Sunday, 19 May 2019

A Canadian Innovation

You might be wondering what the above thing is and why it's on a blog dedicated to hockey. The item pictured above is called a BIPeR, and it was designed by a team of Montreal university researchers to be used as a puck for visually-impaired players! Hockey, to which most people will attest, is a highly-visual game where tracking the puck on the ice is the ultimate priority for players and fans alike. If you're visually-impaired, tracking the puck visually isn't an option, so how does one track said puck? The BIPeR is designed to solve that problem!

Visually-impaired hockey players often resort to using a tomato juice can or a steel container filled with small balls as a puck because of the audible sound it makes when it moves. It works fairly well when the puck is moving, but how does one find the puck while being visually-impaired when the puck stops moving?

Here's a Global News report on the sport to give you a better idea of how it sounds.

As you can see, the game is a lot noisier with the steel container. And that's where Gilles Ouellet, a blind hockey player and a Universite de Quebec a Montreal employee, put his thinking cap on and went to work in creating a better puck for his sport. Along with a team of researchers, they created the above prototype consisting of a shock-absorbent plastic shell with a battery-powered circuit board that powers sensors that analyze puck movement and transmits the data to a buzzer which makes sounds up to 120 decibels - as loud as a thunderclap!

Steve Vezeau, one of the researchers on the project, said the BIPeR puck has a lifespan of about three games compared to using five tomato juice boxes per game or having steel containers that generally last up to two games. From the looks of it, this puck may change the entire way visually-impaired is played across the world!

"It's going to make the game faster and more interesting," Ouellet stated to The Canadian Press. "And because the puck makes noise when it's in the air, it'll help goalies make more saves."

In a cool related piece of news, by creating the BIPeR puck at the Universite de Quebec a Montreal, the research team won the Impact Award of the Innovation Idea contest at UQAM! How cool is that?

The prototype seems very promising, and the team will need to find a company or partner to mass-produce the pucks for use across the world. The above prototype was financed in part by USA Hockey while the team dreamed and designed it, but USA Hockey likely won't fund the mass production of these pucks. Maybe they can take the two-hour trip to Sherbrooke, Quebec where Inglasco is located? Inglasco, as you may be aware, produces pucks for the NHL, AHL, ECHL, Hockey Canada, and Hockey USA, so this would seem like a logical partnership with firm Canadian roots!

Regardless of what the next steps are, the fact that Canadians are working to make the visually-impaired game better is something of which all Canadians should be proud. While visually-impaired hockey isn't huge in Canada yet, there are teams in Montreal, Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver and a dozen teams play in the United States. If the goal for USA Hockey is to organize a nations cup next May with teams possibly from Finland and Sweden joining the event, this puck will go a long way in making the game better and potentially more popular for all fans alike.

While there have been other attempts to make a puck that plays like an actually hockey puck while incorporating some sort of audible element, here's hoping that the BIPeR puck finds its spot on the international stage as the puck of choice by all visually-impaired players!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Just Won't Go Away

It seemed as though all the legal problems that the Ottawa Senators had faced over their arena debacle and the Randy Lee situation had passed. The arena deal is still being negotiated quietly as far as the Senators want anyone to know, and Lee pleaded guilty to the harassment charge brought forth by a 19-year-old male hotel shuttle driver in Buffalo back in December. For the first time in months, it seemed as though the Senators weren't making the news for all the wrong reasons. That is, until yesterday when another lawsuit was dropped on them by that same 19-year-old male hotel shuttle driver who now feels that more people were responsible for causing the entire ordeal with Randy Lee.

According to the new filing, the Ottawa Senators hockey club, Randy Lee, and the bar and grill restaurant known as 716 are being sued for negligence for unspecified damages as the defendant alleges that "the team was aware of Lee's alleged history of lewd behaviour and didn't do enough to stop it" while "the owners of the sports bar and grill should share blame because employees there continued to serve drinks to Lee after he was visibly drunk".

In the new lawsuit, the plaintiff "was injured externally, internally and permanently in and about the head, body, limbs and nervous system so that he became and will continue to be disabled and will continue to suffer pain, discomfort, disfigurement, distress and psychological adjustment, distress and trauma." I somehow think that there a ton of claims in the above sentence that are demonstrably false when it came to having Randy Lee touch the shuttle driver, but if you're going to go for broke in this lawsuit, just claim everything, I guess.

The Sportsnet report linked above states that Lee's lawyer, Paul Cambria, had yet read the lawsuit and declined comment. Dennis Vacco, and attorney for the Ottawa Senators, said that the hockey club would "vigorously fight" this lawsuit, calling it a "frivolous" civil complaint.

I'm not a judge or lawyer, but I have to agree with Vacco in that this lawsuit seems a little far-fetched when you consider the allegations of distress that are made in the filing. The burden of proof will lie with the defendant to illustrate the various injuries and the ongoing distress he claims he will exhibit, but this whole lawsuit seems like a money-grab.

After everything that the Senators have gone through over the last 24 months, here's hoping something finally goes their way because I really don't think this lawsuit has a lot of merit built into it.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 17 May 2019

Halifax's Jerseys

With the 2019 Mastercard Memorial Cup beginning tonight in Halifax, the home squad will don some special uniforms to honour the military tie-in with the Memorial Cup. This year, the Mooseheads will auction off the jerseys they wear this evening to raise funds for the Dominion Command Poppy Trust Fund which will be used for the care and benevolent support of Veterans and their dependents. It's always the one thing I look forward to in this tournament because these jerseys always have special meaning and usually look spectacular. Halifax's jerseys tonight did not fail.

The 2019 tournament will feature the WHL's Prince Alberta Raiders, the OHL's Guelph Storm, the QMJHL's Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, and the host Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. To kick off each tournament, the host team wears a special jersey to reflect the heritage of the Memorial Cup's early beginnings as the Ontario Hockey Association Memorial Cup, an award that was instituted in memory of the many Canadian First World War soldiers that died fighting in 1919. The jersey program was started in 2008, and every host team since that time has kicked off the tournament on the Friday night by wearing a special jersey that honours a branch of the military.

These are the jerseys that Halifax took the ice in tonight. As per the release by the Mooseheads, "[t]he jersey pays tribute to the Nova Scotia Highlanders (NS Highrs) by proudly displaying their hat badge as our front crest. The NS Highrs are one of only two units from the Maritime provinces that took part in the Landing at Normandy on D-Day in 1944 during World War II. This year marks the 75th anniversary of that event." The words on the top of the circle surrounding the crest read "Siol Na Fear Fearail" which is the motto of the Nova Scotia Highlanders and translates to "Breed of Manly Men". While the Mooseheads don't normally wear blue or boast about their manliness, they looked good against the green-and-white of the Prince Alberta Raiders who drew the opening game against the Mooseheads tonight as the 101st Mastercard Memorial Cup began.

