Monday 30 September 2019

SoCal Gets Another

Back in May, there was some debate on whether the new Seattle NHL franchise would set up its AHL affiliate in one of Boise, Idaho or Palm Springs, California. As I wrote back then, Boise seemed like a smart choice based on the successful of its ECHL franchise, but Palm Springs looked like a more obvious choice considering how close it was to other AHL cities. It seems the AHL thought the latter was a better idea in terms of fostering rivalries and building the AHL's presence in California as Palm Springs was named as Seattle's AHL affiliate and the 32nd AHL city today.

"On behalf of the AHL's Board of Governors, I am thrilled to welcome the NHL Seattle and OVG ownership teams and the city of Palm Springs as the league's 32nd franchise," American Hockey League President and Chief Executive Officer David Andrews announced today. "Palm Springs has all the makings of an outstanding hockey market, and will further strengthen the growing base of our sport in California."

As I stated back in the May article, the Palm Springs team would be within "150 miles of all of Ontario, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Diego," so road trips to the AHL's Pacific Division get a little easier for teams who may need to play back-to-back games or three-in-three weekends. Had the team been setup in Boise, there would have been some travel involved if the road trip involved Colorado Springs and Tuscon. With Palm Springs in the fold, the travel between San Diego, Ontario, and Palm Springs is a couple of hours at most.

The other amenity that Seattle will take advantage of is the brand-new arena that is being built that will be ready to host events in 2021. With the NHL and AHL teams beginning play in 2021, this works out nicely for all involved. The 12,000-seat multi-use stadium I mentioned in my article in May is now off the table as Oak View Group has proposed a 10,000-seat hockey arena that would be built partly underground on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians land in order to keep the views of the mountains intact for surrounding residents and businesses. According to this Desert Sun article by Melissa Daniels, the new arena will be located on the "corner of Amado Road and North Calle Encilia".

"We heard that time and time again with everyone, that they wanted to protect the views of the mountains, as did we," Tim Leiweke of Oak View Group told Daniels. "We also didn't want to overwhelm the neighborhood. We didn't want to overwhelm Agua Caliente, or the business community."

With everything falling into place, this seems like a no-brainer decision for the AHL. I can see more league meetings being held in Palm Springs now that they have a foothold in the community, and what hockey executive would decline a trip to Palm Springs in the winter for a few days?

The only thing left to do? Name the team. Keep your eyes peeled for that opportunity!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 29 September 2019

An Extra Day Off

It's always on the horizon as the temperature dips as the calendar turns to October, but who would have thought that southern Alberta would be blanketed by the white stuff in late September? With the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men's hockey team in town this weekend to the play the Manitoba Bisons, their fair city is being buried in snow as a system works its way westward. It's hard to imagine leaving town with fall colours and green lawns in the rearview mirror only to return to snow drifts and white everywhere in the span of a couple of days, but that's what the Pronghorns will see upon their return.

I'm not sure if the bussed it out to Manitoba, but here's hoping they have a safe trip back to Lethbridge. If there's a silver lining on the ddark clouds that dumped a pile of snow on the city, there's this note that greeted them today.
The moment the snow flies in Canada, though, it feels like hockey season. If there was an extended heat wave happening at the moment, it wouldn't feel right standing in a rink. However, seeing all that snow piled up in southern Alberta on the various newscasts just makes it feel like hockey season should be starting.

Safe travels back to Alberta, Pronghorns. It won't be fun driving into that snow and having to dig out from whatever the final amount is that is dropped on your city, but it is that time of year. Hockey season feels right with snow.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 28 September 2019

The Boys Are Back In Town

While Thin Lizzy's iconic song peaked at #12 on the US Charts and at #1 in Canada in 1976, it's hard not to be excited about the work that Kevin Cheveldayoff did over the past few days in signing snipers Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor to deals to get them back in double-blue jerseys for the upcoming season. If one considers that the Jets had more than sixty goals from last season sitting on the sidelines awaiting new deals, it's easy to see why pundits and prognosticators were debating Winnipeg's candidacy for inclusion as a Stanley Cup favorite this year. While those opinions may not have changed much with these signings, there is some relief in the Manitoba capital as the two snipers will rejoin the team as early as Monday.

It's not hard to imagine the Winnipeg Jets struggling to score goals without Connor and Laine this season against some of the better defensive teams in the league. It was pretty clear to see in the preseason that Scheifele and Wheeler will drive the bus when it come to generating scoring chances with players like Mathieu Perreault, Nikolaj Ehlers, Andrew Copp, and Mason Appleton chipping in at the depth-scoring level. There's nothing wrong with this setup as it is, but one would like a few more weapons which can ease the burden on all teammates when it comes to scoring while making it harder for defences to clamp down on a handful of players.

Instead, the Jets will role out their top-two lines as they did to start last season with Bryan Little occupying the spot between Laine and Ehlers. The top line of Connor-Scheifele-Wheeler will likely remain unchanged based on the success they've shown together, but perhaps head coach Paul Maurice needs to find a different combination if the Jets are going to exceed expectations this season. Personally, I have no issues with Wheeler and Scheifele being split up, and dropping Wheeler - who has shown himself to be an elite passer - down to the second line would likely be a boost for Laine's output. Ehlers would be moved up with Scheifele and Connor, and the speed of that line alone would drive teams mad.

However, one player who I believe should get a shot between Laine and Ehlers is David Gustafsson. The 2018 second-round pick has shown that he's capable of being sound defensively in his own zone, can skate with the big boys in the top-six, and has the creativity and imagination to be a playmaker when called upon by the coaches. Gustafsson, admittedly, isn't as refined as Scheifele when it comes to being a playmaking centerman in the NHL at this point, but finding a guy who has the hands to feed Laine hasn't exactly worked out for the Jets over the last two seasons either. Maybe it's time to give the kid a chance?

With the Dustin Byfuglien situation apparently remaining in status quo, the Jets have about $1 million in salary cap space to play with, meaning that a trade to improve the skills of whomever is paired with Laine is nearly out of the question. Solutions internally have not presented themselves in the past as Little and Laine have failed to click regularly, and the Jets desperately need both Connor and Laine doing what they do best in lighting the lamp if they hope to have a prayer of competing for a top finish in the Central Division. If Connor is back on his usual winger alongside Scheifele and Wheeler, that's a safe bet. It's Laine that needs a spark, and I'm not sure that Bryan Little beings that element.

Whatever the Jets decide regarding the second-line centerman position, Laine has to come in motivated and ready to contribute at both ends of the ice like he did in December last season when he scored 18 goals in the month. He was a physical force, he backchecked like a demon, he shot the puck without prejudice, and he looked engaged. If the Jets can get him going early this season in the same mentality, they'll win games because they have a weapon few other teams can match in Laine. If that means Bryan Little has to be unseated from the second line and replaced with the likes of a Gustafsson or a Copp or some other younger player, then it needs to happen sooner than later so that Laine and whomever plays the middle of that line can develop some chemistry.

As much as Laine was seen as selfish for making the comments he did to the Finnish reporter about playing with the top guys, he was right. He hasn't played with an elite passer for most of his career in Winnipeg, and he could be so much more effective if he did. The one thing that Laine has to remember is that there's a defensive zone that he needs to be better in, and, like his idol in Alexander Ovechkin, winning and playing with elite players won't happen if he's dogging it in the defensive zone.

