Friday, 19 July 2019

Still Pitching

I have to give the ownership group of the Calgary Flames a little credit: they're persistent. If you haven't been following the saga happening in the Alberta city, the Flames have been trying to negotiate, demand, blackmail, and extort the city of Calgary into building them a new arena. Opened in 1983, the Scotiabank Saddledome is one of the oldest buildings in the NHL currently, but has been retrofitted and updated a number of times since it opened 36 years ago. Today, however, it was announced that the Flames will sit down with Calgary city council once again as a tentative deal has been reportedly reached between the two sides.

Look, I'm going to preface this by linking back to articles written in 2015 about the use of public funds to build new arenas and stadiums and in 2017 about the Flames' current ownership situation and why they shouldn't get a sweetheart deal to exist. Both articles are still applicable today when it comes to building this proposed new arena, but it seems that deals were sweetened and palms were greased just enough for both sides to come to this agreement.

Where we should toss a few grains of salt onto that above paragraph, however, is that it seems someone is finally listening to the arguments being made about the use of public funds to fund the sport paid for by billionaires.

"I look forward to continuing conversations," Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi told reporters today. "I know a lot of folks have been working very hard to see if there is something there that meets the criteria that we've talked about — the most important criteria, of course, being public money must have public benefit. And I really look forward to seeing where people are at."

Yes, you read Mayor Nenshi's words as he stated them - "the most important criteria, of course, being public money must have public benefit." This is a massive shift in the discourse for any new stadium or arena negotiation, and it's the right call by the Calgary Mayor. Perhaps this is the first step in a major shift towards having billionaires stop asking for tax breaks and handouts when cities, states, and provinces cannot afford to be sacrificing millions of dollars that could be used elsewhere to help social needs? Wouldn't that be something?

According to the report, this "new arena is projected to cost between $550 million and $600 million, according to estimates provided by CMLC. The projections are based on an 18,000-seat arena with retail space, a community rink and 40,000 square feet of underground parking," making this new entertainment district in Victoria Park a center that will bustle with people and events. While I'm not against the idea of including retail space or underground parking, I do fear that there may be congestion in the area on game nights or event nights depending on how the city of Calgary and the arena project team work out the infrastructure for moving people out of the underground parking quickly.

If there is one thing that won't please a segment of the population, the animal rights activists will likely be disappointed in that this arena deal will likely ensure the long-term viability of the Calgary Stampede considering the land in question is owned by by the Stampede. They're not going to shut down the Stampede when it seems to be on-tap to benefit from the sale of this land, but I'd like to see these activists continue to demand better treatment and care of the animals involved in the Stampede's events.

Another segment of the population that likely won't be very excited about this deal depending on the details? The people of Calgary. At the meeting on Monday, one of the topics that is scheduled for discussion is a vote on a $60-million cut to municipal budgets. If there's a pile of public money involved in this arena deal, you can bet that the people of Calgary will be heated.

"Heads are going to explode over this because you had the property tax revolt a month ago and now you're dealing with service cuts," said Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt told Meghan Potkins of the Calgary Herald. "I'll be interested to see the breakdown around support for this because there are all sorts of fiscal conservatives on council who want lower property taxes and they believe that services should be cut — but also want money thrown into an arena."

This is precisely why the use of public funds to build an arena shouldn't even be on the table nor should there be any sort of tax break on property taxes. The building of this arena would generate millions of dollars in property taxes which could go towards reducing property taxes for everyone else, but those monies could also be a huge boon for the services that are on the table to be cut. Either way, the city of Calgary can't play both sides of the fence here in reducing services while offering monies or tax breaks that will take money out of their coffers. If there was a revolt before this deal was reached, there could be chaos if a large swath of money goes into funding this new arena-and-shopping complex.

"It would be very cowardly for us not to engage Calgarians in a meaningful way when we're talking about potentially hundreds and millions of dollars of public money going to one private business," Councillor Evan Woolley said to Potkins. "We have seen significant challenges in terms of tax increases on all of our small business community and so how we rationalize giving hundreds of millions of dollars to one business while letting every small business in the city suffer with the tax burden that we've put on them is unacceptable."

While an agreement has been reached tentatively, it sounds as though citizens of Calgary should - and if Councillor Woolley has any sway, will - get a bigger say in how their tax dollars are being spent if they're seeing services cut while funding a billionaire's wants. Politically, this could end some people's careers if they vote with their civic pride versus the wants and needs of their constituents, and the voters in Calgary should remember this when the next mayoral and city council elections take place. At the end of the day, not everyone is a Flames fan or a hockey fan, and their services will cut just like everyone else's if these cuts happen. That's a fine line for politicians to walk when promising millions of tax dollars to a billionaire.

At the end of the day, this deal is only tentative. While it's promising to see the city and the Flames come to an agreement after months and years of battles and negotiations, it may still be further away than it appears if the people of Calgary see $60 million of services cut while millions of dollars are spent on new retail and hockey complexes.

Selling this idea to the citizens of Calgary might be the hardest sell of all.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 18 July 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 356

It's been a pretty busy month, hasn't it? And we're just past the halfway point! If you've missed some news stories, don't fret as The Hockey Show, Canada' only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with all of the news, info, stories, and highlights you may have missed! Can we squeeze everything into one hour? Beans and I will certainly try, and we may even bring a guest along for the ride tonight depending on scheduling! What I do know is that we have a lot to go over, so let's not waste any time!

Tonight, Teebz and Beans go over everything that's happened since the NHL Entry Draft back in June as we take a one-week break from the Summer of Interviews. That means we'll talk about the draft and who did what, all the free agent signings, all the trades, and any other player and personnel moves from across the NHL and around the world. We'll also look at some key stories that have news you need to know, some changes to the sport we follow so closely, and some weird and wacky stories that may have climbed into the news. We also have some previews of upcoming shows, and we'll talk about some things The Hockey Show will be involved in as the dog days of summer give way to the autumn season shortly! We're not worrying about that stuff just yet, though, so join us tonight at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 UMFM to hear all the news!

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 go over all the hockey stories that made the news, should have generated more news, were missed by the news, 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: July 18, 2019: Episode 356

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Wednesday Quick Hits

There was a lot of little newsworthy notes put out today by various media outlets, so it's time to do a little compiling of all these stories. It's not just going to be NHL coverage today as there are stories from the WHL, some U SPORTS news, and more. On days where there is a lot of small news stories being generated, I usually pick one and expand on it if you've been following this blog for any length of time. Normally, there's something I feel needs more in-depth examination, but today's multiple quick hits really are just information hits that require neither explanation nor examination. With that being said, let's get into it.

