Hockey Headlines

Monday, 30 June 2014

It Finally Happened

It reportedly had been discussed as a trade during the NHL season as both teams looked for upgrades for the playoffs, but the trade for PA Parenteau never materialized for the Avalanche and Canadiens. It was understood that Daniel Briere wasn't going to last in Montreal as a fourth-line centerman as the Canadiens looked to move the wily veteran, but there were no takers before the playoffs started. Monday night, both the Avalanche and Canadiens had made a move that helped both teams.

The trade sees Colorado send Parenteau and a fifth-round pick in 2015 to the Canadiens for Daniel Briere, and it sounds as though Briere is relieved to be given an opportunity elsewhere after toiling on Montreal's oft-used fourth-line.

"I kept saying to myself, 'Good things are going to happen, just be a good team player,"' Briere said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press. "And I feel in a sense it's a little bit of what's happening today. I get the chance to go somewhere where I feel wanted again."

While I respect Briere for his play under less-than-ideal circumstances, his arrival in Colorado will mean that he could play on the third line as he'll need to out-battle Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon for an opportunity on the top-two lines. I can't see that happening, and that would mean that Briere slots into the opening left potentially by Paul Stastny as he explores free agency. Can he handle a third-line role after speaking with head coach Patrick Roy?

"Basically it's going to be up to me," Briere told reporters. "My job is to get there, be in shape and ready to go when the season starts. That's my job and good things will happen. That was kind of the message there."

Parenteau, on the other hand, found himself all over the Avalanche lineup this past season as he was in and out of Roy's doghouse. While he played well at times, injuries slowed his production and, ultimately, he found himself in Roy's cross-hairs when it came to players who weren't producing.

He can, however, step into a couple of roster spots that may be open as the Habs have players heading to free agency. Parenteau, at 31, can still be extremely productive if he's healthy, and it appears that the shoulder and knee issues that plagued him last season are healed. Can the Quebec-born player step his game up playing with Les Habitants?

"I think I'm at a stage of my career where I'm old enough to deal with all the pressure that comes with it," Parenteau told reporters. "It's a huge deal for me, my family, everyone that surrounds me. I'm excited and I'm up to the challenge."

Parenteau also makes the Canadiens a little bigger than what Briere did, and the Canadiens can use some size along the wings. If Parenteau can bring a little grit to the ice game-in and game-out, he'll become a fan favorite in La Belle Province much like Brendan Gallagher. Both players could be a good match for one another.

Both teams addressed their needs in this trade, and it makes sense for both sides. While it may have taken a couple of years for Parenteau to get to Montreal after the two sides had discussed the opportunity a couple of seasons ago when Parenteau was a free agent, the two teams made a deal that worked for both of them.

I like it.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Gagner Is In Pre-Retirement

Sam Gagner's day started out like most others as he prepared for his day as an Edmonton Oiler. Maybe run to the grocery store, do a few errands, but nothing out of the ordinary. However, he got a phone call from Craig MacTavish today, and suddenly he was hunting for a new house in Tampa Bay! Before he could even start the search for a new home, Steve Yzerman had called to let him know that he should be house-hunting in Glendale, Arizona. Suddenly, Sam Gagner knew what many Canadians go through at the time of retirement.

First, the Edmonton Oilers were able to swap Gagner to the Lightning in exchange for Teddy Purcell. I happen to think that Edmonton got a player back who is an immediate upgrade to their top-six forwards, and will complement a number of players the Oilers already have on their roster. In short, I believe that the Oilers won this trade simply because Purcell is a great second-line winger and can generate some offence in the City of Champions while being $300,000 cheaper per year.

Tampa Bay, though, saw an opportunity to shed some salary as they look to upgrade their blue line through free agency on Tuesday, so they flipped Sam Gagner and tough guy BJ Crombeen to the Arizona Coyotes for a sixth-round pick. The Lightning opened up nearly $6 million in cap space for next season, giving them a pile of room to hunt for that right-handed shot from the point they seem to be craving. I can't see why the Coyotes needed to make the deal for Gagner or Crombeen, but it is what it is. Kudos to Steve Yzerman in winning this trade by clearing a ton of cap space for the Lightning's needs.

If you're Sam Gagner, you have to wonder what role you'll be given with the Coyotes. He hasn't scored enough to be a legitimate second-line centerman, and they already have a solid third-line centerman and face-off specialist in Antoine Vermette. If the Coyotes want to rival the Kings in having the most expensive fourth-line centerman, they could.

Instead, Gagner will be forced to replace Mike Ribeiro on the second line, and he'll have to step his game up. He's still a younger player so this shouldn't be a problem, but Gagner has to rediscover his scoring touch to help the Coyotes break through this season. Ten goals and 27 assists just won't cut it in Glendale where they need some solid scoring in replacing Ribeiro. Gagner will have to step up in a big way.

While the title of this article is a little misleading, Gagner is following many Canadians in having spent some time in Florida - albeit ninety minutes - before heading to Arizona. All he needs to do is officially retire and he'd be like any other Canadian in Arizona: enjoying the weather, playing golf, and grabbing a Tim Hortons coffee at Jobing.com Arena.

The only difference? Gagner's probably a scratch golfer from his time in Edmonton.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Almost Nashville Preda-Senators

I'm starting to tire of this Jason Spezza trade demand coupled with the fact that Bryan Murray basically let everyone know that he's not going to get the return he wants when he told the world that Spezza wants out of the nation's capital. It could have ended today, but Jason Spezza wanted nothing to do with joining his former teammate Mike Fisher in Music City. At the end of the day, Jason Spezza is still an Ottawa Senators and the trade that fizzled wit his reluctance to go there ended my dreams of the Nashville Preda-Senators.

I'll come right out and say it: no-trade clauses should be made invalid if a player demands a trade. What right should a player have if he demands a trade out of town, but can only be traded to a handful of teams? That's garbage. It's an entirely different ballgame if the team comes to a player and tells him he's going to be traded. He should have that right if he has the no-trade clause in his contract. But the moment a player says, "hey, I'm done. Trade me"? All 29 other teams should come into play without any interference from the player.

"David talked to me and we couldn't go there," Ottawa GM Bryan Murray told reporters. "I told Rick Curran that today, I had a deal sitting there if I wanted to do it, but he was on the list of no-go's.

"I'm sure it's disappointing for him, it's disappointing for me because I'd like to accommodate him if I could, but he does have a year left on his contract. If that's the case we'll have a pretty good player for next year."

In the end, that's all Murray should worry about: how is Spezza going to play for the Senators next season. If someone calls Murray, then he should listen, but the onus is on Spezza to raise his stock if he wants to go to one of twenty teams still in the running for his services. The best way for him to do that if he isn't moved before October? Play his tail off for the Ottawa Senators.

"It just seemed to me there were a lot of phone calls, a lot of talking, people interested, but nothing really happened," Murray said. And that's the catch with going public with this trade demand. No one is willing to offer up a first-round pick, a roster player, and a decent prospect to a team where its star player wants out. Teams that need a solid first-line centerman can roll the dice on July 1's free agency kickoff in the hopes of getting someone cheaper rather than mortgaging the immediate future. Unless a team is desperate in getting a top-line player, teams are more than happy to low-ball Murray and the Senators because they know they can.

Spezza's a great player and would be a welcome addition to any team, but he still has one year left on his contract with the Ottawa Senators. He might yet get moved, but it may not happen until March 2015 at the trade deadline thanks to his public demands.

