Wednesday, 31 March 2021

The Things We Think And Do Not Say

"I believe I have something to say" are the seven words end the first line of the Mission Statement that the character Jerry Maguire, played by Tom Cruise, pens in the movie Jerry Maguire. It leads to a 25-page idea that Jerry writes about the entire sports industry, from athletes to agents to endorsements and more. I watched Jerry Maguire this weekend, and it dawned on me that I needed to express a few things after a storm was dropped on my doorstep.

I won't get into the details of that storm, but it occurred to me that the title Jerry chose - the same one that titles this article - matters to me more now than ever before. This world seems to be plagued by people who want to carry out their own agendas with little regard for who they harm along the way. We all know it's wrong whether by moral or ethical standards and we think it's wrong, but how many of us stand up and say "it's wrong" in order to hold those committing those harms accountable?

I never paid much attention to university sports when I was going to university. I didn't know anyone who played on the teams, and I had other things to worry about like my grades and classes. Coming back to a university setting as a radio host had me wanting to be involved more than before, and that wanting to be involved led me to discover the nuances and the fight for equality for women's hockey at the Canadian university level. It "would soon hook me — there was something simple and perfect" about the game that hit home.

We never talk about the sacrifices that these men and women playing university hockey make. For some, they accept scholarships to move across the country to brand new towns and cities with only a brief visit to the campus where they'll be attending. No friends, no family, no relatives to help - they're on their own in a new environment where they're expected to take their games to the next level from high school or minor hockey or whatever sport they're in while achieving exceptional grades, maintaining some sort of social life, possibly a romantic interest, and still finding time to sleep, eat, bathe, and everything else we take for granted.

We never talk about true sacrifices being made by 18 and 19 year-old kids for the first time in their entire lives because we barely pay attention to university sports in this country. South of the border, the kids have a very public microscope on them for the big sports such as basketball and football, but the same sacrifices are being asked of every other athlete in every other sport. We don't talk about these true sacrifices because we can't relate. Very few of us have ever been in their positions where we could relate to the sacrifices any of these athletes make in this high-demand world of university sports and classes.

For those that have successfully navigated the university waters and graduated to find life outside the institutions they once represented, there are too few people keeping them close despite using words like "family" and "team" throughout their university careers. Despite dedicating their lives to the betterment of the sports programs for which these alumni were recruited, some university programs - not all, mind you - seemingly cut the lines on those players who swim out to sea to discover a bigger world, and I often find myself bewildered by this practice considering that they forged the path on which others now follow.

If there's one thing I've learned from writing this blog and doing a radio show, it's that personal relationships matter. People who trust one another and respect one another because they have good personal realtionships are honest with one another, and that goes a long way in attracting future players to university programs when we're talking about words like "family" and "team". Players will tell their friends. Teammates will tell teammates. The cycle is never-ending if these personal relationships are forged.

Let me be clear: I'm not just talking coach-player relationships here. I'm talking Athletic Director-player, broadcaster-player, University President-player, marketing staff-player, coaches from other sports-player, arena staff-player, and so many more relationships that happen on a day-to-day basis. They're still kids, and it's our jobs to help them find their way in a new, strange environment. If we're not doing that, what do we stand for?

If we're not giving our absolute best for these kids, we're cheating them out of the best possible experience they can have at any of the Canadian universities. Each and every one of us involved in the programs - administrators, coaches, office staff, academic advisors, broadcasters, and everyone else - owes these kids the same efforts that they turn in every practice and every game while wearing the school's logo on their chests. We owe it to give them the best possible chance at succeeding not only on the field of play, but beyond the field of play whether it be in the classroom, in the media, on the job, and in life.

That leads me back to the storm that landed on my doorstep this week that had me thinking long and hard about that very question of "what do I stand for".

When people ask me why I commit so much time to promoting and digging into women's hockey at the Canadian university level, it's because there are 25-30 kids at nine, formerly ten, western Canadian universities who won't get to have a Hockey Night in Canada experience. They won't get to be interviewed during the pregame warm-up just like the guys they watch on television. They'll never be featured on Sportsnet or CBC in a pregame show feature. Because none of this stuff will ever happen while they skate at the university level, I feel it's my duty, as a broadcaster, to provide them with the best coverage I can deliver. Anything less would be cheating them of the best experience I can provide.

"What do I stand for" has tumbled around inside my skull for a few days now. I may now be ready to answer that question because it took some real soul-searching to ensure that someone who questioned the very foundation of what I do got the right answer - an answer that I can be live with and be proud of when it comes to the very heart of that question.

I stand for equality. I stand for ensuring that not only is equality achieved through the content and quality of our Bisons women with 's hockey broadcasts, this blog's articles, and the content found on The Hockey Show, but that I am actively promoting, fighting for, and ensuring that women's hockey not only has a bright and promising future, but has infinite room to grow. It's about promoting and supporting U SPORTS women's hockey as the best place for women to play to a status equal to that of NCAA women's hockey when girls are deciding where to play. It's about supporting, promoting, talking about, interviewing, celebrating, and honouring the women who have chosen U SPORTS hockey as their place to play while not forgetting about those who have chosen to follow their dreams on another path.

Equality doesn't end with opening doors for more women, though, as there are LGBTQ+ and BIPOC folks who also deserve a say in hockey, and I stand for their inclusion in any and all discussions. These people are often forgotten altogether, and I know we need their voices heard in the sport of hockey. In saying that, I want to do more to include any and all LGBTQ+ and BIPOC people whenever possible, and I will seek opportunities to not only brign them to the discussion, but to ensure they're heard in the discussion and their thoughts and opinions carry equal weight as everyone else in that discussion. I stand as an ally in helping these people find that room in the discussions.

I stand for accountability. I stand for people being responsible for their actions, good and bad, when it comes to the health of women's hockey programs across this great nation, and for celebrating those who make it better while calling out those who weaken it. It's about being a voice for a sport that Canadians claim as their own despite the disparaging comments and the gasp when it's suggested that one spend real money on amateur and women's sports. It's about being a voice to heap praise on those who make this sport so darned good at the amateur and women's hockey levels, and it's about being a voice for those who fear retribution when they've been witness to or have experienced injustices on those fronts. It's about keeping those who are paid to curate this game honest, and to hold them accountable when they've failed in that duty.

While I do stand for other things, these elements are the driving forces behind my hockey beliefs. We have watched the "old boys' club" run hockey for far too long with antiquated views on how the game can grow and be more welcoming to all fans, players, coaches, professionals, and executives. Far too often, I find that people are afraid to speak out and challenge the norms we find in hockey for fear of retribution, mockery, embarrassment, or a combination of the three, yet these guiding principles that I find growing more and more important each day in a changing world are the very things we think, but do not say.

The storm that arrived on my doorstep this week challenged at least one of these principles, and I found myself struggling to go against one of the principles for which I stand. In the bigger picture, I do concede that I need to address this storm with far more delicate gloves than how I may have handled it before, but these guiding principles for which I stand will continue to be the driver for this blog, the radio show, and the hockey broadcasts with which I am involved.

If you've read these thoughts of mine to this point, I thank you for hanging in there with an article that shows a very conflicted Teebz when it comes to the storm I face. I will say that no matter what the outcome is from that storm's passing, I will remain steadfast to the very principles I outlined above. If nothing else, I must be true to myself, and I know where I stand when it comes to the question of "what do you stand for".

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

A Name You May Recall

If you're a WHL fan, you likely know his name from the time he spent in one of Brandon of Swift Current, but Jordan Papirny was most recently tending the nets for the Calgary Dinos of Canada West. Papirny was always a good goalie in my eyes as he posted back-to-back 44- and 31-win seasons with Brandon in 2014-15 and 2015-16 before Brandon lost a pile of their talent. His numbers only got better when he arrived at the University of Calgary, winning eight of 14 games in both seasons while posting a GAA no higher than 2.45. In short, Papirny was the kind of goalie I always thought had a good shot at making an AHL roster if he was drafted by an NHL team.

