Thursday, December 31, 2009

23 names looking for a little Olympic glory

Steve Yzerman and his cadre of Hockey Canada consorts produced the much anticipated list of Canadian participants at the 2010 Olympic Game Hockey tournament, 23 names with many expected on the list expected while a few will fuel the debate through to February.

The Canadian roster mixes some familiar International hockey names with relative newcomers to the quest for Canada's honour and a stake of a claim of gold.

Only seven of the players named on Wednesday, were part of the disappointment of Turin in 2006 which saw Canada finish in seventh place overall and out of the medals completely, suggesting that a change in team chemistry was on the agenda for Vancouver.

And change it is for 2010, with the rising Canadian stars of the NHL of today set to be showcased in the Olympic tournament.

Steve Yzerman has made a nod to the on ice success of such teams as Chicago and San Jose in the NHL, featuring some high profile players from both teams to form up almost one quarter of his team, four Sharks and three Black Hawks made the cut. The Sharks providing their high flying line of Thornton/Marleau and Heatley to the mix with Dan Boyle on the blue line, while Jonathon Toews joins Chi Hawk defenders Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook on the roster.

From Yzerman's Detroit's vantage point came the inclusiong of three players that perhaps he and Mike Babcock have seen a fair amount over the last few years, as Team Canada added Ryan Getzlaf, Scott Niedermayer and Corey Perry to the list, Niedermayer so impressing the Hockey Canada brass that he was named team captain as part of today's unveiling.

If any city is going to have a vivid debate over the list however, it will be the former Olympic host city of Calgary, where Jarome Iginla makes for the lone Flame on the Canadian roster, leaving many to question the absence of Dion Phaneuf, Dion Phaneuf, Robyn Regehr and Jay Bouwmeester.

Many attribute the season's struggles of the Flames and especially their defence, as the main thought behind the addition of Drew Doughty of the Kings to the Canadian roster, the Team Canada brass seemed to be offering up the thought that Doughty earned his way onto the roster through his hard work this year and the enthusiasm he brings to the ice with LA.

If one particular position is going to be a controversial one in Vancouver, it will be the defense with its nod to youth over the more experienced blue liners in the game today.

The trio of Flames were not the only eyebrow raising moments in the roster announcement, the absence of the Tampa Lightning's Lecavalier and St. Louis, as well as league leader Mike Green of Washington, is helping to keep alive a bit of discussion around the nation's living rooms and watering holes heading into New Years Eve.

When it comes to the net, there were no surprises, with Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo and Marc Andre Fleury providing more proof that Quebec is the cradle of goal tending for hockey, if any position offered up restful nights it was most likely goal, where all three of those named today have played well leading up to announcement day. There was no number one named today, Mike Babcock offering up the thought that the team will be watching through January to see who carries the hot hand, but most have already ceded the job to Martin Brodeur, leaving Luongo and Fleury to audition for the second seat on the Team Canada bench.

Still to come will be an indication as to the line combinations and defensive pairings, though we suspect that the nature of the announcements will see whole units or portions of move into the slots on Team Canada.

With the anxiety of announcement day now come and gone, the focus will shift to moulding this collection of Canada's hockey best into a fully integrated unit, one with a singular objective in mind.

That of wearing a gold medal around their necks and joining in on the chorus of O Canada when the Olympic hockey tournament comes to an end.

Globe and Mail-- Meet Team Canada
Globe and Mail-- Yzerman hands team over to the coaches
Globe and Mail-- Lessons learned
Globe and Mail-- The new youth in Canadian Olympic hockey
Globe and Mail-- Babcock shows attention to detail in final picks
Globe and Mail-- What it will take to win gold in 2010
Globe and Mail-- Babcock's first 48 hours
National Post-- Pressure's on for Olympic men's hockey team
National Post-- Team Canada's roster set, Niedermayer captain
Toronto Star-- Next job for Team Canada is making it work
Toronto Star-- Team Canada's youth movement
Toronto Star-- Roster gets thumbs-up from Shanahan
Toronto Star-- Burke lavishes praise on Stevie Y's selections
Toronto Star-- Omissions stun Flames, Bolts
Calgary Herald-- Flames D strikes out on Team Canada bid
Calgary Herald-- Flames D-men forced to watch quest for gold
Vancouver Sun-- Canucks' Roberto Luongo will accept any role with Olympic team
Vancouver Sun-- B.C. blueliners a force on Team Canada defence
CBC-- Niedermayer to captain Canadian team
CBC-- Team Canada's fate rests with returnees

The 2010 Olympic Hockey Squad


Roberto Luongo, Montreal, Que. (Vancouver Canucks)
Martin Brodeur, Montreal, Que. (New Jersey Devils)
Marc-Andre Fleury, Sorel, Que. (Pittsburgh Penguins)

