Tuesday 30 June 2020

Let's Make A Deal For $50

My apologies to comedian Wayne Brady on this one, but I'm going Canadian with the lede image as Winnipegger Monty Hall takes center stage from his time on the popular CBS game show Let's Make A Deal. For many people, Monty Hall's lasting legacy will be persuading contestants on the game show to choose one of three doors which had prizes behind them. This led to an interesting probability paradox that confounded scholars for years known as the "Monty Hall Problem", but that's not what I'm writing about here today despite the interesting fallout from that problem that plagued one scholar. Instead, I want to look at the one year that Monty Hall broke down games for the New York Rangers as a hockey analyst on the radio!

Hall was born Monte Halparin on August 25, 1921 in Winnipeg, Manitoba where he attended Lord Selkirk School and St. John's High School in north Winnipeg. Hall was a good student who worked hard, but his love of sports shone through as he was a dedicated Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan and cheered for the local minor hockey teams.

Hall would enroll at the University of Manitoba where his work in theatre was secondary to his love of science where he worked hard to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and zoology after his dreams of being a doctor were dashed due to the university's secret quota on allowing Jewish students into the program. With Hall's application to the School of Medicine denied, he earned his chemistry and zoology degree while serving as the University of Manitoba Students' Union President and continuing his work in musicals and drama productions.

Thanks to his growing number of emcee jobs and productions seen across the city, Halparin found work on the radio as a radio host on CKRC (now 99.9 BOB FM in Winnipeg). While he found work at the Canadian Wheat Board for a short while, his passions took him to Toronto where he landed on CHUM radio in 1946. An error on a promotional material saw his name listed as "Monty", and he opted to work under his new performance name as "Monty Hall"!

Hall would continue to work in Toronto for CHUM and CFRB before moving to CBC television in 1952, but his run at CBC was cut short when the station cancelled his programs and offered him no additional work. Hall returned to Winnipeg disappointed, but not disillusioned.

In 1955, Hall moved to New York City where he traveled between The Big Apple and Toronto doing various radio and television jobs. It was in 1959 where Hall had an interview with Herb Goren, public relations manager for the New York Rangers, and the discussion went well as both men shared a passion for the game of hockey. Goren suggested that Hall meet with Les Keiter at WINS - a CBS radio station - as the station was looking for a colour analyst for New York Rangers games!

Keiter's interview with Hall was just a formality as Hall was virtually hired on the spot. Neil Best of Newsday wrote,
"'All I said was 'hello' and he just hired me,' Hall said. 'No tryout. I guess my qualifications were that I came from the Far North and played a little bit of hockey in my time. It was a dream job for me... Anyone who comes from there has hockey in their blood.'"
In an interesting twist as Best notes, the budget to pay Hall for each game was $75, but Hall was only plaid $50 as Keiter pocketed the other $25! Hall didn't seem to mind, though, telling Best, "I told him I would have done it for nothing."

While Hall only spent one year on the radio working New York Rangers games, he was part of a game-changing moment on November 1, 1959. If you're a hockey historian, you'll recall that day as the game between the Rangers and Montreal Canadiens where Andy Bathgate's rising shot early in the first period caught Montreal goaltender Jacques Plante on the cheekbone, opening up a large cut across the goalie's face. With no backup netminders in that day, the game stopped while Plante received medical attention.

Plante had been wearing the mask in practices and during warm-ups for a while, and Hall noted that Plante had been wearing prior to the Rangers-Canadiens game. While Plante was receiving his stitches to close the wound, Hall remarked on the radio broadcast, "It wouldn’t surprise me if he comes out wearing that mask," wherein the Madison Square Garden crowd welcomed a masked Jacques Plante back to the ice with a chorus of boos after seeing the netminder return with his new face protection. Undeterred by the Rangers' faithful, Plante's play seem unaffected by the mask as he backstopped the Canadiens to a 3-1 win on that night with only Camille Henry's power-play goal in the third period to get by him.

With Hall having called a monumental piece of hockey history, it seemed like his job as the New York Rangers colour analyst was a dream come true for the Winnipegger, but he moved to California in the fall of 1960 to host a new CBS game show called Video Village. It would be the start of something life-changing for Hall, though, as he developed and created a new game show called Let's Make A Deal that aired on December 30, 1963 for the first time. The show would endure through six decades of television across all three major US networks - CBS, NBC, and ABC - airing for 3200 episodes between 1963 and 1976!

Hall was always proud of his work as a Rangers analyst and loved to keep up with hockey, but I found it somewhat odd that Hall never really found a way to get back in the game following the 1967 NHL Expansion. While he would attend Los Angeles Kings games, Hall's work in and around the NHL never really materialized in California despite making friends with players and personnel of the Kings. Whatever his reasons were, I believe Hall made out pretty well with his television career, so maybe there wasn't a need or want to get back into hockey from that angle.

Monty Hall passed away on September 30, 2017 at the age of 96, and it was clear that he had a major impact on television during his life. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 24, 1973 and received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in 2002, becoming the third game-show host to receive the honours in both countries as he followed Alex Trebek and Howie Mandel. After years of raising money for a number of charitable organizations - estimated to be close to $1 billion - Hall was the recipient of The Order of Canada in 1988 and he was appointed as a Member of The Order of Manitoba in 2003. On October 13, 2007, Hall was one fo the first inductees into the Game Show Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, Nevada, and he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Daytime Emmy Awards.

It's pretty clear to see why Hall was beloved on television and for his charitable work which he never refused to do. It makes me proud that Monte Halparin - Monty Hall - was a proud of his Winnipeg roots, and it tickles me to know that Hall was part of the one of the most important dates in hockey history when the goalie mask went from "odd quirk" to "essential protection".

Monty Hall's legacy will likely never be equaled, and I'm proud to call him one of my city's greatest individuals.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 29 June 2020

A Case Of The Mondays

When i first watched Office Space, this particular scene resonated with me because there was a woman in my office who used terms like "case of the Mondays" when she was poking fun at people. Like Peter in the movie, it grated on my nerves, but that was a while back and I've since switched to a new company where I have less people coming at me with cases of Mondays. The weird thing is that today, being a Monday, hit me hard in that I found myself busier than usual, but feeling less motivated to do anything. It could be because I begin a short holiday on Wednesday which is also Canada Day and usually Free Agent Frenzy Day, but everything is different this year. No free agency, no big signings, no earth-shattering free agent moves.

Because I feel entirely unmotivated in writing about COVID-19, hub cities, the NHL's testing of 250 players, the more-than-1450 tests given to those players (seriously? Five tests per player?), the 26 cases found to go along with the 10 cases seen in the spring, and anything else to do with this whole pandemic and the craziness of trying to set up a bubble for 12 teams in each conference, I'm taking the night off for some rest and relaxation.

It's sweltering in my neck of the woods today, and I really don't feel like sitting in front of a computer screen when it's 40°C outside. I'm going to fix myself a cool beverage, lie low with the air conditioning on, and take the night off. Tomorrow is another day where there will be another story to write about the pandemic and the NHL, so I'm tapping out on this one.

Besides, there's carrot cake in the fridge just waiting to have a piece taken out of it, and I'm already halfway out of the chair to do just that!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 28 June 2020

A Year In France

Today's hockey stars often have homes in warm climates where they retreat to during the off-season and when their playing days are over. Most times, these warm-climate places are where families are raised and roots are put down as NHL stars settle into normal life. It's not often you find NHL stars leaving North America to continue playing elsewhere once their storied careers are over, but Bob Gainey retired from the NHL and the Montreal Canadiens after being beaten by the Calgary Flames in the 1989 Stanley Cup Final only to find himself as the player-coach in the 1989-90 season for the Épinal Écureuils of the National 1B League in France! How did Gainey land in France? Why did he take the position of player-coach for a relatively obscure team? Let's find out as we explore Gainey's lone season playing in northeastern France!

