Friday 31 August 2018

Lots Of Notice For This Change

Former NHL winger John Garpenlov, seen on the right in the image as one of Sweden's assistant coaches at the World Cup of Hockey, is getting a bump to the big stage as he will assume the head coaching duties of Sweden's national men's hockey team. The only catch? No one has resigned or been fired yet. It was announced today that current head coach of the Tre Kronor, Rickard Grönborg, will step down following the conclusion of the 2019 IIHF Men's World Hockey Championship in May, and replacing him at that time will be assistant coach Johan Garpenlov. I'm not sure why the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation needed to make this announcement now, but it's now out there in the public domain.

The former Red Wings, Sharks, Panthers, and Thrashers winger was a somewhat productive NHL player, scoring 114 goals and 311 points in 609 NHL games. His most productive season came in 1992-93 with the San Jose Sharks when he potted 22 goals and 66 points as a 24 year-old, and followed that season up with another productive 53-point campaign as the left winger to two-thirds of the KLM line with Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov.

Garpenlov would be traded to the Florida Panthers in March 1995, being a major part of the Florida Panthers' run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996 as a solid checking forward who could add a goal or two while cracking the 50-point barrier once again in the regular season with 51 points. Garpenlov wouldn't find the same success for the remainder of his career as he did in that four-year span in the NHL, and he'd retire from professional hockey after playing a season with Djurgardens IF Stockholm in the SEL after 2000-01.

Garpenlov will enter his third-straight season as an assistant coach in Grönborg's staff this year, and he helped Sweden win back-to-back gold medals at the World Championships over the last two seasons. Grönborg, to his credit, is looking to pursue an NHL coaching job after the World Championships in May, and I'd say he has a pretty solid resume built based on his last two gold medals with a possibility of a three-peat at this competition in May 2019.

While Garpenlov has never actually led a team as a head coach, he's certainly been learning under one of Sweden's best. Combined with his NHL experiences and his current coaching experiences, I don't think Sweden will see any drop-off in their national team's performance on the ice after May 2019 with Garpenlov at the helm.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 30 August 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 310

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with Teebz and Beans talking all things hockey. There have been a pile of things going on in the hockey world this week as teams start getting settled into their routines once more with September just days away, so we'll take a look at everything that has been happening in North America, Europe, Russia, and more! It's a full hour of craziness on the show tonight, so make sure you've settled in at 5:30pm CT for the program!

There weren't really any major news stories that required a pile of coverage this week, so we'll go through all the fun of the many little stories that piled up quickly on my desk. Teebz and Beans will break down the signing of Toby Enstrom in MODO and how that likely signals the end of his North American playing days, the Jets tease an alternate jersey, the Blues go retro with their alternate look, the Anaheim Ducks announce they'll wear every jersey they've ever created at some point this season, there's a new coach for Lethbridge men's hockey, the Bisons men's hockey team continued their European tour, there are some new recruits announced by Bisons women's hockey for the 2019-20 season, a former Manitoba Bisons women's player was drafted into the pro ranks along with some colleagues and former opponents, we have a new play-by-play person for Bisons women's hockey, and the KHL decided to be more like the NHL. There's a lot to cover, so Beans and I will work through all the news as best as we can tonight on The Hockey Show at 5:30pm CT!

"How can I listen?" you ask. Well, the easiest way is for you to download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's literally the 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! Of course, you can do the radio thing at the 101.5 frequency on the FM dial and you can always listen online via the UMFM website as well!

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

Tonight, Teebz and Beans dissect all the news about jerseys, committed Bisons, women's hockey, European hockey, university hockey, and more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

PODCAST: August 30, 2018: Episode 310
RESOURCES: Anaheim Ducks 25th Anniversary Tribute Night Schedule

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 29 August 2018

How To Fix The Top Ten

I had regular complaints about the U SPORTS Top Ten rankings last season in women's hockey. Teams that beat teams ranked higher would rarely move, teams that were making serious waves within their respective conferences rarely got the respect they deserved, and there appeared to be biases towards perennially strong teams regardless of their win-loss record. Today, U SPORTS announced that they are changing the method to determine the top ten teams for all sports governed by U SPORTS.

Perhaps the most damning statement about the previous method of determining the top ten teams in each sport was delivered by Ken Saint-Eloy, U SPORTS Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications, in the press release today. He said,
"There wasn't a clear and objective answer when we were challenged by our audience about why a team moved up or down, or didn't make the Top 10 after a series of wins. We were not able to provide simple answers on who were the voters, and/or what criteria they were voting on. Even in the same sport, for example, women's soccer was not following the same process as men's soccer. Given the situation and in the interest of making things more visible and structured following the rebranding of the organization, we mapped out the rules and process for every single sport and looked at options of objective, stats-based solutions for these Top 10 rankings. Because you want your Top 10 to create conversations about the teams, the games played the past weekend or the coming matchups, not about how consistent or reliable the Top 10s are, especially if they play a role in the seeding of the national championships."
Game, set, and match on why fans and broadcasters were disappointed with the top-ten rankings over the last few seasons. It became glaringly apparent that there was a significant voter bias - whether it was coaches or media - towards Manitoba, Alberta, and UBC in women's hockey last season despite Saskatchewan's incredible play over the last half of the season.

Saskatchewan wasn't ranked in the U SPORTS Top Ten until the week of February 27 through March 6 - one full week after they eliminated the UBC Thunderbirds from the Canada West Playoffs. What makes that harder to believe is that Saskatchewan finished ahead of UBC in the regular-season standings, were neck-and-neck all season with Manitoba, Alberta, and UBC during the regular season, and Saskatchewan finished the season 4-0-0 against the Thunderbirds in head-to-head play in the regular season. Despite none of us having a vote, there were many of us up in the Wayne Fleming Arena pressbox who fully believed there was something flawed with the system when Saskatchewan continually missed out on the Top Ten rankings.

Today, U SPORTS announced that all Top Ten rankings will be determined by the Elo Rating System. The Elo Rating System originally was created by Arpad Elo as a way for calculating the relative skill levels of players in zero-sum games. As an example of a large-scale use, FIFA uses it to determine the world rankings for women's soccer and is implementing it for men's soccer following the most recent World Cup. Games such as chess and Scrabble use it for head-to-head meetings of its player, and video game tournaments often use these rankings for its participants.

Before we go any further, I should explain how the Elo Rating System works in a game like chess before we get too deep into this. Every chess game has a winner and a loser unless a stalemate occurs, but stalemates are rarely seen at the elite level. Because of this each player has a number of points that they have accumulated through the playing of games. Winning and losing games adds and subtracts points, resulting in specific ratings for players based on their accumulated point totals. The difference between these ratings of the winner and loser determines the total number of points gained or lost after a game. This is the key point of the Elo Rating System as heavily-favored players won't see their ratings increase very much with wins over lower-ranked opponents, but upsets have a much bigger effect on the ratings.

In a series of games between a high-rated player and a low-rated player, the high-rated player is expected to win more than he or she loses. If the high-rated player wins, few rating points will be taken from the low-rated player due to the expected outcome being reached. As stated above, if the lower-rated player upsets the higher-rated player, many rating points will be transferred from the higher-rated player to the lower-rated player because of the unexpected outcome. In short, players that rise above and maintain that level of play will find themselves moving up the ratings system. Players that were thought to be strong who underperform will fall down the ratings. Makes sense, right?