Dan Boyle, Ottawa, Ont. (San Jose Sharks)
Drew Doughty, Ottawa, Ont. (LA Kings)
Duncan Keith, Penticton, B.C. (Chicago Blackhawks)
Scott Niedermayer, Cranbrook, B.C. (Anaheim Ducks) - Captain
Chris Pronger, Dryden, Ont. (Philadelphia Flyers) - Alternate captain
Brent Seabrook, Tsawwassen, B.C. (Chicago Blackhawks)
Shea Weber, Sicamous, B.C. (Nashville Predators)


Patrice Bergeron, L'Ancienne-Lorette, Que. (Boston Bruins)
Sidney Crosby, Cole Harbour, N.S. (Pittsburgh Penguins) Alternate captain
Ryan Getzlaf, Regina, Sask. (Anaheim Ducks)
Dany Heatley, Calgary, Alta. (San Jose Sharks)
Jarome Iginla, St. Albert, Alta. (Calgary Flames) Alternate captain
Patrick Marleau, Aneroid Sask. (San Jose Sharks)
Brenden Morrow, Carlyle, Sask. (Dallas Stars)
Rick Nash, Brampton, Ont. (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Mike Richards, Kenora, Ont. (Philadelphia Flyers)
Corey Perry, Peterborough, Ont. (Anaheim Ducks)
Eric Staal, Thunder Bay, Ont. (Carolina Hurricanes)
Joe Thornton, St. Thomas, Ont. (San Jose Sharks)
Jonathan Toews, Winnipeg, Man. (Chicago Blackhawks)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Decision Day for Stevie Y

We imagine that for a few moments on Wednesday, things will be so quiet that you could hear a puck drop later today, that as Team Canada reveals those players that will don the Maple Leaf for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

And then... we imagine will commence loud and heated discussions across the land from television panelists to bar room pontificates, everyone is going to have an opinion on who Steve Yzerman has named to the 2010 Olympic roster

The soft spoken head of Canada's Olympic hockey team will remove all the mystery as he make his roster selection's public, an event that is being treated as though some famous tablets were being delivered from a mountain top, revealing the word for the first time, such is the degree of media coverage planned.

TSN begins the debate with the live broadcast (and webcast for office dwellers who can't be near the TV) at 1:30 Newfoundland, 1:00 Atlantic, Noon Eastern, 11 Manitoba, 10 Saskatchewan/Alberta, 9 Am British Columbia, 8 Am Yukon and whatever other time dimensions may be in play wherever Canadian hockey fans live. Offering up what promises to be the same kind of angst and excitement that has marked their trade deadline scrambles and draft day dramas of the past.

From goal tending debates (which probably won't be much of one after all), through defensive pairings and on to line combinations for what is hoped to be an explosive offence, hockey fans and pundits will be devouring the list, standing at the ready to offer a Cherry like thumbs up or shake of the head worthy of Pierre MaGuire between the benches.

The countdown is on, by late Wednesday, Canadians will know who will carry the Maple Leaf into battle in February, we suspect that thought the roster will be revealed, the debate will carry forward well beyond the first game at Vancouver's GM Place.

Globe and Mail-- Decision day looms for Canada's Olympic roster
Globe and Mail-- D-Day for Canadian hockey players

Monday, December 28, 2009

Of Latvian Landslides, Swiss shutdowns and stymied Slovakians...

With three games under their belt, Canada's junior representatives at the IIHF World Junior championships are looking quite fine in their defense of their title.

So far, after 180 minutes of play the score is Canada 30 the other guys 2. A pretty impressive total at the tournament's start, helped out no doubt by the fortunate early draw that Canada has been provided with.

Latvia, which seems happy to be on the ice, but certainly isn't particularly competitive suffered the onslaught of Canada's offence first, providing little resistance to the 16-0 drubbing that was offered up in game one. Though it would seem that Canadians will be more familiar with their names now, TSN reports that the Canada Latvia game was the most watched game in World Juniors history. (Leaving us to wonder how long that record will stand with some high profile games still to come)

The Swiss held the goal count down, but couldn't tally any of their own, as Canada easily dismissed that challenge by a score of 6-0, much to the delight of the home town crowd, not so much we imagine to fans of the team with the white cross on the flag, who perhaps were looking for the Red Cross by games end.

As game three beckoned, many were suggesting that it would be a better test for the boys carrying the Maple Leaf on their chests, and while the play at times seemed fairly balanced, once the Canadians got moving (and annoyed by the first Slovakian goal which ruined their perfect run so far) it was game over. Canada put eight goals into their guests net before all was said and done, the Slovaks to their credit provided two answers to the otherwise impressive display of Canadian speed, skill and physical play.

The early results will no doubt give IIHF critics some ammunition in the suggestion that perhaps the tournament participants should be reduced by a few squads, leaving the hopeful contenders to seek out a different level of achievement, with maybe but one of the clearly outperformed squads allowed up to the top level per tournament year.