Gainey had no need to go play in France for one season after winning five Stanley Cups, four Selke trophies, and a Conn Smythe Trophy with Les Glorieux in a career that needed no additional hockey accomplishments. It seems that Épinal bringing Gainey to the French city was identical to how Bobby Hull was wooed to join the WHA - a collection of various sources of money.

Following the conclusion of the 1988-89 season that saw the Calgary Flames emerge victorious over the Montreal Canadiens in six games, Bob Gainey announced his retirement after the series ended. It was at this time where Épinal's hockey team - mired in unstable ownership - saw Épinal mayor Philippe Séguin and Écureuils president Michel Latour made the pitch to Gainey to join the club for the 1989-90 season as player-coach after having first discussing the idea with Gainey nearly one year earlier.

Gainey was touted in Épinal as the biggest hockey star to ever suit up for a hockey game in France, but there was still work to be done. To compensate their new star, Séguin and Latour rallied sponsors, supporters, and the city to the tune of $1 million for Gainey to join the club. Gainey accepted the deal, and, on July 12, 1989, French newspaper La Liberté de l'Est announced the signing of Bob Gainey by Les Écureuils!

Again, you might be asking why Gainey would make this jump from the NHL at the age of 35 to a second-tier French team, and Gainey told David Winch of The Gazette on October 21, 1989, "I know I needed a change. This gives me a taste of something new."

The Gaineys would arrive in August as they began their new life in the city of 30000 people. There was a lot of work to do with Les Écureuils to have them play the style of game that Gainey was used to playing with the Canadiens while assessing the squad that he was given for their first season in the National 1B League.

"It took a while to get used to the players," Gainey told Winch. "We had about five days’ preparation. We were moved up to the second division, where the season begins earlier, while we'd been expecting an October season opener. We've got a group of young players. Some fit in while others didn't, and as coach I had to make some changes."

Gainey's experience as a player was easily seen in comparison to his teammates' experiences, but the season started with two lopsided losses as Gainey opted to set up teammates while playing more defensively.

"He had all sorts of chances to score in those two games the team lost," Pascal Balland, hockey writer for the daily L'Est Republicain, told Winch. "He had open shots on net he passed up. Instead, he held back, feeding passes, playing defensively, setting everything up. He played for the team."

For Les Écureuils, regular-season crowds of 600-700 fans doubled in size as Gainey's legend in the city grew. In their third game of the season, 1600 fans packed La Patinoire to witness Gainey put the team on his shoulders as he logged somewhere near forty minutes of ice time to help Épinal beat the previously-undefeated Anglet by an 11-6 score. Gainey, who started the season as a defender - a position he hadn't played since prior to joining the OHL's Peterborough Petes - moved himself back to his usual forward position he was seen playing in the NHL, and the results saw Gainey choose to remain as a forward for Épinal for the remainder of the season.

Gainey played on a line with Eric Lamoureux and Frédéric Favre which saw him rediscover some of his offensive flair. Favre was a solid linemate who came in from playing in the top-tier Ligue Magnus with Bordeaux while the young Lamoureux brought speed and skill after spending a season in the third-tier French league with Deuil-la-Barre. Combined with a defensively-minded forward in Gainey, the two saw a ton of success while flanking the former Canadiens star as Lamoureux would finish fourth in league scoring in 1989-90 with 35 goals and 60 points in 28 games while Favre, as the captain, has no stats listed online, but he seems to have had a career year as well based on articles written. For the record, Gainey finished the season in 21st-place in overall scoring with 14 goals and 26 points.

While Les Écureuils d'Épinal didn't win the National 1B League in 1989-90, Gainey's influence on the team and region saw the team's stature in European hockey rise. Gainey would leave following that single season in France to become the head coach of the Minnesota North Stars in 1990-91, but Épinal saw other European players of prominence join the squad in the following years.

It didn't end with a championship, but that's a quick summary of Bob Gainey's one season with the second-tier French squad known as the Épinal Squirrels. Of course, Gainey would return to work with North Stars and Dallas Stars, earning himself another Stanley Cup ring in 1999 as the general manager of the Dallas Stars. He would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992, and his #23 was retired by the Montreal Canadiens on February 23, 2008.

That's a pretty solid career for a Squirrel, I'd say.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 27 June 2020

Worst Travel Agent Ever: Part Two

It's hard for me to sit here and celebrate anything that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has done after he gutted the post-secondary education system's grants and contributions that the government had made for years, leading to the eventual suspension of the hockey programs in Lethbridge as they look to find funding while Alberta has opted out of this abbreviated season. I generally don't like piling on top of people after they've already made some rather amazing errors in leadership like Kenney did when he posted this ridiculous video to his social media in an attempt to convince the NHL to pick Edmonton as a restart hub city, but more news came out today that Jason Kenney's choice of video might have been one of the all-time stupidest blunders by a government leader in the history of sports.

Tonight, a woman by the name of Lori Andrews posted the following comment on Twitter. From Lori's brief biography on the social media site, she's an "insanely happy interior designer and photographer" whose work you can see here.
You mean to tell me that the video Jason Kenney used wasn't even produced by his government? Worse yet, he took them without asking, didn't credit the video team, and used them without payment, credit, or permission? That's a serious allegation, but it seems Miss Andrews has the evidence needed to make a claim, so let's dig into this.

You might be wondering where Kenney lifted the video from since Miss Andrews' tweet doesn't give much reference. Well, another gentleman stepped up to the plate and delivered a clutch hit when Joseph Shea, a musician and mountain-loving climate observer, dropped this little video as a reply to Miss Andrews after he recognized the vocal artist on Kenney's video as Ellen Braun who is part of his band!
This video was produced by Pursuit Collection and posted to their YouTube channel on July 11, 2019! Pursuit, as their YouTube bio reads, "is about our extraordinary life journey and the memories we create together along the way. We are a collection of leading experiential adventure experiences in iconic destinations in Alaska, Montana, Western Canada and coming in 2019, Iceland."

Now compare that video to the one that Kenney posted on his social media five days ago to entice the NHL.
It seems as though there are different videos spliced together from the "Banff Jasper" collection of videos that Pursuit did for their own business that Kenney is trying to pass off as his own! What exactly is going on at the Alberta legislature where Jason Kenney doesn't even vet the videos he's putting out on his social media? Why is this guy being allowed to lead anything when he legitimately stole video from Pursuit and passed it off as his own?

This is legitimately plagiarism - he stole copyrighted work done by someone else and passed it off as his own. Yes, there likely was some staff member who produced the video and didn't tell Kenney that he or she had stolen and spliced the video, but Kenney is still responsible for vetting the video if he's tweeting it out as an official video from him. This is basic work that clearly his government has little regard for or care to do after his first copyright fiasco led to a second copyright fiasco over stolen logos.

For all that he promised, Jason Kenney is an unmitigated disaster in office. From destroying the post-secondary education system to these repeated, flagrant copyright violations, this Alberta UCP government might go down as the worst in the province's history.

If Vancouver doesn't want the NHL games played there by choice, Edmonton should now lose the right to host the games as punishment for stealing someone else's work. The video was ridiculous at first, but with this new wrinkle in the story it just got criminally bad. That kind of behaviour deserves punishment, not reward, and the NHL should consider this when deciding on its western hub city.

If you're caught cheating, you don't get to win. Do the right thing here, NHL, and eliminate Edmonton from the hub city competition for this grand display of outright stupidity.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 26 June 2020

A Tough Choice

I would admittedly be cynical of the NHL's Draft Lottery process as well if I were a Detroit fan after seeing the Red Wings drop from a league-worst finish at the time of the "pause" to fourth-overall at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Upon closer inspection, though, it should be noted that since the introduction of the lottery, the odds-on favorite to win the top pick in the NHL Entry Draft has happened just twice when Toronto selected first-overall in 2016 and Buffalo selected first-overall in 2018. What bothers me more, however, is that a team who was to miss the playoffs based on points percentages and will now be playing in August thanks to the play-in round for the NHL Playoffs will pick first-overall as the worst teams will see a team markedly better than them improve drastically with the additional of Alexis Lafreniere.

