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Anatomy of an American Hockey League Game in Canada

31 Aug

 

Pre Game,

I have been to a handful of Hamilton Bulldogs games over the years, Spartan considering I love hockey and live in the area. The American Hockey League in Hamilton has always seemed to me to be one of the more enigmatic relationships between city and sports franchises in Canada. I have decided to take in a game maybe I’ll walk away with a clearer understanding of what’s at work. I know what I’m not going to learn; that the AHL is quite arguably in the mix as the second best league in the world in terms of a combination of talent and where players reside in their development. Using the aforementioned premise I know it is a level of hockey that is better than major junior and a few star players per team below the NHL echelon. In writing this I’m already contradicting my self because I’ve inadvertently stumbled upon my first truism, that it is a superstar less league

We arrive early (I bring my thirteen year old nephew to his first Bulldog game, they are playing the Rockford Ice Hogs; his engagement will be a good barometer for my anecdotal study). There is a moderate line up to get in, mostly hard core fans, many of whom are adorning some form of licensed Bulldog wear. When we are allowed in we walk the corridors, wide and clean, and although I’ve no formal training in arena architecture it seems not unlike the Calgary Saddledome. My nephew keeps repeating “this is like an NHL rink” I agree, “It’s what it feels like to me too!” I decide not to dismantle his enthusiasm with a Bettmanesque breakdown of the type of upgrades the arena (rink) would need to be consistent with NHL standards.

Our pre warm up tour of the arena continues the concessions are ready and serving the occasional early customer. As we make our way around the circumference of the corridor that separates the lower and draped upper bowl I notice that they do not open concessions on the far end and a vacant Haagen Dazs portable vendor rests in front of a canteen.

I’m not looking to pick up a program but would like a game sheet- happy to find I can pick one up for a buck that has all the stats you need; basically a trimmed down version of what might be offered in the media room.

My first blush that this is Bulldog territory is re-affirmed as we enter the souvenirs store ‘the Dawg House’; it is packed and I overhear a guy who is trying on a Bulldog jersey asking (what I assume is) his spouse to take a picture, but he halts her before she has a chance to make sure the Habs logo on the shoulder are pushed back far enough so it will not be caught by the camera.

The warm up has begun, I split my time reading the stats and watching the ice. I like to look at the rosters for familiar names, high scoring stats or penalty minutes then pick them out while their warming up to see if they carry themselves in a way that reflects their stats or status. I seek out the Captains (a habit from youth that has not dissolved over time) and follow them warming up.

I scan the rosters. The stats suggest Zack Fitzgerald for the Bulldogs is a toughie, I zero in on number thirteen with the long hair, got to be a fan favorite. Kyle Beach, hmm remember him being a top prospect plucked out of the WHL, a big guy who plays with (dare I say) truculence, I don’t see him out there though, he has meager stats must be injured. Rostislav Olesz triggers my memory, a high draft pick, I spot him, he kind of looks like Jagr; big and gangly. Philippe Paradis, remember him, a former first rounder included in Jiri Tlusty deal between the Leafs and Carolina, the player I only heard about kind of  looks like Zack Fitzgerald, shaggy rock star hair, how did he end up in the Chicago system? Andrew Shaw is listed, he is a former OHL tough guy who evolved into a game changing energy player with Owen Sound, he played a key role in the Attacks Memorial Cup drive, thought he was up with the Blackhawks? Don Cherry has recently been praising him on Coaches corner. As the warm up ends Zack Fitzgerald one of the last players to leave the ice skates over to   where a couple kids are sitting on reclining Lazyboy chairs (promo) at ice level between the two team benches, he taps the glass, a nod a gap tooth smile before exiting; affirmation that the conduit from the fan to the personality of the team is usually through the lovable enforcer.

With about five minutes left on the clock before the start of game the lights go off the spotlights spiral around the half empty lower bowl, and the show is on. After a few announcements a video montage of Bulldogs goals, fights and big hits supported by the sound of a jubilant play by play announcer with Linkin Park’s “New Divide” providing all the subtext needed to give you the pre-game jump out of the seats yips. My nephew is about 10 for 10 on the engagement scale by this point and if he could jump out on the ice with the team he would. Bruiser the mascot is firing t -shirts into the crowd with some kind of mechanical launching device while parents and kids alike stand and make some kind of down dog motion, included among this group is my nephew who is following the lead of the gentleman sitting next to us in the Bulldog Jersey (with whom not five minutes prior I had a very diplomatic, polished conversation).I have to admit it was really tough not to let your guard down and get caught up  in it.

