Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bounce back day at the Spengler for Team Canada

They may have been disappointed at how the Spengler Cup tournament got under way, an unexpected  overtime loss to Mannheim, but game number two was a much more positive experience for the Canadians.

Team Canada routed the defending Spengler Champs HC Davos by a score of 5-0, a dominating performance that saw the Canadians in control of all facets of the game from the opening face off.

With single goals from John Tavares, Ryan Smith and Jason Williams, as well as a pair of markers from Byron Ritchie

The only thing in question by the time period three started up was whether Canadian goaltender Devan Dubnyk would claim the shutout on behalf of Canada.

Canada has the day off on Friday, no doubt cheering for the Davos squad to top Mannheim, which would move Canada to the top of their pool and put them in a fine position heading towards New Years Eve and the Championship game.

The Spengler Cup this year is showing some fine flashes of the kind of hockey that North Americans have missed out on since the NHL lockout, the players in effect having joined the witness protection program of professional hockey, as they play out the lockout with European clubs.

Still, for the short burst of the holidays, North Americans will once again hear the names of Thornton, Spezza, Pominville, Tavares and a host of others, a familiar theme from the thirty member teams of the NHL. Now exiles to a fashion, playing their game for Davos, Ufa, Mannheim and others club teams stretched across the European continent.

When New Year's Eve comes and goes, TSN's helpful broadcast journeyman Paul Romanuk might want to pitch the idea of a game of the week to some of the North American networks looking for some  hockey to fill in the scheduling gaps of a long, long NHL lockout.

Should the NHL pull the plug on hockey for 2012-13 in mid January, maybe a certain Hockey Night institution might want to pick up that particular torch, giving Donald Cherry and his sidekick Ron MacLean even more opportunity to weigh in on some of that fancy skating and such from the continent once a week.

Before that might happen however, there is still the matter of determining a champion for Spengler 2012, the Canadians did themselves a huge favour with such an impressive showing on Thursday, keeping up the pressure and finding that chemistry will be the key to making it through til New Years Eve.

Some of the reviews of the shutout of Davos can be found below

CBC-- Canada rebounds against defending Spengler Champs
CBC-- Unheralded Canadians getting job done at Spengler Cup
Sportsnet- Canada responds at Spengler, beats HC Davos

Gary Bettman's keys to NHL financial success

As they used to say on the A Team, you have to love it when a plan comes together...

When and if, or is that if and When? The NHL lockout ever comes to an end, we suspect that there will be an instant book out on the market, destined for the financial section of your local bookstore, e reader or for the old timers out there, the library...

Gary Bettman's keys to financial success...

Chapter One

Don't play a game

Chapter Two

Don't pay your taxes

Other Chapters to come... With a forward no doubt from Gordon Gekko

World Junior Notes 2012

Team Canada seeks to return to Gold Medal status at the 2012-13 World Junior Championships, looking to return the favour to the Russian hosts for their claiming of the title last year.

The path however will be a tough one, along with the obvious time change requirements that brought Canada to Ufa, the competition seems to get tougher and tougher as the tournament grows in stature.

One team looking to block Team Canada's way to gold will be the USA squad, which always relishes the opportunity to send notice to the Canadians that they aren't the only ones from this side of the pond that can play the game.

Full background on Team Canada and the World Junior Tournament can be found from the following web hosts...

National Post
Globe and Mail
Toronto Star
Sun Newspapers
Hockey Canada

We'll update the scores and standings in the tournament, as well as offer up some notes from the tournament below.  Following both Team Canada and Team USA as they work their way through the preliminary games and perhaps for one or the other (maybe both), on to the Gold Medal game.

