Monday, July 30, 2007
The CBC website has an interesting tale of a hockey camp that is becoming rather controversial for the lessons that they are providing for their young charges.
Power punching is taking the place of power skating at the Derek and Aaron Boogaard Fighting Camp in Regina.
For a registration fee of $40, players between the ages of 12 and 18 get the one two of instruction in the art of on-ice scrapping, provided by two of the tougher customers in pro hockey.
Derek and Aaron suggest that they aren't teaching kids so much how to fight as to be safe should things deteriorate on the ice to that stage. But considering minor hockey is supposed to be trying to eliminate fighting completely, it's a course outline that isn't gaining much traction with the critics.
The Boogaard’s camp of course isn’t sitting well with some of the purists of the game and those who are wondering why we need to teach kids barely or not even in their teens how to make their knuckles do their talking. Some have called it a “goon camp,” while others are worried that those kids taking the camp will now think they have a green light to get into on ice scraps.
For some it's an idea that is deserving of not only a five minute major but a suspension as well.
The Fight Club for Puckheads has become a bit of hot story with a number of mentions in the media:
Boogaard's summer fight camp
Last thing hockey needs is a fighting camp for kids
Boogaard's summer fight camp
Boogaard brothers offer fighting tips to young hockey players
He's giving young hockey players a fighting chance
And needless to say the camp has managed to solicit more than a few comments on the CBC Your View page.
(Picture above from AP through the CBC Website)
Friday, July 27, 2007
The story making the rounds is that Mike Comrie, currently of the New York Islanders and formerly of the Ottawa Senators, Phoenix Coyotes, Farjestads BK, Philadelphia Flyers, and Edmonton Oilers has become rather close with a young chanteuse and actress.
For Mr. and Mrs. Comrie the good news is that her name isn't Britney or Lindsay!
TORONTO (CP) - Is fresh-faced pop star Hilary Duff dating New York Islanders centre Mike Comrie?
On Thursday, gossip website TMZ.com published a photo of the pair leaving a Santa Monica, Calif., restaurant hand in hand. Comrie, who left the Ottawa Senators to sign with New York earlier this month, was born in Edmonton. His father is Bill Comrie, who founded the Brick chain of furniture stores.
Duff was previously involved with Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden.
On Saturday, Duff is set to play Winnipeg followed by stops in Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
Al Arbour to coach one more game with Isles
July 19, 2007 at 10:38 AM EDT
"I'm very excited about it," Arbour told The Canadian Press from his cottage in Sudbury, Ont.
Arbour, who guided the Isles to four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980 to '83, will sign a one-day contract Nov. 2 and lead the team the following night against the Penguins.
Arbour, who also coached 107 games with the St. Louis Blues, wants a win.
"There's no question about that," said Arbour. "I don't know that much about coaching anymore, I've been away from it a long time, but still two points is two points and we certainly want to win this hockey game."
Nolan felt it was important for Arbour to reach the milestone.
"Every day last season I would walk by that big board outside our locker-room at the Coliseum that lists the franchise's award winners and milestones," Nolan said in an Islanders release.
"It's going to be an amazing night, I can guarantee you that," said Nolan. "To me, Al Arbour and Scotty Bowman are the two greatest coaches in NHL history."
Bowman leads all coaches with 2,141 games behind the bench,
Arbour confesses he didn't actually know he was stuck on 1,499 as an Islander.
"I really didn't know how many games I had really coached," Arbour said. "When Ted said that, I was kind of surprised. I said to him, 'It's up to you, I don't want to do anything that will harm the team.' And he was all for it, so I said, 'OK, I'm all for it also."'
Arbour will make sure Nolan is also on the bench Nov. 3.
"He better be, let me tell you, because I don't know the players, I don't know the system or anything," Arbour said with a laugh. "There's no question about it, I'll need a lot of help."
Arbour's games coached and victories with the franchise are the most by any coach with one team in NHL history. He's 739-537-223 all-time in the regular season with the Islanders and 119-79 in the playoffs. He is the second all-time winningest coach in NHL history with 781 career victories, behind only Bowman.
Getting win No. 740 as an Islander won't be easy against Crosby and company.
Arbour said he hoped to get some his former players involved in the night. Already one of his former stars seemed excited.
"Ted Nolan has shown a great deal of respect for the tradition and history of the New York Islanders and Al Arbour by stepping aside and having Al coach his 1,500th game," Mike Bossy, Arbour's Hall of Fame right-winger from the dynasty era, said in a statement. "As a former player of Al's I am looking forward to seeing him adjust his glasses and brush his hair aside one more time."