The only person to blame for that problem is Jason Spezza.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Some Draft Things

I actually found this year's NHL Entry Draft fairly entertaining. Not that it has to be entertaining, mind you, but this year's was all about the trade that might happen for the first-overall pick. In the end, Florida retained the pick and used it to draft Aaron Ekblad, but Vancouver was busy, Winnipeg still hasn't made a player-for-player deal, and Pittsburgh somehow came away with a great pick despite picking at #22. Here are just a few things I noticed as the first-round selections were being made.
  •  Aaron Ekblad looks like he'll be a star. If he isn't the most-groomed selection at this year's draft, he's certainly got a future in an NHL front office. Ekblad is an eloquent speaker, a thoughtful kid, and he is as humble as they come. Good choice as the top pick in this year's draft.
  • The three men who followed Ekblad - Sam Reinhart to Buffalo, Leon Draisaitl to Edmonton, and Sam Bennett to Calgary - shouldn't surprise anyone. However, I think that Sam Bennett has the best chance to be an everyday player the earliest of those three. Calgary needs help down the middle desperately, and Bennett could find himself in the same situation as Sean Monahan last season.
  • Vancouver's pick of Jake Virtanen seemed odd at first, but he's going to be groomed to be the player who replaces the traded Ryan Kesler. Virtanen probably will play junior hockey again next season, but he's got the tools to be an excellent NHL player once he develops.
  • Toronto selected William Nylander with the eighth-overall pick. I'd like to say that Nylander is going to be the next Mats Sundin for Toronto, but watching his progress this season seems to have him being the next Jonas Hoglund. Toronto will need to let him find his game in North America and let him develop.
  • Somehow, Winnipeg found themselves with Nikolaj Ehlers at the ninth-overall pick, and there's a lot to be excited about with Ehlers. The Danish-born, German-and-Swiss-trained left winger is on the smaller side, but he loves to score. 49 goals and 55 assists in just 63 games in the QMJHL is a great total, and it will do him well to spend another season with Halifax. However, if the Jets wanted talent, they found a whole bunch in Ehlers... even if he is on the smaller side.
  • How the Ducks found themselves with Nick Ritchie at the tenth-overall pick is astounding. I guess big power forwards that can change games are Anaheim's thing. How badly do you think the Senators wanted that pick with the Jason Spezza drama?
  • Dallas grabbed Julius Honka with the fourteenth-overall pick. While Honka is a good defenceman, he reminded me a lot of Ryan Ellis in terms of how he plays. And look how Ellis is doing with Nashville. In saying that, though, there could be an opportunity to be a goof offensive defenceman, but Honka needs to be much stronger to carry the Stars.
  • Philadelphia got themselves a great kid and a solid player at #17 in Travis Sanheim. While most scouts agree he's a solid defensive defenceman, Sanheim could be a player much in the same vein as fellow Manitoban Travis Hamonic. He's not a big as Hamonic, but he is a beast in his own zone. Philly will love this kid.
  • Tampa Bay also did well in their search for more offence from the blue line when they chose Anthony DeAngelo at #19. DeAngelo might have won the OHL scoring race for a defenceman had he not missed some three weeks for uttering a slur at a teammate. While DeAngelo has a bright future if he can find his scoring touch in the NHL, he will need a little mentoring in the "how to talk to people" department. That being said, I think DeAngelo at #19 is a steal for the Lightning.
  • People may look back and wonder how Kasperi Kapanen fell all the way to #22, but the Penguins won't care. Kapanen doesn't have his dad's wheels, but he can finish when given the opportunity. If the Penguins - who dealt James Neal away - are looking for a guy who can slot into the spot Neal vacated alongside Evgeni Malkin, Kapanen has the raw talent to do so. His slight frame of 171 pounds may require some upgrading, though.
  • Vancouver, in using Anaheim's first pick in the draft thanks to the Kesler deal, chose Jared McCann at #24. I like this pick. A lot. McCann fits more of the Kesler mold than Virtanen, and I think these two will compliment each other well. McCann was supposed to go higher based on a number of mock drafts, but Vancouver will reap the benefits as they build around Virtanen and McCann. And they will build well with these types of picks.
  • The Montreal Canadiens opted to select Nikita Scherbak with the 26th-overall pick, and it seems odd that a small team known for its lack of size would opt for a 6'1", 175-pound Russian-born player. Scherbak is more of a playmaker off the wing than he is a crash-and-banger or a go-to-the-net finisher, but Montreal will get a guy who seemingly makes plays like they are second-nature. He may not be big, but he will come up big for Les Canadiens.
  • The New York Islanders, having traded up to get the #28 pick from the Lightning, selected Joshua Ho-Sang with the pick. Ho-Sang is an interesting case. He's immensely talented, and no one will deny he has the talent to be the best player of this year's draft class. But Ho-Sang is a very different person. He's extremely outspoken about the slights against him to the point where a third of NHL teams have him on their DO NOT DRAFT lists. The Islanders, though, chose him because of his incredible talent. Let's hope he uses that to the best of his ability. If he doesn't, we could be drawing comparisons between Ho-Sang and Robbie Schremp. And Islanders fans know all too well about Schremp.
The trades that went down slightly before and on the first day of the NHL Entry Draft left a few people scratching their heads. Honestly, there were some big names who got moved. Let's work through these, and who the winners are based on perception alone.
  • ANAHEIM TRADES NICK BONINO, LUCA SBISA, AND THE 24TH (JARED MCCANN) AND 85TH PICKS IN THE 2015 NHL DRAFT TO VANCOUVER FOR RYAN KESLER AND A 2015 THIRD-ROUND PICK - the strange part is that both Bonino and Sbisa played for the Manitoba Moose while they were the Canucks' AHL affiliate. In any case, there's no denying that Anaheim got the better of the deal with Ryan Kesler going their way, but Bonino was huge for Anaheim the playoffs. Sbisa may always be a five/six defenceman, but the Canucks will win the salary cap battle in this one. Overall? ANAHEIM WINS.
  • VANCOUVER TRADES JASON GARRISON, JEFF COSTELLO, AND A 2015 SEVENTH-ROUND PICK TO TAMPA BAY FOR THE 50TH-OVERALL PICK IN 2014 - Vancouver continued to shed salary, and they upped their total picks on Day Two of the draft. The Lightning get Jason Garrison, who can help their powerplay immensely, and NCAA player Jeff Costello. The big play in this trade was that Vancouver retained none of Garrison's salary as they continue to open up room for free agency. I'd like to say that the Lightning won this trade, but salary cap space is a major factor in today's NHL. VANCOUVER WINS.
  • PITTSBURGH TRADES JAMES NEAL TO NASHVILLE FOR PATRIC HORNQVIST AND NICK SPALING - as much as the Penguins can spin this, trading James Neal was more about ridding themselves of a divisive player on the ice and in the locker room than it was about salary cap relief. There were rumors out of Pittsburgh that Neal had demanded a trade, and Jim Rutherford made that happen. Hornqvist, who has regularly scored 20 goals per season, should fit nicely alongside Malkin if he's to replace Neal. He won't score as often, but he's sound defensively, having never finished lower than -3 in a season. Nick Spaling will be a nice addition to the lower-six forwards that Pittsburgh has. Addition by subtractions means that PITTSBURGH WINS.
  • VANCOUVER TRADES THE 85TH-OVERALL PICK TO THE NY RANGERS FOR DEREK DORSETT - Vancouver swapped the pick received in the Ryan Kesler trade to the NY Rangers for a little more grit. Derek Dorsett comes into Vancouver after having scored eight points while posting 129 PIMs. The Canucks, who have been noted as being "soft", just got a little grittier with this deal. VANCOUVER WINS.
There's a quick rundown of how HBIC saw things happen at the first night of the NHL Entry Draft. Did you like your team's pick? Did any team surprise or disappoint you? Leave a comment below and we can discuss!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Hockey Show - Episode Ninety-Four

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is back with a much smaller population in the studio tonight. After spending the last two weeks with extended crowds in the Re/Max Cup gents and the awesome Dirk Digglers hockey club, Teebz and Beans will be in the studio on their own tonight as parking is set at a premium with the opening game of the CFL schedule happening tonight. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will play the Toronto Argonauts at home at Investors Group Field, so there are less available spots for guests to park! In any case, we have a big show tonight, so let's take a peek at what we'll be discussing!

At first, I wasn't sure if these were actual uniforms being worn by Hockey Canada teams, but apparently they are official. These are the uniforms that Hockey Canada has brought out for the 100th anniversary of the national program, and all national teams will wear these uniforms in 2014-15 as the season plays out. Let's hope this next year goes by quickly.

The diagonal lettering is nice, but it really doesn't give the uniform a Canadian feel. It feels like a replica or fan's jersey that can be had for $60. Where's the bold maple leaf on the front? It just feels incomplete. It doesn't give me a feeling of nationalism. While it's still modern in its look, it just doesn't feel Canadian. We're proud of our hockey-centric nation, so let's get back to being a nation that wears its pride on its chest, eh Hockey Canada?