As his university record suggests, he was not drafted. I'm not here to point out that negative fact, but he does have the most wins in WHL history if you combine his regular season and playoff totals so it seems hard to justify why he never caught scouts' eyes. Regardless of his undrafted status, Papirny went to the Dinos, posted respectable numbers, and was named to the 2018 U SPORTS All-Star squad played against Canada's World Junior Championship team in their warm-up after his WHL career ended.

We'll also throw in a mention that Papirny did get signed by an AHL team as the Toronto Marlies inked the netminder to an amateur tryout contract in 2017, but nothing more seemingly came of that opportunity.

So what's happening with Jordan Papirny now?

Well, Papirny, 24, had been playing with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in 2019-20 in the ACAC where he continued his winning ways in posting a 14-3-0 record, a 1.82 GAA, and a .933 save percentage which caught the eyes of one team in North America who decided to sign the Edmonton native this past week!

On March 26, the ECHL's Florida Everblades added Papirny to their roster after he signed a contract with the team, and he served as the backup in the Everblades' two wins against former Dinos teammate Matt Alfaro and the Wheeling Nailers on the 26th and 27th! While no one expected Papirny to come in and be the starter in his first ECHL moment in his career, the Everblades have committed to Papirny through the end of the season so it appears we'll see him in the Everblades' net soon!

That game could be as early as Friday as the Everblades travel in-state to Orlando where they'll meet the Solar Bears in the three-game set on April 1-3 at Amway Center. It's almost assured that Papirny will get the middle game of the back-to-back-to-back set against Orlando, and it will be exciting to see the former Wheat King and Dino in his pro hockey debut for the first-place team in the ECHL! Let's hope he can recreate the same winning ways he's had through his junior and university days to capture that all-important first pro win in his career!

Florida currently holds a seven-point lead over the second-place Indy Fire in the ECHL's Eastern Conference as they sit with a 29-10-2 record through 41 games. Orlando, meanwhile, sits in fourth-place with a 20-15-4 record this season, but I should be very clear that there will likely be no surprises for either team when they meet for the 19th time this season on Thursday - that is not a misprint. Florida is 12-5-1 against Orlando this season, but are a pedestrian 5-5-0 when they play in Orlando, including winning just once in their last four visits to the Amway Center. Needless to say, there appears to be some great hockey action set for the weekend in Ontario between these two fierce ECHL rivals!

Congratulations to former Calgary Dinos and Brandon Wheat Kings netminder Jordan Papirny on earning his shot at the professional level, and here's hoping that Papirny can pick up that first win in Orlando this weekend!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 29 March 2021

Good Dude Of The Year

There is no official award for "Good Dude of the Year" that the NHL hands out, but I'm here to hand one out to Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Julien BriseBois today. It's an award that may not mean much to BriseBois after being named as a finalist for the GM of the Year award last season, but the reason for him receiving this award I made up is because he's providing incredible opportunities to his alma mater with his gift to the school's hockey program today. Yes, you're reading that right: a Stanley Cup-winning general manager is making a massive difference to a Canadian university women's hockey program with his generosity!

If you missed the news, BriseBois, who grew up in Greenfield Park on the South Shore in Montreal, dropped some major dough on the Université de Montréal Carabins' women's hockey team today as he donated $75,000 to the program. BriseBois graduated from the Université de Montréal with a law degree before joining the Montreal Canadiens, and he made the donation to the women's team since the Université de Montréal doesn't have a men's hockey program. The purpose of the funds is to support the professional development of coaches and coaching for student athletes.

"It's only natural to want to give back to my alma mater," BriseBois said in a statement. "As graduates, we have a responsibility to pay it forward to the university that provided us with the education we needed to realize our ambitions. And we are fortunate as UdeM is one of the leading academic institutions in the world."

Having seen les Carabins play at the U SPORTS National Championship in consecutive years, there is no doubt that this donation by BriseBois will only strengthen an already-strong program in Quebec. As the only francophone women's university hockey team in Quebec and one of only two in Canada (Université de Moncton is the other), developing francophone coaches, particularly female coaches, will go a long way in this country when it comes to strong coaching candidates who speak both of Canada's official languages.

"He understands that money isn't an end to itself," Athletic Director Manon Simard told Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette, "but the means to accomplish great things. We're grateful for the confidence he has in us and for his outstanding generosity. Knowing they now have a defending Stanley Cup champion backing them is a big plus for our program."

The history of les Carabins isn't long, but it is storied. Founded in 2009 by former Team Canada head coach Danièle Sauvageau, les Carabins have played in ten of eleven RSEQ finals since 2009, and they have two U SPORTS National Championships to boast as they won in 2013 and 2016 while medalling in four other years in the nine times they have played in the Canadian university women's hockey championship. Sauvageau serves as the executive director of the women's hockey program while Isabelle Leclaire has been the head coach since the team's founding after graduating from the Université de Montréal with a degree in kinesiology.

Having alumni value programs is so vitally important, and it's an incredible gesture by Julien BriseBois to donate this amount of money to les Carabins to help develop coaches and opportunities for coaches in Quebec. With BriseBois having also been a student at Concordia University, he could have gifted money to the anglophone school's hockey programs, but he opted to support the Université de Montréal and their women's hockey program where he earned his law degree and his path into the NHL.

"We're constantly on the lookout for better ways to coach our student athletes on their road to success and to encourage them in exceeding their personal best," Simard said. "One way to do this is to partner with great people — those who inspire others to excel."

Julien BriseBois will not inspire others to excel, he's also provided a little financial support for those who want get into coaching and excel in that field. That's the kind of leadership you want to see from alumni, and the Tampa Bay Lightning general manager has seen a lot of success thanks to the opportunities he had at the Université de Montréal.

His gift to the university shows why he's a winner of the 2020-21 Good Dude Award.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Escaping Buffalo

While there were no official trade demands made, it was pretty apparent that Eric Staal wasn't going to be in Buffalo for the rest of his career following a dismal start to his season that mirrored that of the team. Three goals and ten points in 32 contests was not what the Sabres had imagined for the big centerman when they sent Marcus Johansson to Minnesota for Staal. The slate is wiped clean today, though, as Staal is now a Montreal Canadiens centerman for the rest of the season where GM Marc Bergevin is hoping to see more of the 20-goal Staal than the 20-point Staal as the Habs look for some face-off help while getting a solid veteran player who can play on both sides of the puck for a postseason run.

On Friday, the Canadiens sent 2021 third- and fifth-round draft picks to Buffalo for Staal in what seems more like a steal given the potential damage Staal could do if he finds some magic once again. In order to make this trade work with Montreal's cap situation, Buffalo retained 50% of Staal's $3.25 million cap hit.

Staal will be relied upon to win key face-offs, most likely in the defensive zone with games on the line. His career face-off percentage is 49.1%, but he was up to 53.2% with Buffalo this season. That puts him ahead of Nick Suzuki, Jonathan Drouin, and Jesper Kotkaniemi this season, and only slightly back of Phillip Danault. Marc Bergevin identified a weakness, and he resolved it for a pittance when one considers what else Staal brings.

What makes this trade interesting for me is that Staal has the ability to be a good net-front presence on the power-play or can be used on the half-wall where his passing abilities are still above-average. If you're thinking backdoor one-timers to Josh Anderson, we might be on the same wavelength because I could see Staal taking that position and running with it. He battles well along the boards and uses his size to protect pucks. While he'll likely start on the third- or fourth-line for Montreal as he eases into Dominique Ducharme's system, don't be surprised if his ice-time increases as the post-season nears.