  • JETS JERSEY NUMBERS: Newly-signed free agent defenceman Anthony Bitetto will wear #2.
  • JETS JERSEY NUMBERS: Newly-signed free agent forward Mark Letestu will wear #22.
  • JETS JERSEY NUMBERS: I've never seen anyone with one of his jerseys, but defenceman Dmitry Kulikov will swap his #5 for #7 this season.
  • JETS JERSEY NUMBERS: Sami Niku, who wore #83 with the Jets, opts to go with #8 this season with the big club just as he wore with the Manitoba Moose last season. Of course, Jacob Trouba of the NY Rangers wore #8 last season with the Jets.
  • PAPERLESS: The University of Alberta announces today that all Golden Bears and Pandas game tickets will be completely digital through an agreement with Ticketmaster. The agreement will also provide key metrics for the institution when it comes to ticket sales. This partnership is the first of its kind for a Canadian university.
  • EMOJI ME: As you can see to the right, there was some quiet celebration at Bisons Sports at the University of Manitoba as their social media team discovered that a Bison emoji is included in the new emoji proposals for Unicode 13.0. If you're really interested, you're welcome to read the entire proposal for the Bison's inclusion in the emojis.
  • SWISS TIME: Former Oiler, Canuck, and Bruin Ryan Spooner has decided to head over to the Swiss League to continue his career as he signed with HC Lugano. Spooner appears to be the replacement for Lugano regarding the recently-departed Maxim Lapierre from the club.
  • OFF TO CHINA: David Bondra, son of former Capitals great Peter Bondra, agreed to a tryout contract with the KHL's Kunlun Red Star. The junior Bondra played with Poprad in the Slovak Extraliga last season after a rather non-descript four years with Michigan State in the NCAA.
  • LANDING IN PHILLY: The Philadelphia Flyers announced that former NHL player Chris Stewart, who played with the EIHL's Nottingham Panthers, will come to camp on a tryout agreement as well. Stewart last played in the NHL in 2017-18 with both Minnesota and Calgary, amassing ten goals and six assists in 54 games. He has 321 points in 652 career NHL games.
  • INTO THE NEST: The AHL's Bakersfield Condors announced a one-year contract today for former Winnipeg Jet Anthony Peluso. Peluso, signed by the Flames last season, appeared in just four games with the NHL club and spent 35 games with the Stockton Heat where he scored three goals and added five helpers. The 30 year-old has played in just six NHL games since 2015-16, and it appears he'll be a full-time Condor this season after putting his signature on this contract.
  • NEW SCREENS: The Brandon Wheat Kings announced that the Keystone Center will be getting a brand-new video scoreboard in time for next season. Their current scoreboard was installed in 2010 prior to the Memorial Cup, but this new one will have 9'x16.5' video boards on all four sides along with a free floating LED video ring. The scoreboard will be able to be retracted into the rafters easier to allow for additional shows to call the Keystone Center home this year and in future years. Looks like both Manitoba-based WHL teams will have new scoreboards above their rinks!
  • MIC'D UP: KHL referees will follow the same protocol as NHL referees next season as they'll be required to announce their decisions via microphone over the public address system. No word yet on which Russian official will play the role of Wes McCauley in the KHL.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA BAN: KHL officials will also be banned from using social media next season. While there weren't any incidents this season that I can recall, I suspect this may have to do with officials moving into a higher-profile role within the game next season.
There are all the quick hits from the last couple of days that really are just small snippets of information as opposed to bigger stories.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

If The Rumours Are True...

There's still a full season to be played before the Seattle NHL franchise gets to make some real noise, but there was a groundswell of rumours today that the newest NHL team will name its first general manager as former Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis. Francis is an interesting choice if the rumours are true due to the fact that he doesn't have the resumé or the experience of George McPhee when he was named as the new GM of the Vegas Golden Knights, but Francis has contacts in the NHL world still and he was working with Hockey Canada for the senior men's teams. Clearly, he's still plugged into the game on the managerial front, so this could be a very savvy selection if and when the announcement is finally made later this week.

After Seattle landed Alexandra Mandrycky as director of hockey administration at the NHL Draft in June, it was expected that Tod Leiweke and Jerry Bruckheimer would spend the next couple of months going over who they wanted for the general manager position with input from Mandrycky. Clearly, they didn't need a couple of months after Elliotte Friedman broke the news today via Twitter.

There will be detractors who may call into question the lack of success that Francis had as the man in charge in Carolina. There's no denying that the Hurricanes weren't as successful as one may have hoped when he was unceremoniously dismissed by Tom Dundon, but Francis was quietly putting the pieces in place for the Hurricanes to turn the corner. Rome wasn't built overnight and the Hurricanes didn't win the Stanley Cup this past season, but Francis did a good job in moving out aging stars and expensive contracts for younger, emerging players while opening cap room. That shouldn't be overlooked.

He also helped to put the structure in place for the Charlotte Checkers to succeed as many of the picks made by Francis over his four years at the helm in Carolina played integral roles in helping that franchise win the Calder Cup. While Sebastien Aho didn't need the AHL seasoning, players like Haydn Fleury, Jake Bean, and Alex Nedeljkovic were instrumental pieces of that Calder Cup championship, and the Hurricanes are slowly working pieces like Warren Foegele and Martin Necas into the everyday lineup.

Not everything that Francis did was rainbows and butterflies. There was the obvious miss with Scott Darling's contract, gambling on the solid backup campaign he put up in Chicago to continue in Carolina with an increased workload. That didn't happen, and the Hurricanes suffered with Cam Ward playing an equal number of games as Darling with more success. He allowed Eric Staal to walk as a free agent when it was pretty clear that Staal still had gas in the tank, but the goaltending conundrum in not being able to move Cam Ward while not being able to reel in a solid free agent goalie dogged Francis' tenure in Carolina.

The reason that Francis may thrive in Seattle is that he'll have the reins taken off when it comes to building a team and spending money. Francis, as stated above, has contacts throughout the hockey world thanks to his work in the NHL and with Hockey Canada, and it's very likely that he'll use the next year studying rosters from across the globe in finding elite talent. While the sentiment may be that Seattle won't have the same calibre of players available from which Vegas chose, there will likely be talent that Francis can select for a competitive team out of the gate.

Make no mistake that this hiring is a good one in this writer's opinion. Francis knows the game well, has learned from some wise men, and is continuing to hone his craft. He's worked for a team that operated on a shoestring budget, and now the purse strings are open and the money can be spent. While I don't believe that Francis will sacrifice smart spending in exchange for free-wheeling spending, Francis listens to his scouts when it comes to the drafts and does his homework when it comes to finding NHL-ready players.

This is a sound hiring for the team located on Puget Sound.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 15 July 2019

T-Birds Tangle With Badgers

The wildlife on Vancouver Island is pretty diverse with a number of notable animals calling the west coast home. Among those are the majestic bald eagle, the industrious beaver, raccoons, black bears, black-tailed deer, sea lions, otters, and grey wolves. One animal that isn't part of that ecosystem? The badger, but the city of Vancouver and the campus of UBC better be ready because there will be an influx of Badgers heading to that area on August 30th and September 1st this year.

For the first time in six years, the UBC Thunderbirds men's hockey team will face an NCAA opponent in the preseason, and they've opted to tangle with one of the mightiest foes the NCAA has to offer in the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers are no strangers to success as they are six-time NCAA National Champions and have made 12 Frozen Four appearances. What UBC head coach Sven Butenschon is hoping to do is foster that winning success in Vancouver after recruiting eight new players by playing one of the best collegiate teams on the continent.

"It will be very interesting to see how the new guys adapt," Butenschon told UBC's Jeff Sargeant. "It'll be important to get a lot done in that first week of training camp leading up to playing the Badgers."

Wisconsin, who play in the uber-competitive Big10 conference, went 9-10-7 in conference play last season and 14-18-5 overall. They were good at home, going 9-7-1, but atrocious on the road where they amassed a 5-11-3 record. This team can't be taken lightly, however, as they still feature some incredibly-talented players and have a sharp mind behind the bench in former NHL great Tony Granato. They scored the third-most goals in Big10 overall play with 113, so they will dent twine when given the chance. This is going to be a great test for the UBC Thunderbirds as much as it will be for the Wisconsin Badgers.

"It's a huge honour for us, we've been working on this for a long time now," Butenschon said to Sargeant. "To get an NCAA powerhouse like Wisconsin is going to be super fun and the fact they have (Alex) Turcotte and (Cole) Caufield, two high picks from this year's NHL draft, there will be a lot of fans in Vancouver that can get to see what some of the future holds."