If the fifteen-worst finishers had simply been dropped into the draft lottery while keeping their respective percentages of winning the draft, the likelihood of this mysterious "Team E" winning the draft would remained the same. That team, for the record, would have been the Winnipeg Jets, and I cannot tell you how important that Lafreniere pick would be in shoring up the center position for the Jets.

Therein lies the problem for the sixteen play-in teams who need to decide whether it's better to win a Stanley Cup in a city not their own in an empty arena or have a 1-in-8 shot at drafting a potential franchise-altering centerman in Alexis Lafreniere who is, by all accounts, the consensus top pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

We've heard the rhetoric for the lottery as it's designed to prevent teams from tanking, but I honestly believe that it punishes teams who are legitimately bad as well since the lottery has never favoured the worst teams in the NHL historically. I get that no system is ideally perfect, but to see two incredible bad teams in Ottawa and Detroit draft 3-4-5 this year when they absolutely need a franchise player makes me wonder how this system could have been improved if, say, a decently-performing team such as Edmonton or Pittsburgh stumbles in the play-in round and finds themselves standing at the podium with the first-overall pick.

What do you do if you're a team like Winnipeg who seemingly might win a play-in round only to lose in the official first round of the NHL Playoffs? Is it worth tossing away a chance at Lafreniere for a handful of extra games?

What do you do if you're Montreal who could desperately use a franchise-altering, Quebec-born, French-speaking superstar centerman, but likely can beat a team like Pittsburgh in the play-in round if Carey Price plays as well as he is known to play?

I'll go on record right here in saying that no player will ever want to utter, admit to uttering, or listen to any sort of tank talk at any time. Players have pride in themselves and their teams, and I seriously doubt that any NHL player would even consider the idea of tanking for Lafreniere when there's a chance to win the Stanley Cup. With the length of NHL careers, it's unfathomable any player would give up the opportunity to win no matter where they are in their careers.

For management, though, the dilemma is real. The difference between a general manager on the hot seat or a general manager envied by his peers is one superstar draft selection. While Peter Chiarelli benefitted for a year or two from the Connor McDavid selection, the reality was that the Oilers were terrible under his watch which lead to his firing. Assuming that the Oilers didn't land McDavid, it's reasonable to assume that the Chiarelli experiment in Edmonton may have ended earlier. Could Marc Bergevin, John Chayka, or Dale Tallon extend their management careers with the selection of Lafreniere? The answer seems it would.

While no one will fault the managers on a five-game play-in series loss, there will be changes made at the management level at some point for these play-in teams as no owner wants his team stuck in mediocrity. The chance to draft Lafreniere and build a team around him is the stuff that GMs dream of, but no owner, manager, or player will ever give up a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup. Unless there's a monumental shift in thinking at all management levels, I can't see anyone sacrificing a chance to win the Stanley Cup by simply playing out the play-in games.

Would you play for the Stanley Cup or would you just write off the season and hedge your bets on a 1-in-8 chance to win the Lafreniere Lottery? Whatever you choose, NHL GMs, may the odds forever be in your favour.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 25 June 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 405

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight to discuss a topic about which, frankly, I know very little. I try to seek out people who are smarter than me about all sorts of hockey stuff, and I desperately needed some guidance as I jumped into the game-worn jersey business of hockey! I have a closet full of jerseys in my collection - a select few are game-worn - so I turned to an individual who has been in the game-worn jersey game for some time as his expertise outpaced mine in a big way!

In trying to learn more, I turned to the man in the old-school New England Patriots helmet as I welcome Stu Eckert to the show! Stu's been doing some buying and selling of NHL game-worn jerseys for a while, and he has a wealth of knowledge about the subject. I will admit that the auctions one sees on the internet might be a little pricey, but Stu will give us an idea on how to get started without breaking the bank! Along with that, I discuss the NHL hub city fun and why Vancouver hockey fans deserve some kudos for standing up to the NHL and I take a look at the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees while making a case for a handful of players who legitimately should already be in the Hall of Fame. All that happens tonight on The Hockey Show at 530pm CT only on 101.5 UMFM!

Where's the best place can you hear tonight's show if you're outside Winnipeg or not near a radio, 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.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! I'm here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz speaks with Stu Eckert as we learn about how to get into the game-worn jersey game, what to look for, some of Stu's collection, and where you can start if you have an interest in this before Teebz talks Vancouver as a hub city and the Hockey Hall of Fame's list of players who need to be added as soon as possible exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: June 25, 2020: Episode 405

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 24 June 2020

A More Inclusive Class

The 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees were announced today, and I have to say that the Class of 2020 is a decent selection of players and builders. Honestly, I was shocked that there were a few names left off the list, and I think it's time that we start holding the Hockey Hall of Fame to a higher standard than how they currently promote some inductees. That's not to say that this year's group of inductees aren't talented; rather, the players who seemingly are overlooked year after year for some reason who have changed hockey for the better should, in my view, get more promotion than someone who collected a Stanley Cup and a couple personal awards.

The Absolutes

Jarome Iginla was always set to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer based on his body of work in the NHL, on the international stage, and off the ice with his charitable ventures. Besides that, Iginla is universally known as one of the nicest guys in the game, but his carrying the Calgary Flames for so long along with his efforts for Team Canada made this induction a sure thing. Honestly, being just the fourth Black hockey player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame is a little disappointing when one considers the number of players already inducted.

Kim St-Pierre was the backbone of a dominant Canadian team as she earned a plethora of gold medals at the Olympic and World Championship levels while also winning a Clarkson Cup at the CWHL level as one of the best women's goaltenders to ever walk the planet. She became the first woman to win a men's hockey game at the U SPORTS level when she backstopped the McGill men's team to victory in 2003. St-Pierre set the original standards when it came to the goaltending position for the Canadian woman, and she set the bar high for others to follow as she has the most appearances and the most wins of any Team Canada women's team netminder. St-Pierre is just the eighth woman to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

They're Good, But...

Marian Hossa was always a good player in the NHL, and his work for the Slovakian National Team was well-regarded. Hossa's numbers are good enough to break the 500-1000 barriers to make it into the Hall of Fame as he piled up 525 goals and 1134 points. He won three Stanley Cups in five trips to the final series, and his game really blossomed defensively as he became a good two-way winger. With zero personal trophies to his name and no international success, Hossa's induction is really only based on his NHL numbers. To me, that isn't good enough this year.

REPLACED WITH: Reggie Leach. Leach was a big part of the 1975 Stanley Cup victory that the Flyers celebrated after he and former Flin Flon Bomber teammate Bobby Clarke reunited in Philly. His 61 goals were good enough to win the goal-scoring race in 1975-76, and he's still the only non-goalie player in NHL history to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy as a member of the losing team in the Stanley Cup Final in 1976. While his .713 points-per-game average is less than Hossa's .866 rate, Leach's achievements in the NHL as an Indigenous player should be recognized as he and his son, Jamie, are the only Indigenous father-son combo to win the Stanley Cup. It's been far too long for the third member of the LCB line to be left out, so it's time for the Hockey Hall of Fame to pays its respects to Reggie Leach.

Doug Wilson might be a bit of a surprise, but it's hard to argue the consistent play of Wilson when he was playing in an era with names like Coffey, Bourque, Chelios, and Mark Howe. Wilson won the 1982 Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman, and 0.81 points-per-game rate of scoring ranks him as one of the best offensive defenders in the league's history. His lack of international play, though, makes it a little tougher to warrant his inclusion outside of his NHL work. Like Hossa, he's good, but not good enough this year.

