Wednesday 30 September 2020

The King Has Left The Building

It's officially the end of an era in The Big Apple as the New York Rangers bought out the final year of Henrik Lundqvist's contract today, allowing the veteran netminder to head to free agency rather than being bound to the Rangers as their third-string goaltender. It was nearly inevitable that the Rangers were going to make this move with the up-and-coming goalies they played this year in Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin leading the way in the blue paint for the Broadway Blue Shirts, but it's still hard to fathom that Henrik Lundqvist won't be in New York Rangers colours next season as he begins his 16th campaign in the league. Where he lands is entirely up to him, but it won't be the same New York team without Lundqvist stealing games for them.

Lundqvist leaves the Rangers as the franchise's all-time leader in games played (887), wins (459), save percentage (.918) and shutouts (64). He helped them make the playoffs in 11 of the 15 seasons he played for the team, appearing in the Eastern Conference Final three times and losing the 2014 Stanley Cup Final to the Los Angeles Kings where Lundqvist was a star every night for the Rangers. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2012 as the league's top netminder while being a finalist on two other occasions. He was also selected as an NHL All-Star on five occasions.

Lundqvist truly was a star for the Rangers, but that reality is no more with the Rangers cutting him loose today. The Rangers will pay Lundqvist $5.5 million in 2020-21 and $1.5 million in 2021-22 as per the terms of the buyout. The 38 year-old's departure from the team follows Marc Staal's trade to Detroit a couple of days ago as the Rangers look to retool and open up salary for potential free agent additions.

"We would like to thank Henrik for his immeasurable contributions to the New York Rangers," Rangers president and alternate governor John Davidson said in a statement. "From the time I met Henrik when he first came to New York in 2005, he has been the consummate professional. His tireless work ethic, passion for the game and love of the Rangers and New York City enabled him to become one of the greatest goaltenders in hockey and one of the best players in the history of our franchise. We all wish Henrik and his family the best going forward."

Lundqvist finishes his New York Rangers career with a record of 459-310-96 to go along with a 2.43 goals-against average. While his 10-12-3 record and 3.16 goals-against average this season were hardly royal in any way, it should be noted that he was chosen by the Rangers to start the playoffs in the bubble thanks to his playoff experience.

It's hard to imagine that Henrik Lundqvist might be done with hockey, but anything can happen this off-season. With salary caps being strained by younger players, it will be interesting to see if any teams bring Lundqvist on in the hopes of strengthening those goaltending tandems. With Lundqvist already receiving $5.5 million from the Rangers, there could be a chance that he takes a deeply-discounted salary for one season in an effort to win a Stanley Cup - something that has eluded him throughout his tenure in the NHL.

Whatever happens this off-season, it's almost certain Henrik Lundqvist will be a Hall of Fame inductee at some point after he retires. I'm not certain that option is even in play, but wherever "the King" decided to land next season it's almost certain he'll push for a Stanley Cup.

The King needs his Silver Chalice before he steps out of his kingdom.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 29 September 2020

How Accurate Are They?

With the shutdown and bubble setup occupying the NHL hockey world for the last few months, The Hockey News hasn't been able to publish their annual yearbook as we get close to next season. I assume this will happen sometime nearer to November or December, but I still expect to add one magazine to the stack that I have. It's this stack of magazines, though, that I'm going to spend October discussing because in each indivdual yearbook, they make predictions on who will make the playoffs, who will win the Stanley Cup, and more. The Hockey News is held in the highest regard for what it contains within its covers, so it's time to examine just how accurate their predictions over the last 25 years have been.

Is this an ambitious project? Absolutely. I normally like to do these types of projects over the summer when I have more time on my hands, but the pandemic has pushed the summer into October and I'm working from home, so let's call a spade "a spade" and do the project now.

Some might be thinking that I have some sort of bone to pick with The Hockey News, and I want to go on record right now that I read their annual yearbook from cover to cover because I hold them in the highest regard for print publications about hockey. The writers do exceptional work and, while I may disagree with some points or articles, they are knowledgeable about the game far more than I am. With that being the case, I actually hope that they're far more accurate than not when I do this examination.

In terms of scoring or assigning some sort of grade, it will depend on the how the predictions are made in the issue. If I was doing this in the easiest way, there will likely be three options for points: zero (0), half a point (0.5), or one point (1). Zero obviously means they got something entirely wrong. The half-point means they were right, but not exactly right. The full point will be for accurate predictions. Based on the total number of points available, we can then determine the accuracy in a percentage based on the predictions made.

Would I be surprised if the results are better or worse than I thought? Not really. Predictions are notoriously hard to get right considering these prognosticators make these predictions before the season even starts, so I'm not looking to point fingers and mock them. What I am interested in is seeing how their predictions fare throughout the course of a season to the point where if I were using them to place bets in Vegas, would I win or lose money? Basically, how reliable are these pre-season predictions when it comes to what actually happened throughout the year?

Each day in October where there isn't a radio show preview nor any major breaking news, I'll post the prediction outcomes in chronological order starting with 1995-96 through to the 2019-20 season and compared them to the actual end-of-season outcomes to how accurate they are. This should be fun, so I invite you to join me as we look back at 25 years of predictions made by The Hockey News and see if they're as smart as we believe they are.

We'll start on Friday as The Hockey Show falls on Thursday, so be ready for some fun as we look back on a quarter-century of predictions by The Hockey News!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 28 September 2020

Light It Up, Tampa

Tonight's your night, Tampa Bay. Celebrate it loudly and proudly because you were one of the best teams for the last two seasons without any doubt. Last season's heartache and heartbreak can be forgotten as the dreams that were dashed by a lacklustre playoff performance one year ago are erased with the celebration and jubilation seen tonight. The Tampa Bay Lightning are the 2020 Stanley Cup champions!

Whatever anger and frustration and disappointment that fans had with this Lightning team following the infathomable sweep out of the playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets is likely replaced with cheering, excitement, and anticipation of a parade following the Lightning's 2-0 win in Game Five over the Dallas Stars. It's fitting that Brayden Point scored the opening goal that turned out to be the game-winner with assists going to Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman because those three players were all in the running for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.

Blake Coleman, acquired by the Lightning for this playoff run, added the second Tampa Bay goal midway through the period, and Patrick Maroon, a Stanley Cup winner on year ago with the St. Louis Blues, picked up an assist on Coleman's goal. If we want to look at shrewd moves made by Julien BriseBois, those two plus the acquisitions of veteran defenders Kevin Shattenkirk and Zach Bogosian really solidified the blue line for Tampa Bay while the aforementioned Coleman, Maroon, and Barclay Goodrow were all acquired to play defensive roles on the forward lines while providing some offensive spark.

Those players plus the core group of guys that Tampa Bay had made them a formidable force this season, and the end result - without their captain in Steven Stamkos - was that this team was better than all the rest at the end of the season. Drink it up, Tampa Bay, because you stand alone!