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Back in the day, he was the meanest, toughest sturdiest left winger a team could hope to suit up on the centre line. Fearless in battle, Ferguson never backed down from a challenge and created much of the space that a more gentlemanly artist of the game such as a Jean Belliveau would need to weave his magic.
Ferguson was one of those iconic members of the great Habs teams of the sixties, his pitched battles with Bobby Hull the thing of legend as he stood his ground and tried to make sure that the Hull’s, Howe’s, Mikita’s, Keon’s and such found no favours in the Montreal end of the rink.
His body checks were bone rattling, his mean streak legendary, but even in the heat of a battle he was admired for his tenacity to task and his willingness to stick up for his team mates regardless of the challenger. He was the unofficial heaveyweight champion of the NHL until the day he retired after eight seasons of battle in the trenches of a very different NHL.
Once his playing days were over, Ferguson moved on to coaching and then managing. He was one of Harry Sinden’s assistants in that legendary Canada/ Russia summit series of 1972. No doubt wishing he could have donned the blades and taken his place on the blue line to put the Russian speedsters in their place in that historic series. His thoughts of the day perhaps the bug in the ear of an impressionable Bobby Clarke who took matters into his own hands during the course of the legendary eight games.
He was beloved in Winnipeg, where he forged a hockey team out of the cold winters of Manitoba that captured that provinces hearts and even though they broke those hearts more often than, the team was created in Fergies likeness. They had skill and toughness and once the early days were out of the way, a visit to the Winnipeg Arena would not be an easy path to two points to the opposition.
He was part of the Ottawa Senators family for a few years, the lean years as it turned out, long before the regular visits to the playoff rounds and the high scoring machine that the Sens became over the last few years. But the seeds were planted during his time there, the players he recruited, scouted and coaxed into signing would eventually form the backbone of the team.
Long considered one of the keenest eyes for talent in the game both as a GM and later on in his duties s a scout for a number of teams. There are any number of teams playing today that have a pool of talent assessed and recommended by Ferguson, he had the knack to find the players that make a difference well beyond goal scoring.
Ferguson finally lost his battle with cancer today, a long and no doubt painful bout that kept him from public view for most of the last year or so. His impact on the game was recounted most recently on draft day as the hockey fraternity offered up their prayers and salutes to the hockey legend.
They are few and far between the ones who have made a lasting impact on the game. Hockey is missing one of its builders today, a strongman who made the transition from player to executive in his own style. He understood the game, what it took to play at the highest level and there are numerous cities along the NHL road map that owe him a debt of thanks for keeping hockey alive wherever he chose to be.
(Photo above from CP archives through the CTV News website)
In one of the more bizarre headhunter searches in recent times, the executives of MLSE have talked to anyone with a pulse and an old age pension in regard to the “mentoring” position for John Ferguson Jr.
The Leafs seem determined to undercut any value their current GM may have, by trotting out the elder statesmen of the last century. And while we no doubt suspect that all those considered thus far have a fair amount of hockey knowledge and have probably forgotten more than we’ll ever learn, most of it was forged back when the players could be sent to Siberia or Springfield at the whim of the manager.
The long running saga which first got its legs before the playoffs had even finished, has carried on to comedic lengths, with the only message that doesn’t seem to be getting through is that there aren’t that many people really in a hurry to work for the crazy rich guys guarding the Teachers fund at the Air Canada Centre.
How this whole bizarre scenario is impacting on his ability to run the Leafs is a very valid question. How many other GM’s will phone him up and try to talk trade, how many agents will call him up with their free agent players if there’s some doubt that he’ll actually be the guy making the decisions. It’s the most foolish thing we’ve seen in a long time from the franchise that used to make Foolish its corporate mantra.
You have to feel a fair degree of sympathy for Ferguson, who may be wondering just what it is that his bureaucratic masters at MLSE really want from him. More importantly perhaps he should be looking to find his parachute and go to a franchise a little less loony in their approach to upper management. He could only pray that Hamilton somehow snares their cats from Nashville and might need an extra hand, now that would be a delicious bit of turn about, taking his battered frame down the QEW to help launch the next great threat to the Leaf Nation.
The unseemly manner of the Leafs machinations of late, took a rather dark turn today with the news of the passing of John Ferguson Sr., the hard nosed former left winger of the Habs and one of the great characters and most knowledgeable executives of the game. His son will take time out now to bury his father, a job that every son dreads but one which must be taken to complete life’s cycle.
