it all work in the end, but we did something that I wasn't sure I'd see this early after posting an article about it.

On Monday, I wrote an article about how I'd like to see the tradition of anthems being sung prior to sports events to end. It got a lot of traction through social media, and I have to admit that there were some good debates around the topic. I still believe anthems should be retired, but I never thought I'd be a part of a test run tonight!

As I stated above, we were working off a laptop that was filled with music, but the one piece of music that was notably absent on the laptop was "O Canada". Because we were inside an arena, the wifi signals weren't very good nor did we have passwords to access them, so we were kind of in a bind. It was decided with about twenty minutes prior to the opening face-off that without an anthem singer and without the music, we would skip the anthem on this night!

With about three minutes to go prior to game time, I announced the starting lineups for the Regina Cougars. They came out on to the ice, and the Bisons made their way down the tunnel and took to the ice as well. I announced the Bisons' starting lineup, and then we simply played some upbeat rock-and-roll as the officials spoke with both benches. The players organized themselves on the ice, the officials took their places, and the puck was dropped to open the game. Not one person seemed to miss the anthem, and neither team put up an objection to the omission of this "traditional" piece of the game.

Will this happen again? I doubt it. One of the things that the Gameday Manager for the Bisons does is work with a group that provides anthem singers for every home game that happens on the campus. These young singers use the opportunity to add to their resumés and to their portfolios, so it's helpful in that sense.

But did we miss it tonight? Nope. No one - fan, player, coach, official - mentioned the lack of anthem as we walked the concourse post-game, and the overall effect was zero on the game. It was a fast, exciting preseason game that featured a couple of fights, some nice goals, a few big saves, and a Bisons 3-2 win at the final buzzer.

I'm not saying we're going to set a trend here, but if it didn't matter to anyone on this night, should it matter to anyone on any other random night?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 21 September 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 261

The Hockey Show is back tonight with its usual cast of characters - Teebz and Beans - as we get to work on breaking down the stories and information from the last couple of weeks around the hockey spectrum. There have been a number of interesting stories that have broken, and it's time we sit down and sort through everything that has been written, said, implied, and inferred so that you get a better sense of what's happening in the big picture of hockey. While that sounds ominous, it shouldn't be. You know you'll get the important details from The Hockey Show as you always do!

What you see to the left is an accurate picture of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation president Ken King when it comes to paying for a new arena in downtown Calgary. We'll go over Mr. King's childish antics regarding the negotiations for a new arena tonight on the show, and break down why using any public money from the city of Calgary's coffers should result in some sort of repayment or future payments. We'll also take a look at a new piece of equipment Bauer is pushing that reportedly protects an athlete's brain, the Jets laying a pair of eggs against the Wild and Oilers and why fans should be very worried this year, shout-outs to the Winnipeg Goldeyes and 19-2, former guest Brian McGrattan's new role with the Flames, the Montreal Canadiens visiting Brandon, and we'll bounce around Europe to check on a number of players and how they're doing early in their seasons! We've got a lot to cover tonight, so make sure you tune in at 5:30pm!

So now you might be asking can you listen to the show, right? We suggest that you download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so go get it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! 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.

Tonight, Teebz and Beans look at arena woes, Jets woes, Bauer knows, Big Ern's new role, European snipe shows, and other fun stuff only on The Hockey Show found on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: September 21, 2017: Episode 261

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Goal Of The Year Candidate

The young man in the image to the left is Jiri Sekac. You may remember he had a cup of coffee with the Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, and Arizona Coyotes before he left for greener pastures in the KHL with Ak Bars Kazan. Honestly, he was always seen as a solid talent with above-average skill, and yet somehow Montreal managed to deal him to Anaheim for Devante Smith-Pelly. Anaheim then dealt him to Chicago for Ryan Garbutt. Chicago then waived him and Arizona claimed him. Sekac will participated in the 2015 Skills Competition as one of the rookies who got an invite, so I'm not sure why all these teams gave up on him.