Full credit to the Dallas Stars who battled hard right until the end as well. Dallas gave as much as they got in these playoffs, but they ran intoa well-oiled machine in Tampa Bay who simply were playing great hockey when they needed it most. No one will fault Dallas for losing to Tampa Bay, and I'm especially impressed that they did it without Ben Bishop as Anton Khudobin was lights-out most nights in this bubble situation. Kudos to the Dallas Stars as they earned the right to represent the Western Conference after a stellar playoff run!

EA Sports had called it for a few years now, but 2020 was finally the year that the Tampa Bay Lightning made it real! Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning, your Stanley Cup champions!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 27 September 2020

History Is Fuzzy On This One

If there is one Will Ferrell character that has turned into a bigger deal than any other, it's likely Ron Burgundy. The former San Diego news anchor-turned-celebrity character has made appearances on a vast number of broadcasts, and sports have seen Ron Burgundy find his way into those broadcast booths. As seen in the image to the left, he helped the Los Angeles Kings by appearing on one of their broadcasts, undoubtedly making it one of those most watched broadcasts in hockey history* (unverified). Fans on social media seemed to appreciate Ron's work with Jim Fox and Alex Faust, but it apparently wasn't the first time that the legendary news anchor apparently called a big hockey game in his impressive career.

Obviously, that introductory paragraph is written with some jest, but Will Ferrell had some fun as Ron Burgundy talking about another very historic hockey moment in a recent episode of The Ron Burgundy Podcast. As you may know, Al Michaels called the Miracle On Ice game on television back in 1980 where he coined his iconic phrase, "Do you believe in miracles?" as the underdog USA squad defeated the heavily-favoured Soviet team, but what you may not know is that Ron Burgundy had the radio call* (unverified)!

According to the man himself, Ron Burgundy was on the radio that night with the call of that historic moment. You can hear him talk about it on his May 7, 2020 podcast entitled "Ron's Top 5 Favorite News Stories"! Here's the short clip of Ron reminiscing about his work that night* (unverified).

As you can probably tell, none of that ever happened, but the fact that Ron Burgundy is referencing one of the biggest moments in hockey history shows that Will Ferrell is a true hockey fan. We know he attends Los Angeles Kings games, so add this to his hockey fandom as Will Ferrell is proving himself time and again as a true hockey fan.

You stay classy, Ron Burgundy!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 26 September 2020

TBC: The Role I Played

Manitobans have played high-level sports across this globe for a while now, and our province is lucky to have these great athletes call Manitoba "home" when they're competing. Sure, they move to other parts of the country, but the Manitoba in them never truly disappears and they always seem to come back for a number of reasons. Today, I am happy to review the book written by one of Manitoba's finest ambassadors - an athlete and and a teammate who many are proud to have. She too makes this clear in her new book as Teebz's Book Club is proud to review The Role I Played, written by Sami Jo Small and published by ECW Press. While I've known Sami Jo Small for some time, The Role I Played presented a unique view on her life, her trials and tribulations in hockey, and her pursuit of an Olympic dream while competing with a number of other women who have the same dream. Make no mistake: The Role I Played was a captivating read!

Known for her beaming smile and bubbly personality, Sami Jo Small is a three-time Olympian and five-time World Champion with Team Canada as one of their selected netminders. She has two gold-medal victories and one silver-medal victory to her name while playing with Canada at the Olympics, and she was twice named as the MVP of the IIHF Women's World Championship while helping her team to those five gold medals. She is a graduate of Stamford University where she earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering - Product Design after attending the school on a track-and-field scholarship where she threw both discus and javelin for the Cardinal. She helped to found the CWHL out of the ashes of the original NWHL, and she was most recently the general manager of the Toronto Furies franchise before the league folded. When she's not wrapped up in hockey, Sami Jo Small is a public speaker where she spreads her message of positivity. She is married to Canadian paralympian Billy Bridges, and she, Billy, and their daughter Kensi live in Toronto.

I count myself as extremely lucky to have spoken with Sami Jo Small a number of times prior to her writing this book, and I thought I had a pretty good idea about her career and her work both on and off the ice. What I wasn't aware of in all of her years on the ice as an elite goalie was how hard she had to fight to earn every spot on every team she made. There still is some stigma about girls playing on boys' hockey teams to a degree, but Small was a trailbalzer in Manitoba as she grabbed every opportunity she could every time there was a chance for her to play higher.

What I didn't expect to find in The Role I Played was the emotional roller coaster that Sami Jo Small takes us on through her career highlights and a few low moments. From watching players she admired be cut to having her name called for big games to being relgated to the back-up role to winning accolades at the highest levels for her work on the ice, The Role I Played will certainly take you on an emotional journey as you read about Sami Jo Small's career. In knowing Small, however, she wears her heart on her sleeve and every story had me hearing her voice as I read through the passages, giving The Role I Played even more feeling for me as I read through the book.

I was shocked, as I read The Role I Played, that Hockey Canada's coaching staff deal with each player as if they're robots. As Sami Jo Small makes clear, the meetings she had with a number of the coaches seemed very cold and off-putting with zero empathy shown for players who were having their dreams crushed by news of not making the team. It's this honesty in Small's experiences and this pull-no-punches description of the machine that is Hockey Canada that had me shaking my head a number of times as I read through the paragraphs. I know Small included an apology at the start of the book for depicting some people in a light of which they may not approve, but reading these experiences makes me wonder how many of Canada's elite athletes have simply walked away due to their experiences. The Role I Played shows a darker underbelly that I'm not sure that Hockey Canada wanted exposed.

I will say that, despite the ups and downs she faced and experienced, Sami Jo Small seemed to make friends with everyone that she encountered in life. Some of those friendships lasted a short time while others will last a lifetime, but it's clear that everyone who pulled on a Team Canada sweater was part of a family whose bonds couldn't be broken by any force in the universe. I would say the same thing went for any of the teammates that Sami played with in a Mississauga, Brampton, or Toronto jersey in the NWHL and CWHL and a Stamford jersey or sweatshirt in the NCAA.

It speaks volumes to how these friendships are stressed by these high-level sports situations, and how those bonds are forged and made stronger when everyone backs each other up in the face of adversity. Players like Vicky Sunohara, Jennifer Botterill, Delaney Collins, and Susie Yuen span several generations of Team Canada squads, but Sami Jo Small is close to each of those players and many more.

The friendships made while facing adversity reminds me of a paragraph in The Role I Played about the gruelling camp that the Canadian women went through in PEI in preparation for the 2006 Torino Olympic Games. Small writes,
"Thirty-one days done. We are a broken bunch, but we made it through the month. Exhaustion doesn't mean the same thing to me anymore. I now know I can keep going when every last cell in my body wants me to quit. I know my teammates need me as much as I need them. We are on this journey as a team, and ultimately, we are stronger together."
Those words ring true throughout The Role I Played with the stories that Small tells. Despite being pitted against one another for playing time, opportunities, and the chance just to wear the maple leaf on their chests, the women who make up the Team Canada women's hockey team always rise to the occasion when they play for one another and play together as a team. That's the hallmark of Canadian champion hockey teams, and Small recognized this importance of friendships and playing for each other while pushing each other to excel individually in order to find greater success.

