Monday, January 31, 2011

A nice afternoon for a public skate

Credit the CBC for understanding the priorities on All Star Sunday, while the NHL's stars were taking their bows and skating to their respective blue lines upon introduction to the Raleigh crowd, Canadian television viewers were focused on the final bit of action of a curling event.

Interestingly enough, the game affectionately known as the roaring game featured a match, which on this Sunday counted for something and featured much more hitting (all be it just rocks hitting rocks) than the NHL all star game offered.

With the curling from Oshawa taking a little longer than anticipated to wrap up, CBC stayed with the final shots no doubt hoping that the final rock would coincide with the puck drop of the all star game.

As things turned out, they managed to get to the rink on time for the opening face off, the curlers having toyed with the NHL long enough, brought their match to an end and relieved the CBC of the burden of decision making.

By the time the all star game would come to its end, you would understand why the CBC chose to stay with the drama of a close match, waiting for that final rock to curl into the house.  The curlers put in a hard days work, the hockey players, well they had a nice little skate.

As always seems the case in this modern era of the NHL featured a lot of skating, absolutely no hitting and enough shots on net to last the goaltenders for the month.

The result provided Team Lidstrom with some sense of vengeance from the loss in Saturday's skills session, as Nic's group edge out Team Staal 11 - 10, making the Red Wing captain champion of the Friday pool draft, having selected the winning roster and leaving the game with an amazing +7, rather remarkable for a game featuring 21 goals, showing that if nothing else Lidstrom knew exactly when to take a rest.

As for the game, by all star standards it was much of the same as past events have provided for, little in the way of drama and seemingly the least impressive of the weekend's activities, while the Friday night draft and Saturday skills sessions were generally popularly reviewed, the same couldn't be said for the actual action (such as it was) on the ice.

There's not really much that can be done about the game in its current form, there's not much resemblance to an actual NHL game, the intensity clearly not there, the principle in place seemingly to avoid injury at all costs.

It's almost at the point where perhaps they should just expand the skills competition and rookie game and leave it at that, make Sunday a fan fair or something where the players could be assembled to meet and greet sponsors and fans, without the need to don equipment for the three hour public skate.

Sunday provided an interesting contrast for sports, both the NHL and NFL featuring their all star games, sessions lacking in passion or drama, while the NBA featured a pair of high intensity games on the Sunday showcase, games which probably grabbed a fair share of the audience.

College basketball also had its share of intense rivalry matches to broadcast, ready to take their share, but interestingly enough it may have been that other game on ice that benefited the most from the NHL All Star profile.

As for the ice, On Sunday,the only game that counted came from the curling rink, a place where the action was hectic and rather dramatic, a polar opposite to the days entertainment from North Carolina.

Globe and Mail-- Team Lidstrom prevails in lacklustre NHL all-star game 
Globe and Mail--  Why the all star weekend came up short
Montreal Gazette-- More action off the ice than on at NHL All Star game
Chicago Tribune-- The NHL All Star game needs fixing, and I'm just the guy to do it
ESPN--  Our top moments from All Star weekend
The Province-- Glorified beer league game, exceptional talent
Toronto Sun-- All Star game lacks competitive edge
Toronto Sun-- It's over to you, Ottawa 
Toronto Star--  Carolina breathes new life into all-star game
San Francisco Chronicle-- 'Buzz' Around NHL's All-Star Fantasy Draft Could Keep Format in Place
Reuters-- New all star game, same old game
National Post-- Briere's 2 goals lift LIdstrom NHL All-Stars

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Albert never got a car!

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For Canadians of a certain age, a Canadian Tire commercial from years gone by stands out as a touchstone of their past with a game that for the most part hasn't seen an outside pond in a long, long time.

In it a group of hockey players have gathered to set up a game of shinny, as the timeless ritual unfolds, two captains pick one player at a time, anxious kids assigned to their squads until they get to the last kind on the snowbank, Albert, who as it turns out is the "kid brother" of one of the captains, a player who is assigned to his brothers squad, cause, well as the commercial goes "he's your brother, you take him".
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That commercial came back to life on Friday night in Raleigh North Carolina, as Team Staal and Team Lidstrom took to the podium to make their selections, and while the final pick of the day, wasn't Nic Lidstrom's Brother, the Albert moment belonged to Phil Kessel of the Maple Leafs, selected 36th and last in the cattle call of all stars.