Outside of Turcotte and Caufield, there will be some additional players that UBC fans may want to see. Ben Helgeson is headed to Wisconsin after a solid BCHL campaign with the Vernon Vipers where he had four goals and 13 helpers in 51 games. Dylan Holloway, who starred with the WHL's Everett Silvertips, has committed to the Badgers following a trade to the Winnipeg Ice. Jesper Peltonen, the son of former NHLer Ville Peltonen, and K'Andre Miller, the 22nd-overall pick by the New York Rangers in 2018, should hopefully also be in the lineup on at least one of the two nights Wisconsin plays UBC.

UBC, who finished in fourth-place last season with a 14-14 record, will be looking to continue to improve after finishing the season strong. With eight new recruits, there is optimism in Vancouver over how far this Thunderbirds team can go with some of the changes in Alberta and Saskatchewan, but they'll get their first good test against a Wisconsin team that is also looking to grow together.

"UBC is a great program, and going to a hockey mecca, where some of our guys were just picked in the NHL draft, is going to be a great experience to kick off the year," Tony Granato stated. "We're young, so we are always looking for team bonding experience to get to know each other and to have some fun."

For those looking to catch the Badgers in Vancouver, Game One of the two-game series will be played on Friday, August 30th at Father Bauer Arena with a 7:00pm PT puck drop. The rematch goes at 4:00pm PT on Sunday, September 1st at Father Bauer. Tickets will be available at the door only and admission will be by donation with a suggested price of $5 each. It's literally the best hockey you'll see in August, so get off your wallets, Vancouverites, and go see the Wisconsin Badgers battle your hometown UBC Thunderbirds!

From the words of both coaches, it sounds like this preseason two-game series will be a good experience for both squads as they look to kick off the 2019-20 season with some fun, some strong play, and some good team bonding. Maybe the Badgers will make these trips out to Canada West more often? It would be nice to see!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Phil The Ticketing Manager?

There is little doubt that Phil Kessel is a unique individual. He's an incredible scorer and competes hard every night he's on the ice in the NHL. He takes potshots at loud-mouthed pundits who have tried to disgrace his image. He tossed his name into the Presidential election ring in 2016 as a bit of a joke - as seen to the left - in order to encourage people to vote. Phil has worn a number of hats in his career and a few jerseys, but his newest role in Glendale may be one he didn't even know he was doing.

Phil the Thrill, as he's jokingly called, has been responsible for an immense increase in ticket sales for the Arizona Coyotes since the Coyotes acquired him from the Pittsburgh Penguins a couple of weeks ago. According to The Republic newspaper in Arizona, "Season-ticket sales are up 600% compared to the same week last summer, including a 550% increase in all ticket sales. The Coyotes have also seen an increase in their website traffic mobile app visits and social media engagement over that time."

It should also be noted that the Coyotes saw "94% renewal in season tickets this summer, the club's highest such mark since moving to Glendale in 2003-04," and that the team has seen massive success with its "Weekender" season ticket package. Richard Morin writes,
The Coyotes feel they've reached a compromise with their "Weekender" season-ticket package that grants the purchaser access to each of the team's Friday, Saturday and Sunday home games.

Those packages, which launched prior to last season, have seen a 184% increase in year-over-year growth with still more than two months left in the offseason. It has provided some relief for those exhaustive rush-hour drives to Glendale on weekdays.
Those are encouraging numbers if you're the NHL and the owners of the Coyotes. For years, the Arizona franchise was seen as a place to burn money, and GM John Chayka has been the butt of many jokes about acquiring players who will never play again and going through an annual rebuild. Because there has been this sense that the Coyotes are a hole in the ground into which owners keep throwing money with no return, very few people have been keeping an eye on the progress the Coyotes have been making.

"It's certainly satisfying and exciting to see us doing something as a franchise that we feel makes us a much more competitive team and puts us in a better position to win," Coyotes President and CEO Ahron Cohen told Morin. "The fact that other people in this market are seeing that, fans are seeing that, and they're jumping on board. It's good, positive momentum for this organization."

Let's not forget that the Coyotes flirted with a wild card spot last season before finally succumbing to the rash of injuries they experienced. Goaltender Antti Raanta and center Nick Schmaltz missed considerable time last season while a number of veteran players including Derek Stepan, Jason Chychrun, Jason Demers, and Christian Dvorak all missed chunks of time with injuries as well. This led to their anaemic offence late in the season when they went 3-4-3 in a key ten-game stretch in March, scoring two goals or less in eight of those ten games.

Chayka has already been busy this summer in trying to fix the scoring issues by acquiring Kessel, signing Nick Schmaltz to a long-term deal, bringing in Beau Bennett, and inking first-round pick Victor Soderstrom. Backstopped by a tandem of Rantaa and Darcy Kuemper, who had an outstanding season, and bolstered by the returning Chychrun and Nathan Oesterle on the blue line, and the Coyotes aren't the pushover they once were. With a pile of cap room, they can still make additions if necessary, so Chayka may not be done just yet.

"Some of the challenges that we've experienced in terms of location have been well-documented," Cohen told Morin. "We could be playing in Yuma or in mid-town Manhattan, but if we're not doing things to put a successful and competitive team on the ice, then we're going to have limitations on how successful we can be."

The fact that the Coyotes are showing that they're trying to turn a corner and compete for a playoff spot has seen the optimism in Arizona rise. Getting a marquee scorer like Phil Kessel only added to that excitement, and that's helped drive the massive increase in ticket sales this summer. This is a good time for the Coyotes to build their brand with the Phoenix Suns being a non-factor in the NBA and the Arizona Cardinals being their annual disappointment, so adding key offensive players combined with some solid play under head coach Rick Tocchet's watch should push the Coyotes' popularity in and around the Phoenix area to new heights.

If Phil and his new teammates can thrill the fans on the ice, there's a good chance we may hear the goal-scoring howls the Coyotes use in the April and May this season. Wouldn't that be something?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 13 July 2019

A Panda Is Off To Mexico

The title of this post is a little misleading because she's not actually a Panda just yet, but she is a recruit of the University of Alberta and she will be going to Mexico after making the cut at Baseball Canada's selection camp over the last few days! Madison Willan, who was the captain of the St. Albert Slash this past season, will be part of Team Canada at the COPABE Women's Baseball World Cup Qualifier in Aguascalientes, Mexico from August 18-25! It's a huge honour for Willan who was part of the Team Canada squad at the 2018 Women’s Baseball World Cup in Viera, Florida where the team won a bronze medal, and Madison will get a chance to add more hardware to her mantle with this new opportunity!

As stated above, Willan was the captain of the St. Albert Slash this past season where she scored 24 goals and added 27 assists in 30 games. She led her team to a three-peat of the Esso Cup this season, and scored the Cup-clinching goal at 2:46 of overtime to down the Saskatoon Stars for the championship. She's a force to be reckoned with on the ice, and clearly she's got all the tools on the diamond as well!

She's not only making history on the ice, but she actually made a little Baseball Canada history in 2017 as well! Willan became the first player in Women's National Team program history to hit a home run out of the park when she crushed a 3-run shot at the Washington Nationals Youth Academy! Her home run put the "Canada Leaf" team ahead of the "US Stripes" team by a 5-2 score after she was called upon to pinch hit! Canada would hold on for the victory by a 5-4 score in that game as her history-making bomb came in a victory! I'm not sure about those of you reading this, but she sounds like she'd be a shoo-in for any future Baseball Canada teams with that kind of resumé!

If you know anything about me, I usually try to avoid giving kudos to anything related to the Pandas because they are they arch-rivals of the Manitoba Bisons. It's not that I don't like them; in fact, it's quite the opposite. You have to respect how good they are because all they do is win. And win. And win some more. And to see them get a player like Madison Willan next season only means that winning tradition will likely continue for the foreseeable future. Credit to Howie Draper and his staff for getting Madison to commit to their incredible program.