The season for the Winnipeg Jets looks much brighter with these two stars in the lineup. As long as they shine as well as we know they can, there shouldn't be any question about how goals the Winnipeg Jets can score this season. It may simply come down to how many goals can Connor and Laine prevent by being defensively sound as well.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 27 September 2019

TBC: Relentless

For the first time in what seems like months, I have a full weekend off. I have nothing planned, no else has anything I have to be at, and it honestly is a rare occurrence in my life. That being said, I figured I would get ahead of the game by doing something I wanted to do since receiving a package in the mail. Teebz's Book Club will add a new entry today thanks to the delivery this week, and I'm telling you upfront that I read this book in one sitting. TBC is proud to present Relentless, written by Bryan Berard with Jim Lang and published by Simon and Schuster Canada. The advanced copy of Relentless that I received may not be the final version, but it was still entertaining, informative, and compelling as Bryan Berard looks back on his life and career that took him from Woonsocket, Rhode Island to Detroit, and through a number of stops in the NHL and across the globe!

You likely know Bryan Berard from his days in the NHL where he was selected first-overall in 1995 by the Ottawa Senators before being traded to the New York Islanders. He won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie in his first campaign, and was lucky enough to have worn the Fisherman! Following that stint, he was traded to Toronto where he suffered a major eye injury that kept him out of hockey for a number of years before making a comeback with the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Chicago Blackhawks where he won the Bill Masterton Trophy for hid dedication to hockey. He got the opportunity to play at the Nagano Olympic Games in 1998 and suited up in the KHL for HC Vityaz for one season. Bryan currently works for Whale Rock Point Partners LLC, and lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

Jim Lang is a Canadian sportscaster, journalist, and radio personality, perhaps best known for his work on Rogers Sportsnet. Jim has been in the radio business for years and is currently hosting The Jim Lang Show, a morning radio show on 105.9 The Region in Toronto. When he's not involved in some sort of broadcast, Jim also writes books! He is the co-author of Shift Work, Tie Domi's autobiography, and Bleeding Blue, Wendel Clark's autobiography. We knew Jim was a great guy, and he was kind enough to appear on The Hockey Show at the start of summer for a full interview about his life and work! Jim currently lives with his wife and children in Toronto, Ontario.

There are assumptions made about a player's health following injuries nearly all time as to the length of time for which that player may be sidelined. When Bryan Berard suffered the gruesome eye injury, it was thought that his career was over based on how important a player's vision and visual acuity is at the NHL level. As we find out in Relentless, Bryan Berard's career was only stopped while he recovered. It was through the strength of his family and the desire to keep playing that burned in Berard that allowed him to find a way back to the NHL after one of the worst eye injuries in NHL history.

Relentless takes us through Bryan's childhood where he grew up with brothers and sisters under the watch of his dad, a mechanic, and his mom, a homemaker and amateur bookkeeper for his dad's garage. It would be Bryan's dad who would first introduce him to hockey, and there would be nothing that stopped him from following his dream outside of his parents insisting he finish school before thinking about major junior hockey.

Bryan played for Mount Saint Charles as he began to hone his skills before jumping into the OHL as a seventeen year-old after being drafted by Jim Rutherford of the Detroit Junior Red Wings. His work with Detroit saw he and the Red Wings play well under a young coach by the name of Paul Maurice, and these Red Wings began to turn heads as they entered the OHL Playoffs in 1994-95. They defeated London and Peterborough before downing a heavily-favored Sudbury team in seven games to advance to the final against a stacked Guelph Storm team. Six games later, the Red Wings had qualified for the Memorial Cup. I'll let Bryan tell that story in Relentless, but it's pretty impressive to see how well Bryan was playing in his draft year.

That, of course, led to him being ranked highly by scouts, and Ottawa would make a dream into reality by drafting Berard first-overall in 1995. However, the Senators would experience some money troubles and couldn't quite meet Berard's demands, so he went back to junior hockey while he waited for his agent and the team to find terms he liked. The problem? The Senators decided that wasn't to be, and Berard was dealt to the New York Islanders.

I was especially interested in this portion of Relentless as I have heard all sorts of crazy stories from Mike Milbury's days as the Islanders general manager and coach, and I was hoping that Berard could either confirm or deny or add details to some of these stories. While I won't reveal any of the details in this chapter, I will say that Berard was caught off-guard by the trade to Toronto for Felix Potvin.

Berard's time with Toronto sounds like he enjoyed being a Maple Leafs player, and it's here where he goes over his eye injury, the surgeries needed, the rehab he did, and the toll it took on him after his eye was clipped by Marian Hossa's stick. It's here where we learn how relentless Bryan Berard's passion for playing in the NHL truly is as he could have simply given up with his vision seriously affected by his injury. He could have walked away and no one would have faulted him. Instead, he was able to play again after working hard at his craft and spending countless hours with doctors. The New York Rangers, the Boston Bruins, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the KHL's HC Vityaz all gave Bryan Berard another shot at hockey glory, and he lived every day with a new appreciation for being in professional hockey.

We also learn in Relentless of how Bryan Berard's trust in his financial adviser nearly cost him everything. Bryan had been investing with a man named Phil Kenner who was eventually convicted of six counts of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering following a joint investigation by the IRS and FBI. CTV's W5 did a full piece on Berard's situation with Kenner, and this is the episode of the deceit and fraud committed by Kenner described in Relentless.

Overall, Relentless was an excellent read. I couldn't put the book down tonight, reading the full 230-page book from start to finish in one night. I admit I was never that interested in the details of Bryan Berard's career, but the details contained within Relentless are riveting, entertaining, and very interesting. For a man who likely is remembered by most fans simply for the injury he suffered, his career was so much more and I'm glad I took the chance to learn about Berard's career because it is an incredible read. For this reason, Relentless absolutely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

If you're looking to crack the spine of Relentless, you'll have to wait until its release on October 29, 2019. I do implore you to seek out Relentless, though, as Bryan Berard's story is one that any hockey fan will enjoy. There are a few instances of adult language in the book, so I'd recommend it for teenage readers and older. Find it at your local bookstore in late October, and maybe put a copy of Relentless on your gift-giving list this holiday season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 26 September 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 366

The Hockey Show, Canada' only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight with the second half of our two-part "Meet the Kids" series as we introduce everyone to the rookies who are joining the Bisons women's hockey team. Last week, we met four of the amazing young ladies who will be showing their Bisons pride as they get learned, do amazing things in the classroom, and battle on the ice for glory as members of the University of Manitoba. This week, we'll put at least three more of the ladies through the paces as we learn about their careers, hear about who they are, and get to know them a little better as Beans and I meet the kids for the second week in a row!

Tonight, Beans and I will put the four ladies pictured above through the paces as we get to know them a little better! From left to right, they are Molly Kunnas, Kaitlyn Nault, Halle Edwards, and Jamie Ricklefs, and they're going to be major contributors to the success of the Manitoba Bisons women's hockey team for the next number of seasons! We'll talk to them about their careers, growing up, and life in Year One of university before asking them some goofy and fun questions to get to know them a little better! These women have great stories from their times with the Thunder Bay Queens, the Garden City Collegiate Gophers, and the Central Plains Capitals, and we'll hear all of it tonight on The Hockey Show at 5:30pm CT!