In any case, Sekac is now playing in the KHL for Ak Bars Kazan as stated above. Last season saw him get his feet wet in 47 games where he scored 13 goals and 14 assists, but of his four goals thus far this season, he might have scored the GOTY (pronounced "Gotty") - the Goal of the Year - in a four-point effort against HC Slovan. Take a look at this dirty dangle he lays on Ivan Svanry and ridiculous goal he pots past Jakub Stepanuk.
I'm sorry, but WHAT?!? That's OUTSTANDING! With his four points against HC Slovan today, Sekac jumps ahead of Anton Lander's ten points on the season and just behind Justin Azevedo's twelve points. At age 26, this guy should still be in the NHL, but he's scoring highlight-reel goals and giving nightmares to opposing teams with his skills.

If the Czech Republic is looking for a goal-scorer at the Olympics, Sekac should be the guy who gets a tap on the shoulder. That skill can't be ignored.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 19 September 2017

I Think I Recognize That Tendy

You see that goalie trying to peek around the crowd of women in front of her? That's former Manitoba Bisons netminder Amanda Schubert! Schubert is currently in Finland where she's playing for the women's KJT team in Helsinki, and it was nice to see an article about Amanda's debut in the league. Being that my Finnish is a little rusty, I can tell you that she's finding success on the ice in Finland with KJT which is always encouraging for a foreign player in a new league and land.

According the linked report above, the article states that Schubert held Rauman Lukko off the board for 59 minutes and 47 seconds until a late power-play goal got by her in helping KJT earn their first win in the season opener by a 2-1 score. Sofia Nuutinen and Linnea Snickars scored for KJT in helping get out to a 1-0 start this season, and they traveled home for their second game the following day in welcoming Kuortane to town.

Despite Kuortane entering the game 0-1 after a loss to KalPa, this game was a little more lopsided. After holding the Kuortane scoreless in the first period, they found the back of the net twice in the second period behind Schubert. Things kind of got out of hand when Kuortane added four more goals in the third period en route to a 6-0 victory, but it should be noted that Schubert made 48 stops in the defeat. KJT drops to 1-1-0 on the season and sits in the middle of the pack with a number of other teams.

Friday night sees KJT playing the 0-2 Espoo Blues in Espoo while Saturday sees 0-2 Rauman Lukko visit KJT in the first rematch of the season. I haven't been able to find any feeds for the Naisten Liiga yet where I can watch Amanda and KJT play, but I'll keep searching so we can keep up with one of the alumna of the Bisons women's hockey team!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 18 September 2017

An Unpopular Opinion Grows

With the NFL back in full swing once more and my Twitter timeline flooded with NFL tweets yesterday, I think I want to weigh in on something for which I've never really had much use. As seen to the left, Colin Kaepernick made a significant statement in being the first to kneel during the national anthem prior as a form of silent protest, but I'm not here to speak about his protest. I could be here for days or weeks with all the nuances of that argument. Instead, I may be in the minority here, but I truly would like the practice of having the national anthem sung prior to every sporting event ended sooner than later. Honestly, it's an archaic form of tribute built into today's society that really has no place being continued today.

I know I'm asking a lot here, so bear with me. I'll explain my stance fully after a little history.

This all starts with baseball as games as far back as the mid-1800s that saw the Star-Spangled Banner sung prior to special games. Where it really caught on, though, was during the World Series of 1918 between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. This particular series saw a few notable events happen prior to the series starting that saw the anthem used as a way to unite the American people.

17 months prior to the 1918 World Series, the US had entered World War I and there were a number of ball players who had been drafted that summer to serve in the military during this war. The government, as a result of the strain on the economics and workforce, ordered baseball to end the regular season by Labor Day, marking the only time in baseball's illustrious history that the October Classic actually finished in September.

Another event took place on September 4, the day before the first game was scheduled to be played at Comiskey Park. According to reports, a bomb ripped through the Chicago Federal Building that killed four people and injured another 30. Needless to say, the mood was pretty sullen in Chicago when it came time to celebrate baseball's best two teams.

