Friday, December 17, 2010

And if my Mom phones, tell her I'm not at the rink today...

Poor Bruce Boudreau, beyond the troubles with his under performing and highly paid hockey club today he has a much larger problem on the horizon this Christmas, he has to face his Mama after his television debut on HBO this week.

Boudreau and his Capitals are part of a number of HBO programs tracking both the Caps and the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they work their way through December of the NHL season on their way to a rendezvous on New Years Day at the Winter Classic at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field.

Styled as a behind the scenes all access pass kind of program, hockey fans are learning a fair amount (perhaps a little too much) about some of their favourite hockey players, their coaches and any other fellow traveller that pops into the camera viewfinder in the next few weeks.

The program titled 24/7 Penguins Capitals road to the NHL Winter Classic is clearly not the thing of a Peter Puck greatest hits collection, unfiltered and clearly uncensored, the good, the bad and the profane is all there for display.  A fascinating glimpse inside the dressing room, team bus, airport waits and any other location that Pens and Caps may gather with the camera almost a constant companion.

Boudreau's debut on the television documentary screen has made for much conversation after episode one, his liberal use of F bombs in his missives to his Capital troops a warning to coaches everywhere from high school to the pros, that emotions caught on tape can certainly provide for talking points not to shortly after public review.

For those who missed the debut on Wednesday, but want to total up the F bombs themselves, (providing that Mom and any little children for that matter aren't around) the more colourful of Boudreau's cinematic rant can be found on You Tube.

No one is keeping tabs on the profanities exhaled by Boudreau (perhaps because they are too plentiful and too fast to count) , who may find sympathy from many hockey fans for his exasperation at the sluggish work efforts of his players in the last few months, but one person in particular is hoping that Bruce keeps offering up the words that could be bleeped anywhere else but on HBO.

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, currently under more than a bit of pressure of his own with his NFL team stumbling in the late going is no doubt hoping that the the chatty Boudreau keeps the F words flowing.

Up until the first episode of the Pens and Caps home movies, Ryan was most famously known for his own expletive deleted missives to his players on a similar style program on the Jets aired by HBO called Hard Knocks..

With the Capitals coach ramping up the cursing to a grander scale, Ryan suddenly is off the hook with his own Mom, passing the torch for coaches with a lot of splaining to do his new best friend Bruce.

The HBO series continues to air (with words as blue as a cold winter's sky) every Wednesday through December, you can check the schedule here for  other air times on HBO Canada,

If you're watching at home be sure to keep the volume down, lest your Mom have to make a call to Mr. Boudreau's mom about the nature of his public speaking!

Some of the reviews of the HBO show can be found below:

Newsday -- Caps coach is curse king
Washington Post -- HBO's 24/7 series documents Washington Capitals, warts and all
Washington Post-- A bit too close up
National Post-- HBO’s most stunning NHL revelations
National Post-- HBO's 2/7 Penguins/Capitals proves mastery of the salty language arts
Ottawa Citizen-- Capital's coach gets earful from mom over HBO curses
ESPN -- Boudreau won't soften - not even for mom
ESPN-- Winter Classic chow is honest, entertaining
Globe and Mail-- HBO turns its candid cameras on NHL
MSNBC-- Snap review: 24/7 Penguins/Capitals an instant classic
Huffington Post -- Bruce Boudreau F-Bomb speech
Yahoo Sports-- HBO 24/7 Penguins-Capitals Ep. 1: Bruce Boudreau gets dirty
New York Times--  NHL excited about HBO Documentary

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lots of talk, few results in the months since the Flames/Leafs trade

Providing he makes the flight connections from a cross country journey, Dion Phaneuf will make a much anticipated return to Calgary tonight, as his Toronto Maple Leafs make a rare visit to the western reaches of the NHL.

Phaneuf, who spent most of this week making arrangements to attend the funeral of his grandmother in Prince Edward Island, has been the topic of much of hockey media in both Toronto and Calgary this week, featured in the spotlight over the debate over the trade of last year that brought him to Toronto from Alberta.

It was the signature trade thus far for Maple Leaf's President and General Manager Brian Burke, who brought the intense nature of Phaneuf's hockey make up into the boiler room that is Toronto, which like Montreal is where hockey players are placed under a microscope like few other locations in the NHL.

When he arrived in Toronto eleven months ago, it was considered perhaps another one of Brian Burke's greatest thefts, bringing a key member of the Flames into the Maple Leaf dressing room to serve as one of the major building blocks in Burke's blue print to return the Leafs to greater glory.

However, like any construction project it would seem that there have been setbacks along the way, the Leafs this year don't seem much better than they did last, Phaneuf has struggled at times with the leadership role thrust upon him with Toronto and along with injuries hasn't quite provided for the dividends that Maple Leaf fans are anxious for.

Still, for Burke it was a trade he would make again in a minute, taking time this week to recount the reasons why he set out to acquire the defenceman and how he still believes that the plan in progress will eventually come to a successful conclusion.

Over in the Calgary dressing room, the return of their former team mate once again has Flame players speaking out that any perceived animosities between themselves and the former Flame have been greatly overblown.