Overall, The Role I Played was a quick read for me as I was immersed in Small's storytelling from the first page right through the epilogue. Learning about her life, her relationships, her struggles, and her successes gives me better insight into who Small is as a person, and I can see why she's an amazing human being after reading this book. She's clearly blessed as an athlete, but her life has become so much more exceptional thanks to her experiences, her friends, her family, her drive, and her determination. Reading through the 344 pages was easy thanks to Small's writing style, and her stories will take on the emotional journey that she went through as she experienced life. Because of this great storytelling ability, The Role I Played absolutely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

With a nationwide release coming up this week, you'll be able to find The Role I Played in most bookstores. It's entirely worth the price on the sticker, and I feel like readers of all ages will enjoy this book if they're up to the 344-page challenge. I was and I enjoyed it, and I'm sure you will too!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 25 September 2020

The Stamkos Cameo

Steven Stamkos, who played in Game Three and scored a goal in limited time on the ice, did not take the ice tonight for Game Four nor was he included on the game roster. He was ruled out by the team before the game, and his inclusion for further games now goes back into question for the remainder of the series. Getting Stamkos back into the lineup seemed to energize the Lightning who earned the win in Game Three. Knowing that Stamkos is out tonight, will we see him again this season? It seems doubtful after Lightning head coach Jon Cooper's comments following Game Three's limited ice time for Stamkos, but we'll have to wait and see what the Lightning decide.

Prior to the game tonight, Cooper didn't rule Stamkos out for the remainder of the season. "He's not going to play, but we haven't ruled him out for the series," Cooper told reporters. "But he's not going to play tonight."

For me, it's hard to see Stamkos back after he played less than three minutes of action in Game Three and isn't dressing for Game Four. Maybe he will be after tonight's game, particularly in the back-to-back games we're seeing on Friday and Saturday, but it's hard for me to believe that he's truly healthy enough to play after he sat on the bench for more than two periods in Game Three.

It's believed that Stamkos suffered a setback after trying to get ready for the NHL restart following surgery in March for a core muscle injury. While Stamkos looked good in his 2:47 of ice time, one has to wonder if that rush he made when he scored his goal re-aggravated the injury in some way, forcing him to sit for the remainder of the game. If this is the case, Stamkos' season is likely over.

It's currently 2-0 for Dallas in the first period, so maybe the Lightning could use that boost they got from Stamkos they got in Game Three. This game is far from over, though, so we'll see how it finishes up. The one thing we do know about this series moving forward, though, is that Stamkos' inclusion will likely be a 50-50 from here on in.

If that was his only appearance in these playoffs, however, that's a pretty good way to remember the 2:47 he played as he scored a big goal and helped Tampa Bay take a 2-1 series lead.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 24 September 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 418

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight as Teebz and Jenna sort through the hockey stories from the past week, and there were a couple of massive stories that need some discussion. The Stanley Cup Final is also underway with the Tampa Bay Lightning up 2-1 on the Dallas Stars, the KHL is currently under siege, there was a pretty big anniversary this week considering the state of women's hockey, and I have a couple of birthday wishes to toss out tonight for a couple of loyal listeners!

If you missed Rick Westhead's look at painkillers and their use by NHL players, I highly recommend that you watch The Problem of Pain. Teebz and Jenna will discuss the information presented by TSN with a look at university hockey and sports where the treatment of pain is also becoming more pharmaceutical. We'll take a look at the ESPN Bubble Confidential piece by Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski on whether this bubble idea, for all its has produced, is worth the trouble and effort. There was a trade that was made, called off, and then killed altogether yesterday that legitimately might be one of the worst trades for one team in its history. On top of that, we have a Lanny McDonald legal update, we'll look at Stamkos' cameo and goal in Game Three, Dallas not getting their big guns rolling, the KHL's COVID-19 problem, and Manon Rheaume blazing a trail for women 28 years ago yesterday with her appearance for the Tampa Bay Lightning!

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! 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 and Jenna go over the pain of painkiller usage, the unhappiness of being in the bubble, the headache of bad trades, the hurt seen in the courtroom, the injury keeping Stamkos off the ice, the heartbreak for Dallas, the wall Rheaume broke through for women's hockey, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the web stream!

PODCAST: September 24, 2020: Episode 418

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 23 September 2020

She's Still An Icon

It's hard to believe that there hasn't been any other women to have broken through the apparent concrete ceiling that is the NHL, but today marks the 28th anniversary of Manon Rhéaume's lone appearance in an NHL game. She is still the only woman to have participated as a player in any NHL game, a mark that seems like it will never be broken despite some of the amazing talent seen in the women's game. While I'm not here to advocate for women playing the same bruising style of hockey the men play, I am here to shine a light on women who constantly find themselves in shadows despite their accomplishments. Manon Rhéaume's brief opportunity in the NHL when women's hockey was finding itself deserves a mention on the blog today.

It should be noted that Brendan Shanahan and Jeff Brown were the two St. Louis Blues players to score on Rhéaume in that exhibition game. Rheaume would play a second preseason game in 1993 against the Boston Bruins, and she would be scored on by Glen Wesley, Josef Stumpel, and Daniel Marios. In total, Rhéaume's NHL experiences saw her allow five goals on 20 shots in her limited action, but that should hardly be the focal point here.

Rhéaume's appearances in those games put women's hockey on the map across North America. The first IIHF Women's World Championship was held in 1990, but one could really point to the exposure that Rheaume provided by appearing in the Tampa Bay nets in those games as a major trigger for the expansion and growth of women's hockey across North America and the world.

"It didn't matter to me why I was invited," she told Sportsnet's Kristina Rutherford of Tampa Bay's offer. "When I was younger, so many times people said no to me to play at a higher level, like AAA, because I was a girl. So, this time around if they said yes to me because I'm a girl, I'm taking this opportunity. At the end of the day I still had to prove myself and perform on the ice."

She did prove herself, telling Rutherford that Blues defenceman Stephane Quintal skated by with words of encouragement. She also used that experience to push herself, winning IIHF Women's World Championship gold medals in 1992 and 1994 before earning an Olympic silver medal in 1998 as the first starting netminder for Team Canada women's hockey in an Olympiad.

