Monday, November 30, 2009

Survey says, we are all Habitants (or most of us anyways)

As the Montreal Canadiens prepare to put the wraps to their Centennial year, they can close the year out with the knowledge that after all these years, they still hold a place in the heart of many a Canadien and Canadian hockey fan.

A survey conducted by the Ipsos-Reid polling firm for the Historica-Dominion Institute has found that 33 per cent of Canadians claim allegiance to the Habs, compared to 25 per cent for the Leafs, while Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers all were well back between 2 and 5 per cent each, 28 per cent of Canadians claimed no allegiance.

1,105 Canadians were surveyed in the poll, providing answers to some other cutting hockey questions of the day.

Included in the results is the discovery that over half of all Canadians believe Montreal is the greatest team in hockey history, comparing them to the Yankees as far as reverence, though unlike the Yankees the Habs don't seem to attract as much anger or angst.

4 in 10 believe that Montreal will see a Stanley Cup parade in the next four or five years (one wonders what the odds for Toronto would be?)Whatever those odds, most Canadians 75 per cent believe that Montreal will win the Cup before Brian Burke's boyo's grab the Holy Grail.

Just so the results don't go to their heads however, more than 50 per cent of the respondents said that they believe the Habs best years are behind them.

The results published in the Globe and Mail, make for an interesting primer prior to this Friday's game, televised across Canada on the CBC which celebrates those hundred years of hockey excellence and passion. Friday nights broadcast will feature coverage of the pre game commemoration of the Centennial, followed by the continuation of one of the great rivalries in Canadiens history a game with the Boston Bruins.

The Historica-Dominion Institute website is dedicated to helping Canadians learn more about the nation and each other, they have a number of sports oriented video clips that focus not only on the Montreal Canadiens, but other key moments in Canadian sport as well.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A dream connection takes to the ice

A pretty impressive combination took to the ice this week as Markus Naslund and Peter Forsberg combined to bring success for the home side. However, don't go looking for the summaries on the NHL's website.

The Naslund to Forsberg connection were taking their talents to the ice for Modo of the Swedish League, helping to propel their hometown team to a 4-1 victory over rival Rogle.

For the two former NHLers, it's a return to those days in minor hockey, the two friends last played for a junior squad out of Modo many years ago and now have returned to the professional team to lend a hand for this season.

Forsberg has been back for seven games so far, his former junior team mate now on board after having been out of hockey since his retirement from the NHL last season. It's hoped that the arrival of two of the most recognized names in Swedish hockey will help to boost attendance for Modo and provide the team with a more secure financial footing.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Highlight reel material for Steve Yzerman

The Steven Stamkos show came to the centre of hockey's universe on Wednesday night as Tampa Bay's young star once again showed what many have been talking about in this early stage of the NHL season.

Already leading the team in goals with 15 in 21 games, he's making quite the name for himself with 24 points so far in the season and a number of goals replayed nightly on the major sports channels of North America, including what many say may be the goal of the year from last week in Anaheim (see above).

And while he's no doubt enjoying his run as the sensation of the year so far, he has one bit of unfinished business that he's hoping to attend to. Stamkos was not included in that Team Canada orientation session of earlier this summer. 46 names appeared on the rosters compiled by Steve Yzerman, two of his fellow team mates Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis in Tampa included.

Since then Stamkos has done nothing but shine in the NHL, outperforming both Lecavalier and St. Louis on the Tampa roster and with that success has come the low rumblings that when Yzerman makes that final decision on December 31st, Stamkos should find his name included on that roster sheet.

It's hard to argue against the idea, Stamkos has played a fast paced game for the first quarter of the NHL season, and you can't deny his stats package thus far, yet concerns that he may yet be too young continue to be voiced, leaving Yzerman in a tough spot, take the risk that Stamkos' success so far is indicative of what he could bring to the Olympic team in February or stick with a more tried and true approach of key veterans combined with established up and coming stars.