As you can see by these celebrations, the Halifax Mooseheads were in a good mood tonight as they opened the 2019 Mastercard Memorial Cup with a 4-1 win over the WHL champion Prince Albert Raiders. The round-robin portion of the tournament continues all week as the OHL's Guelph Storm and QMJHL's Rouyn-Noranda Huskies battle on Saturday in their first games. While we won't see these jerseys worn again, you can get one via the CHL auction page if you like them. While they're out of my price range, I'm a fan of these Halifax jerseys!

Well done on continuing a great tradition at this tournament, Halifax! Hopefully, these jerseys will raise a ton of dough for the Dominion Command Poppy Trust Fund!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 16 May 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 347

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with four more exit interviews to conduct after the second round of the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs ended and four more teams were cast off Survivor: NHL Playoffs island! There was also a "Hand of God" moment in the NHL that needs to be discussed because everyone seems to have an opinion on how the NHL gets everything wrong, so Beans and I will break down this moment in the only way we can: BAN EVERYTHING! Ok, maybe not that extreme, but we'll discuss it!

Tonight, Beans and I will get the boats to the mainland ready for Teri (NYI), Derek (CBJ), Travis (DAL), and Jared (COL) as these four entrants will be cast off Survivor: NHL Playoffs island. Once we get through those four exit interviews, we'll discuss Timo Meier's hand pass, the NHL video review process, and how each of us would fix it. We'll look at Germany and Switzerland equaling Russia's efforts at the IIHF World Championship with these three teams remaining perfect through the opening four games. We offer our thoughts on Ralph Krueger returning to the NHL. We'll talk about the announcements from the Hockey Helps The Homeless press conference on Tuesday, and we'll wrap it up by discussing the results of the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship! It should be another entertaining show, so we hope you can join us at 5:30pm CT!

Speaking of joining us, the new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

Having lost faith in Facebook, I spend far less time on that site for good reasons. In saying that, you can still email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! We're here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz and Beans run through four exit interviews with Teri, Derek, Travis, and Jared before chatting video review and how to make it better, the World Championship, a new coach in Buffalo (again), the Hockey Helps The Homeless press conference, the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship, and much more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: May 16, 2019: Episode 347

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

The Recurring KHL Story

It seems to pop up at least once during the hockey season and almost always in the off-season, but the annual announcement that the KHL's Slovan Bratislava team is in financial trouble has resurfaced yet again. The Slovakian hockey club always seems to have rumours swirling around it regarding meeting payroll during the season only to move into will-they-or-won't-they-play-next-season territory after the Gagarin Cup has been awarded. Well, it's May 15, so we're into the latter option that seems to suggest that they won't play in the KHL next year.

According to a Sport Express story filed yesterday, they report that "there is a high probability" HC Slovan Bratislava will not take part in the 2019-20 KHL season after a new owner who had bought into the club "found the team funding too expensive". While nothing regarding the club's status will be decided until the KHL's Board of Directors meet on May 29, it seems all but certain that Bratislava may have finally used up the remaining lives it seemed to have.

HC Slovan Bratislava was accepted into the KHL in 2012 for the start of the 2012-13 season. During that campaign, it was apparent that HC Slovan Bratislava wasn't going to be a big spender in any season despite their early successes in the KHL. In that season, they were the 13th-best team in the KHL despite being 27th-overall in spending on payroll. While they may have "Moneyball-ed" their way into the playoffs that year, the money issues were catching up to the overall hockey performance on the ice.

In 2016, Sport.sk reported that HC Slovan Bratislava hadn't been paying its players as they struggled to meet payroll obligations. Players had discussed the possibility of not playing the games scheduled until they were paid, but they did play as payroll obligations were met despite the pay for some players being extremely overdue.

There was talk early this year of a new European league starting, and I suggested that HC Slovan Bratislava might be wise to keep an eye on this possibility where costs and expenses would be lower. I had mentioned that their history in the KHL included qualifying "for the playoffs only twice and were swept in the quarterfinals on both occasions. In their seventh season this year, they are dead last in the Western Conference, 17 points back of Vityaz, and" missed the playoffs for a third-straight year. Needless to say, missing out on playoff payoffs doesn't help the bottom line.

Of course, Slovan Bratislava issued a statement that denied all reports of them not being a part of the KHL next season, but one can only wonder how long the KHL is willing to stand by the Slovakian club while they pile up the losses in the standings and at the bottom line.

At this point, the question may not be if Slovan Bratislava leaves the KHL, but when.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

The First Five

It was a special afternoon as people from the hockey world meshed with the media and a great charitable cause, and the two men pictured - Dave and Wayne Babych - were at the forefront of these worlds meeting. Each of these respective worlds played a part in the first press conference for the Winnipeg tournament of the Hockey Helps The Homeless tournament that will happen in the Manitoba capital on December 5 and 6, 2019. There were smiles and laughs seen at the press conference and there was a lot of great information presented as the event officially kicked off this afternoon!

If you caught The Hockey Show a few weeks back, we featured Executive Director Ryan Baillie on the show where were discussed all things related to the Hockey Helps The Homeless tournament happening in Winnipeg as the efforts to get this great initiative off the ground were just starting. Today was the official kick-off where it was announced that not only is the tournament coming to Winnipeg, but the tournament is already sold out when it comes to getting ten teams involved! That's massive news, and it goes to show that Winnipeg's love of the game combined with its charitable beliefs can help a great cause like Hockey Helps The Homeless benefit greatly.

The goal for Winnipeg was set at $100,000 in its first year with the proceeds going to three amazing causes in Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY), Red Road Lodge, and Willow Place. The press conference took play at the Resource Assistance for Youth drop-in center, and it's where Wayne Babych was the announced as the first player to commit as one of the professional players for the Winnipeg tournament followed almost immediately by the announcement that his brother, Dave, would be joining him as the second professional committed to playing with the amateur teams.

"I really enjoy this community," Dave Babych, a Winnipeg Jets defenceman for six seasons, told the crowd on-hand. "When Ryan asked me to co-host with Wayne, how do you say no? It was an automatic. I live in North Vancouver and I think I've played in the tournament there for 10 years, and every year, I don't know how it happens, but it just gets better and better, and more money's raised.

"We have the easy part," he continued. "We just show up and play. Of course, we believe in what it's all about. Hopefully, we entertain. We might not entertain on the ice, but in the dressing room and after because some of our skills... we think we're going fast but we know that's not true."

Wayne, a 54-goal scorer with St. Louis who now lives in Winnipeg, echoed his younger brother's message. "I'm so excited to be a part of this. We've had some guys from when I played where they've become homeless. I drive through the city now and I look at people and I've never had an avenue of how I could help. I see people standing and asking for money at the corners. I do what I can. But this gives me an opportunity to help out the way I can.

"Hockey was my life, and having Ryan and his group coming here, I'm so glad to be part of this. I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to do everything to get into shape for this."