Because it isn't hockey season just yet, you can be sure I'll be cheering for Madison Willan and her teammates as they suit up for Canada at the COPABE Women's Baseball World Cup Qualifier in Aguascalientes, Mexico from August 18-25. Canada comes in as the second-ranked team according to the most recent WBSC Women's Baseball world rankings, and there's hope they can capture another medal at this tournament.

Go Canada Go, and congratulations to Madison Willan on being named to Team Canada!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 12 July 2019

A Great Addition

We're breaking out of the hockey chatter today because I had a problem on my kitchen counter this week that I needed to solve. I like a good sandwich as much as the next person, but I find that bread seems to go stale - or worse - on my counter because . I just can't eat a loaf fast enough. Yes, I'm going to start breaking loaves of bread bought from the grocery store into smaller amounts so I don't have to worry about this, but I still had a half of a loaf to deal with tonight. What can one do with this semi-stale, starting-to-harden load of rye bread besides feed it to the birds? Well, if you're like me, you enjoy a few croutons on your salad, and that's the future for this bread!

Honestly, these croutons are amazingly light and tasty, and they aren't like the store-bought croutons that are hard and crunchy. These still have a nice crunch to them, but they melt as you bite into them. The soft crunch turns into rich flavour rather than just a dry bite similar to melba toast. And that's why aging bread on my counter ends up in the oven as croutons - they're better than anything one can buy!

Ingredients

Stale or day-old bread
Olive oil*
Freshly-ground pepper
Salt
Herbs of your choice

Directions

As stated above, this one is easy. Preheat your oven to 400F. Cut the bread into cubes. Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and add pepper and salt to taste. Mix the cubes so that the oil, salt, and pepper coat the cubes. Add your herbs if desired for taste. Mix well, and spread onto a lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and store in an airtight container for up to a couple of weeks.

If you note the asterisk on the olive oil, I use chili oil (red pepper flakes + whole jalapenos in a bottle of olive oil) on my croutons to add a little spice whereby I no longer have to add the herbs or red pepper flakes for flavouring. Yes, it's divine! I've also used rosemary and herb submarine sandwich bread as well, and that saves on the herb usage in that crouton creation as the olive oil really highlights those herbs!

My advice is find the bread you like for croutons, and then work on the flavouring. Lighter breads - french breads, for example - give more light and airy croutons where heavier breads, such as the sub sandwich breads, give a heavier crouton that really absorbs the oils and flavours. If you like your croutons to deliver that punch of flavour, use a heavier bread.

Don't pay for croutons that are hard and extremely stale at the grocery store. Invest that money in some decent bread and make your own. I guarantee you'll like them entirely more than the store-bought variety. You can flavour them as you like, you can make more than just a handful of croutons so the return on investment is high, and they just taste so much better.

Do yourself a favour - make croutons.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 11 July 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 355

It's another Thursday which means The Hockey Show is back on the airwaves of UMFM tonight! We rarely are able to feature gold medallists on our show simply due to the fact that they usually live elsewhere than our humble community. Tonight, though, Beans and I are lucky to welcome a recent gold medallist who has been breaking barriers and making waves both on and off the ice in the hockey world with her outstanding play at the prep ice hockey level, the national ball hockey level, and the international ball hockey level! Her ice hockey exploits won't go unmentioned tonight, though, as she's been pretty stellar on the ice and will continue to excel next year at a post-secondary institution! We're excited to welcome this guest to the show, so let's get to it!

Tonight, Beans and I welcome the woman seen in the photo standing on the right holding the ISBHF World Championship Trophy! We are humbled, privileged, honoured, and proud to welcome this proud Manitoban goaltender who backstopped Team Canada to the gold medal in Julianna Thomson! Julianna is an outstanding ice hockey goaltender who has played for the St. Mary's Academy prep team and Team Manitoba over the last few years, earning her a scholarship to the OUA's York University Lions next season and beyond! Off the ice, she's starred for Team Manitoba ball hockey for a number of years, and she was recruited to play with Team Canada as one of their two goalies this year at the ISBHF World Championship in Slovakia where she and her teammates won the gold medal! We'll talk to Julianna about her career, playing on ice versus playing on the floor, her trip to Slovakia, her participation in the Female World Sports School Challenge, and much more tonight on The Hockey Show! Join us at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 UMFM!

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 dive into Julianna Thomson's career through minor hockey, prep hockey, ball hockey, OUA hockey, international hockey, 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: July 11, 2019: Episode 355
RESOURCES: Manitoba Minor Ball Hockey Association

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Ferland Gets Paid

If there's one thing that NHL general managers love, it's a big middle-six winger who can score and bring a little grit to the roster. We've seen teams overpay for these types of players in the past, and we'll likely see teams overpay for these players in the future. With that being said, the Vancouver Canucks added another player of this type today after adding the likes of JT Miller in a trade earlier this off-season when they signed Micheal Ferland to a four-year deal worth $3.5 million per year. With Antoine Roussel on the roster, the Vancouver Canucks have invested a lot of money in "sandpaper"-type guys.

The 27 year-old Ferland recorded 17 goals and 40 points in 71 games for the Carolina Hurricanes this past season, and it was expected that he would move on from the Hurricanes once free agency started. A number of teams were reported to be interested in Ferland's services this summer after a pile of teams reportedly asked about him at the trade deadline as a rental, but the Vancouver Canucks came out on top with the four-year deal. GM Jim Benning still has some important pieces to sign, but Ferland makes the Canucks a little harder to play against for the foreseeable future.

Since 2015, Ferland has played in 71 or more games in each season. His durability isn't going to be questioned, so he'll be a valuable piece for the Canucks if his body can continue to withstand the physicality. His breakout season was in 2017-18 when he scored 21 goals and 20 assists with the Calgary Flames. His production saw the Carolina Hurricanes ask for him to be included in the Noah Hanifin deal that sent Ferland, Dougie Hamilton, and the rights to Adam Fox to Carolina in exchange for Hanifin and Elias Lindholm. While the Hurricanes opted to keep him for their playoff run, there was a very good chance he'd leave at the end of the season.

That's where the Canucks benefitted by having cap space to sign the power forward.

With Vancouver, there's a good chance Ferland plays on the second line alongside Bo Horvat. Playing on that second line and in a more offensive role, that career-high of 21 goals and 41 points are certainly within range for Ferland to pass if he concentrates on using his size and skill to go to the net for deflections and chip-ins. While his production fell off in the playoffs, he'll need to find some consistency if the Canucks are to return to the playoffs.

Sometimes, there are contracts signed in the off-season that makes one shake one's head with regard to length or annual value. Ferland's $3.5 million seems like a little much for a guy who has broken 20 goals only once, but the Flyers gave $7 million for seven seasons to a guy who has also only scored more than 20 goals once. It makes you scratch your head and wonder who got better value for their 20-goal man.

Micheal Ferland's contract may not be the biggest or richest, but he'll provide good production per dollar paid, and that's precisely the kinds of contracts that should be handed out in the salary cap age. GM Jim Benning did well on this one.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

What's Happening In Chicago?

I understand that the Blackhawks are in a bit of a rebuild phase. Apparently, GM Stan Bowman feels differently as he continues to add players with rather questionable contracts based on their point production while trading away players who were seemingly trending upwards. I'm not here to criticize Stan Bowman entirely because it's still July, but I do wonder how the trade today, sending blossoming Finnish defenceman Henri Jokiharju to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for winger Alex Nylander, makes the Blackhawks better. Bowman has never been afraid of taking on a player as a project, and Nylander comes to Chicago as a guy who never could find his scoring touch in Buffalo and Rochester. That would qualify as a project by most definitions, but one has to wonder why he'd trade a good, young defenceman who showed flashes of brilliance last season for a project.

