Friday, 22 September 2017

We Did The Unthinkable

Tonight, I had the pleasure of covering for our normal public address announcer at the Bisons men's hockey game. The game itself was played at Seven Oaks Arena on the opposite side of town from the University of Manitoba as the CFL's Blue Bombers and their fans had taken over Investors Group Field at the university. Being a neutral site game, we had none of the comforts we normally do at Wayne Fleming Arena and it forced us to improvise with other options - music, announcements, and a completely new timing system. We made it all work in the end, but we did something that I wasn't sure I'd see this early after posting an article about it.

On Monday, I wrote an article about how I'd like to see the tradition of anthems being sung prior to sports events to end. It got a lot of traction through social media, and I have to admit that there were some good debates around the topic. I still believe anthems should be retired, but I never thought I'd be a part of a test run tonight!

As I stated above, we were working off a laptop that was filled with music, but the one piece of music that was notably absent on the laptop was "O Canada". Because we were inside an arena, the wifi signals weren't very good nor did we have passwords to access them, so we were kind of in a bind. It was decided with about twenty minutes prior to the opening face-off that without an anthem singer and without the music, we would skip the anthem on this night!

With about three minutes to go prior to game time, I announced the starting lineups for the Regina Cougars. They came out on to the ice, and the Bisons made their way down the tunnel and took to the ice as well. I announced the Bisons' starting lineup, and then we simply played some upbeat rock-and-roll as the officials spoke with both benches. The players organized themselves on the ice, the officials took their places, and the puck was dropped to open the game. Not one person seemed to miss the anthem, and neither team put up an objection to the omission of this "traditional" piece of the game.

Will this happen again? I doubt it. One of the things that the Gameday Manager for the Bisons does is work with a group that provides anthem singers for every home game that happens on the campus. These young singers use the opportunity to add to their resumés and to their portfolios, so it's helpful in that sense.

But did we miss it tonight? Nope. No one - fan, player, coach, official - mentioned the lack of anthem as we walked the concourse post-game, and the overall effect was zero on the game. It was a fast, exciting preseason game that featured a couple of fights, some nice goals, a few big saves, and a Bisons 3-2 win at the final buzzer.

I'm not saying we're going to set a trend here, but if it didn't matter to anyone on this night, should it matter to anyone on any other random night?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 261

The Hockey Show is back tonight with its usual cast of characters - Teebz and Beans - as we get to work on breaking down the stories and information from the last couple of weeks around the hockey spectrum. There have been a number of interesting stories that have broken, and it's time we sit down and sort through everything that has been written, said, implied, and inferred so that you get a better sense of what's happening in the big picture of hockey. While that sounds ominous, it shouldn't be. You know you'll get the important details from The Hockey Show as you always do!

What you see to the left is an accurate picture of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation president Ken King when it comes to paying for a new arena in downtown Calgary. We'll go over Mr. King's childish antics regarding the negotiations for a new arena tonight on the show, and break down why using any public money from the city of Calgary's coffers should result in some sort of repayment or future payments. We'll also take a look at a new piece of equipment Bauer is pushing that reportedly protects an athlete's brain, the Jets laying a pair of eggs against the Wild and Oilers and why fans should be very worried this year, shout-outs to the Winnipeg Goldeyes and 19-2, former guest Brian McGrattan's new role with the Flames, the Montreal Canadiens visiting Brandon, and we'll bounce around Europe to check on a number of players and how they're doing early in their seasons! We've got a lot to cover tonight, so make sure you tune in at 5:30pm!

So now you might be asking can you listen to the show, right? We suggest that you download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so go get it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Tonight, Teebz and Beans look at arena woes, Jets woes, Bauer knows, Big Ern's new role, European snipe shows, and other fun stuff only on The Hockey Show found on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Goal Of The Year Candidate

The young man in the image to the left is Jiri Sekac. You may remember he had a cup of coffee with the Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, and Arizona Coyotes before he left for greener pastures in the KHL with Ak Bars Kazan. Honestly, he was always seen as a solid talent with above-average skill, and yet somehow Montreal managed to deal him to Anaheim for Devante Smith-Pelly. Anaheim then dealt him to Chicago for Ryan Garbutt. Chicago then waived him and Arizona claimed him. Sekac will participated in the 2015 Skills Competition as one of the rookies who got an invite, so I'm not sure why all these teams gave up on him.