Mario Kovacevic, a former player for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues men's soccer team and assistant coach with the York Lions, made a few adjustments to the Elo Rating System calculations for each sport through his RankR company. As written in the article, "[e]ach system is modified and tailored for the specific sport in question, and it brings in historical data from past seasons to help compare teams that don’t directly play each other, such as those in different conferences." In short, the new system should be able to tell us whether Sasakatchewan is better than Queen's, Montreal, or St. Francis-Xavier next season and moving forward.

"I was playing soccer for U of T and also doing a master's of engineering, and between being a grad student and playing for a U SPORTS soccer team, I was interested in the rankings," Kovacevic said in the release. "It was a lot to do with votes and you couldn't really drill down to the bottom and figure out 'Okay, what does my team have to do to get better than the team ahead of us?' And furthermore, if you were outside of that Top 10, you really didn't have an idea if your team was 40th in the country or 11th in the country. So between those two main things, I just started playing around with different rankings systems. From there, I put together a really simple rating system, and I sent it to some of the coaches and they were really impressed."

Unfortunately for women's hockey, here's the catch:
Women’s hockey is one of the sports that isn't fully adopting the statistical system yet, and that's because its Top 10 rankings are used for the purposes of national championship seeding. That means any change to that procedure can't be made without altering the official playing regulations, which require consultation with the sport's technical subcommittee. But these rankings will still be calculated for women's hockey too and sent to the voters each week, giving them some statistical information they can consult if they wish. And the plan for women's hockey, along with cross country, men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball is to eventually move towards this system, thereby standardizing all U SPORTS offerings, with swimming, track and field, wrestling and men's volleyball having been calculated statistically in the past.
So while the rankings will be calculated, the actual usage of the new Elo Rating System won't be factored in due to the national championship seeding. It will still be available, but the question will be whether or not the voters use this information, particularly when it comes to seeding teams from across the four conferences appropriately.

What I do know is that this new ratings tool will certainly be good for some debate if the voters' rankings differ greatly from the Kovacevic ratings. This will be something to keep an eye on as women's hockey was a hotly-contested topic regarding the final seedings for the national championship last season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 28 August 2018

Jets Tease Fans

I didn't receive this because I'm not a season ticket holder for the Jets. However, a member of the local media community did, and Michael Remis tweeted out that image earlier today. Why is this significant? Well, it appears the Jets will be one of the teams who sport an alternate jersey this season! After the success the Jets have been having regarding sales of their Heritage Classic jersey, should we be surprised?

If the Jets are going to capitalize on this phenomenon again, all they have to do is make the Heritage Classic jersey blue. It will sell like hot cakes in this city, and people will literally sign over access to their bank accounts to acquire one. As Terence Mann stated in Field of Dreams, "They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it. For it is money they have and peace they lack." That peace they lack comes from the lingering void experienced when the Jets moved to Arizona, and I'm quite certain those fans will buy the new jersey to both support the team and fill that void where the Winnipeg Jets V1.0 once lived.

We'll find out more on September 14, but the Jets are seemingly sitting on a gold mine here if they decided to don the V1.0 blue jerseys for select home games this season. Heritage jerseys seem to be the fad right now, and the Jets know how to deliver to their fans when it comes to their uniform choices.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 27 August 2018

Feels Like Home

With school being back in session next week, seeing the image to the left tweeted out by the Manitoba Bisons warms my heart as we begin to get back to broadcasting Bisons men's and women's hockey and Bisons football on UMFM. There have been a number of changes to the broadcasts on the Bisons women's hockey side, and I have a feeling that you should be made aware of some of these changes. After all, we do broadcast these games for fans like you.

First and foremost, you'll notice a distinct difference in how the broadcast sounds as UMFM's play-by-play guy TJ Phillips accepted a position with the University of Alberta. As you may be aware, Edmonton and Winnipeg are a bit of distance apart, so TJ will not be calling games this season unless something rather dramatic happens in his life whereby he moves back to the Manitoba capital.

There had been some discussion among the sports staff at UMFM and at Bisons Sports, and these two groups made it a mandate after TJ left to find the best qualified candidate to replace him. The only caveat? UMFM is dedicated to representing the diverse campus and community in which it operates, so there was a significant push, with the support of Bisons Sports, to find a woman to fill TJ's chair.

It is with great honour that I introduce former Manitoba Bisons forward Kyleigh Palmer as the new play-by-play person for Bisons women's hockey on UMFM! Kyleigh spent five years with the Bisons program before graduating from the Asper School of Business, and she was named as a 2013-14 Canada West Women's Hockey First Team All-Star for her efforts on the ice after posting 14 goals and 15 helpers in 28 games in her senior year. Kyleigh's hockey knowledge and knowledge of the Bisons program will certainly be a great asset to the broadcasting team, and I'm excited to work with her after having had the pleasure of calling some of her games as a Bison!

Second, if you're a fan of us calling the games on the radio and via the internet stream while wishing the University of Manitoba televised the games, you're not alone. During the U SPORTS National Championship last season, Bisons Sports received some valuable feedback from listeners of UMFM and viewers of the internet telecasts, and there was a decision made by Bisons Sports to provide the same coverage on both broadcasts. What does that mean? If you want to watch games via Canada West TV, you'll get the same broadcast on that medium as you'll hear on the UMFM airwaves and internet streams! The Canada West TV and UMFM broadcast team will be one and the same, so Kyleigh and myself will be your voices for the Bisons no matter how you tune in!

Third, all the broadcasts will now be done in full digital quality. On some of our brodcasts last season, we had a phone line connection back to the studio where the game would be broadcast over the airwaves. There was a distinct difference in the quality of the sound between the games broadcast on internet stream and via the phone line, so management of UMFM went ahead and made the decision to broadcast all the games in digital format. What this means for you, the listener, is that you'll get the highest quality audio we can provide for all games - hockey and football - at all times. It also means greater control over commercials and ads that we run and over the entire gameday production. In short, UMFM and, in turn, Canada West TV broadcasts will sound good.

Now all of this may change nothing in the way you consume the games, and that's ok too. If you enjoyed the radio broadcasts, we're not changing how we do those broadcasts aside from a few minor tweaks to the language we use. If you enjoyed the Canada West TV broadcasts, you're going to get more stories, more information, and more statistical analysis with Kyleigh and I doing the broadcasts since we both have a significant investment in Bisons women's hockey. Regardless of how you catch Bisons women's hockey this season, it will sound as good as it did last season when TJ and I called the gold medal game at the U SPORTS National Championship!

Some of the fun stuff we did last season will continue. The pregame, on-ice player interviews will still happen on UMFM, and we're working with the other seven schools in Canada West to make sure that we get contributions from them as well. As much as we cover the Bisons, there are some outstanding players on the other teams that you should know about and we should be introducing you to, and for us not to do that is a disservice to them, their schools, and the game itself.