There's some debate on whether Jokiharju would have been an everyday defender this season after Bowman went out and acquired Calvin de Haan from Carolina and Olli Maatta from Pittsburgh to bolster his defence behind Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. Connor Murphy, Erik Gustafsson, Slater Koekkoek, Carl Dahlstrom, and Jokiharju would have likely battled it out for the two spots on the final pairing, but I truly believe that Jokiharju was good enough to win one of those two spots.

Where Bowman may have been forced to make a move is that the Blackhawks currently have just ten forwards under NHL contracts along with Brendan Perlini as an unsigned restricted free agent. Clearly, they need a few forwards to fill out their roster, so there will be competition from players in camp to make the team this year. Alexandre Fortin seems the most likely to make it from their players in Rockford if we look solely at last season's performances, so Bowman went out and made a swap to bring in a guy who could get a big taste of NHL action this season and won't put the Blackhawks in salary cap hell.

As it stands, the Blackhawks have just north of $2 million to spend to round out their roster. With none of the eight defencemen listed on their roster as waiver-exempt, my guess would be that the Blackhawks wouldn't want to expose any of those players, making the push for a couple of Rockford IceHogs to make the team all that more important. Fortin, signed for $706,666, and Nylander, signed for $863,333, would total $1.57 million in salary added to the Blackhawks, keeping them from going over the cap's upper limit. It should also be noted that Fortin has no bonuses attached to his contract, so he won't cost the Blackhawks more based on performance while Nylander is potentially owed an additional $850,000 in bonus money if he reaches all his bonus goals. The Blackhawks will need to be aware of these performance bonuses as they'll only have $466,000 in wiggle room.

While the team isn't out of the woods yet, the $925,000 salary that Jokiharju was making on defence wasn't helping the cause. Yes, he had been shuffled down to the AHL last season after a few poor outings, but his work at the IIHF World Championships was stellar and really should have had the Blackhawks excited for his future with the club. However, after tying up $11 million in Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner in the crease, after tying up $20 million in Keith, Seabrook, de Haan, and Maatta, and after tying up $35.45 million in Toews, Kane, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, and Andrew Shaw, there isn't a lot of money to spend elsewhere. Like third-line scoring. Or a fourth line entirely.

Jokiharju was deemed expendable despite his excellent play thanks to the Blackhawks needing forwards with potential NHL talent. That's the reality of today's NHL - manage and stay on top of the cap, or pieces seen as vital may have to be moved for lesser pieces. Jokiharju could have been a good addition to the Blackhawks this season... if he only played forward.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 8 July 2019

She's Multi-Talented

She was a standout on the international stage with Team Russia before jumping across to North America where she tore up the Canada West Conference in U SPORTS. She found her way into pro hockey with Calgary Inferno of the CWHL, and she's been an outstanding citizen for the city of Calgary since settling there. Iya Gavrilova has been a fixture in the women's hockey community in and around Calgary for a long time, and she certainly has a wealth of knowledge about the game both on and off the ice from which any player can learn.

It's one thing for Gavrilova to be a hockey resource, but we may take for granted that she's been in the game at a high level for a long time AND can speak Russian. Those traits can be vitally important, and the Calgary Flames brought her aboard during their development camp to help their Russian rookies get acclimatised and assist in making those players feel a little more comfortable with their new team. She told George Johnson of CalgaryFlames.com,
"Not speaking the language, they could've maybe come here and gotten around, made do, but it wouldn't have been as enriching an experience. What if communication broke down and they couldn't get the sticks they wanted or didn't understand what was being asked of them? Just little things. And little things, when you're confused, can seem like big things. Measuring gear, for example. It took them five minutes instead of, say, 20. Or longer. My coming from Russia, it helps that I can explain why things work the way they do. I know both sides. Where they're coming from, and this side, too.
Social media was active once the CWHL folded about the NHL teams hiring the women who played in the CWHL as coaches, but that limited view on the positions that these women can hold does an injustice to them. Perhaps Miss Gavrilova doesn't want to coach with the Flames. That's clearly ok as she's found another way to join the franchise and put her skills to good use. She doesn't have to be a coach if she's happy being a translator and mentor for the Russian players in camp.

The two players who Gavrilova has been helping most are 23-year-old goaltender Artyom Zagidulin of Magnitogorsk and 23-year-old Alexander Yelesin of Yaroslavl. Neither have a solid grasp on the English language having grown up in Russia, so Gavrilova is helping them navigate the waters in their first trip to North America. As she stated before, though, it's the little things that she had trouble with when she arrived as a 19 year-old in Duluth, Minnesota where she earned an accounting degree.
Just little things like 'What's up?' You don't understand the context and it blows your mind. You're wondering: 'Why are people asking me how my day is going?' I remember walking through the university hoping I wouldn't bump into anyone on my team because I was worried they'd ask me: 'What's up?' It took me six months to pick it up a little better; before I began to feel comfortable."
It's those little colloquialisms and catchphrases that we often take for granted here with which foreigners often struggle. Some of the things we ask for - where the washroom is, how far away am I, can I get fries with that - are also difficult if one doesn't know the language. It's these little things where Gavrilova will help these young men immensely in feeling more at home which is something the Calgary Flames identified as part of their development camp. Ray Edwards, the Flames' director of player development and, in a fashion, camp counsellor, explained to Johnson,
"We discussed this option two months ago. If we're going to have these players - who are under contract - come over, if we're going to invest him in them, we need to help them. We can't throw them into the fire, just say: 'Hey, you're here now. Succeed.' Obviously, there's a connection; with Alexander and Zag, right away. They speak the speak. Iya knows what's going on here in Calgary so she's been able to help them in terms of the lay of the land. We had her on the bench the other day and at one point I wanted to explain something to Alex. If I don't have her there... well, it's going to take awhile.
For those that don't know, Gavrilova missed all of last season while recovering from ACL surgery. With the CWHL folding, her options for playing professional became limited, and she's moved into the private sector as an analyst with an energy company, settling permanently in Calgary as her new home. Getting a chance for her to work with the Flames has re-ignited the flame - no pun intended - in her for the game, and she's looking forward to getting back on the ice. She told Johnson, "This year, we're going to get a group of girls together and go around Canada, showcasing our game. So I'm hoping to be back on the ice in September."

It will be great to see that #8 flying around on the ice like she did for so many years in Canada West where she was a dominant force. She was one of my favorite players to watch during her time with the Calgary Dinos, and her creativity and offensive awareness dazzled crowds throughout western Canada as she piled up the points. Having her back in the game is good for hockey as a whole, but it seems to be paying off for the Flames in big ways.

And as for Artyom and Alexander, how did their week in Calgary go? According to Gavrilova,
"They've really enjoyed themselves. The first thing they noticed, they talked about, is how much everyone has taken care of them. They weren't expecting this. One of them said the first day: 'People have done so much for us, it's crazy.' Just the kindness of Canadians and the organization. I think they've possibly been shocked by that, in a good way.
You're a big part of that too, Iya. Well done on this job, and kudos to the Flames for bringing Iya Gavrilova into the fold.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 7 July 2019

An Evening With The Hoff

I was channel-surfing tonight after getting home from my weekly sporting endeavour. There's rarely anything entertaining on television these days, and it seems to be even worse on a Sunday night. As I was perusing the multiple channels with nothing on, I came across a roller hockey game! The only catch? This wasn't your average roller hockey game as the crowd featured Tiffany Amber Thiessen and Alexandra Paul sitting side-by-side in the front row cheering on someone named Cody. Slightly confused and wondering why I'm watching a standard-definition television program, it soon became clear that I had been sucked into the Baywatch world.