Once he has taken care of that most sacred of our social rites, he can get back to wondering about his bosses. He was particularly close to his father from all accounts, one would hope that some final fatherly advice might have been to take his lumps from the Toronto experience and move on to a more promising opportunity. There are 29 other teams in the NHL, most of them in need of some upper office guidance, surely a few of them are a run a little bit more sanity than his current employer.
He may truly want to stay on with the Leafs, they are the face of hockey in the NHL. One of its most storied, but apparently most dysfunctional of franchises.
John Ferguson Jr. may or may not become the next great General Manager in pro hockey. He may or may not have what it takes to lead a team to the Stanley Cup, but in order to make that step you have to have the faith of your employer and faith in your employer.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The LA Kings will begin the quest and the Anaheim Ducks will defend their grasp on Lord Stanley's Cup with two games in England starting September 29th, some seven months later the 2007-08 playoffs will open up their first rounds with June 9th, the last call for ice time if the need for a seven game final is there.
In between, there will be a few dates to circle on your calendar, some interesting match ups that will no doubt entertain even the casual fan.
Of interest to Edmonton fans will be the return of Ryan Smyth to the Alberta capital. this time donning the garb of the Colorado Avalanche, Smyth returns to Edmonton for the first on October 23rd.
On the topic of reunions, Vancouver fans can renew acquaintances with Todd Bertuzzi on November 3rd as the newest of Brian Burke's Ducks returns to Vancouver in the role of guest.
Sid the 87.7 million Kid, will make his first foray into western Canada this year, as the newly minted Pittsburgh captain brings his Penguins to Edmonton on Dec. 5, Calgary on Dec. 6 and Vancouver on Dec. 8.
Hockey Day in almost all Canada will take place on February 9th, as the NHL this year manages to screw up the most successful of its promotions, with an inability to schedule six Canadian match ups on the day. So Hockey Day in Canada will feature two American teams as Detroit plays Toronto and Colorado travels to Vancouver, in between the Sens will host Montreal and the Oilers will go visit the relatives in Calgary.
The Buffalo Sabres who watched many of their high profile players head for greener pastures will have the painful task of welcoming back all that talent, with two key nights to mark on the Sabre calendar.
Daniel Briere will bring his new friends from Philadelphia to the home of the chicken wing on Dec 21st, while Chris Drury will join in on the traditional festive atmosphere that always greets a New York Ranger visit as the Rangers bring their free agent laden team into Buffalo on February 23rd.
The official schedule for 2007-2008 can be found here.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
The Monday edition of the Hamilton Spectator has an interesting look at why Balsillie continues to want to spend his money on an NHL franchise, despite indications that his money isn't particularly welcome ( go figure that accounting principle out kids).
Balsillie is playing the Canadian card to its fullest, as the Spectator paints him as almost a folk hero who won't rest until Canada has a seventh NHL franchise operating out of Hamilton. It's the kind of thing that should have a song composed for.
The Battle of Hamilton is going to place Balsillie clearly on the side of the angels and try as he might, Gary Bettman will never again be able to say that he has the interests of Canadian hockey at heart.
Somewhere Kanye West is waiting for a phone call and a chance to say "Gary Bettman hates Canadians."
The intransigent nature of the NHL to throw as many roadblocks in front of the Ontario millionaire (maybe billionaire who knows for sure) will be one of the great wonders of NHL history.
Here's a guy with enough cash to not only buy and operate an NHL team, but to renovate a rink and secure a hockey base that is dying for a team to support. To think that the NHL is ready to move on to a Kansas City, Las Vegas, Portland, Oklahoma City or Seattle at the expense of where hockey is a living breathing entity just astounds the mind.
Folks in Winnipeg and Quebec City surely must realize the hollowness of the occasional offerings that they may one day be allowed back into the circle.
In the end, Bettman may win the Nashville battle but we suspect Balsillie won't go away. Eventually the other 29 NHL owners will sit down and ask Gary Bettman, why exactly a high tech millionaires dollars aren't good enough for a league that has more than its fair share of trouble spots!
While clearly back into a rebuilding mode after a brief playoff run in this years playoffs, the Islanders decided to look to Guerin for on ice leadership for a team that has struggled in that department for a number of years.
Fresh from a contract signing that will see him earn 9 million dollars for two years in the blue and orange, Guerin will be the face of an ever changing Islander squad that seeks to get back to the halcyon days of Smith, Potvin, Bossy et al. Whether Guerin in his declining years will be able to recapture some of his past scoring exploits will prove to be the key point to the Islander signing.
