Monday, 26 July 2021

It's Time For The Women!

Get fired up, hockey fans, because the schedule is set and the ten best teams in the world will land in Calgary over the next two weeks in preparation for the long-awaited 2021 IIHF Women's World Hockey Championship. After being cancelled last year and delayed this year, skates will hit the ice in Calgary starting on Friday, August 20 as the tournament gets underway!

Group A seems like it will be a bit of a war when it comes to the top-five teams figuring out who gets seeded where, but Canada, Finland, Russia, Switzerland, and the USA will go through the paces to make that happen. While it seems like there may be three teams who wil finish 1-2-3 in this pool, I would be hesitant to count anyone out after two years of not playing major international competitions. An early upset or two could be in the cards if one or more of the superpowers stumble.

If there's one thing I object to, however, it's seeing Russia as part of this competition operating under a neutral flag following their punishment for drug violations, but I'm not the IIHF and I don't have a say in the matter. I honestly think that having Russia at major international competitions like the Olympics and the Women's World Hockey Championship not only sends the wrong message, but it doesn't dissuade them from trying it again. That being said, painting all Russian athletes with the same brush seems cruel, but that's the price one would pay if I were in charge. But I digress....

Pool B is where we'll see the emerging teams battle it out for a date in the quarterfinals against the women's hockey powers. Those five countries are the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, and Japan. All of those nations could win the pool based upon rosters and skills, so it will be interesting to watch which teams emerge from that group as the next potential women's hockey power throughout this tournament.

I must admit that it's weird not seeing Sweden in this event, but that country's national program needs a serious overhaul before the Swedes will return to any sort of major international competition. The 2019 Women's World Championship saw the Damkronorna relgated down to the Division-1A tournament where they'll have to work their back up by winning that tournament, but, with no relegation at this year's World Championship, the Swedish women will watch from the sidelines once again. Here's hoping that we'll see Sweden qualify for the Olympics where they can show the world that they're back on track to be a world power once more.

With the world watching the women in Calgary, here are Canada's games and opponents as they play through the tournament. Note that these games will be on TSN in Canada, so make sure you've updated your TV package if you want to watch. All Canadian games are scheduled for a 4pm MT/6pm ET start.
  • Friday, August 20: vs Finland
  • Sunday, August 22: at Russia
  • Tuesday August 24: vs Switzerland
  • Thursday, August 26: vs USA
The rest of the schedule for the tournament can be found here, but the quarterfinals begin on Saturday, August 28 while the semifinals will be played on Monday, August 30. The bronze-medal game will be played Tuesday, August 31 at 1:30pm MT while the gold-medal game will happen at 5:30pm MT on the 31st as well.

It seems like it's been forever since I wrote about the US women defending their World Championship gold medal, but we're finally going to see it happen. Mark your calendars, folks, because international women's hockey is finally back!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Caribou And The Brits

The game may have been played Monday in Tokyo, but it was televised on Sunday long after afternoon tea here in North America. I mention "afternoon tea" because the Canadians were facing Great Britain in the second match for both teams in Pool B action at the Tokyo Olympics, and the Canadians were looking for the upset in this one. Having lost their first match to Germany, Canada could send ripples through the pool with a win over the seventh-ranked British squad who came into the game with a 1-0 record on the strength of a 3-1 win over South Africa. Would the Caribou shock the tournament and dispatch the British in today's game?

Much like the game against Germany, the chances were few for Canada in the opening quarter, but the British were unable to connect on many passes themselves. The British did rattle the framework behind Antoni Kindler with a shot off the crossbar in the first quarter, but that would be the only ball to get by Kindler as Canada and Great Britain closed out the opening fifteen minutes tied 0-0.

The second quarter felt an awful lot like the first quarter where the British controlled the offensive chances, but simply could not convert. Sam Ward again rattle the woodwork with his shot off the post, but Kindler was equal to the task on the other chances including a glorious Liam Ansell that he steered wide with stick. Despite the chances for the British, the Canadian defence and goalkeeping kept this game deadlocked at 0-0 as both teams exited the pitch for halftime.

Just under three minutes into the second half, an extremely long challenge proved fruitless for the British, moving the ball from a penalty corner to the sideline. It didn't matter where the ball was placed, though, as Sam Ward set up Liam Ansell at the penalty dot where Ansell swept a low shot at the goal. Kindler's save attempt yielded just a piece of the ball, but not enough, as Great Britain broke the stalemate and went up 1-0 on Ansell's goal. The 41st minute saw Ward convert a penalty corner with a precision shot, and the British had a 2-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter!

For a moment, it seemed Canada was going to break the goose egg as they were awarded three-straight penalty corners, but nothing came of those in what had to be disappointing for the Canadians. However, Floris van Son made his impact felt at the 51st minute when his flick from the top of the circle found room past British goalkeeper Oliver Payne, and the Canadians had life at 2-1!

As the game wound down, the British showed their skill with some excellent ball control, and that led to a gorgeous passing play that was finished with a Liam Ansell deflection on the goal line into the yawning Canadian cage for his third goal of the tournament that made it a 3-1 game in favour of Great Britain. Canada did pull the goalkeeper to try and generate some late offence, but it was all for naught as the final whistle sounded on the 3-1 Great Britain victory in this game.