REPLACED WITH: Alexander Mogilny. Mogilny's work on the international stage is unquestionably good as he was a star with the Soviet Union on a line with Pavel Bure and Sergei Fedorov. He gold medals from the 1988 Olympics, the 1989 World Junior Championship, and the 1989 IIHF World Championship, and those alone should establish a base for his inclusion. However, we need to look at what he sacrificed to open the doors for his countrymen as Mogilny's defection from the Soviet Union in 1989 opened a crack in the Iron Curtain. With Mogilny's defection, we'd see other players such as Sergei Makarov, Igor Larionov, Vladimir Krutov, and Viacheslav Fetisov find their ways over to the NHL from the Soviet Union. Had it not been for Mogilny, North Americans might never have known those names as well as we do.

From there, the Buffalo Sabres rookie scored his first NHL goal against Quebec Nordiques just 20 seconds into his first shift. He scored 76 goals in 1991-92 to tie Teemu Selanne as the top goal-scorer that season, and he'd find himself as a part of the Triple Gold Club after winning a Stanley Cup in 2000 with the New Jersey Devils. While he would only win the Lady Byng Trophy as a personal award, it's prletty clear that Alexander Mogilny was one of the best wingers on both the NHL and international stages for a long time while opening the door literally being the sole reason for so many Russians to follow their dreams of playing in the NHL.

Kevin Lowe will be added to the Hockey Hall of Fame as the six-time Stanley Cup champion will join a host of other talented Oilers in the Hall of Fame. Mainly viewed as a defensive defenceman, Lowe was Edmonton's first NHL draft pick, he scored their first NHL goal, and he was often given the task of checking incredibly gifted forwards in the Smythe Division such as Dale Hawerchuk, Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Roberts, Trevor Linden, and some guy named Gretzky. He holds the record for games played by any Oiler in NHL history, and he never once played a game in the minors over the course of his career. There's no doubt that he's one of the great leaders in NHL history, but he only represented Canada twice internationally. That isn't good enough this year.

REPLACED WITH: Jiri Holecek. If there's one thing the Hockey Hall of Fame does poorly among a number of things it does poorly, it's recognizing international stars of the game who never played in North America. Jiri Holecek is one of those players, and some in the international hockey community think he was a better goalie than Vladislav Tretiak in their playing days. In twelve tournaments where the two goalies played, they both earned the "best goaltender" or all-star awards six times. The Czechoslovakia team that played in front of Holecek was often seen as inferior to the Soviet team in front of Tretiak, so it could be argued that Holecek was the better netminder. Holecek is seen as a pioneer of Czech goaltending as he learned the spread-kneeling position - an early prototype of the butterfly stance used by Canadian netminders - and refined it to where he was highly successful with it. He has 164 international games to his credit, and he was part of the Olympic silver- and bronze-medal Czechoslovakian teams. Holecek was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 1998.

Does the Hockey Hall of Fame know there are two spots for women to be inducted annually? It hasn't happened since Angela James and Cammi Granato both went in, so let's correct that egregious error as well since the Hall of Fame seems intent on letting the bare minimum of women in annually.

REPLACED WITH: Riikka Sallinen. Sallinen is a legend in the Finnish hockey community, recently retiring from the sport at the age of 46! Sallinen began her career on the international stage at the 1989 Women's World Championship, and she'd represent Finland in three IIHF Women's European Championships where she won three gold medals, eight IIHF World Women's Championships where she won six bronze medals and one silver medal, and four Olympic Games where she won two bronze medals. In her international career, she scored 109 goal and 95 assists while spending a mere 24 minutes in the penalty box, and she led the 1998 Nagano Olympics in scoring with seven goals and five assists in six games en route to capturing the bronze medal. She has been named the IIHF Women's World Championship Best Forward twice in 1990 and 1994, was an IIHF Women's World Championship All-Star Team three times in 1992, 1994, and 1997, and was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2010 as just the fourth woman to be inducted. Along with Marianne Ihalainen, they were the first women inducted into the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007, and she still holds a pile of records in the Naisten Liiga in Finland.

Ken Holland goes into the Hockey Hall of Fame for his work in building the Detroit Red Wings into the powerhouse it was for nearly two decades. His shrewd acquisitions of key talent while retaining some quality players and drafting some exceptional players can't be overlooked when it comes to the success the Red Wings had through the 1990s and into the 2000s. His hiring of Scotty Bowman, his hiring of scouts all over the world, and the work done by Holland in keeping this unit intact over a long stretch of time is a lot of the reason that the Red Wings had all the success they did. However, there's another Red Wings executive who deserves this honour before Holland.

REPLACED WITH: Marguerite Norris. Norris was named as the President of the Detroit Red Wings at the age of 25 after her father, James E. Norris, died in 1952. Immediately, Norris went about making changes that would prove wise as reports stated the arena was "visibly cleaner", the interior of the arena was painted, ushers were issued new uniforms, restrooms have been improved, and "a wire screen was erected" to protect fans from flying pucks. Norris was the first female President and executive in NHL history, and she presided over the club as they finished in first-place from 1953-1955, culminating in two Stanley Cup victories over those three seasons. In one of her few permitted efforts as a woman, she lobbied the other five owners to grasp the idea of televised games, sensing this was the future of hockey. She was a visionary for her few short years at the helm of the Detroit Red Wings, and the NHL was better with her as part of the game than without her.

No Rain On This Parade

Look, I'm not here to call into question the legitimacy of the six people who are being inducted this year. All six have resumés that anyone would take pride in, and that's what the Hall of Fame seems primarily to represent. What I am drawing attention to, though, is the fact that Hockey Hall of Fame is primarily the NHL Hall of Fame, and that's not the purpose of a Hall of Fame that is supposed to represent ALL of hockey. That means there should be more People of Colour, more women, and more international stars going into the Hall of Fame than NHL players, but that monumental shift has yet to happen.

Let's start making those corrections with the 2021 Hall of Fame Class, Induction Committee. There's no better time to start inducting some of these incredible hockey people, and it would be best if we did it before they're gone.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 23 June 2020

And Then There Were Six

This feels like a business version of The Bachelor as the NHL whittles down the field of ten hub cities to its final two. Honestly, this could have been done in a week, but the NHL has turned this into the Hub City Marathon over the course of what seems like several months. Today, though, we learned that four cities have been axed from the list of ten that were considered finalists as the NHL gets closer to playing games in two lucky cities where COVID-19 isn't decimating the health care system or population. That's a little foreshadowing to tell you that the city of Dallas was one of the cities being considered, but recent health checks in the state of Texas have taken Dallas out of the running.

The original ten cities were the aforementioned Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Minneapolis on the US side of the border while Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton were the cities north of the 49th line of latitude. The NHL made some hard decisions today and reduced the American side of the equation by four as all three Canadian cities survived the first cut.

Gone are Dallas, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and Columbus as just Chicago, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas remain. Dallas was a no-brainer to eliminate with the massive outbreak of COVID-19 throughout the state of Texas that we've seen over the last week while Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and Columbus were all eliminated by the NHL this week as Las Vegas remains the heavy front-runner to host the NHL Playoffs as one of the two cities with an American zip code.

Still in contention are the Canadian cities which feature Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton. Logically, Toronto would be your best bet of the Canadian cities to allow for an early-late setup for televised games if one of Vancouver, Las Vegas, or Los Angeles is the second city. Toronto also is the home of Rogers Sportsnet who holds a monstrous NHL contract, so if I were a betting man I'd say Toronto might be the second city that finds itself hosting playoff games.

I still believe that holding these games is a mistake after seeing the outbreaks in NHL players in both Tampa and Phoenix with the Tampa Bay Lightning shutting down their facility to prevent further spread of the virus. I'm not sure I'd want to be staying in a hotel that housed either team or the Dallas Stars after the outbreaks in those three states, but the NHL is convinced it knows more than most doctors and epidemiologists when it comes to controlling the environment in which these teams are housed.

