Friday, 30 April 2021

Friday Quick Hits

I'll admit that I have very little knowledge when it comes to the "sweet science" involved in boxing. I do know that the speed bag, seen to the left, requires a rhythm for keeping the moving at all times, but I've neer really been a fan of boxing to spend any considerable time learning the nuances of the sport. What I do know is that it takes quick hits to keep that speed bag in motion, and that's what this article is all about as we run through some quick hits from the hockey world today!

Six Times Not Good Enough

This one was bad. For all that bluster about competing for first-place in the division a couple of weeks ago, the Winnipeg Jets now find themselves sitting four points ahead of fourth-place Montreal after dropping a 5-3 decision to the Habs tonight. Despite leading 2-0 and 3-1 at points in this game, the Jets seem to be suffering from a lack of execution between the ears when it comes to this losing streak.

Paul Maurice has to be on the hot seat at this point. From his insistence on icing the same lineup night after night to watching his team commit the same errors that put them in this spot, the Jets struggled hard against a team that featured Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson, 19 members of the Laval Rocket, and three ushers in their lineup. With games against Ottawa, Calgary, and Ottawa again, one has to wonder how much rope Maurice has left.

With Gerard Gallant listening to all offers, it might be time to pull the trigger on this move. A few more losses might make it inevitable.

A Fragile Team

How important are the likes of Adam Lowry and Nikolaj Ehlers when you consider how bad the Jets look right now when it comes to attacking with speed, going to the front of the net, and generating chances? Kyle Connor has all but disappeared without Ehlers stirring the drink which makes you wonder why the coaching staff wasn't using Ehlers more before he was injured.

Lowry's absence means that Pierre-Luc Dubois has been asked to contribute more, and I don't know if Dubois has that ability because he simply looks lost out there. Yes, he's playing physical, but he was brought in to center the second line, not the fourth line.

This team is a mess, and two of their most important players won't be back until the playoffs starts. Yikes.

A Legend Retires

It should be mentioned that today was the final day on the job for University of Saskatchewan men's hockey head coach Dave Adolph. Adolph has quietly put together one of the best programs in the nation over the years, and he's hanging up the whistle today after 868 U SPORTS regular season games to his name, 756 of which came with the Huskies. And, just for the record, he won 488 games and 456 with Saskatchewan.

He led the Huskies to seven Canada West titles, he was named U SPORTS Coach of the Year in 2017, and he's had an impact on countless lives throughout his tenure at the University of Saskatchewan. He had 17 captains that he named in his time with the Huskies, and all of them honoured Dave Adolph with a great reflection on what he meant to them.

"It's hard to picture the Huskie Hockey program without Dave Adolph," Jesse Forsberg said. "I think he embodies the program and all that makes it what it is."

Best of luck in retirement, Dave, and to your wife, Bev, as well. While we know you'll still be watching games whenever you can, it won't be the same without you standing behind the bench of the green-and-white. Happy retirement, and here's hoping it's both long and prosperous like your career!

Becoming An American

There was another Saskatchewan Huskies alumni in the news today as former Huskies forward Collin Shirley signed with the ECHL's Allen Americans and was in the lineup tonight against the Wichita Thunder where he wore #11 for the Americans.

Allen began the night with a 31-18-3 record and sitting in third-place in the Western Conference which includes a record of 3-3-1 against Wichita who began the night in first-place in the Western Conference. Shirley didn't factor into the scoring, but he was whistled for a high-sticking penalty at 14:18 of the second period that Allen successfully killed. When the dust settled on this game, Allen took the shootout victory by a 3-2 score! Not a bad debut for Shirley as his team picked up the win!

Here's hoping Collin Shirley has a successful run with Allen. Maybe he'll end up hoisting the Kelly Cup at the season's end? We shall see as this ECHL season plays out!

Correcting A Serious Error

The IIHF released the best news it has produced in some time as the 2021 Women's World Championship that was supposed to be happening right now in Halifax and Truro has been rescheduled for August 21-30 later this summer! While no venue has been selected yet, the fact that the IIHF and Hockey Canada made this rescheduling a priority is a start.

Personally, I'm not sure where they want to host this bubble, but I'd like to see it go some place other than Edmonton or Toronto. Maybe places like Saskatoon and Regina could be in the mix? Saskatchewan always seems to be up for hosting a tournament. I guess it will all be determined by the pandemic, but at least there will be a tournament for the women come August. Mark it down on your calendars!

Tune In Tomorrow!

The annual posting of all the Canada West women's hockey recruits goes tomorrow at 10am CT, so make sure you check back here to find out who is playing where next season. All nine teams have had their recruiting info compiled, and I'll give my thoughts on the incoming class of 2021-22 for each of those teams.

It should make for an exciting season in 2021-22 with all the great players who were recruited last year plus this year's class of talent. I'm glad I don't have to vote for a rookie of the year because half the league might be first-year players! Whatever happens on the front is out of my hands, but there are going to players to watch every night because of all the talent entering the league. If you're not excited yet, we may need you to check for a pulse!

There are your quick hits for a Friday night. As stated, the article goes live at 10am CT tomorrow with all the recruiting information, so stop by and check out who will be playing at your local rink and who will be visiting your local team!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 29 April 2021

The Hockey Show - Episode 449

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, bends that rule a little as Jason Pchajek steps in for Jenna as she takes a personal day today. Jenna will be back next week, so Teebz and Jason die into the hockey stories this week from all over the globe as there has been a bunch of news from the past week that needs discussion. It's always good to get Jason's thoughts on the game, and he and Teebz bend the rules with a short discussion about F1 on this show as well!

Teebz and Jason dive into the NHL news as Turner Sports will officially take over from NBC next year, and the two gents go over all the possibilities that the NHL may be assessing in this new broadcasting deal that includes streaming and some chatter about F1 Racing. After we get back on track, they chat about more AJHL shutdowns due to COVID-19, whether it was better to cancel the IIHF Women's World Championship before the event starts or after it began as Nova Scotia goes into a hard lockdown, the craziness of the QMJHL allowing fans to watch games, Avangard Omsk winning the Gagarin Cup in what might be the weirdest year for any team, Brandin Cote being selected as the heir apparent to succeed Mike Babcock at the University of Saskatchewan, why Mike Babcock hasn't been trumpeting the Huskies program, Gerard Gallant getting the call for Canada with our own selfish wants, Florence Schelling being relieved of duties at Bern, a couple of veteran players leaving the University of Regina women's program, the NWHL doubling the salary cap without turning a profit in six season, and we finish off with some EBUG laughter! It's a busy show as we dig into these stories, so make sure you tune in on one of 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via UMFM.com at 5:30pm CT!

I didn't mention it on the show, but we're still looking to help St. Adolphe so they can bring hockey back in October. The St. Adolphe Community Club has started a crowdfunding effort on Amilia to help raise some money. The cool part is that if you donate $50 or more, not only are you helping St. Adolphe reach their goal so they can make repairs, upgrades, and improvements, but you'll also receive a tax receipt as well! Make sure you check out their website, their Facebook page, and follow both the St. Adolphe Twitter account and Instagram account for all the lastest news on their fundraising efforts and the repairs to the rink!

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 Jason break down new TV deals, more COVID craziness, new KHL champions, a new coach in Saskatchewan, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: April 29, 2021: Episode 449

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

The New Face Of Hockey On TNT

When a new person is hired at any company, it's always good to see people lending a hand and helping that person settling into his or her new role. I've been in that situation before, and it makes the initial apprehension of getting into the swing of things that much easier. Occasionally, mistakes will happen, and I know I've called someone by the wrong name in my first few days at a job because I hadn't yet gotten everyone's names straight, but those people were really good about it and we can laugh about it now. Little mistakes like that will happen when you're new to any workplace and you can't let those moments of "oops" ruin the day or experience.