How do you join us, you ask? 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! 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 Bisons women's hockey rookies Molly Kunnas, Kaitlyn Nault, Halle Edwards, and Jamie Ricklefs about coming to Winnipeg, playing in Winnipeg, figuring out the campus, figuring out university hockey, and much more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

PODCAST: September 26, 2019: Episode 366

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 25 September 2019

The Bill Comes Due

If there's one thing that proves that players and player agents are getting smarter about the rules in the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement, it's being shown in the negotiations that are happening between restricted free agents and NHL teams. Specifically, the bridge deals that are being signed by the players recently show a savvy that we haven't seen from these younger players. Agents are smart people and they deserve some credit in figuring out how to get their clients back on the ice for maximum dollars, but these agents have also figured out how to essentially turn a shorter contract into a longer one through intelligent negotiations.

There are a number of players who have followed a model where they take less upfront and save the big payday for the final year of the contract. The length of the contract is usually ends within the restricted free agency years, meaning that teams would be forced to offer a qualifying offer to those young stars in order to retain their services and negotiate further with them. If an NHL team does not offer the player a qualifying offer, he becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any other NHL team.

Clearly, the qualifying offer is an important tool for NHL teams to use when trying to retain this young talent. And this is where agents and players have worked to structure contracts that make them far more lucrative than what they may have received has they followed a normal contract structure.

The first surprise of the RFA market came way back on July 1 when the San Jose Sharks - thought to be tight against the salary cap - inked young star Timo Meier to a four-year deal worth $24 million. The final year of that contract sees Meier miss UFA status by a full year, meaning that San Jose would have to offer a qualifying offer to Meier upon the completion of the contract in order to retain his services and negotiate another contract.

At first glance, it looks like Meier and his agent may have made an error in negotiating this deal, but it seems they laid the groundwork for every other restricted free agent who wants to maximize the payout he receives prior to entering UFA status. In negotiating this contract to end one year from Meier's UFA status, Meier allowed the Sharks to put off paying a potential higher average salary overall by backloading the final year of his deal. Of the $24 million he'll receive over the four years, $10 million come in the last year. And that appears to be the key to all of these RFA contracts that have been handed out.

Meier essentially guaranteed himself a qualifying offer from the San Jose Sharks at $10 million in order for them to keep him as the CBA states that the qualifying offer made by the team must be equal to salary in the final year of a player's contract. If San Jose doesn't offer a qualifying offer, he becomes an unrestricted free agent one year earlier than anticipated and can seek another lucrative contract from another team. If Meier takes the qualifying offer - which seems elementary at $10 million for the season - he'll become an unrestricted free agent the following summer. There is almost zero risk in this deal for Meier, and that's exactly what players want in terms of a deal.

Rather than looking at Meier's deal as a four-year pact, it should be pretty clear that Meier actually signed a five-year deal with San Jose worth a total of $34 million unless San Jose walks away from that qualifying offer. Either way, Claude Lemieux, Meier's agent, has guaranteed that Meier will get paid handsomely by either the Sharks or on the free agent market.

There are other players who have followed this structure this summer. Zach Werenski signed a three-year, $15-million extension in Columbus while falling one year short of UFA status. The final season of that $15-million deal sees him paid $7 million, so Columbus would have to qualify him at $7 million for that final season before free agency. If they don't, he's an unrestricted free agent and will likely command that on the open market.

Charlie McAvoy of the Boston Bruins signed a three-year deal with the Bruins a couple of weeks ago for $14.7 million, but his final season in this contract will see McAvoy earn $7.3 million while still being a restricted free agent so Boston will have a big decision to make. Brock Boeser signed a three-year deal with Vancouver for $17,625,000 with $7.5 million owed in his final year. Vancouver will be on the hook for the qualifying offer in the summer of 2022. Tampa Bay and Brayden Point agreed to a three-year deal that sees the sniper earn $20,250,000, but will pay him $9 million in the final year of that deal.

Why is this important?

Another player who was seeking some solid compensation is off the board today as Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames came to an agreement on a three-year, $21 million deal that will pay Tkachuk $9 million in the final year of the deal. Tkachuk's deal pays him fairly handsomely for the first two seasons - $5 million and $7 million annually, respectively - but it's that final year that turns Tkachuk's deal from a three-year deal into potentially a four-year, $30 million deal based on the qualifying offer that Calgary will have to make if they want to retain his services.

With the NHL and NHLPA both opting to keep the CBA intact until 2023, expect to see more of these deals as we move forward, especially in the cases of players such as Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine this year and Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier, Mikhail Sergachev, and Mathew Barzal next year. While the NHL teams who negotiate these deals are able to keep talent together during these deals, the cap hits for those qualifying offers will force teams in having to make some hard decisions down the road.

As Mordo told Dr. Steven Strange in Marvel's Dr. Strange, "The bill comes due. Always!" By prolonging the time by which teams figure they can underpay their young stars in order to keep the assembled talent together in the present, the future of the team is put at risk when it comes time to deciding on qualifying offers. GMs will be forced to make hard decisions at that time, and it may lead to teams falling out of contention for the Stanley Cup, losing a good young player or players for virtually nothing as teams work to remain within the salary cap limits, or both. Deferring payments now only means tough decisions later, and those decisions may cost GMs their jobs if they manage this problem poorly.

The bill always comes due.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 24 September 2019

Maybe The Oilers Will Hire Him?

It was a bit of a shock this summer when the KHL's Lokomotiv Yaroslavl announced that they were hiring former Edmonton Oilers coach and general manager Craig MacTavish as their head coach for the 2019-20 season. MacTavish's best season in the NHL as a bench boss came in 2005-06 when he guided the Oilers to a 41-28-13 record, but surprised the hcokey world by getting his squad to the Stanley Cup Final where they eventually would fall to the Carolina Hurricanes. His most recent full season of coaching saw the AHL's Chicago Wolves fall in the opening round of the Calder Cup Playoffs following a 42-27-7 season.

Today, Lokomotiv announced that they were firing MacTavish after just eight games of play in which the team went 3-5-0. The team recently dropped their last two contests against first-place Vityaz and Jokerit by 3-2 and 4-1 scores, respectively, prompting the team to make changes after finding themselves in 11th place in the 12-team Western Conference. Clearly, something wasn't working.

In MacTavish's defence, he didn't exactly get a solid effort from the goaltender who Edmonton drafted in the third-round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The 21 year-old Ilya Konovalov had played four games, amassing a record of 0-3-0 with a 4.48 GAA and an .867 save percentage - numbers that should have him playing in the VHL, not the KHL. Alexander Lazushin, the other half of the tandem, has been decent with a 3-2-0 record in seven games to go along with a 2.30 GAA and a .919 save percentage, but it is pretty clear that Konovalov didn't do MacTavish any favours with his play.

On the blueline, former NHLer Staffan Kronwall is pulling down a -6 while posting zero points while no other defender is worse than a -3. Defenceman Rushan Rafikov is the best defender in terms of offensive production with four points, but Nikita Cherepanov is the only plus defender out of all the blueliners who have played more than three games.