With the loss, Canada falls to 0-2 in the tournament while Great Britain improves to 2-0. It is worrisome that Canada still has yet to generate any sustainable offence against two of the better teams in this tournament. Great Britain outshot Canada 15-4 in this game, so, if you're keeping track at home, Canada has been outshot 37-6 by Germany and Great Britain. That simply is not good enough in any tournament to win a medal, so Canada will really need to start finding ways to generate offence if they hope to advance out of the preliminary round.

In other action leading into this game from the men's tournament, Pool A's results saw Australia crush India 7-1, New Zealand outlast Spain by a 4-3 score, and Argentina down Japan by a 2-1 score. The Pool B games saw Netherlands defeat South Africa 5-3, and, in a game that happened directly before the Canada game, it was top-ranked Belgium downing the Germans by a 3-1 score.

In women's action, Pool A saw Ireland down South Africa 2-0 while Germany squeaked by Great Britain 2-1. Pool B on the women's side had China defeat Japan 4-3, Australia down Spain by a 3-1 score, and New Zealand shutout Argentina 3-0.

Canada will play the Netherlands next, and they currently sit with a 1-1 record after a loss to Belgium on the opening day before bouncing back with the win over South Africa. The Netherlands are the third-ranked nation in the FIH rankings, so the Canadians will need a big effort against the Dutch. We did see South Africa take advantage of some sloppy Dutch play in their game, but Canada has yet to score three goals in the entire tournament, let alone one game.

It's a pretty obvious necessity for their game against the Dutch, but the offence has to awaken from its slumber. Being 0-3 in this tournament means it's a tough task to advance, and even if one does advance it's very likely that Pool A's best team awaits them in the crossover. If Canada can pounce on a Netherlands team that hasn't looked entirely solid yet, this could be the break they need!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the pitch!

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Caribou On The Pitch

They have been there for a number of days already as they get used to the new pitch in Toyko and get adjusted to the time change so they're ready to play, but the Canadian men's field hockey team took to the field at Oi Hokcey Stadium for their first game against the fifth-ranked Germans as the preliminary round gets underway. If we're being totally honest, this game features a superpower in Germany in the field hockey world against an emerging power in Canada whose successes have been big, but less plentiful. This woul be a good test for the Canadians right off the bat if they wanted to make some noise in this tournament!

The four-time Olympic champions in Germany opened the scoring in at the 11-minute mark in the first quarter when Lukas Windfeder converted the penalty corner into the top corner for a goal. Canada was on the defensive for most of the opening frame, but that's to be expected when playing a well-oiled machine in the Germany national squad.

Canada would rally in the opening minute of the second quarter. Flois van Son sent a pass into the middle of the circle that deflected off Gabriel Ho-Garcia, but the ball would land on the stick of Keegan Pereira who flicked a shot past German goalkeeper Alexander Stadler to tie the game at 1-1! Pereira, facing the camera in the image to the right, would record the only shot off a field a goal in this game for Canada on his goal, and that's something that the Canadians know has to improve moving forward if they want to be successful. Goals off transition play are vital for all teams' successes, and the Germans proved that after this goal at the 16-minute mark.

Christopher Rühr, seen to the left, scored goals at the 22-minute mark and the 25-minute mark off excellent rushes by the German team to put them up 3-1. Windfeder would add his second penalty conversion at the 28-minute mark to put Germany up 4-1 before the half, and it was pretty apparent that the Germans were playing at a different level than Canada after that Pereira goal seemingly woke them up. Canada would need an inspired second half to make a game out of this against Germany once they returned from the halftime break.

Germany's second-half performance was much less about offence than it was defence as they simply turned Canada away time and time again while generating their own chances off the transition play. Martin Haner would eventually score off a penalty corner in the 44th minute to put Germany up 5-1, but the suffocating defence that the Germans showed was all the evidence one needed to know they're a field hockey superpower.

A couple of late goals by Niklas Bosserhoff and Mats Grambusch at the 59th and 60th minutes, respectively, gave Germany the 7-1 victory over Canada in the opening game as they outshot the Canadians 22-2 in the match. Needless to say, Canada will likely review the game film and work on some adjustments as they get ready for Great Britain on Monday in Tokyo. It should be noted that Great Britain won their opening 3-1 over South Africa, so things don't get any easier for Canada moving forward.

It should be noted that while the score on the scoreboard and the difference in the shot totals were extreme between Canada and Germany, the Canadians still had some excellent performances. Goalkeeper Antoni Kindler was exceptional at times in keeping the Germans from making the score look worse, and the Canadians did show some good passing and movement when in the offensive zone. While that passing and movement didn't result in shots against the fifth-ranked team on the planet, there are good things on which the Canadians can build.

In other games, Pool A saw Australia defeat Japan 5-3, India top New Zealand by a 3-2 score, and Spain and Argentina finish in a 1-1 draw. Pool B saw the Brits down the South Africans 3-1 as mentioned above, and Belgium defeated the Netherlands by a 3-1 score as well.

The women's side of the tournament saw two Pool A games finish as Netherlands downed India by a 5-1 score while Ireland defeated South Africa 2-0. It should be noted that the Indian women held the first-overall nation in the world to a 1-1 draw through 33 minutes before finally succumbing to the waves of attacks sent by the Dutch. They might be a tough out in this tournament after most people gave them little chance to medal!