Staal isn't being brought in to be the Carolina Hurricanes' Eric Staal where he was relied upon for scoring. Instead, he'll be expected to check well, win face-offs, possibly add a new dimension to a power-play, and bringing the know-how when it comes to teaching the youthful Canadiens what it takes to win a Stanley Cup. He won't be glamourous or flashy, but Eric Staal gives Montreal exactly what they need to be better.

For Staal, he had the Canadiens on his no-trade team list, but he waived that option as Buffalo continues to flounder. After losing their 16th-straight game on Thursday, Staal got the heck outta Dodge when the opportunity presented itself as he'll go from the outhouse to a possible playoff berth if the Canadiens can hold off the teams behind them in the North Division. Given the options he had in Buffalo for the playoffs, waiving the "don't trade me to Montreal" clause in his contract seems wise for a guy who still has a lot of hockey to give.

As we know, though, nothing is ever guaranteed in the NHL as Eric Staal sits in quarantine before joining his new squad and the Canadiens prepare for multiple games per week until the end of the season thanks to the COVID postponements they were forced to take. While the trade makes sense on paper, chemistry is one of those things that is hard to predict and it will remain to be seen where Staal fits into Ducharme's lineup and how quickly things align for Staal in La Belle Province.

Give Marc Bergevin credit, though, as he made his team better once again.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Ten CDs For A Penny?

I used to scan the page of Columbia House music as a kid that would make its way to my house. The offer - a random amount of CDs for a penny - was a no-brainer to me until I presented it to my parents who told me that I should read the fine print. At the time, I was never concerned about fine print when ten CDs could be had for a penny. Heck, let's order a hundred CDs for a dime, right? Sadly, that was never the case.

Why am I writing about ordering CDs for a penny? Music, it seems, has a way of finding its way into all our lives for a number of reasons. Whether it's a song that triggers a memory about a time in one's life or a song that a group of friends sang along to when everyone didn't have the pressures of adulthood, music has a way to stir memories and evoke feelings in all of us.

Perhaps one of the more overlooked aspects of music is the art featured on album covers. Whether you prefer CDs or vinyl, there were always incredible pieces of art featured on alubm covers for a vast number of bands. There are a number of instantly-recognizable album covers out there - Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, The Beatles' Abbey Road, and Nirvana's Nevermind to name a few - but a lot often are missed simply due to lack of commercial success for the band. We're heavily-influenced by the songs we hear on the radio as youngsters, and often those songs end up in our collective playlists through the purchase of albums. If bands with incredible album art aren't played on commercial radio, would you even know they exist?

It's that question of existence that sees two ideas merge together in another Canada West hockey marketing idea as I tackle the music world just as I did with the motion picture world one week ago. And because we're talking about Columbia House's incredible offer, let's make it easy by offering ten albums for the low, low price of FREE!
Here are the various albums chosen for the ten CDs you can get for that low price as I perform a mashup of Canada West with music!

Team: UBC Thunderbirds
Band: The Fabulous Thunderbirds
Album: Roll Of The Dice

People will remember this album as "the second one without Jimmie Vaughan", but Roll of the Dice was a return to the Thunderbirds' rocking ways. Like the band, there will be new faces to play parts on ice, but you'll be rocking with the UBC Thunderbirds.

Team: Calgary Dinos
Band: Alice In Chains
Album: The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

Well-received by fans and critics, the fifth Alice in Chains album was a chart-topper. Based on recruiting and returnees, we might see the Calgary Dinos at the top of the Canada West charts by the end of the 2021-22 season based on their 2019-20 success!

Team: Alberta Pandas
Band: Desiigner
Album: Panda (Single)

Rolling Stone named Panda as one of the best hits in 2016, but the Alberta Pandas have been one of the best teams for a long time. The song spent 17 weeks in the top-ten whereas the hockey team is there annually thanks to good tempo on the ice and excellent arrangement by the coaches.

Team: Saskatchewan Huskies
Band: No Metal In This Battle
Album: The Husky Tape

NMITB is a punk band from Luxembourg who rock hard on good melodies without a vocalist. Like the band, the Saskatchewan Huskies play hard as a team to generate the sound of success. That teamwork is why they're always near the top of the CanWest charts!

Team: Mount Royal Cougars
Band: The Stranglers
Album: Feline

A 1970s English punk rock band, The Stranglers still perform today after mainstream success in the past. The Cougars, like the band, found success in the past in the ACAC, but have rose to the challenge and are back to successful form in Canada West! Could we see a chart-topping album in 2021-22?

Team: Regina Cougars
Band: Koen Holtkamp
Album: Field Rituals

Holtkamp's music combines synth, guitar, and earthly sounds for a unique album. The Cougars, like Holtkamp, rely on some very basic building blocks for success such as hard work, good teamwork, and sound defence. The end result when combined is an enjoyable experience!

Team: Trinity Western Spartans
Band: Harlem Spartans
Album: Bye Bye

The British hip-hop group started making music in youth centers in the UK. Like the band, the young Spartans hockey team will look to hone their skills after joining the Canada West label, and there's hope that they'll rise to fame like the rappers did!

Team: Manitoba Bisons
Band: Foo Fighters
Album: Five Songs and a Cover

The Foo Fighters are certainly a recognizable band, but this album is one of their lesser-known releases. Like the Foo, the Bisons are well-known, but their 2021-22 album is all about singing a new tune that involves wins, successes, and growth! They're looking to shoot up the charts!

Team: MacEwan Griffins
Band: Griffin
Album: Flight of the Griffin

Griffin's heavy metal sound is unmistakable for its thrashing speed by its guitarists. Expect the same from the Griffins on the ice as they'll be using their speed to thrash their opponents as they look to hoist the heavy metal of the Canada West Championship after owning the ACAC for the past few years!

Team: Canada West
Band: Queen
Album: Greatest Hits

Everyone has a Greatest Hits album in their collection, so we will too as we honour the teams no longer with us. This album remembers teams of the past like the Lethbridge Pronghorns, the Brandon Bobcats, Lakehead University, the University of Winnipeg, and the Victoria Vikings.

There are your ten albums available through HBIC House for a single penny! While HBIC House doesn't formally exist, the nine teams who have album art dedicated to them do, and I'd suggest checking those albums out this October when they're delivered. There's always excitement and a good show at each of the rinks these "bands" will perform in, so get down and support your local hockey music acts when you can!

Did I miss on any of these album covers? Drop a note in the comments, and we can discuss!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 26 March 2021

Supporting Women's Hockey

Whenever there is news about Canadian university women's hockey, I like to draw attention to it. After being involved in some discussions today about university hockey at another institution, the University of Manitoba published a nice article about the women to the right named Pattie Dickieson. Her name won't be known to most, but Patti's done incredible work over her career to help student-athletes at the University of Manitoba, and she's decided to move on to new adventures after in her retirement that officially starts tomorrow. And there's a great hockey tie-in for one of the Bisons hockey teams to honour Patti's legacy of incredible and tireless work for the students at the University of Manitoba!

Patti worked in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management where she was an academic advisor for students. As you know, Canada West and U SPORTS both have academic requirements when it comes to student-athletes while students have goals of their own when it comes to their education paths. Patti was the woman who worked to blend those two things - athletic requirements while students chased their future goals - for Bisons athletes competing across the complement of sports featured at the University of Manitoba!

With the University of Manitoba congratulating her on an incredible career where it's estimated that she advised and counselled "nearly 11,000 students throughout her tenure", I want to join the chorus of congratulatory praises for Patti Dickieson. I often talk about the coaches and parents on this blog who put long hours in to help these kids, but Patti is one of those behind-the-scenes people who never gets talked about when it comes to the efforts she makes to help student-athletes find success both on the field of play and in the classroom. She truly is an unsung hero to so many students.