In any case, it seems there's a 50/50 chance that a Canadian team will host games, but I'm going to lower that ratio to 40% after watching that ridiculous video that Alberta premier Jason Kenney put on social media yesterday. Edmonton's inclusion in the final six is nice, but that video would completely take them out of the running if I were voting. While there may one day be a cure for COVID-19, there is no known cute for stupidity.

My ideal situation? Let's do the playoffs in Canada in a Hockey Night in Canada format with an early game from Toronto and a late game from Vancouver. It's worked forever in Canada with the timing and the setup, and it would be second nature to the crew at Sportsnet. This is something they do every weekend, so let's make this happen if you're dead-set on it happening, NHL.

Toronto and Vancouver: HBIC's perfect hub cities!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 22 June 2020

Worst Travel Agent Ever

The gentleman to the left might be the world's worst travel agent in the history of people traveling. I get that things have been cancelled and dates have changed for events and all that with the ongoing pandemic, but to completely sell a destination with a video that shows nothing that one will find at said destination is either the world's worst scam being perpetrated by this imbecilic travel agent or he likely should stop selling destination ideas altogether. Let me introduce you to Mr. Jason Kenney, Alberta premier, leader of the UCP Party, and total moron.

As you may know, the NHL is exploring hub cities right now in which it will have the NHL players gather to play games. As it stands, the explosion of COVID-19 cases across the southern US - specifically in Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, and Nevada - has now made the three Canadian cities of Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton much more attractive to the NHL when it comes to hub city options.

As you're likely aware, Jason Kenney has been selling the idea of Edmonton being a hub city to anyone who will listen. While there's no doubt that Edmonton has a great arena downtown in the city, Kenney doubled down on selling his city to the world today with a short video that you need to see because it's the most rural urban center EVER!
Kenney's tweet containing the video read, "We look forward to welcoming the league and players here to Alberta to take in the beautiful province we have to offer."

I've been pretty hard on Jason Kenney after he decimated the post-secondary facilities found in his province, but this is simply another level of blatant and inexcusable stupidity from a man who seemingly has zero concept of the "bubble" the NHL will use to keep players and staff segregated from anyone else in order to protect the players from contracting the virus. I find it hard to believe that Kenney is using his platform for something Travel Alberta would more likely use in their marketing when appealing to the NHL. I cannot believe that Albertans elected this person to run their province.

Take in the province? NHL players aren't going to be travelling anywhere except to and from the rink back to and from their hotels! This is the whole point of establishing a bubble! They won't be fly-fishing on off days, they won't be traversing the glaciers in the Rockies, there won't be horseback rides through the mountains, they're not staying in the Banff Springs Hotel, and they certainly aren't hiking majestic lands when they have hockey to play. What the hell kind of video did I just watch?!?

Play in the Rockies? Banff is a 4.5-hour drive from Edmonton! Jasper is four hours away! The drive is neither picturesque nor inspiring from the Edmonton side of the things, and the mountains being visible from the downtown area couldn't be farther from the truth. Had the players been in Calgary, there's a much better chance of this possibly happening, but Edmonton? I don't know if Jason Kenney has ever looked at a map of Alberta, but someone has a completely different view of the province compared to the rest of us if this video is how he's selling the city of Edmonton.

Sorry, folks, but this is inexcusable. The NHL isn't coming for a vacation to Alberta on a summer road trip with the family through the province. They're trying to determine the safest places for the players to play, and Kenney's attempt to sell some sort of weird vacation package to the NHL today should not only disqualify his city from the options, but he should be forced to go back to elementary school to learn about his province's geography. This is not only laughable, it's ridiculous at best when the NHL is looking solely at the capital city as its only destination in the province. The NHL doesn't care about the mountains, the air, the streams, the horses, the fishing, the hiking, the fly-overs in helicopters, or any of the other crap seen in the video. They're coming to Edmonton to play hockey within a contained environment, and nothing else.

You're the worst travel agent ever, Jason Kenney. I'd say stick to politics, but you've virtually destrotyed that whole career option too. Maybe you and Andrew Scheer can sell insurance together?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 21 June 2020

Make It Permanent

While this may be a stock photo of a barbecue in action, it was pretty accurate for the Father's Day celebration my family had last weekend. If you wondering why we did it last weekend rather than on the appropriate day of celebration, everyone was busy this weekend. And, as it turned out, Mother Nature decided to literally rain all over the festivities as the weather here couldn't figure out what it wanted to do. As a result, it was a low-key drop-in with my parents today on Father's Day as I paid respects to my dad. I hope you got the chance to pay your respects to the father figure in your life whether that father figure be biologically-connected to you and/or the man who guided you on this adventure called life!

With that being said, it was another big day in Canada as we celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day today as well, and you may have seen a specific logo being used by a certain hockey team.
The Winnipeg Jets swapped their normal logo on all social media for the one designed by Indigenous artist Leticia Spence in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, and I have to say that I really want to see this logo used on more stuff by the Jets as time marches on. The logo was used by the Jets on warm-up jerseys prior their January 17 game as part of the second annual Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre (WASAC) Night hosted by the Jets.

Spence, who hails from the Pimicikamak Cree Nation, said, at the time, that seeing her designs on an NHL jersey was "surreal", but I think that it shouldn't be as surreal as she states. Yes, there's still some awe in seeing one's design used by an NHL team as its logo, but I would hope that the Jets would maybe use Spence's logo more often as a way to honour the lands and people who called this great city home for so long before the Jets came to town.

As part of our coverage of Manitoba Bisons hockey games, Kyleigh Palmer and I ensure that we honour the lands and the treaties signed on these lands by the Indigenous Peoples who called the area where the University of Manitoba stands as their home by reading and recognizing the statement of that Treaty One agreement, but we need to amend our statement when doing so.

Currently, the full statement reads,
"The University of Manitoba campuses are located on original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Metis Nation.

"We respect the Treaties that were made on these territories, we acknowledge the harms and mistakes of the past, and we dedicate ourselves to move forward in partnership with Indigenous communities in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration."
In our efforts to include the respect we feel our Indigenous family, friends, and colleagues rightfully deserve, Kyleigh normally reads the first statement on the air prior to puck drop for all Bisons women's hockey games. However, because we're missing perhaps the most important part of that statement, Kyleigh and I will now read the full statement where we acknowledge and recognize the harms and mistakes that were made in order to show more respect for the Indigenous Peoples who called this city home. Without this recognition, we aren't really honouring the lands we're recognizing properly.

In saying all of this, I would encourage the Winnipeg Jets to put this logo on the sleeves of the Aviator jerseys that they wear to show their commitment to honour the Indigenous Peoples who once lived right where the BellMTS Centre currently stands. Further to that, I'd like to hear the Winnipeg Jets acknowledge and recognize the harms and mistakes made over the years by having their PA announcer also read a statement prior to each game. This recognition would show an immense amount of self-reflection by the team, would be an excellent way to honour our Indigenous Peoples in a respectful manner on a national and international stage, and would cost the team nothing in the long run for something that would be so well-received by the city and communities across Manitoba.

The catch here is that people seem to really like the logo, so the Jets may actually benefit from using it more. Spence's design does catch the eye with its pop of colour and its unique design, and that's exactly what any business wants from its logo.

Make it happen, Jets. There's virtually zero negatives in honouring the Indigenous Peoples of this land all season long, and it should definitely be for more than one night. Put the logo on the shoulders of the Aviator jerseys, and I might actually find some good with those jerseys. Heck, I might even buy one! But it shouldn't be hard to find a way to work this gorgeous logo into the everyday workings of the Winnipeg Jets.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 20 June 2020

2020 Summer Concert

Working at a radio station usually means that summer is a big season with all the various concerts and festivals rolling through town as we normally have free tickets and passes to give away. Obviously, that's not happening this summer with the pandemic in full effect still, but those who are in the know certainly can still see their favorite artists possibly performing virtual concerts via video through social media. Yes, it's not the same, but at least you get some live music. While the hope is that we'll see concerts return soon, the likelihood of that happening seems to grow smaller by the day as COVID-19 re-establishes its grip on humanity after we've failed to heed warnings and acknowledge the safety protocols from medical experts.