The action continues on Sunday! Check your local listings for when games are being broadcast so you can tune in and catch some fun summer hockey action!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 23 July 2021

The Choices Made

There are times in every NHL Entry Draft where a team makes a pick that has everyone scratching their heads about what that team saw that others didn't. It's often a case of those teams having one scout who has done a ton of homework on that player or has extremely reliable information about that player that allows the team to move him up the draft rankings. All of this goes to show how much uncertainty is built into the draft, but tonight's 31st selection wasn't about scouting or a GM following a scout's hunch. It was simply a GM who put business before humanity in what has become an all-too-common theme in the NHL.

This paragraph will be the only time his name appears in this article, but the Montreal Canadiens selecting Logan Mailloux in the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft is one of the dumbest, most ill-conceived, most ignorant picks in the history of the NHL Entry Draft. And this includes Buffalo drafting a player who didn't exist. Yes, it ranks lower than that moment simply because Marc Bergevin, apparently, chooses not to follow simple instructions and chooses not to read the room.

The player named above was convicted this past season while playing in Sweden of distributing a sexual photo without the victim's consent, and he paid a fine of an undisclosed amount as an admission of guilt to this criminal act. These two things need to be remembered before I go any further because this article will be difficult to read if we don't frame this that he was accused of a crime, convicted of a crime, and admitted that he committed a crime. In short, the player-named is a criminal.

Just days ago, the player-named asked that he be removed from all draft lists by all 32 NHL teams in a statement he posted on social media that read, "Being drafted into the NHL is an honour and a privilege that no one takes lightly. The NHL Draft should be one of the most exciting landmark moments in a player's career, and given the circumstances, I don't feel I have demonstrated strong enough maturity or character to earn that privilege in the 2021 draft."

It takes some self-awareness to admit in opting out of the draft that he doesn't have the maturity or the character to play in the NHL, but the question has to be asked if this would have happened had the media not revealed those criminal charges and his guilty plea days before the player issued the statement. If this had never been brought to light, I doubt the player would have issued such a statement at all because this should have happened before The Athletic broke the story.

With a number of NHL teams quickly removing his name from their draft boards, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope that the NHL was taking things seriously regarding sex crimes after the controversy in Chicago broke and now this player's past crime. And then Marc Bergevin went ahead and flushed all that hope down the toilet with the nationally-broadcasted 31st pick of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.

I cannot state this enough: he was accused of a crime, convicted of a crime, and admitted that he committed a crime, and Marc Bergevin made him a first-round pick in the NHL. Apparently, the NHL is unlike any other employer in that anyone convicted of a sex crime can still be employed. With all this talk about character and how important it is at the NHL level when it comes to winning, I'm almost expecting Bergevin to announce that he signed Brendan Leipsic as well.

You can try to make the case for him paying a fine in Sweden as the end of this story, but there's still a woman in Sweden whose life has been destroyed by having her picture and name shared in an online chat among the players on the hockey team for which the player-named played. There is still a woman in Sweden trying to piece her life back together after finding out she had her name, information, and picture shared without her consent. And there's still a woman in Sweden waiting for a real apology for what the player-named did rather than a heartless text that requires very little realization of the impact he caused in her life.

At what point do we stop reducing criminal activity to "mistakes" and actually ask society to hold these people accountable for their crimes? Yes, the legal system is woefully terrible when it comes to punishing those who commit sex crimes, and we're all likely aware that society blamed the victims for far too long rather than seeking justice for what the accusers did. There is nothing wrong with taking the moral high ground here and saying, "Dude messed up bad, got caught, and was punished, but he still nees to make things right."

His statement asking not to be drafted was a first step in making things right. He still needs to apologize and prove that he'll never do something like this ever again before he ever gets the privilege of playing in the NHL. Period. End of statement.

I've seen too many people on social media tonight yapping about how righteous it must be to ruin a kid's career with "cancel culture". Every time I read that, it infurtiates me more because consequences of one's actions is not "cancel culture".

People who have morals didn't choose to share her photo. People who know this is wrong didn't choose to put her photo into a group chat. People didn't choose to ruin a woman's life through their actions. It was one person who chose to do this, and the consequences of his actions should be felt for as long as it takes for him to prove that this crime will never happen again. If that costs him a lucrative NHL hockey career, so be it. That's the cost of making the choice he did.

Of course, this whole controversy would have never happened has Marc Bergevin simply used common sense and not drafted the player-named after he specifically asked not to be drafted. By doing so, however, Marc Bergevin will now face scrutiny like he's never faced before. He employs a criminal. Worse yet, he employs a sex offender. And all he had to do was choose someone else.

He asked not to be drafted. Marc Bergevin chose to ignore that.

He asked for more time to show he's changed and matured so teams could re-evaluate him. Marc Bergevin chose to ignore that.

The NHL, it seemed, was willing to let the player-named not be picked this season after his criminal activity was revealed and his plea to allow him to show the world he's changed. Marc Bergevin chose to ignore that too.

At the end of the day, there's a woman in Sweden who awaits a real apology, not some text message, from a player whose career should have been seriously questioned after he chose to destroy her life. Marc Bergevin's choice to draft this player will forever be a stain on his legacy, and it's bleeding into the fabric of the Montreal Canadians because of his choice not to read the room.