34 years is a long time to be any place, but Patti's tenure should be a celebration. The 11,000 students she has helped have undoubtedly gone on to bigger and better with respect to earning their degrees and finding their paths in life, and that's a helluvan accomplishment for which we should be thanking Patti. She made this world better by helping kids achieve their dreams both in athletics and academics, and that's no small feat in today's world.

If you're waiting for the hockey tie-in, you're arrived at the paragraph where I discuss that. Patti didn't play hockey for the Bisons as far as I could find, but she will be helping the team and a player on the women's team immensely moving forward. From the linked article,
In honour of Patti's career, funds raised by faculty staff and student council will be donated to the Bison Women's Hockey Team's scholarship fund. Termed "The Patti Prize," $1,500 will be presented to a student-athlete in the near future.
How great is that? A player will have their education's financial costs eased somewhat thanks to Patti Dickieson's legacy at the school, and she'll once again be honoured each and every year for the amazing work she did for students at the University of Manitoba both in her career and beyond. For any student who receives this scholarship, she should be honoured to be "The Patti's Prize" recipient considering what Patti Dickieson did for the students that come before her. It's an incredible honour to receive in my humble view.

Whatever comes next for Patti as she begins a new chapter in her life will undoubtedly be filled with joy and happiness after spending more than three decades helping others. Her legacy at the university will continue with the scholarship named in her honour, but it will be impossible to find someone to replace Patti on campus after all she's done. Congratulations on an incredible career, Patti, and I wish nothing but peace, happiness, prosperity, and a long, enjoyable retirement for you!

Until next time, raise your sticks high for Patti Dickieson!

Thursday, 25 March 2021

The Hockey Show - Episode 444

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with another amazing guest who is doing incredible things in a Manitoba community after establishing her own stellar career on the ice! I just noticed that today's episode is #444 as well, so that's a big of a milestone for the old program here! We'll dust it off for another week as Jenna and I meet an phenomenal woman today who is making a difference in so many lives!

Tonight, Teebz and Jenna sit down with Miss Christine Bumstead, head coach of the Pembina Valley Hawks U15 AAA Bantam Girls Team, and we discover everything that Christine is doing! Christine was a great player with the St. Mary's Academy Flames during her days on the ice, but she decided to pursue her education on a number of fronts rather than playing U SPORTS hockey and it seems that her choice has been a good one! We'll talk to her about being a pioneer with the St. Mary's prep team, choosing school over hockey, learning ASL and the paths that have opened because of that choice, getting a shot at coaching the Assiniboine Park Rangers Bantam Girls team (and last week's guest Kyleigh Johnson!), moving to Morden to teach middle school and becoming a coaching icon in the Pembina Valley, becoming a certified Zumba instructor, being part of the NHL Coaches Association's Development Program and a ton more! We needed another hour to dive deeper in to Christine's work, but what she gives us in the hour tonight is simply awesome! Make sure you tune in on one of 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via UMFM.com at 5:30pm CT to hear all about Christine Bumstead and get to know one of the rising stars in this province!

We'd also be remiss if we didn't remind everyone about the upcoming vote for the 2021 Kraft Hockeyville experience! Make sure you go and vote on April 9 from 8am until April 10 at 8am at the Kraft Hockeyville website for Saint Adolphe, Manitoba! We could see an NHL preseason game out there in the fall if they win, so get your votes in, folks!

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 meet Christine Bumstead as we learn about establishing the Flames, opting for books over pucks, coaching and changing hockey for the better, being a role model, keeping the deaf and hard-of-hearing community close, keeping people fit, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: March 25, 2021: Episode 444

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Where Do They Play?

I was reading Elliotte Friedman's always-informative 31 Thoughts article today on the Sportsnet website, and he made reference to the North Division's playoff quandary for whomever finds themselves as the winner of the division through the postseason. As you know, Canadian teams are not heading south when it comes to playing this season, and fans in this country have yet to be allowed back into arenas to watch games due to the pandemic. So when one of the seven Canadian teams win the North Division, where do they play home playoff games?

It's an interesting conundrum since the NHL will certainly ask the winner of the North Division to travel to the US where the other three divisions are located, but where would the best place to play if you're the Canadian team who earns that right? Elliotte wrote the following:
Indeed, a Toronto-to-Buffalo move likely wouldn't be ideal for a number of reasons, but it becomes a little more tenuous when you consider that Colorado may win their division which would force one of Vancouver, Edmonton, or Calgary to look farther south than perhaps they wanted to originally go.

When you consider that the teams from the Eastern Conference all play along or near the eastern seaboard, logic says that having the Western Conference Canadian team closer to them would be ideal for everyone. Of course, that doesn't take into a semifinal matchup where Vegas or Colorado seem poised to be in the Western Conference Final and cross-country flights would be involved to which Elliotte alluded. Would it make more sense to have the Canadian team keep their bags packed, play in a place like Glendale first where they're conveniently located for most of the Western Division teams, and then move to another, more eastern-based arena for the Stanley Cup Final?

With respect to the move across the border, one will have to assume that the Canadian teams will be chartering flights as they do now to escape the quarantine process in each province mandated by those provinces' health guidelines. There may still be a quarantine process between the two countries - Canada and the US - but there may be a shortened window of time if the rumours of a reduced quarantine time for the trade deadline holds true. The idea would be that the NHL would use that same procedure to fly the Canadian team down to their destination arena, quaratine for the recommended time, and then resume the Western Conference Final once the quarantine period has been fulfilled.

Once the team has established a safe return to hockey in the US, travelling to a second arena-turned-home shouldn't be an issue as every other NHL team will have done the same throughout the season and playoffs.

That begs the question, then, as to where the Canadian teams should and would play if given a chance to choose. If we're looking at the recent NHLPA Players' Surveys, it seems there are two winners when it comes to atmosphere given that some NHL arenas in the US are allowing fans to wathc games. The 2018-19 survey showed:
Depending on whether Vegas is in the Western Conference Final, it would appear the best place to play for atmosphere if you're a player is in Nashville which would be a good option for most of the Canadian teams. That being said, Chicago is also a good choice for atmosphere assuming that the North Division winner goes there, so there are three pretty solid places to play if the Canadian teams need a place to stay on their Stanley Cup journeys.

Personally, I'd want to play in Nashville in June if I were given the chance. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Chicago - far from it, in fact, considering I was there in June - but Nashville would be where I'd go if the option were open. The Hilton Hotel next to the Bridgestone Arena is beautiful, there are a ton of great restaurants for delivery near the hotel, and the weather in Nashville in June is great. If the players are going to call a city home for a few weeks, Nashville seems like a great home away from home.

What Western Conference arena would you choose? Sound off in the comments and we can discuss why it won't be Buffalo!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

NHL In Saint Adolphe

If there's one story that's told over and over in this country, it's how players from small towns achieve their NHL dreams. Whether it's Parry Sound, Ontario or Floral, Saskatchewan or any other town across this country, we hear how the local kids from those towns beat the odds and skate in the show. With hockey changing its way into more of a business than hours spent on a retaining pond, these small towns sometimes get forgotten when it comes to providing fodder for those dreams. Today, it's time to rally the local province to help one of those towns gain a little notoriety!

If you missed the news, Saint Adolphe, Manitoba was named as one of the four finalists for the 2021 Kraft Hockeyville experience along with Bobcaygeon in Ontario, Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick, and Lumsden in Saskatchewan. While these three latter communities are pretty great in their own rights, let's cut to the chase here by saying that Saint Adolphe is the best of the four communities named as finalists. Let's take a poor, uninspired look at each of the finalists not named Saint Adolphe before highlighting the local community!