Though one imagines Phil won't be in need of any therapy for his draft selection, having had a pretty good run in the NHL for a few years now and for good measure, the reward for being the last pick of his peers was pretty good.

For the lengthy wait of selection, Kessel received a brand new car and a 20,000 dollar donation in his name to the charity of his choice, in this instance a charity that fights testicular cancer.

Kessel for his part handled the entire process in good humour, but then why not, considering his regular season employer the Leafs have become one of the league's ongoing soap opera's of late, the respite of the all star game, even if left as the last man standing probably will provide a positive atmosphere to help him carry through the rest of the regular season (we suspect he won't have to worry about post season work this year).

At any rate, the prospect of pay back is always a motivating factor, so perhaps he'll have a stellar all star game and go on to become the game's MVP, leaving Team Staal to proclaim "sure wish we had a guy like Albert, er Kessel"

As for the all star the format this year, it has attracted a fair amount of attention, and a good portion of it rather positive (though there are a few opinions of the opposite).

The draft itself was a process that probably resonates with office, bar and online pool players around the world, many of whom fancy that they could put together a line up that would win it all.

Though in this instance, the last pick was on full display, by himself, waiting for his name.

The full line up for Sunday's game can be viewed here.

Some of the reviews of the Friday night selection show can be found below.

Sports Illustrated-- Kessel takes 'Mr. Irrelevant' title, prizes in stride at All-Star draft
LA Times-- NHL All-Star draft blends fantasy, humor and drama
Yahoo Sports-- Phil Kessel, the fantasy draft’s final star
Globe and Mail-- NHL All-Stars tickle our funny bones
Globe and Mai-- Buddy system rules all-star draft
Montreal Gazette-- A whole lot of sizzle, without the steak
Montreal Gazette-- MLB should follow NHL's lead
Ottawa Citizen-- Kessel the last to go
Toronto Star-- Last  but not least, Phil Kessel
Toronto Sun-- Execution key for new NHL all star game
Toronto Sun-- Last pick Kessel in drivers seat
Vancouver Sun-- NHL All Star draft, like the game, not likely to sell

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Gretzky Golden Jubilee



Wednesday marked the 50th birthday of Wayne Gretzky, an anniversary that has been greeted across the Dominion as an event of commemoration and observation of all that he brought to his sphere and still seemingly dominates in his retirement.

From radio talk shows, to television commemorations to newspaper articles, the day was  awash in remembrances of the pivotal moments in his hockey career, the ups and a few of the downs (the downs of course dependent on where you were living we guess) that marked his time on the hockey stage.

The pageantry at times seemed a little overblown, the hyperbole on boil on occasion, but in a league that is still seeking out the next great dominant player (and there are a few that are close to that level in the current era) the template for the best that ever played is still marked by only a few, and Gretzky for sure was and is one of them.

The remembrances of course highlighted his many achievements during his reign in the NHL and more than a few addressed his current semi exile from the game, a situation that should be addressed by the NHL powers that be sooner rather than later.

While he may have put some distance between himself and the league he once dominated, the passion for what he achieved and the memories of those that watched seems to still be in full bloom.

While we're quite sure we've missed more than a few of the remembrances, below is a selection of some of the items that caught our eye as the day progressed.

In celebration of the fifty candles on the cake, we offer up fifty stories on the Great One.

Canada

Globe and Mail-- Still the Great One
Globe and Mail-- 99 turns 50
Globe and Mail-- Wayne Gretzky: January kid
Globe and Mail-- Memories of my hockey hero
Globe and Mail-- The Kid next door
National Post-- Gretzky trade: The scoop that got away
National Post-- Gretzky's numbers as great as the memories
Vancouver Province-- As The Great One turns 50, the memories flow
Vancouver Province-- Gretzky put game in  perspective
Vancouver Sun-- Thanks for the magical memories, Great One
Hamilton Spectator-- Hockey's greatest superstar turns 50
Toronto Star-- Gretzky at fifty, still a Canadian face
Toronto Star-- 50 things you didn't know about Wayne Gretzky
Toronto Star-- Gretzky looked like this - to Andy Warhol
Toronto Star-- When 99 turns 50
Toronto Sun-- 50 Great one moments
Toronto Sun-- NHL should give Gretzky an $8M birthday gift
Toronto Sun-- The Great One turns 50
CBC-- Two of my favourite Wayne stories
CBC-- Gretzky's humility matched his greatness
CBC-- From child star to hockey elder in the blink of an eye
TSN-- What it is the Ultimate measure of Gretzky
TSN-- Gretzky talks about turning 50 and his thoughts on the game
The Hockey News-- Top 10 Wayne Gretzky achievements
Yahoo Sports-- On 50th birthday, Puck Daddy's 50 reasons we love Wayne Gretzky
Canadian Business-- Wayne Gretzky's brand remains strong more than a decade after retiring
City News-- Walter looks back at Son Wayne's Legacy
The Chronicle Herald-- The Great One nears milestone 50th
570 News-- Great One puts family before anything else
Sportsnet-- A witness to Greatness