It took some digging, but Episode 4 of Season 7 of Baywatch is entitled "Windswept", and it features an NHL-branded roller hockey game where Cody and his roller hockey team play for some fictional trophy. The episode was written by David Braff and it aired sometime in 1996. According to the IMDB page, the synopsis of the episode is as follows:
Mitch is the main attraction at the Baywatch Lifeguard Bachelor Auction and is "bought" for $5,000 by a wealthy socialite, named Alicia Hancock, who's eager to put him to her very satisfaction. But Mitch ends up stranded on a desert island with the snobbish Alicia in which both of them get on each others nerves fast. Meanwhile, Cody joins a roller-blade hockey team to satisfy his yen for power while Caroline and Stephanie enjoy watching his performance on the court.
I have to admit that I missed out on the Baywatch Lifeguard Bachelor Auction at the beginning of the episode, but I did get to see Cody play a little hockey. The weird part is that I can't find David Chokachi, the actor who portrays Cody on the series, playing hockey anywhere else. He may know how to rollerblade thanks to his time in California, but hockey as certainly not something he did regularly. Or ever, it seems.

If you've made it this far, you might be wondering why I'm writing about this episode from 23 years ago. The reason for this is that Baywatch didn't exactly hide the NHL logo or its teams' logos when playing. In fact, the "NHL Breakout" logo is visible throughout the roller hockey portions, and the two teams show the "Mighty Ducks" name on the goalie's helmet and the Blackhawks logos on the opposition's shirts. Fans in the crowd also show some rather unique support for NHL teams as the New Jersey Devils - the 1995 Stanley Cup Champions - are shown on a fan's shirt just three seats to the right of Thiessen and Paul in the crowd.

Among the guest stars in the show are agent and co-head of the Hockey Division of Creative Artists Agency Pat Brisson as "The Operator" and retired hockey star Brian Mullen as per the credits, but there's zero reference or thanks given to the NHL, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, nor the Chicago Blackhawks for any usage of their logos or trademarks. Normally, if a television show has paid for or obtained the rights to use said trademarks, there's some thanks given to the those who own the trademarks, but apparently that's not the case in Baywatch's world.

Anyway, if you have 45 minutes to kill, here's the episode. The hockey action isn't all that great and there's a fairly predictable outcome of the game, but that's how most Hollywood TV series end their shows, right? Here's "Windswept", aka S7E4, of Baywatch. Enjoy!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 6 July 2019

The New West?

I went to look up some information today on the Canada West website, and the image to the left is what greeted me. It seems as though Canada West has decided to upgrade their website, and this should be seen as a good thing after struggling for years with a website whose functionality was best suited for a Geocities website in 1995. It got the job done and all the information was there, but it was multiple clicks and menus to find the information one needed. When Canada West began using the hashtag "#TheNewWest" after redesigning their logo, there was hope the website would get a refresh. Well, better late than never, right?

I haven't seen any literature regarding what will change, will be added or removed, or any other details, but I assume there will be greater emphasis placed on Canada West TV where there have been some solid advances made in both quality of broadcast and production value. Canada West had all teams add high-definition cameras to their equipment two seasons ago, and the picture quality alone has improved immensely with this decision. Being that Canada West TV is a good revenue stream for the organization, I assume we'll see the TV options pushed heavily.

I had a love-hate relationship with the statistics portion of the site where by I hated that I had to dig through 30 links to find the one piece of info I needed, but loved that it had archives and historical information built into the site. I want to see more advanced stats, and that's something that Canada West and its member schools need to embrace before anything can be added to the site. Here's hoping we can find a few math majors around the University of Manitoba who want to get in on the advanced stats club. Either way, the stats side needs to keep the archived information because it's good for seeing trends and predicting future events.

I rarely went to the other sports' webpages on the Canada West site, but I assume all the Canada West sports have complaints about certain things found or not found on the website. Regardless of what I want, it seems there will be a new Canada West website unveiled on Monday as Canada West embraces "#TheNewWest" with their updated logo and, now, website.

Make sure you visit the new site on Monday, and leave a comment here one what you like, don't like, hate, love, want to see changed, and anything else the website makes you feel. Sometimes, new doesn't come with improved, but I'm hopeful Canada West will lean heavily towards the improved side of the equation as opposed to the new side.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 5 July 2019

Lighter In The Wallet

Rasmus Ristolainen is a good, young defenceman who plays for the Buffalo Sabres. The 24 year-old Finn isn't the most polished defender in the league by any stretch, but he's getting better each season and has earned a roster spot based on his play. He's signed through 2022 with the Sabres and will likely command a decent salary when his contract expires if Buffalo doesn't extend prior to that, but it might be a good thing that he's not a free agent at this point because his wallet took a serious hit in May when he was home in Finland after Buffalo's season had ended.

According to Anna-Maija Naakka's article in Ilta-Sanomat today, Ristolainen was pulled over in his car and assessed a fine for speeding. Through translation, she writes,
On May 3, Ristolainen, 24, drove 81 kilometers per hour in the center of Turku on Linnankatu, where the speed limit is 40 km / h. The act happened on Friday afternoon, when there was a lot of vehicle and light traffic in the area. Speeding Ristolainen drove a Mercedes-Benz G 500 off-road vehicle.

It was a bypass that happened on a two-lane straight road. According to Ristolainen, the issue was short-term speeding, and the counter-display was not presented in the reading.

Ristolainen acknowledged that he had acted according to the description of the act. He admitted that he had committed the act of negligence but denied intent and gross negligence.
That's a pretty cut-and-dry recount of what happened, so you're likely shrugging your shoulders and expecting him to pay a fine. He will pay a fine, but here's where the giant asterisk stands out.

For those that aren't aware, Finland's ticket fine system isn't some sort of tiered system where you pay more if hit a certain speed threshold above the posted speed limit. Instead, driving offences are based on your annual income, and you are fined based on that total annual income. As the New York Times reported in 2015,
The fines are calculated based on half an offender's daily net income, with some consideration for the number of children under his or her roof and a deduction deemed to be enough to cover basic living expenses, currently 255 euros per month.

Then, that figure is multiplied by the number of days of income the offender should lose, according to the severity of the offense.
You can see where this is going, right? According to CapFriendly, Ristolainen made $5,400,000 in 2018-19, and his fine was based on that income. Because he has no dependants living under his roof that have been disclosed, the fine would likely be on the higher side of the ledger multiplied by the number of days of income he should lose.

The final total? 120,000 Euros or $134,595 USD. OUCH.

While it's a small percentage of his annual salary - 2.5%, in fact - it represents a large amount of money for the government. In contrast, according to the NYT article, someone earning "$54,000, none of it capital gains, and with no young children, would get a fine of about 345 euros, or about $370". And for the most part, these sorts of fines are rare, according to Finnish police in the article, and most Finns believe that it is one's choice in speeding as opposed to some unavoidable occurrence.

Personally, I have no issue with this type of fine based on income. If you're able to buy the flashy sports car, you should be forced to accept the consequences when you break the law in said sports car. I'm sure that will outrage some people, but this is a speeding ticket, not murder or assault. We all like to complain about speeding tickets if we receive one, but the fact is that the driver who does receive one almost always consciously breaks the speed limit. If one breaks the speed limit as egregiously as Rasmus Ristolainen did, one should pay excessively more.