The next eighteen games provides Stamkos with more opportunity to sway the vote at Hockey Canada, his first twenty four games have certainly laid the path to Vancouver, all he needs now is a nod of the head from Steve Yzerman.

So far the addition of Stamkos could prove to be one of the harder decisions for the Team Canada GM to have to make over the next month, if the pace that Stamkos is on continues it may end up being one of the easiest.

National Post-- Stamkos argues his case
Toronto Star-- Stellar start has Stamkos eyeing Olympic team
Globe and Mail-- Stamkos playing his way into Olympic consideration

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

At the quarter turn, some expected peformances but a few surprises as well

With the NHL season reaching the one quarter stage over the weekend, keen observers and office pool aficionados were busy reviewing the season so far.

For the most part there don't seem to be too many surprises at the top of the standings, most everyone expected San Jose and Washington to be the most proficient of teams this season, the Sharks boosted by the arrival of the disgruntled Dany Heatley to join Joe Thornton and , while Washington just sat back and watched Alexander Ovechkin weave his manage on a nightly basis.

With the Sharks and Capitals finding the season to their liking so far, their quest for first place status won't find many doubters as the season moves on into its second quarter.

Just below them however are some hungry young squads that seem ready to take a shot at the teams that are setting the agenda for this season.

The Black Hawks, one of the most entertaining of young teams this year have just rattled off an impressive string of seven victories, laying waste to Western Canada, with convincing victories over the Flames and Oilers, while Sunday night's less than frantic pace with Vancouver still provided Chicago with a win.

The Hawks are providing the full package on the ice this season, outstanding offensive skills, strong defensive work that plays a stingy style of game surrendering few chances and when they do, goal tending has for the most part been there at the ready, denying the opposition chances to not only get back into a game but try to carry the play.

Colorado and Calgary have managed to keep within striking distance, despite some rather alarming breakdowns of their own games at times, which have cost them victories over the first twenty five games or so and left valuable points behind, a situation that may prove costly when we wind down this season's campaign.

Over in the east, besides the exploits of Ovechkin, there's much to be intrigued by. The Penguins to no surprise continue to alternate first place spots with the Caps, the veteran squad of still young players showing that their quest for a repeat as Stanley Cup champs is very much a possibility for this spring.

Considering most left the Ottawa Senators for finished at the start of this season, their strong debut over the first twenty five has been a welcome arrival in the National capital. When the Sens finally unburdened themselves of the less than happy Heatley, many thought that the bottom would fall out of their season, but instead, Cory Clouston seems to have found a formula with his squad that sees both veterans and newcomers pulling in the same direction. There seems to be a solid footing for the Sens this year, a welcome change from some of the dramas that have played out in years past. All that serenity is rubbing off and taking the Sens into the higher reaches of the standings.

Buffalo as well is another one of those squads that hockey fans tended to dismiss as the season was getting underway, but at the first quarter the Sabres are providing some fast moving and hard hitting hockey, good enough to be right in the thick of the battles for positioning in the eastern division. having played the fewest games in the east, the Sabres should be able to pace themselves into the second quarter of the year, keeping the faithful back home more than entertained, perhaps with thoughts of playoff possibilities running through their heads should it ever come to pass.

Also hanging tight we find the Devils, Stars, Kings and amidst all their turmoil this year the Coyotes continue to leave their troubles behind when they take to the ice.

Overall, for the most part the upper reaches of the NHL standings have provided for some pretty successful tenants, all of whom are no doubt hoping that when the season reaches the mid way point they all are still factors in the run for playoff positioning in the spring.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Scott Niedermayer who clearly understands the PR value of a kind gesture, tried his best to make a little girls night at a recent Ducks game.

Named as the first star of the game for his efforts in scoring the winning goal over Tampa, Niedermayer skated over to the side of the rink and tossed his stick over the glass towards a young fan.