December 30

Canada 2 - USA 1

Goaltenders steal show in Canada's win over U. S. at world juniors
Subban rides to the rescue for the Canadian Junior Team
Malcolm Subban earns cape as hero for Canadians
Canada beats USA 2-1 at world junior championships

December 28 

Team Canada 6 - Slovakia 3

Canada comes back to beat Slovakia in penalty-marred affair at world juniors
Canada rallies to 6-3 win over Slovakia after slow start
Canadian juniors beat Slovakia after early wake up call
J. C. Lipon faces suspension for short-handed Canadians

Russia 2 - Team USA 1

Russia goalie Andrei Makarov stifles United States at world juniors
Russia downs Team USA 2-1
USA loses to Russia at wold juniors hockey

December 27

USA 8 - Germany 0

Team USA hammers Germany 8-0
Montreal Canadiens hopeful Alex Galchenyuk scores in Team USA debut
Galchenyuk, Barber lead USA to rout of Germany at WJHC

December 26

Team Canada 9 - Germany 3

Nugent-Hopkins powers Canada past Germany at World Juniors
Ryan-Nugent Hopkins enjoys impressive world junior debut
Nugent-Hopkins makes a statement in Canada's 9-3 win over Germany
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' five points leads Canada to rout of Germany in world junior opener

Spengler Cup Notes 2012

An archive of notes from the short blast of high temp hockey known as the Spengler Cup. We'll provide some of the items of note we come across as the tournament works its way towards the New Years Eve finale.

Scores, schedules and such can be found on our main Spengler page, the day by day reviews of the Spengler action can be found below.

December 27

HockeyNation-- Bounce back day at the Spengler for Team Canada
CBC-- Canada rebounds against defending Spengler Champs
TSN-- Shedden on Familiar Ground at Spengler Cup

December 26

Toronto Star-- Adler Mannheim stuns Canada 2-1 in opener
National Post-- Jason Pominville sinks talent-laden Canada in Spengler Cup opener
National Post-- Canada's Spengler Cup team forced to find quick chemistry ahead of tournament opener
TSN-- Spengler Cup tradition moved to Christmas Day

December 25

The Score-- If you're really missing NHL hockey, you'll want to watch the Spengler Cup
CBC-- Canada must come together quickly for Spengler Cup success

December 7

CBC-- NHL Lockout impacts Canada's Spengler cup roster

Spengler Cup puck drops for 2012

Canadians will be able to see some professional hockey with familiar names this week as the Spengler Cup provides our Boxing to New Years Eve hockey fix.

Normally, the tournament is kind of like one of those old TV shows "whatever happened to..." as former NHLers, AHLers or past juniors and university hockey players ply their trade in the more relaxed atmosphere of European hockey. The tournament also has the added bonus of a pay cheque for Paul Romanuk, who once a year returns to the TSN screens, bringing us the play by play and background of the names that lead us all to go, ah that's where he is.

Not this year however, where many of the names on your TV set and called out by Romanuk will sound rather familiar

Europe has become the storage shed of NHL players this year, with many of the locked out players heading to points east, north, south and west across the continent, for some this week will make for  a bit of a reunion of the ex-pats as the Spengler tournament brings them all together in Davos, Switzerland.

Six teams are entered in the Spengler Cup, five club squads and one coalition of the Canadians playing for European based teams.

You can pick up some background on the tournament from the Hockey Canada website and from the Spengler Cup site itself.

We'll update the scoreboard below and offer up items of note from the Spengler as the tournament moves on.

Friday, December 28th

HC Fribourg-Totteron vs HC Vikovice Steel
Adler Mannheim vs HC Davos

Thursday, December 27th

Canada 5 vs HC Davos 0
HC Vitkovice Steel 4 vs Salavat Yulaev Ufa 5 (OT)

Wednesday, December 26th

HC Fribourg 5 - Salavat Yulaev Ufa 1
Canada 1 - Adler Mannheim 2 (OT)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Just remember Mr. Bettman, you're just borrowing the game

Nike hits the mark with a look at the impact of hockey on Canada, sure the pro game is gone til the New Year and well, the way these two sides are behaving most likely for longer, but the game, nah the game is fine.

The short ad which features a variety of players both pro and amateur, captures the essence of the game, far away from the professional palaces and the never ending bickering of the negotiating table.