Tonight's 3 Rounds Deep segment should be interesting. Beans and I will toss around names as we discuss the best late-round draft picks of all-time. There are some players who fly under the radar and drop lower in the draft than they should, but we'll talk about the guys drafted around the 200th pick. These are guys picked in the late rounds who beat the odds and became stars! This should be a beauty topic for Beans and I to discuss!

If you wanna be a part of 3 Rounds Deep tonight, give us a call during the segment at 204-269-8636 (269-UMFM) and we'll put you on the air! Same rules as always as we can't repeat picks made by others and neither can you, so it will get a little tougher as people start participating. We'll start it off, then open up the phone lines and hit Twitter for everyone else to participate. If you want to toss some names in electronically, the Twitter link is below where you can go 3 Rounds Deep!

Going 3 ROUNDS DEEP tonight: best players who were picked late! You know what to do!

We'll also wrap up the Survivor: NHL Playoffs contest as we try to get a hold of the final two entrants, and we'll talk about the Hockey Hall of Fame and who was selected, who missed out on the selections, the NHL Awards and who won, who didn't take home hardware, the upcoming NHL draft, buyouts, new hires for coaches, and we might even give some stuff away! There's an announcement about an upcoming guest tonight, so you don't want to miss that, and we'll chat a little about the University of Manitoba Bisons hockey schedules as we gear up for another season of CIS hockey!

If you want to give us a listen, please tune us in at 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! We'll be available via phone at (204) 269-8636 (269-UMFM), so give us a call and play 3 Rounds Deep or share your thoughts on any of the topics we cover! You can tweet us anytime you like by hitting us up at @TeebzHBIC on the Twitter machine. 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. In short, there are lots of ways to get a hold of us! Tune us in, turn it up, and hold on for some hard-hitting hockey chatter tonight!

PODCAST: JUNE 26, 2014: Episode 94

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Grounded For A Year

CIS hockey normally flies under the radar, but I like to keep my eye on the developments happening in Canadian university hockey. When it was first announced in February that the University of Ottawa was suspending the men's hockey team pending an investigation into what officials called "a serious matter", there were a number of people who thought that the university reacted harshly to a situation where many details were not released. However, University of Ottawa president Allan Rock has now enforced the suspension for the entire 2014-15 season over these allegations of misconduct related to a pending sexual assault investigation from the February incident.

Included in president Rock's statement today was a termination of head coach Réal Paiement, a former NHL player, as Rock stated that Paiement was made aware of the allegations against his team hours after the incident occurred and "devised and imposed measures by himself with respect to the team". That, readers, is a damning statement against Paiement, and it shows that there's still a mentality of "what happens on the road stays on the road". While that may be true for people looking to have a good time, the moment you commit a crime - especially a heinous sexual-based crime - the party is over.

However, Rock wanted to make a clarification on the suspension. "We suspended the program — not the team," Rock said at his press conference. "We know enough to say that what happened there was unacceptable so we're shutting down the program, the coach is being replaced, we're putting new policies and processes in place, and moving forward with a new program."

WOW.

I have never seen anyone in the college ranks pull apart an entire program, yet Rock is making this happen. In no way am I suggesting this shouldn't have been done after the allegations surfaced and an internal review showed that a cover-up had been initiated. At that point, the program is rotten, and its core needs to be reviewed, replaced, and washed away so that this type of behavior will never surface again for the University of Ottawa. Kudos to president Rock for his courage in fixing what sounds like a major problem that was lurking beneath the surface of the Gee Gees' sports programs.

I also respect the fact that some players want to play and are considering lawsuits, but I don't agree with this stance. I will not paint the entire team as participants in the alleged sexual assault because that's wildly unfair. But, as Rock stated, the entire Gee Gees hockey program is being suspended, not just the men's team. If I were a player, I would want to play too. There's no doubt about that. However, the University of Ottawa has to do right for itself, the students attending the school, the athletes and coaches who represent the school in Ontario and abroad, and the alumni and faculty who have helped the University of Ottawa become one of Canada's best schools. This isn't about suspending a team as much as it is about fixing a program that went bad a long time ago.

It takes stones to tell a hockey program that you're done, but the allegations against the Gee Gees men's hockey team are serious. I'm glad to see that Allan Rock has the stones to fix a program that was seriously derailed. The university was founded on principles that need to be injected into its various programs, and the suspension to correct the deep-rooted problems that were exposed through the investigation shows how much courage and fortitude Mr. Rock has.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The NHL Awards Cuba Gooding Jr. Show

The NHL Awards took place tonight as the NHL honored its best from the past season. It was a good night overall for the most part. Sidney Crosby took home three pieces of hardware on the evening as seen to the left. Patrice Bergeron also won three times, capturing the Selke Trophy, the NHL Player Foundation Award, and he was announced as the player who would grace the cover of EA Sports' NHL '15. There were other winners that got some hardware, but one man stole the show with his appearance.

Now you might be thinking that an NHL legend showed up to wow the crowd. Maybe it was a major Hollywood movie star. Or maybe it was former A-lister Cuba Gooding Jr. Mr. Gooding is a regular at Los Angeles Kings games, so he's a hockey fan. This is literally eight minutes of Mr. Gooding making network executives uncomfortable.
Is it just me, or does it seem like Cuba Gooding Jr. has a case of Tourette's? Why was he randomly screaming out names and words? It felt like he was summoning his character, Rod Tidwell, from Jerry Maguire with all the hooting and hollering he was doing.

Don't get me wrong: I like Cuba Gooding Jr., but this was weird. I appreciate that he was livening up a rather dull show, but this felt uncomfortable at times. Like when he accused Mark Messier for touching his posterior. I'm not sure what he was trying to do, but it's easy not to get hired in Hollywood when you act a little crazy.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Unauthorized Sales Aren't Legit

I was excited when I found out that CCM is getting back into the business of skates. I still own a pair of Tacks that I love and will never give up until they literally fall apart around my feet, so the news that CCM was re-introducing Tacks back to the hockey market had me happy. The new carbon-fiber frame and updated look of these new Tacks are back to the trend that CCM was so respected for as they blend technology and innovation again. Unfortunately, it appears someone was a little anxious in terms of getting their hands on CCM's new design as the company is reaching out for the public's help.

I received an email from CCM's contracted Communications and Public Relations company in which they have asked for help. They write,
CCM Hockey needs your help in finding 2,000 pairs of its new CCM Tacks hockey skates, which were stolen in transit from Vancouver, BC to Saint-Laurent, QC during the week of June 16, 2014.

On June 13, 2014, 2 of the 3 containers in transit made it to destination at CCM's warehouse in Saint-Laurent, QC, whereas the missing 3rd container was later declared stolen and recovered by Montreal police without its contents.

A police investigation is currently taking place, but can we kindly ask for your assistance in spreading the news? Anything you can do on your website or social media pages would be greatly appreciated. We knew the Tacks were in high-demand, but this one blew us away…!
Wow. I'm not sure who would have the means or the manpower to haul off 2000 pairs of skates in one fell swoop, but there are a lot of brand-new skates that are unaccounted for in Canada right now. Needless to say, they could use a little amateur sleuthing to assist them.

Basically, if you're on eBay or Kijiji or any sort of auction site and you come across the new CCM Tacks, you need to make a note of this. After getting all the relevant information down about the seller - screen name, location, price, contact info - you're to contact Bernard Côté, the Account Director at Exacto Communications, with this information. If you don't feel comfortable emailing Bernard, you can always phone him at 514-273-3793 at extension 236. Either way, Bernard wants to know where these skates ended up so that they can get to the warehouse for shipping to the sporting good stores that want to stock their shelves with CCM Tacks once more.

I don't know if there's a reward in terms of leading CCM back to their skates, but we look out for one another in the hockey community. Let's do CCM a solid by helping them find these missing skates!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

A Spot Of Tea?

I happened to be walking by our coffee station near my department at work the other day, and I came across something I found bizarre. Hockey is rarely seen in the same place as coffee and other hot beverages, but I found a famous hockey face staring back at me as I wandered by the coffee nook. I don't want to alarm anyone, but this is the first time I've ever seen Wayne Gretzky's face on something like tea. I was confused and scared, and I decided I needed to find the answer to how Wayne's visage ended up on the box of Bigelow tea.