The only problem was some bozo nearby apparently thought he was at a Raiders game or something, snatching the stick in mid flight. It was an interception that wasn't well received by some other members of the crowd and what amounted to a pier six brawl was soon underway.

Niedermayer tried to redirect the stick and the emotions of the moment in a rink side interview, no word on whether the girl eventually reclaimed her present and if Santa now has candidate number one on the naughty list for this year

NHLPA's loss is NCAA's gain

Paul Kelly, the recently displaced head of the NHLPA has bounced back nicely from the unceremonious nature of his departure from the players association.

Kelly was named today to the position of Executive Director of College Hockey Incorporated, a position that will see him try to raise the profile of Division 1 NCAA hockey.

Part of his work will involve spreading the word to US and Canadian born hockey players that the college game in the United States offers much for the young athlete. Offering the American college game as an alternative to the Junior hockey system in Canada.

The main thrust of that approach will be to advise young players of the college option before they sign on with a Junior A team, once they have played a game of Major Junior they will not be eligible to play in the NCAA.

Kelly's new job, which he describes as a welcome challenge, will no doubt help to remove the stain of his association with the rather dysfunctional NHLPA, which removed him earlier this season in a most public, yet at the same time secretive way.

While Kelly has moved on, no doubt to what he believes will be a better situation, his former employer continues to wallow along without a leader, not having yet come to terms with the flurry of confusing decisions which have left their organization in a most chaotic state.
The announcement of Mr. Kelly's new position is set to be made on Tuesday.

Boston Globe-- New college initiative is ready to put Kelly at the head of the class
Globe and Mail-- Kelly takes role with NCAA Former PA Head Kelly accepts position with College Hockey Inc.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's not how you put it in the net, but how you celebrate!

Henrik Andersen's first goal in the Swedish Allsvenskan League will be one remembered for the ages, forever immortalized on YouTube and beyond, not for his fancy play making (which was pretty nice) but rather for his celebration and unintended exit from the playing surface.

Andersen who skates for Leksand, put on a display of joy to rival some of the finest choreographed dance moves of the NFL stars, culminating in his own version of the Lambeau Leap, or in this case we guess the Leksand Leap...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pregame Skate: Phoenix Coyotes 2011-12 season

We provide a starting point for all items of note for the Coyotes for 2011-12.

From web page information, to radio links, news service sites, HockeyNation archive items and any other forms of content we'll list it here, a quick reference spot for Coyotes fans wherever they may be.

Coyotes homepage
Coyotes schedule
Coyotes roster
Coyotes management/coaching staff
Coyotes On line store
Farm Clubs:
AHL- San Antonio Rampage
ECHL- Las Vegas Wranglers
Radio Broadcast outlet:
XTRA Sports 910AM
Newspaper links:
Arizona Republic

Other Links:
Five for Howling
Hip Shot Blog
One Fan's Perspective
Howlin' Hockey

Coyotes TV
HockeyNation Archives

Gretzky King of all Media: Out of sight, but not out of mind!

He may not have a job behind the bench at the moment and has been keeping a low profile of late, but as fall moves towards winter we're suddenly learning a lot more about Wayne Gretzky.

While the iconic statesman of the modern game ponders his next move against his former team and the NHL over unresolved salary issues, his persona is being revealed in ways never seen before and in a variety of fashions.

Stephen Brunt recently released his latest work of the hockey genre, Gretzky's Tears, a far reaching account of the Trade of NHL century which saw Canada's beloved scoring sensation moved out of the cold Edmonton winters to the sunny climes of California, a fair bit of treason that to this day probably has Peter Pocklington donning disguises.

Along that vein, Pocklington himself has penned his own version of that particular moment in hockey history. I’d Trade Him Again: On Gretzky, Politics, and the Pursuit of the Perfect Deal, providing the viewpoint of the historic trade from the slant of the cold hearted capitalist. And while the book moves beyond the hockey world and follows Pocklington's other interests both business and sport, it will be the Gretzky sections that no doubt gain the most attention and review.