The rules being the rules, it seems that Canada, the US and perhaps the Russians and the Swedes have no choice but to fill the net, but it does appear unseemly at times to be beating up so heavily on those squads that seem to struggle at this level of competition.

Still, in tournament play, you play to win, so as uncomfortable as some Canadians may feel at the thumping's administered thus far, until further notice and a revisit to the tournament seeding we gather that is the way it's going to have to be.

For Canada, what now will be considered the true test comes up on New Years Eve, when Canada takes on the United States, a game which should be a dandy should it come anywhere close to last years epic battle in Ottawa.

The American's have done their fair amount of scoring as well so far (the poor Latvians apparently everyone's version of the shootout goalie cutout) and have shown the same physical kind of play that symbolizes North American hockey.

While there are no guarantees, New Year's Eve should provide for another memorable night of hockey like many other year enders of the past. One thing seems more than likely however, the nights of 16 goal games is probably over for both the Canadians and Americans.
Thursday night promises its share of scoring, but along with the offensive displays, we anticipate some hard hits, stellar defensive play and outstanding goal tending, a return to the kind of hockey that while reduces the chance of hearing train horns, or the waving of flags frequently, but one which will surely be the most entertaining hockey of the tournament thus far.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tournament Time: Spengler Cup

Canada's International travels continue with the Spengler Cup, which for the most part features Canadians playing on European based teams donning the Maple Leaf for the Christmas holiday tournament in Davos, Switzerland.

Craig MacTavish gets a break from the TSN panel, as he takes the reins of Canada's contribution to European tournament hockey, hopeful of mixing his roster of European based Canadians and airlifted AHL players on to greater glory and for some a second look from the NHL back home.

As Team Canada works its way through the schedule, we'll feature the recaps and other items of interest from the tournament below.
Thursday, December 31
Dynamo Minsk wins the Spengler Cup for 2009
Wednesday, December 30
Tuesday, December 29
Monday, December 28
Mannheim 2 -- Karlovy Vary 1
Canada 6 - Davos 2

Sunday, December 27
HC Davos 5 - HC Energie Karlovy Vary 3
HC Dynamo Minsk 2 -Adler Mannheim 1

Saturday, December 26
HC Davos 3 -- HC Dynamo Minsk 2
Team Canada 7 -- HC Energie Karlovy Vary 6
Official websites for the Spengler Cup
Spengler Cup website
Hockey Canada Spengler Cup website
News items on the Spengler Cup
Canada opens with Spengler win
Canada opens Spengler Cup with victory
Canada hopes for Spengler success
With 2 practices and Xmas party under their belt, Canadians set for Spengler Cup

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tournament Time: World Junior Championships from Saskatchewan

The 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships are underway from Regina and Saskatoon Saskatchewan, bringing the international game back to Saskatchewan and its many, many zealous fans.
The tournament which seems to have evolved on a semi-permanent basis as part of the Canadian hockey tradition, will be based in Saskatchewan's two largest cities for the holiday period.
Providing for some of the guests a true indication of the heart of Canada's hockey history and providing some of Canada's best hockey fans with some fast paced, entertaining and emotional hockey.

Over the course of the tournament we'll provide updates, reports and other items of interest all of which can be found from our archive page below.

Gold Medal Game at Saskatoon

Tuesday, January 5

USA 6 -- Canada 5 Overtime at Saskatoon

Bronze Medal Game at Saskatoon

Tuesday, January 5

Sweden 11 vs Switzerland 4 at Saskatoon

5th Place Game

Monday, January 4

Finland 4 -- Russia 3 at Saskatoon

Semi Finals

Sunday, January 3

Canada 6 -- Switzerland 1 at Saskatoon
USA 5 -- Sweden 2 at Saskatoon

Quarter Finals

Saturday, January 2

Switzerland 3 -- Russia 2 at Saskatoon
USA 6 -- Finland 2 at Saskatoon

Relegation round

Saturday, January 2
Sunday, January 3
Monday, January 4

Slovakia 3 -- Austria 2 at Saskatoon
Czech Repulbic 10 -- Lavtia 2 at Saskatoon
Czech Republic 5 -- Slovakia 2 at Saskatoon
Latvia 6 -- Austria 4 at Saskatoon

Day Off

Friday, January 1

Preliminary round

Thursday, December 31

Canada 5 -- USA 4 (Shoot out) at Saskatoon
Russia 4 -- Czech Republic 2 at Regina
Switzerland 4 -- Slovakia 1 at Saskatoon
Sweden 7 -- Finland 1 at Regina

Wednesday, December 30

Finland 10 -- Austria 1 at Regina
Switzerland 7 -- Latvia 5 at Saskatoon

Tuesday, December 29

Czech Republic 7 -- Austria 1 at Regina
USA 12 -- Latvia 1 USA at Saskatoon
Sweden 4 -- Russia 1 at Regina
Canada 8 -- Slovakia 2 at Saskatoon