Incongruent to the show coach’s Clement Jodoin and Ron Wilson calmly take their places behind the bench. If you were casting a movie you could not pick better coaches who fit the mold than these two seasoned professionals; graying around the temples, wearing nothing flashy, stoic, hockey weathered faces unflappable to the organized chaos surrounding them. They stood like statues while strobe lights took them in and out of focus; surrounding them grown men, woman, kids-families danced some still pantomiming the down dog rhythms- Game on.

The Game

Well into the first period the Bulldogs scores their first goal (the second goal of the game) fans pump their fists, the music blares and on the overhead scoreboard the big screen  runs video of some scantily clad gothic warriors doing a celebratory  dance, an unexpected Monty Python like clip, it’s funny, I like it and I make a mental note to research if there is a company who produces these type of shorts for sporting events.

Rockford’s Andrew Shaw gives a Bulldog a face wash on one of his first shifts; an indication of the type of game he’s bringing tonight .Later in the shift Shaw gets a penalty while the delayed call is immanent the play continues, Shaw looking agitated and knowing he’s going to the box ends the shift by taking a run at a Bulldog player banking on getting two bangs for his buck, Bulldog Ian Schultz takes exception and a fight ensues, Shaw gets a double minor for both infractions and five for fighting a foreboding of the night ahead for him. Schultz skates by the Rockford bench and mugs for them displaying a toothless smile; my nephew says Schultz kind of looks like his Aunt when she takes her teeth out.

Rockford’s Andrew Shaw is a throwback, old school type player cut from the same cloth as a guy like Dennis Polonich; smallish, good skater, scrappy and tough, the type of player that is going to make life miserable for whoever he’s playing against,  tonight his

‘find a way or make a way’ approach is not working, he can’t hit upon that effective blend, later in the game he takes two power play penalties and coach Tom Dent leans over his shoulder and speaks to him for a prolonged period.

The game continues at a rapid pace passes are executed with precision, the result of thousand s of rote drills; the protocol these athletes have been on since they were sixteen or seventeen. At times because there are some vast empty spaces in the lower bowl you get the sense that you are an invited guest to a special performance. There is an icing call at about the time a Hamilton defenseman is trying to make a change referee Koharski comes over and doesn’t let the Bulldogs keep the fresh defenseman out there ruling the change was made late, Jodoin walks over and says something to assistant coach Wilson, Wilson doesn’t flinch just keeps looking straight a head. There is nothing coaches hate more than not being able to execute a player change. Then the inevitable occurs seemingly from nothing Branadon Bollig Rockford’s tough guy big and GI Joe looking drops his gloves as does the Bulldog’s Zack Fitzpatrick his hair long and curly, they circle each other at centre ice apprehension in the air, then they engage, it’s all clutching and sneaking in punches, looking to free up a hand without becoming vulnerable, a flurry of punches first by Bollig then Fitzpatrick, it goes on like this for quite some time the linesman let it go on and on, finally when there is nothing left they step in,  a lot of hockey fans would have called it a classic tilt. The crowd cheers but I don’t get the feeling that they are crazy about their fighting, there is not that edge you might feel at a junior game- no catcalls. Nonetheless Zack Fitzpatrick second fight of the night comes in the third period with Rob Flick this time it’s hair flying every wear; Fitzpatrick long, shaggy and dark, and Flicks mop like falling over his face- a blonde orange color, a kind of surreal scene envelops Slapshot fights Ronald Mcdonald. Later I realize that that’s the same Flick from the OHL’s   Mississauga St Michaels Majors, a big centre kind of an ugly skater but effective and irritating.

Rastislav Olesz is interesting to watch he appears moody, temperamental but when on the bench he is active, eager, standing waiting to get his next shift.

In between the second and third period Bruiser hits the ice with a sling shot and an ample supply of bundled t shirts that he will projectile into the crowed. The impressive sound system delivers us Flo Rida’s ‘Good Feeling’ and the Bob Fosse in Bruiser comes out, he dances to the rhythm quick and agile and plays the crowd like a conductor would a symphony, he prompts the crowd reacts, I decide here he is a top shelf  mascot.

