Hockey Headlines

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Welcome To The Big Leagues, Kid

If had been listening in to UMFM's broadcast of Bisons women's hockey today, you would have heard TJ and I run down the NHL scores. In looking for some information, I mentioned on the air that Eric Semborski had been signed to an amateur tryout contract by the Chicago Blackhawks with Corey Crawford taking ill. That's Eric in the photo above as he took warmup tonight with the Blackhawks, and it was odd seeing someone not named Crawford wearing #50 in the Blackhawks' net. So who is Eric Semborski? Where did the Blackhawks find this kid on short notice? Did he play in tonight's game? All of the answers are coming up.

Crawford was expected to be starting this evening against the Flyers. Instead he fell ill on Saturday morning and required an emergency appendectomy. Needless to say, the Blackhawks were down a man for the evening as Crawford recovered. But why ask Semborksi? Why not get someone with some NHL experience from within the franchise?

There was a question why the Blackhawks simply didn't turn to their goaltending coach in former Blackhawk Jimmy Waite. Due to NHL rules, Waite's salary for the day would have counted against the cap had he been signed as he's a former professional hockey player, and the Blackhawks have zero cap room as it is. Waite probably would have suited up, but the Blackhawks had to go elsewhere for a solution because of Waite's professional status as a netminder.

The Blackhawks asked the Flyers for some help in solving their goaltending conundrum, and the result was that the Flyers located Semborski working at the Flyers' practice facility. The phone rang, and the voice on the other end of the line told Semborski to head home and get his goaltending equipment. Semborski, in defence of his emergency call-up, tended nets for a club team at Temple University, so he has some experience. The call from Blackawks' senior director of team services Tony Ommen came just two hours before the NHL game was scheduled to start.

According to the report filed by Chicago Tribune reporter Chris Hine, the Blackhawks welcomed the new kid immediately by making him part of the team, for better or worse.
The Hawks embraced the chance to razz their new teammate. They called him out for showing up late and for not wearing a suit to the game. They put his number on the board and told him he had to contribute $200 to the team's holiday party.

"I told them you better take credit, because that's all I have," Semborski said.

Soon after arriving, it was time for warmups. Semborski came out in a No. 50 jersey that had Crawford's name removed and his name on it. Semborski looked a little slow as pucks zoomed by him during his time in net as he was comprehending what was happening.

"That was the best 20 minutes of my life skating with them," Semborski said. "It was pretty cool. ... I was a bit rusty. No matter how much I play I'm not going to be ready for them. It was fast. I couldn't even catch my breath because I was trying to take it all in."

Late in the game, the Hawks were trailing 3-1 and had pulled starter Scott Darling for an extra attacker. If the Flyers had scored an empty netter, Semborski said the Hawks were going to put him in the game. But it never came to be.
The catch in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Semborski is that he gets paid nothing for his two hours of fame. The amateur tryout contract allows the Blackhawks to fill the position in an emergency without committing any cap space towards the contract. I'm not sure you'll ever hear Semborski complain about not getting paid, though. It seems the experience of being an NHL netminder for one game might be worth its weight in gold for the life-long Flyers fan. And new Chicago Blackhawks fan.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Another Zamboni Death

Apparently, the idea of dying via zamboni appeals to some people. If you recall, a few weeks ago I wrote an article about Jay Thomas and his character on Cheers being written off the show via an unfortunate accident involving a zamboni. Well, it turns out that referencing a show from the 1980s isn't very popular with the kids today because I got several emails "reminding" me of the most recent zamboni accident captured on the silver screen as performed by the Marvel character shown above. While the scene in Deadpool is only a few seconds long, it apparently scored well with fans of the movie!

I've seen the movie a couple of times, and I have to admit that Ryan Reynolds played the part of Wade Wilson/Deadpool extremely well. For the clip below, I've chosen the not-rated-R version of the clip out of respect for some of the younger folk who read this blog. If you want to see the R-rated version of the clip, I'm sure YouTube has it.
As you can see, the death of the evildoer that Deadpool was planning most likely took the entire five minutes that he promised thanks to the speed of the zamboni. The clip in the movie is literally just a minute long as he dismantles the criminal ties to Ajax, but the zamboni death portion of the one-minute portion of the film registered well with audiences.