Actions have consequences. Someone not named Bergevin needs to answer for the choices made by Marc Bergevin tonight because I'm having a really hard time understanding, in light of all that's swirled around Bergevin regarding the Blackhawks' sexual abuse investigation, why this pick was allowed to happen. Marc Bergevin and his staff chose to pick the player, but ripples of this choice will reach further down the line than just the GM's office because there likely should have been discussions surrounding the player-named long before we reached this point.

This is a dark day for the NHL, and these are the consequences of the choices made tonight.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

The Hockey Show - Episode 461

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight as Teebz and Jenna reconvene to break down all the big stories from hockey over the last week. It's pretty clear that one story dominated the news headlines with Seattle finally getting a chance to add players to their roster, but there were some other significant stories that happened as well. From the AHL to the CHL to the WHL to the NCAA and to U SPORTS, there's a little bit of everything packed into the show tonight!

Tonight, Teebz and Jenna begin by discussing Jenna's involvement at the Sami Jo Small Hockey School happening in Winnipeg and how much fun she's having before discussing Seattle's selections in the NHL Expansion Draft and why Seattle may not be a pushover. They chat about the AHL announcing home-opener dates for all the AHL clubs with a focus on the Canadian squads, the new multi-year media partnership between the CHL, TSN, RDS, and CBC and how that may work moving forward, Robert Morris University and hockey returning to the school as one of their former players lands in Canada West for next season, the Chicago Blackhawks hiring and elevating women within their organization with one woman having a direct tie to the University of Manitoba, and discuss three new logos for three teams in the WHL, AHL, and KHL to close out the show. It's another busy show that reaches across the hockey spectrum, so make sure you tune in at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via UMFM.com!

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, so if you want to stream the show I'd recommend Radio Garden to do that as it works nicely with Safari. If you're more of an app person, we recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or Google Play Store. 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 and Jenna talk camps, rosters, home-openers, TV coverage, transferring players, amazing women, brand-new looks for teams, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: July 22, 2021: Episode 461

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

First Look At The Kraken

The newest NHL team has a strong Winnipeg connection at the expansion draft as Winnipeg-born Chris Driedger models the new home jersey for the Kraken while former Winnipeg Jet Brandon Tanev models the road jersey. Toss in another Manitoba connection with Morgan Geekie and another Jets connection with Mason Appleton both being chosen by the Kraken, and the Keystone Province has fingerprints all this Seattle Kraken team. There were thirty players selected tonight by the Kraken, though, so let's take a look at the first roster of the thirty-second NHL team.

Surprisingly, the Kraken have no zero side deals to report regarding trades. Of course, they were part of the NHL trade freeze that's in effect until 1pm ET on Thursday so not announcing trades makes sense, but I get the feeling that Ron Francis may not be done when it comes to improving this team. If you recall, Vegas added all sorts of talent through trades for their inaugural season, and I suspect with $30 million in cap space that Francis may do the same.

Admittedly, there are some good offensive players here, but this team will be very defensively-minded, it seems. A vast number of their forwards are solid two-way players while they have some very good, very physical defencemen who will help protect the young netminding tandem of Driedger and Vanecek. Don't expect any fifty-goal scorers to come out of this group, but I would expect the Kraken to play some low-scoring, tight hockey games where they'll have a chance to win.

How do you think the Seattle Kraken fared in their expansion draft? Were there any surprises? Were there players you thought they should have picked? Leave your comments below and we can discuss these missed opportunities!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

All Set For The Draft

If you're not ready for the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft tomorrow, you might be the only one on the planet not ready for it. There have been mock drafts done by almost every publication and media person in hockey. There have been blog articles upon blog articles upon mainstream media pieces upon video analysis of players available and who the Kraken should select. There has been speculation, prognostications, and predictions on what the final Seattle Kraken roster will look like after Wednesday night, but it will happen tomorrow evening as NHL teams brace for players they once called their own to stare them down from the Pacific Northwest. The thirty-second NHL team is poised to announce their team. Are you?

I ask that with some tongue in cheek because everyone knows this was coming, but there are differing opinions all over the place. I've jumped the gun a little and updated the Seattle Kraken NHL Hockey image already, so there's one less thing you need to do if you want to use this as your template. See the update below.
Florida's Chris Driegder has reportedly agreed to a deal with Seattle already, so it would seem that we know who is being chosen from the Florida Panthers. There was another interesting clip shown from a fish market today where Alex Kerfoot's name was mentioned, but that one seems less sure than the Driedger news. Keep an eye on that developing story tomorrow as Alex Kerfoot could also be a Kraken before Wednesday night is done.

What is certain is that the Kraken will submit their list of chosen players to the NHL in the morning, and those choices will be announced in the evening. GMs who are looking to save players from being chosen will need to work the phones tonight with Ron Francis if they have any hope of making a deal to keep players, and it will be interesting to see which teams caved to protect their current rosters as best as they can.

For the first time in their history, however, the Seattle Kraken will have enough players under their control to ice a team for an NHL game. It seems like this has been coming for a long time, but it's finally here. The only question that remains are which players will be in a Kraken uniform for 2021-22?