We'll still do a rundown of other games between periods as well as try to feature more player interviews from the Bisons, and we'll talk about standings and what the Bisons need to do to make the playoffs, secure first-place, or whatever the situation is in the pregame show as well. Like I stated above, not much is changing in how we deliver the broadcast, but there will a few new wrinkles.

On top of these segments, we're looking at adding a couple of fun segments to the broadcast as well. We still need 100% confirmation that these will happen or whether they will be on a game-by-game basis, but these additions should hopefully add more value to what we believe is the best university hockey broadcast in U SPORTS.

All in all, it should be another big year for Bisons women's hockey as the reigning U SPORTS National Champions, and UMFM will be right alongside them in their quest for a repeat championship. Our first preseason broadcast will be Saturday, September 22 when the Regina Cougars visit Wayne Fleming Arena as part of the Bisons Preseason Invitational Tournament, so mark your calendars for that. Officially, we will bring the banner raising ceremony to you as part of the October 5 broadcast against the Calgary Dinos, so that too should be a big night that you'll want to be tuning into UMFM for as the Bisons hang both the Canada West championship banner and the U SPORTS National Champions banner.

I'm already excited for this season, and I can't wait to be back in my normal spot between the benches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 26 August 2018

Everything Old Is New Again

Today featured another alternate jersey reveal as the St. Louis Blues got in on the action, and I have to admit that I held my breath on this one as their previous attempts were less than good in my view. In saying this, I have been preaching for the last couple of seasons that NHL teams should really be using their alternate jerseys to highlight past teams and looks throughout their histories. I think the heritage idea is a great one since it ties together the eras of the teams. It seems the St. Louis Blues got this message as they unveiled their third jerseys at an event this afternoon!

The Blues admitted that they borrowed heavily from the franchise's inaugural jerseys from 1967-68 while incorporating some elements from their Winter Classic throwbacks from last season. Honestly, I like this jersey. The striping is solid and contrasts nicely with the base colour of the uniform, the logo is prominently featured on the chest, there aren't any unnecessary elements thrown in like a lace-up collar or some dumb writing on the inside of the collar, and it feels very St. Louis Blues-y thanks to the heritage tie-in.

The Blues had some of their players weigh in on the new threads, and it seems they like the alternate jerseys as well... although I doubt they'd publish anyone's comments if they reflected a negative view.

Alex Pietrangelo: "It brings back all the memories that you had as a kid, growing up and looking at old pictures of the Blues. It brings back that old-school staple and pays tribute to all those guys that have built this organization to get it to where it is. We're here now because of them, and we can pay tribute to that. The fans, along with the players, will have a really good response to this jersey."

Patrick Maroon: "That original jersey was one of my favorites growing up. Going back to that and wearing it at home is going to be pretty cool. I think the fans are really going to enjoy this jersey. It's going to be a special feeling when I put that jersey on."

Ok, hold on a second. Patrick Maroon is 30 years-old. If we jump back three decades, the jerseys he first would have associated with the team were either the Hull-and-Oates era jerseys, the Gretzky era jerseys, or the Pronger era jerseys. Granted, he may have done his homework as he got older in terms of looking into the team's uniform history, but saying the old 1967 jerseys were one of his favorites when growing up seems a little far-fetched to me.

In any case, the Blues will wear their heritage alternate jerseys eleven times this season while at home in the newly-named Enterprise Center. The dates you can catch them in their alternates are as follows:
  • Oct. 6 vs. Chicago Blackhawks
  • Nov. 3 vs. Minnesota Wild
  • Nov. 24 vs. Winnipeg Jets
  • Dec. 29 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Jan. 5 vs. New York Islanders
  • Jan. 19 vs. Ottawa Senators
  • Feb. 9 vs. Nashville Predators
  • Feb. 23 vs. Boston Bruins
  • March 2 vs. Dallas Stars
  • March 23 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
  • April 6 vs. Vancouver Canucks
With the excitement growing in St. Louis over the acquisitions and changes made over the summer, I have a feeling we'll see a number of these jerseys popping up in the stands. I like what the Blues did here with this heritage jersey, and I think it will be a solid addition to their look moving forward. More teams may want to take note regarding what the Blues did here because this is an alternate uniform done right.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 25 August 2018

Preparation In The War Room

This image was tweeted out earlier today from the Toronto Furies' Twitter account as the team prepares for tomorrow's CWHL Entry Draft. We already know that the Furies are taking forward Sarah Nurse, goaltender Shea Tiley, and forward Brittany Howard with their pre-draft signings, so clearly GM Sami Jo Small, seated on the left in the picture, is looking to add some scoring punch to the club. Who else will Small add to her squad? We'll find out tomorrow as the CWHL Draft takes place tomorrow at 2:00 PM CT in Toronto, Ontario.

Among the other players already spoken for, Victoria Bach and Ailish Forfar have been selected by the Markham Thunder, Halli Krzyzaniak and Rebecca Leslie have been chosen by the Calgary Inferno, Kimberly Newell and Leah Lum will be heading to China thanks to the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays (that's a mouthful), and Genevieve Bannon will call Montreal home after Les Canadiennes selected her in the pre-draft signings.

There are still some big names on the board as Finnish Olympians Venla Hovi and Meeri Raisanen are available, US Olympian Alex Rigsby can be taken, former American league netminder Kelsey Neumann is up for grabs, Saskatchewan Huskies standout Kaitlin Willoughby can be chosen, and University of Vermont playmaking defender Taylor Willard is on the board.

You can follow the CWHL Draft tomorrow on the league's website, and I'll be keeping an eye on where Manitoba Bison Venla Hovi goes. I'll also be watching to see where Willoughby lands and where Calgary Dino forward Cheyann Newman goes in terms of Canada West players. I'm hoping there will be a chance to see all these players in the future if more games make it on Sportsnet, but we'll have to see what the future holds for that partnership.

Good luck to all the players in the draft and all six teams tomorrow!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 24 August 2018

End Of An Era

The photo to the left is all you need to know about where former Winnipeg Jets defenceman Tobias Enstrom will play this season. MODO of the Swedish Elite League made it official today as sports director Michael Sundlöv welcomed the 33 year-old rearguard to the club after Enstrom signed a deal that will bring him back to the team he last played with in Sweden before making the jump to the NHL. The deal with MODO today sees Enstrom reunited with his brother, Tommy, on the team, and Tobias will assume the captaincy for the club. At the end of the day, it appears that Tobias Enstrom's days in the NHL are officially over with today's news after four seasons in Atlanta and seven seasons in Winnipeg.

There was never any doubt that he wouldn't be back in Winnipeg after the Jets made it clear that they had no intention of re-signing Enstrom. While he certainly was a serviceable defender in his time in the Manitoba capital, his presence on the ice seemed to polarize the fanbase when it came to advanced statistics and the eye test. I'm not here to take sides, but it's fairly clear that the Jets and their advanced stats crew only saw regression in Enstrom's contributions which led to the decision to allow him to go to free agency.

Enstrom scored 28 goals and 137 points in a Jets uniform, but never quite found the offensive flair he showed in Atlanta. Enstrom surpassed his Atlanta-low of 32 points only once while wearing Winnipeg colours, but the advanced stats crowd will point to everything else that Enstrom did away from the puck that made him extremely valuable to the club. While there's no denying he played well defensively for the most part, the Jets may have looked at the decreasing number of games he was playing due to injury combined with his plummeting scoring totals and decided that they needed to make a change.