It was in Game One that Babe Ruth pitched a gem, but the 19,000 on-hand to witness the 1-0 Boston victory barely stirred. That is, until the seventh-inning stretch. The military band that was on-hand began playing the Star-Spangled Banner, and it seemed to stir the crowd. Playing in the game was third baseman Fred Thomas who was an active serviceman with the US Navy. While on furlough from the Navy, Thomas received permission to play in the World Series, and Thomas would stand and salute the flag on this day as the military band played the anthem. Seeing Thomas saluting, the remainder of the players on the field turned towards the flag and held their hands over their hearts as the anthem was proudly played by the military band. As the conclusion of the song, the sleepy crowd came alive with an ovation not heard at any point in the game.

The next two games, hosted by the Cubs, also featured the Star-Spangled Banner played during the seventh-inning stretch. Boston, not to be outdone by their rivals, decided to move the song to the pregame ceremonies while having injured servicemen attend the game for free. The crowd at Fenway Park was louder than it had been for most of the season, according to reports, and the Red Sox continued to play the anthem prior to the remaining three games with Boston winning the series four games to two.

As Luke Cyphers and Ethan Trex write on,
Other major league teams noticed the popular reaction to "The Star-Spangled Banner" in 1918, and over the next decade it became standard for World Series and holiday games. In subsequent years, through subsequent wars, it grew into the daily institution we know today.
What makes this funny, to me, is that Congress didn't officially adopt the "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the American National Anthem until 1931. What grew out of a way to honour the soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect freedoms and rights was finally adopted by the country as a way to do the same some 13 years later. Nice job, Congress.

Snide remarks about American politics aside, if we look at the history of the anthem being played before the game, it literally was a one-up by the Red Sox on the Cubs that started this silly tradition. As it was adopted by more sports across the land, it became commonplace to hear the anthem before any game is played. However, there are places such as the Olympics and various World Championships where the anthem is played after the game is concluded, and only the winning nation gets its anthem played.

Look, I have no problem with how the anthem was used at sporting events in the days of yesteryear when it sung and performed on special occasions like opening day, national holidays, and championship games. I believe those days and games have special meaning to a wider section of the audience, and the performance of the anthem signifies the importance of those days and events. It makes much more sense than a midweek game between the Hurricanes and Coyotes in January.

It also makes no sense when you look at a few rosters of NHL teams. Why would nearly two-thirds of the Winnipeg Jets sing the Canadian national anthem when they're not from Canada? They stand out of respect for the team, the fans, and the country in which they work and live, but should we force players like Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, and Nikolai Ehlers to take part when they clearly have more national pride for their countries of origin? You can't make the claim that the anthem is being played for the fans to rouse their spirits like they did in 1918, so why do we continue to force this issue 82 games per year and more in the playoffs?

I get that I'm opening up a can of worms here in suggesting this, but I can't think of one good reason why this tradition should continue on a game-by-game basis outside of special occasions and championship games. Maybe you have one - no, your relative signing the anthem isn't a good one - but I'd need some concrete proof why we need to play the national anthems at each and every game when it was originally meant to bring the people of Chicago together during a difficult time and have the people of Boston honour the injured servicemen who fought in one of the worst wars in history.

If you're going to honour the accomplishments of the soldiers who ensured that we get to watch athletes entertain us, play the anthem on Remembrance Day and Veterans Day. But I'm not in favour of dragging it out at every sporting event held in North America. We don't do it at movie theatres when highly-paid actors and actresses are entertaining us. We don't do it at concerts where highly-paid musicians are entertaining us. In saying that, we shouldn't do it at sporting events either.

Have your take in the comments, folks.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 17 September 2017

The End Of The Season

We survived another crazy season of slo-pitch, laughter, and fun as the playoffs wound down today. The rain really did a number on the fields this weekend, so kudos to everyone who got out there and worked on them. As you can see from the image to the left, it didn't quite finish how we would have liked, but I gotta hand it to this team in that we overcame some tests this weekend to give ourselves a shot at defending our championship. In the end, we could have used some better luck through the playoffs to set us up in the final, but that's how the ball bounces sometimes.