The USA

Sports Illustrated-- Gretzky at 50: A look back at one of a kind
Sports Illustrated-- Behind Gretzky's NHL estrangement
CBS Sports-- Great one is golden
Los Angeles Times-- Gretzky celebrates his 50th, while media celebrates Gretzky
Los Angeles Times-- For Wayne Gretzky, the big 5-0 sneaked up on him
New York Post-- Gretzky turning 50- and feeling forever young
MSNBC-- Wayne Gretzky turns 50 today – How the Great One and 50 go hand in hand
MSNBC-- Gretzky 30 for 30 documentary ‘King’s Ransom’ will kick off NHL Network’s Film Week
San Francisco Chronicle-- Wayne Gretzky turns 50
ESPN-- The Great One at 50: Wayne Gretzky reflects on career, future in NHL
USA Today-- Gretzky at 50: Superstar's maturity matched skill
Sportsperspectives--  Wayne Gretzky turns 50
Corpus Christi Caller-- The Great One at 50
UPI-- Gretzky on 50th birthday: "Life goes on"
NHL.com-- The Great One reflects, discusses turning 50
NHL.com-- Gretzky remains celebrated figure as he turns 50
NHL.com-- A look at "The Great One" by the numbers
Sporting News-- Gretzky at 50
Business Insider-- Wayne Gretzky turns 50 on Wednesday, here are 99 of his greatest accomplishments
Bleacher Report-- Wayne Gretzky: Great One Reflects On Hockey Career and Life As Gretzky Turns 50

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

For Nabokov, all NHL roads lead through Nassau County

If Evgeni Nabokov wants to resume an NHL career, he had best load up on the Billy Joel on his iPod.

Joel, the iconic New Yorker has composed more than a few ditties about life on Long Island and environs over the years, championing life on the Island and its more fast paced New York communities, and if Nabokov has any future in the NHL it would appear that he had best come to terms with his New York State of Mind.

While he thought that perhaps a Stanley Cup run with the Red Wings was going to be his Spring vocation, the Islanders put a crimp in that plan when they plucked him off the waiver wire on January 22nd.

Much is being made as to what the Islanders think they are doing with the move, but the opportunity to take a player off the wire is their right as the NHL procedures dictate at the moment, so the sour grapes of the Nabokov camp and others seems a bit much.

As Nabokov has not reported for duty with the Islanders since he was picked up, he has been placed in the suspended category pending further developments.

His arrival from exile in the KHL was destined to once again stir up the debate over the mid season airlift, a larger issue for the NHL than the waiver controversy.

In what is becoming part of a more frequent strategy of GM's, the idea of waiting for hold outs, semi retired players and exiles to return to the NHL after the all star break is something that needs to be addressed.

There have been suggestions that a hard date earlier on in the season needs to be fixed for players to declare their intentions, the idea that they can rest up for the first half of the year and then return or join a line up would seem to make the first 40 or so games of the regular season even more meaningless than we already suspect they are.

The Nabokov situation seems to bring that point even more into focus, though perhaps not as he might have anticipated.

Since it's the Islanders picking him up, the idea that they're padding their roster for a playoff run seems unlikely.  True they could use his services considering their rather tenuous goaltending situation at the moment but a more plausible is the idea that Garth Snow is going to use the goaltender as a chip for player acquisitions and or trade positions.

And while the Islanders in the past haven't exactly made the best of their opportunities and made more than a few questionable contract offers, this time, much to the distress of the Red Wings and the NHL for that matter they may have got it right.

Making use of the rules as they are to hopefully make better their team is smart, what they do with that position in the next little while could improve their fortunes for the seasons to come.