Lesson learned, Rasmus. It might be time to see the Sabres' medical team about that lead foot.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 4 July 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 354

I'm late to the dance in posting this preview for tonight's episode of The Hockey Show thanks to work having me on the road the last couple of days, but this is still going to make it onto HBIC even if I have to blog it from my phone. As a programming note, I didn't blog it from my phone, but The Hockey Show returns to the glorious airwaves of UMFM tonight as Beans and I welcome a special guest who is going to great places next season as a professional hockey player! We don't often get the pros before they become pros on our show, so it's a special episode tonight!

Ladies and gentlemen, Beans and I are excited to welcome former Bisons captain, long-time impact player and outstanding defender, and soon-to-be-professional hockey player Erica Rieder to the show! Erica has been on the program before, but we get to examine her life and her hockey career a little closer tonight as we find out all sorts of stuff about Miss Rieder. We'll talk about growing up in Regina, Saskatchewan and how she found herself attending the University of Manitoba, her career with the Regina Rebels where she was a standout defender, her time with the Bisons which saw her win a pile of awards and be invited to the Universiade Games, that 2018 U SPORTS National Championship she helped the Bisons win, and her new life in Sweden with MODO where she'll suit up with some very accomplished teammates! It should be a very interesting show tonight, so please join us at 5:30pm CT on UMFM!

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 dig into the career of an outstanding defender in Erica Rieder who proudly wore the brown-and-gold colours of the University of Manitoba after growing up in the province best known to be Manitoba's arch-rival, her career in hockey, her artistic talents, moving to Sweden and playing pro hockey, 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: July 4, 2019: Episode 354

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Ending The Brutality

The Calgary Dinos women's hockey team haven't made a lot of news in the last few years as they've finished near the bottom of the standings and missed the playoffs. They're still a competitive team and have an outstanding netminder in Kelsey Roberts, but the Dinos absolutely deserve some kudos for today's news. The Dinos women's hockey team was the first of Dinos Athletics to participate in a formal training program addressing sexual violence in sport that covers complex topics that discuss hazing, sexual violence, gender socialization, and consent.

After everything that happened at the University of Lethbridge and at other Canadian institutions, this is awesome to read and I, despite never going to the University of Calgary, am proud of the athletes for participating in this month-long training program. Hazing and sexual violence is one of those things that still happens behind closed doors in this country, and this kind of program needs to be implemented everywhere across Canada.

Carla Bertsch, the university’s sexual violence support advocate, facilitated the clinic for the women, and she feels this will benefit the players as leaders in the community, at the school, and in their chosen athletic endeavours.to

"As an athlete myself, I know sports culture can be problematic at times. Athletes have social capital and are often expected to fulfill leadership roles whether they have proper training and support or not,” says Bertsch. "I'm excited to work with the athletics department and support our young leaders — they have a lot of potential to be part of the change that will help create a safer and more inclusive campus."

While the topics presented by Bertsch are generally not the easiest things to talk about, the players struggled with the statistics of sexual violence that Bertsch presented to them.

"Talking about consent and statistics probably hit the hardest with our team," Paige Michalenko, fifth-year sociology student and captain of the Dinos women's hockey team, stated. "Hearing that one in three women experience sexual violence was shocking — it's hard to wrap your head around and as a team of women, it really opened up our eyes to the seriousness of the issue and the importance of having open conversations about consent and sexuality. Knowing we have done this work together gives us the confidence to be able to support one another."

While Canada is a pretty tolerant country, issues such as homophobia, racism, sexism, and hazing are still present in today's culture. We've seen some of these topics show their ugly faces when it comes to women's professional hockey, the ongoing Women's World Cup, and in other corners of today's society when it was thought we were far more advanced than societies of yesteryear. in discussing these issues and bringing them out into the open, Dinos women's hockey head coach, former Canadian national team member, and Hockey Hall of Famer Danielle Goyette believes the program run by Bertsch was a valuable investment that will set her team up for success both on and off the ice.

"It can be hard for players to open up with coaches — they don’t want their personal lives to affect their ice time," Goyette said. "Racism, homophobia, gender and sexual violence are sensitive topics that have received a lot of attention in the media lately. Society often looks to sport for leadership and by bringing an expert like Carla in to educate our players, we're giving them the tools they need to be leaders among university athletes and peer groups."

It's the first part of Goyette's statement that hits closest to home after hearing what happened in Lethbridge with the Pronghorns women's hockey team and their former head coach Michelle Janus. Players stated that they placed their trust in the coach when disclosing personal matters to Miss Janus, and she used those disclosures to bully players into less ice time, not playing at all, or forcing them to play when they needed time away from the game. Some may call this bullying a form of hazing, but it's wrong no matter what it's categorized as and Miss Bertsch is making it clear with her efforts in this program that it has no place in sports, in life, and at the University of Calgary.

If post-secondary education institutions are deemed "higher learning," this should include the teachings and understanding of being better people within society. Carla Bertsch's program should be rolled out across Canada into all universities and colleges. We, as a society, condemn the acts that Miss Bertsch is talking about - hazing, sexual violence, gender socialization, and non-consent in sex - but we leave it up to others to really talk about, teach, and enforce these important human traits. Carla Bertsch deserves a ton of credit for getting Dinos Athletics onboard with this, and I hope her teachings spread like wildfire throughout Canadian university sports and beyond.

Kudos to the Calgary Dinos women's hockey team for stepping up and getting this information. University just isn't about sports - it's about becoming better, smarter, and more worldly people. The members of the Dinos women's hockey team can claim those traits today.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Stop Putting Him On TV

I happened to check in on the "frenzy" that TSN was calling its free agency coverage, and it became quite apparent that there was one member of the panel who was slightly different than the rest. Somehow, Pierre McGuire was invited back to the TSN set to inform listeners of all his worldly knowledge regarding every player who was mentioned on the program. I get that NBC wasn't doing wall-to-wall coverage of the first day of free agency, but there's no reason to send McGuire back to Canada. We never asked for him back.

Pierre McGuire was on Pittsburgh's 93.7 The Fan radio station today where he was talking about Pittsburgh's free agent moves. In particular, he seems to like the 6-year contract worth $21 million that GM Jim Rutherford gave former Winnipeg Jet Brandon Tanev, and he seems to be thumbing his nose at the rest of the hockey pundit fraternity with his comments. The following tweet from Eric Hagman sums it up nicely.
Hoo boy. Where do we start on this one?

Brandon Tanev was an effective checking forward when placed with specific players in Winnipeg's setup, allowing him to score career highs of 14 goals and 29 points. He led the Jets in hits this past season which, if one looks at when hits are thrown, means that Tanev did most of his work when the Jets didn't have the puck. For a possession-heavy team like the Penguins, those hits won't matter much unless they have someone doing the hard work of recovering the puck.

As NHL reporter Scott Billeck wrote,
In other words, without the two possession drivers on his line who did a lot of the heavy lifting on that line, Brandon Tanev was a non-factor when he wasn't playing with Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp. That 38% Corsi number is downright awful, and it's something that the Penguins should be aware of when composing lines this season. Brandon Tanev won't make you better. Instead, the opposite is true in that Tanev needs possession-driving players for him to be effective.

I get that some people see Pierre McGuire as some sort of hockey authority at some level, but people have been calling him on his garbage for years. If we jump back to 1994 to a Jeff Jacobs' article in the Hartford Courant, Jacobs wrote,
This is a guy who famously led the Hartford Whalers to an impeccable 23–37–7 record before being mercifully relieved of his job after losing all the respect of his players, and he's claiming he can outwit anyone in the NHL? Excuse me while I stifle the laughter.