With the NHL announcing the new broadcastingn deal with Turner Sports today, there were some real eyebrows raised at the amount of money and services that Turner Sports will be giving the NHL when it comes to the deal. Don't get me wrong: this is good for the NHL when it comes to getting their product out to the public through as many broadcast offerings as they can find, so you'd expect that Turner Sports was going to be excited about having the NHL on its networks.

Turner Sports, in that thought, published this graphic near the end of their NBA on TNT broadcast this evening, and, well....
You may look at that graphic and think, "I don't see the problem here, Teebz." To that, I would implore you to look a little closer at the number worn by the captain of the Edmonton Oilers, though, because Connor McDavid, current captain of the Edmonton Oilers, doesn't have a "2" in the number he wears on the ice. Nor has he ever worn a "2" in his career.

That #21 Oilers captain is defenceman Andrew Ference who captained the Oilers prior to his retirement in 2015-16. While Ference was a very serviceable defender during his time in the NHL, I'm not certain that the NHL wants him as the face of the NHL on TNT, most notably because he's been retired for five years and won't play another second in the NHL when TNT begins its broadcasting contract.

As the new employee walking around the NHL Offices, you can probably forgive Turner Sports for calling the guy in cubicle 21 by the wrong name, but I would think it's much harder to mess up who McDavid and Ference are since the only common thing they share is captaining the Edmonton Oilers. Adn whoever signed off on this graphic designed by some employee below them also needs a crash course on the NHL's most biggest and marketable stars.

My congratulations go out to Andrew Ference, the new face of the NHL on TNT! As for Connor McDavid, he'll have to win a few more scoring titles and a Stanley Cup before Turner Sports will recognize his excellence in the game. Standards have to be met, after all.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

The Best Shot Of My Career

I had Bon Jovi's song Livin' On A Prayer playing in my head as I drove home yesterday after getting my first vaccination against COVID-19 as I'm now halfway to being fully vaccinated. I have to say that the process was fairly easy with how it was setup, and the longest part of the experience was the fifteen-minute wait after taking the shot. There was very little pain, the people working at the location I was at were quite pleasant, and the side effects hae been very minimal. If you're eligible, sign up for your vaccination as soon as possible because if we're all vaccinated, things start getting back to normal. Honestly, I think we're due for some normal after the year we've had.

I added a comment on Facebook earlier that reads,
"In order to anger all the conspiracy theorists, I went and got the microchip implanted so the government can track my whereabouts on a daily basis. I'll still wear a mask because I'm not fully down with your psychotic regiment of beliefs, but, to make it easier for you to avoid me, at least you can track me on your GPS with this new microchip. Happy vaccinations!"
As much as I joke about conspiracy theorists, I'm still trying to sort out this vaccines hesitancy we're seeing from people when we know that it makes things safer with regards to COVID-19. Is it a panacea that cures all? No, but nothing ever is and we need to be mindful that there's still a chance one can catch COVID-19 despite being vaccinated.

What the vaccine does, though, is gives you a better chance to not catch COVID-19 than what your natural immune system can offer, and that's the key in fighting a virus for which the immune system in the human body has no natural defence. Vaccinations work, and there's a good example that affected Canadians from the past that we should remember.

If you're reading this, you likely have very little experience with polio which rampaged through North America in the 1950s. According to the Canadian Public Health Association,
"An estimated 11,000 people in Canada were left paralyzed by polio between 1949 and 1954. The disease peaked in 1953 with nearly 9,000 cases and 500 deaths -- the most serious national epidemic since the 1918 influenza pandemic. The last major polio epidemic in Canada occurred in 1959, with nearly 2,000 paralytic cases."
Those are pretty significant numbers for hospitals to handle back in the 1950s, and it took some serious work by Jonas Salk and Albert Bruce Sabin when they introduced vaccines that prevented the poliovirus from infecting people.

Flash-forward some seventy years to today, and polio is officially a "dead virus" with cases being non-existent in Canada with the country being certified "polio free" in 1994. This wouldn't have happened without vaccines and vaccine research, and the overall health of Canadians and people across the world improved with the development of Salk's and Sabin's vaccines.

What I'm illustrating with that example is that vaccines do work in eradicating particularly nasty viruses such as COVID-19. It's already known that NHL players on the US side of the border are being vaccinated as they play through this season, so a large number of your hockey heroes are already doing their parts to aid in the eradication of coronavirus. As the US teams get more and more vaccinated, the number of players appearing on the NHL's COVID-19 list from those teams is being reduced significantly.

And that's where you and I come in as hockey fans because we can do our part as well by getting vaccinated. As more and more fans get vaccinated, areans begin to open up, health restrictions are rolled back, and we can gather with friends to cheer on our teams as they look to capture the Stanley Cup. By refusing to get vaccinated or by being hesitant in the vaccination process, you're slowing that effort for society to return to some sort of normalcy which, as stated above, I believe we all crave after a full year of having to avoid one another and remain distant from one another.

As much as this article is a public service announcement reminding you to get vaccinated and stop being selfish, it's also a plea to help society return to normal as we begin the process of eradicating this coronavirus. Like polio, the eradication of COVID-19 won't happen overnight or within the year, but we can put serious roadblocks in place when it comes to cases of infections by getting vaccinated. As more and more people get vaccinated, the virus has less hosts in which it can incubate and spread, and this is how we kill a highly-transmittable virus using modern medicine.

Get your vaccination if you're eligible. You owe it to yourself, your family, your friends, and society when it comes to doing the right thing here, and I assure you that there are no microchips implanted in me, new growths emerging off me, or any other result based solely in wild fantasy. It's been twelve hours since I was vaccinated, and nothing significantly negative has happened to me yet.

I'm healthier today than I was yesterday because I went and got vaccinated. While we're not out of the woods yet when it comes to this virus, we can certainly make it much harder for it to remain a part of our lives and a daily news story if we all get vaccinated. And we'll be that much closer to normal lives once again.

Until next time, get the shot in your arm!

Monday, 26 April 2021

Is This Another "Make Right"?

I was scrolling Twitter tonight as the Jets were getting bombed by Connor McDavid and the Oilers, and I discovered an interesting bit of news that was posted by Sean Shapiro of The Athletic and repeated by TSN's Bob McKenzie that NBC was out of the running for NHL broadcast rights in the US, replaced by Turner Sports, better known on TV as TNT and TBS. If this is true - and I have zero reason to doubt either of these men - this represents a significant shift in how the NHL will reach eyeballs in the coming years as both ESPN, who bought rights earlier this year, and Turner own significant streaming platforms.

Turner has seen incredible success with the NBA on TNT, and they have carried both NCAA basketball Final Four tournament action on TNT and TBS as well as MLB's championship series during baseball's postseason. The expertise in producing high-quality sports programming is there, but I'm not sure anyone saw Turner stepping to the front of the negotiations for NHL rights with the likes of Fox Sports, NBC, and CBS all kicking tires on a new NHL deal.

The NHL, it seems, was interested not only in television broadcast rights, but a digital platform for its business as well. With Warner owning both Turner Sports and HBO, which partnered with the NHL for the 24/7 series, the NHL is gaining a partner it already has dealt with on one occasion, and the results came out pretty favorably in that particular instance. With HBO Max available to the NHL like the Disney+ platform was in the ESPN deal, it puts the NHL's product and productions on two fairly lucrative streaming services in the US.

While details will likely emerge in the days following this breaking news, it remains to be seen if there's an opportunity like this in Canada when one considers that TSN and Rogers Sportsnet are the two main sports networks in the Great White North. As we know, Sportsnet hasn't found their deal with the NHL to be as rewarding as they hoped, so perhaps they're willing to open the door to TSN to reduce the amount of risk associated with monopolizing the NHL on one network in Canada.