In saying that, HBIC is proud to bring you its 2020 Summer Concert as I have a pile of musicians wearing hockey jerseys sitting in a folder. There's no music involved in this concert unfortunately, but we will check out the hockey jerseys worn, accepted as gifts, and held by musicians across the globe as they toured prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Without further adieu, kick back, enjoy the show, and check out all the acts!

The Backstreet Boys continue to tour despite most of them being middle-aged now, but they blew through Anaheim on their latest tour where they gladly donned the new alternate jerseys for the Anaheim Ducks! I understand they get hot on stage with the dancing and moving, but the sleeves are necessary on hockey jerseys, gentlemen. The boys also made stops in Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Denver where it seems they were given an assortment of Kroenke-owned Denver team jerseys as Nick Carter sports the Avalanche's jersey.

Robert Smith of The Cure has his fair share of jerseys, but we have more to show off today as Smith was seen wearing the threads of the Dallas Stars, the New York Islanders' Fisherman jersey, and a Soviet Union hockey jersey! I am now a Robert Smith fan simply due to that Fisherman jersey since there aren't many musicians who have worn it! And a Soviet jersey? Dude's got good taste in jerseys!

Another guy who has a closet full of hockey jerseys is Snoop Dogg. Snoop's an admitted hockey fan, and he's back today wearing the colours of the Los Angeles Kings' throwback jersey, the Kings' Stadium Series jersey, and a 2018 NHL All-Star Game jersey from Tampa Bay! Snoop might have a more complete collection of jerseys than the NHL itself at this point.

March 2, 1973 saw The Guess Who in concert on a TV and radio series called ABC-TV in Concert that was aired by ABC. That's before my time, but apparently it didn't stop Burton Cummings from appealing to the Santa Monica, California crowd with a Boston Bruins jersey? And how cool was the temperature in Santa Monica to warrant wearing a hockey sweater to perform in? His writing and performing partner in the band, Randy Bachman, brought some hockey to the recording studio later in his career when he wore a Vancouver Canucks jersey.

I wouldn't necessarily think of this band as the first option in Nashville, but Slipknot performed there and Pekka Rinne got some love from drummer Jay Weinberg!

Shania Twain added another jersey to her collection of assorted hockey wear as she was invited to sound the alarm at the Vegan Golden Knights game where she wore a cap and jersey!

While he's known more for his acting now, Mark Wahlberg started out as a musician. With his heavy ties to the Boston area through his businesses and his upbringing, isn't it sacrilege for him to be wearing Max Domi's Montreal Canadiens jersey?

Paul Brandt seems to like his Canadian roots as we've already seen him in a Team Canada jersey, but it looks like he went out and had it customized with a music note on the back and sleeves in similiar fashion to what he has on his Flames jersey! Is this Paul Brandt's thing with his jerseys? His white Canada jersey has no customization that I've seen, and his new Canadian Olympic jersey has him wearing #17. We need some consistency here, Paul! He also wore a CHL jersey when he performed the Canadian national anthem at the Memorial Cup, he wore an Ottawa Senators jersey while on tour in the nation's capital, and he wore the Calgary Flames Heritage Classic jersey when he did the anthem for that game.

Clay Aiken makes another appearance on these lists when he donned a Dallas Stars jersey while touring a while back.

Brett Kissel is already on the list for the Oilers, but he got himself an orange jersey when he sung the anthem at a recent Edmonton Oilers game.

We've seen Billy Joel on these lists before, but we're never seen any of his band accept or wear a jersey as it's usually Joel accepting the honour. Today, we can add Chuck Burgi, the drummer for Billy Joel's band, to the list in a New York Rangers jersey! As a #00, could it be a John Davdison jersey? Thanks for sending this one over, John!

Def Leppard was out on tour again in 2019, and they stopped in Winnipeg where they got their very own Aviator jerseys!

This probably isn't the look that the New York Islanders want, but Flava Flav was sporting the Islanders jersey as he was being led away by police.

Aston Simmonds, better known by his performance name of Daniel Caesar, toured through Winnipeg and wore a Winnipeg Jets Heritage Classic jersey while he was in town.

The Hunter Brothers stopped in Edmonton where JJ Hunter got on the good side of the fans by wearing the colours of the Edmonton Oilers. It was even customized with his last name!

Justin Bieber is a mainstay on these lists. Here he is with his good buddy, Auston Matthews, in yet another Leafs jersey.

I know nothing about Smino, a St. Louis-born rapper, who has been in a bunch of rap groups and done some of his solo work, but he's pretty proud of his hometown hockey team.

I was expecting the world to explode when Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 fame met Rob Thomas of St. Louis Blues fame, but it seems the universe survived a Rob Thomas-squared math paradox when Rob Thomas presented Rob Thomas with a Rob Thomas St. Louis Blues jersey. Got all that? My head is spinning.

Luke Bryan got himself a Brad Marchand jersey from Brad Marchand. No word on whether Marchand licked the jersey or Bryan's face.

Luke Combs' tour through Winnipeg saw the musician receive an AHL Manitoba Moose jersey. Why True North Sports and Entertainment didn't give him a Jets jersey is a bit of a mystery, but Combs seems happy with the Moose threads.

Pop band Four Years Strong hails from Worcester, Massachusetts, so it was cool seeing drummer Jake Massucco repping the ECHL's Worcester Railers as he kept time for the band.

I know I've already posted Freddie Mercury with his personalized Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, but here's a shot of Queen backstage in Toronto where they are letting loose while receiving those Leafs jerseys!

John Mayer stopped in St. Louis on a recent tour stop, and he received a Blues jersey, wore a Blues jersey, performed in a Blues jersey, and was shown on the big screen in a Blues jersey while there.

Florida Georgia Line stopped in St. Louis as well to pick up a couple of sleeveless Blues jerseys as they performed. The jerseys even came personalized for the duo!

Drake's another guy who has a closet full of jerseys from across the hockey spectrum, but it was really cool to see him wearing a SJHL Humboldt Broncos jersey in support of the hockey club following the tragedy that happened with the team. Classy move, Drake!

I wasn't aware that the guys from Five Finger Death Punch were such huge hockey fans, but it seems they are specifically huge Vegas Golden Knights fans! Ivan Moody, who is the lead singer for Five Finger Death Punch, has both a home jersey and a road jersey for the Golden Knights while bassist Chris Kael also has a home jersey and a road jersey with both customized with his own name and #74! Kael even goes one step further to support his hometown college team as he donned a University of Kentucky Wildcats jersey as well! Thanks to John M. for alerting me to Moody's jerseys!

I never thought I'd ever see this, but we have a new section to add in the list as Mick Ronson, guitarist for David Bowie, did some solo work for a short time. This is relevant because he wore a California Golden Seals sweater in one appearance!

I've never heard his music, but former PJHL Langley Knights player Levi De Waal used to not only play for the Knights, but would sing the anthems! He's since gone on to release some actual music, so that's pretty cool! For those asking, the PJHL is the Pacific Junior Hockey League, a Junior-B league operating in British Columbia, and the Langley Knights have since moved to Surry, BC to become the Surrey Knights.

Finally, on today's musical hockey tour, it's not a jersey, but it might be one of the more unique team-related items I've seen a musician receive while on tour. Alice Cooper, who is a big hockey fan, was in Rockford, Illinois where the AHL's Rockford IceHogs play. Alice took the stage in a Rockford Ice Hogs customized jacket! While it won't make the jersey list, this seems almost like the Columbus Blue Jackets' idea where they give customized robes to performers. Pretty cool, right?