National Post-- Islanders suspend Nabokov as comical saga drags on
CBC-- The Nabokov mess and 30 thoughts
Winnipeg Free Press-- Nabokov, Islanders squabble like teenagers
New York Daily News-- Islanders owner Charles Wang reveals, GM Garth Snow confirms Evgeni Nabokov hung up on Snow
Toronto Sun-- Islanders GM not sure what all the fuss is about
MSNBC-- Evgeni Nabokov’s agent says he won’t report to New York Islanders
TSN-- What happens next on Long Island


While he may never actually don an Islander uniform, Nabokov might want to get more familiar with that Long Island culture, here to help him out, Mr. Joel, with a useful recommendation for the moment.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Battles at the negotiating table may be better than on the ice!

Donald Fehr has assembled some more of his team over at the NHLPA and if the Tuesday morning roster moves are any indication, there's probably an order for Extra Strength Tylenol being placed at the NHL head office this morning.

Among those called to serve on behalf of the players, Fehr announced a familiar name to work with him in the NHLPA bunker, as Richard Rodier gets the tap on the shoulder to join up with the players in their quest for a more prominent role in the affairs of the NHL.

A name that will bring back some memories for the owners, none of them enjoyable we're sure, having battled Mr. Rodier in his previous role as the voice of Jim Balsillie, the would be owner of an NHL franchise thus far shut out by the members of the Loyal Order of the Dinosaurs.

Rodier was the protagonist lawyer who frequently outlined the counter moves by the NHL to keep the Blackberry mogul from gaining custody of team after team, in the process tweaking the NHL in the nose for its apparent displeasure at the idea of Balsillie moving any of their struggling franchises to Hamilton and perhaps a chance at financial solvency.

During the course of the process of "due diligence" and such, Rodier would set in motion talking points that seemed to set on fire the hair  of Gary Bettman and any number of NHL owners.

As events moved forward during those sessions on behalf of Mr. Balsillie, the lawyer proved to be a lightning rod that seemed to herd together the Commissioner and some of his more mercurial of owners, as they fought what at times seems to have been a blood feud to keep Balsillie and his money at bay.

The entry of Mr. Rodier to the negotiating process should make for a very interesting bit of theatre when the league and the players get around to that next collective agreement bargaining.

Maybe HBO has the genesis of their next Inside the NHL feature, never mind the Caps and the Pens and the action on the ice.

The real action, it seems will take place in the boardroom, no doubt featuring language that might make a Bruce Boudreau blush!


Globe and Mail-- Former Balsillie point man joins NHLPA
CBC Sports-- Fehr gives NHLPA staff new look
Hamilton Spectator-- New NHLPA hire has been thorn in Bettman's side
ESPN-- Donald Fehr announces additions to staff

Monday, January 24, 2011

Capitulation time in Canada's capital

Following some rather embarrassing losses in the week past, it seems finally hockey fans in Ottawa (and the few Sens that live beyond the capital) will finally hear word of a plan, a blue print of the future, but one that seemingly won't fully begin until the end of this season.

Reports out of Ottawa have it that owner Eugene Melnyk has come to as he puts it "some hard" decisions, moves which will apparently see current GM Bryan Murray move into more of a role of advisor than architect and would seem to leave current head coach Cory Clouston set to hand out resumes at the next coaches' convention.

The Sens who once upon a time showed such promise and the threat of being one of the most dominant teams in the NHL have descended to such depths of the NHL pecking order that they are more likely to be described as a doormat than anything else.

Friday's horrendous effort and embarrassing 7-1 loss to arch rival Montreal (and that gives far more credence to the term rival than it deserves in this case) perhaps the final act of capitulation in this woeful season of remarkable blow outs.

The mood with the fans seems to be one of surrender, hopeful that Mr. Melnyk will set in motion the moves to return the team to respectability in the short term and into the top levels of the NHL on a longer vision.

Roy MacGregor of the Globe leads off the reviews of the Sens woeful situation, with two studies of all that befuddles the Sens this season, see here and here,  thoughtful examinations of where things have gone wrong and what may be the future for the current roster members.

As he outlines in his columns, all of the Sens problems probably can't be left on the shoulders of GMBryan Murray, the Senators made some rather unusual decisions well before his arrival on the scene (shout outs here to Zdeno Chara and Martin Havlat need we go on?), but it has been on his watch that the Senatorial implosion has taken place and while he is reported to have made suggestions that he wishes to be part of the rebuild it doesn't seem to be a move that would gain much traction with the fans.