Bobcaygeon

Best known thanks to The Tragically Hip song, Bobcaygeon has a lock and canal that led to settlement being founded around that lock and the post office that soon followed. It was incorporated as a village by a Victoria County by-law of 1876, and has a current population of around 3500 people. The town name seems to be derived from an Ojibway word, but there's a rumour it could be a French word. Former NHL player Allan Stanley called Bobcaygeon home, and current KHL player Brady Austin is also from the town. Beyond that, though, there isn't a lot about which one can humble-brag "in Bobcaygeon where I saw the constellations reveal themselves one star as a time."

Elsipogtog First Nation

It's always encouraging to see Indigenous communities getting an opportunity like this, and the Elsipogtog First Nation is in the mix this year! The Elsipogtog First Nation is a Miꞌkmaq First Nations band government, and there are approximately 3300 people living on the First Nation. Elsipogtog means "River of Fire" which seems not-good for hockey, but former NHL player Everett Sanipass comes from Elsipogtog First Nation! Like Bobcaygeon, there really isn't a lot about which one can humble-brag in Elsipogtog First Nation, and there's not even a popular song which I can quote.

Lumsden

31 kilometers northwest of Regina is where you'll find Lumsden, Saskatchewan. Wikipedia says it's an "unofficial suburb of Regina", but that seems ridiculous so we'll ignore that. Originally called "Happy Hollow", the name was changed in 1889 to honour Hugh Lumsden, a senior engineer with the Qu'Appelle, Long Lake, and Saskatchewan Railway. If there's one highlight that Lumsden can be proud of, Harrowsmith Magazine in 2002 named Lumsden as the "prettiest" town in the province despite the community flooding nearly every year. Since 1987, the 1800 citizens of Lumsden participate in the Lumsden Duck Derby where hundreds of rubber ducks are raced down the Qu'Appelle River to raise money for the community. In terms of sports, the Calgary Oval X-Treme and the Minnesota Whitecaps played the Western Women's Hockey League's second championship at the Lumsden arena, and former NHLer Tanner Glass calls Lumsden home. Outside of rubber ducks and a couple of hockey moments, Lumsden seems like it has a few things about which its citizens can boast.

Saint Adolphe

Really, there's no comparison here. Saint Adolphe has around 1400 people living in the community, but it's a community who goes big when they see an opportunity. Originally called Pointe-Coupée, the town was renamed after Adolphe Turner who made a large donation to the local church. A group of French nuns from the Filles de la Croix order opened a Roman Catholic convent in 1906 that led to the construction of the church in 1913, and that church still stands in town today. Because the town lives in the Red River valley, there were often floods until the construction of a ring dyke that has kept the town dry since 1967 (take note, Lumsden). Shawn Limpright, who played in the CHL and ECHL, is the only notable hockey player from the town, but people from all over Manitoba flock to Saint Adolphe for A Maze In Corn and the world's largest snow maze on the planet (no song needed, Bobcaygeon). Needless to say, Saint Adolphe is, in this writer's opinion, the coolest town of the four finalists.

My opinion matters little in the contest run by Kraft, though, so it's up to you, Manitoba, to push Saint Adolphe ahead of the other three finalists. On April 9, you'll be required to log into the 2021 Kraft Hockeyville website at 8am where you can vote for Saint Adolphe and not the other finalists for 24 hours. Voting will close on Saturday, April 10, so make sure you log into the website, mash the voting buttons as often as you can, and let's bring NHL hockey to a great southern Manitoba community!

We can use a big dose of hockey in rural Manitoba where most of hockey was cancelled without any chance to hit the ice, so let's bring the NHL to Saint Adolphe and have some preseason fun!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 22 March 2021

One Back Of Skinner

The man to the left celebrating like he won the lottery is goaltender Todd Scott of the USHL's Tri City Storm. Scott's career has seen him bounce around the continent from places like his hometown of Albertville, Minnesota to Omaha, Nebraska to Sioux City, Iowa to Vancouver, BC before finding himself on a three-year stint with the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings. Scott's game steadily improved while with Edmonton, and that prompted the USHL's Tri City Storm to sign him as a 19 year-old to defend their nets. It was off to Kearney, Nebraska, some three-and-a-half hours west of Omaha as Scott returned to a state he played in at the U16 level.

None of those moves really relate to today's story, but it gives you a background on what it takes to find some permanence in a young player's career when chasing down the hockey dream. Outside of his stint in Edmonton, Todd Scott never really found a place where he stayed longer than a couple years, and that one place where he did was Omaha. In his second season in Kearney with the Storm, though, Scott has shown he's a solid starting netminder in delivering a 17-8-2 record with a 2.36 GAA and a .905 save percentage. And a new statistic that appeared on his career USHL stats after Saturday night.

Saturday night, Scott was tending the net for Tri City as they battled the Sioux Falls Stampede. Things were going well as time wound down with the Storm scoring two goals in the final give minutes to give Scott a little breathing room in his net when the puck was dumped into the Storm zone. Let's go to the video! With 28 seconds remaining in the game, Scott fired the puck 200-feet down the ice, began the celebration seconds before the lamp lit, and then continued to celebrate like a madman once the red light flashed to signal a goal. The scoresheet officially shows Scott scoring an unassisted empty-net goal, Scott becomes the fifth USHL goalie to add his name to the goal-scoring prowess of the league as he joins Mikhail Berdin, Jared Rutledge, Jon Gillies, and Ryan Massa as the only USHL goalies to light the lamp.

The irony? Mikhail Berdin was the last goalie to score in the USHL when he played for none other than the Sioux Falls Stampede who were the victims to Tony Scott's goal tonight.

I made mention off the top about Scott looking like he won the lottery, and perhaps he may have. With the Buffalo Sabres struggling to score goals of any kind, they might want to reach out to Scott to help their offence. After all, the Sabres are paying Jeff Skinner $9 million annually, and Scott's now one goal behind him for the season. It seems like Scott's due for a big payday if his agent can show he's a heckuva netminder as well as an elite goal scorer!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Have Stanley, Will Travel

It's been a long, long time since I even looked at my passport, but I came across it today when I was doing a little spring cleaning. This alone isn't some massive discovery as I knew where it had been the whole time, but just opening it and flipping through the pages made me realize how long it has been since we were able to travel as we did pre-pandemic. What I had forgotten about, though, was the Canadian passport's incredible imagery found on the pages of important moments in history, and one YouTube video's incredible look at these images thanks to some of the impressive counterfeit-fighting measures.

The Canadian passports as they are today came out in 2012, so this story certainly should have been mentioned by me before today, but it's the YouTube video below that I happened across a few weeks ago that should have made me write the story then. Instead, I forgot. I'm only human, apparently, and likely got distracted by other stuff. Seeing my passport today was an "OH YEAH!" moment of discovery.

The image to the right is page 29 of the passports that Canada began issuing in 2013 that feature some incredible moments in Canadia history. Those images include Terry Fox, the Grey Cup, the Halifax Harbour, railcars at a grain elevator, and so many more snapshots of Canadian history and some of the great things this country has witnessed. Foreign Minister John Baird unveiled them in a ceremony at the end of October in 2012 as the country looked to incorporate a number of new counterfeit measures on its passports.

Among the new technology built into these passports are a computer chip, microprinting, holographic images, and ultraviolet-visible images. It's this last feature that YouTuber CANRUSH elevated in a big way with a black light in his 2018 video, and the images look amazing when illuminated by the black light! Check it out below, especially at the 1:37 mark when the Stanley Cup appears vividly! It sounds a little mushy, but I get sentimental for things I have at home when travelling. I like the adventure, but home just fits after staying in hotels or tents for a while. I need to remind myself to flip through my passport once in a while while travelling to remind me of the comforts of home and the pride I have as a Canadian.