If you head over to the main page with all the performers on it, you can peruse the teams and who has received a jersey from those teams. As always, if you have a picture of a musician who isn't listed on the main page, feel free to send it through to me! I'll give you credit for the find!

Enjoy the summer, folks. There may not be many concerts, but crank the tunes, enjoy the weather, and let's get ready for a busy fall schedule of concerts assuming everything starts getting back to normal!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 19 June 2020

I Know Why It's Important

This isn't a hockey article today, but it should be considering that the Tampa Bay Lightning shut down their facilities today after three players and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19. On top of that, wunderkind Auston Matthews also reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, so maybe it might be time to scrap this idea of finishing the season and start working on how we can be safer for restarting hockey in October or later. I won't beat that dead horse of me wanting the NHL to cancel the season because today is a very important day in American history.

Look, I've avoided talking politics on this blog, and I will continue to do so. Despite the politicization of what's happening in the United States right now, this is a discussion about civil rights. About human rights. About things that we, as privileged white Canadians and Americans, take for granted each and every day. I won't politicize this message, but my silence on the topic was because I needed to understand before I felt I could speak.

I'm a true believer of that adage that states if one doesn't know history, one is condemned to repeat it. Being Canadian, we were taught about the American Civil War, but anything beyond that dealt with Canada's involvement in the Underground Railroad. To say I'm ignorant about US history after the Civil War wouldn't even be close - I know nothing. Since I don't know history, I've begun to read, listen, and watch all that I can to better understand the situation happening south of the border. I want to understand this situation more.

I need to understand.

To that extent, for those that don't know, June 19, 1865 saw Union general Gordon Granger announce in the city of Galveston, Texas through a federal order that all slaves in Texas were free. Texas had been one of the slowest states to allow freedom for slaves, and while all slaves wouldn't truly be free until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States on December 6, 1865, the Union army marching into Texas to enforce the proclamation in Texas was one of the final major events in the freeing of the slaves in the southern US.

Again, I'm nowhere near smart enough to even speak somewhat intelligently on the subject, so I'm going to implore you to watch this piece from Vox on Juneteeth because it's infinitely better than anything I could explain. Historian Karlos K. Hill of the University of Oklahoma narrates this piece, and he's infinitely smarter than I am so listen to his words as you watch this video.
In listening and watching this presentation by Vox and Karlos K. Hill, you should have a better understanding of why this day is so significantly important in the history of the United States of America. Despite being given freedom, it still took Black Americans decades to even move the needle on their civil rights. June 19, 1865 is vitally important because it moved the efforts for true freedom forward for Black Americans, but we, as a society, have yet to see Black Americans fully realize that promise.

I also want to focus on May 31 and June 1, 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma about an event that really needs to be taught in schools and revisited by many as the details and information surrounding the horrific incident that took place over two days in the Oklahoma city may be one of the largest racially-motivated incidents of violence in the planet's history. And perhaps worse than the violence was the cover-up of the massacre that happened, how Oklahoma hid its dark secret, and how a 1997 TV series on HBO called The Watchmen pulled the curtain back on one of the worst events in American history.

According to history, the massacre started when a 19 year-old Black shoeshine named Dick Rowland was accused of assaulting a 17 year-old white elevator operator named Sarah Page who worked at the nearby Drexel Building where Rowland would ride the elevator up several floors to use a segregated bathroom.

Now before we go any further, let me tell you that I am, again, not anywhere close to being smart enough to give you the details and information on how Rowland's arrest led to one of the worst "race riots" in American history, but I know two guys who are. Those men are Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark who host the always-informative Stuff You Should Know podcast, and this might be one of the best explanations I have listened to when it comes to trying to get a sense of what caused the riot. Give this a listen if you have 40 minutes to spare because Chuck and Josh leave no stone un-turned.

If you were wondering about that piece in The Atlantic that Chuck refers to that is a marketing piece for The Watchman yet had great information in it, you can find it here. Again, the work that Chuck and Josh did in examining this topic is second-to-none, and they did an excellent job in presenting this sensitive information objectively.

June is a significant month the history of Black Americans, and it should be given its proper recognition within American history when you consider these two monumental events that happened in 1865 and 1921. Thanks to the efforts of Vox, Karlos K. Hill, Chuck Bryant, and Josh Clark, I feel like I know more about the oppression of Black American civil rights and freedoms 100 years ago and further in the past, but I still feel I am still so ignorant about events closer to present day thanks to how history has downplayed or ignored the history of Black Americans.

I also want to say that with Sunday, June 21 being National Indigenous Peoples Day, Canadians shouldn't sit smugly and shrug our shoulders about American history because we're just as guilty when it comes to our decades of how we've treated Indigenous Peoples in this country. Again, I've been lucky enough to know some incredible Indigenous Peoples who have educated me about their histories at times, but I feel that the education I have would be equivalent to one step in a marathon. In other words, I have a long way to go to being far better.

It's here where I pledge to be an ally to end racism, to call out racism, to stop forms of racism, and to learn more how to be a better ally for all people of colour. I'd like to believe that I've done a good job, but my ignorance about the struggles that Black Americans have faced and Indigenous Peoples have faced only prove that I can be and do better.

And I will be and will do better from this day forward.

I ask that you don't confuse my silence on social media and here on this blog regarding the current situations happening in the world as anything but my efforts to learn about, read about, watch, and understand better about why things are unfolding as they are. I've spent a lot of time this month trying to gain a better understanding of the history of Black Americans as the news shows protests from all over the world, and I feel I have a better grasp of why we're seeing everything that's happening today. Again, it's important that I understand the history so I don't fall folly in repeating it in any way, shape, or form.

I now know why it's important, and I pledge to be an ally in ending racism.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 18 June 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 404

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, invades the airspace once more tonight! Actually, I am really excited after teasing on the article yesterday about the guest I welcome tonight. As you may or may not know, I have played sledge hockey. Ok, maybe the right term is that I TRIED sledge hockey, and it's pretty clear that I'm a novice when it comes to the game. Tonight, though, we'll meet a gentleman who has two young athletes excelling at the game of sledge hockey who can likely skate circles around me as he filmed an entire documentary about the Manitoba Sledgehammers hockey team!

The gentleman to the left will give us the inside scoop on his newest film, The Tournament, as we meet writer and director Sam Vint! Sam and I chat about The Tournament, the content in the film, Isaac and Cooper - his son and daughter - playing for the Sledgehammers, and everything that happened surrounding the tournament in question in Blaine, Minnesota! It's a great chat with Sam about sledge hockey, the tournament, and the process that went into making the film, and I highly recommend everyone check out The Tournament! The second half of the show is Teebz going solo to talk about the firing of everyone who ever worked for the Buffalo Sabres including GM Jason Botterill, the suspension of sports programs at the University of Alberta for the 2020-21 season due to funding, and the announcement of the 2020 Sami Jo Small Hockey Camp which will happen from July 20-24 at Gateway Recreation Center! It's a busy show with lots of news, so make sure you tune into 101.5 UMFM or UMFM.com tonight at 5:30pm CT!

Where's the best place can you hear tonight's show if you're outside Winnipeg or not near a radio, 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.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! I'm here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz speaks to film-maker extraordinaire Sam Vint about The Tournament, sledge hockey, and the process that goes into making a documentary such as this, and the second-half of the show sees Teebz offer his thoughts about the changes inside the Buffalo Sabres, the University of Alberta's decision to suspend their athletics programs, the Sami Jo Small Hockey School, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: June 18, 2020: Episode 404
RESOURCES: Manitoba Possible, Sledge Hockey Manitoba, Bill Muloin - Supervisor of Childen's Recreation and Leisure at Manitoba Possible.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 17 June 2020

The Tournament

I know we're still months away from the official start of another hockey season, but today's piece here on HBIC makes me wish we were closer to the start of the season than where we are today. There's just something about watching kids' faces light up when they get onto the ice for that big game, and I have to say that film director Sam Vint did an outstanding job at capturing this excitement and some of the fun behind the scenes in his newest work entitled The Tournament found on the National Film Board of Canada's website! This look at the Manitoba Sledgehammers sledge hockey team at a tournament in Minnesota shows that hockey, regardless of how it's played, is a universal language for fun, and I have to admit that I am the newest Sledgehammers fan after watching this amazing team in action!