Monday, December 28

Canada 6 -- Switzerland 0 at Saskatoon
Russia 2 -- Finland 0 at Regina

Sunday, December 27

Sweden 7 -- Austria 3 at Regina
USA 3 -- Switzerland 0 at Saskatoon
Finland 4-- Czech Republic 3 at Regina
Slovakia 8 -- Latvia 3 at Saskatoon

Saturday, December 26
Canada 16 -- Latvia 0 at Saskatoon
Sweden 10 -- Czech Republic 1 at Regina
Russia 6 -- Austria 2 at Regina
USA 7 -- Slovakia 3 at Saskatoon

Hockey Canada tournament home site
IIHF website
Globe and Mail website coverage
TSN World Junior website
CBC Sports tournament web site
Saskatoon Star Phoenix tournament coverage
News items of note
Filatov finds a comfort zone
Canada-Latvia sets ratings record
Canada keeps rolling
Swedes dump Russians
Switzerland no match for high-flying Canadians
Canadian juniors roll on against Slovakia
Pop quiz long before the final test
A rout as exciting as Swiss cheese
Flashy Finn deflects Crosby comparisons
Russia blanks Finland to stay unbeaten
Canada's de Haan to miss Slovakia game
Canada romps again
Undefeated Russia, Sweden set to meet at world juniors
Bourque gets seven points as Canada beats Latvia
It's going to get a lot tougher
Russia facing tall order in Group B
Saskatoon ready to drop the puck
100,000 reasons to say thank you
Sask., world juniors right for each other
Canada's holiday tradition: gold

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sens woes continue as Alfie is sidelined after Adams hit

The Senators added three returnees to the roster on Wednesday night ( Pascal Leclair, Chris Neil and Shean Donovan) and then deducted one big name, as captain Daniel Alfredsson was forced out of the game in the first period, after a hit by the Pittsburgh Penguin's Craig Adams left the captain laying on the ice for a short period of time.

The Adams hit, seems to have resulted in a shoulder injury for Alfredsson who is destined for a doctor's appointment and some x-rays over the next few days and no doubt with some convalescence to come past New Year's Day.

He'll be following Jason Spezza onto the Injured list, though Sens fans are certainly hoping that their captain isn't destined for the two month sabbatical that Spezza must now endure following his knee injury of last week.

The Sens not only lost a vital part of their roster, but they also surrendered two points as the Penguins hammered them on the score board as well by a score of 8-2. The Penguins were paced to their victory by Evgeni Malkin's fourth career hat trick.

The game marked the final match for both teams for the Christmas break, all NHL teams have the next 48 hours off to enjoy the holidays with their families, though in the case of Alfredsson, lifting those glasses of egg nog and shaking his presents will certainly prove to be a little difficult.
Ottawa Senators-- Alfredsson injured in 8-2 loss
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review-- Penguins pick up an easy win over Senators
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-- Malkin, Fleury shine in rout

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yzermans' decision getting easier in the nets

He may have recently taken out American citizenship, but when it comes to defending the goal Martin Brodeur should, more than likely be waving a big Canadian flag after December 31.

With the deadline fast approaching for Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman to name the Canadian Olympic roster, the Devil's goaltender and long time fixture for Canada has once again provided the perfect timing for a record setting run.

Monday night, Brodeur passed the legendary Terry Sawchuk's 40 year record for career shutouts, and if Mr. Yzerman needs a scouting report, he need simply talk to Sidney Crosby, as it was the high profile Team Canada star who faced off against the Devils as New Jersey blanked the Penguins 4-0 and provided Brodeur with shut out number 104.

He turned aside 35 shots on his way to the record books, the second time in less than a week that they've had to reprint those hallowed pages, last week Brodeur set the modern record for regular season appearances with 1,030 having since padded that lead by two more.

As Brodeur continues to play some of the most impressive hockey of his career, the chatter is dying down about tough decisions for Yzerman, while the Devils have been finding success, the other candidate for the starting job, Roberto Luongo has been struggling along with his Vancouver Canuck team mates in the last few weeks, an untimely moment to have a slump.

New Years Eve is the deadline day, with the playing roster to be announced to an anxious nation just before the 2010 New Year festivities begin, when Yzerman reads off that name for the nets, the host city of the Olympics may feel a little disappointment that their favourite isn't number one.

But if they're true to their instincts they'll surely realize that the numbers don't lie and right now, heading into the Olympic year, Brodeur is certainly the one to roll with. Luongo will still have a place, we can't see it otherwise, but on performance so far this year, he's number two on the list and should find that same spot on the Olympic roster of New Years Eve.

National Post-- Brodeur sets NHL shutout record with No. 104

Monday, December 14, 2009

US Olympic roster all but set

"No one is betting on us and that's okay. But we're there to win." -- The US Olympic Team's Brian Burke, putting on the underdog coat and wearing it in stylish fashion.