They had rolled the dice large at the trade deadline in their quest to bring in Ryan Smyth, hopeful that he would look at the chance to help reclaim hockey glory on Long Island But with a phone call from Joe Sakic and a chance to join the Colorado Avalanche, Smyth moved on and the Isles had to go to plan B.
A plan which seems to involve creating a first line out of free agents as Mike Comrie and Ruslan Fedetenko picked up their Blue sweaters just before the Guerin announcement. Also joining the Isles through the free agent market is Jon Sim.
Last year was a learning curve for the Islanders as Ted Nolan got himself back in the coaching saddle and tried to coax his team to exceed the expectations of the Islander faithful over the last few years. He came up a little short, but had a pretty good run leading up to the playoffs, only to have the good vibrations come to an end at the hand of the Buffalo Sabres in the first round.
They’ll be calling on history and pride in 2007-08, hoping that Guerin’s experience and the excitement of the newcomers will mesh with the remaining Islanders, taking them further by the time next May rolls around.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
With the New York Rangers leading the way with over eighty four million dollars in salary in less than 24 hours, the days of fiscal prudence seem to be going out the window once again. Below some of the high profile players that have move on to greener (no kidding!) pastures for the 2007-08 season.
ANAHEIM: Todd Bertuzzi back with Burkie: 2 years, 16 million dollars.
ANAHEIM: What if Neidermayer changes his mind? Mathieu Schneider takes a line, 2 years, 11 million +.
BOSTON: Oh if only it were a Joe. Shawn Thornton signs on the line, No terms released.
CALGARY: Owen Nolan and his back head for Alberta: 1 year, 1.75 million.
COLORADO: A Mile high and millions in the bank, Ryan Smyth heads back west, 5 years 30 million +.
COLARADO: Scott Hannan for the Defence, Avs add to the blue line, 4 years, 18 million.
DETROIT: Chelios has to retire some day! Brian Rafalski leaves the Devils for the Wings, 5 years, 30 million.
LOS ANGELES: From the desert to the coast: Ladislav Nagy, 1 year, 3.75 million
LOS ANGELES: Handzus the cheque, Michael joins the Kings, 4 years, 16 million dollars.
MONTREAL: Plan B. Roman Hamrlik, 4 years, 22 million
MONTREAL: Brian Smolinski, from Canuck to Canadien, 1 year 2 million,
NASHVILLE: Radek Bonk, judging by the press coverage it's one more shot where no one might notice, 1 year, terms undisclosed.
NEW YORK RANGERS: Scott Gomez, no need to sell the home, 7 years, 49 million +.
NEW YORK RANGERS: Chris Drury, trading in wings for a big steak, 5 years, 35 million+.
PHILADELPHIA: The last one out of Buffalo turn off the lights, Daniel Briere heads south, 8 years, 52 million.
ST. LOUIS: Paul Kariya’s gypsy life takes him to the Midwest, 3 years, 18 million dollars.
TORONTO: Well they had to sign someone. Jason Blake, 5 years, 20 million total.
WASHINGTON: A Capital expenditure, Michael Nylander: 4 years, 19.5 million.
The full list of those that have signed on the dotted line can be found here.
While those still waiting for a phone call can be found here.
Monday, July 02, 2007
July 30-K-Lowe's got it right
July 29-Ryder rides the Habs right wing for another year
July 28-Sabres lock up Roy
July 27-The wrath of Brian
July 26-Is this an offer he can't refuse?
July 25-Those Battlin' Staal Brothers
July 24-Rewards for Ray
July 23-NHLPA uninvites the League
July 22-Salary dump Senators' first move in securing future
July 21-Yahsin's passion is now Russian
July 20-Balsillie's team drops the gloves
July 19-This Katz came back
July 18-Players differ from owners over Hamilton bid
July 17-Agents for John Tavares eager to have him in draft next year
July 16-Pens extend Therrien's contract
July 15- Ferguson bled 'Jet' blue
July 14-John Ferguson passes away at age 68
July 13-Maple Leafs quietly pulling the strings
July 12-Souray heads home for 27 million
July 11-From a Head rebel to the chief Devil
July 10-8.7 million a year for Number 87
July 9-Bucks for Bieksa
July 8-Three weeks wasted
July 7-Leafs keeping Muckler discussions quiet
July 6-Oilers poaching raid comes up short
July 5-Rising Canadian dollar propelling the big spenders
July 4-Sutter signs the Big boys
July 3-Thirty investors throw in their bid for Preds
July 2-Reunited cause it feels so good!
July 1-Moving Day