It's very unlikely that any entity would outbid either Bell Media or Rogers Communications in an effort to take the NHL away from them, so I'm curious to see how the NHL treats future negotiations in Canada after they diversified their content across several networks in the US. With Rogers standing on the precipice for a deal to acquire Shaw Communications and its properties, there might be one less billion-dollar conglomerate on the Canadian media stage when it comes time for those negotiations to begin as well.

I'm curious to see how the NHL uses this new-found revenue when it comes to re-investing in the game. Will we see a chunk of this money go towards women's hockey and youth hockey initiatives and programs? Will this money be used to line the pockets of 32 NHL owners as they seek to restore the wealth they believe they lost over the pandemic?

I know the easy thing to do is to take this money and run, but the NHL isn't the only league that has been affected by the pandemic as the AHL say its players playing for 48% of the value of their normal contracts in order to make ends meet. Will we see NHL owners step up and fill the other 52% of those contracts with this new-found pile of cash?

Are we ever going to hear serious talk from the NHL about a professional women's league? With all of the streaming options they have available to them, the opportunity to have a professional women's league seen by more eyes has never been greater. With the ability to stream and broadcast across multiple networks, one has to wonder if these questions were asked by broadcasters during the negotiations. I'm hoping they were, but we'll likely only know if the NHL's radio silence on a professional women's league remains intact.

Whatever the case may be for women's hockey, you'll now be able to catch more hockey on TNT and TBS and HBO Max and wherever else Turner Sports wants to inject it. I do hope that women's hockey will find its way into these deals, but I shouldn't hold my breath. The NHL looks out for the NHL first, and it seems they have their TV deals with ESPN and Turner Sports locked up for the foreseeable future with long-term dollars rolling into its bank account.

When NHL owners cry poor and want to "make right" while selling off pieces of their uniforms for advertising, point to the billion dollars annually the NHL receives in broadcasts and tell them to pound sand. No one, especially those hard-done-by owners, is losing money in the NHL when broadcast deals promising hundreds of millions of dollars are being signed in the midst of a pandemic.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Next Man Up

It isn't often that we get to see NHL teams scramble mid-game for a replacement goalie, but the action last night resulted in two teams - one in the NHL and one in the AHL - needing goalies in a pinch. With fans limited in nearly all arenas, the Emergency Back-Up Goalie, or EBUG, was called off this season for pandemic reasons and because teams are carrying a taxi squad. The question becomes what does a team do if the taxi squad doesn't have a goalie on it or if, in the AHL's case, there is no taxi squad to call upon in an emergency?

We'll start in the NHL where a familiar face in the lineup was spotted in a rather unfamiliar place midway through the game. In the Ottawa-Vancouver game yesterday evening, Ottawa starting netminder Anton Forsberg was injured while warming up before the game, forcing the Senators to turn to Matt Murray while quickly dressing Marcus Hogberg as the back-up netminder prior to the start of the game.

When Murray was injured in the second period, the Senators brought Hogberg in to protect the net, leaving the backup netminder's seat empty. As you're aware, the NHL requires teams to have a dressed back-up netminder, so the Senators went back to the pressbox where they chose forward Artem Anisimov as their new backup netminder!

One would likely expect the Senators to turn to a goalie coach before throwing a non-goaltender into an NHL net, but Senators head coach DJ Smith explained that new goalie coach Zac Bierk wasn't an option.

"We didn't have anyone left," Smith explained after the game. "A lot of people would think Zac Bierk, the goalie coach played in the NHL but he had three hip surgeries, he's got a bad ear from a shot in the head as a player so he's not an option. So we really didn't have anyone left."

Down to the locker room went Anisimov where he got assistance in getting all the goalie gear on, but the 32 year-old wasn't needed by the Senators for the remainder of the game for which he likely was thankful. Hogberg finished the game with Anisimov fully dressed in the locker room area where he stretched and got a little more limber in case he was needed despite coming to the rink thinking he had the night off. Again, it's not often that a team would want a position player to ever be thrust into action in a position that he doesn't play, but the Senators needed a goalie and Anisimov was a good sport about helping his team in this emergency situation. And to be honest, he actually looks like he could be a goalie based on how he's standing in all that gear!

The Senators returned to the dressing room post-game to find the still-dressed Anisimov waiting for them in full gear which got some good laughs out of the players. With the Senators dropping the 4-2 decision to the Canucks, Anisimov's new look might have been the perfect remedy for the tension that the players felt after a loss. I wouldn't expect Ottawa to dress him as a goalie any time in the future, though!

If you're looking for a jersey cameo, Anisimov normally wears #51 for the Senators, but he was assigned #32 as a goalie! Watch for "#32 Anisimov" jerseys in the future by Senators fans!

The other incident saw the AHL's Henderson Silver Knights visiting the San Diego Gulls last night where things got a little crazy for the Silver Knights. Logan Thompson, the former Brock University and Brandon Wheat Kings netminder, was ruled out of the game last night prior to the AHL contest, meaning the Silver Knights were down to one netminder while on the road with Oskar Dansk travelling with the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights' taxi squad.

The change pushed Jiri Patera into the crease for the Silver Knights, but they needed back-up netminder. And for that player, they got a guy with a little experience under his belt when they turned to former NHL netminder and current Henderson goaltending coach Fred Brathwaite!

The 48 year-old Brathwaite donned equipment and wore his old Atlanta Thrashers mask as he took the ice for a professional hockey game for the first time since 2011-12 when he last suited up for the DEL's Adler Mannheim. His last NHL action was in 2003-04 when he played with the Columbus Blue Jackets while his last North American game was in 2007-08 with the AHL's Chicago Wolves. Needless to say, there were some surprised folks when Brathwaite stepped onto the ice in San Diego with the image above capturing Brathwaite chatting with 21-year-old Anaheim Ducks goaltending prospect Olle Eriksson Ek!

Like Anisimov, Brathwaite didn't see any action in the game last night between the Silver Knights and Gulls, and the Gulls went on to win the game by a 4-1 score. According to the boxscore, Brathwaite wore #34 for this game, so perhaps we'll see a few "#34 Brathwaite" jerseys at some point as well? One can only hope as jersey cameos are awesome!

The good news is that Oscar Dansk is back in Henderson today as the Gulls host the Silver Knights once again, and Dansk did get the start today. Freddy Brathwaite can return to his comfy seat high above the ice and not have to worry about muscle pulls or stopping pucks tonight.

How cool is it that we got two EBUG situations in two different leagues on the same night? Honestly, EBUG situations make the game fun, and I would love to see more of them. I know NHL and AHL teams don't share that sentiment, but it's a fun piece of the game that always adds excitement when it comes into play! Viva the EBUG!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 24 April 2021

They Share Arenas

There aren't many sports that share a common home. NFL teams don't usually give up their home fields to any other teams, and Major League Baseball has homes that are entirely suited for baseball as opposed to other sports. There are a handful that crossover, but none moreso than basketball and hockey. There are eleven arenas that have both an NBA team and an NHL team that call those arenas home, so it struck me that there might be a logo mashup opportunity here as we inject some Canada West into NBA logos!

I'll be honest in telling everyone that, outside of the main stories that appear on sports highlight shows, my knowledge of the NBA isn't what it once was when I was in high school playing basketball (poorly). I know where the stars play and who scored 41 points last night thanks to SportsCentre and Sports Central, but I haven't careda about the NBA since I shelved my Air Jordan XII shoes and retired my rather mediocre game. And yes, I had to look up what model of Jordans I own because I didn't commit that to memory.

My lack of knowledge not withstanding, I do know that the NBA has some of the more unique logos in the professional sports world, so I went out searching for NBA teams whose logos would represent the Canada West teams I follow closely. With some Photoshopping, I can proudly say that all nine Canada West hockey teams now have an NBA-style logo that they can claim.