There's something about being a weekend warrior that just brings out the fun in everyone. The nice part about the league is that teams that aren't playing usually crash at the community club where the league plays out of for refreshments and laughs. It's always a good time stopping by the club, and I have to admit that there was a rather intense game of Chase the Ace happening for one team. Regardless of what's happening at each team's table, everyone chats with everyone else and it's a great atmosphere.

After starting the weekend with a loss and a tie, there was a sense of dread that we might already be out of the running for a spot in the final. However, three straight wins pushed us to a 3-1-1 record - second-best in the pool and just ahead of another team that finished 3-2-0 (yes, we beat them). Without stating too much drama, we literally played for our championship lives after those two games, and everyone really came together to pull off three important wins to send us into the final.

The final didn't go so well for us. Whatever black magic we were using to hit so well in the earlier two games today dried up. Defensively, we played pretty well, but you rarely win slo-pitch games with single-digit scores. In the end, we just didn't score enough and didn't hit enough to defend the title, and now we'll watch others celebrate with the trophy at the year-end banquet. Which sucks.

Again, we overcame some adversity to make it to that spot for that opportunity, and I have to say that it was fun seeing everyone come together. Despite suffering an injury that prevented me from playing past the Saturday morning game, the loss of my bat in the lineup was hardly noticeable as everyone began hammering the ball and getting on base. To be fair, I'm not sure I would have disrupted the team even if I could have played with the way they were hitting and running. Everyone rallied when I went down, and that was a major part of the fun this weekend!

We also lost two players due to work midway through the season that were quite good. They made a strong middle infield pairing, and the fact that they were working two provinces away didn't make for easy commutes for Sunday evening games. There was hope that they could escape for the weekend to join us once more, but they couldn't get away. Having those two players back in the lineup would have really tightened up the defence while adding some much-needed offence, but those that filled in did an admirable job nonetheless.

Having those three bats in the lineup may have scored more runs in the final, but it also could have meant those that were playing well missed a chance to add their name to an incredible run. I would have loved to see this team win a second championship in back-to-back years, but it wasn't to be this season. I'm still damned proud of what this team accomplished, and nothing will replace that feeling of pride in battling back from an 0-1-1 record to advance to the championship final.

A great season was had, and I'm looking forward to next season already!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 16 September 2017

A Soggy Day Off The Grid

Welcome to slo-pitch in September. Today will see me and twelve-or-so teammates attempt to make something out of a windy and wet day on the ball diamonds as we look to defend the title won last season. With it being as rainy and windy as it is, I'm not sure why we're playing, but apparently we have to get the games in "one way or another". I guess that means umbrellas and rain ponchos for all? In any case, I'm gonna spend most of the day off the grid trying to stay warm in single-digit temperatures while we take down teams standing in front of us to repeat as champions!

Tonight, I have the privilege of attending the Bisons women's hockey social where they are raising money to offset costs this season. Honestly, I wish there was more I could do to support this team because they worked their butts off to make this happen, and I really want to see the social make a pile of money for the team. These women have dedicated themselves to the sport like no one I have seen, and they have come together this season with one goal in mind: London, Ontario. Specifically, the U Sports Women's Hockey National Championship at Western University from March 15-18. There will be challengers who want to stop that from happening, especially within the uber-competitive Canada West Conference, but the Bisons are determined to make it happen.

In saying the above, come down to Wayne Fleming Arena at the University of Manitoba and cheer these women on. There's an Olympian, a number of former NCAA players, a pile of talented Manitobans, and a few Saksatchewan- and Alberta-born players who have adopted this city as their own in helping the Bisons achieve their goals. All they need is some fan support as they seem to play twice as hard as they normally do when the stands are full!