We just need a place to pull on the skates, grab a Zamboni or two, shoot a puck (or reasonable facsimile there of) and away we go.

Game On Canada, go find one to take in.

 You may find that you don't miss the battling bunch, as much as they seem to think we do.

In short, the take away message for the powers to be around the table is:  The fans, we're ok, you guys, well not so much!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Juniors take the spotlight

Hockey starved fans will find some relief with the Christmas Holidays about to arrive, as the annual holiday ritual of the World Junior Hockey Tournament is once again upon us.

The World Junior has long been a mainstay on Canadian viewing schedules, though the early, early morning start times (4AM ET, 1 AM PT) will probably test the resolve of some, still the tournament has long been one of TSN's most popular programming options and one which regularly brings in huge viewership for the Sports network.

This year's festival of puck is coming from Russia, the tournament which in the last few years had set up residence returns to the other side of the ocean, it will be with interest that we watch the attendance figures, these trips to Europe in the past haven't had quite the same interest with fans as the Canadian hosted events.

The World Junior's for whatever reason seems to have been adopted by Canadians as one of the more important of hockey tournaments that there are, perhaps it's all those years of minor hockey tournaments that have Canadians conditioned such, regardless of the reasons if it wasn't for Canadian hockey fans we imagine the tournament would be the thing of sports network crawler alerts and little more.

The tournament gets underway on Boxing Day, the pre tournament games already underway as the North American teams try to get their skating legs up to speed before the real drama gets underway once the Christmas presents have been unwrapped.

Both Canada and the USA are in Group B, Canada opens up the tournament on Boxing Day with a match up with the German team, the USA won't see action until Thursday when they also draw the Germans to get things underway.

The full schedule for the tournament can be found here.
Standings for the tournament as it moves forward can be found here.

For more on International hockey you can check out the IIHF home page here, TSN's comprehensive page dedicated to the World Junior's can be found here.

We'll provide updates on all the tournament action from links below, as well as with a look at things from the Team Canada and Team USA perspectives as the tournament moves on towards  the January 5th Gold Medal Game.

Pre Competition Results

December 20 -- Canada 2, Finland 3
December 20-- USA 3, Sweden 2 (OT)
December 22-- Finland 5 vs USA 1
December 22-- Canada 2 vs Sweden 1 (OT)
December 23-- Czech Republic 7 vs Germany 2
December 23-- Russia 7 vs Switzerland 5

Preliminary Round

December 26-- Latvia 1 vs Finland 5
December 26-- Germany 3 vs Canada 9
December 26-- Czech Republic 1 vs Sweden 4
December 26-- Slovakia 2 vs Russia 3 (OT)
December 27-- Switzerland 7 vs Latvia 2
December 27-- USA 8 vs Germany 0
December 28-- Finland 1 vs Czech Republic 3
December 28-- Canada 6 vs Slovakia 3
December 28-- Sweden 3 vs Switzerland 2
December 28-- Russia 2 vs USA 1
December 29-- Latvia 1 vs Sweden 5
December 29-- Germany 0 vs Russia 7
December 30-- Finland 5 vs Switzerland 4
December 30-- Canada 2 vs USA 1
December 30-- Czech Republic 4 vs Latvia 2
December 30-- Slovakia 2 vs Germany 1
December 31-- Switzerland 3 vs Czech Republic 4 (OT)
December 31-- USA 9 vs Slovakia 3
December 31-- Sweden 7 vs Finland 4
December 31-- Russia 1 vs Canada 4

Quarter Finals

January 2-- Czech Republic 0 vs USA 7
January 2-- Russia 4 vs Switzerland 3 (Shoot Out)

Semi Finals

January 3-- Canada 1 vs USA 5
January 3-- Sweden 3 vs Russia 2 (Shoot Out)

5th Place Game

January 4-- Czech Republic 4 vs Switzerland 3

Bronze Medal Game

January 5-- Canada vs Russia


January 5-- Sweden vs USA

Relegation Round

January 2-- Finland 8 vs Germany 0
January 3-- Slovakia 5 vs Latvia 3
January 4-- Germany 5 vs Latvia 2
January 5-- Finland vs Slovakia

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

So, do we have your attention yet?