Will they? Probably not since my artistic skills are still very limited, but let's take a peek at what the Canada West women's hockey teams would look like if they were represented by NBA logos!

UBC Thunderbirds

NBA Team: Atlanta Hawks

The Thunderbirds have a decent logo, but I've always felt that they should be an angrier bird based on how they play the game on the ice. They're fast, they're physical, they can score in bunches, and they don't shy away from the areas of the ice where things get gritty. That being said, the Atlanta Hawks have a great logo on which one can base the T-Birds' logo as the angrier Hawk looks good in Thunderbirds' colours. Teams will fear the T-Birds with that logo!

Trinity Western Spartans

NBA Team: Golden State Warriors

There was only one team who used a spartan-like logo in the history of the NBA, so this made it pretty easy to choose the stylized Golden State Warrirors logo for the Spartans. With Trinity Western Spartans jumping into U SPORTS for the 2021-22 season with a number of young players, the program will look to emulate the recent success of the Golden State Warriors which saw a number of young, talented players form the foundation upon which the program will build and, perhaps, win championships as well!

Alberta Pandas

NBA Team: Memphis Grizzlies

Like the Spartans, there aren't a lot of bears to choose from in the NBA logos, so the Grizzlies get the nod by default. Whereas the Grizzlies are relatively new to the NBA in terms of their founding in Vancouver, the longevity of the Pandas program has seen Howie Draper build a program that no longer defines excellence in terms of wins and losses, but in championships won. Like the NBA franchise, there's a bit of a rebuild happening with the Pandas as they've recently seen a number of talented players graduate out of the program, but there's never a time where one can or should count the Pandas out of the hunt for another championship banner.

MacEwan Griffins

NBA Team: New Orleans Pelicans

A little imagination went into this design as there has never been a griffin/gryphon logo in the NBA that I can recall, but the New Orleans Pelicans' logo fits nicely for what we're trying to accomplish here! Like the Pelicans, the Griffins are one of the new teams in the Canada West circuit, and it's expected they'll play hard and fast like the NBA team does. The Griffins will need to adjust quickly to the pace and style of Canada West after winning the ACAC three years in a row, but there's enough talent on this roster that they'll be able to run-and-gun with the best of Canada West.

Calgary Dinos

NBA Team: Toronto Raptors

There should be zero surprise about which NBA team was chosen to represent the Calgary Dinos. The Raptors have begun the rebuild after winning the NBA Championship, and the Dinos have just gone through their own rebuild after winning the U SPORTS National Championship. The Dinos have assembled some very good talent to give them the ability to play any style of game, and the reigning CanWest Player of the Year is still protecting the net for them. After some lean years, might this be the year that the Dinos rule the conference once more?

Mount Royal Cougars

NBA Team: Charlotte Bobcats

Surprisingly, there are very few cat logos in the NBA. I had to pull this off the defunct logos pile, but the front-facing Charlotte Bobcats logo is very similar to the front-facing Mount Royal Cougars logo. The Cougars had been the newest team in Canada West, joining the fray in 2012-13, two seasons before the Bobcats, the newest team in the NBA in 2004, changed their name and logo to "Hornets" as a return to their previous incarnation. While both teams went through some growing pains, the Cougars have since elevated their games to new heights with their first trip to the U SPORTS National Championship. This won't be the last time we're talking about the Cougars pushing for a national title.

Saskatchewan Huskies

NBA Team: Minnesota Timberwolves

Like the cats, there aren't many dog logos in the NBA, so the Timberwolves are the default for the Huskies. This NBA franchise seems stuck in neutral which is very unlike the Saksatchewan Huskies who are always in the mix for a conference championship. The similarity, however, is that both have very few banners to hang in their arenas as the Huskies have captured the Canada West title just once in 2013-14 while the T-Wolves have just one division title that came in 2004. Unlike the NBA team, though, the Huskies are well-coached and have a deep roster of talent that will put them in the conversation for a championship again this season. Could it be a green-and-white year?

Regina Cougars

NBA Team: Charlotte Bobcats

Again, very few cats means very few logos, so I had to grab a second Bobcats logo to make the NBA-style Regina Cougars work. Honestly, though, if the Cougars had a logo like this, I might defect to become a Cougars fan because this one looks pretty darn good! Like the Bobcats, the Cougars have seen some leaner years in recent times as they work to restock the roster after some key departures, but the recruits like one of the best classes they've had in years. Combine that with the players they added one season ago, and the foundation for the Cougars looks stronger than ever. If they find these younger players find their scoring, this Cougars team could be dangerous for years to come!

Manitoba Bisons

NBA Team: Chicago Bulls

Admittedly, the creative liberties taken with the Chicago Bulls logo here were many in order to turn the Bulls into the Bisons. Like the Bulls, the Bisons are restocking their roster as well following a long and successful run that saw them win a U SPORTS National Championship and play in a second National Championship tournament. The rebuild appears to be strong with a number of quality recruits in the mix for 2021-22, and that bodes well for a return to championship status. There aren't any Jordan- or Pippen-type players on the roster for either club, but the road to a championship will come from solid teamwork, growth as a squad, and overcoming some challenges that will make them better in the long run!

That's a second Photoshop article in a week as I look to improve my skills in that area. Granted, any new skill learned would be an improvement since I have very few in the Photoshop department, but "a win is a win" as the saying goes. I'm not complaining about learning new skills.

Are these logos winners? Let me know in the comments as HBIC gets a very slight dose of basketball on the page today. Of course, you might be a basketball traditionalist and hate all these, and that's ok too. Discussion is good! Let me know if I missed on any other logos that could have been used as well since my NBA knowledge is about as deep as my Photoshop knowledge is!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 23 April 2021

Two Sides Can Be Right

If you're into math and geometry, you're likely well aware that the image to the left is a right triangle as characterized by the right angle formed by two sides. Like all triangles, it also has three sides, and this is probably a perfect way to illustrate the battle between the province of Nova Scotia, the IIHF, and the women who were supposed to compete at the IIHF Women's World Championship in Halifax and Truro in two weeks. The key in this battle between the three entities is that two sides are right while one needs to do a little math on its side in order to get right. At this point in time, though, one of these three sides should be shouldering most of the blame in having the tournament cancelled.

On Wednesday, Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin banned all travel coming into the province over fears of a growing number of cases of COVID-19 in the maritime proince. That obviously meant that the nine non-Canadian teams would not be able to travel to the province which was the catalyst for the IIHF announcing that the tournament had been cancelled.

Players and the IIHF were outraged at Rankin's decision, but we need to be mindful that Rankin is responsible for the health and well-being of the people of Nova Scotia, and one hockey tournament is not really going to sway his decision-making when it comes to looking after his constituents. Nova Scotia had been one of the most careful provinces when it came to testing and the total number of cases, but the trend in the last week has been anything but good when one looks at the spike.
There were two new cases on April 13 compared to today which saw 52 new cases. They had jumped from 15 cases on the 18th to 36 cases on Wednesday when Rankin made the announcement, and the overly-cautious Nova Scotia government made the right call here based on what we know about how fast some of the new COVID-19 variants can spread and be transmitted.

"There was not one positive case," Kendall Coyne Schofield tweeted on Thursday. "Every single country, player and staff member committed to the protocols the Nova Scotia health officials outlined and we successfully did everything that was asked of us in order to safely compete – until we were told we couldn't."

It's wonderful that Coyne and her teammates and the players coming to Nova Scotia were following the rules, but these countries are guests in Nova Scotia where Nova Scotia makes the rules. Nova Scotia saw a problem in their new case trends and decided to lockdown before things get out of control when it comes to their ability to admit and help patients in their medical facilities. This is responsible governing by Rankin despite having the players and staff from every country following the strict protocols set out by Nova Scotia.