Lo and behold, Enstrom went into this summer as a free agent for the first time in his career, and it seems he didn't have to look far after returning home to Ornskoldsviktrakten, Sweden following Winnipeg's departure from the playoffs.

"It has been a bit of a circus all summer. This is the first time I have been a free agent and it has been different. But when I decided to stay here in Sweden, it was an easy decision to choose Modo," Enstrom told Erik Karlsson of Sport Bladet.

Enstrom joins fellow countrymen Kenny Jonsson, Marcus Ragnarson and Dick Tarnstrom as NHL players who have returned to the Swedish Elite League in a non-lockout year. After 719 NHL games and a SEL championship with MODO in 2006-07, Enstrom returns to try and book-end his NHL career with another SEL championship.

If Enstrom can help MODO win, I don't think there will any doubt about his decision after having a few NHL teams take flyers this summer. It won't be easy, though, as MODO finished tenth-overall out of fourteen SEL teams last season. Whatever happens this season, I expect that Enstrom will give everything he has. There's a lot of hockey left in Tobias Enstrom, and here's hoping he can help MODO return to the top of the SEL standings!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 23 August 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 309

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns to the airwaves tonight with... a regular show? No guests? No special announcements? Just Teebz and Beans? That's right - it's back to our normal hour of lunacy and hockey talk as Teebz and Beans break down the major stories from across the hockey spectrum. There's a lot to cover since we used most of the summer to meet interesting people, so we'll get into another pile of stories just as we did last week. If you want a solid hour of hockey talk, you'll get it tonight on The Hockey Show!

Like this gentleman to the left, The Hockey Show will go through the major news tonight. Among the myriad of topics we'll discuss will be the latest exhibition game played by the Brandon Reid-coached Krefeld Pinguine and the news from that game, the latest and greatest NHL news, some rather interesting news from the Canadian professional women's league, KHL news, a special evening at the old ballpark next week, and there was an announcement that included two Manitoba communities that will host Rogers Hometown Hockey! There's a lot to discuss on tonight's show, so make sure you tune in!

"How can I listen?" you ask. Well, the easiest way is for you to download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's literally the 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! Of course, you can do the radio thing at the 101.5 frequency on the FM dial and you can always listen online via the UMFM website as well!

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

Tonight, Teebz and Beans talk Germany hockey, English hockey, Russian hockey, NHL hockey, women's hockey, hockey on TV, hockey on the concourse, and more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

PODCAST: August 23, 2018: Episode 309
RESOURCES: Melissa Wronzberg's Scotiabank Road Hockey to Cure Cancer page

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Teebz's Magazine Club

It's an annual rite of August for me in which I venture down to my local magazine stand and acquire the one magazine that has been purchased since 1995. Ok, so there's no magazine stand, but the pharmacy's magazine rack that I was in when I saw The Hockey News' newest edition of its annual Yearbook was good enough for me to shell out a few bucks. The fact that they finally put a Winnipeg Jet on the front of the regional cover is a step towards progress... even if a Vancouver Canuck is also on the cover. Nevertheless, let's roll through this solid piece of literature that has been an annual purchase for me for over two decades. If this edition is like any of the others, there should be some solid pieces of reporting along with some fun and the annual NHL team forecasts!

I have to disagree with some of the picks that Ken Campbell lists as "Hidden Treasures". Vincent Trocheck has scored no less than 23 goals in each of the last three seasons, and he's one of the bonafide scoring threats that Florida can boast after they let Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith make their way to Vegas. I also disagree with Brayden Point's addition into this grouping after he scored 32 goals and 66 points in his second season to go along with 16 points in the playoffs with the Lightning. There are others on the list that deserve to be called a "hidden treasure", but these two men certainly are better known than what Campbell may believe.

The fan poll that The Hockey News publishes always is an interesting insight into what the fans believe. The Hockey News asked fans about which team would win the Stanley Cup and President's Trophy in two separate questions before polling the fans on the winners of the Hart Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy, the Norris Trophy, the Calder Trophy, the Richard Trophy, and the Vezina Trophy. I'm not going to reveal the results - buy the magazine! - but there's one team who the fans believe will be really good while one player is your MVP and leading scorer in the fans' eyes.

The NHL Top-50 is a very interesting look at who The Hockey News believes are the best of the best. There are two defencemen, five centermen, one right-winger, and two left-wingers in the top-ten, and your first appearance by a goaltender comes at #12. And no, it's not the goalie who you'd think it is. My guess would be this player wouldn't even be mentioned in the first five guesses by fans. Two players who didn't make the Top-50 last season are in the top-ten this season while last year's fourth-ranked player took a major tumble down the rankings. Who ended up where? Buy the magazine and we can discuss!

Jared Clinton checks in with an excellent article on Winnipeg's Connor Hellebuyck that sheds some light on just how meticulous the netminder is in his preparation both on and off the ice when it comes to finding any advantage. Wayne Fish pens an article on Philadelphia's Claude Giroux whose maturity and bounce-back season last year were both on display. Clinton comes back with a solid piece on Los Angeles' Drew Doughty and his extension he signed with the Kings. Ken Campbell adds a fantastic article about Vegas' Marc-Andre Fleury and how he went from Pittsburgh to Las Vegas and found his game again with the help of Dave Prior. Ryan Kennedy chips in a piece about Toronto's Mitch Marner, and Matt Larkin adds a nice overview of Aleksander Barkov to wrap up the reporting portion of The Hockey News Yearbook.

Finally, the team report section of the magazine occupies the last half of the publication, and there's the always-entertaining prediction by The Hockey News as to who will win the Stanley Cup. Last season, The Hockey News predicted a Pittsburgh-Edmonton Stanley Cup Final with Pittsburgh three-peating in a 4-2 series win. Obviously, that didn't happen as the Washington Capitals, picked by The Hockey News to lose to Pittsburgh in the second round, flipped the script and ousted the Penguins. You're probably aware that Edmonton didn't even qualify for the playoffs, and the two teams they had in the Western Conference Final - Edmonton and Nashville - didn't play in the third round. In fact, The Hockey News didn't have either of Winnipeg nor Vegas making the playoffs last season. Predictions can be difficult, it seems, as eight of the sixteen teams they predicted would make the playoffs actually missed the playoffs.

This year's prediction of the Stanley Cup Final is both bold and intriguing. I'll go on record in saying that The Hockey News does not predict a repeat championship parade for the Capitals. The winners of both the Pacific and Metropolitan Divisions are surprising, and THN feels that each division will send four teams to the big dance. I'm going to say this only once: don't put money down in Vegas with any of The Hockey News' predictions from this publication. I have a feeling the return on that gamble will be low.

In any case, head down to your local store and pick up a copy of The Hockey News Yearbook. It's a solid publication with a ton of great information, and I find it can be a useful resource for fantasy hockey pools as well! Either way, you won't lose if you buy this magazine as The Hockey News Yearbook is always a quality publication!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Getting It Right Four Times

Look closely at the New Jersey Devils logo to the left. Notice anything significant about it? At first glance, there isn't anything that significantly different from the logo worn every other season by the Devils, but did you check the colour of the circle? That's right - it's green! The New Jersey Devils, who have never worn an alternate jersey, still won't wear an alternate jersey in 2018-19, but they will honour their beginnings by wearing these Heritage Night jerseys four times this season! The green-and-red Devils live, and that's exactly how they should dress for the remaining 78 games if I had anything to say about it!