They won't be announcing the team until the New Years Day Classic in Boston, but for three spots, Brian Burke and his fellow management team with the US Olympic team have a pretty
good idea what names get pencilled in on January 1st.

The Americans have finalized their 23 man roster for the February Olympics, though Burke suggested that the final three spots are still up for the taking among the six US players currently on the bubble.

Most of the names will be familiar ones for US hockey fans, though a few rising stars and some key surprises this year may yet work their way onto the final list.

One particular area featuring a hard decision may be in goal tending, while Ryan Miller is considered as the main participant in the nets, backing him up may offer a surprise, with Tim Thomas having a less than stellar year in Boston, there may be a chance for either Craig Anderson of the Colorado Avalanche or Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings gaining a spot, beyond the anticipated third spot on the bench.

The decisions all but made, all that remains is the unveiling ceremony on New Years Day, a celebration of the American team that will take place at Fenway Park when the NHL features its now apparently annual outdoor classic, this year featuring the Bruins and the Flyers.

The fact that this years classic and team naming celebration is in Boston, surely must guarantee Thomas a spot on the roster, otherwise one imagines that New Years Day will be a long one for Burke as Bostonians express their opinions on the roster selections.

Globe and Mail-- Burke says U.S. hockey roster nearly finalized
ESPN -- Burke: Six players in play for three spots
Buffalo News-- U.S. Olympic roster shaping up for Burke
Boston Globe-- Olympian task awaits undersized US squad

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A rock em, sock em, declaration!

"The aggressive, lack-of-respect hockey that he preaches — we need to get that out of the game."-- Dr. Charles Tator, whistling a verbal slap shot past Don Cherry and his love of the physical part of hockey

A Toronto neurosurgeon has taken Don Cherry and the physical brand of hockey he espouses to task, suggesting that Canada's most watched hockey commentator and icon to many is perhaps the root cause for serious injury in the sport.

Dr. Charles Tator was speaking at conference on concussions held in Regina (see video from conference here) when he offered up the suggesting that Cherry frequently outlines an aggressive, lack-of-respect style of hockey to fans, part of the culture of the game that the Doctor feels Cherry could help change.

His thoughts were not of the unanimous variety on the panel in Regina, nor on the comment boards on the CBC site which first reported the Doctor's declaration.

Many hockey fans logged on to advise the doctor that in their opinion he's a bit offside on the play(see comments below CBC Story), with more than a few pointing out past instances on Coach's corner where Cherry called for change or outlined dangerous play.

And while Cherry does seem to foment the physical play of the game, to point the finger in his direction may be a tad unfair, as suggested there is a culture of violence to the game from its historical days right up to the play of this past Saturday night.

While Cherry does highlight the heavy hits and more than enough of the pugilists, he has also in the past advocated for safety measures on hockey equipment and at the rinks. In the end the game will only change when the players come to understand that they need to reign in some of their actions which have at times taken the sport beyond an acceptable physical nature of the game.

By bringing Mr. Cherry's name into the discussion however, Doctor Tator has accomplished one thing, everyone is going to be talking about the issue now and if by using Cherry in a negative fashion the message gets another hearing, then we're pretty sure even Coach's corner will feel its a worthwhile bit of tar and feathering.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bonhomme Bettman

All that tradition, the pageantry and the celebration of 100 years of hockey in Montreal last week apparently got the better of Gary Bettman.

According to Jean Charest, the Premier of Quebec, the Commissioner was apparently quite positive when it came to discussing the future of Quebec City as once again a member of the happy (and occasionally money making) family of NHL franchises.

Mr. Charest suggests that Mr. Bettman appeared convinced of the two key things that will come up for discussion should an opening become available for the Quebec capital, the economic viability of a team in Quebec, and more importantly the prospect of finding investors.

The pumping of the NHL once again in Quebec City comes as Charest was ruminating about the need for an NHL calibre arena, which would apparently only come to be if all levels of government pony up enough money to get the new palace of ice built.

No timeline was offered from last weeks warm glow of discussion while in the consort of some of the great names of the game at Montreal's celebrations. But with over ten years havingn now passed since Les Nordiques became the Avalanche, Quebec city hockey fans still carry the dream of a team of their own, out of the shadow of the legendary Habs.

While Mr. Bettman was courting the approval of the hockey fans in Quebec City, he no doubt was leaving those fans in Winnipeg and Hamilton feeling a little out in the cold, they too believe that their cities will make fine homes for any Little orphan Gary's out there in the NHL.

Their political leaders no doubt await their chance to get the positive vibes of the Commissioner, eager to show their constituents that they too are working hard to bring the game to their community.

Seemingly now part of the cycle of trial balloons that the NHL throw up in the air to keep the northern hockey base hopeful and apparently eager to please a league that perhaps needs those northern cities more than the cities need the NHL.

Globe and Mail-- Bettman keen on Quebec: Charest
National Post-- Charest confident NHL will be back in Quebec

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Brendan Witt can take the hits!