Among the assembled crowd at the press conference were two other Winnipeg-based players who are excited to join a new amateur team on HHTH Draft Night on December 5 as both Trevor Kidd and Frazer McLaren were announced as the third and fourth players who have committed to playing. It was announced a little later that former Winnipeg Jets forward Laurie Boschman would be returning to the city for the event as well!

Now if there's some question about "star power" - getting that superstar player who is beloved by the entire community - that is being addressed by both HHTH and the player recruitment team. The key for any player to be recruited is to go through the "vetting process" or, as Ryan Baillie describes it, the "do they get it" process. They don't have to be a Wayne Gretzky or a Bobby Orr - admittedly, those two would be awesome to have - as long as the players understand the cause of Hockey Helps The Homeless and why their inclusion at these tournaments makes them special.

For lack of a better term, they are the "eye candy" that helps drive teams to raise more funds to be able to select the player they want on Draft Night. The team that raises the most money is given the opportunity to select first-overall from all the professional players who are playing in the tournament. The second-highest fundraising team gets the second pick, the third-highest fundraising team gets the third pick, and so on. The players, for their part, are the entertainers for the tournament at that point, sharing stories and laughs with the team that selected them while trying to help them perform well at the tournament.

If we circle back to that star-power factor, there are a number of names that are still trying to coordinate their schedules to make their attendance at the Hockey Helps The Homeless tournament in Winnipeg work, so expect announcements in the coming months of additional pros whose names are quite familiar to hockey fans in Winnipeg. As it stands right now, Dave Babych, Wayne Babych, Trevor Kidd, Frazer McLaren, and Laurie Boschman are the first five to commit to the tournament, and I'd be pretty stoked to have any of these guys sitting on the bench as well as telling hockey tales in the locker room.

We're six months away from raising $100,000 or more to help the 1500-or-so homeless people in Winnipeg who sleep outside in the heat, in the rain, in the cold, in the snow, in the wind, and in the darkness every single night. We have ten teams who are raising funds, and I'm sure you likely know someone or a company who wouldn't mind a little advertising in exchange for a donation to this great cause. If you do, check out Hockey Helps The Homeless or email one of the two co-chairs of the Winnipeg event in Viola Bauer and Brenda Bourns.

Every dollar raised at this point is dedicated to Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY), Red Road Lodge, and Willow Place, three amazing centers in Winnipeg that are helping men, children, and youths get off the streets in a city where winters are unforgiving and unrelenting in their forecasts. I'm proud of the work these centers are doing, and I'm proud that Hockey Helps The Homeless, Wayne Babych, Dave Babych, Laurie Boschman, Trevor Kidd, and Frazer McLaren are lending their support and expertise in an effort to end homelessness in Winnipeg.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 13 May 2019

Three Medals?

It's rare that one team can medal twice in the same event. I've seen two teams from the same club or country win medals in the same event, but never the same team winning two medals. If you take a glance at the lede image, you'll see that Manitoba won a bronze medal, a silver medal, and a gold medal despite entering just one men's team and one women's team at the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championship taking place in Whitehorse, Yukon. How is this possible, you ask? Read on for the surprising answer on how this was accomplished!

First, I had mentioned on Saturday on this very blog that Manitoba was one of three provinces with a chance to bring home two medals. As shown, the original schedule looked something as follows:
Everything seemed to be going as planned as the morning games were played. The Ontario women downed British Columbia to earn the bronze medal, and the Manitoba men's team followed up that effort by beating the British Columbia men's team to capture their own bronze medal. The gold-medal women's game saw Saskatchewan play extremely well in defeating Manitoba, and it seemed we were all set for an Alberta-Saskatchewan showdown.

Except the schedule changed.
Wait, a second. The Manitoba men who won bronze earlier in the day were now going to play Saskatchewan for the gold medal? How did this come about? What happened to Alberta, a team that had beaten Manitoba twice on two previous days?

The live stream of the final offered no answers as the broadcasters didn't even mention it from my skimming through the game quickly. It seems that Alberta just fell off the map and Manitoba was granted the chance to play for their second medal of the day. I posed the question today on Twitter in an effort to find answers, and Josh Schroeder (@jdschroeder) provided me the answer following his search of the NAHC Facebook page! His find was the following message posted to the social media platform (click it to read it).
According to the letter, Team Alberta's plan to leave on Sunday afternoon prior to the gold medal game at the 2019 NAHC was their own decision, and they made no attempt to resolve the problem after qualifying for the gold-medal game. In fact, from what the letter says, it sounds as though Team Alberta lobbied to have the gold-medal game time changed as opposed to them making alternate travel plans. The NAHC Working Group and the Provincial Territorial Aboriginal Sport Bodies (PTASB) decided that the tournament games would remain as they were, and Alberta was removed for the tournament.

First off, major kudos to the NAHC Working Group and the PTASB for sticking to their guns. As they stated, the tournament schedule was posted in November 2018, giving Team Alberta more than enough time to secure proper travel arrangements. The two groups also worked with tournament partners to try to help Alberta remain in Whitehorse for the gold-medal game, but it seems that Team Alberta wanted no part of that solution. Again, I want to commend the NAHC Working Group and PTASB for not giving in to Alberta's demands because, quite frankly, they caused this problem and did little to resolve it.

Second, who does Alberta think they are? They're no more important than any other team, and it's not like they were coming in as a powerhouse or defending champion. In fact, they played and lost in the relegation round at last year's tournament, so they have no more right to ask for a change than any other team. Just because you're inconvenienced due to your own travel plans and ignorance, Alberta, doesn't mean you can force the rest of the tournament to change its entire medal-round schedule. Even if you were the defending champion, that demand still wouldn't be considered. You're not that important.

Third, well done, Manitoba, for stepping up and seizing the opportunity. Having already won bronze, the Manitoba men decided to abandon that medal and play for the gold medal against Saskatchewan, hammering their neighbours to the west by a 6-1 score to claim the gold medal. I don't know how long the Manitoba men had to prepare, but they came out guns a-blazing in posting a 3-0 lead in the opening frame to carry them to the 6-1 win.

As a result, the final standings at the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championship were:
WOMEN: Ontario
MEN: British Columbia

WOMEN: Manitoba
MEN: Saskatchewan

WOMEN: Saskatchewan
MEN: Manitoba

It's rare that a one team can medal twice in the same event, but Manitoba did just that yesterday. While they abandoned the bronze medals to play for the gold medal, the fact that they even got a shot at winning the gold medal is rather astounding considering what Alberta did. When opportunity knocked, though, Manitoba seized it. Because of Alberta's poor planning and lack of any reasonable thought, Saskatchewan and Manitoba now will return home with one gold medal-winning team and one silver medal-winning team when it appeared only one province has that opportunity on Saturday and into Sunday morning.