Flame captain Jarome Iginla would seem to be getting a little exasperated with all the attention to what may or may not have happened in years gone by within the Flames dressing room, outlining how players in Canadian cities seem to have to deal with far more attention to personality issues and personal inquiries than other locations.

The fact that the return of Dion and his struggling Leafs to visit the Flames who are very much in the same situation as Toronto, has attracted such attention, seems to prove out Iginla's thoughts.

As the two teams prepare to meet in Calgary tonight, the focus it seems is on personalities rather than what's been happening on the ice, indicative of the troubles of two teams that seem stuck in a rut. leaving their fans to watch in frustration as expectations of progress seem rather distant to say the least.

For the followers of the Leafs it's the frustration that the arrival of Phaneuf hasn't translated into a major move upwards in the NHL standings, while Flames fans can commiserate with the realization that the blockbuster announcement of last year hasn't resulted in a change of direction for the Flames.

In fact, for Calgary, this season so far is worse than last, which if one is scoring at home would suggest that if you're looking for winners and losers in the trade of last year, the Leafs may be ahead of the Flames, though not by a very wide margin.

Both teams continue to make headlines from their trade of almost a year ago, however, the bottom line thus far is  that  neither can claim a massive shift in results that came from it.

A digest of the accounts of the return of the prodigal Flame can be found below:

Globe and Mail-- You think Toronto is a mess?
Globe and Mail-- Burke would do Phaneuf deal all over again
TSN-- Your call: Would you rather be the Leafs or Flames right now?  
Yahoo-- Diminishing Return: Dion Phaneuf comes back to Calgary as a Leaf
CBC-- Leaf's Phaneuf makes return visit to Calgary
Calgary Herald-- Will the real Dion please stand up
National Post-- Leafs won Phaneuf trade by default 
National Post-- Wilson boos Phaneuf at Leafs practice
Vancouver Sun-- Captain Phaneuf's circus sideshow lands in Calgary
Toronto Sun-- Darryl would do Dion deal again
Sportsnet-- Dion of a new era
Toronto Star-- Less hype, more hockey: Phaneuf set to return to Calgary
Toronto Star-- Leafs have emerged as clear winners of the Phaneuf trade
Toronto Sun-- Phaneuf helping Leafs find identity
Calgary Sun-- GM Sutter fails to clarify 'issues' in dressing room, defers to players to answer
Calgary Herald-- No masking anticipation of Phaneuf's return
Calgary Herald-- Iginla downplays match vs Phaneuf
Calgary Herald-- Polarizing presence returns to the Dome

Monday, December 06, 2010

A great hockey writer, but an even better hockey fan!

The hockey world certainly won't mind putting the month of November in our rear view mirrors, it was a most sad month when it came to saying good bye to popular personalities.

Short days after we bid farewell to Pat Burns, the hockey world stopped to acknowledge the life and career of Jim Kelley, the Buffalo based writer and broadcaster who never wavered from his opinions but  provided for a wealth of memories over a lengthy career covering the sport he showed such passion for.

Mr. Kelley passed away last week after a battle with pancreatic cancer, dedicated professional that he was he worked almost until his very last hours it seems, filing a story for Sportsnet mere hours before his admission to hospital and his passing.

His career began as a writer for the Buffalo News, taking on the hockey beat and making it his home, bringing his sharp eye and attention to prose together to provide some of the finest in hockey reporting on either side of the border.

From the printed word of Buffalo's traditional media, Kelley moved on to the world of the Internet, a pioneer of sorts ahead of his time when it came to delivering the news of the hockey world to an eager audience always looking for more.

Over the last few years he became even better known to Canadians with frequent appearances as co-host on Prime Time Sports on the Fan 590 and Sportsnet, his week long stints a signal to hockey fans to pull up a chair and gain insight into the game that few have the knack to pull off.

The Prime Time Sports program with Bob McCown features a number of participants who ebb and flow through the programming schedule, however along with Stephen Brunt, the appearances made by Kelley always proved to be among the most entertaining of hours that the program provides, his give and take with the host the kind of chemistry that is hard to fake, the debates, the sidebar commentaries all part of what he brought to the table and shared with the audience.

Whether it was from his written word or his radio and television work, every session provided the kind of atmosphere for the reader or listener and viewer of being in their favourite watering hole just spinning yarns about a favourite sport.  A good friend and some good conversation all making for a pretty great combination.

It's a testimony to his talent and the reverence that those who worked with him over the years had that the last week has provided for a large number of tribute pieces about his work and his life.

Some of them can be found below.

Globe and Mail-- Remembering Jim Kelley
Globe and Mail-- Jim Kelley: Great pro, great man
USA Today-- Hockey loses important voice with death of Jim Kelley
Bufalo News-- For Kelley the beat went on and on
Buffalo News-- Time spent with Kelly was a master class
Buffalo News-- Hockey world pays tribute to Hall of Fame columnist
WGR 550-- Schopp: Kelley was a great friend
WGR 550-- Simon: Remembering Jim Kelley
Montreal Gazette-- Cancer claims longtime hockey columnist Kelley
Toronto Sun-- You will be missed, Jim Kelley Kelley loses battle with cancer

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hockey Nation Headlines, December 2010

Our archive of headline stories for December 2010.