It's a well known fact that playing in Philadelphia in any colour other than orange can be a miserable experience, but man, who knew just how nasty a town that place can really be.

Brendan Witt of the New York Islanders is pretty well aware of having to be watchful for hits when he's crossing the blue line, but now he has to have that head on a swivel when he's crossing the street as well.

Monday, the Islander was struck by a car while crossing a Philadelphia street on his way to a Starbucks, providing the kind of flourish seen in many an action film, Witt apparently rolled over the hood and landed on the road on the other side of the car.

Promptly dusting himself off he proclaimed that he was fine, that he was a hockey player and such little distractions in the day barely cause him to break a stride. In fact he was in the line up on Monday evening for the Islanders game with the Flyer's.

His street theatre event, was a performance that probably almost won him universal praise from Philly fans who like their players to be tough, though we suspect they quickly reigned in all that admiration upon the discovery that Witt skates for the Isles.

Still, his fifteen seconds or so of fame on the Philly streets was good for a few stories around North America on Wednesday, building up the ever popular perception that hockey players are the toughest of the tough.

As for the offending driver, rumour has it that Flyer's GM Paul Holmgren has already waived the driver down to the minors.

National Post-- Islanders' Witt unhurt after getting struck by SUV
TSN-- Isles' Witt hit by car in morning, plays at night Isles' Witt plays despite being hit by SUV

Monday, December 07, 2009

And now for the next 100 years

The next generation of Habitants, take to the ice tonight fresh off their Friday night showpiece of a game, all part of the festivities celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens.

Friday night's show was done as only the Habs seem to be able to do, with the glory of a Roman procession, stirring the emotions of generations of Canadiens fans across the land.

They brought out many of the old familiar faces for one more photograph, retired a few more numbers to the rafters (which must make sweater selection a rather easy process in Montreal, here's your numbers take what's left!) and provided the spiritual lift that seemed to have the ghosts of the past skating beside the workmen of today in their rouge, blanc et bleu uniforms.

Boston were mere spectators to Friday's game, and considering they kept out of sight until just the very end of the lengthy pre game procession, they still seemed to offer little in the way of resistance to a Montreal team that looked as though the Rocket, Le Gros Bill or Howie Morenz were next up for a shift. Mike Cammalleri playing the role of the Rocket, seemingly scoring at will against the Bruins on Friday.

With a weekend of other social engagements to engage them, the Canadiens of today would spend a bit more time with ancient combatants of the Order of the Hab, the coaches and management no doubt hoping that some of that hard earned success of the past will by osmosis be transferred to today's would be heroes.

By far, when it comes to honouring the game and the tradition of the home side, there is no equal to the Canadiens, every moment of Friday night was choreographed, every word a measured tribute to the game and what it meant to be a Hab. Though it has been a few years now since they've been able to add to the legendary tales of the Canadiens.

The torch as they say, has now been passed for the next hundred years, a weighty responsibility for a current squad that has struggled much more than they have succeeded in this anniversary year.

Still, with the ghosts of the Forum now apparently, grudgingly it seems coming to terms with the new home, the haunting has begun, at least for one night, just ask the Bruins, they probably felt a chill on Friday.

The new era however begins today, with the slumping Flyers (again the ghosts are at work) in town to ring in the new century of Habs hockey.
With the year long celebrations behind them (finally) perhaps Montreal can begin to concentrate on the future and creating a few moments to come of their own.
Otherwise these night's to remember will only go to re-enforce the fact that it's been a few years since the Habs have been as dominant as they once were.

Montreal Gazette-- Habs said: 'We have a surprise'
Montreal Gazette-- For Habs' O'Byrne, foresight is 20/20
Montreal Gazette-- Habs wallowing in the past with no thought to the future
Montreal Gazette-- Canadiens lay B-day beating on Bruins
Montreal Gazette-- Habs party a team booster
Montreal Gazette-- No party without Carey Price's heroics
Montreal Gazette-- Historic birthday bash for Canadiens
Globe and Mail-- Canadiens greats honoured in Montreal
Globe and Mail-- Habs celebrate 100th, romp over Bruins

Hired to be fired 2009-10

A compilation of the unlucky members of the NHL coaching and managerial fraternity, who found themselves outsourced in the 2009-10 season.

From the freshest of recruits, to the oldest in tooth of the ancient order of coaches they never know when the phone call or tap on the shoulder will come. Some survive through to the playoffs, others are gone before the season gets too far along.

We track the departed here.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hockey Dads from Hell

“These tournaments are about the boys, they're about the kids having fun and learning from example how to be good gentlemen, how to work hard for their teams, how to be professional and how to be respectful. What happened here kind of flies in the face of what we're all trying to accomplish.” -- Bob Harrington, director of the 38th Annual December Shootout, a New York State tournament which will be thinking twice about invites in the future and hoping that parent's one day learn from their kids about sportsmanship and good behaviour.