We find out tomorrow at 8pm ET on Sportsnet and ESPN2!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 19 July 2021

I'm A Fan

There was some monumental news that came out of the NHL today as Luke Prokop, a third-round selection of the Nashville Predators in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, revealed that he was a gay man. That's him to the left, signing his first professional NHL contract with the Predators after starring in the WHL with the Calgary Hitman, and it would seem he's a pretty regular guy when it comes to be excitied to being an NHL player. Nothing out of the ordinary there, so let me say I am happy to see Luke Prokop living out his dreams by becoming an NHL player for the same team where his favorite player, Shea Weber, began his dreams.

I do want to correct something, though. I used the term "monumental news" off the top of this article and I am wrong in saying that. Hear me out on this, but what if we make it part of our daily parlance regarding hockey that this news doesn't have to be groundbreaking or monumental, instead letting Luke Prokop and anyone else who is gay just be themselves as hockey players? As people? Why does sexuality have to factor into anything related to hockey?

I'd be naive to suggest that I don't know gay hockey players. Statistically, the numbers of individials who identify as LGBTQ+ seems to change annually, but to say there are none in the NHL would be categorically wrong based on the nearly 800 players that make up the NHLPA. Of those 800 players, there has to be one or more players based on numbers alone since hockey is a microcosm of society, and now we know there will be a second player when Luke Prokop makes his eventual debut with the Predators.

At the end of the day, though, does it matter if he's gay, straight, queer, up, down, left, right, on, off, or another other descriptor as long as he helps the Predators win hockey games?

That's an easy answer: no. He's a hockey player. That's his job, and he's paid to play hockey to the best of his abilities for as long as his contract states. If he were an actor or an accountant or any other walk of life, his job doesn't define who he is nor should it ever define the person he is. Luke Prokop is an intelligent, caring, fun-loving, happy young man who just happens to be really, really good at hockey just as Zachary Quinto is a really good actor or Elton John is an award-winning musician. If you've seen Star Trek or Disney's The Lion King, you know their work.

Paraphrased from Last Word on Sports, Prokop played for Team Canada at the U17 World Hockey Challenge, so there's some solid talent there that allowed him to rise about his peers. He skates extremely well for a man standing in at 6'5" in height, and he has better than average speed as well. He accelerates well, and handles his edgework and turns fluidly which makes him hard to beat one-on-one as he maintains good gap control. His shot is solid, but it can improve. Being a bigger player, he certainly has the strength to fight through checks at the junior level, clear the front of the net, and win puck battles.

If you're the Nashville Predators and you read that scouting report, does Prokop being gay change any of that? Again, that's an easy answer: no.

"The Nashville Predators organization is proud of Luke for the courage he is displaying in coming out today and we will support him unequivocally in the days, weeks, and years to come as he continues to develop as a prospect," Predators president and CEO Sean Henry said in a statement. "A long-stated goal in our organization is equality for all, including the LGBTQ community, and it is important that Luke feels comfortable and part of an inclusive environment as he moves forward in his career."

While I generally agree with Henry's statement, is that not the goal of the franchise in each and every player's case - to have each player feel "comfortable and part of an inclusive environment as he moves forward in his career"? If the Predators went ahead and made a sizeable donation in Prokop's name to local Nashville LGBTQ+ organizations, that speaks volumes about their dedication to reaching those long-stating goals. We'll have to see how Nashville proceeds as a franchise, but starting with full support of Luke Prokop gives me hope.

I'm not going to say that Luke Prokop is going to be the next Shea Weber. Heck, he may not be the next Yannick Weber. But I stand here today telling you that if I were to buy a Nashville Predators jersey, I would proudly wear "Prokop" on the back of it and hang it next to the Shea Weber jersey I do have in my closet. No if, and, or buts about it - this kid is a player, and that's what we should be focused on.

Is it a big moment in the history of the game that Luke Prokop is the first gay hockey player? It is for millions of gay men and boys who might be too scared or not confident enough to share that information. It may help other women and girls step forward with more confidence in who they are when it comes to their sexualities. This fact isn't lost on me one bit, and I have a feeling Luke Prokop is going to help a lot of people fight through their own battles when it comes to struggling with sexuality.

I'm excited to watch Prokop make the Predators' lineup, and I'll cheer for him when he does. Not because he's gay, but because he's living out his dream without worrying about keeping a secret or hiding his private life from his teammates and the Predators organization. Because he's earned that shot through his play on the ice without someone holding him back because of sexuality. Because he's a helluva good hockey player who deserves just as much success and happiness off the ice as he finds off it.

I'm already a fan of Luke Prokop, and that won't change for any reason.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Big Names To Ponder

Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis, seen to the left talking with Kraken data science guru Alexandra Mandrycky, will have a lot of information to weed through over the next few days until he submits his final selections in the Expansion Draft to the NHL on Wednesday morning. There will certainly be input from everyone on who Francis should take and who he should avoid, but it should be pretty obvious that NHL teams, after crying and whining following the Vegas Expansion Draft, learned nothing when it came to making good players available to the new team.

I will say that I appreciate the NHL teams learning nothing because this means that Seattle will be somewhat competitive depending on how Francis chooses his team, and there are all sorts of options for star power that can be brought in if the Kraken really want to upset the balance of power in the Pacific Division. I should also say that I endorse this idea fully and completely.

While the salary cap will limit the total amount of star power that Seattle can bring in, there are enough stars to pick through to give Seattle a pretty good start in building their squad. Whether it be a star goalie like Carey Price who played junior hockey in the area or a star forward like Gabriel Landeskog who is seemingly at an impasse with the Colorado Avalanche over a new contract, the opportunity is there for Seattle to be very good next season just as Vegas was in their first season of play.