So whether it's the gentle nudge to an advisory position, or the more bloody move of removal, it would seem that his time as architect is done, or as far as the fans are concerned at least should be done.

His final act it would seem to navigate the trading deadline and ensure that the Senators gain some kind of benefit from the fire sale that would seem to be on the horizon, providing there are any takers of the under performing  talent soon to be up for auction.

For some that could provide the lifeline to a better future and a Stanley Cup contender, for the Senators organization, the building blocks for the future, the length of time of that rebuilding process dependent on those deals and the off season moves.

More reviews of the Senators season of woe can be found below.

TSN-- Sens moving forward following vote of confidence to coach, GM
CTV Ottawa-- Despite losses, Sens GM thinks he can turn the team around
CBC-- Melnyk Speaks
Ottawa Citizen-- Senators Murray eyes one-year rebuild
Ottawa Citizen-- Buckle up again, Sens fans
Ottawa Citizen-- Show goes on for sorry Sens
Ottawa Citizen-- Alfredsson welcomes end to uncertainty surrounding Senators
Ottawa Citizen-- Melnyk fiddles while Sens crash and burn
Ottawa Citizen-- Time to break silence
Ottawa Sun-- Murray: I want to stay on as GM
Ottawa Sun-- Sens of relief for players
National Post-- Senators will dismantle, but not imminently
Toronto Sun-- How low can the Senators go?

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Back Up Plan

For the second time this season an NHL team has reached beyond the organizational chart to fill in an emergency position.

The San Jose Sharks found themselves in need of a back up goalie on Thursday night as they prepared to take on the Canucks,  as Antero Niitymaki went onto the IR list leaving the Sharks in a bit of a west coast bind.

With time considerations of the utmost importance, the Sharks made a call to the University of British Columbia where they secured the standby services of Jordan White.

White who quickly found himself putting any study plans for Thursday and heading over to the Rogers Arena and a spot on the visitors dressing room.

In what must have been the most surreal experience a young goaltender could have, he took to the ice with the Sharks and started his pre game stretches not too far from the Canuck's Roberto Luongo, from there he was in the nets for the warm up period taking shots from the likes of Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton and the remainder of the Sharks snipers.

While he wasn't called on to take to game time action, it was one of those moments that many a kid playing hockey probably only dreams of, complete but for a hockey card for the family scrap book.

Game over and his moment of NHL fame done for now, White returns now to the challenges of the CIS hockey season and the Thunderbirds game with the Regina Cougars on Friday night.

It marks the second time this season that such a story has unfolded in the NHL, earlier this year the Phoenix Coyotes had to call on a former college goaltender Tom Fenton to work the gate and stand by for action when they played the Rangers in December after the Coyotes starter Ilya Bryzgalov became ill before game time.

For UBC it was the second time that they provided an emergency goaltender for the NHL, it was back in 2003 that Chris Levesque made the journey from Point Grey to the big rink, filling in for an ailing Dan Cloutier, standing by in case misfortune struck Johan Hedberg.

Making UBC we imagine the go to school for replacement parts.

Some accounts of Mr. White's time in the spotlight can be found below

Vancouver Sun-- Jordan White's whirlwind stint as an emergency backup in the NHL
Vancouver Province-- UBCer swims with Sharks
The Straight-- UBC goaltender Jordan White gets emergency call to NHL
Ub;yssey-- UBC goalie Jordan White signed to one-day NHL contract
NHL.com-- University goalie serves as Sharks' emergency backup
CTV.ca-- Sharks call up UBC goalie for game vs Canucks
Macleans.ca-- UBC student signs one day NHL contract

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Canadian Goose egg collectors


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Wednesday was not a stellar night for Canadian based teams.

The Leafs travelled to New York, only to have the Rangers load up on the personal statistics to a grand total of 7 goals to none by the time the full sixty minutes came to an end.

With the Leafs defence providing little in the way of resistance these days, it's probably not a surprise that Jean-Sebastien Giguere is giving thought to waiving his no trade clause, and even though he wasn't in the nets for the Ranger's romp at the Gardens, you could perhaps understand his thinking, really who wants to face that kind of assault night after night?

Toronto Star-- Gustavsson, Leafs embarrassed by Rangers 7-0
Toronto Sun-- Leafs rotten to the core
Toronto Sun-- Leafs speechless morning after drubbing
National Post-- Gaborik has 4 goals, assist in NYR rout of Leafs

Out in Western Canada, the Flames continued to struggle to find some scoring, this time as the Minnesota Wild ran wild on the Saddledome ice, collecting a total of six goals to the Flames 0, another low point in a season of problems for the Flames.