Ty Rattie, Anton Lander, and Stephane Da Costa have been playing well offensively, but this team ranks third-worst in power-play percentage (11.1%), is tied for third-worst in shots-on-goal (223), 13th in home shooting percentage (8.72%), and 8th in road shooting percentage (9.80%), and 12th-overall in shooting percentage (8.97%). If you're not getting a decent number of shots-on-goal, your middle-of-the-pack shooting percentage means little because this team simply isn't generating enough offence to score enough goals. Through eight games, they've only lit the lamp 20 times - 2.5 goals-per-game - meaning they'd need exceptional goaltending to earn more wins than losses. As shown above, that's not happening.

As they say in sports, the GM can't fire the team, so Craig MacTavish's Russian adventure has ended before it really got a chance to begin. Alexander Ardashev will take over in the interim as Lokomotiv looks to find a new coach quickly. Eight games literally is zero time for a coach to really get settled into his routine with his team, but the Russian pro league only cares about wins and losses.

Back to Edmonton? We'll see soon.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 23 September 2019

You Teased That?

The AHL's Colorado Eagles have been teasing the public about their new alternate jerseys for the last week. It may have actually been going on longer, but it seems they stepped it up over the weekend for sure as they invited fans to come check out their new alternate uniform. Honestly, teasers on third jerseys seem a little unnecessary, but that's the world we line in nowadays. If something is new, grab everyone's attention with some zoomed-in photos and off-center or blurred photos, and have at it. In any case, let's check out the goods that were teased out by the Colorado Eagles all last week.

That's... that's it? Your alternate jersey is identical to your NHL affiliate's primary jersey? I know it's not April, but is this some sort of joke that I'm just not getting?


In any case, if you're looking for things that are "different" compared to their normal jerseys, the Eagles chose to have a "silver and steel blue Colorado Eagles crest emblazoned on the chest" with the Colorado state flag on the left shoulder and the Avalanche logo on the right shoulder. Or, if you're not acquainted with the Eagles, the same patches on the same shoulders as their regular jerseys.

This is perhaps the worst jersey reveal with the most build-up I've seen in quite some time. I get that the AHL club wants to build a little hype for itself among its fanbase as players return to camp and get into the motions, but this is ridiculous. There's no creativity, no imagination, and certainly no reason to be building hype for something that looks like it could be made by buying pieces off eBay.

Let's stop teasing out these dumb jersey reveals unless there's something significantly different or unique about the jersey being unveiled. While some will point and say, "But you wrote about it, Teebz, so they got what they wanted," you're likely correct. However, I also am making a statement about how stupid this was, and I cannot emphasize this fact enough.

I'm disappointed that a professional minor-league franchise decided to simply copy their NHL affiliate and hype it as something that needs to be seen. It doesn't need to be anything because the actual NHL team in Colorado wears the same jerseys 40 times per season. And with that, I'm done talking about this.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 22 September 2019

A Special Day

I don't often post personal stuff, but I wanted to post this today because my brother is celebrating his birthday on this date. I've known him all my life being that I'm older, but there's often many moments as kids where one simply doesn't appreciate Mike one's siblings. We were quite different as kids, but I think we learned to appreciate one as we got older and into adult life. If there's one thing that I know, I know he's a solid dude who loves hockey, but all sports in general, and he'll be at the Jets-Flames game tonight as part of his celebration for the big day!

As kids, we collected hockey cards as most of our friends did, and one of the things we always looked for on the back of the cards were players who were born on our birthdays. The most famous guy we ever found as kids for my brother's birth date was New York Rangers netminder Mike Richter, but it seems that his birth date has become far more popular in recent generations.

Here are the players who played 200+ games in their careers who celebrate their birthday today along with my brother:

  • Mark Johnson, PIT/HAR/NJD (61).
  • Mike Richter, NY Rangers (53).
  • Pat Falloon, SJS/PHI (46).
  • Ethan Moreau, EDM/CHI/LAK (44).
  • Derick Brassard, NYR/OTT/PIT/FLA (32).
  • Alexander Wennberg, CBJ (25).
He's got some decent company in that list, and Richter has won a Stanley Cup so there's a champion in that list as well. While his favorite player in Drew Doughty isn't on the list, he's been a fan of some rather good teams as he was a Canadiens fan through the late-1980 and early-1990s before switching allegiances to the Colorado Avalanche. After his favorite players retired from there, he jumped over to the Kings in the early-2000s, and he's been cheering on the black-and-silver ever since.

Happy birthday, Derek. Have a beauty day and an even better year!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 21 September 2019

Alumni Updates

If you missed the news, there are a handful of Canadian players who have moved over to the SDHL - the Swedish women's professional hockey league - after the CWHL closed its doors. Among those women were two graduating Manitoba Bisons players as defenders Erica Rieder and Alexandra Anderson as they opted to take their games to Sweden in furthering their hockey careers following a highly-successful run at the University of Manitoba. How are they doing? That's the purpose of today's article.

Over the summer, Erica Rieder joined MODO after signing a contract with them while Anderson opted to join SDE HF. The former teammates met for the first time today as opponents, so there was likely a few laughs and stories shared prior to the game. However, both women are fierce competitors, so it was likely that the two of them weren't smiling once the puck was dropped. We'll get to those results in a moment, but there's a highlight to show first.

Both ladies are adapting to not only a new country, new cities, and new teams, but also new teammates, a larger ice surface, and new systems. Both were looking to get off on the right foot, and I've found video evidence of the first point recorded by Alexandra Anderson with SDE!
Anderson, wearing #18, fired a sharp pass to Leanne Ganney, captain of SDE and member of Team Great Britain, who redirected the puck past Djurgardens netminder and Canadian Samantha Ridgewell who starred with the NCAA's Merrimack College! Anderson's first point came in the second game of the season for SDE, so she seems to be finding her stride in the SDHL!

Rieder, on the other hand, has yet to get onto the scoresheet for MODO, but it should be noted that MODO as a team are also struggling in that department. As it stands today, MODO has scored just four goals in three games with half of those goals coming in their game today against SDE HF. Needless to say, Erica's lack of scoring thus far seems to be a more systemic problem than a player problem.

In any case, today was the first meeting between the two former Bisons rearguards. Let's take a look at the highlights of that game and see if either player can claim a little superiority over the other in this friendly rivalry. If you're looking for our two protagonists in this game, Erica is wearing #17 for MODO while Alex is wearing #18 for SDE.
You have heard names that you recognize. Lindsey Post, formerly of the Alberta Pandas and CWHL's Calgary Inferno, was playing net for SDE. Kelty Apperson, also formerly of the Inferno, had a pair of goals while former Inferno defender Jacqui Pierri had an assist. Our two favorite Swedish players - Anderson and Rieder - didn't factor into the 4-2 score, but SDE HF took the victory with three goals in the third period to erase a 2-1 deficit.

As it stands, SDE is currently tied for second-place in the SDHL at 3-0-0-0 trailing the 4-0-0-0 HV71 with a game in-hand. MODO, on the other hand, is struggling offensively as stated above, and their record shows it as they are winless in three games, going 0-3-0-0 thus far this season. The good news is that there's still a lot of hockey to play with SDE meeting Lulea tomorrow while MODO gets a bit of a break until the 28th where they'll face Goteborg.