There is an absolute flurry of activity in the third period the Dogs score three goals in thirty eight seconds. It is pandemonium, Salak, Rockford’s Goalie is infuriated with the second goal in this sequence and punches one of the Dog players, Dogs forward Gabriel Dumont who took a big hit on the second goal skates to the bench looking like a sailor on leave. Fans cheer and jeer happy for the sudden success but slighted by the cacophony of misdeeds afflicted to the home team. On the third goal Alexander Salak storms off the ice past the team down the corridor gone- he might still be going. Rockfords’s back up for the night Carter Hutton goes in. It’s a five – two Bulldog win.

Post Game

The first star of the game is new Bulldog  Blake Geoffrion he scores a goal and adds two assists but is otherwise unremarkable, Geoffrion was the 2010 winner of the Hobey Baker award, which surprises me a little, he looks  like a big prototypical power forward who will evolve as he smoothes out the edges- if anything I picture a former Hobey Baker winner as a skilled polished guy that’s  maybe lacking in size. He is also the son of former NHL player Danny Geoffrion, grandson of Hall of fame Montreal Canadian Boom Boom Geoffrion, and great grand son of Howie Morenz.

Zack Fitzpatrick is recognized as the games hardest worker he dives out on the ice and does an All Star wrestling type wave to the crowd. I like the theatrics and think- take it all in Zack this is your time, a pro hockey life is fleeting

At the end of the game there is a puck throw, fans have purchased rubber pucks that they try to throw in a pale placed at centre ice, suddenly hundreds of pucks are on the ice, it seems as though almost everyone in attendance participates mothers and fathers passing out their purchased pucks to their kids and joining in themselves, smiles laughs a cathartic release of their inner Bulldog. The Promotional girl announces the three closest numbered pucks and just like that it’s over. Brilliant. Tonight everyone is leaving happy, basking in the glow of a dramatic victory and the whaling sounds of U2’s “Beautiful Day”. My nephew repeats a few times that he’s going to come to all the games now. I agree it was a terrific experience well worth the investment

On the ride home we listen to the post game show on 820 all platitudes and recaps, it does what a good post game show does, offers a little brain candy  and keeps you in the game while driving home on a cold dark night. We don’t say much mostly listen and make the odd remark about some point that is made. I think of the small things, like I thought it was kind of neat the way the players from both teams tapped their stick against the boards when the little crease cleaners came on the ice during the commercial breaks. From the inside it had all the ingredients for success, good venue, high level of talent and a top notch game production. From the outside I still wonder why this has not caught on more than it has. An online dictionary tells me an enigma is something hard to understand or explain.

“Sittler”

13 Nov

Funny, how something reminds one of lost memory, just  like discovering unearth treasure that you once knew but never associate with a  sports hero from the past.

I was reminding in a couple of books I recently reads in Dave Bidini “Keon and Me” he describe among other trait that’s Sittler was a tough guy, he goes on describe him perfectly  “…. curly-haired centreman with a bashful smile and a bullish stride whose gentle manner was belied by sudden gusts of rage that saw the softness of his youth harden like clay.” (Keon And Me, Dave Bidini).

Then in  “Orr, My Story” there its a picture of a group of people obviously at summer cottage get together–some older some younger..in the bottom far right, below a young Orr with his grandmother, sits a young couple, he in cut-off jeans, no shirt,  the lighting catching his dirty blonde curly hairs that frame youthful joyous  face  beside him I young girl, white blonde with a big smile… I know them but can’t immediately place them I scroll down. Above:……..Darryl Sittler and his late wife Wendy,…  A young happy couple.

I guess that’s how I will always remember Sittler- the Leafs Captains, the guys who got those ten points in a game against the Boston Bruin in 76′ ( as a adult I receive a child book for Christmas about the Leafs and  Sittler-“My Leafs Sweater”) . I remember Sittler as the  guy who got the goal against the Czechs tough goalie Dzurilla in 76′   Canada Cup  Overtime winner.

I can still remember his interviews his earnest almost shy delivery with his eyes cast down almost not daring to looks  directly into the camera. Right down to  the way he spoke; his quiet voice, his lips barely moving, just a little O forming in his face when he spoke– just like the boy who wanted to be a dentist in “Rudolph Red Nose Reindeer”. I met a guy years later who could do dead ringer  of a Sittler interview.

Other players that were tough players who were also GOOD players that wore their persona on their face. Guys like Mel Bridgman, big  dark bushy mustache and dark thick eyebrow than met at a V above piecing eyes. Harold Snespsts, a big  tall defensemen with a “Fu Man Chu”  mustache that gave him a formable menace. Lots of guys that had THAT look..  Shultz, Saleski, Kevin McClelland…………others had  matching  names like… Bouchard, Butcher, Battleship Kelly, Mad dog Kelley…on and on.