In any case, Sekac is now playing in the KHL for Ak Bars Kazan as stated above. Last season saw him get his feet wet in 47 games where he scored 13 goals and 14 assists, but of his four goals thus far this season, he might have scored the GOTY (pronounced "Gotty") - the Goal of the Year - in a four-point effort against HC Slovan. Take a look at this dirty dangle he lays on Ivan Svanry and ridiculous goal he pots past Jakub Stepanuk.
I'm sorry, but WHAT?!? That's OUTSTANDING! With his four points against HC Slovan today, Sekac jumps ahead of Anton Lander's ten points on the season and just behind Justin Azevedo's twelve points. At age 26, this guy should still be in the NHL, but he's scoring highlight-reel goals and giving nightmares to opposing teams with his skills.

If the Czech Republic is looking for a goal-scorer at the Olympics, Sekac should be the guy who gets a tap on the shoulder. That skill can't be ignored.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

I Think I Recognize That Tendy

You see that goalie trying to peek around the crowd of women in front of her? That's former Manitoba Bisons netminder Amanda Schubert! Schubert is currently in Finland where she's playing for the women's KJT team in Helsinki, and it was nice to see an article about Amanda's debut in the league. Being that my Finnish is a little rusty, I can tell you that she's finding success on the ice in Finland with KJT which is always encouraging for a foreign player in a new league and land.

According the linked report above, the article states that Schubert held Rauman Lukko off the board for 59 minutes and 47 seconds until a late power-play goal got by her in helping KJT earn their first win in the season opener by a 2-1 score. Sofia Nuutinen and Linnea Snickars scored for KJT in helping get out to a 1-0 start this season, and they traveled home for their second game the following day in welcoming Kuortane to town.

Despite Kuortane entering the game 0-1 after a loss to KalPa, this game was a little more lopsided. After holding the Kuortane scoreless in the first period, they found the back of the net twice in the second period behind Schubert. Things kind of got out of hand when Kuortane added four more goals in the third period en route to a 6-0 victory, but it should be noted that Schubert made 48 stops in the defeat. KJT drops to 1-1-0 on the season and sits in the middle of the pack with a number of other teams.

Friday night sees KJT playing the 0-2 Espoo Blues in Espoo while Saturday sees 0-2 Rauman Lukko visit KJT in the first rematch of the season. I haven't been able to find any feeds for the Naisten Liiga yet where I can watch Amanda and KJT play, but I'll keep searching so we can keep up with one of the alumna of the Bisons women's hockey team!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 18 September 2017

An Unpopular Opinion Grows

With the NFL back in full swing once more and my Twitter timeline flooded with NFL tweets yesterday, I think I want to weigh in on something for which I've never really had much use. As seen to the left, Colin Kaepernick made a significant statement in being the first to kneel during the national anthem prior as a form of silent protest, but I'm not here to speak about his protest. I could be here for days or weeks with all the nuances of that argument. Instead, I may be in the minority here, but I truly would like the practice of having the national anthem sung prior to every sporting event ended sooner than later. Honestly, it's an archaic form of tribute built into today's society that really has no place being continued today.

I know I'm asking a lot here, so bear with me. I'll explain my stance fully after a little history.

This all starts with baseball as games as far back as the mid-1800s saw the Star-Spangled Banner sung prior to special games. Where it really caught on, though, was during the World Series of 1918 between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. This particular series saw a few notable events happen prior to the series starting that saw the anthem used as a way to unite the American people.

17 months prior to the 1918 World Series, the US had entered World War I and there were a number of ball players who had been drafted that summer to serve in the military during this war. The government, as a result of the strain on the economics and workforce, ordered baseball to end the regular season by Labor Day, marking the only time in baseball's illustrious history that the October Classic actually finished in September.