I hit Bigelow's website, and the answer was sitting there.
Fairfield, CT, February 21, 2010 – Talk about a power play! The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, has teamed up with the Bigelow Tea Company as a spokesperson for North America (Canada and the U.S.). As the embodiment of sports excellence and wholesome vitality, Wayne Gretzky is a perfect fit with the Bigelow Green Tea "story."

In keeping with Bigelow's customer centric style, this exciting news first launched on the Bigelow blog with a weeklong teaser contest. Daily Twitter clues were posted and a Classic Tea Chest stocked with Bigelow Tea favorites was awarded to the lucky winner who guessed the new spokesperson was "The Great One."

Gretzky, who has played pro hockey for both Canadian and American teams, earned his title as The Great One by winning 4 National Hockey League championships, 9 Hart Trophies (hockey's MVP award) and 3 NHL All-Star Game MVPs. An incredible athlete, he also holds 60 different NHL records — including a record for holding the most records! He is generally regarded as the best player in the history of the NHL, and has been called "the greatest hockey player ever" by many sportswriters, players and coaches.

Gretzky’s personal relationship with the Bigelow brand laid the groundwork for the sponsorship. "Just as hockey is a natural for me, quality is a natural for Bigelow Tea. It's a family company whose values I admire, and whose product is unbeatable. Bigelow teas just seem to taste fresher and better – I'm pleased to be associated with a product I believe in."

The admiration is well returned. "It's so incredibly exciting, and such an honor, to have a sports figure of Wayne's magnitude as our spokesperson," said Cindi Bigelow, President of the family-owned Bigelow Tea Company. "He is not only a true champion but a wonderful human being – humble, gentle and kind. When he visited our facility, he shook hands, signed autographs and took photos with everyone. No wonder they call him the Great One."
Wayne apparently joins the Bigelow team as the hockey representative. Joe Torre, Terry Francona and Phil Simms are all a part of the Bigelow team as well. Strangely, it appears no basketball players enjoy tea as they don't have a representative. In any case, tea is now an acceptable hockey beverage!

Who would have thought that The Great One would be selling "a great tea"?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Gentlemen, To Your Corners! - Round 1

Elton John once sang that Saturday is alright for fighting, and we're going to have our first mano-a-mano battle here on HBIC as John M. and Neal L. go one-on-one in a battle of wits! The To Your Corners feature will run regularly through the summer, but the schedule will entirely be decided by the writers. If you want to write an article to be featured on HBIC, get scribing and send it off once you're done to me at this email address!

Without further adieu, let's get this bout underway! I'll let the boys set this up as John and Neal come out swinging in the first installment of To Your Corners!

What Should the NHL do about diving?

Intoduction - The current NHL rules on diving: 64.3 Fines and Suspensions - Regardless if a minor penalty for diving/embellishment is called, Hockey Operations will review game videos and assess fines to players or goalkeepers who dive or embellish a fall or a reaction, or who feign injury. See also Rule 28 – Supplementary Discipline. The call on the ice by the Referee is totally independent of supplementary discipline.

The first such incident during the season will result in a warning letter being sent to the player or goalkeeper. The second such incident will result in a one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine. For a third such incident in the season, the player shall be suspended for one game, pending a telephone conversation with the Director of Hockey Operations. For subsequent violations in the same season, the player's suspension shall double (i.e. first suspension – one game, second suspension – two games, third suspension – four games, etc.) See also Rule 28 – Supplementary Discipline.


John's Reply

Embellishment is out of control and embarrassing and I really think the NHL needs to take drastic action to fix it. The reason I love hockey so much is because the players aren't egomaniacs, they aren't money grubbers, and they aren't poor sports. Hockey players play the game with integrity and honor. I believe ever since the crackdown on obstruction, the integrity of the game is going out the window. Do you want the NHL to be mocked like soccer… err, umm, football? How about like punters in Football… er, umm, American Football flopping around at the smallest amount of contact? Or baseball players faking being hit by a pitch? Diving happens in all sports, but isn't what makes hockey special is it's not like those other sports?

Personally, I would do 3 things to fix this flopping epidemic.

First would be to enforce the rules on file already (see rule 64.3 above). The NHL needs to create a committee to review possible dives, both missed and called. This committee will be in charge of enforcing rule 64.3 as it is written. Also, the fine amount needs to be raised to match a current player’s wallet. Now you might be thinking how many players get caught embellishing at least three times a season, and my answer to you is that if they are reviewing all possible embellishment plays, players will get caught much more often. As of now there is at least one embellishment a night - a minor variety like a player just falling down easier or holding a player's stick in the crook of his armpit to make it look like hooking or a major violation like a player jumping head first into the boards. I would create a committee to review these types of plays just like head shots are reviewed.

The second thing I would do is make an embellishment call on the ice a double-minor. Currently there are absolutely no consequences for players diving. Except for a few circumstances, whenever there is an embellishment call there is also a call of a concurrent penalty. So if someone dives, the worst thing that could happen most times is an even call penalty on a play that might not have gotten a call anyway. BUT if you make embellishment a double-minor, a diver is putting his team shorthanded when they should/could have been on the powerplay. As a result, players will not be looking for the advantage of getting the powerplay by diving, but instead will be trying to avoid the embellishment call as much as possible. You will likely see a lot less penalties called because players will try and skate through sticks and hooks instead of going down.

Finally, like the Competition Committee said, the NHL needs to fine the coach and franchise as well. If players are going to get cumulative fines and suspensions, coaches should get the same treatment. For example, if Player A is given a violation for diving, and then Player B receives one, followed shortly by Player C embellishing a call, each of those players is only going to get a letter for a one-time offense. However, to make sure the coach and the GM are getting involved to ensure their players are playing with integrity, the coach and the team should be fined as well. I would say three embellishments within a 30-day time period results in the coach and team being fined. Each following incident within that timeframe will result in increasing amounts for the coach and team.

There was a time when players would be afraid of diving because other players would dish out their own retribution. There was also a time when officials like Paul Stewart would warn coaches to keep players in line with the "or else" threat. Today's NHL doesn't provide players or officials with this type of discouragement, forcing us to rely on the league to make the right decisions.


Neal's Reply

I understand why people want the NHL to crack down on diving. I really do. The problem is that, to some extent, it's part of the game. Believe me, as a Rangers fan I cringed every time I saw Tomas Plekanec put on an Oscar-winning performance. The fact is the NHL has bigger axes to grind than diving in my opinion. I feel like this issue can be cracked down more by the officials on the ice. The main issue is that there really is no disincentive to dive. At worst, your team is playing a 4-on-4 situation, which to some teams - the Pittsburgh Penguins - may be a really good trade-off. Basically, diving is a one-way bet, especially if your team is a good 4-on-4 team. I feel like the officials should do more of shaking their heads at diving, and any player deemed guilty of embellishment have their team shorthanded. Eliminating the incentive to dive should be enough.

The other issue I have with cracking down on diving is how the punishment fits the crime. For one, do we really want to start seeing players getting suspended for four games for diving? That would be the punishment for the fifth offense. We have much more dangerous plays on the ice that only result in a couple games or no games.

Also, what is considered embellishment? Sure there were stuff like the Plekanec incidents where the embellishments were cartoonish, but what about the countless plays that occur where there is a clear infraction and the "victim" just gives a little sell to make sure he gets the call? When these plays happen, announcers often call them "smart hockey plays", but based on this you have to start reviewing these as well. We definitely don't want to go down the slippery slope of having to review every penalty to see if the guy gave a little extra to get the call. How is that penalty any different than say hooking? Are we going to start fining players for tripping? We would think that's ridiculous. Just keep diving a minor penalty and be done with it. If I want to penalize things, it's only clear cut examples of diving and I want those examples to be corrected on the ice where it belongs.

In conclusion, we can't have this be handled in the league office. It would be overwhelming and inconsistent. We complain how Brendan Shanahan and now Stephane Quintal handle dirty hits, so imagine the uproar over seasons being altered by a diving suspension that takes a star player out when maybe his falling isn't quite a dive? John will say this is the point of suspending the player, but do we really want that? Besides, if a player is labeled as a diver and causes his team to be shorthanded a lot, he will get punished through his next contract. Teams won't want to pay premium money to guys who take a lot of penalties. Isn't that punishment enough?
Wow. Compelling made arguments on both sides will make this a more difficult judgement as we check the judge's scorecards. Ok, my scorecard. In any case, here comes the score!