The Cobourg Minor Hockey League bantam team probably won't be getting any more invitations and some of the parents of the lads on the team may have to stay in New York State longer than planned, that after Niagara Falls, New York police arrested a number of hockey dad's from Canada after a reported string of obnoxious behaviour in a local hotel.

Bringing out the worst of the hockey culture, three Canadian men have spent the weekend in jail after what appears to have been an alleged alcohol fueled brawl with police in Niagara Falls.

Players from Coburg's Bantam A program were in Niagara Falls for the three day tournament and while the youth from all accounts were apparently on their best behaviour, the same certainly can't be said for those that accompanied them.

The head coach, assistant coach and a team parent all were arrested after a number of complaints and incidents at the Niagara Falls Holiday Inn, with bail set from between 2500 to 10,000 dollars, there's a chance that a few of the so called adults will be spending more time in Niagara Falls while they attempt to raise their cash bond.

Members of the Eire County sheriffs department ended up requesting assistance from the State Police and the US Border Patrol to bring the incident under control and the Ontario hockey dads into custody.

The incident is the latest in a number of now high profile problems streaming from the case files of organized hockey in Ontario, where perhaps it might be time for the kids to return to the outdoor rink days of unsupervised sport, considering that the organized version seems to be getting a little bit disorganized.

As for the Shoot out Tournament, organizer Bob Harrington said he will not invite the team or its coaching staff back to his tournament, though he did outline how he didn't want to punish the hockey players for the behaviour of the adults of the group.

The organizers may wish to take a look at their activities list however stemming from this event, in among the events listed on the Shootout website, is the "Adult party" where as it states, "The tournament hosts a parent party every Friday from 9PM-1AM. To keep the partly lively we provide complimentary beer and entertainment. Please be prepared to sing to your hearts content, as the DJ will take Karaoke request throughout the night."

Temptation as they say is a dangerous thing, especially when there is no adult supervision, for the adults...

As for the now incarcerated coaches and parent, one suspects that even if they wanted to, once they work their way through the justice system in the US, it may be a little harder to cross that border in the future anyways. Described by New York officials as 'belligerent, obnoxious, intoxicated Ontario men' they have no doubt made quite an impression and those US Border guards probably have a long memory.

As for Cobourg Minor Hockey, the may wish to keep a lower profile for the next little while, the spotlight is going to be on their program and the less than glowing reputation it received over the weekend.

Globe and Mail-- Minor-league coaches, hockey dad brawl at bar
Toronto Sun-- Major trouble at minor tourney
Northumberland Today-- Cobourg minor bantam hockey coaches, parent charged in New York State hotel bar disturbance
Buffalo News-- Hockey dads held in hotel brawl

Meet the new boss, same results as the old boss

The Peter Laviolette era in Philadelphia began, much the same way as the John Stevens one did, with a Flyers loss, this time a rather embarrassing little affair by a score of 8-2 at the hands of the Washington Capitals.

The loss was the seventh defeat in eight games and served to highlight just how troubled the Flyers are these days, dropping from those lofty projections of a potential run at the Stanley Cup to the point where just surviving the season to make the playoffs may have to suffice.

The move to dismiss Stevens was the first coaching change of the season in the NHL, but one that wasn't unexpected in Philadelphia, though many followers of the team suggest that it's a case more of team dysfunction than in coaching styles that lay at the root of the Flyers woes.

As has been the case for much of the season, on ice brain cramps again brought down the Flyers, an ongoing theme of this year, where untimely penalties have served to provide the opposition with no shortage of scoring chances, something that was highlighted by Dan Carcillo's first period fight with the Capitals Matt Bradley, Carcillo pretty well levelled Bradley with one punch, before Bradley could drop his gloves, for his rather quick draw he received some 19 minutes in penalties, helping the Capitals begin the scoring onslaught.

It's that kind of lack of discipline that Laviolette hopes to bring to an end, and he'll have his work cut out for him, the Flyers seemingly seeking a return to the Broad Street Bully days lead the league in penalty minutes at 18 minutes per game.

The Flyers made some high profile acquisitions in the off season, with Chris Pronger and Ray Emery joining the squad, yet, despite a pretty good start things have gone downhill pretty fast as the second quarter of the season moved forward.

If they were hoping to impress their new coach with their work ethic they probably didn't reach the objective on Saturday night, if they instead are looking forward to some lengthy bag skates at practice however, Saturday night was probably a text book case of laying the groundwork for some rather tiring practices to come.

Philadelphia Inquirer-- Flyers' organization drifts nowhere
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Laviolette aims to fulfill expectations
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Inside the Flyers: Shame on the players for what happened to Stevens

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Stupid is, as stupid does...

We suspect that Tomas Vokoun and team mate Keith Ballard won't be exchanging Christmas cards this year, especially after Vokoun had to leave Monday night's game after a bizarre incident which saw team mate Ballard chopping him in the head after Vokoun gave up a goal to the Thrashers.