It seems the two former Bisons are settling in nicely in their new cities and with their new teams. While they haven't piled up the points yet, they're playing well and honing their crafts in their rookies seasons. I have no doubt that future updates on these two alumni will involve more highlights and lots of talk about their exceptional play!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 20 September 2019

Historic Night

While I usually don't start articles with comments about Jumbotrons, that's one heckuva nightlight that the Wheat Kings had installed in Westoba Place. The WHL season opened up tonight with an all-Manitoba affair for the first time since 1977 when the Winnipeg Monarchs called the Manitoba capital home. The Wheat Kings, under their impressive new four-sided television, opened the season by playing host to the Winnipeg Ice on a night that literally saw the rivalry started with a bang!

Just 21 seconds into this game, the WHL saw its first ejection of the season when Brandon's Ridly Greig took a run at Winnipeg's Chase Hartje, making contact with the head. His ejection for a check to the head prompted Isaac Johnson of the Ice to take roughing penalty as well, so the rivalry between the two Manitoba clubs was off to a rather bullish start with 17 minutes in penalties before the game was 30 seconds old.

Once the teams finally decided to play hockey, the 4959 fans in attendance were treated to a fairly up-tempo hockey contest! There were no goals in the opening frame despite Brandon having two power-play opportunities to the Ice's one opportunity, so it was onto the second period where we'd see the scoring pick up.

Connor McClennon, who looked dangerous all night for the Ice, tipped home a Carson Lambos point shot past Brandon's Jiri Patera at 5:58 following a face-off win, and the Ice jumped out to the 1-0 lead off McClennon's historic marker. Later in the period, Michal Teply controlled the puck behind the net before finding a wide-open Isaac Johnson in the slot, and he made no mistake burying the puck at 17:11 to put Manitoba up 2-0! Brandon did have chances all period long, it seemed, but they were denied by both Winnipeg's Dean McNabb and the goal posts on a number of occasions!

The third period started the same way that the second period ended as Winnipeg scored another goal. Teply was on the doorstep to chip a loose puck past Patera after he juggled a Carson Lambos point shot, and the Ice had themselves a 3-0 lead just 33 seconds into the final frame. If Dave Lowry's Wheat Kings team needed a wake-up call, it had to come quickly!

Halfway through the third period, the Wheat Kings would finally solve McNabb when Lynden McCallum won a puck battle along the right-wing half-wall and sent a pass to Vincent Iorio whose shot tipped off someone in front and eluded McBann at 9:11 to make it a 3-1 contest! Minutes later, Luka Burzan carried the puck in over the blue line on the right side before centering a pass that found Zach Wytnick in the high-slot, and his high shot zipped past McNabb at 15:20 to make it a 3-2 game! Could Brandon complete the comeback in the final 4:40?

That answer would be no as the Ice withstood the final barrage by the Wheat Kings to win their first game as the Winnipeg ice by a 3-2 score! Brandon netminder Jiri Patera was named the first star of the game, and there's no doubt that it might have been a 5-2 or 6-2 game had Patera not made some highlight-reel saves. The Ice finished the game with 45 shots compared to the 26 that Brandon managed, and there were some pucks that looked like goals had it not been for the Czech netminder.

Mark these historic firsts down, folks:
  • September 20, 2019 - first win for the Winnipeg Ice in a 3-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings.
  • Dean McNabb earns the first win in net, stopping 24 of 26 shots.
  • Connor McClennon scored the first goal at 5:58 of the second period with Carson Lambos and Brad Ginnell earning the assists.
  • Isaac Johnson was the first Ice player penalized just 21 seconds into the game on a minor penalty for roughing.
It should also be noted that, thanks to the high humidity in Manitoba on Friday, the ice surface was covered in fog for the opening moments of each period. It looked to be pretty thick at times as shown on the broadcast.
Despite the somewhat spooky-looking conditions, this was a night to remember for the Ice franchise. Congratulations to the Winnipeg Ice on winning their first-ever game as residents of Winnipeg, and here's to many more this season and beyond as Winnipeg's new WHL team makes itself known in Winnipeg and Brandon!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 19 September 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 365

The Hockey Show, Canada' only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with the first show of Season Eight! It's hard to believe that Beans and I have been doing this weekly program for eight years already, but we're kicking off this new season with another set of interviews as we meet some of the players that were recruited by the Bisons women's hockey team for this season! While there won't be any cake, there definitely will be some snacks for the ladies who join us, so let's check out which players are part of Episode One in Season Eight!

These four ladies are the first to commit to The Hockey Show's annual "Meet the Kids" series we do, and Beans and I are proud to welcome - from left to right in the image - forward Samantha Sichkaruk, defender Camryn Gillis, forward Polina Goncharova, and defender Camille Enns to the show! We'll get the skinny on the careers thus far that these young women have built, hearing about growing up in Regina, Winnipeg, Moscow, and Linden, respectively, and we'll ask them all sorts of goofy, fun questions to bring out a little personality from each of them. The ladies returned from a road trip with the Bisons this past weekend as well, so we'll get their thoughts on how camp is going, how the weekend games went against Mount Royal and Calgary, and what it means to them to wear the brown-and-gold! Join us tonight as we meet the kids at 5:30pm CT!

How do you join us, you ask? 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! 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 Bisons women's hockey rookies Samantha Sichkaruk, Camryn Gillis, Polina Goncharova, and Camille Enns about coming to Winnipeg, playing in Winnipeg, figuring out the campus, figuring out university hockey, and much more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

PODCAST: September 19, 2019: Episode 365

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 18 September 2019

A Big Piece Of The Whale?

The city of Hartford hasn't had an NHL team for more than two decades, but the legacy of the Hartford Whalers lives on thanks to merchandising and, apparently, Tom Dundon's appreciation for the history of his franchise. It's always a little touching when someone finds a piece of the Whalers' history, and it seemed like a rather large dose of nostalgia fell upon a Hartford junk yard this week when the zamboni to the upper-left was sold a couple of weeks ago to scrapping business.

According to Corey Pollnow of WFSB Channel 3 in Hartford, "[t]wo Saturdays ago, a vintage Zamboni with a Whalers logo on the side was sold to a scrap metal yard in the north end of Hartford." That scrap yard is City Auto Parts on Fishfry Street, and that's where this mystery of the Whalers zamboni begins.
It seems the mystery doesn't yet have an ending, and the actual zamboni that the Whalers used is a different machine than the one currently sitting at City Auto Parts. Regardless, this is still a cool find, and I'm hopeful that it has a happy ending. Maybe Brian Ruben will get a chance to restore it yet?

Any artifact that keeps the Whalers alive in the city of Hartford is something that should be preserved. Hopefully, someone will find a way to purchase the zamboni and get it looking like new. It's a fun little story, even if the zamboni was never on the Civic Arena's surface.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Does EA Sports Use A Formula?

If there is one hotly-anticipated game that's released each year, it has to be EA Sports' NHL game. While NFL fans usually salivate over the latest Madden entry, the NHL games have been among the top-selling games each and every year. It's fun to see the hot rookies introduced into the game, and the new features always seem to grab the attention of gamers. However, I always struggled to understand how EA Sports came up with their player ratings each year because it seems like they kind of make it up rather than having some hard-and-fast formula on which they rely.