First off, I agree with Neal that less is more in terms of forming a committee. There should be a review done by the league on whistled embellishment calls, though, but I'm not sure a committee is needed. Perhaps embellishment calls should be reviewed by the newly-created Director of Player Safety currently held by former Flyers scout Patrick Burke. As Brendan Shanahan said in his statement, "The ability to evaluate players that Patrick refined as a pro and amateur scout will be invaluable to the team that monitors games each night to both identify incidents that might merit Supplemental Discipline and to note developing trends in our game." The bolding and italics highlight the most important aspects that deal directly with embellishment - identifying embellishment incidents that might warrant supplemental discipline and the identification of the embellishment trend.

In saying that, however, I agree with John in that the punishment for embellishment, if a trend is found, should increase for each case of embellishment found beyond the first case. Basically, if a trend in a player's game is identified as he accumulates embellishment penalties, that needs to be corrected. One player should not be able to try and alter games with acting. That kind of mockery isn't necessary nor does it reflect well upon the game itself.

While I agree with Neal that suspensions to that player could also affect a team greatly and don't really fit the crime, fines of increasing value to himself, his coach, and the franchise is not out of line at all and I'm onboard with John in this case. If a player wants to make a mockery of this game, he's going to affect more than just himself if and when he's caught acting.

While it isn't called often, I agree with John in that if a player is caught embellishing a penalty in order to gain an advantage, his poor acting should result in his team being at a disadvantage. Make the embellishment call a double-minor - two minutes for diving and two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. Suddenly the impetus to dive or embellish a call becomes detrimental to the team in a big way. As Neal pointed out, "eliminating the incentive to dive should be enough", but the penalty for doing so should be harsher than just a slap on the wrist or a wagging of the finger.

If I had to score this one, it would literally be a one-point separation between these two men. Both made good arguments as I agreed with facts in both cases, but I also found some flaws in the arguments that may work against them. In the end, though, the higher point total for this round on my card went to the man who wants to see diving and embellishment punished harshly!

A great start to this new feature here on HBIC as both John and Neal came out strong in the inaugural installment of To Your Corners! If you want to participate in something like this, email me here and I can explain how this works! If you want to submit your own article with no opposing view, you can do that by emailing me too!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Keep It Clean, Boys!

I like you guys. No, really, I do like you guys. You're awesome, you keep me honest by finding mistakes and pointing out when I go wrong, and you're solid contributors with your comments and emails. Because this blog is "of the people, by the people, for the people", I always appreciate a good reader-written article. Different viewpoints and observations being a different perspective to this blog, and I want more of that. That would be your cue.

Since I was looking for a good segue into this article, I am happy to report that two readers have decided to team up to bring differing viewpoints on a topic in one article! John M. and Neal L. have decided to go mano-a-mano in a knock-em-down battle of wits over a specific topic that is found in the world of hockey! These two are pumped for a battle royale, and I'm pumped to see them battle it out!

There hasn't been a schedule set for these bouts of wits, but we'll see an article soon. These two are weighing in now, and are set for the spotlight this weekend. However, we do need one thing from you, readers: feedback! Whether you cheer, boo, heckle, thumbs-up, or thumbs-down, John, Neal, and I would like you to offer feedback on these articles. Do you agree? Disagree? Is this a good feature? Would you like to weigh in at some point? All of this can be discussed in the comment section!

Secondly, I will always accept reader-submitted articles at any time. Always. While we all know that this blog is written by me, I will re-iterate that this blog is "of the people, by the people, for the people". I know some of you want to write something, so don't hold back. Put your thought on electronic paper, attach it to an email, and send it off to me. Again, nothing will be rejected unless it is riddled with cursing, advertisements, or egregious errors, so if you have something to say, HBIC is your soapbox!

Tomorrow, "John Kaiser" goes head-to-head with "Neal Macho Man" in a battle of wits in our first reader-submitted article of the summer! I'm psyched for this, so tune in tomorrow as we give these two men the floor for their article!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Hockey Show - Episode Ninety-Three

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is back tonight with our second show featuring a pile of guests! We were working to have Mr. Jared Keeso join us, but his schedule demands that he be working on the second season of 19-2 so Jared will be busy tonight and not appearing on the show. Honestly, I'm happy for the guy. He's working on a great show that is gaining traction in the Canadian TV atmosphere, and that's good for him and his family. Keep working hard, Jared! The Hockey Show is behind you 100%!

In saying that, we've gone ahead and booked locally as we're bringing in a senior men's team from here in Winnipeg! As part of our mandate as a community-based radio station, Beans and I are always looking interested in things happening in our city, so getting one of Winnipeg's best hockey teams and funnier Twitter teams is important to us! We'll bring in members of the Dirk Digglers hockey team in-studio tonight and run them through the paces as we do with all our guests as we chat some hockey! We'll learn about them, where they play, how long they've been playing, and get their thoughts on a pile of stuff happening in the hockey world! It's going to be another great show with multiple members of the Dirk Digglers hockey team on-hand tonight!

Tonight's 3 Rounds Deep segment should be interesting. Beans and I will include the Digglers team to participate in the discussion about the best and/or funniest team names of all-time in honour of the Dirk Digglers hockey club appearing on the show. These could be names from any professional team across the land or any hockey team playing at your local hockey rink. As long as there are no curse words in the name, we'll add it to the list! This should be a beauty topic, and it may just lead to a few teams out there finding a new team name!

If you wanna be a part of 3 Rounds Deep tonight, give us a call during the segment at 204-269-8636 (269-UMFM) and we'll put you on the air! Same rules as always as we can't repeat picks made by others and neither can you, so it will get a little tougher as people start participating. We'll start it off, then open up the phone lines and hit Twitter for everyone else to participate. If you want to toss some names in electronically, the Twitter link is below where you can go 3 Rounds Deep!

Going 3 ROUNDS DEEP tonight: best and/or funniest team names! You know what to do!

Along with 3 Rounds Deep, we'll get the Digglers to weigh in on their season out at the MTS IcePlex where things appear to be going quite well. We'll talk about the Los Angeles Kings bringing home the Stanley Cup, the Texas Stars winning three straight OT games on the road against the St. John's IceCaps to capture the AHL's Calder Cup, trade rumors and buyouts as to who may move where, coaching vacancies, and the art of cursing at civic events and whether it is a necessary thing for public officials and players to do. Lots of chatter tonight, so make sure you tune in!

We're going to have fun tonight on the show with the Dirk Digglers hockey team, so please tune us in at 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! We'll be available via phone at (204) 269-8636 (269-UMFM), so give us a call and play 3 Rounds Deep or share your thoughts on any of the topics we cover! You can tweet us anytime you like by hitting us up at @TeebzHBIC on the Twitter machine. 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. In short, there are lots of ways to get a hold of us! Give us a listen, and enjoy the show!

PODCAST: JUNE 19, 2014: Episode 93


Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

This Trend Can End

I find that there are a few things in like that irk me. I'm pretty laid back when it comes to things in my life, but there is a trend emerging in sports that is starting to wear thin. It's not just limited to hockey, either, as I've seen it in both baseball and basketball, and I'd be willing to guess that football has seen something similar happen. On Monday, Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles, added to this trend that is becoming so passé.

I understand there is civic pride that comes into play for a mayor when a professional sports team captures a championship, but is there really any need for the guy to curse? I apologize for the uncensored video, so be aware that this clip is NSFW and definitely rated-R if children are watching this.

See, maybe I'm in the minority here. Maybe I'm a little more old-school and old-fashioned than I think I am. Or maybe I just hold an elected public official to a higher standard. In any case, Mr. Garcetti's choice of language in this situation is highly unnecessary in my view, and all he did was earn himself a cheap cheer from the crowd at Staples Center. It's a mob mentality at that time, and all Mr. Garcetti did was excite the mob with a clearly-planned swear word meant to get an easy cheer.

Two years ago, Jonathan Quick did the same thing. Corey Crawford added his name to those who have sworn at a civic gathering during the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup parade. David Ortiz used a curse word during the Boston Red Sox's post-bombing ceremony. Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujuri cursed at Brooklyn before their playoff series this past spring. Dustin Brown let an F-bomb fly on NBC after winning the Stanley Cup this season. In other words, it seems we're using curse words far more often in places we used to never find them.