Rhéaume inspired other women to chase their dreams of playing highr levels hockey, regardless of whether it was men's or women's hockey. Erin Whitten, who won four IIHF Women's World Championship silver medals with Team USA, has played in both the ECHL and AHL. Danielle Dubé, formerly of the UBC Thunderbirds, played professionally with the ECHL's Long Beach Ice Dogs and battled Rhéaume for a goaltending spot in Nagano in 1998. Kim St-Pierre, who had a long run with Team Canada, played for the McGill Redmen men's hockey team against Ryerson. Charline Labonté suited in the QMJHL just as Rhéaume did. And Sami Jo Small looked up to Rhéaume as an idol both on and off the ice.

These are just the goaltenders who have upped their games thanks to Rhéaume's historic night 28 years ago. We've since seen Hayley Wickenheiser play professionally in a Finnish men's league. We've seen Kim St-Pierre and Shannon Szabados be called as emergency practice goalies for the Canadiens and Oilers, respectively. Heather McDaniel was a referee in the Central Hockey League from 1995-99 while Katie Guay and Erin Blair have both worked games in the SPHL. We're seeing more and more women at the NHL level in executive roles and, more recently, coaching roles, and this trend doesn't seem to be one-off hirings for publicity as Esposito tried 28 years ago.

The work that Manon Rhéaume did nearly three decades ago wasn't a publicity stunt. It was the ceiling that women needed to break to gain a bigger foothold in the professional hockey world. Prior to that, Marguerite Norris, Sonia Scurfield, and Marie-Denise DeBartolo York were the answers to a trivia question for most people as they were the only women to have their names on the Stanley Cup thanks to ownership of the Blackhawks, Flames, and Penguins, respectively. Since then, we've had five more names added, but the most notable might be Charlotte Grahame who had her name added in 2001 when the Colorado Avalanche won with her as the senior director of hockey for the team.

Rhéaume's historic night 28 years ago is something that should be celebrated for the doors it opened across the hockey world for women. Yes, it helped the women's game immensely, but it also began to erode the walls that prevented women from finding work inside professional men's hockey. It's that kind of inspiration that makes Manon Rhéaume an icon today, and I'm hopeful we'll continue to see women make inroads when it comes to equality in the men's professional game.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 22 September 2020

A Small Celebration

Today's a pretty special day. While it doesn't relate to me directly, indirectly there's a good reason to celebrate as my brother is turning another year older. I don't talk much about him here on HBIC, but he is a hockey fan as he appreciates the work done by Drew Doughty in Los Angeles. He plays a mean game of softball, he works hard, he enjoys his time off, and he's a good dude. For as much as the kid may have lived in my shadow growing up, he's a guy I admire and respect as his talents as many and most of them have helped me immensely!

There have been some notable NHL names who were born on September 22 and celebrate this day along with my brother. Do you know who is the highest-scoring player born on this day? Your answer is at the bottom of this article!

The player who was born on September 22 closest in proximity to my brother would be Foxwarren, Manitoba's Pat Falloon! Drafted second overall in 1991 by the San Jose Sharks, Falloon played 575 NHL games with the Sharks, Philadelphia Flyers, Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers, and Pittsburgh Penguins where he scored 143 goals and 179 assists for 322 NHL points! He was the first player ever drafted by the Sharks in franchise history, and was the Memorial Cup Tournament MVP in 1991 with the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL. Falloon's career never blossomed as much as it did in his 59-point rookie campaign, but he did the 40-point plateau four times in his career. Is he the highest scorer whose birthday is today?

He's actually the third-highest scorer who was born today!

We know that goalies don't score often, but it would hard not to include former New York Rangers netminder Mike Richter on this list of exceptional players after he played in 666 games for the New York Rangers, amassing a 301-258-73 record on the strength of a 2.89 GAA and a .904 save percentage. Richter, in a weird twist, is actually 11th-highest in terms of scorers on the list of 20 players who were born on this day as his 11 assists rank just behind former Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore's 12 points! As we know, Richter backstopped the 1994 New York Rangers to a Stanley Cup championship, helped Team USA capture the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, and earned a silver medal in 2002 at the Salt Lake City Olympic Games with Team USA. Richter had his number retired by the Rangers and he's a member of the US Hockey Hall of Fame. So it's not Richter despite his accolades.

Derick Brassard gets a mention because he's the guy born today who played with the most teams in his NHL career thus far! To date, Bassard has suited up for seven NHL teams that include the Columbus Blue Jackets, the New York Rangers, the Ottawa Senators, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Colorado Avalanche, the Florida Panthers, and the New York Islanders. Brassard won a World Championship gold medal with Canada in 2016 and a World Junior Championship silver medal in 2005, but his scoring in the NHL hasn't been too shabby as he has 186 goals and 297 assists for 483 points. Is he the highest scorer?

He's actually second in all-time scoring for people born on this day!

The highest-scoring player born today is American Mark Johnson! Mark, seen to the left as part of the 1980 Team USA team that won the Olympic gold medal, played with five NHL teams over his ten-year NHL career that included the Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars, Hartford Whalers, St. Louis Blues, and New Jersey Devils. Johnson scored 203 goals and 305 assists - the only play born today to reach the 200-goal and 300-assist plateaus! Mark played his father, "Badger" Bob Johnson at the University of Wisconsin where he was the first Badger to win the WCHA Rookie of the Year honours. In 2002, he was named as the head coach of the University of Wisconsin–Madison women's ice hockey team, winning the NCAA championship in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2019. Johnson also coached the 2010 Team USA women's Olympic squad in Vancouver where he helped them earn a silver medal. He was awarded the 2011 Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States, and was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004. And his 508 NHL points make him the highest-scoring player born on September 22!

There's a little fun for today as my brother celebrates his cake day. I want to wish the men above and the other players who I didn't mention a Happy Birthday today as they all celebrate today! To my brother, have the Happiest Birthday yet, and here's to another great year next year!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 21 September 2020

TBC: Bobby Orr's Skates

I have a collection of books that I'm working through on my bookcase shelf that will make it onto HBIC before the end of the year. The problem with having a number of great books on the go mean none have quite been finished yet, so I'll get to work on that. In saying that, Teebz's Book Club returns to the blog today with a very special book that is for the younger hockey fans as I feel I don't review enough books for the kids in the crowd! Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates, written by Bobby Orr and Kara Kootstra, illustrated by Jennifer Phelan, and published by Tundra Books! This is a great story about a boy, his skates, and his dreams that incorporates a little bit of hockey history and magic into the story!

I'm sure you know the notable name on the list of authors, and it's true that former Boston Bruins defenceman and Hall of Famer Bobby Orr was a co-author of this book! He, of course, revolutionized the defenceman position in the NHL, using his speed, vision, scoring ability, and skating to win the Art Ross Trophy twice, the Hart Trophy three times and the Norris Trophy eight consecutive times. He won the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins twice, earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP on each occasion. Orr retired in 1978 and was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame the following year as the Hall waived the mandatory three-year waiting period for Orr. Today, Orr runs the Orr Hockey Group, a player agency for hockey players.

Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates is the third book that Kara Kootstra has written with respect to Bobby Orr, following her other successful books The Boy in Number 4 and Jay Versus the Saxophone of Doom. Kara's dad is a former NHL player, a retired professor, and a longtime hockey coach, so she grew up loving the game and invested in the history of the game. She graduated from the University of Windsor, and currently resides in the Ontario city with her husband and two children. When she's not using her writing talents for children's books, Kara can be found with music as she's a classically trained singer and pianist!

Jennifer Phelan is a reknowned artist whose works have appeared in American Illustration and 3x3. Phelan's first children's book, Hey, Boy, published by Simon & Schuster, was named as one of the 2017 New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books. Her second book, The Log Driver's Waltz, brings to life a story through images surrounding the iconic Canadian vignette shown on Canadian TV based on the song by Wade Hemsworth. Jennifer currently live in Toronto with her artist husband, Gleb, where she "works as a designer/PM at Hypenotic, teaches Illustration at Dawson College, and serves on the Board of Directors for Art Starts."

I have to admit that I always want to commit myself to more book reviews for younger fans, and I'm very glad I had the opportunity to review Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates. The story of Bobby and his dream of buying brand-new skates only to find hand-me-down skates in their place woven by Kootstra and Orr sounds a lot like a young boy's story who grew up in Parry Sound, Ontario where he played hockey from dawn until dusk and into the cover of night.

What makes Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates so great is that the story is written in easy-to-understand language as younger readers will latch onto Bobby's story as the pages turn. Combined with the amazing artistry found on the pages throughout the book, Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates is one of those books where younger readers and listeners might gain more from looking at the pictures as the story is read than simply imagining it happening. Phelan's artist work really shines as a nice complement to Kootstra's and Orr's story.

Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates contains a nice message of gratitude as Bobby's wish for new skates doesn't materialize when he expects it, but he doesn't complain about his new hand-me-down skates. This subtle lesson written into the lines of the story is a nice touch, and it may lead to a second lesson of good things coming to those who wait. While Bobby didn't get what he wanted, his selflessness in accepting and being thankful for a gift might lead to better things in his future!

If there's one thing that struck me as I read Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates, it was the similarity to Roch Carrier's Le chandail de hockey where Carrier's protagonist received a sweater for the Maple Leafs as opposed to his beloved Canadiens. While the end of the stories are different, the reaction to the gifts that both protagonists have are entirely different, and the lessons learned in the end may reflect the decisions and reactions made at the discoveries of the lesser-wanted items in both stories. That being said, Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates definitely stands on its own two skates as an excellent story similar to The Hockey Sweater.

I made mention of Jennifer Phelan's artistry in the book above, but it needs its own paragraph because she has done an exceptional job in bringing the story to life through her images. For example, her hand-me-down skates diagram comparing the "features" of the old skates to the new, from-the-store skates that have nothing but shine and sparkle on them is worth the price of the book alone. I have to say that I really appreciated the work that Phelan did in Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates, and I suspect both you and your younger hockey fans will appreciate them too!

Overall, Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates is the kind of story your kids will want to have read to them over and over as they take to Bobby's desire for new skates and absorb the amazing imagery on the 40 pages of the book. That may seem like a long story, but each page has a few lines to a couple of small paragraphs, and it would entirely suitable for a bedtime story. From the great writing to the incredible illustrations to the moral lessons written in between the lines, there's no doubt that Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates is deserving of the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

You can find Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates at your local bookstores starting tomorrow as the book is released nationwide on September 22! Based on the story, Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates is recommended for all readers of all ages!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 20 September 2020

The First Of Many

It was always hard for me to cheer for Jaycee Magwood when she was a member of Regina Cougars women's hockey team. She was lethal on the ice for the Cougars against most teams, and she was a monster to play against with her size, her great hands, and her speed. The fact that she's a Manitoban made me want to cheer for her, but I just couldn't until it was her final year in Canada West and I began to appreciate the skills she had and why she was so special. While she unfortunately never got to win a National Championship and was denied a chance at a Canada West title, there was something about Jaycee that made you knew that she wasn't going to be done with hockey once her university career came to an end. She just had that fire that couldn't be extinguished.

Hearing that she signed this summer with MODO in the SDHL made me smile because I knew she was going to play in one of the best professional women's hockey leagues on the planet, and she belonged there with her skill set. As a goal scorer, she was going to find the net over in Sweden sooner rather than later, and we now have a record of that first professional goal scored by Jaycee Magwood!

In the third period with MODO on the power-play, this was the scene.
Jaycee Magwood's first professional goal was scored at 17:55 of the third period on a power-play on September 19, 2020 where she deflected an Erica Rieder shot past Stephanie Neatby! Olivia Carlsson, who cycled the puck down to Rieder on the point, picked up the second assist!

I am super-happy for Jaycee as she notches her first professional goal in just her third pro game! I suspect there will be more, so keep your eyes on this space as the SDHL season progresses!

Speaking of which, MODO, who dropped the game against Linkoping by a 2-1 score, was back at it today as they squared off against Djurgårdens IF as former UBC Thunderbirds forward Mathea Fischer and former U SPORTS Player of the Year and STFX Huskies forward Sarah Bujold visited MODO. Former Bisons defender Erica Rieder recorded her first point of the season on the assist on Magwood's goal yesterday, and she followed that up with her first goal of the 2020-21 SDHL season today!
In vintage Rieder fashion, she collects the puck in her own end while on the power-play, circles the net, breaks past a couple of forwards down the wing, cuts to the middle at the face-off circles, and rips a low shot past Lovisa Berndtsson to put MODO up 1-0 at 8:28 of the second period! That goal was straight out of her Bisons playbook, and it's great to see Erica notch her first goal of the season!

If you continue to watch the video, you'll see Sarah Bujold even the game at 1-1 at 12:41 of the second period while on the power-play as she pots her second of the season off a rebound from a Josefine Jakobsen one-timer, and these two teams would head to the third period tied at 1-1.

Jakobsen would score with 3:33 to play to give Djurgårdens the 2-1 victory as MODO couldn't overcome the deficit late, pushing MODO to a 1-3-0-0 and eighth-place in the SDHL. The ladies from MODO have to give their netminders a little offence, and one goal in each of this weekend's games simply wasn't enough!

It's always good to see former Canada West players scoring goals, and it's especially awesome to see Jaycee Magwood notch her first professional goal. Erica scored her first pro goal last season, but she's got one under her belt this season now and I expect we'll see many more from both Magwood and Rieder before this season is out as I'll work to bring updates on all ten former Canadan West players suiting up in the SDHL this season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 19 September 2020

Wear The Alternate!

This jersey is affectionately known as the Mooterus jersey as worn as an alternate jersey by the Dallas Stars from 2003-06. While it was universally hated thanks to its logo looking like the reproductive tract of a woman, I happen to own one. Why, you ask? Because, as one Twitter friend said, "I hate hockey," but the bigger picture is that it fits my method of acquiring jerseys that other people hate. I have a handful: the NY Islanders' Fisherman, the Bruins' Pooh Bear, and the Gretzky-era Blues to name a few. The Mooterus, though, always brings out the hate from people who see it.