In a fun exercise, I'm not going to pick Seattle's team for them. Instead, I'm going to pick the three best options for forward, defence, and goaltender that would give them the best shot at winning everything. Salary cap be damned in this situation because I'm not picking the team; it's simply a who's who of stars available that I believe would be the best selection at each position from each team thanks to NHL GMs panicking at the idea of protecting players.

Ready for this? Let's have some fun.

F - Ryan Getzlaf
D - Haydn Fleury
G - Ryan Miller

F - Derick Brassard
D - Niklas Hjalmarsson
G - Antti Raanta

F - David Krejci
D - Mike Reilly
G - Tuukka Rask

F - Kyle Okposo
D - Jake McCabe
G - Carter Hutton

F - Josh Leivo
D - Mark Giordano
G - Louis Domingue

F - Nino Neiderreiter
D - Dougie Hamilton
G - Petr Mrazek

F - Vinnie Hinostroza
D - Calvin De Haan
G - Malcolm Subban

F - Gabriel Landeskog
D - Erik Johnson
G - Devyn Dubnyk

F - Max Domi
D - Michael Del Zotto
G - Cameron Johnson

F - Andrew Cogliano
D - Jamie Oleksiak
G - Ben Bishop

F - Taro Hirose
D - Danny DeKeyser
G - Jonathan Bernier

F - Dominik Kahun
D - Tyson Barrie
G - Mike Smith

F - Alex Wennberg
D - Radko Gudas
G - Chris Driedger

F - Martin Frk
D - Olli Maatta
G - Jonathan Quick

F - Nick Bjugstad
D - Carson Soucy
G - Kaapo Kahkonen

F - Philip Danault
D - Brett Kulak
G - Carey Price

F - Erik Haula
D - Mark Borowiecki
G - Kasimir Kaskisuo

F - Andreas Johnsson
D - Will Butcher
G - Scott Wedgewood

F - Josh Bailey
D - Sebastian Aho
G - Ken Appleby

F - Barclay Goodrow
D - Brendan Smith
G - Keith Kinkaid

F - Evgenii Dadonov
D - Josh Brown
G - Anton Forsberg

F - Jakub Voracek
D - Shayne Gostisbehere
G - Brian Elliott

F - Zach Aston-Reese
D - Marcus Petterson
G - Casey DeSmith

F - Matt Nieto
D - Greg Pateryn
G - Martin Jones

F - Vladimir Tarasenko
D - Marco Scandella
G - Ville Husso

F - Ondrej Palat
D - Cal Foote
G - Curtis McElhinney

F - Jared McCann
D - Travis Dermott
G - Frederik Andersen

F - Kole Lind
D - Alexander Edler
G - Braden Holtby

F - Carl Hagelin
D - Justin Schultz
G - Vitek Vanecek

F - Mason Appleton
D - Dylan DeMelo
G - Mikhail Berdin

There were teams whose major stars were left off because they are free agents and will never sign with Seattle. You may also notice Shea Weber and PK Subban didn't get selected from Montreal and New Jersey, respectively, because they're either injured or too often injured combined with their ages. In any case, a lot of names were left off simply due to there being no chance of that player playing in Seattle for the Kraken.

Who would you swap out from these selections if you were doing this? Sound off in the comments, and we can discuss all of the options available to Seattle on Wednesday!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 17 July 2021

That'll Cost You

I wrote a tweet a few days ago that basically said that salary cap space, specifically in flat cap years, would be worth its weight in gold as general managers look to "solve" the very problems they created through massive contracts and no-movement clauses. We've already see Zach Parise and Ryan Suter cut loose in Minnesota as the Wild look to find some cap space to use, but what about teams that are already cash-strapped and can't afford to have years of buyout money on the books? We got that answer today when the Arizona Coyotes and New York Islanders swung a deal that cost the Islanders a lot more than one contract.

Andrew Ladd, the former Stanley Cup champion and captain of the Winnipeg Jets, was traded from the Islanders to the Coyotes today as Lou Lamoriello looked to shed the $4,375,000 left on Ladd's deal in each of the next two seasons. Arizona, as shown, would lose that cap space on their budget, so they demanded a little more from the Islanders. And then a little more after that. And then a tad more beyond that second ask.

The cost for the Islanders to rid themselves of Ladd's contract was in the form of draft picks, and it cost the Islanders a 2021 second-rounder, a 2022 conditional second-rounder, and a 2023 conditional third-rounder. The condition on the 2022 pick is that the Coyotes get the better of the two picks the Islanders own in 2022 with respect to the pick they have or the pick that Colorado traded them in the Devon Toews deal. That also means that neither of those picks can be traded now since the condition is in play. The condition on the third-round pick is that if Ladd plays one game for the Coyotes in 2021-22, the Islanders will also transfer that pick to the Coyotes.

You better believe that GM Bill Armstrong is calling Ladd at this very moment to see if he's in game shape to get that extra draft pick out of the Islanders. I know I'd be doing that.

With the Coyotes not having a first-round pick in the upcoming draft, it would seem that Bill Armstrong is going to hammer teams to get as many picks in the coming years as he can if other teams want him to eat a contract. Again, having cap space is extremely valuable when it comes to getting what you want or what you need if you're an NHL GM. This cannot be stressed enough.