But looking back I guess he was a tough guy. In 1977/78 he got 117 points with 100 PIM. We want to remember our sports idol the way we wants. The years past by, the memories go through a sifter, milling out what we want to remember cloaks in nostalgia, we keep what we unconsciously what to carry with us. All the same I like that Sittler had a tough side…I dig through my memory I can picture  him going off the  ice blood on his face the C on Toronto Maple Leafs jersey

Link

Number 4 Bobby Orr

2 Nov

I wrote this a few year ago..a true backyard rink story.

Magical number 4

Number four for Bobby Orr;  kids from my era wanted to pretend to be number 4 when it came to playing street hockey or at the outdoors rinks in a game of shinny. Actually it went beyond that, if the Kentucky derby was on television you rooted for the number four horse to win, if you played baseball you asked for number four, there was something magical about it.

Like most outdoor shinny games across Canada,  our games would start much the same as others, we’d throw the sticks in the middle or just pick teams draft style, and then it was “roll call time”, you had to think quick,  machine gun burst of names bellowed with bravado it sounded something like this “I’m Bobby Orr,  I’m Espo ,  I’m Sittler, I’m  Frank Mahovalich, F#@&*c  OK I’m Pete Mahovalich, I’m Tony “O”, I’m Cornyeyer”, then our wise cracking neighbor Cheech would demand silence, then once he had everybody attention in deadpan sarcasm  “I’m Cheech!” raise his eyebrows half serious and turn away. I didn’t have to worry I knew who I was going to be, I’m Mike Pelyk I shouted with tinny enthusiasm.

Mike Pelyk was a very serviceable defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he carved out a solid workmen like career in the best hockey league in the world.

He wasn’t my uncle or a family best friend, no the reason for me being I was Mike Pelyk  because  I was stubborn and Leaf diehards. Let me explain; I had always worn my Leaf jersey (my favorite team forever) and it was adorned with the number four (because everybody, including me love Bobby Orr).One day I was at my best friend’s house who happened to be a Bruins fan and we got into an argument the ways young kids do; who was better the Leafs or the Bruins? He was arguing the Bruins were the best, me the Leafs; he was clearly correct but like I say I was a stubborn die hard Leaf kid, the only thing that transcended the Leafs love was number four Bobby Orr, everyone loved him. I wore number 4 on the back of my Leaf jersey for this very reason. Our argument was as heated and logical as two seven or eight year olds could get, there was going to be no winner so we did what we always do, headed outside to play street hockey, we could settle it that way. As I was leaving his father said “you know Bobby Orr doesn’t play for Toronto Maple Leafs pointing to the number four on the back of the Leaf jersey, a wry smile on his face. I could feel my face getting red “no I’m not Bobby Orr I’m Mike Pelyk” (number 4 for the Leafs at the time). So there it was boldly pronounced in front of my friends, they held me to it and I didn’t flinch.

My buddies and I went out and played street hockey,  because there was only three of us we had to play two against one, Bobby Orr and Gibert Perrault against Mike Pelyk a colossal mismatch of idols.

When teams were picked sometimes guys wouldn’t pick me because they wanted to be the French connection Gibert Perrault -Rick Martin and they needed a Rene Robert and they’d see me standing earnestly in my blue number four and they knew I had the Pelyk albatross to deal with, so a lot of times I was picked last. I can say this, Mike Pelyk had a hell of a pond hockey career in Thunder Bay’s  neighborhood of Northwood amidst the cold lengthy winters of days long gone.

soccer story

23 Sep

Wrote this before Euro 2012

I love the affect a big soccer event like Euro 2012 has on the Canadian culture. We are a mosaic us Canadians, proud of where we are and respectful from where it was we came. The older I get the more I recognize how special we are as a country for this very reason.

My late grandparents were cut from an Irish cloth; in fact my paternal grandparents didn’t come to Canada until well into their adult years. I myself have never been to Ireland, I came close once when I spent a few days in Gander Newfoundland for work. But I’ve had my share of god awful Irish stew that my lovely grandmother would make for us kids, likely a recipes handed down by her mother, it consisted of mostly potatoes and water and maybe 15 cents worth of hard boiled meat. For these reason I’m going to cheer like a (non violent) Irish “Loogan” every time the Republic of Ireland steps on the field in Euro 2012. Similar to what the Italian, Greek, Dutch, German…people I know do for their mother countries. The only difference being that by all prognostications us Irish don’t stand a chance-“But you better believe it boy that’s the only way us Irish like it, everyone counting us out and we come fighting from behind and shove it in your cake hole!” Man I’m getting too excited already; fired up and they have not even stepped on the field yet.