On top of that, Jacobs added this amazing piece of journalism.
It's an effective strategy to hold Mario Lemieux to no goals in a game, but it's also not true. In a game on October 17, 1992 where Pierre McGuire was the assistant coach for the Whalers while working with head coach Paul Holmgren, the boxscore tells a different story as Mario Lemieux scored Pittsburgh's third goal at 16:15 of the first period before assisting on Kevin Stevens' hat trick goal at 8:20 of the second period. If allowing Mario Lemieux to score a goal and add a helper is "shutting him down", Pierre McGuire needs his head checked.

If NBC wants to have him on their broadcasts as a Madlibs-esque character who spews random, but mostly useless, facts about players on either team, they're welcome to do so. His "eye test" on Brandon Tanev doesn't hold water just as his coaching abilities didn't ever hold water. It's at this point that Pierre McGuire should save a little face by shutting his yap.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 1 July 2019

Canada Day

Maple syrup. Beaver tails. Universal healthcare. Snow. Ice. Igloos. Polar bears. There are lots of stereotypical Canadian images that one can choose, but 152 years ago saw this great country officially founded. It has changed over the years - borders have shifted, populations have moved and migrated, and cities and towns have been settled - but there's one thing that has remained constant: it's a pretty great place to live.

I know it's free agency day in the NHL, but I said my piece yesterday on free agency so to hell with me sitting in front of the TV today. I have things I want to do, and today seems like a great day to do them. The sun is shining brightly, it's warm-bordering-on-hot outside, there are cold beverages in the fridge, and there's a barbecue begging to be fired up. It sounds like a pretty good day.

I'll likely check in every now and then on the free agency goofiness, but I'm going to celebrate this great nation's founding by exercising one of its founding principles: freedom to choose. I choose to be outside rather than inside on a glorious day like today, so I'm shutting down HQ.

I'll be back tomorrow. Canadians, enjoy your day off as we celebrate the 152nd birthday of our country. Americans and international visitors, I apologize for enjoying the day off, but I'll be back tomorrow. Enjoy your days as well!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 30 June 2019

June 30 Is July 1

There's something timeless about The Big Lebowski. It has so many good quotations in it, and there's someone in your life that likely acts like the Dude, Walter, and/or Donny. I found myself watching this celluloid masterpiece once again last night, and it occurred to me that the Dude says the line to the left. That would be an accurate summation of today's social media adventure as NHL Free Agency is supposed to begin tomorrow on July 1 at 12:00pm ET, but it seems that almost every big-name free agent has already agreed to a deal today.

Look, I'm as interested as the next person in who is signing where, but I really question how the NHL can have an honest free agency period where all 31 teams have a shot at players if they allow them the week previous to speak to teams and narrow down their choices. While I get that not all 31 teams will be on any player's list of places they'd choose to play, July 1 is simply the official signing date for a lot of players in their new homes. The week prior? That's when deals were made despite those deals being technically against the rules.

Rules can be broken in certain cases. Rules can be bent in specific situations. NHL Free Agency seems like neither the case nor the situation where rules should be allowed to be ignored. Teams who are trying to re-sign players are virtually shut out of the process if a player decides to go elsewhere thanks to the week of interviews and backroom deals being made, so let's cut the garbage and scrap this week of suitors wooing those looking to move addresses. It's a farce.

Instead, I propose that the morning of free agency is when the mall opens and teams can come rushing into the meat market where they can throw themselves and their cap space upon free agents who indeed are wanting to move. It will give the TSNs, Sportsnets, and NHL Networks something to actually do rather than have 60 talking heads discussing the "free agent board" and how teams made mistakes or found value for 36 hours. They would be forced to follow leads, check sources, and make calls to find actual stories - hey, that's entertainment!

This ruse of letting players, agents, and GMs cut deals long before the free agency window opens needs to end. After all, what are we supposed to watch for 12 hours tomorrow on our national holiday?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Righting The Wrongs

HC Slovan Bratislava, whose alternate "logo" to the left seems something better suited for a baseball cap, is beginning to finally correct the issues that plagued them during their time in the KHL. As it was reported here on HBIC, HC Slovan was in a heap of financial trouble when it came to owing money to people and places. It was made clear that admission into the Slovak Tipsport Liga would only happen if all outstanding debts owed to people and places through their membership in the KHL were paid in full. The numbers were reportedly staggering regarding the amount of money that HC Slovan owed to players and for usage of the arena, but it seems like they may have turned a corner regarding these outstanding debts. They're not out of the woods yet, but HC Slovan seems to be getting themselves on-track for a 2019-20 season in the Tipsport Liga.

Darryl Wolski posted the following on Twitter today.
That's excellent news for a team that has existed since 1921 in one form or another, and has been one of the most storied franchises in Slovakia. It has boasted names such as HHOF inductee Vaclav Nedomansky, Zdeno Ciger, Miroslav Satan, and Marian Stastny over the years, and they've won eight Slovak championships. Needless to say, seeing them clearing up their debts is a hugely positive news, and that will likely make them joining the Tipsport Liga a lot easier.

It would have been easier to close the doors and claim bankruptcy than to work to restore the team's prominence in the Tipsport Liga. Instead, the owners have made the decision to clean up their mess and get the team back to its once-lofty position in the Slovakian league before jumping to the KHL. It was an ambitious goal, but it seems to be one that the owners of this team have not accepted and embraced, but are realizing.

Kudos to HC Slovan for making things right. The work isn't done just yet, but they're digging themselves out of a hole. That deserves some credit. Just don't issue them any credit for now.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 28 June 2019

BurakAVSky

Winning the Central Division next season might literally be a Pyrrhic victory. After the Predators created cap space by moving PK Subban to the Devils and after the Blackhawks added Calvin de Haan from the Hurricanes and having already moved Carl Soderberg to the Coyotes, the Avalanche went out and made a deal for Washington Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky. While he had a down year for points based on points-per-game, Burakovsky is still just 24 and will fit nicely among the youthful Avalanche forwards and could see an uptick in scoring if given a top-six role in Denver. Based on what GM Joe Sakic is doing in Colorado, I'd say that's almost a given.

Burakovsky received a qualifying offer from the Capitals prior to being traded, so the Avalanche will need to get ink on a contract before anything can move further. The Avalanche have a ton of cap space to work with this off-season, so this won't be a problem. Once that's done, Burakovsky will be expected to exceed his career-highs of 17 goals and 38 points playing alongside players such as Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and Colin Wilson.

Heading back to Washington are winger Scott Kosmachuk, a 2020 second-round pick, and a 2020 third-round pick. Kosmachuk was a third-round pick by the Winnipeg Jets after a 49-goal, 102-point season with the Guelph Storm, but he was never able to turn that junior scoring into anything at the professional level. His best season came with the Hartford Wolf Pack in 2017-18 where he scored 42 points, but the Hershey Bears seem to be a good place for players to really find their professional games. Kosmachuk will likely report there once the season starts.

If there's one thing that Burakovsky likely could use, it's a change of scenery. For a player once thought to be another bonafide scoring threat for the Capitals, he slid down the roster with the emergence of Tom Wilson and Evgeni Kuznetsov. Being able to play with some elite, young forwards that the Avalanche boast should help Burakovsky find his offensive game once again, and the Avalanche will like his defensive awareness learned from his years in Washington.

If the Avalanche are planning on using Tyson Jost in Soderberg's spot, expect Burakovsky to flank Jost as they look to recover some of the offence traded in when they moved Soderberg. That being said, the youth movement in Colorado is exciting to see, and they still have a ton of cap space to keep their young core together for a long time or, possibly, add another solid young player to their roster.

If the sky's the limit in Colorado, it could be the Avalanche climbing the to the summit of the NHL's playoff mountain. Wouldn't that be a Rocky Mountain high? With all the youth on the Avalanche roster, it's very possible the youth movement will show serious payoff this season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!