The Islanders also dealt Nick Leddy to the Red Wings in exchange for Richard Panik and a second-round pick previously owned by Edmonton earlier this week in order to prevent Leddy from being exposed in the expansion draft, so they've shedded a solid, capable defender and three picks for essentially a bottom-six forward and a second-round pick this season.

That doesn't seem very Lamoriello-like at all.

Let's also not forget that the cost for Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac in this year's playoffs was the Islanders' first-round selection in the draft, so, in acquiring that Edmonton pick from Detroit, the Islanders will make their first selection at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft at pick #52. I know Lou Lamoriello relies on some good scouting to make shrewd picks, but there will have been 51 good players selected before he gets to the podium. That seems very non-Lou too, so I'm going to assume that in order to make everything right Lou will sign Kyle Palmieri with the cap room he has now made for himself.

That being said, though, the cost to clear that cap space for Palmieri is high as shown by this deal between the Islanders and Coyotes, and the names that are rumoured to be exposed in the expansion draft - Carey Price, Vladmir Tarasenko, and Gabriel Ladeskog, for example - prove just how valuable that space may be for teams that need a little wiggle room in their budgets.

Don't ever undervalue the importance of cap space. It is a very valuable asset in the NHL for every team.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 16 July 2021

Bishop To Team 32?

Despite the poor chess joke in the title of this article, eyebrows were raised today when it was reported that Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop had agreed to waive his no-movement clause in order to allow Dallas to expose him in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. Bishop, whose cap hit is $4,916,666 over the next two seasons as per CapFriendly, would be a big-name goaltender for Seattle to select if they want him, but there are a few caveats that may have them look elsewhere on the Dallas roster. One thing that is certain, though, is that Ben Bishop is up for grabs if the Kraken want him.

It was understood that the Stars likely wanted to protect Anton Khudobin after his last two rather incredible seasons. The Stars would have had to ask Ben Bishop if he would waive his no-movement clause in order to protect Khudobin, but, according to Mike Heika of NHL.com, it was Bishop who made the first move.

"It was orchestrated by him because of the uncertainty of his status and because he wanted to help the organization," Stars general manager Jim Nill told Heika. "He hasn't really played in a year and a half, and he knows what Anton has done for us, so I think he just decided this is what's best for everyone."

That voluntary waiving of the no-movement clause made Jim Nill's life a little better, but it also gives Bishop some flexibility as well.

Obviously, there's a chance to play as the starter in Seattle if the Kraken select Bishop in the expansion draft. There's no guarantee that will happen, however, as Bishop has been injured a lot including skipping all of last season. Combined with his nearly $5 million cap hit, that's a gamble that I'm sure that Seattle will take despite career numbers that include a 2.32 GAA and a .921 save percentage.

However, in the six seasons where he's been healthy enough to play forty-or-more games, Bishop's points percentage has been .645 as the goalie of record, and that's a huge number for an expansion team when looking to earning all the points they can get. It should also be noted that those six seasons produced a 2.26 GAA and a .923 save percentage for Bishop - improvements on his career numbers - so it could be reasoned that if Bishop is healthy, having him busy may produce better results for the Kraken.

The flip side of the equation, though, is that Dallas may have goaltending duel on their hands come training camp next year if the Kraken select someone else from the Stars. Having Khudobin playing his best hockey was the reason that Bishop can be made available, but if Bishop comes into camp healthy and ready to go, the Stars may have a two-headed monster in their crease.

"We're just going to have to take it day by day as far as the rehab process goes, and then decisions will be made," Bishop told Heika. "It's just really step by step. It's frustrating, but I've fought through a lot so far and I understand it's a slow process."

And ultimately, that might be what keeps Seattle from selecting Bishop next week. If his knee isn't fully healed or if he re-injures it early in the season, that's a big price to pay for the Kraken when it comes making the best team possible through the expansion draft for the first few years of the franchise. The risks may outweigh the rewards of those solid numbers posted above, and the Kraken will be crunching the numbers on every player available to determine whether they fit.

For a guy who has played for six NHL teams already in his career, it would seem that moving to a new team this summer shouldn't faze Bishop too much. Moving to a brand-new team, though, may come with its benefits if they choose the veteran goalie in the expansion draft as Bishop could show the world he's back and healthy and ready to dominate again.

We'll find out if Bishop is Seattle-bound on July 21!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 15 July 2021

The Hockey Show - Episode 460

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight as Teebz and Jenna meet another amazing guest. We feel we're pretty blessed thanks to the quality of guests we bring to the program, and today's guest certainly reinforces that feeling. In saying that, today's guest has had an incredible hockey career over the last quarter-century, and that's just her Canada West coaching career! There's so much more that she's done, so let's get into it!

Tonight, Teebz and Jenna welcome University of Regina Cougars women's hockey head coach Sarah Hodges to the program, and there's a ton of stuff that we discovered about Sarah that neither of the hosts knew. Among the many things that Sarah Hodges has done in her life, we chat with her about being a hockey pioneer, moving west from Ontario to a tiny town in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, playing NCAA hockey with the Big Green at Dartmouth, being a track-and-field star at the university as well, earning two university degrees, and jumping into Canada West hockey while still being younger than 25 years-old! There's a fun discussion about her work as a head coach at the Canada West level and on the international stage with Hockey Canada and the IIHF, and there's a heartfelt answer about Emily Middaugh that Sarah gives following the tragic passing of Emily. It's a fun, thoughtful, interesting, and revealing chat as we learn a ton about a woman whose hockey career - both playing and coaching - may not be very well-known as Teebz and Jenna sit down with Regina Cougars women's hockey head coach Sarah Hodges, so make sure you tune in at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via UMFM.com!