According to a EW.com, there was the potential for Deadpool to utter a punny line, but director Tim Miller went with the five-minute line when it came to the final cut. EW's Joe McGovern writes,
When Deadpool is pursuing a bad guy on an ice skating rink in — what else — a Zamboni, the film's executive producer Aditya Sood pitched the perfect Schwarzenegger-esque line: "Ice to see you!" It made everyone laugh, but in a photo finish, director Tim Miller chose the "I'm going to kill you... in five minutes!" taunt instead.
I prefer the five-minute line myself as the other just sounds cheesy and very un-Wade Wilson. What makes the full one-minute, butt-kicking scene so good is that when the scene shifts to Wilson/Pool tacking a photo of the goon-on-ice to his criminal target board, it's literally one of Wilson's doodles on a Post-It Note labeled "Zamboni Guy". The subtle comedy in this movie goes beyond just the one-liners and smart-ass quips.

If you are of age, I suggest checking out Deadpool. It's probably not a date-night movie unless your date enjoys an action-filled, R-rated superhero movie with many pop culture references, but that might be right down your alley. And don't expect a PG-13 movie or any Hugh Jackman/Wolverine sightings.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Hockey Show - Episode 219

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, will be on the air with another live show tonight as we broadcast from The Hub Social Club on the UofM campus! Beans, TJ, and I will be sampling some of the great food and beverages that The Hub has available all night as The Hockey Show will be followed by the Oilers-Jets game on the majority of the TVs in the establishment! Come on down to The Hub Social Club tonight for some hockey talk and the Jets game!

We get you set with all the hockey stories and our spins on them. We'll talk about the Gerard Gallant firing in Florida, why it happened, why it shouldn't have happened, and where he may end up. We have a short interview with Shelly Anthis, a casting director, who needs some extras for a feature film scene being shot in Winnipeg on December 7. We'll get everyone set for the weekend set between the Manitoba Bisons women's team and the Mount Royal Cougars. And with the calendar turning to December, we'll have some good chatter on the World Junior Championship selection camp and the players named to it. There will even be a couple of shout-outs and some birthday wishes sent out, and we'll be talking about a new project starting on December 25 by one of our favorite guests! It's a heckuva show, so make sure you down to the The Hub Social Club and catch the show!

Something else that should be at the top of your list when it comes to supporting the Manitoba Bisons this weekend is the Holiday Hamper food drive! The Bisons women's hockey team is putting together a pile of hampers for the less fortunate this holiday season, and they want your help! The team is looking for non-perishable food donations or monetary donations that will go to making up baskets of food for Manitoba families!

You can bring non-perishable food items or money for a donation to the upcoming weekend series against the Mount Royal Cougars on December 2 and 3, or you can contact Bisons forward Karissa Kirkup to arrange for a pickup! Karissa can be reached at 204-851-4886 or by email at kirkupk3@myumanitoba.ca. This is an excellent cause, and it's one that TJ and I, as the voice of the Bisons, have supported already with a big donation! We'd encourage any and all people, businesses, and organizations to match our donation of $50 in non-perishable food to the Holiday Hamper drive! Thanks to all who donate, and to the Bisons women's hockey team for helping those that need a little help this holiday season!

Of course, if you're a proud owner of an iDevice or Android device and want to listen to The Hockey Show, you can easily listen to the show by downloading the UMFM app! 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!

You can also 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.

It's another busy live show, so the phones will be closed as we're not in the studio! Make sure you tune up 101.5 on your FM dial, listen online at www.umfm.com, or download the UMFM app as TJ, Beans, and I run through all the hockey news, stories, and information from The Hub Social Club on The Hockey Show only on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: December 1, 2016: Episode 219

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

He Only Plays Outdoors Now

At the age of 55, you'd expect Wayne Gretzky to be settled into life as a retired hockey player. I'm sure he has other interests and passions that he'd like to pursue, but it seems he's trying to add one more record to the NHL record books this season. While no team has yet to lure him out of retirement, Wayne Gretzky appears to be looking to add the record of "most outdoor games played" to his illustrious career. He's already appeared in a few, including this season's Heritage Classic in Winnipeg, and he's signed up for a couple of more to put him in the running for this unofficial record!

As stated and shown in the picture above, Wayne donned the blue-and-orange as the Edmonton Oilers' alumni squared off against the Winnipeg Jets' alumni at Investors Group Field. For Wayne, his assessment of his game following the Saturday afternoon tilt was unexpected.

"I stink," Gretzky said, laughing. "I'm really bad."