I might be entirely wrong, and I assume I am, but how does EA Sports differentiate a player rated 100 overall compared to a player rated 98 or 99 overall? How do they determine year from year what player ratings should be if they aren't factoring in real, measurable stats from the previous season? What is the formula they are using to determine these ratings?

I wanted to know this answer after seeing the work done on Hockey-Graphs regarding player ratings from NHL '93 to NHL 2005. As seen on the image below, Hockey-Graphs did a comparison of ratings given in 1993 versus the ratings that EA Sports handed out in 2005, and there's a pretty clear distinction between the two games.
As you can see, the distribution of ratings in NHL '93 was much more even in terms of the entire collection of players whereas NHL 2005 seems to have a very large amount (half of all players) rated between 71-80. In fact, if you look at the graph on the site linked above, there's no player rated 40 or lower in any NHL game after NHL '96.

Is EA Sports artificially boosting player ratings? Possibly. Some of that, as Hockey-Graphs also hypothesizes, is likely due to the NHLPA agreeing to have its players represented in the game. It's very likely that none of the players appreciated being rated particularly low, so I imagine that EA Sports cut a deal with the NHLPA to have most players rated 70 or better. It's easier to keep everyone happy that way.

It's here, however, where we start to see some of the cracks in this deal as there are no fewer than four players in NHL '98 rated 100 - Dominik Hasek, Sergei Fedorov, Eric Lindros, and Jaromir Jagr - while there were no fewer than three players rated 99 overall - Ray Bourque, Patrick Roy, and Pavel Bure.

Hasek won the Hart and Vezina Trophies in 1997, so it's understandable to see why he'd be rated as the best goaltender in the game. Jagr finished sixth-overall in scoring, Lindros was 23rd-overall in scoring despite playing just 52 games, and Fedorov was 43rd-overall in scoring behind snipers such as Travis Green, Andrew Cassels, and Josef Stumpel.

Personally, it's hard to rank a guy like Fedorov in NHL '98 as a 100 overall if he's third on his team in scoring, some 22 points behind second-place and 24 points behind the leader. It's even harder to stomach when the guy who was second in scoring on the Red Wings - Steve Yzerman - was rated as a 76 in NHL '98. Yes, Fedorov did lead the Red Wings in scoring in the playoffs, but it's not like Yzerman fell off the map in helping the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup in 1997. How did EA Sports come to these player ratings?

To give you an idea how much the needle moved with regards to artificially improving player ratings, consider the plight of goaltender Bob Essensa. Essensa was mostly a journeyman goaltender who found success in Winnipeg before being discarded by the Red Wings following a trade. He bounced around as a backup netminder for a number of years, finding NHL work with Edmonton, Phoenix, Vancouver, and Buffalo.

In NHL '95, Essensa was a 51 overall with the Winnipeg Jets. In NHL '96 and NHL '97, he didn't even make the game before resurfacing in Edmonton in NHL '98 as a 58 overall. He followed that up in NHL '99 with a 56 overall before jumping up to 75 overall in NHL 2000. How on earth did Essensa make a 19-point overall improvement on his rating as a backup netminder with the Oilers?

Here are those three seasons of stats compiled by Bob Essensa.
In 1997-98, Essensa actually posted better overall numbers as he went 6-6-1 with a 2.55 GAA and a .913 save percentage which EA Sports determined would lead to a 56 overall rating, two points worse than one season earlier! And in 1998-99, Essensa went 12-14-6 with a 2.75 GAA and a .901 save percentage, but was rated a 75 in NHL 2000?!? Clearly, something is way off with Essensa's rating in 2000, but maybe it was just a one-off?

The issue with this is that it wasn't a one-off. Essensa's overall player ratings from 2001 until 2003 were 72, 76, and 70, respectively. Essensa's final rating of 70 was based on a season in which he went 0-5-0 in nine games for Buffalo while posting a 2.91 GAA and an .850 save percentage! How is he rated 70 for that season, but a 56 in NHL '99 when he statistically was superior in every category?

It seems that trophy winners received significant bumps in their ratings. After winning the Hart Trophy in 1994, Sergei Fedorov's rating jumped from 84 in NHL' 94 to 99 in NHL '95. After winning the Hart Trophy in 1994-95, Eric Lindros jumped from an 84 overall rating in NHL '95 to a 100 rating in NHL '96. Mario Lemieux was rated as a 100 overall in NHL '94 after winning the Art Ross Trophy in 1993. Jaromir Jagr went from an 87 in NHL '95 to a 97 in NHL '96 after capturing the scoring title.

Ironically, Nicklas Lidstrom won his first Norris Trophy in 2000-01 and the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP for the playoffs, and saw his player rating go from a 94 in NHL 2001 to an 84 in NHL 2002, the lowest he was rated by EA Sports since NHL '97. It seems, as far as I can tell, that his drop of two points in scoring between 1999-2000 when he posted 73 points and the 71 points he scored in 2000-01 was the impetus for the drop in his player rating of ten points. Yet when he scored just 59 points in 2001-02 and won his second Norris Trophy as the league's bets defender, Lidstrom received a 98 overall rating in NHL 2003.

Simply baffling.

So what does it all mean? It's very likely that EA Sports is simply another marketing tool for the NHL and the NHLPA. Players are given favorable ratings thanks to the number of players who play video games in today's NHL, and having half the NHL rated 71-80 as Hockey-Graphs showed means that there are very few players who fall into the "not very good" category that early NHL games had with their player ratings.

Of course, I could be wrong and perhaps there is some algorithm or advanced mathematical formula that gives EA Sports precise player ratings based on the individual skills and abilities that are rated for each player. If EA Sports does indeed have this formula, I could see them wanting to ensure it remains under lock and key so that others can't replicate their advanced math and build a player rating system of one's own.

In seeing the artificially-boosted player ratings as shown in the Hockey-Graphs images, I thought of a key line from The Incredibles uttered by Syndrome as he planned to market his technology as a "superpower" so everyone could be a superhero. He said,
While parity may be real in the NHL today, it shouldn't be among player ratings in the NHL series. The is simply no way that a 59-point season for Jeremy Roenick is the same as a 79-point season for Alexander Mogilny, yet both were rated as a 90 overall in NHL 2004 after posting those point totals in 2002-03. Frankly, that's just downright ridiculous.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 16 September 2019

Maybe Try Sportsmanship?

If there was one thing that I went to the penalty box for more than anything else in my playing days as a defenceman, it was when someone touched my goaltender. It's an unwritten rule that goalies are off-limits when it comes to bodychecks - intentional or not - and there's often a price to pay for those who decide to ignore that rule and bump the goalie. Or worse. On Saturday night, there was a clear instance of "worse" in a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League game between the visiting Yorkton Terriers and the Melville Millionaires. This play didn't tip-toe around the line. It was flat-out intentional with what appeared to be an aim to kill.