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, so if you want to stream the show I'd recommend Radio Garden to do that as it works nicely with Safari. If you're more of an app person, we recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or Google Play Store. 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 and Jenna chat with Sarah Hodges, head coach of the Regina Cougars women's hockey team, about playing hockey, coaching hockey, holding scoring records, throwing javelins, choosing coaching over teaching, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: July 15, 2021: Episode 460

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

New Logo Day

I don't know if hockey logo design firms all got together and colluded to release every new logo today, but it seems that July 14 is some sort of point in history that should be noted in hockey lore. There were all sorts of teams at a number of levels who released their new logos today as the hockey business gears up for new looks in the 2021-22 season. Some were decisions made due to poor logo choices in the past while others are new or restarted teams, but it doesn't change the fact that it's New Logo Day!

We'll start in the WHL where the Portland Winterhawks made the decision to retire the Chicago Blackhawks-esque logo they used for so long out of respect for Indigenous Peoples. The fact that they did this fairly quietly without demanding a ticker-tape parade means they should get a little kudos, but they should also get some kudos for the new logos they're going to use from this day forward.

This is the new logo that the Winterhawks will use, and it's absolutely gorgeous! I love the mountain imagery used as the shoulders of the hawk, and the white colour of the hawk's head really pops with the surrounding black background. The menacing face really gives a good bird-of-prey look to the hunter, and the gold-and-black beak has a great touch of realism. Honestly, this might be Portland's best logo ever, and second-place isn't even close. Forget the Indigenous imagery - this is how the Portland Winterhawks should look until the end of time. That's a fantastic logo, and it's one that Portland fans can easily support!

The secondary logo doesn't veer much from what Portland used before as they replaced the crossed tomahawks with crossed sticks before superimposing the "P" over top once again. This logo doesn't drift too far from the previous logo so there's an element of continuity here, but it certainly is far more respectful than using Indigenous imagery as they previously did. With this being worn on the shoulder and used in some of their marketing, there won't be any doubt that the logo refers to the Winterhawks, and that's precisely what you want the logo to do when seen.

From Portland, we head a little north and a little east as the Vancouver Canucks waited and delayed their announcement until today regarding their new AHL affiliate in Abbotsford. Despite having all sorts of options with the aviation industry in Abbotsford, the Vancouver Canucks took the absolute easiest route they could find in announcing that the Abbotsford Canucks will wear Johnny Canuck on their chests for the 2021-22 season. If you already hate the team name and logo chosen like I do, you're not in the minority as it seems both Abbotsford hockey fans and Canucks fans wanted to see just a wee bit more creativity and thought put into the name and logo.

I've always been under the belief that minor-league affiliates need their own identities. The Winnipeg Jets have the Manitoba Moose. The Toronto Maple Leafs have the Toronto Marlies. The Edmonton Oilers have the Bakersfield Condors. All have their own branding and identities that separate the NHL club from the AHL club.

This name chosen by the Canucks falls into the Minnesota/Iowa Wild or Ottawa/Belleville Senators or Dallas/Texas Stars territories. While I get that NHL teams want to exert their control over their AHL affiliates, particularly if the NHL team owns the AHL team, it makes no sense not to have a unique brand for the AHL club. I made this case when the Islanders rebranded the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and I'll make that case here again: stop using the same names for your AHL affiliates. It's completely dumb.

But not only did Vancouver commit the sin of using the same team, they went one step further when they took a logo that's been associated with the NHL Canucks and made it the primary logo of their AHL affiliate! Johnny Canuck has long been a fixture in Vancouver as an unoffical-but-official alternate logo for the Canucks, and now it's officially an AHL primary logo! I appreciate the jerseys being green, but recycling a logo is not the same type of "green" idea.

Overall, this feels like a lazy failure to me after having some real promise to be a fun, unique team. If there's one thing I should be getting used to when it comes to the Canucks, it's that failure is definitely an option. They're doing a bang-up job of it.

Finally, we jump over to Russia where the KHL's returning team in Admiral Vladivostok takes to the ice after sitting idly last season during the pandemic. When we last saw them, Vladivostok wore this.

It's a decent uniform, and the logo is very clearly a naval-based image with the anchor. There was a secondary logo with a boat-like steering wheel that was also rendered in blues and white, but we found out today that the newly-restored Admiral Vladivostok will look entirely differently when they take the ice in 2021-22.

The colours remind of the Newfoundland Growlers, but that new logo looks very impressive and classy. We'll see if the new look leads to better play from Admiral, but they will look far more regal than what they did in their old blue uniforms. If the stripes on the arm are to resemble the ranking bars that naval officers wear on their sleeves, that's a classy addition and a very important detail on these uniforms. We'll see exactly what they look like once the uniforms are unveiled, but that new logo is a classy upgrade from the old one!

Three new primary logos for a Wednesday seems like a busy day. Which ones do you like or hate? Leave your comments below and we'll discuss!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!