While he certainly was having a little fun with reporters, seeing Wayne Gretzky on the ice again was magical. Yes, he looked a little older, but just seeing him skate up and down the ice was like sitting in the stands of the old Winnipeg Arena watching him decimate the Jets in the 1980s.

Gretzky also took part in another Heritage Classic alumni game when he wore the Oilers' colours in 2003 when the Oilers and Montreal Canadiens met in the first Heritage Classic in NHL history. That game saw Gretzky square off against Canadiens' legend Guy Lafleur at the middle of Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, and the hosts came away with a 2-0 victory.

This wasn't Wayne's first outdoor game as an NHLer, though. In 1991, the New York Rangers met the Los Angeles Kings at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. While it was somewhat unfathomable to think hockey could be played in the Nevada desert, the Rangers and Kings made a game of it as the Kings prevailed in the preseason contest by a 5-2 score.

Gretzky was also invited to the 2012 Winter Classic alumni game when the New York Rangers met the Philadelphia Flyers at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Wayne opted out of this game, though, as he wanted to spend the holidays with his family as opposed to traveling across the country. It would have been neat to see Wayne Gretzky playing as part of the Rangers, but that was his choice not to play.

As mentioned above, Gretzky suited up for the Heritage Classic in Winnipeg, making that three outdoor appearances for The Great One. Now it appears he'll play two more games within a week of one another as he suits up in two different leagues!

On December 31, Wayne Gretzky will return to St. Louis - where he played all of 31 regular season and playoff games - as part of their alumni team as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks' alumni as part of the 2017 Winter Classic festivities at Busch Stadium. Wayne had a decent 18 games with the Blues as he put up eight goals and 13 assists in his 18 regular season games, and then added two goals and 14 assists in 13 playoff games in 1995-96. While I'm not too concerned with his inclusion on that roster as he played games for the Blues, the next game he will appear in is mostly promotional. Ok, ENTIRELY promotional.

On January 7, 2017, Wayne Gretzky will serve as one of the two captains of the Alumni-Celebrities teams being assembled for the AHL's Three-Way Chevrolet Condorstown Outdoor Classic presented by Mission Bank. In that AHL game, the Bakersfield Condors will host the Ontario Reign as the two AHL rivals look to light up the ice on a California night. Gretzky's alumni-celebrity team will square off against another alumni-celebrity team that will be captained by Luc Robitaille.

By my count, that's five outdoor games for the NHL's all-time leading scorer. Is there anyone within two games of Gretzky at this point? I'm talking alumni or active players as well. I'm not sure anyone is close right now.

I'm happy that Wayne Gretzky is coming back to the NHL. He was a big part of this game during his playing career, and he was missed by fans after the debacle in Phoenix that involved him. Much like Dave Keon in Toronto, his absence was noticeable when it came to big events, so getting him back into some of these great events for fans is good for everyone. And while it might be weird seeing him in a Condors uniform, his work promoting hockey in California is entirely why Bakersfield and Ontario have teams.

Wayne Gretzky is good for hockey.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

TSN Misses The Story

In my storage area, I still have boxes of old hockey cards. These cards are from around the time I was in junior high - middle school for all you new-age kids - when I was collecting my favorite idols in picture format on rectangles of cardboard. Admittedly, the hockey card market was once flooded by various manufacturers - Upper Deck, Topps, O-Pee-Chee, Score, Pro Set, and more. Certain companies had special cards, and various companies partnered with larger companies for promotional sets such as those found at Tim Hortons and at McDonald's. Needless to say, there were a lot of manufacturers who got out of the business once the demand began drying up, and this is one of those stories.

The staff at TSN's BarDown site posted an article about sports cards today, so I'll throw a stick-tap out to them for bringing this to light, but the video you'll see below was actually posted to YouTube on November 16. Filmed by a pair of videographers who call themselves Detroit EXP, it seems these two explorers wander into abandoned and seemingly uninhabited buildings in Detroit. In the video, they explore an old building that once housed the Cadillac Stamping Plant.

But there's more to this story. After the video - it's nearly 20-minutes long - read on for some additional information for which apparently TSN's crew never bothered look. If you only want to see the part where they discover the cards, skip ahead to the 16-minute mark.
It's actually some pretty incredible footage that these two urban explorers filmed inside the old stamping plant. Granted, they're technically trespassing, but their footage takes you all over what was once a thriving plant filled with workers.