What is the fascination with this word? Do people in sports not hear it enough in their sport that they have to incorporate it into everyone else's lives when speaking publicly? Am I just too much of a prude?

Look, I'm an adult, and I've heard the word enough in my life to know that there are places it should never be used. That Stanley Cup parade and the crowd in Staples Center most likely had kids of all ages in attendance, and here's the mayor dropping an F-bomb in front of them. Personally, this is one of those times where an F-bomb probably isn't needed. In fact, as a public figure, it'll get you the cheap pop from the crowd, but you know his opposition is going to use that against him.

I enjoyed seeing as much of the parade as I could on Monday. The people of Los Angeles seem to be noticing that the hockey team in their city is a pretty good team. The one thing I could do without, though, was the cursing.

Until next time, give your head a shake!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

And Ye Shall Be Crowned Champion

The final totals have been verified. I did short-change one entrant two points on an addition error, so David F.'s total increased by a couple of points. However, all other scores were determined to be correct after careful counting of fingers and toes, and we now have a champion crowned in the HBIC Playoff Pool for 2014! This one, like the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, went down to the wire, but one entrant came out on top! Let's see how this series broke down.

LA Kings vs. NY Rangers

Two gentlemen achieved the highest total of the Stanley Cup Final round with eight points. Ty F. and Dan F. were the only two entrants to correctly pick the Los Angeles Kings to win in five games over the Rangers, and that pushed them ahead of the rest of the field. In fact, only three people called a five-game series in Ty, Dan, and Jared R., but Jared picked the Rangers in an upset. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. So congratulations to Dan and Ty on their excellent picks in the Stanley Cup Final to give them the best rounds in Round Four!

Tie-Breakers

Sixteen teams started this journey, but only one would stand as a winner. However, in order to help me out, I asked you which team would finish the playoffs with the most penalties in minutes. Not surprisingly, the two finalists finished one-two as the Kings racked up 320 PIMS in their playoff run. The Rangers stood second at 240 PIMs. Anaheim, eliminated by the Kings in Round Two, was third-best in PIMs with 236. Needless to say, getting out of the Pacific Division was a war for the Kings. The complete list is here, but the tie-breaker factored into this year's championship total!

Final Tally

The leaderboard has been updated, and this was one of the closest races for a top-ten finish I've seen in recent years. The actual finishes of the top-two finishers was determined by the penalty minutes tie-breaker! I'm not going to draw this out with any additional suspense or anguish, so here are the top-ten finishers who earned a prize this year!
  1. Scott M. (NYR) - 91
  2. Westin F. (PIT) - 91
  3. Tyler J. (BOS) - 88
  4. Ty F. (BOS) - 86
  5. Ryan P. (LAK) - 85
  6. Daniel W. (BOS) - 85
  7. Michael J. (BOS) - 84
  8. Dan F. (BOS) - 84
  9. Forrest B. (BOS) - 80
  10. Jay F. (PHI) - 80
Congratulations go out to Scott M. who rallied from behind to pull even with Westin F. in this series, and then took the championship in overtime with his tie-breaker choice of the New York Rangers! I will be contacting each of you starting this weekend, so check your inboxes often! Scott M., you'll be first, so expect an email asking you to choose from the prizes on Friday!

These Guys Helped Out

I want to thank those who helped with some prizing as well, so this section is the unofficial advertising section. Help these guys out when you can. If you need a gift for a family member, friend, loved one, or whomever, these are the guys you want to go to first.

Mark Penxa came through with a couple of awesome t-shirts for the prizes. Mark has his own website where one can discover all the awesome artwork he produces, and his paintings are second-to-none. The man is a genius in blending sports and art. He's also developed a couple of t-shirts, and I'm happy to offer his Arts & Athletics t-shirts in the draws. Thank you, Mark! Please visit his site and check out his work. Awesome stuff!

The boys at the Pond Hockey Brewing Company decided to toss a couple of Puck Off! bottle openers my way to include in the HBIC Prize Pool! These bottle openers work realty well, and I've been using my test opener for some time now. I've even received some comments from guests who wanted to know where I got it as we watch hockey on TV. Do yourself a favor and pick up a Puck Off! bottle opener! Thank you, Keith and Kyle Jordan! One of the best products HBIC has ever reviewed!

I received Rob's artwork, and I'll be tossing the art in with the Grand Prize and the Saucy Senator prize. I didn't photograph it so it's sight unseen, but Rob's work is awesome and will be worth it. If you want to pick up some of Rob's work, check this site. If you want to see his online repository of work, hit this site up. Fantastic stuff on both sites! Thank you, Rob!

My Gratitude

To everyone who sent in entries, I want to thank you for participating in the 2014 HBIC Playoff Pool. I received a lot of "thanks for doing this again" comments on the entries, and I want to acknowledge those thanks as well. I enjoy running this pool, and I really like the interaction. You guys make the playoffs fun for me, and the HBIC Playoff Pool is the biggest giveaway annually I do through the blog. Because this blog generates no income, it's a labor of love and passion for me. You guys make it all worth it, though, with your commitment to the pool. Thanks again, everyone. You're all awesome!

Last But Not Least

I have a pile of stuff that I am going to involved with this summer, and I know everyone who has participated in the HBIC Playoff Pool is pretty knowledgeable when it comes to hockey. Thanks to these two facts, I want to remind everyone that HBIC is always "of the people, by the people, for the people", meaning if you have a hankering to write an article or two HBIC would be happy to post it. I love alternate viewpoints on here, so if you have something you want to write about in the hockey world, send it here and I'll post it. You can use it as a published writing sample for use on resumés or attach it to your LinkedIn/Facebook/whatever social media site you like. You'll get full credit for the writing! So if you're interested, send me your article whenever you like!

Congratulations once more to Scott M., the 2014 HBIC Playoff Pool champion!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 16 June 2014

I'm A Kimmel Fan

Here's something you may not know: I'm a Jimmy Kimmel fan. I've been a fan since his days on radio and podcasts with Adam Carolla and his work on The Man Show right through to his current gig as the host of Jimmy Kimmel Live! I respect Jimmy a lot because he doesn't take his work or himself too seriously, and his interviews are fun and humorous because of his personality and attitude. Again, I am a fan. Needless to say, I stayed up late tonight to watch tonight's episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! because he featured two of the Stanley Cup champion LA Kings on his show as Alec Martinez and Justin Williams brought the Silver Chalice to Jimmy's stage!

This really needs no introduction, but Mike Bolt, the keeper of the Stanley Cup, gets a lot of recognition as Jimmy basically runs through every situation in which the Stanley Cup cannot be involved. It's a pretty funny piece. Have a look-see.
Sweet little margarita cup, eh? Honestly, this is pretty funny, and kudos to Mike Bolt, Justin Williams, and Alec Martinez for having some fun on Jimmy's show. While it certainly isn't as serious as Stanley Cup playoff hockey, making a good margarita can be challenging!

Tomorrow, after I had the auditors look over the numbers, the final totals for the HBIC Playoff Pool will be posted! I want to be sure I made no mistakes in tabulating scores - it has happened before - so I am having an independent second-party look over my math skills when it comes to adding two-digit numbers! Tomorrow, a winner shall be crowned!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

How About Four More Years?

If there is one person on a hockey club who can never truly feel like his job is safe, it's a head coach. Far too often, they become scapegoats for poorly-performing players, underachieving teams, and general malaise surrounding the franchise. While some of those problems can be attributed to the head coach, not every problem should be squarely placed on the shoulders of the man behind the bench. After all, he's one guy. In saying that, I found it interesting that the Montreal Canadiens - fresh off their loss to the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final - decided to ink Michel Therrien to a four-year contract extension that kicks in next season.

There's no denying that the Canadiens have been fairly successful under Therrien's tutelage. They fell in the first-round in 2012-13 to Ottawa, but advanced past the Tampa Bay Lightning in impressive fashion before eliminating their division rivals in the Boston Bruins in what most would consider an upset despite the Canadiens having won the season series. Therrien is showing that he knows the game and his players well, and he's been rewarded for his work in going 75-42-13 over the last two regular seasons.