Both will no doubt be found under a few Christmas trees this holiday season, though Edmontonians probably won't be feeling very cheery after their first read through.

And now as though a companion piece for all this literature, comes a documentary film from Southern California film maker Peter Berg, the director who brought us Hancock, Friday Night Lights and The Kingdom to name a few, turns his attention to the Gretzky story with King's Ransom.

His feature documentary follows the impact that the Gretzky trade had not only on the psyche of Edmonton and Canadians for that matter, but how it provided instant credibility for hockey in Southern California taking it from just another sports diversion to the A list of sports for its brief moment in the spotlight in Los Angeles.

Berg is a long time hockey fan, originally from New York, with a passion for the game. In King's Ransom he has chronicled the Gretzky arrival with a dedication to detail and perhaps providing the most revealing portrait yet of the raw emotions and cold calculations that changed the nature of the game in Canada forever. Highlighting the realization that in the end, it would be money that forever dictated the future of the game from that day on.

King's Ransom will be aired on TSN on Wednesday 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT, part of their showcase for the ESPN series 30 for 30.

Oiler fans are advised to stock up on the Kleenex, for them this could be the equivalent of a romance movie with a very sad ending.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Billionaire Canadians need not apply, but for those with a fradulent bent the door seems open!

The rather unusual corporate compass of Gary Bettman made a new heading today, as the Commissioner welcomed Henry and Susan Samueli back into the fold on Thursday, bringing to an end the indefinite suspension that Mr. Bettman had announced back in June of 2008.

The Samueli's had been suspended after Mr. Samueli entered a guilty plea to federal officials over apparent lies that he made to the Securities and Exchange Commission. For a good portion of 2008 he and other officials at Broadcom had been under investigation by federal officials over business dealings regarding the communications company.

At the time of his suspension, Mrs. Samueli also stepped aside as an owner in a self imposed seperation from the league, in their place the Samueli's turned the team operations over to Michael Schulman, the Ducks' chief executive officer and a longtime friend of theirs.

While the Commissioner may be ready to get things back on track in Anaheim, the legal troubles for the Samueli's aren't quite over yet. Mr. Samueli's Chief Financial Officer at Broadcom, William J. Ruehle just began his trial, for 14 counts of fraud, conspiracy, falsifying Broadcom's books and lying to auditors and securities regulators.

As well, Mr. Samueli's former partner at Broadcom, Henry T. Nicholas III will also be getting his day in court, as he tries to persuade the judge as to the validity of his not guilty plea on a number of charges of his own.

We're sure the upcoming days in court will provide for more fascinating details of the financial ethics and corporate dealings of all involved with Broadcom.
The eventual status of Mr. Samueli will have to wait until those two trials work their way through the system.

U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney last year rejected that plea bargain that Samueli struck with prosecutors, it would have guaranteed that he would face no prison time after he paid an unusual $12-million fine, a result which Judge Carney suggested would mean that Justice was for sale.
A recent appeal to a panel of California judges didn't work out as planned either, as that panel ruled that they had no jurisdiction on the case. This we imagine, puts the proceedings back in the hands of Judge Carney and means that Mr. Samueli may yet become a guest of the State of California, in one of their gated public housing operations.
To avoid that fate, Mr. Samueli last week petitioned the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider reinstating his rejected plea bargain with the federal government. His lawyers have cited possible violations of his fundamental Fifth Amendment privileges in the declined plea bargain.

This is apparently a sign in the eyes of the Commissioner that the Sameuli's legal problems are behind them. Though you might think that Mr. Bettman may be getting ahead of the courts there and might just have to revisit the ownership status once again, depending on the results of all this legal activity

It's an interesting revelation as to the priorities of the the Commissioner in that he feels that this might perhaps be considered a good day for the NHL, returning the franchise to an executive who has admitted his guilt in lying to a federal securities body.