It doesn't matter where you go in this world if you have a Canadian passport because you'll always have the Stanley Cup with you when you go. You still need to be smart and safe while travelling, but the Stanley Cup will be in your pocket or bag where ever you go.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Let's Go To The Movies!

After posting the article about the Pronghorns yesterday, it's become more than apparent that we, in Canada, really need to start supporting our university and amateur athletes. Canada does a great job in claiming to be a "hockey country", but it might be more accurate to say that we're an NHL country. We don't support lower levels of hockey with the same bravado and gusto that we put into our NHL pride, and that's the crux of the problem that a lot of amateur sports programs across this country face when it comes to asking for support.

While this article specifically looks at nine Canada West women's hockey teams, the men's teams and every other university sport in this country deserves more than family and friends at games. I'm not here to beg you for money because that's just wrong. What I am here asking is that if you enjoy hockey, support it at the lower levels by going to games. Get to know the players. Listen to broadcasts of those games. Fall in love with the sport again as opposed to the bright lights of professional sports which is 98% business and 2% the love of the game.

With games happening on Fridays and Saturdays in the fall, it occurred to me that those are usually the nights that people hit the movies most often. Whether it be a new premiere, a popular movie in society, or an indie film or cult classic at a smaller theatre, people enjoy the movies and often spend their weekend evenings in theatres. So why not combine the two and offer the theatre of an incredible game in an arena while having a little fun with the teams by making them into movie posters!

We'll work from west to east in Canada West with these movie posters for each of team in the conference. This is all in good fun, so don't get too upset if I chose a movie you didn't like or don't know. It's a fun way for me to convince you to give up a Friday or Saturday night next fall and winter to come and support the men and women playng hockey at each school! And feel free to click the movie posters to see them closer on your screen!

Team: UBC Thunderbirds
Movie: X-Men - Dark Phoenix

While there won't be a turn by any of the Thunderbirds when it comes to attacking the team, the T-Birds do have a dark side in which they use their size and speed to overwhelm teams quickly. There were some creative liberties taken with this poster as Pokemon's Zapdos gets included and the X-Men all have hockey helmets on to make the imagery work, and the end result looks pretty good. When it comes to hockey action, like X-Men franchise, you can't go wrong with the T-Birds!

Team: Trinity Western Spartans
Movie: 300

If there's one team whose poster represents them the best, the Spartans may be it. The first-year Canada West team faces big odds as they stare down the powerhouse teams who want to conquer them and take two points, but I expect the Spartans to be scrappy and gritty all season long. They'll battle hard, they'll fight with every last breath in them, but will they prevail? Like the movie representing them, tales will be told of the fight they bring every night!

Team: Calgary Dinos
Movie: Jurassic Park

When I see that Jurassic Park logo, I hear the theme to the movie. I always wonder why the Dinos don't play more off this idea, but I guess they're building their own identity. I'll go ahead and ruin that by tying them directly to this movie that works so well thanks to their team colours. Like the the movie, the Dinos are an adventure as they can be as deadly as a velociraptor or as defensive as a stegosaurus, but you'll leave the arena entertained thanks to the great action on the ice!

Team: Mount Royal Cougars
Movie: The Secret Life of Pets 2

You might wonder why this poster was chosen, but the Cougars have a ton to be proud of over the last few years that includes their first trip to the National Championship and winning their first game there over the University of Toronto. The future is bright for this team, and, like the cartoon, they should totally win you over with their wholesomeness and their teamwork. And like the movie, I'm sensing a sequel of last year's success too!

Team: Alberta Pandas
Movie: Kung Fu Panda

While this poster is technically a minimalist poster, it does offer the important things needed to promote the Alberta Pandas - namely Po the Panda and his hovering over the Canada West logo which is representative of their dominance for so many years. Like Po, the Pandas are masters of their craft, defeating all who stand in their quest to claim the Canada West championship each and every year thanks to the teamwork they show just as Po did with the Furious Five!

Team: MacEwan Griffins
Movie: Gryffin

You might be asking what this Gryffin movie is, and I honestly can't tell you. It's some sort of music movie that focuses on this Gryffin person's music, but that's about all I know about the movie. Like the movie, though, the MacEwan Griffins come into Canada West play as a bit of a mystery after having dominated the ACAC for the last few years. If they can find winning ways at the U SPORTS level, I'll say it'll leave everyone singing a different tune about their inclusion!

Team: Regina Cougars
Movie: Puss In Boots

While it's been some time since the Regina Cougars wrote a fairy-tale ending to a season, the plucky Cougars and Puss In Boots are always entertaining and fun. They have skill, speed, they always have a goalie with cat-like reflexes tending the nets, and they tend to be closer to a cartoon age with the youth on their roster. One thing you can be sure of while watching the Regina Cougars is that you'll be entertained by their skill while being charmed by their game!

Team: Saskatchewan Huskies
Movie: Eight Below

The Huskies feature the only poster with a real person on the poster as head coach Steve Kook makes an appearance! It's important to note that he is the man who guides this team which always plays bigger due to their teamwork much like Paul Walker guided his huskies who pulled the sled in Eight Below. The Saskatchewan team, when all pulling in the same direction, are a force to be reckoned with in Canada West, and they're likely going to be in the race again this season!

Team: Manitoba Bisons
Movie: The White Buffalo

The White Buffalo is a relatively obscure movie, but the story is of a man who dreams of a rampaging white bison, and that's not far off from the rampaging brown-and-gold Bisons found in Canada West women's hockey! The Bisons are young, fast, and getting better with every game as we saw towards the end of the 2019-20 season, so expect to see this team haunt goaltenders and defenders all season long as they rampage through the schedule!

Just like movies at the box office, ticket sales help these university things do bigger and better things each and every year. Make sure you clear a weekend evening or two to catch a few of these feature films at your local rinks when the come to town near you! Popcorn is served in most of the arenas, beverages can be had as well, so there's no reason not to trade a movie night at the theatre for a feature at the rink!

Which movies are you excited to see? Leave a comment below and we can discuss!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 19 March 2021

The Twist Of The Dagger

I'm never going to convince anyone that I'm journalist Trent Crimm of the fabled news magazine The Independent as seen in Apple's Ted Lasso series. Trent speaks eloquently while carving up the titular character for his coaching style and lack of winning, and I'm just a blogger who follows Canadian university women's hockey more than most others. The comparisons are nil, to use a football term, between Trent and I, yet I find myself turning to that show for a line that has resonated with me more than any other. As seen to the left, Annette Badland's character "Mae" gives Ted and Coach Beard the bad news about getting one's hopes up about a win over powerhouse Manchester City with the oft-heard line in English football circles about teams who have zero chances of winning.

While I'd love to be waxing poetic about the incredible writing and the heartwarming performances in Ted Lasso, today's article contains for more fire after the breaking news yesterday about the University of Lethbridge dissolving the committee working to save Pronghorns hockey in the city. The announcement comes after it appeared that the committee checked off all the boxes given to them required by the university to receive university support in ressurecting the Pronghorns, resulting in any chance of hockey ever existing at the university to be less than zero.

It's the hope sold by university administrators that hurts the most, and here's how they orchestrated the best scam I've seen in hockey in some time in promising the return of the Pronghorns.

The Critical Blow

The prerequisite reading for this article comes from my April 21, 2020 article that I posted which attracted a bit of attention. You should read that before getting into this one in order to bring you up to speed on what happened to lead to this outcome.

The Birth Of A Scam

Back on May 1, 2020, the University of Lethbridge was reported to be establishing a committee to determine the feasibility of future Pronghorns hockey programs after the school had cited the costs of running the program being too high following budget cuts through the province of Alberta cutting post-secondary grants to institutions in the province. As a result, they terminated both the men's and women's hockey programs on April 20 before this committee idea came together.