Back to my reflections on how the affect of a global game unites communities across our country in the healthy spirit of competition. First I make a mental note to Google the Republic of Ireland team to see who plays for them –like their names.

I can sum up my fondness for the affect these tournaments have on communities in one simple ordinary little slice of life image that has never left me.

It was World Cup tournament time about twenty five years ago. I worked on the Pepsi trucks, it was brutal grunt work done in the heat of a prairie summer. My partner and I ran the North End of Winnipeg route which consisted largely of small corner stores attached to older houses where the proprietors usually lived.

On this particular occasion the soft drink company had ran a huge sale on two liters and a lot of these corner store would load up when they could; the only place they could store the reserve of pop was in the basement which usually consisted of a low ceiling little dungeon area only accessible by a hatch in the floor. What we had to do, was one guy stood or hunched over in the basement to stack cases while the other partner threw (hand-bombed) them down through the hatch in the floor to be caught and sorted and stacked. Then the guy on the bottom had to hand-bomb empties and stale dated cases up the hole to be caught and stacked to be brought back to the plant. It was a stifling, dirty, physical, uncomfortable nasty piece of procedure. As I was throwing up cases of empties, I could here chatter, an Asian cadence …it was both young and old. As my efforts to erode the stack came to fruition I caught site of where the voices were coming from.

In the corner of the dark cellar sitting on a crate was an extremely old Asian man and what was probably his great grandson of just four or five. They were glued to a small rabbit eared black and white television., they gave me a quick polite wave and went back to chattering about whatever was happening with the World Cup game. It was obvious by their rapt attention it was their team. The old man was maybe ninety, his voice singsong and sharp; all knowing, the little boy responded with squeaky anxious retorts- his big brown eyes looking to participate in the conversation. In the corner store of a north end Winnipeg confectionary, in a damp dark remote cellar I was struck by the power of sport, of generations connected by family tethered to their other community in a global event thousands of miles away.

It was a fairly ordinary event that I will always remember and I’m sure the boy now a man remembers..

Go Irish!

a remember a guys from my Junior hockey years

23 Sep

When you’re strange
no one remembers your name.

The Doors

Local folklore has it he was clean shaven, wearing a suit, hair groomed, showered, shoes polished; he was going out with the local hockey teams, a planned get together with him included; it ended unfortunately , falling down, loud, slurring, puking all over the place, a mess.

This is a tribute to all those characters who felt comfort in a place so much so they made it their home.

I have been thinking often lately of a character that use to be a fixture day and night at the local arena. As best as I can remember he always wore the same oversized parka adorned with a couple of hockey buttons and one of those hats with flaps that come down over the ears and is flipped up on the beak. I don’t know what he wore in the summer? We weren’t at the arena in those months.

When the new hockey year began, sure enough he’d be there with his fierce little nature, emerging from a vacant bathroom (where he was rumored to spend his nights when the arena was dark and locked) or he’d just show up in the dressing room.

He was a crabby little guy about the size of a jockey. He strode around with purpose; a threatening stomp even when he was staggering. When he spoke his word spilled out in big burst of bravado. He had dark stubble, bushy eyebrows that met in a V at the bridge of his nose giving him a menacing fix. Half a cigarette stub always clenched between his teeth. He often paced under the rise of the stands where the dug out style confectionery existed with its old fashion popcorn machine percolated away giving off a delicious scent of salt, hot oil and fleshly cooked kernels. If you made eye contact with him he was going to show you in his most demonstrative way the moves he performed while playing for the Montreal Canadians, “I did THIS! and THIS”! and with each THIS! a violent but nonsensical body maneuver would follow startling folks who might be passing by. You knew that he was done showing you when he gave you a glower as if to say “don’t believe me.. I’ll take you out to the woodshed kid”. I don’t remember spending a lot of  time with him, one learned to avoid these confrontations.

When the team was together though (and there was relative safety in numbers) certain players egged him on with humoring questions of his hockey conquests, and if deeply inebriated he would perform for the team, grab a hockey stick in the middle of the dressing room and growl “you do it like THIS”! and he’d feign a slaps shot and look around in that intimidating glare forcing gravity upon his lesson, and on it would go for a bit until it was time to get ready for practice.