The tickets? They're cheap. Like "you can afford a season pass" cheap. Tickets to get into the games are $10 for adults, and I guarantee it will be the best women's hockey action you'll see outside of the Olympics. If nothing else, come out and see how we do broadcasts for UMFM at the games. We occasionally speak about people in the crowd on broadcasts who wear unique clothing, are loud and boisterous, or who come as a group, so if you want a little free recognition for your efforts at the games via radio, you know what to do.

It's game time in about 90 minutes, so I'm out. Support your local hockey where ever you may be located, and get out and support your local U Sports teams when you can!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 15 September 2017

I Thought This Only Happened In Soccer

The uniforms, as seen to the left, are what Ukraine's national hockey teams wear. They actually look much better on the ice than they do in the graphic, but that's not why we're here today. The IIHF announced today that it has begun an investigation into two Ukraine players and has suspended them "from all ice hockey competitions or activities authorized and organized by the IIHF or any IIHF Member National Association as of 14 September 2017" as part of this investigation. If this seems like a heavy ruling while the investigation is on-going, the important thing to note is that this decision was made due to the two players' alleged match-fixing during the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A game between Korea and Ukraine on April 28, 2017. That's a pretty serious allegation.

According to the IIHF, "[t]he players were allegedly involved in a match-fixing attempt in which Ukraine should have lost with a margin of at least two goals. However, the game ended with a 2-1 win for Korea in shootout." Clearly, Ukraine did not lose with a margin of at least two goals, so one has to question what prompted the IIHF to investigate. Again, according to the IIHF, "[a]fter reviewing all available evidence and reports, including evidence of increased betting on a loss of the Ukrainian team by two or more goals, the IIHF has decided to open an investigation".

Varyvoda is a defenceman who recorded one assist in the five IIHF D1 games at the World Championship. The 22 year-old hasn't really been an impact player for Ukraine at any of the international tournament games in which he's participated.

Zakharchenko is a goaltender whose 2.23 GAA and .943 save percentage show more than the single point that Ukraine earned at the IIHF tournament. The 22 year-old was set to join the EIHL's Nottingham Panthers this season until these allegations derailed his hockey dreams.

According to a report on a site called International Hockey Lineal Championship, Zakharchenko and Varyvoda "were paid a sum of roughly $30,000 US by an as-yet unnamed source to help Korea win by a two-goal margin in their final on April 28 in Kiev, ensuring that Korea would clinch silver in the tournament and advance to the Championship Division with a goal differential tiebreaker over Kazakhstan". That, friends, is highly illegal, and now we see why the IIHF is investigating.

How they were caught in the bribery scandal is a little bit more bizarre, and the outcome of other investigations could be devastating to these two young players.
The players, who were exposed when signed letters from the day after the game that they provided, promising to refund the money as they failed to meet the goal differential, were made public. The Ukranian Hockey Federation has undergone the process to discipline the players, and the IIHF has confirmed that they are starting a separate investigation. Additionally, Ukrainian anti-corruption laws could see fines and potential imprisonment in the future for both Zakharchenko and Varivoda if found guilty.
Ouch. Risking suspension is one thing, but risking imprisonment is an entire other problem about which these two probably never even thought. I have never heard of anyone at the IIHF level committing match-fixing before, but, if the allegations are true, this would mark a serious blow to the efforts of Russian sport in having them clean up their acts. Unconfirmed reports indicate that one of the organizers of the bribery scheme is the former HC Vityaz head coach Alexei Lazarenko. Let's call that a double-Russian-whammy.

The letters below were written by the players, with Zakharchenko's letter on the left and Varyvoda's on the right.
The translation of Zakharchenko's letter reads as follows: "I am Zakharchenko Eduard. I play for the national team of Ukraine. I promise to return money, 60 thousand dollars (30 thousand myself) because I have promised to screw up the game Ukraine-South Korea for money. Also I asked to stake my money for our loss to South Korea in two pucks and I haven't managed to do that."