Congratulations to all the teams, except the Alberta men, who participated at the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championship with special mentions going to Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba for winning medals! You did your provinces proud, and you should take an immense amount of pride in what you accomplished!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 12 May 2019

First Game Of The Season

It's been a busy Sunday thus far with me watching the final games from the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championship while trying to clean up HBIC Headquarters and do a little yard work around the compound. I have to say that the hockey action from Whitehorse, Yukon has been excellent over the last week, and I was lucky enough to catch Ontario win the women's bronze medal over Team BC while the Manitoba men captured the bronze medal over Team BC in that game. Aside from that, it's going to be a pretty quiet day on the hockey front for me as the first game of slo-pitch happens in a few hours time, and I'm excited to get back on the diamond and have some fun!

The man in the lede photo? I don't know if he ever played slo-pitch, but that's former Los Angeles Lings owner Bruce McNall who also owned the CFL's Toronto Argonauts for a short time and did a stint in prison for conspiracy and fraud. There's some debate about McNall's overall impact on the growth of the game in southern California versus his convictions of conspiracy and fraud as to whether he should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder. After all, the explosion of the sunbelt teams started with McNall's pursuit to bring Wayne Gretzky to Los Angeles, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Here is a Sportsnet video that sums up McNall's work in and around the NHL before he was convicted of crimes that sent him to prison. Judge for yourself, and feel free to leave a comment below on whether you think McNall should be Hall-of-Fame bound after watching the 14-minute piece.

I'm off to play in the first game of the season. If I don't die, I'll come back and read any and all comments that have been left.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Chance For Two Medals

The final games of the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships take place tomorrow in Whitehorse after the field had been narrowed down to the final four teams on both the men's and women's sides of the event. Manitoba, the two-time defending champions in the women's event, will return to the final for the third-straight year as they look to three-peat against Saskatchewan while the Manitoba men will compete for bronze after falling to Alberta in the semi-final. Regardless of the outcome, three provinces have a chance at two medals on the final day of the 2019 NAHC.

It's pretty remarkable to have both teams from a single province play for a gold medal, but Saskatchewan will have that opportunity tomorrow as both their men's and women's teams play in the final. The Saskatchewan women went 2-0 in the round-robin, scoring 11 goals and surrendering just one goal in downing Team North 7-0 and Team BC 4-1. Saskatchewan moved to the qualifying round where they dominated with a 2-0 win over Team BC, leading to a semi-final berth tonight where they defeated Team BC 3-0 in a rematch to advance to the gold medal final.

The Saskatchewan men went 1-1 in round-robin play, losing 6-3 to Alberta and winning 7-1 over Eastern Door & North. In the qualifying round, Saskatchewan downed Eastern Door & North by a 9-0 score to advance to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinal saw Saskatchewan defeat Team Atlantic 9-2 and then rally to defeat top-seeded Team BC in the semifinal tonight by a 3-1 score to secure a berth in the gold medal game as the only province to have both teams play for gold.

The Saskatchewan women will face the Manitoba women who, as stated above, are looking for the three-peat. Manitoba went 2-0 in the round-robin, scoring 14 goals and surrendering just two goals in a 7-0 win over Alberta and a 7-2 win over New Brunswick. They beat second-seeded Ontario 6-2 to advance to the semi-final where they would face Ontario again, and they only made the score worse as they beat Ontario for a second time by a 7-0 score to advance to the gold medal final.

The Saskatchewan men will battle the Alberta men who went 2-0 in the round-robin with that aforementioned 6-3 win over Saskatchewan and a 5-3 win over Eastern Door & North. In the qualifying round, Alberta hammered third-seeded Manitoba 7-0 to advance to the semi-final where they'd meet the Manitobans again, and Alberta qualified for the gold medal final with a 6-4 over Manitoba in the rematch.

As it stands, the four games that will happen in Whitehorse on Sunday are as follows:

Women - Ontario vs British Columbia (8:30am)
Men - Manitoba vs British Columbia (11:30am)

Women - Manitoba vs Saskatchewan (2:30pm)
Men - Alberta vs Saskatchewan (5:30pm)

Depending on which teams are successful, Manitoba could return to their province with two medals, British Columbia could return to their province with two medals, but Saskatchewan is guaranteed to return to their province with two medals. All three provinces should be proud of the men and women who are representing them this week in Whitehorse, and I know I'll be watching these teams compete on Sunday.

Good luck to the remaining teams, and here's hoping Manitoba brings home two medals!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 10 May 2019

Western Expansion

The competition for the Canada West championship in both men's and women's hockey got a little more difficult to win with the announcement yesterday by Canada West that they would expand both men's and women's hockey by two teams each as they welcomed the Trinity Western Spartans and the MacEwan Griffins into Canada West play starting in 2020-21. This will be the first expansion for Canada West since 2012-13 when the Mount Royal Cougars were added into Canada West after MRU had dominated the ACAC for a number of years. With the addition of the two teams, Canada West will now feature ten teams in both the men's and women's competition.

Do what do we know about these two teams that have been invited to the big dance at the national level?

MacEwan joins Canada West from the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) level where they have won the last three conference banners in both men's and women's play. The men's squad had a solid campaign this season with seven players hitting double-digits in goals while ten players had 19 points or more. When the men's team is added to Canada West, a number of these players will have graduated, but there are names that should still be circled on the roster as players to watch.

Garan Magnes just completed his rookie season with the Griffins, finishing third in team scoring with 14 goals and 13 assists. Magnes has 72 WHL games under his belt split between Edmonton and Seattle to go along with another 80 games in the AJHL, and the six-foot winger looks to be one of the guns that MacEwan will rely upon this season and into their first Canada West campaign. He'll get some more exposure to some of the WHL graduates who have joined Canada West schools in 2020-21, but I suspect Magnes will handle the challenge well and continue to perform at a high level.

A second player that one will want to watch is Brett Smythe. Since joining the Griffins out of the AJHL, all Smythe has done is piled up the points. In 49 ACAC games, the right-winger has 27 goals and 27 assists as he's been better than a point-per-game player in his first two seasons with the Griffins. He's a smaller forward at 5'9", but has speed to burn with great hands and a nose for the net. Smythe will be one of those players whose move from ACAC to CanWest shouldn't slow him down.

The Griffins women's team captured their third-straight ACAC women's hockey championship this past season, similar to Mount Royal's successes prior to them joining Canada West after winning two championships in four-straight appearances in the championship final. They were the best defensive team by a large margin in the ACAC this season - surrendering just 29 goals in 24 games - while finishing in second-place with a 17-5-2 record. They beat NAIT in the final in a three-game sweep in the best-of-five series.