I proclaimed on Twitter once the Lightning had eliminated the Islanders that I would wear the Mooterus jersey until a winner was crowned in these playoffs. It's not that I don't like the Lightning, but I'm pulling for Rick Bowness who has waited forever to coach in a Stanley Cup Final as a head coach. It's also hard not to like a guy like Joel Hanley, who scored his first ever NHL Playoffs goal tonight, or a guy like Anton Khudobin who has been a good goalie for a while, but stuck behind other netminders in various cities.

With Dallas' win tonight over the Lightning, it was the first time in these playoffs that I had worn the Mooterus while watching a game, and that means the hideous Mooterus jersey is now 1-0 in these playoffs!

Granted, I had nothing to do with the win and me wearing a jersey in support of a team makes little difference in the world when you think rationally, but a win is a win is a win!

I will wear it on Monday for Game Two of the Stanley Cup Final, but I do expect a serious push from the Lightning who looked a little disoriented due to Dallas' speed and physicality. Let's hope the Mooterus' second appearance in these playoffs result in the same ending as its first appearance!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 18 September 2020

Lanny's Day In Court

As reported both on this blog and on The Hockey Show last night, Lanny McDonald was a little busy today as he went to court to try to block the publishing of the manuscript that Kirstie McLellan Day had written about his life. As I stated on Wednesday on HBIC, this seems like one of the most bizarre stories to be published here considering the praise that Day has received in writing books about hockey's biggest stars and Lanny McDonald's likeability. The battle that McDonald is waging against Day and, by proxy, HarperCollins who paid both Day and McDonald for a book many months ago doesn't make much sense to me, but that's why lawyers are involved. They're also headed to court today to try and make sense of this whole ordeal.

The book, tentatively titled Call Me Lanny, was supposed to his shelves this fall as this is a key time for publishers to get books out that are applicable for the season. It would also see a boost in sales from a Christmas push as well, but none of that may happen for HarperCollins as McDonald and Day unable to find any resolution. That's why they were in a Calgary courtroom today.

As per Kevin Martin of the Calgary Herald who is quoting McDonald's lawyer, Gary Befus,
"There's a fundamental breakdown in trust between these two parties," Befus said, before agreeing with McLellan Day's lawyer Jason Holowachuk to seek judicial dispute resolution or some other form of third-party mediation. "It's impossible to expect that they are somehow going to work together and work this out."
As you read above, McDonald and Day did agree to enter into mediation, but this seems far from over considering the statement made by Befus.

What was striking today is that Justice Corina Dario "suggested neither side should be speaking to the media about their dispute," meaning we likely won't hear about anything that happens during mediation. Whatever deal the two strike or don't strike will likely go unmentioned as well as I'm sure neither side will want the details of the mediatied decision to be public, especially if one side makes serious concessions.

It seems that Day wrote more a memoir about Lanny's career rather than focusing on his post-hockey playing days where he's been active in the community. McDonald apparently made it clear that this book was not to be a memoir, but allowed Day to continue writing it in the manner she did. McDonald also wanted the book to apparently speak glowingly about him for his work in the community, and the final approval would include his wife's and two daughters' approval of the manuscript as well.

Whatever happens in the resolution of this battle, it sounds like there was poor communication between both parties despite Day getting the green light from McDonald to write the manuscript as she did. I would chalk this one up as a misunderstanding if the problem hadn't festered into a legal matter, but it will now require cooler heads and better communication to solve this stand-off between Day and McDonald.

And thanks to Justice Dario, it sounds like we'll only know if and when this disagreement has been resolved if Call Me Lanny hits the shelves in bookstores across the world.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 17 September 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 417

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, hits the airwaves tonight in a big way. I completely lost track of the episode numbering aside from making sure they're in order sequentially, and it appears we have hit a milestone! Episode 417 today marks the start of Season Nine of The Hockey Show on UMFM! It's hard to believe that we've had nine seasons of stuff to talk about, but that seems to be case as we embark on week #417 of chatting about all things hockey! Being that this is Season Nine's first show, I also have some major news to announce so make sure you're tuning in tonight!

I teased this a while back on the show, but with the new season of The Hockey Show upon us it seems appropriate that I also introduce everyone to the new co-host of The Hockey Show! I won't give that away here - you'll have to tune in to find out who this person is! I assure you, however, this person has a wealth of hockey knowledge, has played the game at a high level, is willing to go on adventures with the show, and eventually be in-studio for all the craziness! While the pandemic continues and UMFM enforces its social distancing requirements, this person's availability for interviews may not exactly line up entirely, but I assure you I'll have the new co-host on frequently!

In saying that, you might be asking where Beans went and what's he's up to, and I have to report he's doing well. As you may know, he has a young family to whom he's deeply committed, and I'm very happy to report that everyone is doing well in his household.

As his kids get older, though, they require more time from Dad, so Beans made the difficult decision to step away from the show earlier this year. While I still plan on bringing him back for roundtable shows and other fun, I fully and completely respect his commitment to his family. At the end of the day, family is more important than anything else, and I'll never fault Beans for making that choice. His voice will still be heard on The Hockey Show; it just won't be weekly as his two boys get older and he and his wife need to shuttle them to all their activities! Beans will be missed, but he certainly won't be gone as he'll always have a place on this show!

As for tonight's show, once we get the new co-host introduced, we'll look at some of the news from around the hockey world that includes the Flames removing the interim tag from Geoff Ward, the Capitals naming Peter Laviolette as head coach, Bill Armstrong reportedly ready to take over the GM seat in Arizona, Jim Montgomery heading to St. Louis, U SPORTS players heading to Europe and a transfer to Ontario, Lanny McDonald being in a bizarre lawsuit, a rather odd Minnesota-Buffalo trade, CCM changing their helmet design, and anything else we can squeeze in on tonight's show! It's the start of Season Nine of The Hockey Show, so join us tonight at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, and on at 5:30pm!

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! 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 kicks off Season Nine of The Hockey Show by introducing a new co-host who will help him examine some coaching moves, some player moves, some legal manoeuvring, some equipment changes, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the web stream!

PODCAST: September 17, 2020: Episode 417

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Wednesday Headlines

I always like these quick hits from the hockey world to bring everyone up to date on what has been happening here and there. There seems to be a handful of smaller stories that need a little discussion, so today's headlines will do that as we look at a number of interesting stories that need a little breaking down. Let's get into it!

CCM Goes 3D

CCM introduced a new helmet design that has been approved for use by the NHL that sees CCM use 3D printing to make the helmet! Seen to the left, the helmet features a breathable lattice that fits the players head based on scans of that player's head via software used by CCM, and the helmet's interior is then crafted from these scans as the lattice structure you see! Once the lattice is constructed, the hard outer plastic shell we're used to seeing on helmets is put on over top, and the form-fitting, contact-absorbing helmet is ready for action! Technology is awesome!