December 26-- Canada opens with win against Russia at World Juniors
December 25-- Crosby leads MVP race at Christmas break
December 24-- No Stanley Cup guarantees at the Christmas break
December 23-- Devils fire John MacLean
December 22-- Hawks, Thrashers owners settle long legal fight
December 21-- Leafs not amused by Eggo Bomber’s antics
December 20-- Gritty Canadians make statement with rout
December 19-- Capitals snap losing skid against Ottawa
December 18-- Fehr officially takes over NHLPA
December 17-- Flyers lose Pronger to broken foot
December 16-- Boudreau’s mother chastises his potty mouth
December 15-- Breaking down the Canadian junior team
December 14-- Burke would do Phaneuf deal all over again
December 13-- Snow woes for Canadian junior hopefuls
December 12-- Nordiques Nation takes sea of blue to New York
December 11-- Naslund becomes third Canuck to have jersey retired
December 10-- Leafs Nation fed up with Phaneuf
December 9-- Tod Leiweke helped shape the Canucks
December 8-- Is Crosby already better than Gretzky?
December 7-- Thrashers’ woes in NHL’s unofficial spotlight
December 6-- Darryl Sutter needs to answer for Flames' woes
December 5-- Likely Coyotes owner meets NHL Board of Governors
December 4-- Habs' gamble on Price paying off
December 3-- Markov faces season-ending knee surgery
December 2-- Leafs booed off the ice after loss to Oilers
December 1-- Teachers’ tell NHL they have no plans to sell MLSE stake

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A farewell to an iconic Canadian coach

Monday brought the hockey world together in Montreal, a celebration of the life of Pat Burns, take far too early from the game he loved and the players and league personnel that ever worked with or for him.

The coach who never seemed to leave the police beat far behind from his days in Gatineau, was remembered not only for his coaching skills and ability to relate to his players, but for his passion for the game and sense of humour that he brought to it, though you suspect that for more than a few players over the years, that sense of humour may have been cleverly disguised.

Tuesday's news reviews were full of anecdotes and remembrances of events during his days of coaching whether it was in his junior days with Hull, or when he moved quickly into the ranks of pro hockey with Montreal, Toronto, Boston and New Jersey.

As a sign of tribute to the kind of force he had been the entire New Jersey Devils team was in attendance at his funeral mass at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal, they were joined by a galaxy of past NHL stars, current General Managers and Presidents as well as league officials including Commissioner Gary Bettman, beyond hockey personalities there were politicians and former co workers from the days that Burns walked a beat or served as a detective with the Gatineau police force.

All gathered to recount those moments that brought their path across his, making many of them better we suspect for the journey shared.

Unfortunately, the special remembrance has been marred by a callous and despicable act of selfishness from the streets of Montreal, as  the Burns family car was broken in the overnight period following the service, with a number of items and mementos stolen.

Considering the fondness that both the hockey and police community have for their former partner, one suspects that this one thief that would be best to turn over the ill gotten goods as soon as possible and then find the deepest hole in which to hide.

The last week has been a hard one for many that enjoyed following the career of the former beat cop turned hockey coach, with many making mention of the remarkable oversight of the Hockey Hall of Fame this year with their refusal to list Pat Burns as a nominee for induction, a mistake that they will now have to carry on their shoulders for many years to come.

While he may not be in the Hall today,  there's no mistaking the idea that for all intents and purposes with hockey fans Burns is already a Hall of Famer, plaque or not.

Below some of the highlights of the remembrances of his career . Hockey World Celebrates Burns' Life
Star Ledger-- Devils awed by diverse turnout at Pat Burns funeral
Toronto Sun-- Habs share favourite Pat Burns stories
Montreal Gazette-- Former Habs coach Pat Burns never backed down
Toronto Star-- Pat Burns, 58: A man's man with a tender heart
Toronto Star-- Burns gone but not forgotten
Globe and Mail-- Hockey royalty gathers in Montreal for Pat Burns funeral
Globe and Mail-- A cop, a coach, that's all Pat Burns was
Globe and Mail-- Hockey fans unite in tribute to Pat Burns
National Post-- Hockey world gathers in Montreal for Burns' funeral
National Post-- Reactions: Hockey world, fans mourn death of Pat Burns
Vancouver Province-- Funeral for 'tough as nails' Pat Burns recalls coach's strength, integrity
The Hockey News-- Coach Pat Burns laid to rest in an urn that's a miniature Stanley Cup replica
CBC-- Pat Burns funeral draws hundreds

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Finding favourable financials for would be Canadian franchises

When in doubt call in the accountants, and for those proponents of adding more Canadian franchises to the NHL's family of clubs, the numbers are measuring up very positively it seems.

The weekend past, the National Post provided the spread sheet so to speak as to the viability of such Canadian outposts as Hamilton, Winnipeg and Quebec City, all passionate hockey towns and all wishful that the NHL brings the game back to places where it once was played and where the fire for the game still burns hot.