On the women's side, Chantal Ricker will be a senior in the Griffins' first season in Canada West women's hockey, and she's already doing great things on the ice. The Calgary-born Ricker led MacEwan in goals (10) and points (18) while tying for the lead in assists, being the only Griffins player to hit double-digits in goals. Four of her ten goals came on the power-play, and she added four more goals in six playoff games in helping MacEwan secure the ACAC championship banner. The former Calgary Fire sniper has hit double-digits in goals in each of the last two seasons, proving she can elevate her game at the collegiate level.

Goaltender Natalie Bender is serving as the backup to Swiss-born Sandy Heim currently, but it seems she was being groomed for the starting role next season. She had an outstanding season this year in posting a 5-1-0 record in her six appearances to go along with a 1.34 GAA and a .938 save percentage, and MacEwan will need her at her best when they join Canada West where the shooters put a little more zip on all their shots. I'll be cheering for her not only because she's a fantastic netminder, but because her Twitter handle is "@bendy_the_tendy". You better believe I'll be using that nickname when MacEwan visits Manitoba.

As good as the Griffins have been, their expansion cousins from British Columbia seem to occupy both sides of the coin when it comes to success. The Trinity Western Spartans men's team captured the BCIHL championship this past season as they played solid hockey all season long. The women's program, however, struggled this season as they finished the campaign with a 7-17-2 record. The good news is that there's time to build for both teams as they prepare to enter Canada West play in 2020-21.

If you're looking to keep an eye on players this season into next season, there may be none other than Dustin Deugau whose name should be at the top of the list. Deugau led the Spartans in assists (21) and scoring (27) this past season as a defenceman, and it's pretty clear the offence runs through him. As a 23 year-old, he has the maturity and poise that the Spartans will need in their transition to Canada West, and I expect him to captain the team in his fifth year if he stays in school. If he does, he will lead the Spartans into Canada West play as one of the better play-making defenders in the conference.

Joining him could be the most diminutive player in Canada West, but don't let his small size fool you. Jarrett Fontaine tied for the team-lead in goals this season with 12 and was second on the team in scoring while being listed at 5'5" in height. The former SJHL player has been a force since getting to TWU, scoring 37 goals and 36 assists in his three seasons this far. Like Deugau, his contributions will be needed in a big way for Trinity Western to keep up with the likes of Alberta and Saksatchewan, but along with Evan Last, Logan Casavant, and Brayden Brown, the Spartans will bring a large part of their current offensive prowess with them to Canada West while still adding more weapons.

The Spartans women's team is coming off two-straight seasons where they won just seven games in each campaign. Only once in the last five seasons have they finished a season at .500 or better, so their inclusion into Canada West play may be a steep learning curve for the first few seasons. That being said, the Spartans have some solid players to build around as they prepare for their first Canada West hockey season coming out of the SCWHL (South Coast Women's Hockey League).

The first player who fans should watch for is forward Katelin Korman. Korman just finished her rookie season with the Spartans where she led the team in goals (10), assists (8), and points (18). A graduate of the Fraser Valley hockey program, the Surrey native has been a solid scorer at the SCWHL level as she had nine goals and ten assists with the Fraser Valley Jets two seasons ago before enrolling with TWU this past year. If there is one concern, she had no points in two playoff games this past season in her rookie campaign, but I wouldn't worry too much about that stat as Korman looks to be a solid pillar around whom TWU can build.

If good teams are built from the goaltender out, it seems TWU has a good foundation in Sienna Cooke. Cooke, who only started playing goaltender at the age of 11, played with the Vancouver Fusion midget program prior to her collegiate career where she put up some solid numbers that led her to a goaltending position with the AUS' Saint Mary's Huskies in 2012-13! Cooke's time with the Huskies only lasted two seasons, but she went 24-13-0 in those two seasons, posting a 1.90 GAA, a .924 save percentage, being named Team MVP and Female Rookie of the Year at Saint Mary's in 2013, and was named as part of the 2013 CIS All-Rookie Team!

So why didn't Cooke's career last the full five years? She was accepted into the RCMP in her home province of British Columbia! If Cooke has enrolled at TWU to complete her degree, her addition stabilizes a goaltending position that saw teammates Stephanie Grant and Sherri Break win one game in 14 appearances last season. Cooke could theoretically finish her career at the U SPORTS level on the Pacific coast after playing her first two seasons on the Atlantic coast.

We'll know more about who will move to Canada West once this upcoming season is done. Perhaps some of these players will want to go elsewhere with all the travel that Canada West teams do - Cooke seems like she'd want less with her RCMP work - and I imagine rosters will change with recruiting efforts by both these squads raised to match the rest of their opponents. I'm am extremely excited to see both MacEwan and Trinity Western joining Canada West, though, and this should build some solid new rivalries with teams across the west!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 9 May 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 346

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, hits the air tonight with a very special guest as we get inside the mind of one of Manitoba's best officials! Beans is off tonight as he tends to a house of sick kids, so Jason Pchajek and I will welcome this young woman who gets yelled at more than she should, disagreed with more often than not, and glared at for reasons for which she shouldn't be. It should be a fun show as we break down the walls on officiating and get the insight from a woman whose name will likely be heard at bigger tournaments and games in the future!

Tonight, The Hockey Show is proud, honoured, privileged, and humbled to introduce you to Miss Amy Martin, one of Hockey Manitoba's best and brightest officials! We'll talk to Amy tonight about her officiating career, how she got started, some of the abuse she deals with, and a number of her accomplishments as we dig into her life in stripes! For those that don't know, the "brightest" portion of that comment above will also be highlighted as Amy is a rather gifted student who graduated from the Engineering department at the University of Manitoba, and her work in the classroom growing up makes her an amazing role model for young women interested in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) career! Tonight, we meet Miss Amy Martin on The Hockey Show at 5:30pm CT!

For those asking, the Survivor: NHL Playoffs contest officially had four more people voted off the island, and we'll tackle those exit interviews next week on the show. It will give some proper reflection time for Teri (NYI), Derek (CBJ), Travis (DAL), and Jared (COL) to come up with solid exit interviews for their teams, so tune in for those next week as the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs continue! As a side note, Teri's elimination means we'll have a new champion this year as she entered this year's contest as the defending champion, so one of John (CAR), Dianna (BOS), Darin (STL), or Richard (SJS) will take home the grand prize of the Chicago Blackhawks jersey this year!

Speaking of joining us on the show, the new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

Having lost faith in Facebook, I spend far less time on that site for good reasons. In saying that, you can still email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! We're here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz and Jason chat with Amy Martin on life as an official, getting yelled way too often, tolerating players, coaches and fans, why she's so good at what she does, and much more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: May 9, 2019: Episode 346

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Round Three Starts Now!

These late games are killing me. With San Jose and Colorado finally done and the other three series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs' second round completed, we can now move on to Round Three! The third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs starts tomorrow, so you'll need to get this one in quick. However, I once again realize that time zones and work hours and all the things that are a hundred times more important than this pool, so I'm going to take some of the pressure off for those with busy lives and give everyone more than 24 hours to submit the next wave of predictions, guesses, and prognostications. You've got time on your side this time, so use it wisely!