Personally, I applaud Rankin for not bowing to pressure from various hockey governing bodies and doing what's right for the people of the province of Nova Scotia. I have used this line on this blog before, but what's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.

The other side of this coin, though, is the second portion of Coyne's tweet where she stated, "... to learn that was there was no contingency plan and the IIHF is letting 250 of the best players in the world return to their homes today with, 'We are seeking new dates,' is simply unacceptable."

I agree wholeheartedly with her on this stance because the IIHF should have had multiple plans in place because we've seen COVID-19 upend a number of events across the world. The IIHF came out today and tried to defend the reason for not having one, and, to be frank, the reason comes across as a little flimsy.

"The IIHF is not in agreement with the government's position insofar as we had done everything necessary to install the proper COVID-19 safety precautions in place and remained in close communication with the relevant government and health authorities and with Hockey Canada throughout the preparation stage," IIHF president Rene Fasel said in a statement today. "As both the IIHF and Hockey Canada had assurances that this event was going to proceed a few days before the cancellation announcement, this news was completely unexpected."

As I've already made clear above, the government of Nova Scotia has zero responsibility for making sure this tournament happens, and, with respect to this pandemic, pretty much every date set for something to happen has become fluid. With everything changing based upon case numbers and public health safety on a day-to-day basis, locking in on this date happening, especially with the emergence of highly-transmissable variants leading to a third wave of infections across North America, seems especially foolish given the IIHF's experiences in Edmonton with the World Junior Championship.

That being said, I will defend the IIHF when Fasel stated that planning a second location for the tournament in the event this one was cancelled was "just not possible from an expense and logistical perspective". That's entirely understandable because a tournament of this magnitude takes months of planning and coordination to have everything go off without a hitch. Having a second site with those same logistics ready to go would mean that all of that time and effort to pull that off would have been wasted effort, and I don't believe the IIHF wants to waste that kind of manpower.

The cost part? Meh. I don't buy it. If the IIHF can run the U18 World Championship in Dallas without any fans in the stands, this is less about the costs to run tournaments. The IIHF isn't making money off the ticket sales, so it's clearly cashing in on the television revenue it gets. So let's be honest about cost: if this tournament didn't have every game aired on TSN and the NHL Network, would it have happened? I only ask because the U18 Women's World Championship was cancelled, and it doesn't have the same TV deal to cover those games, so am I connecting the dots correctly here, IIHF?

That leads me back to Coyne's statement and wonder why secondary, future locations hadn't been scouted for an event like this in case the tournament was cancelled with TSN and the NHL network holding broadcast rights for this event. Finding arenas wouldn't be an issue in May for most non-NHL cities, and there's absolutely zero worry about arena size with no fans being allowed into the event. Really, the costs wouldn't have been all that prohibitive if a little long-term planning had been done since the IIHF could use NCAA rinks quite easily to make this tournament happen.

It seems awfully ignorant of the IIHF to just assume that because they got assurances days before the event was ready to go, this tournament wouldn't be affected by a growing number of positive cases in Nova Scotia. On top of that, the IIHF had already seen the World Junior Championship affected in a big way after they had assured everyone that the bubble was safe for players, so I am baffled at the IIHF's cavalier response to a Canadian premier doing the right thing for his people.

As it stands now, the rumour is that the IIHF will look at alternate sites for the IIHF Women's World Championship with a summer date for the tournament to be played. I'm hopeful we'll still get to see the best women in the world come together and have this tournament, but we really really need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture here in that it's a luxury for these women to be able to play when the vast majority of the world hasn't been allowed to set foot inside a hockey rink.

Like the right triangle at the top, two sides are right here: Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin is right in looking out for the good of all Nova Scotians, and the women who questioned the IIHF are right in asking why the IIHF didn't have a backup plan. Both sides can be right in this situation because both things - the health of the public in Nova Scotia and the outrage shown by the women - are independent of each other when it comes to finding a solution of this problem.

At the end of the day, the IIHF needs to get this tournament rescheduled as soon as humanly possible because it seems like the IIHF is all about creating double-standards when it comes to hockey being for everyone.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 22 April 2021

The Hockey Show - Episode 448

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, hits the UMFM airwaves tonight with another show where Teebz and Jenna sort out all the crazy news from around the hockey world. We joked prior to this show about how we should just call it The COVID-19 Show since everything in hockey is affected by this, so you likely know on what the main stories of tonight's show will center. That being said, it's a busy show with some fun and crazy stories, so let's get this thing rolling!

On tonight's show, Teebz and Jenna discuss Nova Scotia shutting down the Women's World Hockey Championship and why it's the right thing to do despite the outrage seen online, how the Canadian Hockey League's three conferences are handling the COVID situation with seasons coming to a close, the business of hockey rears its ridiculously ugly face once more as the NHL toys with ads on jerseys, the Calgary Flames and the city of Calgary need to figure out who is paying for cost overruns on their new arena, Patrick Marleau gets some congratulations from The Hockey Show, the Jets can't beat the Oilers, the Leafs can't be anyone right now, some AHL news from the west coast, and something to make everyone feel old! It's a busy show as we dig into these stories, so make sure you tune in on one of 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via UMFM.com at 5:30pm CT!

We're still pumping St. Adolphe in order to help their efforts to bring hockey back in October. The St. Adolphe Community Club has started a crowdfunding effort on Amilia to help raise some money. The cool part is that if you donate $50 or more, not only are you helping St. Adolphe reach their goal so they can make repairs, upgrades, and improvements, but you'll also receive a tax receipt as well! Make sure you check out their website, their Facebook page, and follow both the St. Adolphe Twitter account and Instagram account for all the lastest news on their fundraising efforts and the repairs to the rink!

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 look at COVID outrage, COVID insanity, great achievements, terrible ideas, poor planning, winning, losing, new places, new faces, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: April 22, 2021: Episode 448

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

No Mickey Mouse Teams

By now, we all know that the Anaheim Ducks came to be in the NHL due to the Walt Disney Corporation buying an expansion franchise in Anaheim. After the surprising success of the Mighty Ducks franchise, the NHL decided that hockey was something they wanted to explore, and they made that happen when they announced the team name on March 1, 1993. None of that has anything do with Canada West, of course, but four years after the Mighty Ducks broke into the NHL, Canadian Interuniversity Sports - the old name for U SPORTS - got its act together and began running the National Women's Hockey Championship annually which has seen some amazing performance by a number of teams at the tournament, most notably by Canada West teams!

With ten championships won by Canada West, that conference holds the lead at National Championship tournaments for winners. The RSEQ is right behind them with eight championships while the OUA has four to its name. The AUS has yet to bring home a championship, but they've been in one final as the St. Francis-Xavier X-Women fell to Wilfred Laurier in 2011, but there are great programs currently being built on the east coast!

Because Canada West holds the championship lead right now and because I started yapping about Disney and hockey, it's time for another mashup of pop culture and Canada West teams! It's time to throw some Canada West onto Disney characters and have a chuckle about this mashup!

I want to be clear here in that there are no main characters from any Disney cartoon used for these images because it's not about the characters per se. Rather, this is about finding characters that fit the teams' needs. Every character used is a secondary character from the main protagonists with a few anatagonists used, but that should be no reflection on the team, school, players, or anything else about that program. In short, there are no evil hockey programs in the Disney-Canada West universe!

Let's have some fun with this by not taking it too seriously because here are the Canada West teams represented as Disney characters from the Disney universe!