If those smoking guns aren't enough to sink Zakharchenko and Varyvoda, I'm not sure what will. The only way I could see them getting out from this trouble is if they could produce evidence that shows they were coerced into taking the bribes. Clearly, they didn't follow through on what was asked of them in terms of fixing the score, so maybe there's some hope that they didn't accept the bribes on their own volition. Whatever the case may be, I'm guessing their next steps won't involve skates anytime soon.


Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 14 September 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 260

The Hockey Show begins Season Six tonight, and it's nearly appropriate that we feature a number of people who could make the next five years as good as the previous five! It will be a little strange not having Beans in-studio to celebrate this occasion, but he's off conquering other parts of this planet and claiming them for the Teebz and Beans Nation. In having an empty seat, I decided to send out an invite to people we always enjoy having on the show as we get to meet the new kids who will don the brown-and-gold for the Manitoba Bisons women's team this season!

The new Stormtroopers recruits brought on by Lord Head Coach Jon Rempel are a diverse and skilled bunch. We already met Alison Sexton on a previous show, and she may drop in tonight, but there are more notable additions to meet! We won't get all the rookies, but we will meet some or all of Natasha Kostenko, Madison Cole, Emilie Massé, Brielle Dacquay-Neveux, and Lauren Warkentin this evening! Natasha's hockey career is very interesting in terms of where she has played. Madi hails from Lloydminster, Alberta and we'll get her take on attending school in a new province. Emilie has done some incredible things in her career as she looks to add more achievements with the Bisons. Brielle has all sorts of accolades attached to her name as well, and we'll hear about a summer job that made her somewhat famous. And Lauren's hockey career is filled with highlights and amazing moments about which we'll discuss. There will be our standard rapid-fire question period with the new recruits as well, so tune in to learn all about the new kids who will carry the torch for the Bisons!

So now you might be asking can you listen to the show, right? We suggest that you download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so go get it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! 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.

Tonight, Teebz meets, greets, and quizzes the new Bisons women's hockey players on their own careers, who they are, and other fun stuff only on The Hockey Show found on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: September 14, 2017: Episode 260

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Stop Abusing Public Funds

Here we go again, folks. It seems the 32 year-old Pengrowth Saddledome is no longer suitable for the Calgary Flames when it comes to a home rink, and now the owners of the franchise and the Commissioner of the NHL are banging the drum loudly once again for the city of Calgary to dig deep and find some money to give the Flames a new home. This is the same Saddledome that two years ago was up for debate in terms of being replaced, and the city of Calgary balked at the idea of using public funds to build an arena. And that will lead to the questions of what has changed since 2015, and why should Calgary pay for an arena that will primarily be used by a team that is owned by billionaires?

I penned a long article two years ago that used an exemplary piece of reporting by John Oliver from HBO's Last Week Tonight that explains why funding stadia with public money is a bad idea. I still firmly believe that using public taxpayer money to fund the building of arena in which the majority of the public may never set foot is a terrible idea. In fact, maybe the worst idea when it comes to the use of taxpayer money in the history of modern civilization.

After a meeting with officials from the city of Calgary, the Flames have now dropped the idea of a new arena, stating that "the group is no longer in talks with the city". The meeting included Gary Bettman, who decided to speak out following the meeting in saying, "This arena can't compete, for example, with Edmonton any longer, because they don't have the resources or the building. I think there were 34 dates of concerts that the new Edmonton arena got that didn't come down here."


It's not that Calgary doesn't want a new arena. Mayor Naheed Nenshi has gone on record in saying he'd like to see a new arena as part of a revitalized entertainment district near the current Saddledome, and a recent survey of Calgarians show support for a new arena. The catch? That survey found that most Calgary residents don't want pay more in taxes to build the arena. I'd say that's fair, but not all Calgarians feel that the city needs a new arena. According to the survey results, "32 per cent said it doesn't and 18 per cent weren't sure" when asked if Calgary needs a new arena. If half your citizens have doubt that Calgary needs a new arena, that's a lot of people not saying yes to the idea.