... but I don't. So four nights total in green-and-red. Merry Christmas!

I have to say that these jerseys throw me back to the days of Sean Burke, Brendan Shanahan, and Peter Stastny. The Devils were never the contenders that Lou Lamoriello built them into back in those days, but they were always a thorn in everyone's sides in the Patrick Division. In 1991, they took the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins to seven games in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, even leading 3-2 in the series at one point before Pittsburgh rallied with a 4-3 win backed by an incredible goaltending performance from Frank Pietrangelo in Game Six and a pair of Jiri Hrdina goals in a 4-0 Game Seven shutout. John MacLean had five goals for the Devils in that series and Claude Lemieux added another four markers as the Devils were the only team to have the Penguins on the precipice of elimination that spring.

As you can see, there are a few inconsistencies on the throwbacks introduced today. The green stripe around the shoulder yoke and on the sleeve are smaller than they originally were. The numbers worn on the Heritage Night jerseys are in the current font, not the old block numbering that the Devils used thirty years ago. The font for the name is also thinner on the new jerseys compared to the old ones. All in all, the Devils did fairly well at replicating their old uniforms, but these are fairly noticeable inconsistencies that wouldn't be hard to correct.

I like the fact that the Devils are wearing green and red this season. I don't like that it will just be for four games, but it's still better than none. Green is a sorely underused colour in hockey, and seeing the Devils return to their roots is both pleasing as a uniform traditionalist and a fan of green in hockey.

If teams are going to do alternate jerseys, they should be jerseys from their past. It honours the past while still promoting the future. Kudos to the New Jersey Devils for doing Heritage Nights in their old uniforms. They're going to look outstanding... even if it's only for four games.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 20 August 2018

Moving West On I-90

It seems as though this decision should have been made some time ago, but the CWHL's Boston Blades are moving for the 2018-19 season. After struggling to attract fans and battling direct competition in Boston from the American women's league's Boston-based team, the Blades pulled the trigger on a move that will see them head an hour west of Boston to Worcester, Massachusetts where they will call the DCU Center home! As you can see in the image, they'll also be sporting a new logo next season that reflects the move to Worcester, and I applaud the league and the team for making this decision to move to a new market.

Worcester has been home to AHL teams for both the St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks, and now has a permanent resident in the ECHL's Worcester Railers who began play in 2017-18 that are affiliated with the New York Islanders. The Railers averaged just under 4400 fans per game last season for a team that went 37-27-8, and that landed them smack-dab in the middle of the attendance figures at 13th-best in the league. Considering that the Blades often played in front of dozens up to a few hundred fans, moving to a market where they can piggy-back off the Railers' success at the box office seems like a good idea.

The Blades will not play in the 12,239-seat DCU Center, however, as they will call the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center home. The Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center is the practice facility for the Worcester Railers, and it has enough room for 750 fans in the Blue Rink. That's a perfect size for the Blades, who will share the ice with the Worcester University Lancers, and it gives the Blades a pile of amenities to work with as there is a restaurant, a café, a fitness center, a physical therapy center, skate sharpening facilities, and a pro shop where merchandise will likely be available.

I can't say that this move will be reflected in the standings immediately. Boston needs some help, but they're starting to piece together a solid front office. General Manager Derek Alfama brings some good experience at the NCAA level with Providence, and he should have some insight on players who can start rebuilding the Blades. Head Coach Paul Kennedy worked extensively with Hockey USA as the Power Skating Coach for the Women's National Team, and he'll have the team ready to skate hard once the puck drops.

Everything is new for the Blades this year. New rink, new city, new logo, new GM, new head coach. They'll be entertaining, they'll have moments of greatness and sorrow, and they'll be out in the Worcester community. The only thing they want from you, Blades fans in Massachusetts, is your bums in Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center seats. Get out there and support the Blades because they're kicking off a whole new chapter in their history!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 19 August 2018

UBC Takes On China

While the title of this article might entice some Americans to click on it based on the current trade and tariff disputes happening with our neighbours to the south, this article has nothing to do with economics. Instead, the UBC Thunderbirds women's hockey team is preparing for a three-game set with the newly-formed Shenzhen-based Chinese Development Team formed out of the merger of the Vanke Rays and Kunlun Red Star over the next week as the Thunderbirds begin a busy preseason schedule. This three-game series has a couple of purposes for the Shenzhen team as well as they are scouting for talent for their squad with the hopes of building a solid Chinese squad for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. This should be some rather good hockey played between the T-Birds and Shenzhen, so you may want to venture down to Father David Bauer Arena if you're in the UBC area!

Kunlun Red Star General Manager Rob Morgan spoke with CBC's Clare Hennig about his team coming to Vancouver and what he's hoping to accomplish.

"One of the initiatives now is to identify North Americans with Chinese descent who can help China medal and that's truly the goal of the government, the Chinese Ice Hockey Association and Kunlun Red Star," Morgan said.

If this raised an eyebrow on your face, you're not alone. The purpose of the CWHL accepting the Chinese entries into the league was to help facilitate and enhance the growth of the women's game in China. Morgan's statement above, however, seems to indicate that the Chinese government and the Chinese Ice Hockey Association are now abandoning the plan to have players born and trained in China making up the majority of the team.

There were some mentions in women's hockey circles that the addition of the two Chinese squads to the Canadian professional women's league was ambitious in terms of trying to accelerate China's presence on the world stage. Based on the statistical analysis of the Chinese players last season, the chasm between the North American players and the Chinese-born players was rather large. Needless to say, it appears the Chinese government and hockey federation have realized the same thing, and they're now looking to build the framework of their team with women of Chinese heritage as opposed to Chinese-born players.

Visiting Vancouver is a rather savvy move with the large Asian population in the city, and the Thunderbirds sent four players to the Chinese development camp in May who have Chinese heritage. Shiayli Toni, Emily Costales, Jenna Fletcher, and Tiffany Chiu spent a week in May at the camp, and it appears they'll get another long look this week with Rob Morgan and the Shenzhen-based Chinese Development Team in town. While there are no guarantees on any of these players making the Olympic team in 2022, the potential for one or all is certainly there based on the play of the four players over the last few Canada West seasons.

What I find more concerning about this move is that the Chinese team is making it harder for Chinese-born players who have been part of the rather awful Chinese training program over the last few years to make the Olympic team. Yes, I get that China wants a competitive, successful Olympic team at the Olympiad they are hosting, but what happens after the 2022 Olympics? Do these players head back to North America and pick up where they left off in their lives? Will China continue to try and improve their born-and-trained players during the four years between Olympic Games or will they simply rely upon North American players with Chinese heritages?