The synopsis of the article from the Post is that a return to any of the three Canadian cities currently hoping to return to the NHL fold would be financially possible with Canada's strong currency, assisted by the era of the salary cap combining to provide a strong base for a successful franchise.

Mario Lefebvre, a Director of the Centre for Municipal Studies and participant with the Conference Board of Canada, provided the four pillars of support required for success, and the three most mentioned Canadian cities it seems all fit into those guidelines.

Mr. Lefebvre found favourable trends in such areas as the size of and  the financial wealth of at the potential fan base, a sound corporate presence for support and a level playing field , particularly in the area of economics.

With the Canadian dollar now at or above parity with its U. S. counterpart, the financials may never be better to relocate those struggling American franchises to homes north of the border, a move which considering the state of the American economy of late compared to that of Canada's could make the wish list perhaps more possible now than it ever has since the moving vans backed up to Le Colisee and the old Winnipeg Arena a decade or so ago.

The full review of the financials and some feedback from the NHL can be found from the National Post.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

But who gets Albert?

There is a growing sentiment that in an overbooked and lengthy NHL season the prospect of an all star game is something best left for the history books.

An unlikely possibility however, considering each all star game is like a debutante ball for Commissioner Gary Bettman.  His chance to bring along a posse of corporate sponsors to schmooze along in the private booths and have their pictures taken with players, even if it's most likely many of them wouldn't recognize a player if they tripped over their equipment bags.

All Star Weekend of late has come to resemble the weekend that the carnival comes to your town, they have games of chance for the players,  a number of participation booths for fans to interact with players and of course the big finale, the game itself.

That part of All Star weekend however has more or less taken on all the importance of a public skate at the local rink, and to try and dress it up a bit the NHL is going to give it a makeover of sorts, with the NHL tasking the duties off to newly hired special advisor Brendan Shanahan.

And so after some no doubt entertaining banter between Shanny and  a few of his closest NHL friends , the league has released its latest revision to the mid season all star game, providing for the people of Raleigh this year with  a version  of those most Canadian of hockey events, the pre game picks combined with some kind of inside fantasy draft.

A decision which has received some interesting reviews since it was first outlined:

Globe and Mail-- GMs propose changes to all-star game
CBC Hotstove-- Debating the new all-star format
Winnipeg Free Press-- It'll be street hockey on steroids
Montreal Gazette-- All star changes fall flat
CBC-- All-star changes intriguing, but will game be any better?
Vancouver Province-- Let's get priorities right
Toronto Sun-- New All-Star format creates right kind of buzz
Detroit News-- Wings like format change for setting All-Star rosters

We see it as a sort of harkening back to the days of road hockey or a game at the local outdoor rink, this years all star game will feature the teams captains picking their own line up (with a bit of help from fan balloting) leaving us to wonder which NHL star will in the end have his Albert moment.

For those not familiar with the classic Canadian Tire commercial, Albert was that lonely soul left in the snow bank until the very end,  the last pick of the pick up game relegated to his brother's team, so eloquently assigned there with the traditional yelp of "he's your kid brother, you take him".

On dead end streets and outdoor rinks across North America, Albert would inevitably end up in the nets, but for the sake of a good television commercial, Albert was destined for greater things.

For those that have forgotten the classic vignette, or those that never had the chance to dream along with Albert, we offer up this reprise of that defining moment.

We find out on January 30th , just who will play the role of Albert in Raleigh.

Let the balloting for the short list begin!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Canucks show their respect and class with Remembrance Day observances

“To see generations of soldiers – I can't imagine what they've gone through – but to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for Canada is a small gesture for us... “The final parade, seeing generations going by and the pride they have in being a member of the armed services, that's the point that really hit home for me.” -- Vancouver Canuck Manny Malhotra, expressing his thoughts and those of his team, as the Canucks gathered in Ottawa to mark Remembrance Day.

Full credit to the Vancouver Canuck organization for understanding the important things.

The NHL team, in Ottawa for tonight's game with the Senators, walked as a team to the National War Memorial today, standing with over 30,000 Canadians to commemorate those that gave their lives in the service of Canada and to remember those that still stand on guard for Canada today in Afghanistan and other locations.

Manny Malhotra became the spokesman for the team with a short interview on the CBC, expressing his thoughts on the occasion and what the ceremony meant to he and his team mates.

Clearly respectful of the final march past, Malhotra eloquently described the solemn moment of national remembrance. A day where Canada's veterans and serving personnel received the kind of accolades and support that sports personalities may take for granted on a day to day basis.

Though we imagine that all of them would feel that the tributes paid to the veterans today is something far more worthy and much more important than anything received inside of a hockey rink.

In an era where we have become far to used to the excesses of professional sports, the Canucks provided a welcome reminder that all may not be lost.

Good on them for showing their respect and their support for those that have made sacrifices for this country, the team showed class, a model for all sports franchises in any league.