We'll start with the most important part of Round Three: here's the new spreadsheet for third round. Same rules as before - rename it with your name AND ADD "R3" AT THE END, and then send it to me at this email address.

Again, there are no player selections for each division this time. Your scorers that you chose at the beginning are your scorers for the playoffs. No exceptions and no changes. After everything that has happened in the previous two rounds, no one has more than one scorer remaining - hint: they're all San Jose Sharks - and everyone else has zero scorers remaining. Upsets and surprises continue to haunt this pool, so the third round could prove to be very interesting.

In terms of relieving some of the chronological pressure, I'll gift-wrap the first game in the Boston-Carolina series tomorrow night since there is less than 24 hours between the end of the second round and start of the third round. Everyone gets another free point for simply getting the sheet in prior to the San Jose-St. Louis game on Friday. Whoever the NHL schedule-maker is, he or she needs to allow everyone to take a breath between rounds. As it stands, it seems like the NHL is hellbent on getting these playoffs done as fast as they can.

Just like the last round, the leaderboard will be updated some time on Friday, so make sure you check in and see where you are in the standings. Again, you have an extra day, so you can mull over who will win, who will score, and how long it will take to determine the Stanley Cup finalists, and I'll get everything updated by Friday.

The third round starts now, so get your entries in!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Ridiculous Snipe

The man scoring the goal in the photo to the left is Arizona Coyotes forward Richard Panik. Richard has been known to put the puck in the net a few times as he has scored 75 career goals in 410 NHL contests with four teams with 22 of those goals coming with his current squad in the sandy confines of Glendale. On the international front, he hasn't made a lot of noise outside of the three World Junior Championships he's played in for Slovakia where he was a solid performer, but it seems his inclusion on the Slovakian National Team at this year's IIHF World Championship may have been a good one as Panik is already catching the attention of many after his pre-tournament shootout goal against Norway today.

We've seen some dangles and snipes in shootouts that one wouldn't likely see in games from the likes of Linus Omark, Rob Schremp, Jocelyne Lamoureux, and Pavel Datsyuk over the years, and you can now add Richard Panik's name to the list of simply incredible goals in the skills competition. Here's Panik's submission.
Panik flipped his stick over to the backhand and used the toe of his stick to zip that shot five-hole on Norwegian goalie Henrik Haukeland! That's ridiculous, insane, and amazing all at the same time! To make matters worse for Haukeland and Norway, Panik's tricky snipe also wound up being the shootout- and game-winning goal! I have no idea how he generates so much torque with his stick positioned like that, but it's clearly something he's been working on and he showed how highly effective it can be! Wow!

Adding to the fun of this move, the tweet above was sent out by Pavel Barber. If you don't know who Barber is, he's a world-renowned stick-handling guru who has trained teams and players all over the world on the finer points of stick-handling, and even he's impressed by Panik's goal. Take a look at his moves on this dangle he calls "The Tornado".
When one of the best stick-handlers on the planet is impressed by your work, you know you did right.

Richard Panik may want to bring that move to the NHL for next season! It's another trick in the vast library of amazing shots we've seen in shootouts from all over the planet!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 6 May 2019

This Is Just A Bad Look

I watched this moment tonight over and over on the internet as I tried to find the words to describe the look on Brad Marchand's face as Sportsnet's Kyle Bukauskas prepared to interview him post-game. The only word I came up with was "distant", and his answers to the questions Bukauskas asked him were short, direct, and had a touch of fire underneath them. We all know Brad Marchand is an agitator and loves to stir the pot on the ice, but it seems that when Bukauskas tried to have a little fun with him in the pregame warm-up interview, it set the tone for Brad Marchand's media interactions for the night.

As a guy who does between-the-benches interviews for Canada West hockey, I can honestly say that if one wants to make a joke with a player about anything that has happened to said player, that player has to be in on the joke long before it's ever delivered on a live broadcast. We normally don't joke with any of the players during our broadcasts because we never have a chance to speak with them prior to the game to clear these jokes. Bukauskas, to his credit, tried to have a little fun with Marchand over his comments regarding the incident with Cam Atkinson when Marchand stepped on the blade of Atkinson's stick with his skate earlier in the series and claimed Atkinson tried to dull his skate blade. Brad Marchand's reaction indicates he had no idea this was coming and didn't appreciate the little joke played on him by Bukauskas.
I'm not condoning what either person did here, but we've had coaches decline interview requests with players prior to the game so that it doesn't mess with their warm-ups. That's their right, and I will add that we're extremely grateful for those players who stop by between the benches to answer our vanilla questions. In saying that, it's pretty clear that Marchand's response to the first question concerning the hockey game shows he's focused on the game and the job he has to do tonight. The second question about the skate sharpening is clearly unappreciated as he barely answers before skating away.

Bukauskas took a chance and went for a non-vanilla question about something that won't affect anything in Game Six. I can't fault him for that because it could have resulted in something extremely funny. However, with any risk, the potential for loss was there as well, and he lost Brad Marchand by asking about something that had no effect on Game Six. Marchand had a job to do tonight, and he was focused on eliminating the Blue Jackets without any sideshow craziness. Again, Bukauskas took a chance with his question, and he lost on this one. C'est la vie.

The only thing Bukauskas needed to do now was apologize for the earlier question prior to the post-game interview with Marchand following Boston's elimination of Columbus. While Marchand likely didn't trust Bukauskas as much as he should have in this situation, what Marchand did to this post-game interview isn't necessary either as it seems Marchand accepted the interview with the intent on ruining it for Bukauskas.
I would say that Marchand made his point fairly clearly when it comes to Bukauskas' question prior to the game starting. Bukauskas' reactions to Marchand's short, pointed answers were a much better response than what Marchand did in the warm-up interview, but I'm sure Bukauskas saw this coming once Marchand accepted the interview request. Bukauskas learned something about Marchand tonight, and it's likely Kyle Bukauskas will seek interviews with other Bruins in the future after Marchand's antics here tonight. Bukauskas isn't innocent in this, but he certainly looks less hellbent on revenge than Marchand does.

So case closed on this, right?

Well, not exactly as Marchand continued his antics with other media in the locker room.
Look, I get intentionally ruining Kyle Bukauskas' interview at the end of the game. Marchand was unhappy with the line of questioning during the warm-up interview, so he made sure that Bukauskas wasn't going to get anything in the post-game interview either. Game-set-match on that sequence. But why does he continue with his antics when a number of press reporters are trying to get his thoughts on the game and the series? What purpose does this serve after he's already made his point with Bukauskas?

If we're going to be honest, call the Bukauskas-Marchand exchanges in tonight's game as a wash when it comes to who did what to whom. Bukauskas took a shot by asking a question about a situation where Marchand made a joke, and it blew up in his face. He's a professional, he'll continue on, and I doubt this will cause him any issues with other players moving forward.