Calgary Sun-- Stinker at Dome
Calgary Herald-- Flames wildly inadequate in embarrassing defeat
Calgary Herald-- Miikka Kiprusoff shoulders blame in latest Flame-out
National Post-- Wild's Backstrom returns to beat Flames 6-0 

Not a great night for the True North strong and scoring free, what with a total of 13 goals to 0 for Canada on Wednesday, though we guess that Calgary can take some solace that they weren't the worst Canadian team on the ice for the night, but pretty darn close eh.

All in all, the scoring blitz of American based teams Wednesday left us with but one thankful thought, that being that the Senators had the night off!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Saving Captain Crosby

This years all star game and corporate schmoozefest in Carolina may be missing one of its very public personalities, that as Sidney Crosby of the Penguins offers cautious thoughts that he just may take a pass on the annual skating show if he hasn't recovered from the effects of his concussion.

And while he has been doing a little bit of backing off of his original talking points on his status for the Carolina rendez vous, he has not been shy in expressing his concern over the state of the physical play in the game today.

Still suffering the effects of a concussion received at the Winter Classic, Crosby is sending some pretty solid signs that he's not too happy with the NHL's concern over those that account for the nightly highlight reels from league action.

The problems for the Pittsburgh captain seemed to start in the waning moments of the second period of that outdoor spectacle against the Capitals, he seemed stunned after a passing shoulder from the Capital Dave Steckel.
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Still he took to the ice in the third period, though you have to wonder about the wisdom of the Penguins to let their marquee player take to the ice in less that top condition.

His situation would seem to have taken the final turn towards the Injured list in the next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning when he took another hit, this time Victor Hedman, it was following that one that the Penguins announced that Crosby would be out of the line up for the foreseeable future.
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The status of Crosby over the last few weeks since has been of much discussion around the league, the prospect of one of the league's largest attractions indefinitely off the ice, no doubt the kind of marketing nightmare that the NHL doesn't need.

And yet that is exactly what is happening at the moment and the league has no one to blame but itself over it.

Head shots are a growing problem in league play, the lack of respect or careless dis-regard over the level of play the one dark cloud over what has been a generally sunny sky for the NHL this season.

It's an issue that the league seems to forever put on the back burner, as Globe and Mail columnist Stephen Brunt rightly points out just ask Mark Savard, who still feels the effects of a brutal Matt Cooke hit (Crosby's team mate by the way) from last year.

The fact that this time it's the league's top player that is the main example of that lack of respect should be of key concern to Gary Bettman and league owners, who have been slow to pick up the theme that their meal tickets may be at risk.

If it takes a stand by Crosby and his absence to hammer home that message so be it, in the end the league is only as good as the players that shine in it.

Otherwise, if the trend of troubling hits to key players continues, the NHL will end up as nothing but a higher paid version of the ECHL, and perhaps with the commensurate attention levels from the fans.

Some of the reviews of the Crosby situation and the larger issue of head shots and such can be found below.

Globe and Mail-- Sidney Crosby leaps head-first into head-shot controversy
Globe and Mail-- Crosby's message deserves bigger stage
Globe and Mail-- Agents join injured Crosby in asking for action on head shots
Toronto Star-- NHLers need to get smart about head shots
Toronto Sun-- Crosby needs to send message to NHL
National Post-- Sidney Crosby needs to shake NHL from its concussion
ESPN-- The underlying story in Sidney Crosby saga
Fox Sports-- Crosby's agent denies protest rumours
Fox Sports-- NHL needs to take a look at concussions
TSN -- Penguins all-star centre Crosby discusses concussion 
CBC-- Cherry says NHL doesn't need new head shot rule

When the flag waving stopped



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One of the items we missed out on during our sabbatical from blogging was the Gold medal game at the world Junior championships.

Perhaps you remember it, the one where the young Canadian squad saw its lead disappear as the Russian juniors launched a come back for the ages.

It was as emotional a game as one could hope for, though considering the Canadian side ended up on the losing side of the score it provided for more than enough navel gazing to last for a long, long time.

The commentary ranged from epic collapse, to meltdown and any other bombastic description of loss one could hope to find in a thesaurus, once again showing that sometimes in Canada the passion for the game tends to overtake reason.