"It would be an understatement to say it is a challenging time for our university," Mike Mahon, University of Lethbridge president and vice-chancellor, told Kevin Forsyth of the Lethbridge Herald back on May 1. "The conversations I have had with many individuals over the past week prove to me that our community cares deeply about the presence of our university and the activities with which we are involved."

I commend Mike Mahon for planting the ideas to grow this scam not only with the players and the members of the committee, but to the Lethbridge community as well, in order to establish what will be an elaborate lie. It takes real stones to lie to an entire city about the university's true intentions considering that he had several months to process the impending budget cuts for 2021 announced in February before making this gradiose announcement. If they were worried about cuts to their budget, they knew long before the decision made yesterday about the potential shortfall which should have forced them into seeking additional funding from other sources. But I digress.

In June, we found out that the committee consisted of 13 members and three resource personnel who would push forward to see if there was a way to re-establish the hockey programs at the University of Lethbridge under a sustainable commuity-based funding model. After Mike Mahon talked about how the "community cares deeply", it seemed he hit all the marks in setting up the perfect scam in showing everyone that the University of Lethbridge was serious about the feasibility of the hockey programs and the potential future of the teams at the school.

It should be noted that three members of the committee sit in fairly influential positions with the University of Lethbridge: University of Lethbridge board of governors' finance representative Dean Gallimore, the board of governors' advancement representative Terry Whitehead, and Pronghorns athletic director Neil Langevin.

If you're keeping score at home, the finance representative from the school's Board of Directors is sitting on the committee. You'd think he would have been very aware of the proposed budget cuts that the province of Alberta put forth in February 2020, but I guess those details weren't at the front of his mind when he accepted this committee position. More on him below.

The Scam Dance Steps

This is the part that swirls in mystery since no one will confirm how many discussions were had between the committee and the university, but it seems that the committee took their role seriously by heading out into the community and getting commitments from donors, businesses, and alumni to fund the required amount set out in their newly-proposed cost analysis for running the two hockey programs.

In full disclosure, I am not privy to what those requirements were in terms of financials or in-kind sponsorships, but sources have said that the committee had a full proposal to bring back Pronghorns hockey that was submitted to the university for review based on the requirements set out in the feasibility study. In short, the committee did exactly what was asked of them to do in less time than the 18-month window they were given, and they brought their findings back to the school's administrators.

While the committee was out doing this work, what was the university doing besides nothing? They had to be working the numbers when it came to the proposed cutbacks that the province was foreshadowing, so they should have known that they needed a specific amount in their coffers if the committee came back with positive results. Unfortunately, it seems like the university either didn't care to take those steps or it simply didn't believe the committee would be successful based on the statement from the university yesterday that it would be required to provide "substantial ongoing funding investment".

Regarding the "substantial ongoing funding investment", what exactly were the requirements that the university laid out to the committee regarding funding for the hockey programs if the university wasn't investing in them? What amount was too high when it came to that investment? If the university expected the community to pick up the tab for Pronghorns hockey, it would be a community-owned team and not the University of Lethbridge's team to have under their purview. You can't own something without a financial commitment, so about what exactly is the university complaining regarding an investment?

Secondly, if the university is going to reap benefits from the hockey players who enroll at the university - things like tuition monies, research grants, and accolades - there is a cost they should incur to attain those benefits as well. Again, you can't own something you haven't invested in, and it seems like the university was trying to have its cake and eat it too while the community funded the team entirely.

In the ten months since the formation of the committee, there has been virtually zero public updates given on the status of the work being done, definitely zero public offerings into attending these committee meetings by web conference or in person despite the community being asked to support this venture, and absolutely zero news coming out of the university regarding the committee's findings and/or setbacks during this time. While I know that the committee was working to find solutions, why has there not been a single update published or spoken in that time despite the university needing the public's assistance with bringing the Pronghorns back. When the public is asked to pour money into something like this, they usually have a stake in the game at that point that allows them some insight into the proceedings. Instead, it was radio silence.

Honestly, any number of reasons can be given for how it was handled, but it feels very "out of sight, out of mind"-esque handling of the Pronghorns' future by the university. If they stop talking about it, people can't get excited over a possible return, making the inevitable statement that was heard repeatedly on April 21 less grim of a reality: "We're shutting it down, but it's not coming back."

The only problem was that there were still players, staff, coaches, parents, community members, and one guy in Manitoba who do care as updates were consistently sought out over that ten-month period. None were to be found, though.

The Impending Doom

With no one really questioning the University of Lethbridge about future funding and promises made when it came to budgets in the face of another round of cutbacks, the university simply had to do the most obvious thing possible yesterday by confirming the budgeting shortfalls for 2021-22 which would make the return of Pronghorns hockey impossible in any form.

Remember, the committee had a finance representative from the school's Board of Directors is sitting on the committee, and it seems he pretty much said nothing despite him being primarily responsible for knowing the financial outlook for the school for the following school year. This is a guy who would have been asked to conservatively budget for shortfalls promised by the government of Alberta in February 2020 for the following school year, and he said nothing to the committee on which he sits about the required amount needed for the school to be able to chip in a portion of money to make Pronghorns hockey feasible again.

Does anyone really believe, having laid this all out, that the University of Lethbridge had any intention at all of bringing Pronghorns hockey back from oblivion? From knowing there would be a budget shortfall long before cutting the teams to mercilessly cutting the programs without so much as an hour of notification for the players and staff, to allowing a feasibility study conducted with an emphasis on community funding to the university claiming their part of the deal couldn't be met financially, this all seems like it was a big scam in order to win back some public empathy for the university by Mike Mahon and his band of liars sitting in a University of Lethbridge conference room who conveniently used "cutbacks" as the reason this wasn't feasible. Again.

You can't ask for a feasibility study over 18 months, have that study come back with very positive progress, and then kill said feasibility committee with eight months to go when the goalposts have moved. If the scope of the project changes, that has to be communicated to the committee who can then re-assess the feasibility based on this new information. It's because of this fact that I have serious doubts about any communication happening between the committee and the university over the last ten months. I could be wrong, but the next piece of evidence in this scam should really make you question how serious the University of Lethbridge was in bringing hockey back.

The Fox In The Henhouse

As I mentioned above, the university had a man on the inside as a financial representative by the name of Dean Gallimore. Note his face to the right of the next paragraph because Dean Gallimore should be someone you want to speak with if you care about the Lethbridge Pronghorns hockey programs.

Mr. Gallimore sits on the University of Lethbridge Board of Directors as the University Secretariat with respect to Governance. That's a fancy title that says that Mr. Gallimore is responsible for supporting "the Board of Governors, General Faculties Council and the Senate by ensuring the organizational processes are efficient and effective and the institution (students, faculty and staff) and community are well-informed and prepared to support the Strategic Plan of the University of Lethbridge."

Let that description sink in for a moment as we focus on that part about ensuring that "the institution (students, faculty and staff) and community are well-informed and prepared to support the Strategic Plan of the University of Lethbridge."

As you're thinking about that part, let's also mix in Mr. Gallimore's expertise from his professional life as he's described as "a Chartered Professional Accountant and Chartered Business Valuator who has worked with clients for over 30 years". If you're asking, a Chartered Business Valuator is defined by McGill University as:
"... valuation specialists trained to assess and value both private and public firms by quantifying profitability, tangible and intangible assets, and future cash flows. Using a variety of valuation methodologies, Chartered Business Valuators examine the 'total picture' of a business, taking into account capital, intellectual property, brand value, employees, management, past performance, profitability, market expectations, and more to arrive at a conclusion."
So if we summarize Mr. Gallimore's work in sitting on the committee, the committee had the university's Secretary of Governance who was supposed to ensure the students and staff were informed of the school's strategic plan while he worked as the financial representative of the school's Board of Directors in his committee role while he held a certification that should have allowed him to see the total financial picture of the school including capital, profitability, and future cash flows... and he never once spoke up about the university not having the financial means to make Pronghorns hockey feasible despite warnings in February of last year about future impending budget cuts? You're kidding me, right?