While this helmet admittedly won't stop concussions, the lattice allows for better absorption of contact and dissipation of that contact throughout the lattice technology. Finding ways to reduce brain trauma is always a good thing, so count me in as a fan of CCM's exploration of this lattice concept.

Using an exclusive 3D printer from a company called Carbon, CCM built the first Tacks X helmet for Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets as he used it throughout the opening round of the playoffs against Tampa Bay including the five-overtime game. While I can't say the helmet was a factor for it, with Jones playing over 65 minutes of hockey it was likely helpful that the helmet was light and breathable while being highly protective.

We'll see who else adopts this helmet in the 2020-21 season, but I suspect a number of NHL players may make the switch with it being form-fitting, light, breathable, and somewhat safer than other helmets on the market today!

From Thunderbirds To Panthers?

Some news out of UBC today as another of their graduates has made the leap overseas to play pro hockey! Celine Tardif is already suiting up for Linkopings, Kelly Murray would be dressing for SDE, and we already knew Mathea Fischer was headed to Djurgarden after than news broke back in July. UBC can add another pro hockey player to its ranks as their leading scorer and leading goal scorer has found a home with a team that seriously can use her ability to find the back of the net as Hannah Clayton-Carroll will take her talents to Göteborg HC for the 2020-21 season, making it ten players from Canada West playing in the SDHL and fifteen in total who have played at least one season with a U SPORTS squad!

That's a pretty impressive total from the western side of the country as Manitoba, Regina, Saskatchewan, Alberta and UBC all have players in the SDHL with four former Thunderbirds leading the way! The other Canada West graduates are Erica Rieder (Manitoba) and Jaycee Magwood (Regina) playing with MODO; Danielle Stone (Saskatchewan) plays with HV71; and, Alex Anderson (Manitoba), Megan Eady and Lindsay Post (both from Alberta) play with SDE! Well done, CanWest!

As an aside, is Göteborg HC's logo a panther? A cougar? A female lion? I have no clue.

From Cougars To Lakers

The other big piece of Canada West news is that former Mount Royal Cougars forward Kennedy Bozek is on the move after she signed a professional hockey deal! She won't land in Sweden, however, as Bozek will suit up for the Lakers Kärnten of the EWHL in Austria! She'll be one of three foreigners on the Lakers' roster this season as per EWHL rules, joining fellow Canadian and defender Tash Scantlebury who played with SAIT in the ACAC and German defender and occasional forward Kelsey Soccio who played with EKU Mannheim of the Frauen-Bundesliga. The Lakers, who have been in existence since 2018, are "the only Carinthian women's hockey team that participates in the EWHL" - their claim to fame, it seems!

Kennedy will wear #24 this season for the Lakers, and she'll need to be ready to go shortly as the Lakers will play their first EWHL game on September 26 against an Italian club in the Bolzano Eagles. Bolzano was 9-6-0-3 last season for fourth-place in the EWHL standings, and they ended up losing the bronze-medal game to Aisulu Almaty. The Lakers will likely have their hands full after they finished in ninth-place of the ten-team circuit at 2-15-1-0.

It should also be noted that there are some rather impressive netminders playing in the EWHL. Valeria Lamenta, who Bisons fans will remember from the 2019 U SPORTS National Championship with the Guelph Gryphons, graduated after winning the National Championship, and she played with KMH Budapest, leading them to an EWHL Championship last season. Her tandem partner in Budapest last season was her old Guelph goaltending partner in Stephanie Nehring, so these two did an incredible job in helping Budapest bring home the hardware!

Along with them, Maude Lévesque-Ryan, formerly of the University of Ottawa, backstopped Almaty to the bronze medal, so there were some good Canadian netminders playing the EWHL last season! No word on where any of these players have signed yet, but it's likely we'll see them back somewhere in the EWHL!

Best of luck in Austria this season, Kennedy! We'll be watching your progress!

From Pronghorns To Lakers

It's hard to think that there are many spots for goaltenders at this point in the season for any U SPORTS team considering that most of the teams in U SPORTS had their recruiting done a while back, but I'm am ecstatic to report that former Lethbridge Pronghorns netminder Chloe Marshall will also be a Laker, just not in Austria! Chloe will head to North Bay, Ontario to give goaltending a shot in the OUA with the Nipissing Lakers who have three goalies on the roster, but none with the pedigree or experience that Chloe has! While this will be her fourth team in her fourth year of university - that has to be a modern day record, no? - it seems Chloe will be given a chance by head coach and former NHLer Darren Turcotte to win a roster spot based on her play in camp.

I'm guessing here, but I suspect that Turcotte may want to a goalie who has more than one year of university experience if he's going to challenge for an OUA championship, and Marshall brings that in spades after spending one season in an NCAA Division-III program, and two years in U SPORTS playing behind Jessica Vance and Alicia Anderson. Anderson, as we know from The Hockey Show, liked that Marshall pushed her to be better in practice, so it seems logical for Turcotte to give Marshall a look and possibly red-shirt his two rookie netminders for this season.

Whatever happens, I am now a Nipissing Lakers fan for the upcoming season after having gotten to know Chloe a little, and I'm hoping she can come in and lead that program to new heights and possibly an OUA championship and a trip to the U SPORTS National Championship! Congratulations, Chloe, on finding a place to play this season, and I'll be watching from the next province over as you dominate the OUA!

Bizarro Lanny

This has to be one of the most bizarre stories I've ever read about someone's memoirs, but it seems this will all be resolved one way or another on Friday. According to a CBC report, best-selling NHL author Kirstie McLellan Day is suing Hall of Famer and Calgary Flames legend Lanny McDonald for "refusing to release the manuscript to HarperCollins" that Day penned about McDonald. The reason for this lawsuit is that McDonald watched an episode of The Voice and took a long walk where he pondered over lyrics "about losing your money, but not losing your soul" and subsequently decided not to continue with the book, according to a letter sent to Day and her lawyer via McDonald's counsel.

nhl Something stinks with this whole situation on Lanny's side. Having read a handful of books that Day has penned about NHL stars and personalities, I can honestly say she does excellent work. Lanny, however, found it troubling "that his wife had been removed from the book at her request," and listed five bizarre claims about the manuscript that seem to hold little water at best.

Whatever is happening behind the scenes with Lanny, it may be put under the microscope on Friday when the parties gather in a courtroom to decide what to do about this loggerhead. Personally, I can't see Lanny winning this legal battle, but we'll see how the judge rules once both sides lay out their arguments. I have a feeling this manuscript will be sent to HarperCollins in the near future.