Manitoba Bisons

Name: Junior
Movie: Home on the Range


The search for any bisons in the Disney universe proved challenging as there are cattle, African buffalo, and wildebeests used, but Junior makes for a representative for the Manitoba Bisons. Junior comes across as "very serious-minded and imperturbable" in the film which is how the Manitoba Bisons approach every game. Make no mistake, though, as both Junior and the Bisons have a fun side they show when the work is done, namely winning hockey games! Junior's dedication to his job is never questioned in the movie, and the Bisons are extremely dedicated to the game on the ice!

Regina Cougars

Name: Bagheera
Movie: The Jungle Book


Wise and protective of Mowgli, Bagheera is a blank panther. Cougars and panthers, for those in the know, have their terms interchanged depending on what part of the world from which one hails. "Cougar" is derived from an old South American Indian word, cuguacuarana, while "panther" is a general term for cats that have solid-colored coats. Unlike the Disney version of Bagheera, the Regina Cougars resemble more of the Rudyard Kipling version of the cat - sassy, cheerful, somewhat reckless, and cunning. Translated from Hindi, "Bagheera" means "black tiger" which is a good metaphor for how big the Cougars play when they hit the ice!

Saskatchewan Huskies

Name: Hansel
Movie: 101 Dalmatian Street


Hansel is from the Disney television cartoon 101 Dalmatian Street as the Disney universe doesn't have many huskies in it. That being said, Hansel is a close friend of the Dalmatian family, and is completely into poetry proving his smarts! Like Hansel, the Sasktachewan Huskies show their smarts both in the classroom and on the ice, regularly showing up on the Honour Roll and at the top of the Canada West standings. Hansel's claim of chasing cats to be "so cliche" is definitely opposite of the Saskatchewan Huskies who seem to enjoy going after the cats found in Canada West, particularly in their own province!

Calgary Dinos

Name: Tyrannosaurus Rex
Movie: Fantasia


As we know, Fantasia combines symphonic music with cartoons, and the fourth segment of Fantasia known as "The Rite of Spring" was set to Igor Stravinsky's "Le Sacre du printemps". The tyrannosaurus upsets the dinosaur world with his appearance as he's there to kill, and that's fairly similar to the Calgary Dinos as they look to feast on Canada West opponents. Without a doubt, both the T-Rex in Fantasia and the Dinos in Canada West are apex predators. And in a rather cool tie-in to the Disney universe as we go full-circle here, the Mighty Ducks television cartoon produced by Waly Disney featured an episode titled "Jurassic Puck" which had two Tyrannosaurus Rexes in it!

Mount Royal Cougars

Name: Sabor
Movie: Tarzan


Sabor is a leopard which means she can't change her spots, but she's turning into a cougar for this article. She's a feared predator in Tarzan due to her quickness and aggressiveness, and that's very similar to the Mount Royal Cougars who often strike quickly, strike often, and are always in their opponent's faces. Sabor uses speed and agility to out-duel brute strength in the film, and the Cougars do the same on the ice with their team speed in frustrating the best teams. Like Sabor, the Mount Royal Cougars are not a team with which to trifle or take lightly.

Alberta Pandas

Name: Peter the Panda
Movie: Phineas and Ferb


Peter the Panda hails from the Phineas and Ferb television cartoon, and it a secret agent from Seattle which is not Alberta. Peter, though, is entirely silent and extremely proficient at his job, making him very similar to the Alberta Pandas who quietly go about their business in dismantling the rest of Canada West. Peter and the Pandas also share a common theme in that they always seem to win over their opponents, and have traveled to exotic locales where they've down their opposition, notably for Alberta at National Championship tournaments. There may be no known way to beat Peter or the Alberta Pandas except luck.

MacEwan Griffins

Name: Mother Griffin
Movie: Aladdin


The number of griffins/gryphons in the Disney universe is very limited, but Mother Griffin from the Aladdin television series fit nicely despite looking slightly different than the MacEwan Griffin. Nonetheless, Mother Griffin shows up in Getizstan after her egg is stolen which she wants back, and it seems that the MacEwan Griffins have arrived in Canada West to recover their championship status against the eight teams who stand in their way. As Aladdin and his crew proved, it takes a team to defeat the Griffins and claim victory.

Trinity Western Spartans

Name: Apollo
Movie: Hercules


Apollo is the God of Sun in Greek mythology and dresses like a Spartan. With Disney venturing into Greek mythology so rarely, there weren't many choices for Spartans. No one will confuse Trinity Western players as goddesses in their first season, but they will certainly test the limits of their skills in every game. Not as powerful as Zeus, Apollo is seen as second-in-command on Mount Olympus, similar to how the Trinity Western Spartans will start out when compared to UBC in British Columbia. I suspect it won't be long before they're challenging UBC's reign!

UBC Thunderbirds

Name: Zazu
Movie: The Lion King


It might seem odd that I chose Zazu to represent the Thunderbirds considering that he's responsible for order in the Pride Lands in The Lion King while the Thunderbirds often seem to bring chaos to their opponents with their speed and physicality. However, if you watch the Thunderbirds in action, you'll see they are methodic, persistent, and play the game with a lot of smarts - similar characteristics to how Zazu carries himself as the royal advisor to Mufasa and Simba. While Zazu's overall arc in the original animated film is small, the Thunderbirds are always in the mix in Canada West!

Did I miss on any of these characters? Yes, I know some Pixar characters might be a better choice - Rex from Toy Story or Kevin from Up as examples - but I'm not that skilled in the Photoshopping world yet to redesign computer-animated figures with their three-dimensional bodies and shadowing and all that. Besides, the old animated-by-hand-and-cels cartoons have a certain charm that can't be reproduced by Pixar despite how good the Pixar movies are.

Notice how I never once mentioned Canada West as "the Magic Kingdom"? That seemed a little far-fetched when you consider that the Canada West teams are always in a dogfight for goals and points right down to the final buzzer in every game. That being said, some games have the elegance and flow of the monorails you see floating from theme park to theme park at DisneyWorld while other games are better suited for a soundstage full of stunts at MGM Studios!

Leave me a comment if you want to see any other characters from Disney movies mashed up with Canada West teams! Projects like this are fun and let me work on those barely-there Photoshop skills I need to improve!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Stick To Sports

I feel like Chef Ramsay right now. This has never been and never will be Political Blog In Canada, but there are times when sports really lets people down when it comes to major societal issues. Coronavirus aside, there have been bigger stories outside of sports happening, and one of those stories was the Derek Chauvin case in Minneapolis where former officer Chauvin was accused of killing George Floyd. I'm not going to get into the details of how that happened, but a verdict was returned by the jury today and Chauvin was found guilty in all three crimes with which he was charged.

The protests and clashes we saw across the US and into Canada over the treatment of Black men at the hands of law enforcement after Floyd's death is only a small part of the overall treatment of BIPOC individuals at the hands of law enforcement, and we need to be better as a society in calling out that systemic racism shown in police departments. It's not about "bad apples" or "a couple of bad seeds" in police departments; rather, this is about fixing a system that far too often targets BIPOC individuals and sees far too many needless tragedies.

Tonight, teams from across a number of professional sports leagues were publishing their statements on the events that unfolded in the Minneapolis courtroom today in order to show their solidarity with the BIPOC community. I'm not here to question the sincerity or the timing of these statements from teams and leagues because they are a part of society just as you and I are, but I do question whether teams discuss the wording they use prior to hopping on social media and publishing something like this:

I know the Winnipeg Jets are sending out a message of trying to have respectful, meaningful discussions that include the BIPOC community both within their organization and in society, but the very least they could do is frame the situation right. This was NOT "the case of George Floyd" - Floyd wasn't on trial in Minneapolis. Derek Chauvin was on trial for the murder of George Floyd, and it should be described as "the case of Derek Chauvin". We don't use the victim's name when describing the trial out of respect for the victim and the victim's family and because George Floyd never had a chance to stand before a judge and make a case before the courts.