At the same time that the Commissioner seems willing to forgive and forget that indiscretion, he still continues to throw roadblocks in front of Jim Balsillie, the Canadian billionaire, who in addition to not having been convicted of anything, actually has the financial wherewithal to operate an NHL franchise with one would imagine little difficulty.

It's that kind of astute business judgement in itself, which probably explains the mess that the NHL is in these days more than anything

Coachesgonewild, the Bayou edition

Brent Sapergia, can tell everyone he has been on Good Morning America and he's You Tube hit , but part of him may wish to make sure that the evidence is forever out of view (good luck with that by the way).
Sapergia, the General Manager of the Louisiana Ice Gators, was serving as head coach for a game against rival Pensacola Ice Flyers (we wonder if every team in the SPHL must have ice in the name) this week, when emotions apparently got the better of him.

Sapergia had a rumbustious meltdown behind the bench, the kind of performance that might even leave a Bobby Knight, Lou Piniella or Jim Schoenfeld speechless in awe.

Apparently annoyed at the level of officiating for that night's game, the coach, cleared the benches... of sticks, towels, pucks and any other item not nailed down besides the players, who stood to one side somewhat in shock it seemed at their coach's performance.

It was a display that was so bizarre, that it even made it to the pinnacle of American morning television news, with a featured appearance on Good Morning America this morning, complete with commentary from the morning panel.

We have visions of the Sapergia family fielding phone calls for days to come, ready to answer the questions following the talking point of hey, we saw Brent on TV this morning and did you know he's on YouTube too???

The SPHL has fined and suspended Sapergia from coaching for an undetermined amount of time, leaving the team without the services of their GM and we imagine without a full time coach at the moment.
There are reports that a new coach is on the way, with the announcement that John Gibson is ready to take the reins of the club, though judging by the leadership being shown by upper management, we wonder if maybe he won't feel the need to get lost on the road to Louisiana.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Hockey Night in the Hall

Considering the running tribute to American hockey which ran for most of the night, perhaps they should have rescheduled this years Hall of Fame induction ceremonies until the 4th of July.

Monday night celebrated one of the most distinguished of classes to join the Hallowed Hall in recent memory, and the majority of them featured strong ties to American hockey or the footprint of the game in America.

Hockey's shrine welcomed the American born Bryan Leetch and Lou Lamoriello, Brett Hull who made his name in International hockey while wearing the Stars and Stripes, Luc Robitaille who helped keep the flame of the game alive in Los Angeles and Steve Yzerman, who set up shop in Detroit and never left during his playing days.

It was a celebration of how the game has become part of the American fabric, all be it in pockets of the nation, that sometimes treats it with indifference.

The speeches were heart felt, at times humorous, at times poignant. But all had an underlying message of thanks, to former coaches and fellow players, owners, parents, spouses and children all people who played a major part in the lives of those honoured on Monday.

There can be no second guessing of this list, truly the "A" team of hall selections, each player a major force in the game in their own right, with Lou Lamoriello the modern day father for much of American hockey's success.

Even beyond the main participants on the stage tonight, the salute to America was consistent.

Dave Molinari a long time hockey writer in Pittsburgh, was duly honoured for his efforts over the years in capturing the excitement and dedication to the game.

While John Davidson, the one time star of New York's Blueshirts, former broadcaster and now a successful part of management in St. Louis provided more connection for the imprint of the game below the 49th parallel.

The stars (and stripes) aligned this year, to provide for one of the most accomplished lists of inductees that have walked through the doors of the shrine to shinny, to remind you of the depth of that talent, we have a vew samples below, feauring our inductees at their best.

Bryan Leetch

Brett Hull

Luc Robitaille

Steve Yzerman

The Group in conversation with Ron McLean

Think of how many owners could bank on the stats of these four players and a legendary GM, had he or she put them together one one team.