"It really shows the stability that Marc Bergevin and Geoff Molson want to establish with the Canadiens," said Therrien on a conference call. "We've progressed a lot over the past two years and we want to continue to progress. It's a sign of confidence."

I, for one, am pretty satisfied with this move. Therrien has proven he can take a team of younger players and mold them into a contender. It helps that he has a world-class goalie, some solid veterans, and some good talent, but his usage of his fourth-line in the playoffs really proved to be the difference in the series against the Bruins as he matched skill against grinders. While his team fell short in the Eastern Conference Final after Carey Price was injured, the Canadiens were still in most games against the Rangers with an inexperienced Dustin Tokarski minding the fort, and Tokarski looked not only capable but ready for an NHL job next season.

If there was one thing that should be noted, his interaction with his players - seen very clearly on the TV series CH24 - has improved dramatically from his previous stints in both Montreal and Pittsburgh. Therrien appears to have excellent rapport with his stars, and was seen talking to younger players in offering advice and knowledge. Yes, there were times he chewed out a player like PK Subban or Josh Gorges, but he has refined his coaching style and has become a better motivator and nurturer when the times call for it. This development was, I believe, a major key to Montreal's run this year in the playoffs.

If a head coach wants job security, the results will guarantee that. Michel Therrien deservedly has that security.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

They Just Wouldn't Die

You may recognize this small arthropod from his supporting role in the Disney/Pixar collaboration known as Wall-E. As humanity fled the planet, they left behind their small robotic friend and he befriended the cockroach seen to the left named Hal. Hal survives being squished twice, a reference to the cockroach's ability to survive most anything. Like Hal and his species, this year's Stanley Cup champions could be compared to nature's seemingly indestructible insect as well.

The Kings battled through 82 games like all other teams, but needed 26 additional games before they could relax. If you do the math, that's 108 NHL hockey games the Kings played, not including preseason exhibition games. In fact, over the last three years, the Kings have won the Stanley Cup twice and lost in the Western Conference Final. All told, they have played an NHL-most 310 games in the last three seasons in terms of regular season games and post-season games! Fatigue? Hardly!

The Kings proved again that all it takes is a ticket to the playoffs to make an impact. They were the lowest-scoring team of all the playoff-bound teams this season, finishing at 26th-best in the NHL, before becoming the highest-scoring team of the playoffs this year. They had the best advanced stats of all teams in terms of puck possession, and they finished the playoffs with the top-four scorers. This team showed that all they need is a shot at winning.

Part of that success was finding the right pieces to fit into Darryl Sutter's systems, and Dean Lombardi responded by adding Marian Gaborik while promoting Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson from Manchester up to the NHL squad. Once there, Sutter shifted lines around, putting Toffoli and Pearson with Jeff Carter, and pairing Anze Kopitar with Marian Gaborik. The result? Dustin Brown and Justin Wiliams were sent to the third line with Jarret Stoll where the depth of Los Angeles was unmatched. As a result, Williams brought home the Conn Smythe Trophy for his contributions, and the Kings won the Stanley Cup because they had three incredibly balanced scoring lines.

Along with incredible depth, the Kings literally beat you into submission. This team finishes every check on every play with every bit of gusto they can manage. No one takes a shift off when it comes to finishing a hit, and it takes its toll through a seven-game series. This is a trademark of Darryl Sutter-coached teams, and you could literally see players bracing for hits long before they came as the series wore on. Wearing down teams? That's the mark of Darryl Sutter, yet another testament to his coaching and how his team bought into the plan to administer as much punishment as they could to make their lives a whole lot easier.

For all the talk about LA's defence in 2012 not being experienced enough, the Kings showed that patience is key to a deadly attack as their defencemen found a killer instinct in these playoffs not seen since the lofty days of Coffey, Murphy, and Lidstrom in Detroit. Doughty led all scorers from the blueline with five goals and 13 assists while Jake Muzzin was fifth in scoring, but led all rearguards with six goals. Alec Martinez, with his Stanley Cup-winning goal, also had five goals while the normally offensive-minded Slava Voynov had two goals and seven assists in his playoff run. In other words, this defensive group started the rush most times, and often finished a rush by jumping into the play as well. If defence wins championships, the Kings showed their defence can score as well as their forwards can.

The one thing that suffers with defencemen jumping up into the play is the defensive play in their own zone. It was evident in their first two series that the Kings were getting caught way too often and not defensively-responsible enough to continue their offensive assault on opposing goalies. As a result, Jonathan Quick saw his GAA jump from his William Jennings-winning stat of 2.05 GAA to 2.69 GAA. The team also committed an average of 13 giveaways-per-game, nearly three more than they did in the regular season. As the playoffs rolled on, though, this team picked their opportunities rather than jumping into every play. As a result, they played defence well enough to survive the opening rounds against San Jose and Anaheim before asserting themselves in the Chicago and New York series. Call that maturity and smarts along with some good coaching.

The special teams also came alive in the post-season when the Kings needed them the most. During the regular season, the Kings were an abysmal 27th-best on the powerplay and 11th-best on the penalty kill. While the penalty kill didn't improve on its efficiency in the playoffs, the powerplay came to life with the additions of Gaborik and Toffoli. While they would finish sixth-best in the playoffs after some also-rans, the key was that the Kings' powerplay efficiency improved from 15.1% to 23.5%. That jump translated into a lot of goals with the man-advantage in the playoffs, and games are often won and lost on the special teams. Rarely does a team get a 10% boost in their powerplay after struggling all season, especially as poor as the Kings looked with the extra man during the first 70 games of the season.

Of course, it needs mentioning that the Kings didn't implode when the chips were down, and, in fact, became almost indestructible and uber-focused when they were in a hole. They were down 3-0 in the series against the Sharks and made history to rally from that deficit. They were down 3-2 in the series against the Ducks and rallied to win that series. They allowed the Blackhawks to rally from a 3-1 series deficit before going down 2-0, 3-2, and 4-3 in Game Seven, and then rallied in the third period before ending that series in overtime. Twice in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, they trailed 2-0 before rallying to win both games and the series. It was almost like this team needed to get kicked in the gut before they started to play hockey. And every time they got kicked, they ended up knocking another team out of the playoffs.

They have world-class talent up front in Carter, Kopitar, Gaborik, and Williams. They have exceptional youngsters in Pearson and Toffoli. They have solid checking forwards in Stoll, Mike Richards, Trevor Lewis, and Dwight King. They have an outstanding, young defensive unit in Doughty, Martinez, Muzzin, and Voynov, and none are over the age of 26. Of course, they have an all-world netminder in Jonathan Quick, and they have up-and-coming Martin Jones. Needless to say, these Los Angeles are going to be here for a while.

The rest of the NHL had better get used to this.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Alec Martinez Scores

Not much to say on this one other than it's over! Alec Martinez's goal off the right pad of Henrik Lundqvist in double-overtime sealed the deal for the Los Angeles Kings in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final, delivering the second Stanley Cup parade to La-La-Land in three years! Of course, my brother is geared up, and it got me thinking: with the NBA's San Antonio Spurs in the driver's seat of their championship run over the Miami Heat, have there ever been two franchises with the same color scheme to win in the same year?

In any case, here's the winning goal that came at around 11:30pm CT as I sat watching in high-definition with a smile on my face.
And with that goal, the Los Angeles Kings are the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Champions! It should also be noted that Henrik Lundqvist becomes the first player in modern hockey history to lose both the Olympic gold medal game and the Stanley Cup Final in history. I probably shouldn't pile on like that, but what are you gonna do, right?

To my co-worker and colleague, Chris, you're gonna enjoy the falafel. Chris, for those unaware, won't eat anything vegetarian. Until now. The bet stands, Chris. You're gonna enjoy those deep-fried chick peas and veggies wrapped in a pita as much as I'm gonna watch you eat it. Beauty win on that bet by me!

To the New York Rangers, excellent battle through the Eastern Conference, but you ran into a juggernaut in the Los Angeles Kings. Well done in dismissing the Philadelphia Flyers, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Montreal Canadiens in becoming the Eastern Conference Champions!