I can accept that this may be an honest mistake by someone in the Jets' public relations department since a lot of people did colloquially refer to the case as the "George Floyd case", but this should be corrected to show the proper resepct and dignity to George Floyd that was denied by Derek Chauvin before he died. Let's get that effort to correct this wording underway, Jets, because that would be a good move with respect to having "meaningful discussion and awareness" right off the hop.

If there is one bright spot out in gaining some education out of this, the Winnipeg Jets weren't even close to the extremely disgusting tweet that the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders put out tonight. I'm not going to post the image they had on that tweet because it's beyond insensitive, but let's just say that the Raiders, as a franchise, should be embarrassed by whoever green-lit this tweet, and the person that signed off on this social media post as well whoever came up with this idea should be fired with prejudice. Both from their jobs and directly into the sun.

Maybe just stick to sports from now on, Raiders.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 19 April 2021

Patrick Marleau Day

It's hard to imagine that, back in 1997, Patrick Marleau would be standing on the precipice of a number no one in NHL history had ever recorded before. Tonight, when the Sharks and Golden Knights meet in Las Vegas, Nevada, Patrick Marleau will play one more NHL game than any other player has in the history of the league. It's a pretty remarkable feat considering the durability needed to weather 1768 games, the skill required to remain in the league that long, and the love and passion for the game after everything he's seen in 23 seasons of hockey, but Marleau will put his name in the record books atop a list that very few will ever approach, let alone challenge.

It's amazing to think about everything that's happened since 1997 when Patrick Marleau, an 18 year-old rookie with the San Jose Sharks, played his first NHL game on October 1, 1997 against the Edmonton Oilers in San Jose that the Oilers would wind up winning by a 5-3 score. From major world events to stories that rocked the hockey landscape, Patrick Marleau's presence in the NHL has been a constant that the NHL has welcomed back year after year.

Let's be honest when we speak of this record, though, and point out that Marleau's new record should stand for some time. Joe Thornton is 99 games behind Marleau after tonight's game as the active player who has the second-most games-played while Zdeno Chara is sitting in third-place some 170 games back of Marleau. All three of those players entered the league in 1997, and it's likely that none of them will see many more seasons of action. The player in fourth-place? Eric Staal who trails Marleau by nearly 500 games. I'm not going to say that whatever number at which Marleau finally stops is unbreakable, but it's getting close to that word.

"I am strictly one day at a time and I've been in that mode for five years," Joe Thornton told Mike Zeisberger of NHL.com this past weekend as he laughed. "It's a good mindset to have. Having said that, it's really hard to believe 'Patty' is going to pass Gordie Howe. It's really cool."

Scratch one name off the list of players who had a shot at overtaking Marleau as Thornton pays some real respect to his long-time friend and teammate, stating, "He's going to be one of those guys throughout my lifetime that I'm always going to check on to make sure everything's going good. That's a good friend to have."

I'll be the first to say that I am doubtful that Marleau will take a shot at breaking Gordie Howe's all-time record for professional games played as Howe also spent six seasons in the World Hockey Association where he added another 419 games to his total. However, Gordie Howe was also a once-in-a-forever kind of players, so seeing Marleau surpass one of the all-time best players to have ever skated on NHL ice is a level of history one rarely gets to witness. For me, I'll be tuned in tonight to take in this moment because I may never witness it again.

To give you an idea of how long Patrick Marleau has been in the league, it would be 11 months before anyone could Google Patrick Marleau as the search engine was unveiled to the world on September 4, 1998. Ties were still a thing in the NHL as the New York Rangers became the first team in NHL history to open a season with four-straight ties in 1997. The Carolina Hurricanes, a team that Marleau would be briefly traded to in 2019, would play their first game on October 1, 1997 as well, losing 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. But it would be an event two days later - October 3, 1997 - that brings this story full circle.

On that date in hockey history, Gordie Howe, seen to the right, would suit up with the IHL's Detroit Vipers at the age of 69, allowing him to play professional hockey in six decades! Howe would play in just two shifts in the IHL game, but the very appreciative 20,182 hockey fans in the Palace of Auburn Hills showered Howe with an ovation prior to the game and every time he touched the puck. It would be a bittersweet night as the Kansas City Blades won the game in a shootout, but Howe was quick to praise the fans who turned out to see him skate in one final game - one in which he didn't record a point - in his illustrious and amazing career.

"That was beautiful," Howe said after the game. "You always want to be in touch with the fans. The greeting was terrific."

That respect shown by the fans in Michigan that night towards Gordie Howe is the same respect we all should give Patrick Marleau for dazzling us, entertaining us, wow-ing us, and bringing us to our feet for 23 seasons. While Marleau won't be seen as one of the all-time greats in the game for his scoring exploits like Howe was, there's no doubt that Patrick Marleau is Hockey Hall of Fame-bound just as Howe has been enshrined because he's been a part of so many magical hockey moments.

For a couple of kids from rural Saskatchewan who simply loved to play the game, they have certainly seen it all in their times playing this game, and it's pretty amazing to think that Patrick Marleau's run towards breaking Howe's record started just two days before Howe played his final game ever. It's almost like Howe passed him the torch in October that season when it came to longevity and playing this great game.

Congratulations, Patrick Marleau, on setting the new mark for games played in a career tonight, and here's hoping that this season won't be your last in the NHL as you march towards an 1800th game in your career!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 18 April 2021

A Year Without Concerts

It's hard to believe that the vast majority of us have gone a full year without seeing a live event whether it be sports, theatre, or a concert. While people are being vaccinated with the hope of returning to a somewhat-normal life, I'm not sure anything will feel normal again after this year. The one thing that I've use to remain relatively sane is music, and it's through music that I've found new bands, new sounds, and new tracks and albums that are shaping my musical tastes going forward. Being that this is a hockey blog, though, let's mashup a little hockey and music as we take another fun look at musicians with hockey jerseys!

We'll start with the late, great Eddie Van Halen who passed away on October 6, 2020. Eddie was the lead guitarist for the band Van Halen, and certainly earned his place among some of the greatest musicians and guitar players that have ever been seen or heard. The fun part is that Eddie Van Halen had worn some hockey jerseys in his time. He sported a Flyers jersey in Phildelphia and added a Whalers jersey while playing in Hartford. Rest in peace, Eddie. You were gone far too soon.

Snoop Dogg is back in this article as he sports a couple of Canadian major junior hockey jerseys today. He's Snoop Dogg in an OHL Peterborough Petes jersey. He also wore a WHL Saskatoon Blades jersey! Look good, Snoop, while repping the OHL and WHL clubs!

I have to admit that I'm not well-versed in the rap scene, but Palestinian-born Canadian rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer Belly seems to be a bit of a big deal. In 2007, he wrote and released a single called "Bandwagon" during the Ottawa Senators' playoff run that saw a second version released following the playoffs that featured then-Senators netminder Ray Emery. He earned a Juno Award at the 2008 Junos for Rap Recording of the Year, so it's pretty clear that Belly has some talent. Being that he's from Ottawa, here's Belly performing at a rally for the Senators while wearing a Senators jersey!

Speaking of rappers, it's no secret that Li'l Jon is a hockey fan. Here he is sporting an Atlanta Flames jersey. He also shows some love for the Anaheim Ducks!

Continuing on the rap/hip hop scene, here's Kanye West showing off his Winged Wheel as a member of the Red Wings army.

We get a glimpse of Method Man in a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey as he performs. I believe this was from an MTV performance.

The late DMX must have been a Georges Laraque fan because the rap star had an Oilers jersey with Laraque's number!

Again, I don't know his music, but German-born American rapper J. Cole has been called "one of the most influential rappers of his generation". He also appears to be a Tampa Bay Lightning fan!