The Chinese government wanted into the CWHL to try and improve its players in a faster way than developing them against one another, but it found out the harsh reality of not funding sport when the Chinese teams were basically carried by the foreigners. It now seems to be scrambling to plug the holes in the dam it discovered with North American-trained players because it realizes that this ambitious dream would be a nightmare if significant reinforcements weren't found and recruited immediately. The fact that the government is just realizing this now shows how short-sighted they were when it came to this Olympic dream, and that's something that should be noted moving forward.

I take nothing away from the players who are jumping at the opportunity to play for their newly-adopted country of heritage. It's a chance to go to the Olympics as an athlete, and that opportunity likely wouldn't have presented itself had they not pursued this opportunity. They're taking advantage of a loophole created by the International Olympic Committee, and they shouldn't be penalized or criticized for that.

But if the Chinese women's hockey team is just North American-born players with Chinese heritage, is it really a Chinese team at all? Something about that seems wrong to me, and it's a loophole that may need to be revisited since it seems that some governments are using the rule simply to field a competitive team. A handful of players? Ok. An entire 25-player roster? C'mon.

If you're looking for good hockey, head down to Father David Bauer Arena this week. I guarantee the hockey will be excellent, and there will be some players who stand out on both sides of the ice. The Shenzhen team you see likely won't be the final roster for the 2022 Olympics, but there could be a number of players from both sides who will wear Chinese colours in future Olympics!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 18 August 2018


I'm a big fan of the work that Paul Lukas does when it comes to uniforms and the aesthetic appreciation involved with uniforms. He and Phil Hecken, who does a lot of the weekend work, are a couple of great guys who really know uniforms, and they really got me into the uniform craze a number of years ago. Thanks to them, seeing this young lady from the U16 Canadian Women's Fastpitch Championship wearing proper stirrups brought me great joy as the host Smitty's Terminators were the only team of the twenty at the tournament to wear proper stirrups with their uniforms. To be honest, the stirrups looked great on the diamond, so it warmed my somewhat-cold heart to see these young ladies wearing proper hosiery with their softball uniforms!

Stirrups were quite common amongst old-time ball players, and some teams even got their names from the colours of their hosiery: Red Sox, Black Sox who became the White Sox, and Redlegs which was shortened to Reds as examples. Legends like Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, and Nolan Ryan all wore stirrups as part of their uniforms thanks to their knickerbocker pants which often ended below the knee. Stirrups were worn traditionally over white sanitary socks, "sanis", as it was thought the dyes in the stirrups could pose health issues for those wearing them.

Stirrups went out of baseball fashion in the 1990s as long pants took over to the point where players around the turn of the century were looping the hem of the pants underneath their cleats, creating a virtual spat like football players wear on their cleats. Honestly, it looks awful, so the return to high pants and socks was a welcome sight as we made our way into the new millennium. But high socks are meant for soccer, not baseball, and the stirrups have been slow in their pick-up when it comes to major league teams. The Tampa Bay Rays have been using them at times and there are specific players who have began to don the stirrups more often, but it's a piece of the baseball uniform that needs to return. It just feels like a baseball uniform when you see the white sani peeking out from the shoe below the stirrup's colour.

In saying all this, there are certain things that I just need to see to make said uniform feel complete. Stirrups in baseball is one of those things, but hockey has its own set of nuances. There are specifics that made the old sweaters worn by hockey teams look distinctive when it came to that "hockey look". Things like proper hem stripes and shoulder yokes that actually fit the shoulders are key to making a hockey jersey look like a timeless classic.

I get that we all have different likes. Some people are fond of the lace-up collar. Some people enjoy seeing jerseys with minimal striping. There are those who want to see less black on jerseys and more colour. There are those who prefer white at home. I understand that we all have our differences when it comes to jerseys and what we like, so perhaps there should be a template to appease all.

In your mind, what is the one thing that has to be on a jersey to make it a hockey jersey? Throw your suggestions in the comments. I'm curious to see what has to be on a jersey for it to feel like a hockey jersey for you. If there are enough responses, I'll see if I can come up with a template. Who knows - maybe there will be an HBIC jersey one day!

What I do know is that whoever is running the Smitty's Terminators team in Winnipeg is teaching the young women about the finer points of the uniform. That's an important aspect in sports!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 17 August 2018

Where's Teebz?

There's something about being outside in the fresh air watching baseball that can't be replicated indoors in a dome. It's a distinct with the sounds, the sights, and the smells of the ballpark. Luckily, I will be spending my next few days creating one of those sensory inputs as I've signed up to work the barbecue at the U16 Canadian Women's Fastpitch Championships, and I'm excited to see some outstanding ball being played while serving up mouth-watering hamburgers, hot dogs, and smokies. With the weather being incredible over the next few days, I believe that the old barbecue pit at the ball diamonds will be hopping, and it's one of those smells that just triggers memories.

I'm not here to talk too much about the smells of the grill, but I am saying that I'll be off the grid for the next few days with my watching the flames tickle the goods upon the grill. I expect that there won't be earth-shattering news, but I've been wrong before so I'll take the risk in taking a few days off social media and the ol' blog. In the meantime, if anything extraordinary happens, make sure you tag me in the news so I can keep up with the times!

It should be a great day for softball, grilling, and outdoor living, so I'm out as my shift starts in an hour. Enjoy the day and weekend, everyone!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 16 August 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 308

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back with its continuing Summer of Interviews series! This one will be much shorter than usual at the request of the interviewee and his busy schedule, but I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to speak with this distinguished gentleman! Beans and I will also go over what has been a busy summer of signings, moves, and news that we've been neglecting with the amazing people we've featured on the show up to this point. It's going to be one of the busier shows of the summer, so settle in and get ready for another jam-packed episode of The Hockey Show!

I was lucky enough to speak with a legend of the hockey community in Mr. Barry Melrose about his involvement in the new Sparrowhawk Pictures film Ahockalypse! The Hockey Show was lucky enough to get about twelve minutes with Mr. Melrose during his media sweep that included about 100 interviews yesterday, so I want to thank Mr. Melrose for his time! Also on the show tonight, Beans and I will go over everything happening everywhere as there have been a ton of player signings and moves in the KHL, the Krefeld Pinguine played their first exhibition match, U SPORTS has all sorts of news coming out, the Canadian pro women's league will feature a Manitoba Bisons player next season, and we'll even try to squeeze in some additional local hockey news from that rink we have downtown. It's a busy show tonight at 5:30pm CT!

"Holy smokes - Barry Melrose?!? How can I listen?" you ask. Well, the easiest way is for you to download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's literally the 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! Of course, you can do the radio thing at the 101.5 frequency on the FM dial and you can always listen online via the UMFM website as well!

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

Tonight, Barry Melrose wins Zombie Kill of the Week while Beans and I discuss what's happening in Russia, Germany, the Canadian university hockey scene, the NHL, and more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

PODCAST: August 16, 2018: Episode 308

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Manual Labour

Let's be honest: Facebook is a bit of a clown show right now with all the bumbling they've been doing and the garbage they've been involved with over the last few years. From messing with timelines to giving away user data to analytic companies to aiding a foreign entity in influencing an election, Facebook's reputation isn't doing so well. Because of their track record, they've been working overtime to fix these issues as well as their reputation, but it's going to take another hit today after the email I received recently.