Let's take this one step further and it make it personal. As his bio states, Mr. Gallimore is an alum of the University of Lethbridge as are both of his children, Lauren and Amanda. Both Lauren and Amanda volunteered as coaches at the Lethbridge Badminton Club up until its closure in September of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of volunteers. The Lethbridge Badminton Club was a 22-year institution in the city where both Lauren and Amanda honed their skills in the sport of badminton before winning provincial gold medals in the sport, and they both came back to coach at the place where they learned to play.

Like Pronghorns hockey, it seems like Mr. Gallimore didn't flinch when reports surfaced of the Lethbridge Badminton Club closing where both his daughters spent so much of their childhood and teenage years, so there seems to be a bit of a track record here for Dean when it comes to sitting idly by while storied sports programs in the city of Lethbridge are shuttered. I wouldn't draw any conclusions from these two separate incidents, but it's hard not to see the similarities between two underfunded amateur sports programs and not wonder if more could have been done.

What should be noted, though, is that Dean Gallimore should have seen the writing on the wall long before he was named to the committee thanks to the government of Alberta foreshadowing the budget cuts in February 2020. Mr. Gallimore seemingly did nothing in letting the committee know about the university's shortfalls in their budgeting nor did he go back to the university to update them on the progress of the committee to see if things were still in order with respect to financial commitments.

By not informing students and staff on the committee or community of the shortfalls that the university may be experiencing, Mr. Gallimore failed in his role as the University Secretariat with respect to Governance as the committee was working blindly with respect to the financial picture they faced in asking the community for help. In my opinion, Mr. Gallimore acted unethically in his professional capacity as a Chartered Business Valuator by not helping the committee obtain updated information about the financial situation of the university who was to commit what was believed to be promised funds to bring Pronghorns hockey back.

I'm not here to point fingers, but it seems like Mr. Gallimore was only working for the university by not helping the committee more. It's almost like he had a preconceived idea how this whole feasibility study would end.

The Tidy Bow On The Scam

This is the full statement issued by the University of Lethbridge yesterday in stating that Pronghorns hockey is indeed dead and that the committee's efforts, while valiant, mean nothing.
"Last year, a Hockey Advisory Committee reporting to the President's Executive Council, was struck to explore the feasibility of a sustainable community-based funding model that would allow for the reinstatement of the men's and women's hockey programs at the University of Lethbridge. While the committee identified potential financial support within the community, we have been unable to arrive at a model that does not include a substantial ongoing funding investment from the University.

The release of the 2021/22 budget by the Province of Alberta, in which the University of Lethbridge received a larger-than-anticipated 5.8 per cent ($5.7 million) cut to its operating grant, highlights the University's inability to commit to an ongoing funding investment in re-establishing these programs. This cut is in addition to cuts of 3.2 per cent ($3.4 million) and 6.6 per cent ($6.7 million) over the past two years and the University expects a further cut of 5.5 per cent in the 2022/23 operating grant. These reductions, coupled with significant negative financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, have been felt in every corner of our university and has resulted in the loss of over 100 positions thus far.

For these reasons, the activities of the Hockey Advisory Committee will be discontinued.

We know many members of the Lethbridge community are passionate about Pronghorn athletics as evident by those who eagerly stepped forward to serve on this committee. Our University and external community will always value our history of Pronghorn Hockey, as well as the alumni who have come through our program.

The University extends its sincere thanks to committee chair Dan LaPlante and all committee members. We are grateful for the important work these individuals undertook on behalf of the institution and we will apply what we have learned through this process in future decision-making pertaining to Pronghorn Athletics and the University as a whole."
Too long; didn't read? You tried hard, but we never had any intention of bringing Pronghorns hockey back because it costs money we simply either can't find or don't want to raise. Thanks for everything, good luck in the future, and don't mind the smoke we blew up your backsides for the last ten months.

The End Of Innocence

If there's one thing I've learned through all of this, it's "fool me once, shame on me, but fool me twice, shame on you". Mike Mahon and his Board of Deceivers should never be trusted by staff, students, faculty, community members, or anyone again when he comes with a "good faith" offer. The only time in this entire debacle where he told the truth was when he cancelled the hockey programs on April 20, 2020. Everything after that was nothing but hot air and blown smoke.

"Before I accepted the position as chair — back in May — I wanted to make sure that this wasn't window dressing; that this was real," committee chairman and long-time Pronghorns hockey supporter Dan LaPlante told Global News' Danica Ferris. "And I had assurances from Mike [Mahon] that it wasn't."

LaPlante told Ferris that the committee proposed a model that was two-thirds community funded, leaving the University of Lethbridge responsible for $220,000 annually. If we go back to the "Time to Make Cents" portion of my 2020 article, cutting administrative salaries by 30% would accomplish that amount and more, but that was one option that Mike "Don't Give A Damn" Mahon likely never proposed to his fellow administrators.

"We came up with a proposal that dealt with the gender equity piece, that dealt with the community funded piece, and engaged the community," LaPlante said. In short, there was a feasible plan put forth to the university. Guess which side failed to live up to the agreement.

Allow me to give you a hint: "University president Mike Mahon declined a Global News request for interview."

You yellow-bellied coward.

My guess is that Mahon will now slither back under the rock from which he emerged to make the statement posted above while he waits for this whole debacle to blow over in a week or so because no one's really paying attention to Canadian university hockey right now with the NCAA's March Madness basketball tournament running, the NCAA's Frozen Four men's and women's tournaments running, the NHL ongoing, and more. He'll avoid any further blowback on this decision with his hiding in the weeds like he's done for the ten months, and everyone will forget about this once the summer hits.

Newsflash: I won't forget. Anything that has Mike Mahon's name attached to it is now radioactive to me. He destroyed any credibility he had as an adminstrator when he killed the programs, and he just burned up any chance of redemption with this entire garbage response to a fiscally-responsible proposal put forth by good people who care about hockey in Lethbridge.

You done messed up, Mike Mahon. You and the clowns you call a "Board of Directors" just destroyed the dreams of 50 kids and a pile of staff members. Again. For the second time in eleven months. All because you can't find $220,000 annually in a budget where you and four other "adminstrators" can't bother to work for less than a combined $1.711 million annually according to the university's 2019 financial statements. All because you don't heed the warnings of the provincial government. All because you've failed your students, staff, and faculty time and time again by not finding new revenue sources. All because you made promises to try to make things right only to renege on that promise because you still haven't balanced the University of Lethbridge budget like you promised.

And don't come at me, bro, with your "you don't see the whole picture" or "we had to let 100 people go" crap either. You were warned back in January 2020 by Demetrios Nicolaides, the current Minister of Advanced Education, "to immediately freeze hiring and stop spending on travel and hosting" in order to "find savings wherever possible". You were told one month later in February 2020 by the catastrophe of a provincial Alberta government in power that cuts were coming for 2021. You knew this shortfall was headed your way. And what did you do? You made promises you knew deep down you wouldn't be able to keep.

You scammed us all, Mike Mahon, with the promise of something better for Pronghorns hockey. You gave everyone false hope, and, at the end of the day, it's the hope that kills. We should have known better than trust you, but the carrot you dangled was just too juicy to abandon. That's the art of a scam artist - the prize is always something incredible and too difficult to reject. With this second brutal ending to the Pronghorns saga, there won't be another chance for Pronghorns hockey. I doubt you'll go back to the well once more, and I'm pretty sure we won't be fooled again.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!