And the surveys say...

Has the NHL and their fellow non-negotiators at the NHLPA finally crossed the line of fan loyalty?

A resounding yes would be the answer, if the results of a CBC commissioned online poll is to be divined.

A survey pool of around 7,102 respondents offered up their thoughts on ten questions, the results which provide proof that anger, disappointment and a growing sense of indifference to the product at hand may very well be the lasting result of this latest labour disruption from the game.

High on the list of wishes for hockey fans would apparently be that both Gary Bettman and Don Fehr just take a nice long walk into the sunset, never to be heard or seen again. 55 percent of the respondents said that both should step down once the lockout is brought to an end.

Perhaps that anger is responsible for perhaps the most worrying thing for a gate driven league, 78 percent said that they would NOT buy a ticket to an NHL game this season if play resumes, making for the prospect of vistas of empty seats should fans hold firm to their convictions

For those that will forgive the NHL and its players for the mess, the best way to court their return is to lower ticket prices, 58 per cent of those surveyed said that was the first thing the NHL should do upon the resumption of play, should that ever come to pass. 27 per cent feel that a public apology would be a nice gesture as well.

It's all moot at the moment anyways, with the two sides not even discussing anything and Christmas fast approaching, perhaps reflected in the belief that there will not be a season for 2012-13, 68 percent feel the season is lost, 21 per cent are hedging their bets with a maybe while 11 percent clearly believe in Santa Claus with all their heart.

You can review the full ten question survey here.

More extrapolation of the results can be found below.

CBC-- NHL lockout Survey

The lack of hockey is proving to be a gold mine for research companies with a plethora of surveys keeping puck heads busy in lieu of actual product to watch on the ice. And in each and every one of them offer up bad news for Mr. Bettman, Mr. Fehr and the game they seem determined to banish from our memories.

NRG Research Group and Peak Communications found that 58 per cent of those that responded to their survey just don't care if the NHL comes back or not. 25 percent believe that it's now too late to salvage the season.

Vancouver Province-- Hockey's heartland tells the NHL three words Gary Bettman never wanted to hear: 'We don't care'

And things get worse for the NHL when it comes to their brand, another survey, this one conducted by Level 5 marketing for the Globe and Mail shows that the NHL lockout is causing much damage to the brand.

The most startling of their findings is that passion for hockey from Canadians has now slipped to 33 percent, a dangerous drop in emotional attachment for a sport that once commanded over 50 percent of the nation's affections.

For the NHL that should be the final alarm bell that this Armageddon strategy is going to have some nasty repercussions, when you've lost your base, the one part of your geography where the game still (or used to resonate) dangerous times will be yours going forward.

Then again, as we've seen, what four times now? The interests of the fans and protection of the base of support for the game in Canada rarely, if ever, seem to be a discussion topic with the NHL or the NHLPA.

Friday, December 07, 2012

They say the neon lights are bright on broadway...

Should the NHL ever get around to playing that historical shinny thing again, we suspect that a new TV contract should be the first order of business.

After Thursday night's double bill of theatre, the NHL needs to tear up their TSN, CBC, Sportsnet and NBCSports deals, there really is only one place for such theatre to be that's PBS, for Thursday night gave us Drama and Comedy the likes of Masterpiece Theatre.

Hockey fans who might have found a glimmer of hope in Donald Fehr's stand up at the Westin (we're looking at you James Duthie) were brought back down to earth when Gary Bettman took to his own podium (twitter feed preparing an update as we speak) to deliver the downside of Fehr's upside, that being that Fehr apparently wasn't on the same page as the NHL.

But before we got to Darth Vader, er, Gary delivering news of the attack on the rebels, there was the sideline humour of the NHLPA learning that all offers were off the table, by way of a message left on a phone.