Ottawa Citizen -- Vancouver Canucks cancel skate to attend Remembrance Day ceremony
Vancouver Province-- Canucks take in Remembrance Day in Ottawa: 'Honour the people who battled for us'
Vancouver Sun-- The power of perspective and privilege

Photo from Ottawa Citizen website

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Hockey 101: A most instructive video tutorial

From the Go Big Blog at the Vancouver Province, we found this link to a most creative and entertaining look at the woes of an NHL defenceman.

The result of the combined efforts of the bloge salming and Down Goes Brown, who put a lot of thought into how best to highlight the travails of the league's defencemen.

As they used to say to Dick Clark on American band stand, it's got a great beat and you can dance to it!

Though if you're one of the featured performers, it may be a little hard to watch it!

Monday, November 01, 2010

HockeyNation Headlines November 2010

Our Archive of headline stories for November 2010

November 30-- Sidney Crosby is Maclean's newsmaker of the year
November 29-- Hockey royalty gathers in Montreal for Pat Burns funeral
November 28-- Maple Leafs and Brian Burke have little to show so far
November 27-- Salo worried about ever walking again after latest injury
November 26-- Familiar scene playing out for Flames
November 25-- OHL looks to knockout staged fights
November 24-- Recchi reaches NHL points milestone
November 23-- Former junior pals set aside friendship
November 22-- Sens end losing skid
November 21-- Devils' Brodeur out for two weeks
November 20-- Hockey fans unite in tribute to Pat Burns
November 19-- Pat Burns, hockey coaching legend, dead at 58
November 18-- Canucks GM Mike Gillis: 'This team can be better’
November 17-- Should the NHL stop hiring its own?
November 16-- Goaltending a standout for Canadiens
November 15-- Colin Campbell has some splainin to do
November 14-- Rangers' rout of Oilers turns ugly
November 13-- Markov re-injured in Canadiens win
November 12-- Quebec to field separate international hockey squad
November 11-- Lecavalier breaks right hand
November 10-- All-stars to pick teams schoolyard style
November 9-- Sabres’ Ruff to coach 1,000th game
November 8-- Devellano always had an eye for the game
November 7-- Scapinello, Hoggarth see big changes to NHL job
November 6-- It’s Ovie’s world
November 5-- A beginner’s guide to booing NHL players
November 4-- Canucks continue to roll
November 3-- Messier names Canadian roster for Deutschland Cup
November 2-- Education key in treating concussion ‘epidemic’
November 1-- Iginla following in Messier's skatesteps

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Give us an N, Give us an O, what does it spell, Nooooooo!

When Mascots just don't cut it anymore whatever can you do?

Cue the dancing girls!

The prospect of cheerleaders invading Canadian hockey rinks seems to be splitting the faithful in Edmonton these days.

The Oilers announced this week that they would be the first Canadian based NHL team to embrace, er, make that employ, that American phenomenon the cheer leader.

A mainstay of some 23 American rinks and International hockey, the cheerleader in Canada has normally been confined to the nation's 8 CFL franchises,  university and high school teams and it's lonely NBA squad (oh how we still miss the Vancouver Grizzlies and of course the dance team).

Oilers President and CEO Pat Laforge said during the cheerleader launch,  that the new squad would be a source of entertainment for the fans and add a little extra spice and sparkle to Oiler games.

The move towards a more cheerful and "spicy" rink experience is one that is apparently gnawing at the soul of Canadian and Oiler hockey traditionalists, so much so that in Edmonton there is an apparent backlash growing to the Oilers plans.

While the Edmonton front office prepare for audition night, a number of those fans that would be subjected to the cheers and gyrations are taking to their computers to stop such folly.

An online petition has sprung up, as well as the ever popular Facebook page (though this particular page is proving rather difficult to track down) all designed to bring an end to  the visual interference of the on ice experience.

So far the quest to turn back the tide isn't exactly overwhelming,  with a slowly building data base of voters and commentators logging on to the site to cast a vote and leave a thought. And while we won't offer up a our own aye or nay on the topic, we have found the commentaries to be rather interesting.

We imagine that as for the movement to stop the cheerleaders, the organizers will continue forward hoping that Oiler fans will want to focus on hockey and not on distractions from the sport itself.

A wishful thought perhaps in yet another rebuilding year for the Oil,  as we head towards November, the Oilers currently hold down last place in the Western conference with but four points on the season thus far, based on two wins out of five games.

At that pace, by March, Oiler fans may be wishing for any kind of distraction from another disappointing season.

Cue the dancing girls, Oiler fans may very well welcome the diversion!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mis-behaving hockey parents are now on notice

A very public resignation of a Nova Scotia volunteer in minor hockey has once again drawn attention to perhaps the number one problem in minor sports these days, parents that don't quite get it  when it comes to the pursuit of athletics by their children.

While the Tim Horton's commercials may provide a wishful view of the ice side experience, the annual problem of parents who mis-behave at the rink (or in some cases far from it) is once again making  news.  

In question is how to reign in those parents who conduct themselves in a bullying fashion, or project the prospect of intimidation and/or potential violence towards players, coaches, officials and administrators, a question that is getting addressed in a number of areas of the country, with a very public examination recently revealed in Nova Scotia.