As for Marchand, he made his point with Bukauskas in the post-game interview, and he can't be fined for answering the questions honestly despite the short, pointed answers he gave. The circus he ran with the media in the room later on in the evening should give a lot of reporters some thought as to whether or not Brad Marchand is a good interview candidate. If he continues to act like he did tonight in the locker room, it might be time to give Marchand a lot of time away from microphones and cameras.

Tonight's interactions between reporters and one player was just a bad look from start to finish.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Shattered

Great lines in the NHL come in threesomes. Some of the more memorable lines get cool nicknames like The Legion Of Doom (Lindros-Leclair-Renberg), the Crazy 8s line (Lindros-Recchi-Fedyk), the French Connection (Perreault, Martin, Robert), and the Hot Line (Hull-Hedberg-Nilsson). One of the lesser-known nicknamed lines was the Sky line in Pittsburgh consisting of Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Kevin Stevens that referenced the height of the three players as none were shorter than 6'3" tall. It's no secret that the Sky line was a juggernaut on the ice with their scoring prowess, and Kevin Stevens was a major part of that scoring line.

It would be this play during the 1993 Stanley Cup Playoffs that saw Kevin Stevens' career take a turn for the worse.
The injury he suffered in that game saw him knocked unconscious when his head made contact with Rich Pilon's visor, and he was unable to defend himself as he fell, landing on his face and shattering most of the bones in his face. Stevens required required extensive reconstructive surgery that saw the doctors reassemble his face with the use of metal plates, and somehow Stevens would return the following season.

It was off the ice, though, where Stevens made most of his news following a 1995 trade from the Penguins to the Bruins that saw him bounce from Boston to Los Angeles to the New York Rangers where things hit rock-bottom in his playing career. On January 24, 2000, Stevens was arrested for soliciting a prostitute and possessing drug paraphernalia which would turn out to be crack cocaine.

Despite entering the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program in 2000 for rehabilitation, his problems with the law only took a turn for the worse when, in May 2016, Stevens was charged with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, later confessing that he was addicted to pain-killers since 1993 following the horrific on-ice injury seen above against the New York Islanders in the playoffs.

For those that haven't seen it, Rogers Sportsnet produced a 22-minute documentary about Kevin Stevens, his recovery from his addiction, and his court-ordered community service that aired on January 13, 2018. Here is Shattered in its entirety. A quick warning: due to some of the content in this video, viewer discretion is advised.

It's hard to watch this as a Penguins fan who grew up idolizing #25 as one of the guys who could do no wrong. If there is good in this story, it's that Kevin Stevens has his life back on-track after being down in the dark for so long. Redemption isn't given to anyone - Kevin Stevens is proof of this. It's earned, and it's taken the faith and belief in Kevin from his friends and family combined with his own commitment to those friends and his family that has helped him get out of that dark to get him back on a good path. In particular, Mario Lemieux's efforts to help his friend and former teammate is quite remarkable, but it still requires Kevin to do his part. And he is.

Kevin Stevens is no hero. He'll admit this. But after going through hell and coming back, he has my respect for finding the right path for his life. Stay strong, Kevin.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 4 May 2019

The Sound Of Money

As Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the NHL, sat in front of the parliamentary panel at the meeting on Sports-Related Concussions in Canada held by the Standing Committee on Health and told the entire panel that, despite overwhelming evidence contrary to his statement, he wasn't aware of any "direct link between multiple hockey concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)," an oft-heard term that refers to brain injuries from repeated blows to the head. It was hard for me to watch his testimony without my jaw hanging open at his willful ignorance of all science and findings regarding CTE, but Bettman pushed forth with the same statements he's been uttering since CTE was found in a number of athletes in violent sports including his own NHL.

Ladies and gentlemen, Gary Bettman's voice is the sound of money.

If he were to admit that there may be a link between fights in hockey and checks to the head in hockey with CTE, he would open up the NHL to a ton of liability regarding the sport's violent nature that Bettman claims players and fans feel is an "exciting, appealing, entertaining" part of the game. While it would seem that he would be right based on the reactions from fans and players when a fight breaks out or a big hit is thrown - something that makes every highlight package on every sports highlight show - this committee meeting was about sports-related concussions and the efforts that sports are making to reduce the number and frequency of concussions suffered by athletes in those sports.

How did Gary Bettman respond when asked how his sport can reduce head contact? "Right now," he stated matter-of-factly, "I don't believe there's much we can do."

Cue a long sigh and shaking of my head at that response.

That question provided Gary Bettman with an out that would subject the NHL to no further risk of liability while allowing him the convenience of appearing to consider safety improvements had he simply responded, "The NHL is open to listening to its partners, players, and fans about improvements in our game."

Instead, we get the same rhetoric and a flat refusal to acknowledge any wiggle room on head contact by the NHL Commissioner. This is after we already know that Jeff Parker, Reggie Fleming, Zarley Zalapski, Rick Martin, Wade Belak, Bob Probert, Derek Boogaard, Larry Zeidel, and Steve Montador suffered from CTE. This is after the NHL is being sued by Todd Ewen's family after Boston University discovered CTE in his brain following a second examination at the urging of Todd's wife, Kelli, after a Toronto examination found no CTE two years prior. If Bettman's denials of science and findings don't scare players and players' families into action when looking at the names of fallen players above, I don't know what will.

Chris Nowinski, a Harvard-educated, former WWE wrestler-turned-Ph.D. who co-founded the non-profit Concussion Legacy Foundation, has received commitments from living players such as Hayley Wickenheiser and Ben Lovejoy to have their brains donated when they pass for further investigation into CTE. For Nowinski, he actually hopes he won't receive those brains.

"It's not necessarily that I was expecting someone like Ben Lovejoy's brain to show up anytime soon," Dr. Nowinski told Sports Illustrated's Alex Prewitt on May 7, 2018. "It's more to raise awareness that there is this brain bank and we're seeking players. We're in a race against time. I don't ever want Ben Lovejoy's brain to come here. I want the program to have been shut down because we cured CTE."

As much as it seems like Dr. Nowinski is optimistic in his work to find a cure for CTE, it seems he'll have repeated business from the NHL as long as Gary Bettman continues to deny links despite there being obvious evidence of his sport causing and contributing to CTE cases. And hearing his statements of denial on video is simply baffling.
Again, he was given an out when asked how his sport can reduce heas contact, but Gary Bettman continues to double-down on his past statements of "there has not been that conclusive link," and, quite frankly, it's getting tiresome when more and more hockey players are showing the effects of CTE through repeated instances of head trauma.