And to the Los Angeles Kings, congratulations on becoming the 2014 Stanley Cup Champions! For those in the HBIC Playoff Pool, I have a few things to do this weekend, so we'll talk championship and prizes on Monday!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Hockey Show - Episode Ninety-Two

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is back tonight with another show filled with hockey goodness! I'm a big fan of having guests on the show, and tonight we'll feature up to seven people in-studio to chat some puck! Yes, you read that correctly - SEVEN! This is an unprecedented move for The Hockey Show. When would we ever squeeze seven people into the studio during the hockey season? Um, never? Let's get this moving then!

Tonight, The Hockey Show is proud to welcome back the man behind the Re/Max Cup ball hockey tournament, Mr. Kevin Wilson! Kevin will be joined by as many as six players from the tournament as they come into the studio to talk about this year's tournament, past tournaments, the future of the tournament, their teams, and a pile of hockey as we run them through the paces! This should be a great setup for everyone as it really will give you an idea of the passion that these men put into this tournament not only as players but as stakeholders in terms of being representatives of the tournament and their respective teams. I'm psyched to have these seven men in tonight, and we'll talk some ball hockey for a while!

We'll also get all those who are in-studio tonight to participate in our weekly 3 Rounds Deep segment! Tonight, the topic will be a fairly easy one as we'll have to move fast with nine people possibly making picks. All you have to do to participate on tonight's 3 Rounds Deep segment is name the any NHL player you would hate to see your team play against but would love to have on your team! This should be a fun one as there are lots of guys that were loathed by every team they weren't on, but loved by teammates. This should be a fun topic to hammer through, so think of some names to go 3 Rounds Deep on tonight!

If you wanna be a part of 3 Rounds Deep tonight, give us a call during the segment at 204-269-8636 (269-UMFM) and we'll put you on the air! Same rules as always as we can't repeat picks made by others and neither can you, so it will get a little tougher as people start participating. We'll start it off, then open up the phone lines and hit Twitter for everyone else to participate. If you want to toss some names in electronically, the Twitter link is below where you can go 3 Rounds Deep!

Going 3 ROUNDS DEEP tonight: NHL players you hate to see your team against, but would love seeing on your team!

We'll also talk about the Stanley Cup Final tonight with the gents, and how the New York Rangers lived to play another day after a clump of snow jumped atop the leaderboard for the Rangers in the Conn Smythe Trophy sweepstakes.
Along with the Stanley Cup Final, we'll also discuss the Calder Cup Final between the Texas Stars and the St. John's IceCaps. If you missed last night's game - I didn't! - the Stars won 2-1 in overtime on a Travis Morin goal. The IceCaps looked like they had won after a Josh Lunden goal earlier in overtime, but the goal was disallowed after the officials had thought that Cristopher Nilstorp had covered the puck with his glove. Granted, Adam Lowry did poke the puck loose before Lunden fired it into the open net, but the end result is that the goal was disallowed, Morin scored minutes later, and the Stars lead 2-1 in the Calder Cup Final!

We're going to have fun tonight on the show, so please tune us in at 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! We'll be available via phone at (204) 269-8636 (269-UMFM), so give us a call and play 3 Rounds Deep or share your thoughts on any of the topics we cover! You can tweet us anytime you like by hitting us up at @TeebzHBIC on the Twitter machine. 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. In short, there are lots of ways to get a hold of us! Give us a listen, and enjoy the show!

PODCAST: JUNE 12, 2014: Episode 92

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

She Can Play

Charline Labonté is a phenomenal hockey player. She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist for Canada, and has won numerous accolades in the CIS, international tournaments, and various Canadian tournaments that she's played in. In other words, she can play. One thing that she's never spoken about in great detail is her personal life, and I completely respect that. While she may be in the Canadian public's eye, her personal life should be her own. So it's with great admiration and respect that I read Miss Labonté's article on Outsports.

I'm still not sure why there is such prejudice thrown on a person's sexuality when it comes to sports. I know there is a stigma that comes with being gay, but it seems ridiculous to carry on with that stigma in this day and age. After all, my gay friends aren't GAY friends. They're just my friends.

In saying this, Miss Labonté's "announcement" today didn't raise my eyebrows. Instead, I am happy for Charline. She shouldn't be viewed as different because she prefers the company of women. She should be celebrated by all Canadians for her efforts in winning gold medals for her country and bringing people of all walks of life together across this nation. Again, her personal life is her own.

If you'd like to judge Miss Labonté for who she is, that's your loss. I still think she's an outstanding individual and one helluva goaltender. Whether she's gay, straight, white, black, woman, or man, her contributions on the international stage are in no way diminished because she's in love with a woman. In fact, her article seems to say that she felt more comfortable being herself and having her partner with her in Sochi, so Canadians should actually be thankful she didn't have that added stress on her shoulders.

More than anything, though, she's proven she can play, and I'd take her on my team any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Her sexual orientation matters little when she's on the ice. All she has to do is stop the puck. Her trophy case of Olympic gold medals and gold and silver World Hockey Championship medals proves she can certainly do that.

As a Canadian who is proud for what you've done for this country on the ice, thank you, Charline. You can play on my team any time you like.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Kudos To MacLean's

Occasionally, there are some columnists in magazines and newspapers who pull back the shroud of darkness on a subject who should be recognized. I had read an article from the April 2014 edition of MacLean's magazine, and completely appreciated the candor and tone of the article written by Charlie Gillis in his piece entitled "How parents (and their lawyers) are killing minor hockey". Mu apologies for not linking this sooner, but it was a piece I was looking for tonight and finding it brought back an appreciation for Mr. Gillis' work. This is a good read, folks. I highly suggest you read through the piece, and then follow through with this article.

First off, the number of incidents across Canada is staggering. And these are just the reported ones! That means there could be dozens of incidents that haven't been recorded, and that's a frightening thought. For a country who claims to be a peace-keeping nation, we sure take up arms when it comes to our children playing hockey!

We talk about raising good Canadian hockey players, but the article seems to be pointing at a Canada that is far different. As Mr. Gillis writes, "Families with NHL ambitions for their youngsters have in recent years stepped up efforts to undermine minor hockey associations' authority to tell them where they can play, dragging everyone from volunteer coaches to Hockey Canada officials into court over issues the judiciary thought it settled long ago. Some families have even resorted to human rights commissions, where they've protested the gross unfairness of their children’s plight". This is a cry for help, readers, and I'm not sure where to start.

No longer is minor hockey fun. I've seen coaches - parents who volunteer to run the team - implementing systems for kids as young as six. There is no way that kids that young should be told to play a position. How about we start taking a different approach to hockey? How about worrying less about ice-time and less about how many touches your kid gets, focusing instead on having fun and teaching kids to be good teammates?

I know - it's a novel idea. You're probably saying, "Hey, Teebz, that's a pipe dream, man." And you're probably right in that some people won't want to go along with the plan as their kid is the next Crosby, Weber, or Quick based on his or her play at six years-old. The problem, as Don Cherry put it, is that "the two per cent of goofs are still going to be goofs." That's a fact of life we need to face, and the 98% of us who have some higher brain function should force these idiots out of the rinks once and for all.

I'm not the only one who sees the game being far too structured at the younger ages, though. As Mr. Gillis wrote in his article,
Since 2009, enrolment in tyke through atom (ages five through 10) has slid by about 6,300 players, or three per cent, while peewee, bantam and midget enrolment has dropped off by 7.4 per cent. Time commitment, expense and safety concerns all feed into these declines, say officials at Hockey Canada. But when the governing body teamed with hockey-gear-maker Bauer last summer to survey 875 families who'd kept their kids out of the game, the reason they heard most was, "Hockey just doesn't seem fun."
That is a damning statement, folks. Bauer, who has a large investment in hockey, couldn't have been happy about that statement either. The fact that families kept their kids out because hockey just isn't fun is a great way to kill minor hockey and ever subsequent level above it.

What is wrong with us? Why does our national winter sport seem to bring out the worst in us when it comes to our kids learning the game? What is our malfunction when it comes to watching our kids play the game we love?

If there was a simple answer, we would have already made the changes. Mr. Gillis' article is sobering in terms of our behavior at hockey games, and it should be a reminder that despite how peaceful we believe we are, we are savages when it comes to kids' hockey.

As a Canadian, I'm embarrassed. And I hope you remember this simple message the next time you want to strip a layer off a coach, official, or player at a minor hockey game: you're an embarrassment as a fan, as a parent, and as a Canadian. And I will not apologize for saying this.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!