Wayne McDonald was the vice president of the Timberlea Minor Amateur Sports Association, until the verbal abuse and threats of violence from a few of the hockey parents in the region led him to say enough was enough.

But rather than just disappear into the growing pool of former volunteers who had tired of the abuse and lack of assistance from parents, he took his case to the province's largest newspaper. Submitting to the Halifax Chronicle Herald his reasons for his resignation and concerns for sport in general within his association.

The Halifax Chronicle Herald outlined some of the issues behind his departure from the local hockey scene, which included abusive phone calls made to Mr. McDonald at his place of work.

Mr. McDonald's travails with the parenting class have also been documented by the Globe and Mail which reviewed some of the incidents that led to his decision and the reaction in the region since it took place.

The Globe also provides some details of a Calgary based initiative that many say should become nationwide, a program designed to give parent's cause for a second look at how they behave at the rink.

Calgary Minor hockey currently has in place a requirement that all parents must take the Respect in Sport program, in short, the parents have to hit the books on proper behaviour, before their children can hit the ice.

While it's generally accepted that 98 per cent of the folks that stop by the rink to watch are well behaved, it's the 2 % that seem to ruin the moment for all, and for which the program hopes to turn around.

You can view more details about the online course from the Hockey Calgary site.

The Calgary program was created in 2004 by Wayne McNeil and former NHL hockey player Sheldon Kennedy, designed to protect the sanctity of the hockey rinks, a place where the game would remain fun and free from bullying, intimidation and any threatening behaviour at the hands of those that brought the kids to the rink.

This was the first year that the program was made mandatory in the Calgary Association, requiring at least one parent of the Association's 13,500 players to take the one hour on line course before their child can play organized hockey.

It may not completely bring to an end the era of the obnoxious parent, but at least may give them cause for second thoughts when it comes to their boorish behaviour.

The program seems rather easy to implement and could easily be transferred to other sports as well, providing lessons and reflection for those that also stand on a soccer  or football sideline or grab a seat court side at a basketball game or behind the plate at a baseball game.

A few decades ago facing parental apathy when it came to sport, there was a familiar television commercial which had Dick Irvin urging parents to stick around the rink when they dropped their kids off for a game or a practice. Some thirty years later and that may not seem like such a good idea for a few of those parents.

Some high profile incidents over the years have indicated how far that simple concept has been threatened by parents that don't recognize their responsibilities or their boundaries.

Perhaps with the RIS program in place nationwide and beyond the realm of hockey, those days of sport for the enjoyment  of the kids can return to the rinks, courts and fields of the nation

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Canucks don't provide much of an anniversary present for Alain Vigneault

"Everybody in that room, starting with me, could do a better job," -- Vancouver Canuck Head Coach Alain Vigneault reviewing Tuesday's woeful performance of his squad.

Game number 600 may be a milestone, but for Vancouver Canuck's head coach Alain Vigneault it wasn't much of a night to remember, in fact it was a night that even Vigneault himself admits was not his best effort, nor was it the finest hour for those that he coaches..

Vigneault's Canucks never appeared ready to play on Tuesday night a situation that the home Minnesota Wild more than took advantage of.

The Wild took care of the Canucks on the ice with a solid 6-2 victory,  a game which showcased domination in every facet of the game and featured the unwelcome sight for Canuck fans of Roberto Luongo getting chased from the game after surrendering all 6 of the nights goals for the Wild.

Beyond the embarrassing effort on the ice, the Canucks will also most likely be facing disciplinary action from the league office after an altercation off the ice between the Canucks Rick Rypien and a Minnesota fan in the stands.

While some of the Canucks were suggesting that the fan got a little to close to Rypien who had been sent to the locker room after a game misconduct the result of fight on the ice.  A review of the video of the incident seems to indicate that there is no evidence that the fan physically touched the player, while Rypien made ever effort to reach the fan in the stands.

Canucks GM Mike GIllis anticipates a phone call  on Wednesday morning from the league to set up a time and date for a league hearing into Rypien's lack of off ice composure.

As for the Anniversary boy, his record now sits at 293-235 with 35 ties and 37 overtime losses, though we imagine not many were as ugly or uncomfortable to watch than the Minnesota mess.

Tuesday was a night where the team was clearly out performed on the ice and as events play out in Colin Campbell's office over the next few days will most likely see the team no doubt reprimanded in the league office .

Monday, October 11, 2010

Canucks have but one wish for their 40th anniversary

When the Vancouver Canucks took to the ice against the LA Kings in 1970 they like many teams  had dreams of a Stanley Cup victory, but no doubt realized that an expansion team had a pretty big rock to push up that particular hill.

Forty years later, with the Canucks once again facing the LA Kings in a season opener, that dream is clearly a lot closer to realization, Vancouver a team on the rise with a strong core of players, one of the best goaltenders in the league and a first line combination that could very well take charge of the record books this season.

Such is the buzz around the Canucks these days, that a good number of prognosticators give the west coast team the most likely nod as a Canadian participant in the Stanley Cup final.  A climb back to the top of the expectations pile, after a couple of close calls in decades past, where the Canucks made it to a Stanley Cup final but just missed out on hoisting up Lord Stanley's collector cup.