The problem is that this story is old news. On August 20, 2015, Daily Mail in the UK ran a story with a headline that read,
According to the report, "[m]illions of the Topps cards were packed away in dust-covered crates, with thousands more strewn over the floor of the derelict building." The pictures on the Daily Mail article show way more detail and information than the footage from Detroit EXP as well. The article states that the cards are "from all of the Major League Baseball of the time as well as hockey cards from the NHL and Ontario Hockey League and even NASCAR". Sounds like a pretty good haul for those who can back a dump truck up and sell them as a packaged lot.

But the story doesn't end there.

Four days after the Daily Mail's story was published, Patrick McNamara from Daily Detroit picked up the story and dug really deep. McNamara contacted a gentleman named George Kruk who had his own sports card and memorabilia shop in Rochester. Kruk "identified the collection as one that used to belong to Hub Hemmen".

McNamara pressed on with this new information.
Hub (short for Hubert) Hemmen had passed away 2013. Hub ran a business called Hub's Tool and Machine on 9 mile, in Warren Michigan. In the Eighties, Hub's tool and die business suffered the fate of many others in the region, and the business failed.

According to Hub's son Greg, he was a wheeler-dealer type, and he knew that as the business began to fail Hub had gotten really into sports cards. The tool and die business had faded away but the space was used to store a large amount of cards.
Now we seem to be getting somewhere with this story. Greg and his father had become estranged, and Greg didn't know a lot about the cards stored in the factory. That led McNamara to pay a visit to "Major Automotive, LLC, next door to Hub Tool and Machine" where he spoke to Reginald, the Operations Manager of the automotive shop.

"His shop was filled to the top with cards. I remember when they were cleaning it out. It took weeks to get all the cards out," Reginald told McNamara.

But, again, the story doesn't end there.

McNamara followed up on a story done by CBS Detroit where a man named John Hemmen claimed his uncle had stored the cards in a warehouse. The warehouse at the time was owned by the Ivan Doverspike Company, a company that "reconditions and remanufactures used automatic screw and spindle machines". There is video of a user named therustymitten looking at this building from the outside as far back as July 14, 2009!
Imagine being that close to a major discovery and not even knowing it! This story could have been written six years earlier had "therustymitten" simply broke into the abandoned building. There's no proof that he or she didn't break in once the camera went off, mind you, but I'm quite certain he or she did not. Otherwise, this story would have broken long before 2015.

In any case, McNamara tracked down John Hemmen and spoke with him!
John Hemmen, cousin of Greg and nephew of Hub, used to work with Hub at the machine shop, and he remembers stowing the cards in the 90s. John had moved to Florida to find work when he saw the writing on the wall for the Tool and Die business.

In the 90s John had come back to Michigan for a two-week visit, as he did nearly every year, and his uncle Hub asked him if he could help him move some stuff out of one of his warehouses to a new location. Though on vacation, John agreed to help Hub, who had been like a father figure, and taught him the Tool and Die trade.

"He felt kind of bad, so Hub gave my wife some money to go shopping, and I spent 3-4 days hauling the cards from the warehouse to the plant," said John Hemmen.
And that's the story of how the cards got to the warehouse. Of course, you're probably asking why they're still sitting there and perhaps why didn't Hub sell them before he passed on? Well, John answered that question very succinctly: "Hub suffered from dementia later in life, and he probably wasn't able to keep track of all of his assets."

So the only question left to answer is who owns the cards now that Mr. Hemmen is gone? According to the laws of the land, the building's owner owns everything inside the abandoned factory. We know Mr. Hemmen didn't own the factory, so someone else is technically the new owner of a vast amount of sports cards. Mr. McNamara also identified this person, and the factory belongs to Bill Hults! And that, readers, is the end of this mystery of the crates of sports cards in an abandoned factory in Detroit.

I'm not sure why this is the second example in a week where major news outlets are only carrying a small piece of a story. Context and background play a massive role in telling a complete story, and by only giving half the story - as seen in the Gavrilov story from the KHL - or small crumb of a story as seen above, news outlets like TSN are doing a major disservice to its readers. I want to give huge credit to Patrick McNamara for solving this non-mystery over a year ago as his sleuthing work answered all of these questions in August 2015. He's the real hero in this story.

And I want to heap shame upon TSN for not being able to use a search engine to tell the real story that happened in Detroit with these sports cards. Whoever the "BarDown Staff" was that worked on this story need a serious lesson in investigative journalism and vetting of a story. Or at least how to use Google. But I guess sensationalism news generates great story clicks when all is said and done, right?

BarDown? More like LetDown.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!