Honest nostalgia is equal to a clearer understanding of a memory looked at through a less accurate lens weakened by the years. I can’t remember his name I wish I could, it ended in a Y Frenchy, Franky ,Jimmy. Did he really sleep in the bathrooms at the arena? or did he go to a shelter or both? Is he alive all these years later or has he succumbed to addiction, old age or some other street borne illness? Did he have a family or someone to look after him? or was that us? I have not been to my hometown in many years something tells me he no longer inhabits the nooks and crannies of that arena, his bombastic voice no longer echoes through its hallways. Twenty five years is a long time, I think of all the people I knew, younger and no doubt healthier that have passed since those days. Yet thousands of cold dark nights removed from that era I remember him, he has a place in me. As I make my way home from the pub I follow the moon it is full, the sky open, vast and filled with stars; in my mind I revisit the memory of him, his pantomime full of energy, bluster and conviction “when I played for the Montreal Canadians I did THIS and THIS! “to my surprise I’m saying it under my breath but audible enough that the women on the other side of the street hears and looks at me strangely.

Old Hockey Article

23 Sep

The Fanelli Hit
By all reports Kitchener Ranger rookie Ben Fanelli is thankfully at home recuperating with family, and out of immediate danger?
For the most part it seems writers, sports T.V. / radio personalities are calling the suspension handed down to Michael Liambus for his hit on Ben Fanelli a courageous decision by Commissioner Dave Branch.
Given the circumstances it seems more a practical decision, rooted in and reflective of in small part a large hockey problem and to a larger degree a smaller controllable systemic issue.
The larger problem is about respect, headshots, velocity of collisions, ramification of players’ size and athleticism, helmet safety, and an alternative channeling of hockey violence than we once equated with fisticuffs and stick swinging. This will be debated in conferences, public round tables etcetera, etcetera, over the course of the next year.
No doubt Commissioner Branch has weighed the pros and cons in benefits and ramifications of a system that can have at any given time after January twenty one year olds pitted against sixteen year olds. It’s tough not to believe this particular decision was made with the intent to send a message to the parents of every fourteen, fifteen and sixteen year old kid who may be a potential OHL player- our league is a safe place to play.
What is surprising about all the debate is that there has been relative serenity in challenging the status of a twenty year old playing against a sixteen year old at this level?
(People use the argument that eighteen year old play with grown men in the NHL; yes they do, but maybe four or five make it a year and they are the most finely tuned athletes for their age in the world.)
Theoretically and under the rules of the OHL these two could have dropped their gloves, had at it, and if serious injury occurred to the sixteen year old during the fight (and it wasn’t deemed bullying), then how would the commissioner have been able to send the same message.
Maybe it’s time that twenty year olds and sixteen year olds can play in the same league only under certain conditions.
Let’s say for example the twenty year old is eligible as an overage player if he didn’t exceed a certain criteria for penalty minutes in the previous two seasons, plus had reached certain milestone of points and had not faced disciplinary hearings in the previous two seasons etcetera, etcetera, of course you set separate criteria for forwards and defense . Goalies could be exempt.
Major Junior Hockey has come a long way over the years because forward thinkers have adjusted rules in response to plain silly behavior.
Twenty to twenty five years ago players came back to there respective home towns (after getting cut from a major junior training camp) covered in facial stitches and black eyes from a dozen fights in a couple inters quad games. They brought back with them stories of some crazy characters and blown college scholarship eligibility.
Among many new initiatives and in place supports, players now have a scholarship fund for each year they play should they want to attend university post major junior career. The OHL did away with the painfully embarrassing process where the players unbuttoned and took off there helmets before each fight, rules about head shots , hitting from behind, and bullying have been implemented
So tighten up the rules on the overage players, it shouldn’t come with any logical resistance among the Governors.
Truthfully you would be doing the ineligible overeager a favor. Twenty year old players with a physical presence to their game should be playing minor pro to see if the game they play translates at that level or they should be in the CIS getting an education (using their scholarship dollars) and honing their skill to become a more complete player.
When a tragic incident occurs, industry professionals look at how to change the culture of the game, in the meantime like they have done before the OHL should take another baby step that can be implemented easily so that in the future kids like Fanelli and Liambus are playing in a league that member teams interests better correspond to meet the needs and desires of the individual players.
Dave Roulston
info@tothebleachersandback.com

Nickname in Hockey

21 Sep

http://www.chillmedia.co/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=109:the-best-nhl-nicknames-of-all-time&catid=11:sports&Itemid=378