To reply to this message press one, To save press two, To discard press three... To give up and find other work, press four...

Yes, after how many days of face to face discussions, the pivotal moment of the breakdown of negotiations was handled as though you or I were a) breaking off a dinner engagement or b) breaking off an actual engagement, depending on your tendency to cowardice we imagine.

Perhaps, the NHLPA couldn't be reached, hence the phone message, but really a simple "call us" might have been helpful, if for no other reason than to appear like adults and not teenagers dumping their once BFF.

At any rate, the drama continued on with Mr. Bettman growing in anger with each passing sentence, given to some serious snark whenever he gathers in a press conference, he was in full dudgeon by the time his full spleen venting was complete.


The added bonus to all the dramaramarama being the arrival of a platoon of the NHLPA Praetorian guard, there to observe, occasionally scowl and cross their arms from time to time..

The post speech scrums provided some interesting sideshows as well, word that at one point owners we're trying to pull their players from meetings, suggesting that things might go better if only that snarly Mr. Fehr was to be sent away.

Players tweeting their anger over the now common forum of twitter, where everyone it seems defaults for their stream of consciousness thinking these days.

All in all, a bizarre spectacle that had all the appearances of a warm up to Armageddon Day.

Duelling press conferences, with conflicting opinions and nothing in the way of a blue print it seems to move forward.

The end takeaway from it all being that for the moment there will be nohockeyforus(tm), no discussions between union and management and a clock continues to talk to some magic moment when all discover that the best skating days on the pond have passed them by for the season.

Some of the reviews (enjoy them while they last the paywall craze is spreading) from Broadway have come in, both performance receiving a critics choice and a critics pan in equal doses.

National Post-- NHL labour negotiations come crashing down in blink of an eye
National Post-- League wastes no time in rejecting NHLPA's latest offer
Globe and Mail-- Are NHL PLayers ready to roll over?
Globe and Mail-- Latest breakdown reminiscent of 2004
Calgary Herald-- Hockey world dazed and confuses as sport remains stuck in a boardroom
Edmonton Journal-- Arrrgghh. I'm sick of the whole labour battle
Montreal Gazette-- NHL owners have to deal with Fehr
Montreal Gazette-- Ken Dryden weighs in on NHL lockout
Ottawa Citizen-- Lockout standoff continues to amaze
Ottawa Citizen--  NHL lockout talks break off, as league, players point fingers
Toronto Star-- Owners skating circles around players in labour fight: Kelly
Toronto Star-- It's getting 'surreal', says labour expert
Toronto Star-- Putting on a show rather than doing a deal: Cox
Toronto Sun-- As NHL lockout talks collapse, angry Gary Bettman questions integrity of NHLPA
Toronto Sun-- NHL determined to have meaningful season
Toronto Sun-- Season hangs in balance after NHL rejects offer
Toronto Sun-- Cherry tweets he's never seen Bettman so fired up
Winnipeg Free Press-- Time for players to cast ballots
Winnipeg Free Press-- Players not surprised
Vancouver Province-- All that hope now gone up in smoke
Vancouver Sun-- Seething step backward as deal disappears
Sportsnet-- 30 minutes of madness
Sportnset-- The NHLPA's Bady Boyfriend
Sportsnet-- NHL Carrying the Play
Sportsnet-- NHL, NHLPA Say Goodbye to Good Feelings
ESPN-- Labor talks bring high drama
TSN-- NHL, Rejects NHLPA's Offer, No Future Talks Planned
TSN-- The Bizarre Week of CBA Talks
TSN-- Crosby, Players show frustration with Breakdown in Talks
CBC-- Implosion in NHL talks leaves players with few options
CBC-- NHL, NHLPA down to final 40 days to save season
CBC-- Time for NHL, players to get real
CBC-- Don Cherry on Gary Bettman "I have never seen him so livid"
The Hockey News-- NHL, NHLPA negotiations break down in big way