The young man shown in the lede image is Isaac Vint, Sam's son. Isaac was born with spina bifida, and he requires a wheelchair for mobility in everyday life. It all changes when he gets on the ice, though, as Isaac, his sister Cooper, and a pile of other kids grab their sleds, rip up and down the ice, score goals, and pull off moves that I know I cannot do. These young athletes are inspiring, incredible, and absolutely delightful in the film that Sam and Director of Photography Tyler Funk shot over the few days of the tournament.

If you're unfamiliar with sledge hockey, these kids might give you the impetus to hit the ice on a sled. Sledge hockey is an absolute blast from experience despite my poor skills at the game, and I know the kids in The Tournament are exceptional athletes when compared to my skills. I highly recommend you check out the sledge hockey practices and games at the BellMTS IcePlex here in Winnipeg on Sunday mornings if you're curious about the game. Manitoba Possible, formerly Society for Manitobans with Disabilities, does an outstanding job in getting the kids involved in the game, so make the trek down to the IcePlex if you're interested!

Without further adieu, here is The Tournament, written and directed Sam Vint and starring Isaac Vint and Cooper Vint, compliments of the National Film Board of Canada!

The Tournament provided by the National Film Board of Canada

I made reference to Tyler Funk above being the Director of Photography for The Tournament, but he was the guy on the ice following the players around with the camera and I think the perspective shown in following the players at this angle is incredible because it shows the speed, the skill, the physicality, and the fun on the ice. Personally, I'd like to see more sledge hockey games filmed like this, but I get that the international games might be a little perilous with the cameras on the ice. Sam and Tyler deserve a lot of credit for showing the game from this angle because I thought it really showed the game from a player's perspective.

I recognized one of the players right off the bat thanks to an article I wrote last year here on HBIC. Alyssa White was one of the Sledgehammers, and she's now part of the Canadian Women's National Para Ice Hockey Team! Keep an eye out for her in the film because she's legitimately one of the best sledge hockey players in the country!

There's also a short clip where Isaac meets Danny Lilya, and Danny legitimately has not allowed his physical limitations stop him from doing anything. He was the holder for the placekicker for Moose Lake Rebels football team. He is a two-time state champion at Moose Lake high school for shot put. He's a member of the Team USA junior hockey team. He will attend the University of North Dakota starting in September where he will be the first physically-challenged student in the Air Traffic Control Program, and may one day be helping his older brother land planes as his brother is taking the commercial pilot program at UND as well. And it's almost certain that you'll see Danny Lilya playing for the Team USA senior sledge hockey team.

Honestly, The Tournament is one of the best hockey films I've seen in a long time, and I'm excited to see the future successes of Isaac and Cooper Vint on the ice and more incredible films from Sam Vint! As an aside, tune into The Hockey Show tomorrow if you want to hear more about The Tournament as Sam Vint will be joining me on the program!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the hockey!

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Shuffling The Deck Again

The irony in this picture is that the background does not associate in any way with the man in the picture. That's former Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill who was shown the door today by the Sabres after he was given a vote of confidence by the team just three weeks ago. Yes, he had his legs swept out from under him by his superstar when Jack Eichel went public with his unhappiness over missing the playoffs yet again, so you knew something might be changing after hearing his comments. Today, Kim and Terry Pegula made the decision to remove Botterill and a handful of other staff in an effort to correct the problems.

The Pegulas have never been shy about taking unconventional routes to success, but the move today to remove Botterill from his position comes as a bit of a shock considering the comments made three weeks ago regarding their confidence in him. The reason for today's firing was cited as "a lack of communication and philosophical differences over the direction of a franchise in the midst of a nine-year playoff drought" as reported by CBC's John Wawrow.

"I'm not going to sit here and dish on Jason Botterill, but we have a vision and we want to see our vision succeed," Terry Pegula stated during the Zoom call to announce this change. "We were in detailed discussions with Jason, and how we felt we needed to move forward effectively, efficiently and economically running this franchise, we felt there were too many differences of opinion going into the future."

I'm not sure what the vision is other than "win the Stanley Cup", but having ownership dictate to the hockey operations how they want to see the Stanley Cup win is usually never a good thing. Adding in the "move forward effectively, efficiently, and economically" part seems to indicate that they weren't fond of how Botterill was spending their money despite having a very limited asset pool.

Here are the hard numbers on Botterill along with assistant GMs Randy Sexton and Steve Greeley who were also axed from the team. In three seasons under Botterill's watch, the Sabres went 88-115-30 and were destined to miss the playoffs again this season had it finished normally. Even with the expanded 24-team format which the NHL will use to conclude this season, the Sabres just missed the cut due to points percentage.

Normally, a three-year gap of missing the playoffs while rebuilding isn't a huge cause for concern, it spelled real trouble for Botterill who continued to tinker with the lineup through trades and free agency without any meaningful improvements. The nine years that the Sabres have missed the playoffs is the longest in the NHL currently.

There were positives in his reign over the club as he hired Ralph Krueger who seems to have the respect of the players, he signed Jack Eichel to a maximum deal as the superstar will remain in Buffalo for a while, and he used the draft and trades to acquire good, young talent like Rasmus Dahlin, Tage Thompson, Casey Mittlestadt, Ryan Johnson, Dylan Cozens, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

Of course, there were missteps in his time in the big chair as well. Ryan O'Reilly's trade is looked at as a missed opportunity. The Jeff Skinner trade, which started well, looked awful through the lens of last season after he also signed a maximum contract. Dealing away a "heart and soul" guy like Marcus Foligno never made much sense to me, and he's continued to be a good player for the Wild. And while the Sabres desperately needed good defenders, drafting Dahlin over guys like Andrei Svechnikov, Brady Tkachuk, and Quinn Hughes now seems like an error as well.

As of today, former NHL grinder Kevyn Adams moves into the general manager role as the Sabres prepare for the NHL Draft Lottery and the NHL Entry Draft after their latest miss on a potential playoff spot. If everything were to go down as planned, the Sabres would be drafting somewhere around the seventh pick, but I'm sure they're hoping to move up in the sequence.

Adams, who held the role of vice-president of business operations among the many hats he wore for the Pegulas, sounds like he's far closer to the owners than Botterill was, and we'll have to see how that plays out when it comes to who is pulling the strings. While I feel that Adams likely will be making the decisions, it will leave us to wonder how much influence the Pegulas will have when it comes to personnel decisions.

In a more surprising move, the Rochester Americans - also owned by the Pegulas as the AHL affiliate of the Sabres - fired head coach Chris Taylor and assistants coaches Gord Dineen and Toby Petersen. Rochester finished the abbreviated season as the second-place team in the AHL's North Division with a 33-20-9 record for 75 points, six points back of first-place Belleville but still firmly entrenched in a potential playoff spot. Rochester has always been considered one of the better AHL franchises for development, so this change comes with furrowed brow of being puzzled since Taylor and his staff have been successful in getting players ready for the NHL level.

Clearly, the moves by the Pegulas today clean the slate and shuffle the deck quite thoroughly from top to bottom within the Sabres franchise. Whether or not this improves the team overall will remain to be seen, but it's pretty clear that this organization is moving in another direction entirely with the dismissals made today at both the NHL and AHL levels.

Spring cleaning happened in June 2020 for the Buffalo Sabres.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!