New York Times-- Leetch and Lamoriello Take Place in Hall of Fame
North Leetch had his doubts about Hall
Corpus Christi Caller-- Leetch a local great - even if you didn't know
Ottawa Citizen-- Luc can't believe his luck
Montreal Gazette-- Scoring machine on left wing
Los Angeles Times-- Kings' Luc Robitaille fought to prove the skeptics wrong
National Post-- Brett Hull made it to Hall of Fame his way
Dallas News-- Brett Hull's special day
St. Louis Today-- Hull enters Hall on thankful note
Calgary Herald-- Yzerman leads strong class into Hall of Fame
Ottawa Citizen-- Yzerman ’09 class act
Detroit Free Press-- Steve Yzerman enters the Hockey Hall of Fame
New Jersey Star Ledger-- NJ Devils GM Lou Lamoriello enters Hockey Hall of Fame
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-- PG writer is recognized by Hockey Hall of Fame
Montreal Gazette-- Tonight's group of Hall of Fame inductees among the very best
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Turnout warms Davidson as he accepts Hewitt Award
CBC Sports-- Hockey Hall of Fame welcomes inductees

Friday, November 06, 2009

The game we want, or the game we have?

Kitchener Ranger defenceman Ben Fanelli continues to recover in a Hamilton hospital, his status of serious but stable unchanged from Tuesday, but slightly better than the critical advisory that was issued upon his first arrival over the weekend.

He was airlifted to the Hamilton hospital following an incident in Friday nights game between the Kitchener Rangers and the Erie Otters, a horrifying moment for hockey which saw him suffer skull and facial fractures when he was checked into the end boards during a game against the Erie Otters.

Earlier this week, the man who delivered that check, Michael Liambas, was suspended for the season and the playoffs and as an over aged junior, it also means that Liambas who will be 21 in February has effectively played his last game of Junior hockey.

CHL Commisioner David Branch was quick to render his verdict, expressing a concern over the lack of respect on the ice of today and the need to remind his players of the importance of that respect for the good of their game.

There may be some work ahead on that front, as many incidents over the last few years have shown that respect is in short supply.

The check, has once again opened up the debate over just how much hitting is required for a hockey game and whether players today show enough of that respect for each other that Mr. Branch is looking for.

The check in question used the boards as a weapon almost, an ongoing circumstance in both the professional and junior ranks, where fast propelling bodies are launching themselves into other players, sandwiching them against the unmovable object which is the boards.

In most cases the effect is the crushing bodycheck, loud in volume, sometimes painful and occasionally one which can sideline a player for weeks or months.

Last Friday night it almost did the job permanently.

The problem is that sometimes these checks are delivered with little reason, the play has long moved on, the recipient no longer part of the action. More often than not, they are designed more to send a message of intimidation, rather than offer up any form of defensive or offensive strategy.

In the case of Mr. Liambis a quick scan of his hockey history shows that he's well versed in the penalties in minutes category in a four year career in the OHL he had amassed 346 penaly minutes, while his offensive exploits with but 5 goals and six assists in those four years, could probably be summarized on an 4 x 8 inch index card, leaving room to spare.

Type in his name into a YouTube search engine and you find a collection of hockey fights and similar style of body checks (and some worse) as the one delivered on Friday, all of which seems to offer up insight into what it is he brings to a hockey club, suffice to say he's not there for the play making.

That is more an indictment of the league than the player however, as clearly the OHL (as well as the WHL, QMHJL and NHL for that matter) has found room for that particular talent, Mr. Liambas no doubt was only providing the service expected of him and as defined by management.

The placement of him and other over age juniors on the rosters of the OHL and other leagues is of equal concern for league officials, fans and parents. Junior hockey's wide age discrepancy and with it the clearly changing body dynamics that are at work is clearly something that needs to be examined.

As mentioned earlier Mr. Liambas is to turn 21 early next year, Mr. Fanelli is but 16, turning 17 in March of 2010, how the OHL can reconcile this gap is still a mystery to many.

The simple fact is that Junior hockey perhaps is a game that has too wide a catchment, the physical pounding taken by a 16 year old, as administered by someone in their twenties borders beyond the uncomfortable and should be addressed.