If you want to know what sound money makes, ask Gary Bettman to speak. Every time he does, he's protecting the vast wealth of the NHL by denying liability while profiting off the lives of men who put their bodies in harm's way to make him and the owners of the NHL richer. That simplified view of the game may sound criminal when considering the lives lost to CTE after a career in hockey, but that's the sound of money.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 3 May 2019

Get What's Yours

This sign was on display at the Ford plant in Dagenham, England in 1968 when the women working there walked off the job after they discovered their pay was significantly less for the same work than the men who worked at the Ford factory. With Ford boasting 54,813 men compared to only 187 women at the factory at that time, Ford classified the women as "unskilled workers" despite the fact they were doing similar trades work as the men. The 187 women were sewing machinists, responsible for the car seats in the majority of Ford cars built in the area, and their walk-out cost Ford nearly $8 million. It also prompted the walk-out of 195 women at another Ford factory in England, all but halting Ford vehicle production in England.

There's a striking similarity in what happened in women's hockey this week as the CWHL players along with the majority of NWHL players banded together to demand better pay, better benefits, and significant improvements in funding and resources for their sport by announcing that none of the more-than-200 players will participate in professional hockey this season until their demands are met. This is a bold and courageous decision, but it's one that needed to happen if women's hockey was ever to become more than a niche sport in North America. I'll say it right now: I fully and completely stand with the women in this fight 100%.

The one current women's professional league who is still operating - the NWHL - has already said that they'll forge ahead this season without the women who choose to sit out in what seems like a monumentally stupid decision, so we'll see how long that lasts without the most skilled players on the planet suiting up for that league. If history has taught us anything, refer to the lede paragraph where Ford lost $8 million once their skilled female workforce walked off the job. It's entirely likely the losses the NWHL may suffer this season could force that league into folding like the CWHL did. Only time holds that answer at this point.

Having spent some time on social media today, there are a lot of people - virtually all men, admittedly - who seem to believe that this demand by the women will never work due to the economics of the current state of women's hockey. Yes, currently, that's entirely true. But let's look at this objectively so that we compare apples to apples. For starters, there has never been a national television contract for any version of women's hockey where the league has been paid by a network to air their games.

If we jump back in time, there were a total of zero NHL games shown on American network television between May 24, 1980 and January 21, 1990. ESPN, USA Network, and SportsChannel America aired games, but these cable channels weren't available in all markets nor on all cable subscriptions. Those three cable networks paid pennies on the dollar for NHL rights through the decade, and the result was that the NHL lagged behind the other three sports in growth, coverage, and presence in the largest television market on the planet.

As a result, the highest paid player in 1989-90 was Mario Lemieux who pulled down a $2 million salary. Compare that to Jaromir Jagr's $17.4 million salary in 1999-2000, and you can see how television revenue greatly influences how owners spend money. When one considers that since 1996, the lowest of the highest-paid players annually earned $8,360,000 - Jagr in 2005 and 2006 after the introduction of the salary cap - it becomes pretty clear that having additional revenue to spend filters down to the players as general managers spend to win. If NHL teams were forced solely to rely on ticket sales, merchandise sales, and local advertising and sponsor monies, it's very likely salaries wouldn't have escalated as quickly as they have over the last twenty years in the NHL.

The other thing that women's hockey has never had to the degree that men's hockey has seen are the long-standing sponsorship revenues. Women's hockey certainly has had long-standing partnerships with a number of companies, but there haven't been those regular multi-year, multi-million dollar revenue-driving relationships that men's hockey has fostered thanks to its growing popularity. According to reports, the NHL generated $559.5 million in 2017-18 from league and team sponsorship revenue worldwide, up from 2011's numbers of $356 million.

Those numbers alone would be more than enough to fund a women's league at this point, and it's something that the women's game has never experienced when it comes to sponsorship revenue. Some of that may have to do with the leagues mostly being regional. The infancy of the leagues may also be a factor. But tying into the fact that they don't have a national media presence likely hurts their abilities to garner big-money sponsorship deals.

For all the detractors out there who are ripping on the economics of the women's game, for those ripping on the NHL for what will ultimately be their involvement in running a women's league, or for those doing both, what the women are doing in this boycott is fighting not for today or their careers currently, but the future careers of your daughters and nieces. They're ensuring that the next generation doesn't have the carpet pulled out from underneath them like the CWHL players had done to them. They're taking a stand against salary reductions and a lack of transparency shown by the NWHL. They're boycotting for the better of their game today, tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future.

The Ford strike, mentioned at the start of the this piece, lasted all of 22 days - June 7 until June 29, 1968. Two years later, England passed the Equal Pay Act which made it "illegal to have different pay scales for men and women." The hockey boycott by these professional women isn't a hockey issue or a gender issue or a money issue. It's a societal issue, and this boycott has forced the conversation about women's hockey players making livable wages into the spotlight. While no one is suggesting that the women will see NHL salaries at this point, that's also not their demand. They simply want to be able to live on a salary paid for by hockey without having to pick up second jobs or working odd jobs to make ends meet so they can train and work like the highly-skilled professional women that they are.

I stand with the women in this battle. Like the women in Dagenham, they are extremely skilled in their positions, and they deserve to be paid for that skill. And even though this boycott will last more than 22 days, the end result should see these women paid a livable wage for their amazing talents and skills.

It's 2019, folks. Any other thoughts on this matter will automatically be categorized as rubbish because the women in 1968 at the Dagenham, England got what they deserved. Women's hockey players are doing the same.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 2 May 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 345

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight to clean up Survivor: NHL Playoffs island as we send eight entrants back to the mainland! Before they go, however, they'll have one last opportunity to perform a Frank Costanza-like Festivus moment where they talk about their eliminated teams and all the ways they disappointed each respective entrant in their playoff efforts. This is always a fun show, and Beans and I look forward to the angry, hilarious, disappointing, and devastating comments our contestants toss towards their now-eliminated playoff teams. It should be fun tonight, so settle in and get ready for some Survivor-style exit interviews!

Before we get Jeff Probst to snuff out the fire on each contestant's torch and utter his famous line, we'll give them 2-3 minutes of time to rant about how their teams failed in the biggest of ways, thereby letting each contestant down in their own spectacular way. We'll do this in the order of elimination as well to keep things straight. That order will be Elliott (TBL), Jason (PIT), Tyler (CGY), Tom (WPG), Ethan (NAS), Barry (TML), Andy (VGK), and Tracy (WAS). Beans and I will certainly talk about other stuff while we make calls and bring people on the air, but tonight is all about Round One exit interviews! Join us tonight at 5:30pm as we wrap up Round One of the Survivor: NHL Playoffs contest!

Speaking of joining us, the new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

Having lost faith in Facebook, I spend far less time on that site for good reasons. In saying that, you can still email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! We're here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz and Beans chat with Elliott, Jason, Tyler, Tom, Ethan, Barry, Andy, and Tracy about how their teams failed them in their quest for glory only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: May 2, 2019: Episode 345

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!