With ten minutes to play in the third period and the Millionaires leading 5-1 over the Terriers, the Terriers' Greg Mulhall chipped the puck past the Millionaires defenders while shorthanded and raced up the ice hoping to corral the loose puck. With no defenders standing between the net and Mulhall, Millioanires netminder Berk Berkeliev came out to try and clear the puck away before Mulhall could get there. What happened next is entirely abhorrent and disgusting.
Watch the clip again and notice that Mulhall doens't slow up, leans into the check, uses his arms to deliver the full blow, and Berkeliev's helmet go flying off towards his net. Ladies and gentlemen, that is one of the most brutal checks I've ever seen thrown not just at a goaltender, but by any player on another player. Needless to say, Berkeliev was hurt on the play, and it seems that one of the Millionaires tried to pummel Mulhall before the pile of players who followed landed on top of Mulhall and the Millionaires defender.

Mulhall, for what it's worth, received a game misconduct for what the officials deemed as intent to injure.

After Berkeliev spent the night at the hospital, details about his injuries were revealed today. According to Millionaires head coach and general manager Kyle Adams who spoke to CBC, "Berkeliev was knocked out and suffered a concussion, a cut in his upper lip that required eight to 10 stitches, another cut on the back of his head that required five stitches and some missing teeth". Adams added that he was released from hospital on Sunday morning, but was to head back to the hospital today "to undergo a CT scan of his brain Monday because of the concussion symptoms."

"You know, it was one of the dirtiest plays in hockey I've ever seen in all my years of playing and coaching," Adams told Kelly Provost of the CBC. I'd have a hard time finding any disagreement with that statement when you consider the damage that Mulhall did to Berkeliev with that hit. As stated above, goalies are off-limits for even incidental contact, so throwing a check like Mulhall did should warrant a considerable vacation from the game of hockey, if not more.

Today, the SJHL Discipline Committee did rule on the hit, and Mulhall was handed the longest suspension in recent SJHL history as he was given a 25-game suspension. According to SJHL President Bill Chow, one of the three people on the Discipline Committee, it was decided that Mulhall's hit wasn't a hockey play, prompting the long length of the suspension which should deter others from committing these reckless acts of violence.

"He made no intention to play the puck," Chow said to Provost. "He went strictly to play the body. And you got a goalie that's in a vulnerable position."

As per the CBC report, "Adams said he was satisfied with the 25-game suspension, but was hoping it was going to be even longer."

"To me, that was the minimum that he should have got," Adams said. "So I am pleased that this league did step forward and put a harsh suspension on the player."

What perhaps needs to be said here that wasn't said in the CBC story was that this game was already on the verge of chaos based on the penalties that were being handed out. Melville recorded 18 minutes in penalties, including a ten minute misconduct, while Yorkton committed six minor penalties in the opening period alone. The second period saw Melville take 14 more minutes, including a second ten-minute misconduct while Yorkton add 26 minutes in penalties that featured two ten-minute misconducts, one of which was assessed to Mulhall after he was called for roughing late in the period. And in the ten minutes leading up to the brutal check by Mulhall, Melville added 34 more minutes by way of two ten-minute misconducts and a game misconduct while Yorkton added another 19 minutes via a fight and a game misconduct.

In total, Melville committed 23 penalties for 143 minutes in penalties while Yorkton recorded 86 minutes in penalties on 20 infractions. Clearly, the officials were struggling to keep some kind of order in this game based on how these two teams were going at one another. I'd fault both coaches on that, so we need to be a little mindful of who is innocent here when looking at the big picture. There's no doubt that goaltender the hit that goaltender Berk Berkeliev is a clear match penalty, but it seems the rough stuff that had been happening all throughout the game may have been a prelude to this event. Again, that falls on the coaches to rein in their players so that we never get to a point where a player decides to throw a hit like one that Mulhall threw on Berkeliev.

Regardless of all this, I just hope that Berkeliev gets out of this with his senses intact and he can return to the game. Mulhall will have lots of time to reflect on his poor life choices while he awaits the 25 games to elapse if he's still on Yorkton's roster at that time. Kudos to the SJHL and President Bill Chow and the Discipline Committee for throwing the book at Mulhall for his poor decision that will cost Berkeliev a pile of time in his recovery from this brainless hit.

Actions have consequences, folks, and this suspension is a consequence that carries a heavy message.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 15 September 2019

Championship Post

I've been busy with slo-pitch playoffs all weekend as the team I play on is in the midst of trying to win a championship. While Friday's games were rained out, the sun was out yesterday and today, and I have the sunburn to prove it. That being said, the Castaways were working towards a perfect round-robin record with the hopes of gaining a berth in the final. According to some of the veterans on the team, the last time the Castaways won was ten years ago! Needless to say, there was some push to try and erase that drought without a celebration, and the team came ready to play yesterday. Would we see the same effort today?

Because of the rain on Friday, all teams that were scheduled to play against one another were given a tie. The team that we were supposed to play against likely was the best of the teams we were to face all weekend, so there was some disappointment in not measuring ourselves against what could be a finalist. However, the defensive effort on Saturday morning was rather impressive, and a rally in the latter stages of the afternoon game against a second team that had its heart set on being on the final pushed the Castaways to a 2-0-1 record through Saturday.

I can officially say the Castaways went 4-0-1 through the round-robin with two more convincing wins on Sunday. That effort earned us a berth in the final against the 3-0-2 opponent who we should have faced on Friday night. The Castaways hit well all weekend, but, more importantly, they used the "defence wins championships" mantra throughout the four round-robin games to advance to the final. Could that effort last for one more game?

For the first time in league history, the final ended with a shutout as the Castaways defeated their opponents by a 12-0 score! The drought is over, there were adult beverages consumed, and the trophy was hoisted by all the Castaways who can officially call themselves champions!

I'm not going to lie - I'm sore, I'm tired, I'm sunburned, and it's taken me considerable effort just to write this. But we won. And that's a pretty good trade-off for the muscle pain and exhaustion right now. With that, I'm calling it a day. I'll write something hockey-related tomorrow. Tonight, I'm basking in our victory and not apologizing for it!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 14 September 2019

Never Seen That Before

As seen to the left, there's a moment in the movie Slap Shot where the police arrive at the dressing room of the Charlestown Chiefs to arrest the Hanson brothers. Reggie Dunlop, played by Paul Newman, eventually bails them out of jail, but it's something hockey fans rarely see happen. It seems, however, that the WHA - a league that always pushed boundaries - decided to do one better than what was portrayed in Slap Shot early the 1978 season when the Indianapolis Racers visited the Edmonton Oilers.

If the name Bruce Greig doesn't immediately strike you, that's likely because Bruce Greig's hockey career at the highest levels saw him play nine games in the NHL and just 60 games in the WHA. He had a long hockey career, but it was at lower levels than the NHL and WHA. Nevertheless, he did have a cup of coffee with the California Golden Seals and California Seals in the NHL before spending seven games with the Calgary Cowboys, 32 games with the Cincinnati Stingers, and 21 games with the Indianapolis Racers. It would be with Indianapolis where things took a turn for the weird for Grieg.

Without further explanation, I am posting the following newspaper clipping written by Terry Jones, Edmonton correspondent to The Indianapolis News, on Saturday, November 18, 1978. Click the image to read the clipping.
As stated in the clipping, the Edmonton police arrested the 24 year-old Greig during a stoppage in play while he sat on the Racers bench with 2:46 remaining in the third period. According to the report, Greig had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for allegedly assaulting a fan while he was a member of the Calgary Cowboys in 1976 while the Cowboys had been visiting Edmonton during the 1976-77 season.