In the end, the Russians proved to be the better squad on the night, they didn't wilt when Canada took an early lead and for the most part battled back and grabbed the momentum.

That happens in hockey sometimes, though you wouldn't know that judging by some of the comments that followed that loss.

While it may be national heresy to suggest it, but perhaps the loss was good for hockey, considering the pontifical airs we seem to have taken with the junior tournament over the years.

While TSN has built the annual gathering into a marketing dream for their network, sometimes their unbridled passion for "our" team, overtakes the proper perspective that the game deserves.  In particular the boosterism that they provided leading up to and during the final game wasn't the best days of balanced programming.

One moment that stood out for me in that final game was when TSN zoomed in on the championship hats that teams don upon the completion of these tournaments.  With Canada in the lead at the moment of the close up, the inference was that the lads were but an hour or so away from donning the chapeau's, then after what seemed like an uncomfortable second or two, a shift to the Russian cap... just in case.

Still, the commentary in the first two periods seemed to push the concept of continued Canadian domination of the tournament, alas there are three periods to a game (and a broadcast)

Just a note for the team at TSN, but it seems that some of the other countries can play the game too, sometimes to the dismay of the national expectation.

There was much written in the aftermath of that loss, some of it quite good, some of it rather brutal, more than a few heaping much blame and finger pointing on the shoulders of kids, many of whom haven't even had their 18th birthday yet.

It suggests that sometimes we forget that it's sporting event and not some kind of proxy for RISK on a global basis.

While we could rattle off the good and the bad of the articles we found, we figure maybe we'll just turn to an old reliable scribe, Roy MacGregor, who always it seems finds the right tone in his observations, offering lessons for many of those that put the word processors and microphones into motion following the gold medal presentations.

He had two columns in the aftermath of that Gold Medal game, check them out here  and here , they put things into a nice perspective, saving us countless millions of dollars in potential Royal Commissions into the state of hockey today.

The game is fine, it would seem that it's some of the observers that need a little work

Monday, January 17, 2011

Back to the ice

Well our longer than planned break from blogging will come to an end today.

We had originally only given thought to a respite from the blog for a few weeks in December, but as a week turned into a month, well, what can you say, we got a tad lazy.

At any rate, a little more refreshed and having taken care of a few other blogging responsibilities we think we have added to our time management skills now, so as to provide a more frequent visit to the pages of HockeyNation.

We'll attempt to catch up on some of the gaps we have in our regular features and offer up some thoughts on recent happenings and currently developing themes.

So with that hopeful thought in place, it's back to the ice.

Hockey Nation Headlines: January 2011

January 31-- NHL eyes 2014 Olympics warily
January 30-- Team Lidstrom prevails in lackluster NHL all-star game
January 29-- Ovechkin, Chara shine at NHL SuperSkills
January 28-- Buddy system rules all-star draft
January 27-- Charges dropped against Leafs’ waffle thrower
January 26-- Still the Great One
January 25-- Islanders suspend Nabokov as comical saga drags on
January 24-- Crosby to Miss All-Star Game
January 23-- PĂ©ladeau proposes ‘substantial’ financing for Quebec City NHL arena
January 22-- Koivu a winner in Montreal return
January 21-- NHL fines Kings' GM $50,000
January 20-- Detroit kicks the tires on goalie Nabokov
January 19-- Nugent-Hopkins shines in Prospects game
January 18-- Koivu nears Montreal return 
January 17-- Murray's reign as GM a dark time for Senators
January 16-- Wild shut out Canucks
January 15-- Stajan pumped for his first game as a Flame in Toronto
January 14-- The NHL needs to protect its stars
January 13-- Kesler takes a shining to star-power play
January 12-- Humbled and surprised: Karlsson didn’t see All-Star Game invite coming
January 11-- Bergeron nets hat trick as Bruins bowl over Senators
January 10-- Flames still believe playoffs a possibility
January 9-- Hard times on Long Island a blessing in disguise for Tambellini
January 8-- Penguins in a fog over real cause of captain Crosby's concussion
January 7-- Russia win hard for us, good for hockey
January 6-- Canucks too hot to handle
January 5-- Logan Couture is leading Calder chase
January 4-- Calgary can't move on without its old Flames
January 3-- Oilers on slow learning curve
January 2-- Same old, same old, Senators fans
January 1-- Teams leave ice without so much as a handshake