Back in March, there were rumblings of the Flames needing a new arena when Gary Bettman spoke up again on behalf of the Flames. Bettman was in town lobbying for a new arena that seemed to fall on the ears of Mayor Nenshi's constituents.

"The calls to our office, the emails, the comments have been, I would say, 99.999997 per cent saying please Mr. Bettman stay out of it and no, there should be no public money for this," Nenshi told the CBC's Drew Anderson. This was a mere six months ago where Mayor Nenshi heard people saying that there should be no public money used, and now we're back to today where we're seeing the Flames and Bettman begging the city to use public money to fund an arena.

You can't hold a city hostage when the owners of the business named "Calgary Flames" are billionaires. Flames Vice-President Brian Burke, when speaking to a crowd at the Canadian Club of Calgary in June, spoke of why the Flames should have a publicly-funded arena. Burke was asked by an audience member and longtime season ticket holder why he thinks the Flames should get public monies for a new arena, suggesting that there was nowhere for the team to go if they didn't get the money they sought. Burke's response gave little merit to why the city of Calgary should fork over any money, responding with, "I think most intelligent people get this. Sorry... my learned friend."

Actually, most learned people and almost every economic-impact study done on new stadia show that there is little to no benefit received by the city or the area surrounding the new stadium, so I'm not sure from where Burke is pulling his "most intelligent people" statement. Instead, Burke doubled-down with, "In the U.S., it has long been acceptable to use public money to construct arenas and stadiums. It's long been acceptable to give a pro team a favourable lease based on the benefits pro teams bring to the marketplace."

How does using public money and giving favourable leases benefit the city of Calgary at all? In the end, if the city decides to use public funds or grant a favourable lease, there has to be something given back. Just existing as the Calgary Flames hockey club isn't good enough. It wouldn't be good enough for a Wal-Mart store or an Ikea store, and I'd say they have far more appeal to a wider-ranging audience than the Calgary Flames do. If they pay property taxes and build their own buildings using private money, why is the business of the Calgary Flames any different?

Look, I understand the allure of the new arena. It's a sparkly, new building with all sorts of amenities and concessions that are unique to that venue. Most new arenas dazzle before you even step foot inside the venue, but that does raise one cent for the city nor does it put patrons into the businesses surrounding the arena. For too long, professional sports franchises have trampled on civic pride to get what they want before threatening relocation if they don't get what they want. Personally, I'm glad that the city of Calgary has taken a stand against these threats, and I'll credit Mayor Nenshi for recognizing these tactics used and calling them out in the June CBC article.
"This is me kind of shrugging," he said when asked for a reaction. "This is page 26 of the script. It's always page 26 of the script in every city, and my job now is, I'm supposed to go to page 27 and 28 in the script when I point out that Rogers has given them billions of dollars and they're not going to let them remove a team from a western Canadian market, that in order for them to go to Quebec, they'll have to sell the team to Pierre Karl Peladeau, and he's not going to give them a deal the way they're going to get in Calgary, blah, blah, blah. I'm not interested in doing that."

Nenshi said the city has been "very, very clear on our non-negotiables."

"The first one is the one I always say, public money requires public benefit, so you've got to negotiate," he said.

"Five out of the seven teams in Canada have privately owned rinks, only Edmonton and Calgary are publicly owned, and the Edmonton deal may have been right for Edmonton, where they desperately needed revitalization and construction in their downtown core, that is not the case in Calgary … so we have to find a new model."

There's only so much money to go around, and a sports franchise would fall below important things like infrastructure and police, fire, and paramedic services. Those are essential services that require public funding to help everyone. A new arena for the Calgary Flames is not an essential service in any way, shape, or form, and I'll gladly stand with Mayor Nenshi in finding a new model that meets the needs of all the parties, especially the taxpayers in Calgary.

When billionaire owners are unwilling to spend money on the house they bought for their team, maybe they shouldn't be home-owners.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!