This season there seems to be a new focus on the job at hand, Roberto Luongo has relinquished the duties of captain to better concentrate on his duties as one of the leagues most reliable goaltenders.

Henrik Sedin has been rewarded for his Art Ross season of last year with the teams C, a popular pick among his team mates and the fans in Vancouver, a city where wearing the C carries a heavy responsibility with all of that adulation. And as he was preparing to take on the job he came with no better reference than that offered up by Mats Naslund, the former Canucks that exemplified and understood the character needed for the position.

As though to reinforce the fact that he's ready, Sedin himself credited another former captain Trevor Linden for providing key advice to he and his brother in their early days in a Canuck uniform, as scoring sheets will testify to, both Henrik and Daniel took good heed of that leadership and now the time has come for Henrik in particular to take charge himself.

Beyond the newly appointed leadership role, the Canucks will once again rely on he and his brother along with fellow Swede Mikael Samuelsson. The trio form what could be one of the league's most exciting forward units and seem ready to fight through the extra attention that such a unit can attract.

With one blue chip first line and a more than potentially dangerous second unit following up, scoring goals in the long NHL season shouldn't be a particularly troublesome task for Vancouver's speedy offensive threats.

If there is a worrisome aspect to the Canucks line up it could be on the blue line, where there still appear to be growing pains and perhaps the need for a stand out defensive oriented player to hold down their own end.

To that goal and perhaps keeping an eye towards the trade deadline next spring, GM Mike Gillis may be keeping watch for yet one more move that could secure that one missing piece of a Stanley Cup puzzle.

While the Canucks are more than confident that Roberto Luongo can make those stops that can turn a game around, adding a little insurance in their own is certainly something that will be on the GM's radar as the season progresses.

A look at the Canucks lineup does offer much promise for 2010--11, certainly more than worthy holders of the title of the most likely Canadian team to go to the Stanley Cup final. If they do, they'll bring the hopes of a long line of Canucks fans who have been waiting for the day since October of 1970.

Forty years later, a guy named Henrik waits to do what a fellow named Orland and a succession of captains through the years also tried to visualize, holding up the Stanley Cup high in the air as a parade wanders down Robson Street.

If all the pieces come together as Canuck fans hope, it could very well be the highlight reel from Vancouver to Ornskoldsvik and everywhere in between!

Globe and Mail-- On the Canucks captaincy
Globe and Mail-- Passing the torch to Henrik

Friday, October 08, 2010

A fresh sheet of ice starts the quest for Stanley on Opening

The 2010-11 NHL season got underway on Thursday morning, the first match of the day's five games brought to us from Helsinki, Finland this years starting spot for 82 game endurance race to the playoffs.

Game number one featured the Minnesota Wild and the Carolina Hurricanes, with Minnesota grabbing the bragging rights of Finland with 4-3 victory. While the folks back home were pre-occupied with the fate of the Twins in the world Series, the NHL's mission to Europe offered up a sample of the excitement over a new season. Unfortunately for the Wild fans that may have tuned in at lunch the sample seemed rather familiar from last year, costly mistakes at the wrong time which provided Carolina with the opportunity to take two points away. The two teams wrap up their European tour on Friday,  today will also see Columbus and San Jose as well as Boston and Phoenix start off their tour of the continent in Sweden and the Czech Republic.

A little closer to the head office, the Penguins opened up their new arena, welcoming their cross state rivals the Flyers to town and the Flyers ruined the Pens grand opening celebrations, taking a 3-2 victory. Penguin fans marvelled about the new home but perhaps felt a little disappointed that the Pens power play woes have continued from last year.

More familiar home rinks marked the remainder of premiere night 2010.

The Blackhawks began their defence of the Stanley Cup in Denver with their salary cap revamped line up finding that the youngsters on the Avalanche have picked up a few ideas since last season. The Avs honoured their own Stanley Cup champs of 1996 and the current crew took inspiration on the way to a 4-3 victory over the Hawks.

The Leafs and Canadiens rekindled their ageless show with an entertaining night at Toronto's Air Canada Centre, the hometown Leafs taking their first two points of the season with a 3-2 victory, leaving the most loyal of Leaf fans to begin to draw up the parade route for Stanley's return later in June. One game down, 81 more to go for the Leaf faithful.

The hardest hitting game of the night came out of Edmonton, where provincial rivals the Flames and Oilers reignited the north south dialogue, though on Thursday it seemed only one team was doing the talking as the Oilers dominated the Flames in every facet of play leading up to a 4-0 shut out of their provincial rivals. It's been a fairly long time for Oiler fans, but Thursday brought reminders of the fast paced and fresh faced youngsters of the Golden era of Oiler's hockey, much to the shock for the Flames the scoreboard result resembled some of those nights from the 80's when the Blue and Copper ruled the ice.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Poolsters prepare to name the names that will bring them fame

With the start of the regular season set for  it's Finish debut on Thursday, hockey fans across North America and beyond are putting the final touches on their fantasy draft listings, the annual ritual of the hockey season which provides those at home to become the GM they always dreamed of being.