At some point there needs to be a more reasonable break in the roster construction, moving the older, stronger and larger bodies of the upper age brackets on into either a new level of hockey, (Senior perhaps) allowing the players still in their mid teens to play the game without fear of permanent injury or worse.

Rule changes as well might provide some level of safety for the players, a buffer zone along the boards could possibly remove the ability to use them as the finishing touch on the check, while still leaving the physical nature of the game to the open ice zones. Body checking wouldn't disappear it just wouldn't be used in the same intimidating way that it seems to have evolved into.

Without some kind of change in the dynamic of the constant hitting for the sake of hitting, the game may soon begin to suffer. If you're a parent today, you have to ask yourself, do you really want to subject your child to that level of intimidation on a nightly basis, in a game that is supposed to be fun, there surely can't be much of it left when you spend most of the night wondering when you're going to be left laid out on the ice.

How many players may decide to leave the game owing to the increasingly violent and at times needless physical battering that they take in the course of a game. Physical play has always been a part of the game and most wouldn't want to see it taken out, but far too often now there are more and more incidents where physical play has evolved into something much more sinister.

If you're a parent today, you're sparing a thought for the parents of Ben Fanelli, who surely must be thinking about whether the adventure that they and their son embarked on this year, engaged in the pursuit of a game he loved at one of the highest levels , is worth the result of Friday night.

Kitchener Record-- Ben Fanelli moved from intensive care
Toronto Star-- OHL player's season over after devastating hit
Toronto Star-- The hit that rocked hockey
CBC Sports-- Liambas suspension harsh, but did the OHL get it right?
CBC Sports-- Junior hockey player's condition improves
Sun Media-- Suspended for season

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Flu Fighting Flames!

There are line ups for souvenirs, line ups for refreshments and hopefully for Flames fans line ups for Stanley Cup playoff tickets.

But in Calgary at this moment there is really only one line up on the mind of Calgarians, the one for the vaccine for the H1N1 flu virus and the one that apparently members of the Calgary Flames and their families didn't have to stand in.

The details of the Flames family friendly flu clinic are the thing of a public relations nightmare, as word of the flu shots began to filter out the residents of Calgary, a good number of whom may have heard the story while they were standing in line for hours in the city waiting for their chance at the apparently dwindling supply of the vaccine (all be it temporarily they are told).

The situation has raised tempers so much that the Alberta government is now investigating how the Flames managed to make the arrangements for the shots while the majority of the province's residents were going without the chance to get one.

The tale of the Flames flu shots has reached as far as the Alberta Legislature where Premier Ed Stelmach, who has stumbled on any number of issues of late, is finding that the flu shot botch ups aren't sitting well with the public.

Stelmach facing a rather angry opposition at the Legislature said ""If it has happened, somebody has broken the rules and we want to find out who it is, because it is deplorable."

At the heart of the story are the optics of generally healthy young men, who for the most part not in the most vulnerable group that has been urged to get the shots, finding that they had the chance to jump ahead of a good portion of their fellow citizens of Alberta.
Alberta Health has come out and accepted responsibility for the mess, though why no one thought beforehand that perhaps this might not look so good is anyone's guess. But with hundreds of thousands of Albertan's nervously waiting for their chance to get the flu shot, the visual of their Flames moving to the front of the line will probably not be greeted with many cheers.

That kind of line jumping was something that Dr. Judy MacDonald, deputy medical officer of health in Calgary spoke about last week, suggesting that said she would be upset if a prominent citizen jumped the H1N1 vaccination lineups.

Imagine how angry she might be today, with some thirty or more prominent citizens having jumped the line!

Monday, November 02, 2009

That’s some Big D going on there, D for Dysfunction!

The leadership has changed names on the office door four times in the last few years, in the last two months; the only sure thing has been a revolving door of departing employees, some by choice, and some by other less amicable means.