Another event took place on September 4, the day before the first game was scheduled to be played at Comiskey Park. According to reports, a bomb ripped through the Chicago Federal Building that killed four people and injured another 30. Needless to say, the mood was pretty sullen in Chicago when it came time to celebrate baseball's best two teams.

It was in Game One that Babe Ruth pitched a gem, but the 19,000 on-hand to witness the 1-0 Boston victory barely stirred. That is, until the seventh-inning stretch. The military band that was on-hand began playing the Star-Spangled Banner, and it seemed to stir the crowd. Playing in the game was third baseman Fred Thomas who was an active serviceman with the US Navy. While on furlough from the Navy, Thomas received permission to play in the World Series, and Thomas would stand and salute the flag on this day as the military band played the anthem. Seeing Thomas saluting, the remainder of the players on the field turned towards the flag and held their hands over their hearts as the anthem was proudly played by the military band. As the conclusion of the song, the sleepy crowd came alive with an ovation not heard at any point in the game.

The next two games, hosted by the Cubs, also featured the Star-Spangled Banner played during the seventh-inning stretch. Boston, not to be outdone by their rivals, decided to move the song to the pregame ceremonies while having injured servicemen attend the game for free. The crowd at Fenway Park was louder than it had been for most of the season, according to reports, and the Red Sox continued to play the anthem prior to the remaining three games with Boston winning the series four games to two.

As Luke Cyphers and Ethan Trex write on ESPN.com,
Other major league teams noticed the popular reaction to "The Star-Spangled Banner" in 1918, and over the next decade it became standard for World Series and holiday games. In subsequent years, through subsequent wars, it grew into the daily institution we know today.
What makes this funny, to me, is that Congress didn't officially adopt the "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the American National Anthem until 1931. What grew out of a way to honour the soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect freedoms and rights was finally adopted by the country as a way to do the same some 13 years later. Nice job, Congress.

Snide remarks about American politics aside, if we look at the history of the anthem being played before the game, it literally was a one-up by the Red Sox on the Cubs that started this silly tradition. As it was adopted by more sports across the land, it became commonplace to hear the anthem before any game is played. However, there are places such as the Olympics and various World Championships where the anthem is played after the game is concluded, and only the winning nation gets its anthem played.

Look, I have no problem with how the anthem was used at sporting events in the days of yesteryear when it sung and performed on special occasions like opening day, national holidays and championship games. I believe those days and games have special meaning to a wider section of the audience, and the performance of the anthem signifies the importance of those days and events. It makes much more sense than a midweek game between the Hurricanes and Coyotes in January.

It also makes no sense when you look at a few rosters of NHL teams. Why would nearly two-thirds of the Winnipeg Jets sing the Canadian national anthem when they're not from Canada? They stand out of respect for the team, the fans, and the country in which they work and live, but should we force players like Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, and Nikolai Ehlers to take part when they clearly have more national pride for their countries of origin? You can't make the claim that the anthem is being played for the fans to rouse their spirits like they did in 1918, so why do we continue to force this issue 82 games per year and more in the playoffs?

I get that I'm opening up a can of worms here in suggesting this, but I can't think of one good reason why this tradition should continue on a game-by-game basis outside of special occasions and championship games. Maybe you have one - no, your relative signing the anthem isn't a good one - but I'd need some concrete proof why we need to play the national anthems at each and every game when it was originally meant to bring the people of Chicago together during a difficult time and have the people of Boston honour the injured servicemen who fought in one of the worst wars in history.

If you're going to honour the accomplishments of the soldiers who ensured that we get to watch athletes entertain us, play the anthem on Remembrance Day and Veterans Day. But I'm not in favour of dragging it out at every sporting event held in North America. We don't do it at movie theatres when highly-paid actors and actresses are entertaining us. We don't do it at concerts where highly-paid musicians are entertaining us. In saying that, we shouldn't do it at sporting events either.

Have your take in the comments, folks.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!