Here is said email in its entirety.
Facebook has recently made significant changes to their platform. One of those changes includes removing the ability for third party applications, like IFTTT, to publish status messages, link posts, and photos on your behalf to your personal Facebook profile.

The following three Facebook actions will be removed from IFTTT starting today, along with any Applets that used them:

Create a status message
Create a link post
Upload a photo from URL

While it’s unfortunate to see some of your favorite Applets removed, we support Facebook’s decisions to evolve their platform in the way they best see fit.

Thank you for your understanding.
The IFTTT Team
For those that aren't familiar with IFTTT, the acronym stands for "If This Then That" as the image at the top shows. It is a service that HBIC uses to post information to various social media platforms when a new post is added to the blog. Basically, it made posting updates convenient for me so I didn't have to paste links and write up descriptions all over the place. That is, at least until now since Facebook has disabled the ability for IFTTT to post my articles on my Facebook timeline as of August 2.

If you're looking for hockey content on my Facebook page, I'm afraid it's few and far between right now... which goes to show how often I check my Facebook page. In the future, new posts will be posted manually there for people who read my stuff from that site. It's unfortunate that this has to be the case with Facebook, but they sort of did it to themselves. The only problem is that I'm paying for their incompetence.

We'll get the Facebook feed rolling again, folks. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 14 August 2018

I Wanna Take Part

I often get taken to task by my co-workers who see me, the lone IT guy in a massive region, sitting in his office "doing nothing" while they slave away in their jobs. I take this good-natured ribbing because I happen to be able to multi-task fairly efficiently, but I often come in earlier or stay later on days where I can so that I get more done in the hope that I don't have to work harder down the line. It never truly works out as I planned, but one can hope, right? Today, though, there may be hope as one New Zealand company is throwing conservative work standards into a tizzy with their novel idea!

According to a report in The Guardian, "Two-hundred-and-forty staff at Perpetual Guardian, a company which manages trusts, wills and estate planning, trialled a four-day working week over March and April, working four, eight-hour days but getting paid for five."
The experiment run by Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes saw the following results:
Jarrod Haar, professor of human resource management at Auckland University of Technology, found job and life satisfaction increased on all levels across the home and work front, with employees performing better in their jobs and enjoying them more than before the experiment.

Work-life balance, which reflected how well respondents felt they could successfully manage their work and non-work roles, increased by 24 percentage points.

In November last year just over half (54%) of staff felt they could effectively balance their work and home commitments, while after the trial this number jumped to 78%.

Staff stress levels decreased by 7 percentage points across the board as a result of the trial, while stimulation, commitment and a sense of empowerment at work all improved significantly, with overall life satisfaction increasing by 5 percentage points.
Hi, where do I apply? This idea that Andrew Barnes has sounds absolutely incredible, and it seems to go back to the idea of working smarter, not harder. I totally subscribe to the idea of working smarter, so this makes too much sense to me. At a previous place of employment, I tried to get them to institute a ten-hour four-day work week for my department so that everyone got an extra day off. That was met with both laughter and every way one can pronounce the word "no", so I'm glad to see someone actually put the idea into practice and get tangible results back from the experiment!

Perhaps what encourages me even more to explore this idea was this section from the article.
Helen Delaney, a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland Business School, said employees’ motivation and commitment to work increased because they were included in the planning of the experiment, and played a key role in designing how the four-day week would be managed so as not to negatively impact productivity.

“Employees designed a number of innovations and initiatives to work in a more productive and efficient manner, from automating manual processes to reducing or eliminating non-work-related internet usage,” said Delaney.
If you're going to let me, the employee, design my work week for efficiency and productivity, you've already sold me on the idea. Having the policies and procedures dictated to me from someone who has a very vague idea what I do in my daily routine frustrates me to no end, so having me including in the planning phase to maximize my efficiency lights me up. That's the kind of input that I want my employer to seek when looking for ways to be more productive, so this entire experiment appeals to me in a big way.

I get that most employers want the five-day work week to continue as it's currently designed to offer holidays and other benefits based on the hours worked by employees. I'd counter with the fact that two weeks of holidays rarely scratches the surface for most people when it comes to time they need for themselves, and the idea that "weekends are enough" is laughable to me. When 78% of 240 people feel they can effectively manage their home and work commitments better with an extra day off per week, I'm very sure that the end result is happier, more productive staff which is good for business. Sure, there are likely less sick days used, less health-related benefits sought, and less mistakes made due to a number of factors - complacency, monotony, fatigue, etc. - but the bottom line is that happier staff are more productive staff because they feel valued by their employer, especially when they're involved in making the workplace better. That's just simple psychology.

I know that, for me, I am afforded a lot of freedom in my role thanks to my travel schedule and the requirements of my position. My supervisor and manager are great people who understand the importance of work-life balance as well, and they've allowed me time to pursue things that interest me. There are certainly deadlines and goals that have to be met in my position, but the fact that I meet these requirements regularly has allowed me some greater freedom than being chained to a desk. Don't get me wrong: I love my job thanks to the freedoms I have in it. I'm grateful for these freedoms, but it could be enhanced even further with an additional day off per week. The amount of non-work stuff I could get done with that extra day would be too numerous to count.

I'd love to see this implemented in a North American workplace where it seems more and more employees are living to work just to pay bills and keep a roof over their heads. How great would one extra day off per week be for the psyches of the employees who take part in this experiment? I would assume there would be a major upswing in their productivity and efficiency, not to mention a far happier outlook on life, and that's great for business. If there is a business willing to try this in North America, I would hope that there are credible and legitimate studies done on the results because I suspect that the prison of five-day work weeks the majority of us are stuck in would crumble.

The only question left to ask: which company is willing to try it out?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 13 August 2018

Finally Paired Together

In what seemed like a pairing that would be an obvious connection, the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears and NHL Tampa Bay Lightning have entered a three-year affiliation agreement! The Solar Bears, who previously were the ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs, saw that affiliation agreement expire and Toronto turn to the expansion Newfoundland Growlers as their ECHL affiliate. Tampa Bay was affiliated with the Adirondack Thunder last season, but with NHL teams wanting minor-league players closer to their home bases for call-ups, the opportunity to affiliate with the Orlando Solar Bears makes too much sense.

The Solar Bears are owned and operated by the Orlando Magic and the DeVos Family and play their games at the Rink at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Amalie Arena, where the Lightning play, is a mere 90 minutes away by car as opposed to the plane flight between Adirondack and Tampa. Where this affiliation kind of veers off course is that the Lightning has the Syracuse Crunch as their AHL affiliate, and they are a flight away from Tampa but a mere two-and-a-half hours by car away from Adirondack. However, the proximity of the Lightning to their ECHL players will provide greater insight as to player development and player promotion as the Lightning identify players they want on their roster in the future.

"We are thrilled to be able to announce our new affiliation with the Lightning," Solar Bears president Chris Heller said in the release. "This relationship will not only aid in our on-ice performance, but will also help strengthen the profile of ice hockey throughout Central Florida."