The image of the organization is in tatters while the membership continues to try and figure out what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, no one seems in charge and no one it seems wants to step up and take on the challenge.

In the back story to an ongoing drama, there has been talk of intruding on internal communications, snooping out emails and enough backstabbing to keep Desperate Housewives alive in script material for another ten years.

If this situation doesn’t call out loud for a union then what does? Oh wait! What’s that… it is a union, oh….. well then as Emily Letila would have said..

The Dysfunctional NHLPA has hit rock bottom and apparently begun to drill into the bedrock as yet more departures are announced and the confusion reigns supreme as to what the Association stands for, or if it even stands at all anymore.

The most recent Director, interim as he was, Ian Penny has stepped aside, citing a constructive firing as the cause for his disappearance, that and some interesting comments about the input of Chris Chelios on proceedings of late, offered up more intrigue in what has been a truly bizarre implosion of a bargaining unit in decades.

With Penny now apparently gone (and perhaps ready for his large lump sum payment, joining the throng of other EA candidates of late) there doesn't seem to be anyone on the bridge of this particular Titanic.

The Review committee consisting of Chris Chelios, Rob Blake, Nicklas Lidstrom and Mark Recchi have apparently issued a number of recommendations, none of which have sat well with the remaining board members, who have followed Penny out the doors.

For now it seems that the day to day machinations of the NHLPA will rest in the hands of long time association lawyers Mike Ouellet and Roland Lee, who will try to keep the place from listing any further.

Unless the association can pull itself away from the brink of disaster quickly (if they haven't perhaps already gone over the edge), the most constructive thing that the two long time servants of the NHLP might be able to offer up is a list of who will be the last person out the door to turn off the lights.

CBC Sports-- Baumgartner swings at new NHLPA review committee
CBC Sports-- NHLPA out of control?: Hotstove
CBC Sports-- Larmer quits NHLPA board, slams Chelios
ESPN-- Talks pick up for NHLPA board
ESPN-- It's official: Union hits rock bottom
Globe and Mail-- Larmer the latest to leave

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Headlines of the 2009-10 season

Headlines for January 2010
Headlines for December 2009
Headlines for November 2009
Headlines for October 2009
Headlines for September 2009

Headlines of November 2009

Tracking the daily headlines for the month of November.

November 30-- Habs are closest thing to 'Canada’s team'
November 29-- Tretiak says Russian team will be half NHLers
November 28-- Naslund comes out of retirement
November 27-- Lucic out for four weeks
November 26-- Healthy, rested Canucks have no excuses now
November 25-- Canadiens unable to contain Penguins' top guns
November 24-- Syracuse to host AHL’s first outdoor game
November 23-- Ottawa in first place in Northeast after overtime win
November 22-- Blackhawks capture seventh win in a row
November 21-- Kelly takes role with NCAA
November 20-- Leafs sinking to the depths of the damned
November 19-- Red ink flowing at record rate in Phoenix
November 18-- Reserved, restrained – and rocking with Sid the Kid
November 17-- Field of potential Coyotes owners looks pretty thin
November 16-- Ovechkin appears set to return Tuesday
November 15-- Hurricanes GM apologizes to fans for terrible start
November 14-- Price turns back 53 shots in Habs loss
November 13-- Sens Leclaire under a microscope
November 12-- Fehr to assist NHL Players’ Association in search
November 11-- NHL GMs will act on head shots
November 10-- Gretzky takes the high road
November 9-- Hockey Hall of Fame welcomes inductees
November 8-- Hargrove quits NHLPA
November 7-- Hurricanes G Ward taken to hospital with leg cut
November 6-- Canucks keeping eye on Forsberg
November 5-- Blue Jackets need financial fix: Report
November 4-- Canada to unveil Olympic hockey roster on Dec. 31
November 3-- Senators file grievance against Heatley
November 2-- Ovechkin likely to miss one game
November 1-- CHL cancels game due to sickness