So there are your Wednesday headlines that I found intriguing and interesting. It's good to see the Canada West women getting a chance to move on and play professionally in Europe, and I suspect they'll find their legs and be productive as the season picks up steam. Here's hoping there's a ton of success each of them find in Sweden and Austria, and here's to Chloe Marshall finding her game in the OUA as well!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 15 September 2020

Future Islanders Coach?

The news broke today that the vacant head coach position with the Washington Capitals has been filled. Peter Laviolette, most recently with the Nashville Predators, was hired by the NHL club today as their head coach, becoming the nineteenth head coach in Washington Capitals history, and he'll be tasked with getting the Washington Capitals back to the promised land of Stanley Cup glory. Just two years removed from Stanley Cup parades, the Capitals are looking for a new direction, and they believe they've found it with Peter Laviolette's coaching.

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan stated that, following the loss to the Islanders and the dismissal of Todd Rierden, he was seeking a coach who could properly motivate the Capitals' roster. According to MacLellan, he didn't like what he saw from his team in the bubble in Toronto, and he clearly wants that to change as this Capitals team sees its window to win starting to close.

"We have an experienced group. We need someone to come in and push some buttons on some good players," he told reporters. "We're going to need someone that can come in and establish that as a big part of our identity."

Laviolette is seen as someone who can command respect from his players while pushing them to be more. While there's no doubt that he has had success as he ranks 16th all-time in wins with a 637-425-123 record in his career, it also becomes a question of will we see what happened in Nashville happen in Washington where key players simply underperformed in Laviolette's system. Alexander Ovechkin is chasing that elusive Gretzky goal-scoring record, so it might be a clash of personalities if he's asked to backcheck a little more at the expense of 5-10 goals per year.

That's where his communication with the veteran leaders of this Capitals team will be needed, and he's proven that he can work effectively with good locker room leaders in the past. Rod Brind'Amour was a key voice when Laviolette coached the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup. He had Chris Pronger patrolling the blue line of a younger Flyers team when he coached that squad to the Stanley Cup Final. And he's worked with outspoken personalities like PK Subban in Nashville when he coached them to the Stanley Cup Final. Ovechkin is certainly a personality unto himself who has a voice in the locker room, so Laviolette's ability to communicate will be key with this leadership group that includes John Carlson, TJ Oshie, and Nicklas Backstrom.

Laviolette's communication will bring with it an identity, and that identity will lead to a new culture in Washington assuming that everything works out for the length of his three-year deal. We know the Capitals can score. We've seen them win games and a Stanley Cup before a few early exits in the playoffs in past years, so what exactly is Laviolette's plan in getting the Capitals on the same page from Player A to Player Z?

"I feel like there's always an opportunity going in as a coach to not only build an identity on the ice on how you want your team to play and an expectation of what it's going to look like on a nightly basis," he stated, "but also how you're going to build your team internally and how hard they fight for each other, how much they care about each other. For me, those are things that you can go in and you can work on a daily basis both in the room and on the ice."

There might be some questions for Laviolette when it comes to goaltending as he won't have a Pekka Rinne-type netminder to lean on if Braden Holtby isn't re-signed by the club, leaving Ilya Samsonov as the new starting netminder. While Samsonov isn't a bad option to have by any means, there might be less wiggle room as compared to having Rinne at the top of his game as Laviolette had for a number of seasons in Nashville.

If Laviolette can tighten up the defence as he did with the Nashville Predators in giving up fewer goals per season, the goals that the Capitals can and do score will making winning games easier. No longer will they need to be in track meets or next-goal-wins types of games if they can begin to reduce the amount of times they're fishing the puck out from behind their own goalies. Laviolette's record in Nashville proves he can get good offensive players to defend, so it will come down to buy-in from the players if they want to make life easier on themselves.

"The communication between the players and certainly the leadership group I think is extremely important because whatever it is that a coach is trying to project it has to be received by the players," he said. "You have a veteran group that's been through it before. I'm sure they want to get back. That's just the nature of the beast of competitive athletes and they want to get back. So the fact that they're a veteran group, I'm hoping that we're going to work together and that I can push in any way that I can so we can back to a level that can get us deep into the playoffs."

If the Capitals want to replicate the success they had in 2018 under Barry Trotz, they needed a guy like Peter Laviolette to come in and get a handle on things just as Trotz did. While it took Trotz a little while to get Ovechkin to buy into his system, things seemed to click like clockwork once the Great Eight saw the light. Laviolette's approach is the same as Trotz's approach in that he demands accountability from every player on the roster while rewarding those who earn his trust. If Ovechkin and company can find that magic once again under Laviolette, it will mean good times in Washington for another winter.

Of course, if it doesn't work out and Laviolette is fired, he might be the next coach on Long Island since it seems he's following the same path as Barry Trotz when it comes to coaching in the NHL. Wouldn't that be something if Lou Lamoriello put Laviolette and Trotz together on the same bench?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 14 September 2020

Ward In Charge

I had made mention back on August 30 that Geoff Ward, interim head coach at the time, had likely done enough to warrant the Flames removing the "interim" tag from his role. His work with the team following the dismissal of Bill Peters saw the Flames down the Jets in the play-in round while playing some inspired hockey to ascend the standings before hockey's shutdown, and I made the case in the August 30 article that Ward is likely the best candidate to lead the Flames into next season and beyond. Today, the Flames did the right thing and gave the reins to Ward full-time after signing him to an extension as head coach.

According to reports, Ward has signed a two-year deal with the Flames as they officially made him the twentieth head coach in franchise history. As stated in my article, Ward led the Flames to a 24-15-3 record after taking over the head coaching duties, and we saw improved performances from Sean Monahan, Sam Bennett, Elias Lindholm, Milan Lucic, and Cam Talbot among many Flames who helped them down Winnipeg 3-1 in the play-in round before Dallas ousted the Flames 4-2 in the normal first round of the playoffs.

Ward's systems and gameplan seemed to work well for the Flames in the short-term, and that's a good sign for a team that has the talent on paper but seemed to underperform at times. They forechecked well, moved the puck in the offensive zone effectively, and they saw good results from a handful of players under Ward's schemes. Goaltending issues aside, the Flames will need to tighten up the defensive zone a little, but that could be said for half the teams in the NHL.

Regardless of how the season finished for the Flames, it's pretty clear that they found some success under Ward after he took over as head coach. Ward's resumé has a Stanley Cup on it as he was an assistant coach with the Bruins in 2011, and he's worked behind the bench for the Devils as an assistant coach as well. Seeing him take this step to head coaching is a natural progression, and the players seem to trust his systems and coaching as they responded well to the systems he implemented and/or changed after Peters was fired.

I said it on August 30: "I do believe that Geoff Ward might be the right guy", and I stand by that statement today. It seems the Calgary Flames also believe this to be true, and they did the right thing by letting Ward guide the Flames for the next two seasons if everything goes well.

Congratulations to Geoff Ward, the new head coach of the Calgary Flames!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!