Now we suspect that Ballard probably wasn't intending to chop his own goaltender in frustration over the Thrashers marker, but while he was busy losing his head, he damn near took off Vokoun's.

The game was delayed for a number of minutes while ambulance personnel examined the Panther's goaltender and then loaded him into an ambulance for a trip to the hospital, Vokoun suffered a cut ear and should not suffer any internal ear damage, nor are there fears of neurological damage from the swing .

It's unknown what internal disciplinary action the Panther's will take in this one, there are some calls for the league to suspend Ballard, if not for attempted manslaughter then for careless use of his stick. Though it's not expected to reach the desk of Colin Campbell, though a phone call to suggest some anger management lessons might be made we suspect.

It may also give Campbell the opportunity to dust off his working copy of Respect and the need for it in the game, it would seem that judging by some recent incidents, a few of his students need a refresher course on how to treat each other on the ice.

It does leave Vokoun with a bit of dilemma however whenever he returns to the Panthers line up, not only will he have to worry about the opposition shots and crashing of the net, now he has to keep in the back of his mind that one of his own is possibly more dangerous than anyone else on the ice.

Globe and Mail-- Vokoun hurt after being accidentally hit in the head by teammate's stick
USA Today-- Ballard's slash of Panthers teammate Vokoun gets no penalty
Toronto Sun-- Vokoun's injury shocks league
Canadian Press-- No hard feelings after Vokoun injured by teammate's accidental swipe
Atlanta Journal-Constitution-- Vokoun’s injury one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen
TSN-- No internal damage after Vokoun struck by Ballard's stick
TSN-- Ballard's high stick on Vokoun won't be punished

Headlines of December 2009

December 31-- Canada cuts tension on the ice
December 30-- Yzerman hands team over to the coaches
December 29-- Coyotes win 10th in row at home, over Canucks
December 28-- Gustavsson, Alfredsson make Sweden's Olympic team
December 27-- U.S. shuts out Switzerland in front of biggest crowd to ever watch hockey game in Saskatchewan
December 26-- Canada crushes Latvia 16-0
December 25-- Russia's Olympic hockey squad loaded with offence, but omits Kovalev
December 24-- U.S., Russia And Sweden will be pushing Canada at WJHC
December 23-- Canadiens win third in a row
December 22-- Canadian juniors dominate in win over Finland
December 21-- Brodeur sets NHL shutout record with No. 104
December 20-- Canada slams Sweden in world junior tune-up
December 19-- Senators undress Wild
December 18-- Molson family rekindles love affair with Canadiens
December 17-- Reggie Fleming’s story
December 16-- Canada's lineup has ‘a mix of everything’
December 15-- Crosby wins Lou Marsh Award
December 14-- Cherry lashes out
December 13-- Iginla ready for leadership role
December 12-- Senators' Kovalev scores 400th career goal
December 11-- Ice Edge closer to Coyotes purchase
December 10-- Messier, Gretzky could lure Tavares
December 9-- Seventh NHL team on horizon?
December 8-- Messier to be Canadian GM for worlds: Report
December 7-- Hockey House organizers vow it will be a 'cathedral'
December 6-- Senators owner Melnyk calls out team's stars
December 5-- NHL to consider renaming trophies: Hotstove
December 4-- Lafleur, Béliveau, Roy, Robinson, Dryden honoured in Montreal
December 3-- New deals for ‘Hawks young stars
December 2-- Luongo-Brodeur showdown only matters in Canada
December 1-- Bettman eyes expansion, not relocation

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Shhh, don't tell Ottawa, but Dany Heatley is a very happy guy

Keeping the sharp instruments hidden away for the next few days might be a good idea, for the spurned fans of Ottawa won't be happy to learn that their enfant terrible, Dany Heatley is finding life in Northern California to be much to his liking.

Ottawa Citizen reporter Alen Panzeri caught up with the one time Senator, and paints a pretty happy picture for Heatley in his new digs, with his new team and as part of one of the most explosive scoring lines so far in this NHL season.

Heatley who made no friends in Edmonton either having turned down a trade to the Oilers before nodding his head to the Sharks, is on a pace to have one of his best seasons ever, and with his success has come the expectation that when Steve Yzerman picks the Team Canada roster at the end of the month, Heatley is probably a sure bet to be joining team mates Joe Thornton and maybe Patrick Marleau, providing Yzerman with some instant scoring chemistry in the quest for gold.

More immediate however, will be a renewal of aquaintances with his old team, as the Senators pull into San Jose Tueday night for a game with the Sharks. For Ottawa fans, the fact that the Sens are playing some pretty good hockey of their own probably tempers those hard feelings for now, but as they say revenge is a dish best served cold.

Considering the Sharks constant inability to make much noise in the playoffs, Sens fans will no doubt be holding out for another playoff collapse for the Teal squad, then perhaps they'll finally feel some closure to a love spurned.