While I imagine the relationship with the Lightning will indeed help the Solar Bears' on-ice performance, it's not like they were an afterthought in the Maple Leafs' eyes. I imagine this affiliation with the Lightning will continue to help the Solar Bears maintain a high level of hockey while the partnership between the two teams should hopefully improve hockey's presence throughout the panhandle. It's hard to believe that these two teams hadn't been affiliated after the Solar Bears' founding in 2012, but that's how it went with the Solar Bears being affiliated with both the Minnesota Wild and the Toronto Maple Leafs up until now.

With the Solar Bears having made the playoffs in four of the their six seasons, there's hope that the success can continue with Tampa Bay overseeing the personnel. The Thunder finished atop the North Division last season with a 41-24-3-4 record, good for seventh-best in the ECHL. They lost in the third round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs to the Florida Everblades with four of the five games being decided by one goal, so the Lightning are expecting that success to remain in place with perhaps a few players making the jump to their AHL affiliate in Syracuse.

While I await for the announcements that the Chicago Wolves and Chicago Blackhawks have finally become affiliates or for the Brampton Beast and Toronto Maple Leafs to strike an affiliation accord, the news that the Orlando Solar Bears and Tampa Bay Lightning have finally gotten together warms my heart like the Florida sun. It just never should have taken this long.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 12 August 2018

Great Start In Germany

It's just about time to swing into hockey season over in Europe, and one German team will have my eyes on it all season long! The Krefeld Pinguine took to the ice today in a friendly exhibition match against Cologne with a new head coach in Brandon Reid behind the bench and some new recruits to the team under his guidance. Krefeld wasn't a great team last season as they finished 14th out of 14 teams, so there was some hope that the new coach and the new players brought to the Pinguine may change the team's fortunes. If their season is anything like today's result, I think the move to bring Brandon to Krefeld will prove to be rather genius!

For a team that won just 11 games while scoring 141 goals in 52 contests last season, today saw the Penguine score 5% of their total goal output from last season today! The Pinguine downed the Kölner Haie, better known in English as the Cologne Sharks, by a 7-4 score! It was a game that saw lots of special teams work on both sides of the puck, but the Pinguine appear to be headed in the right direction with today's result.

Before I start planning a parade route through Krefeld, I know it's only one meaningless exhibition game at this point. But let's be honest here when we're talking about an eleven-win team that any victories this early in the season over a superior opponent should excite the masses of Pinguine fans. Some of the new guys scored. Some of the returning players scored. And at the final horn, the Pinguine, who were 1-1 against the sixth-best DEL team last season, scored seven goals on a team that didn't surrender seven goals in one game all last season. Again, no one is booking town square for a DEL Championship celebration just yet, but it's something to build from when one considers just how poorly last season went for the Pinguine.

Brandon went back to his coaching roots and brought over a few players who found success in the Metal Ligaen in Denmark, and these players made an impact today. Phillip Bruggisser, who played for the Esbjerg Energy last season in Denmark, scored a power-play goal just three minutes into the game and assisted on a second-power-play goal at the six-minute mark. Kirill Kabanov, who played for Brandon with Aalborg last season, also assisted on the power-play goal at the sixth minute, and Martin Lefebvre, who was a Pirate last season after spending time at UQTR, assisted on the Pinguine goal at the 30th minute and added one of his own at the 32-minute mark. Being able to recruit and sign players from the Metal Ligaen where Brandon has had some great looks at good players appears to be a wise move on Krefeld's part.

As stated above, Krefeld got on the board early - a signature move by teams coached by Reid - as Bruggisser made Cologne pay on the power-play with his shot to the far corner of the net off a rebound from a Jordan Caron shot put the Pinguine up 1-0 just three minutes into the game. They'd take advantage of another power-play opportunity three minutes later when long-time Pinguine Daniel Pietta found the back of the net off a Bruggisser pass to put the visitors up 2-0. The Sharks would battle back, though, when former Pinguine Pascal Zerressen's shot found its way through a crowd in front of Krefeld netminder Dimitri Pätzold and elude the goalie to make it 2-1 in the tenth minute. Three minutes after that, the Sharks would use a power-play of their own to tie the game when Steve Pinizzotto deflected a point shot past Pätzold to make it 2-2!

And then everything stopped as the fire alarm at Kölnarena 2 went off! After a short delay, the teams and fans were able to return to the rink to continue this contest, but it isn't often that a period ends with a fire alarm sounding. I've seen teams catch fire metaphorically or play fire-wagon hockey colloquially, but rarely does one ever hear a fire alarm go off during a game!

In the 30th minute, Greger Hanson pulled away from the crowd of players, skated in alone, and went high on netminder Gustaf Wesslau to put the Pinguine out in front by a 3-2 score. With the game being an exhibition game, Cologne decided to make a goaltending change as Hannibal Weitzmann replaced Wesslau in the 31st minute. Two minutes and two shots later, Martin Lefebvre converted a gorgeous pass from Pietta into a goal on Weitzmann's third shot he faced, and Krefeld was up 4-2. It didn't end there for the Sharks, though, as the Pinguine would get one more goal while on the power-play in the 38th minute. James Bettauer ripped a shot past Weitzmann, and his power-play marker would send the Pinguine to the locker room up 5-2!

As a footnote to the above paragraph, Swedish-born Greger Hanson is an absolutely fascinating case of player moves. He spent four years at Northern Michigan University in the NCAA from 2007-11 before embarking on a professional hockey career that has seen him play for 15 teams in five leagues over the last seven seasons. In 2013-14, Hanson played in the Central Hockey League with both the Wichita Thunder and Allen Americans along with a four-game stint in the ECHL with the Greenville Road Warriors. In 2014-15, he suited up for both the Cincinnati Cyclones and the Americans in the ECHL after the ECHL absorbed the CHL teams before jumping to the AHL to play with the Oklahoma City Barons and the Worcester Sharks. 2015-16 saw him back in Allen before call-ups to the AHL's San Jose Barracuda and Utica Comets. 2016-17 had Hanson mostly in Allen, but he had cups of coffee with four AHL teams in the San Diego Gulls, the Chicago Wolves, the Binghamton Senators, and the Charlotte Checkers. Last season saw Hanson start in Utah with the Grizzlies before a brief stint with the San Diego Gulls before finally packing his bags, flying to Krefeld, and ending the season with the Pinguine. Have bags, will travel? It seems to be a nomadic life for Greger Hanson over the last few years.

Footnotes aside, the Cologne Sharks needed to find some goals quickly, and they got an early one from their sniper. Steve Pinizzotto struck again on the power-play as he cashed in a rebound off a Tobias Viklund shot to cut the lead to 5-3 in the 46th minute. With the goaltender out and the extra attacked on to make it 6-on-4 advantage in the 57th minute, Cologne pulled within one goal when Jason Akeson found the back of the net to make it 5-4. Cologne would continue to press, but the final minute saw Patrick Seifert score into the unguarded cage to make it 6-4. After a skirmish which resulted in another Krefeld power-play, Chad Costello put another puck into the empty net for the power-play goal with seconds to play to give the Krefeld Pinguine the 7-4 final!

The Pinguine will have a week to reflect on their efforts and to correct any mistakes that Coach Reid may have seen before they battle the Iserlohn Rooster on Friday. There will be occasional updates on HBIC and The Hockey Show all season long on the Pinguine, so make sure you find these places if you're trying to keep up with Brandon Reid's new team!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!