From local pools in pubs, bars and offices to the more professional of pools such as the Kenaston Saskatchewan  Lions Club annual offering hockey fans are sharpening their pencils and scouring the plethora of guide books to uncover that one hidden gem of a player that will lead them to victory.

Hours and hours of research all comes down to placement in the rotation or ability to handle the salary cap provisions in any particular pool. In the end it all really comes down to who has the most successful lineup and one that is able to avoid injuries during the length of the regular season.

This year as they did last year, the CBC offers up their own fantasy draft opportunity, where participants can log on and select their roster of players to carry them on towards success and perhaps the keys to a new KIA.

TSN is also getting into the hockeypool sweepstakes with their own version of a draft conducted through the ESPN portal.

Yahoo Sports is also a popular location for pollsters, providing a home for the hockey obsessed who love nothing better than to scour the post game box scores to see if their team is taking them on to bragging rights as the sage of hockey for 2010-11

Below are some of the links to the pools that we have discovered thus far, if you have one that we've missed out on, leave us a comment and we'll take a look at it and add it to the inventory.

CBC Fantasy Hockey
TSN Fantasy Hockey
Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey
Kenaston Lions Club SuperDraft Hockey pool

For those organizing their own office pool there's a site online that will help manage your pool for you

Reference materials for hockey pool players:

McKeen's fantasy hockey guide
Dobber Hockey
The Hockey News

Monday, October 04, 2010

Un, deux, trois, quatre it's the return of the NHL that really matters!

Quebec City put on their version of Puckstock on the weekend, with a large rally starting at the historic Plains of Abraham that  was designed to present visual evidence that a return of the NHL to Quebec's capital should be a no brainer for NHL executives.

With a look back at the glory days of Les Nordiques and stream of old players, coaches and friends of the cause, the gathered tens of thousands ( some estimates put the crowd at over 50,000 pucksters) were treated to what could have been confused as a religious revival such is the fervour that even the hint of a return of the Nords has brought to the city.

Evidence of that passion was shown for hours on a Quebec television network, Quebecor, which is also one of the key potential shareholders in any franchise options.

The rally dubbed "Le Marche Bleu" also served as a way of stirring up support for a new arena for Quebec City, a major requirement should the city seriously expect to have an opportunity to return to the NHL collective. The arena project has the support of the city's mayor and the provincial government, with both levels set to offer up their funding towards the project.

 However, the federal government has found itself in a bit of a controversial situation over the prospect of any Federal  investment in the quest for a new home for shinny.

Federal participation in the plan could yet take place, however, the process of attracting that funding may have to be revised before the project would be acceptable in other parts of the nation. Some of the tone of that reticence in the rest of country can be found in this National Post article.

Once the marching, singing and hopeful chants were concluded, the events for the day took to the ice of the venerable Le Colisee, where a sold out congregation watched the Montreal Canadiens defeat the New York Islanders in an exhibition game.

A temporary sample of what Quebec City's hockey fans no doubt hope will be the start of the repatriation of their hockey obsession, culminating with a return to the NHL of their much loved Nordiques.

Toronto Sun-- Why not Quebec? Stastny
Globe and Mail-- Quebec rallies to bring back NHL 
Montreal Gazette-- Nordiques fans form sea of blue in capital
Toronto Sun-- Hockey passion shines through at rally 
USA Today--  Quebec City rallies for another NHL team  
National Post--  Rallying cry for the Nordiques

Friday, October 01, 2010

HockeyNation Headlines October 2001

Our Archive of headline stories for October 2010

October 31-- Playing hockey's blame game
October 30-- Senators lose Michalek indefinitely
October 29-- Auld gets long-distance call in goal
October 28-- Quinn not fooled by so-called ‘promotion’
October 27-- Graham James faces new sexual assault charges after arrest in Toronto
October 26-- NHL taking shot at higher ticket prices
October 25-- Senators going back to basics
October 24-- Flames take bite out of Sharks
October 23-- Rethinking the game
October 22-- NHL suspends Rypien for six games
October 21-- Another busy day for Colin Campbell
October 20-- The painful truth about the NHL and its pensions
October 19-- Rypien faces disciplinary action after going at fan
October 18-- Tavares hands Leafs their first loss
October 17-- Brian Burke: A Leafs Enigma
October 16-- Joe Thornton takes pay cut to stay with Sharks
October 15-- Concussion victim Booth says 'Use your head'
October 14-- Latest bid to buy Coyotes stalls
October 13-- Senators popgun offence triggers alarm bells
October 12-- Police expected to issue new warrant for convicted sex offender Graham James
October 11-- Passing the torch to Henrik
October 10-- Bidding on Dallas Stars stalls
October 9-- Canucks finally a part of Vancouver’s sporting fabric
October 8-- Thrashers goalie collapses during game
October 7-- NHL’s gain, world junior teams’ loss
October 6-- Canada king of the rink again
October 5-- Bettman walking fine line on head hits
October 4-- Canucks part ways with Brendan Morrison
October 3-- Canucks part ways with Brendan Morrison
October 2-- Quebec rallies to bring back NHL
October 1-- Souray, Gerber clear waivers