Apparently, the Stingers never visited Edmonton during his 32-game stint in the 1977-78 season, so the Edmonton police made the arrest with Greig and the Racers visiting in November of 1978. After a scuffle that Greig and his teammates put up with the arresting officers, the Racers forward was led back to the dressing room where he was arrested as the final 2:46 was played out on the ice.

The warrant that the Edmonton police were executing apparently stemmed from a Calgary-Edmonton game on February 13, 1977 when Greig and teammate Peter Driscoll were sent to the penalty box after being called for penalties. Greig apparently threw a punch at an Oilers fan while sitting in the penalty box. The fan pressed charges for assault, and the Edmonton police finally caught up with Greig upon his return to Northlands Coliseum with the Racers on November 17, 1978.

While there aren't any online records to see if he plead his innocence or plead guilty to the charges, there is an ironic twist to this story as a June 7, 1979 story in The New York Times states that the merger between the NHL and WHA saw Bruce Greig claimed by the Edmonton Oilers as part of their entry into the NHL! Perhaps he made enough of an impact during his few visits to Edmonton that the Oilers wanted him playing with them as opposed to against them?

Whatever the reasons were, Greig never played in Edmonton again following his arrest on November 17, 1978. He played in the IHL with Toledo and Dayton in 1979-80, the EHL with the Salem Raiders in 1980-81, the CHL with Dallas before returning to Salem who joined the ACHL in 1981-82, followed by stints with Virginia and Carolina in the ACHL in 1982-83, the Mohawk Valley Stars in the ACHL in '83-84, and finally with the Spokane Chiefs of the WIHL in '84-85.

After retiring from hockey, Bruce Greig began powerlifting where he excelled at the sport. Grieg held several Canadian powerlifting records and served as the President of the Canadian Powerlifting Council which existed until 2010 when it was replaced by the Canadian Powerlifting Federation. Bruce and his estranged wife, Wendy, operated the Back Alley Gym in Okotoks, Alberta where it was popular among powerlifters and body builders. The gym closed in 2007 after Bruce Greig went through undisclosed personal problems.

Unfortunately, a car accident claimed Bruce Greig's life in 2008. At the time, Greig posted the tenth-highest deadlift of all-time at 308 pounds. He also held the Masters 40-44 age group and Masters 45-49 age group deadlift WPC World Records at 308 pounds as well. The 56 year-old was killed in a single-car collision near Nanton, Alberta, approximately 50 kilometers south of Okotoks. Funeral services were held in Nanton.

Bruce Greig may have led a more difficult life after hockey, but he holds a special place in hockey history after Edmonton police arrested him on the visitors' bench during the Indianapolis Racers' visit to Edmonton on November 17, 1978. If anyone asks if a player has ever been arrested mid-game, you now know the answer to that trivia question!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 13 September 2019

New Clothes!

With school having started, it was inevitable that there would be new clothes and new fashions seen at institutions across the land. The hockey world seems to follow this trend as it was a busy week for a number of teams in a few leagues when it came to new clothes! I'll admit that I have specific things I like when looking at new designs and alternate jerseys, and I'm usually swift to nail those that I don't like to the wall. Instead, I'm going to do something a little different today when it comes to the five jerseys we're going to see today.

When it comes to hockey fashion in past articles, I literally would explain why I don't like something with the hopes of gaining your understanding as to how I feel about the style or design of the uniform. Today, I'm simply going to use a couple of sentences to describe how I feel about these uniforms. Some will be good; other sentences will not be as positive. In the end, you'll know exactly how I feel about each one.

Calgary Flames - Heritage Game

You know when you put on a tailored suit and it fits right, and you feel like a movie star or a celebrity thanks to the fit? This is how the Calgary Flames should look all season long with their traditional design, sharp lines, and classic colours. Simply beautiful.

Winnipeg Jets - Heritage Game

The Jets may have corrected a mistake with this Heritage Classic jersey after introducing their "Aviator" alternate jersey. This jersey is how everyone remembers the Jets, and there should be a petition and some local support in having the Jets adopt this as their alternate jersey. Outstanding!

ECHL Jacksonville Icemen Alternate

Is there something in the water in the southeastern United States that prompts teams to abandon their city names and/or team names and opt for a nickname? The Icemen play in Jacksonville, not "Jax," and I have never heard anyone refer to Jacksonville as "Jax". This is beyond dumb, even for a minor-league alternate jersey.

Edmonton Oilers Alternate

The Oilers have had memorable alternate jerseys in the past - the Todd MacFarlane jersey and the WHA orange alternate - but this one is memorable for all the wrong reasons. I get that the Oilers are blue and orange, but this is neither innovative nor imaginative. I'd store these in black garbage bags inside a dumpster behind Rogers Place if I were the equipment manager.

NCAA Union College Dutchmen

For a school that had four jersey combinations two seasons ago, the introduction of a new uniform seems a little unnecessary at this point, especially if one considers the tuition costs to go to Union College. Nevertheless, this uniform is about as collegiate as one can get with the basic block lettering across a stripe that only extends across the chest, zero stripes anywhere, and an entire lack of a logo. Are the Dutchmen playing Division-1 NCAA hockey or intramural hockey this season?

At least we know that the Heritage Classic in late October will look good this year. The Oilers, the Icemen, and the Dutchmen likely should head back to the drawing board for some do-overs based on the efforts they turned in with these uniforms. How some of these uniforms see the light of day always baffle me, and these three teams have left me shaking my head once again.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 12 September 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 364

The Hockey Show, Canada' only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with the first of what should be a number of shows where we meet the new players who will suit up for the Bisons this year. Beans is off tonight on a scheduled vacation from the show so it'll just be Teebz in the studio as the host, but he will be joined by another gentleman as we get to know him a little as he embarks on a new adventure in university learning and on the ice with the Bisons men's hockey team! He's been all over the map through western Canada already, though, so playing for the Bisons might feel like his days in the WHL!

Tonight, Teebz goes one-on-one with one of the new Bisons netminders as Tyler Brown makes his first visit to The Hockey Show! Tyler is a WHL graduate after spending his career with the Regina Pats and Saskatoon Blades after Regina recruited him from the MMJHL's Winnipeg Wild following a championship season there! I'll talk to Tyler about growing up in Winnipeg, his time at Dakota Collegiate, playing with the Winnipeg Warriors and Winnipeg Wild, moving to Regina and suiting up with the Pats, Pats coach and GM and former Winnipeg Jets coach John Paddock, a few key games where Tyler was a star, his trade to the Saskatoon Blades, moving home to join the Bisons, and more! There's a lot to go over with Tyler as we meet one of the goalies who will backstop the Bisons men's team this season, and I'm proud, honoured, privileged, and humbled to be able to sit down with him! Please join us at 5:30pm CT for the chat!

How do you join us, you ask? 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! 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 chats with new Bisons netminder Tyler Brown about how he got started in net, guarding the net for an MMJHL championship, being a WHL netminder, learning his craft under a former NHL coach, being traded to a new net, coming home to protect the nets, and much more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

PODCAST: September 12, 2019: Episode 364

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!