Cheryl James, better know by her stage name "Salt", was one of the three influential women who made up Salt-N-Pepa. While she called New York City home after being born there and growing up there, she may have rattled a few cages when she showed off her New Jersey Devils jersey at The Espys!

Tupac Shakur isn't someone whose music I got into back at the turn of the millenium, but his hockey choices will never be questioned. Tupac showed up at Club Expo during Fashion Week 2002 sporting a New York Rangers jersey!

These articles never feel right unless I post a few uniforms from people we commonly see on these lists. One of those people is Justin Bieber, and we have the Biebs making appearances in an OHL Owen Sound Attack jersey, an AHL Manitoba Moose jersey, and a Vancouver Canucks jersey. I wonder how many jerseys he actually has at this point. Does he have a separate closet for them all?

I'm never against listening to good musicians perform, and one of the best guitarists on the planet is still Carlos Santana. Back in the 1970s, there were lots of great bands who were looking to change their sound ever so slightly, and they'd ask other musicians to join them. One such band was The Grateful Dead who asked Santana who played with the Dead in 1980 on the songs "Not Fade Away", "Sugar Magnolia", and "US Blues" while sporting a magnificent Minnesota North Stars jersey!

Genesis was a solid rock band for a long time, but they seem to a little disorganized when it came to their fashion. We've seen Phil Collins in hockey sweaters before, but it's almost like there could one be one person wearing a hockey sweater at a time in their photos. Tony Banks, for example, shows up a couple of times wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater and his Vancouver Canucks sweater when no one else is wearing one, and Mike Rutherford is in his own Toronto Maple Leafs sweater in another picture. Regardless of their lack of fashion coordination, it didn't seem to affect their music in any way!

Chris Jericho, the wrestler, front his own band, Fozzy, as you likely know, and his dad is former New York Rangers legend Ted Irvine. As such, Jericho is into hockey in a big way, and he wore a Buffalo Sabres jersey while on the WWE broadcast! Am I bending the rules for this one? I am. I cannot lie.

Shawn Mendes is a pretty well-known musician thanks to his following by generations younger than I, but it seems Mendes enjoys his share of receiving hockey jerseys as well. Among the many in his closet, you'll find a 2017 Chicago Blackhawks Winter Classic jersey, a Dallas Stars jersey, a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, a Toronto Arenas jersey, and a Team Australia jersey! That last one is pretty cool - I'm kind of envious that Mendes got that one for free!

Again, someone whose music I'm entirely unfamiliar with is Olga Buzova. Reportedly, she is the most-followed Russian individual on Instagram due to her professions as media personality and singer, so I'll just roll with that description. Buzova, however, does have a personalized KHL Traktor Chelyabinsk jersey she can boast!

I was not aware that Charlie Daniels was a hockey fan in any way, but apparently the Nashville Predators have the country/bluegrass musician as a fan! Not only does he have a yellow Predators jersey, but Daniels went all-in for a Nashville Predators military appreciation jersey too! Maybe he's a bigger hockey fan than he lets on?

Cee Lo Green performed on the Jimmy Kimmel show during the Los Angeles Kings' run of Stanley Cups, and he sported a Los Angeles Kings jersey on the program, complete with the Stanley Cup Final patch!

And to end off this look at musicians in jerseys, we have our very first Reverse Retro jersey sported by a musician! Joywave lead singer Daniel Armbruster donned the new Buffalo Sabres Reverse Retro to support the team! It's just too bad that I'm posting this article on the same day that they became the first team eliminated from the 2020-21 NHL Playoffs.

There's a glimpse into a few closets where musicians are keeping their various hockey jerseys they have as wait for the opportunity for in-person concerts and events to return. If you want to see the full list of all the musicians who are wearing your favorite team's jersey, check here. As always, if you have pictures you want to submit, I'll credit you as long as that musician is not on the list already. Send any pictures you want me to include in the next article here, and we'll get your name in lights for at least one day!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Logos Mean Nothing

There's a significant difference in terms of the money spent by NHL teams compared to the teams in European leagues across that continent. European leagues don't have $85 million salary caps, for starters, so there's less need for the European leagues to drive sponsorship nationally and hold out for major television contracts. Locally, the fans and businesses are far more involved with the European teams than what we see at the NHL level, and that's where a lot of the sponsorship ads on their jerseys originate - local businesses who support the team. Will we ever see NHL teams revert to this type of sponsorship? It's doubtful, but, from a report today, don't be surprised if the NHL looks more NBA in 2022-23 than the European teams as we know it.

Mark J. Burns of Sports Business Journal reported today that "NHL jersey advertising could become a reality as early as the 2022-23 season" according to his sources. Nothing has been put in writing nor has the NHL Board of Governors voted on anything like this yet, but it became all too apparent that the league was headed in this direction after making a bundle of money off helmet ads in the past season.

According to Burns' sources, "NHL clubs have been conducting valuation work -- some with third-party sports sponsorship and marketing agencies as well as valuation firms - to determine what a jersey patch and helmet decal could both be worth before eventually providing that data to the league". If the NHL is exploring the option, you know that this is probably closer to reality than we realize, so I wouldn't pour water on this report whatsoever based on the NHL's track record.

It's very likely that the NHL will follow the NBA's lead with one sponsor's logo on each jersey in the NHL that could tie into the helmet logo sponsorship. As to where that logo goes, it would make sense that it ends up somewhere conspicuous for television cameras because all sponsors want their brand out being shown to NHL fans. If that's the case, expect to see these sponsor logos in 2022-23 because the money the NHL is making off helmets ads can be grown exponentially with jersey ads.

Personally, I think this is a giant mistake. The NHL already has the adidas logo featured prominently on the back of the collar on NHL jerseys after comapnies like Nike moved their logo from the bottom-right on the hem on the back of the jersey in the late-1990s and early-2000s. Adding another company's logo to the uniform only adds to the clutter we see on some of these uniforms already as well as pulling one's eyes off the logo in the middle of the chest. Does the logo mean nothing any longer? Does the tradition of what these uniforms and logos mean have no bearing on any of the men who now them?

To me, NHL uniforms are sacred ground - one doesn't tread there when it comes to selling that real estate to anyone. Patches for special events are entirely fine, but anyone buying space on the jersey needs to look elsewhere to spend one's money. As much as I don't like the manufacturer's logo on the back of the jersey, it's not as noticeable as a sold chunk of the jersey that will be present in images, television broadcasts, and more every time you see a player.

At what point do NHL owners stop selling off their brand to make money? The jersey, the logo, and the colours of the team are the brand of the team, and that shouldn't be sold. If an NHL owner sells a helmet and jersey sponsorship for $10 million, what does that achieve other than lining his own pockets with some extra cash? Honestly, if we've exhausted all the revenue opportunities known to man that we have to revert to selling off chunks of the jerseys for millions of dollars, the NHL has jumped the shark. It's no longer a sport - it's an advertising medium.

The only advertising that should be done on an NHL jersey is that team's logo. There is no reason for the NHL to be investigating this potential revenue source whatsoever. And spare me the whining about the money lost during this pandemic year and how expensive it is to do all the testing and ensure protocols and all that. It's a bunch of crap because we've seen how poorly the NHL has done this year in keeping players safe. Every division has been affected with some teams having been affected more than one, so the losses in revenue because the NHL pushed forward to play a season is on the owners who decided that professional hockey during a pandemic was a good idea.

Count me out of the jersey ad idea. The helmet ads were a bad idea from the moment they were suggested to the inception to execution because you know this was the slippery slope that the NHL was sliding down. And while I'm not surprised that money-hungry billionaires are on the hunt for more money, I'm just shocked that these billionaires have no regard for their own brands and no respect for the tradition of what these hockey jerseys mean.

Nothing is sacred in NHL any longer.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!