Halloween #tbt

We’re going back….way back….all the way back to Halloween 2011.

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For this weeks Throwback Thursday we’re going to keep it in the family for the Halloween edition with a hockey twist.  It was October 30, 2011 and my little 4 year old nephew Owen was pumped about the spiderman costume he was going to wear the next day.  A little too excited.  He was literally bouncing around the rec room displaying his natural ability to shoot webs from his wrists and subsequently end up at that location that his energy and exuberance got the better of him.  A one foot wide table/bar, placed against the back of the couch would be little spidey’s undoing.  As he tried to pull himself onto this table he so recently caught with his webs, the narrow bar leaned back until it overcame Owen, knocking him on his back and landing right smack on his tiny, tiny nose.

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The result was less than pleasant and young Owen was rushed to the hospital with a broken nose, a small cut requiring some stitches and a couple of beautiful shiners.  And the worse thing was, his face was too sore to wear the spiderman mask.  Luckily Owen comes from a family with a rich history of bloody noses and black eyes.  He comes from a hockey family and soon the tragedy was turned to triumph as the red and blue spidey costume was replaced with the red, gold, black and white of an Ottawa Senators jersey, and just like that, a hockey goon was born.

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Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises

Robbie Ralph #TBT

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By far the most rewarding part of my job is the interesting people I get to work with and for throughout the year.  Over the years at Canadian Hockey Enterprises we have created a stable staff members so incredibly varied and interesting it’s always great seeing some long time friends in the hotel lobby.  Whether it’s listening to Gilles Gilbert complain about light beer, or seeing Murray Price stroll through the lobby in Banff wearing strictly neon apparel, our unique staff members are what makes our tournaments so great.

Then there’s Rob Ralph, or Ralphy as he’s affectionately known.

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Seen here in his natural habitat, a young(ish) Rob Ralph, sporting a beautiful red suede brimmed CHE souvenir hat, tries to convince a flock of females to give him their leftover food.

Rob has been with CHE since the beginning and it’s his sense of humor and exuberance that makes him a pleasure to work with.  Always willing to play the roll of class clown, Ralphy always has that timely story, joke or commentary to cut the tension in the room., most of which revolve around food.  When he’s not working tournaments you can find him replacement workers on buses past picket lines, selling hot dogs in Bracebridge or dancing to disco…anywhere he can find it.   If you’d like to see a little bit about Ralphy you can friend him on facebook here and see some of his hilarious and valuable insights, or take a look at this article about his sons, but mostly talks about Rob’s history (here) including his time performing as Ogie Ogilthorpe/bus driver in a live action Slap Shot Tour.

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises

Canada-USA Womens Hockey Brawl

It’s not something you see everyday, but we may see it again soon.

As the perennial top 2 teams in Womens Hockey, Team Canada and Team USA opened their 6 game Olympic tune up series in Burlington Vermont on October 12th.  As with all previous Olympics, the two teams are the overwhelming favourites to battle for the gold medal in Sochi this February.  That said, between the two, there’s not a lot of disparity and their match-ups are often intense and physical, but I don’t  think anyone saw this coming.  Canada held a 3-2 lead with just over 3 minutes left in the third period when USA’s Monique Lamoureux drove hard to the net, taking out Canada’s Sharon Szabados in the process, leading to an all out line brawl.

Canada ended up holding the USA off and winning the game 3 – 2.  The two teams will square ff again tomorrow night in Boisibriand, QC and 4 more times before the new year so expect to see some more fireworks between these well matched squads as they tune up for the Olympics.  Click here for a list of game dates and locations.

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises

5 Reasons to Head to Lake Placid, NY

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It’s Monday, which means it’s time for a Top 5, and this week I’m going to focus on another spectacular destination to check out this winter.  So without further ado, the Top 5 reasons to head to Lake Placid, NY.

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1. It’s a Natural Wonderland!

Ever since leisure time began to increase in the early 1900’s, the rich and famous of the North East US escaped to upstate New York to enjoy the natural beauty of the Adirondack Mountains and the thousands of brooks, streams and lakes in the region.  In fact, the term “vacation” is said to have originated in Lake Placid as wealthy New Yorkers “vacated” the city.  Within the largest park on the continental USA, with 6.1 million acres of densely forested mountains, it’s the perfect place for an outdoor adventure with plenty of fishing and hunting, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, skiing, camping, golfing and boating.  If you like doing anything outside there is something for everyone no matter what time of year you go.  There really aren’t many places in the world that are this beautiful and haven’t been over developed, but luckily the splendour of the natural beauty has been preserved as a State Park and visitors can enjoy the natural vistas as they’ve been enjoyed for over a century.

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2. Hockey Tournaments

This may come off as a little self-serving given my job, but Lake Placid truly is a one of a kind destination for hockey tournaments; it’s almost as if it was built for tournaments.  It’s a very small and safe community with a main street that runs along picturesque Mirror Lake.  Within this tiny town there are 31 hotels ranging high end accommodations at the Crowne Plaza Resort to tighter budget lodgings at the Alpine Motor Inn.  Most of the mid range hotels are excellent and located right in the village, walking distance from restaurants, stores, gift shops and the arena.  The piece-de-resistance that makes hockey tournaments so memorable is the fantastic Olympic Center right in the middle of town with a 3-rink arena including the Herb Brooks Memorial Arena where the Miracle on Ice took place.  Combine all of these factors together and you’ve got a recipe for an amazing hockey tournament experience that’s sure to be the highlight of any teams season.  Canadian Hockey Enterprises offers 8 weekend tournament events for kids and 2 for adults to take advantage of this one of a kind tournament destination.  Check out this video to get an idea of what it’s like.

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3. The Olympic History

Lake Placid is probably best known for being the host of two different Winter Olympics; the first in 1932 and more recently in 1980.  It’s known for all of it’s natural features, but there are plenty of Olympic venues that you can visit or even experience including the Olympic Oval speed skating track, bob sled/luge run, ski jumping complex downhill ski track at Whiteface Mountain, Nordic ski track, Olympic Arena with the Olympic Museum inside.  And because these facilities still exist, chances are you’ll be able to check out some kind of competition while you’re in town whether it’s the Nascar Charity Bobsled Race, the World Cup Skiing, or a NCAA Division 1 hockey game between Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University.

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4. World Class Skiing/Snowboarding

Located in the heart of the Adirondack’s High Peaks, there are a good half dozen world class ski resorts within 45 minutes of the village of Lake Placid, the most notorious of which is Whiteface Mountain.  With the greatest vertical drop east of the Rocky Mountains, Whiteface has 86 trails and over 22 miles of terrain for you to hone your skills and enjoy the scenic views.  As you head up to the top of the mountain you’ll pass notes on the lift poles letting you know you’re now at a higher altitude than Killington, Stowe, Tremblant and all of the other renowned ski resorts of the east.  The region also tends to get really big dumps of snow as fronts move in from either direction and get trapped by the High Peaks of the Adirondacks, making it the best powder skiing destination of the east as well.

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5. Unique Architecture

Lake Placid is the original cottage country (though they call them ‘camps’) for wealthy New Yorkers and as a result there is an amazingly unique architecture throughout the region, mainly focused on creating a natural look.  One of the features that stands out amongst Adirondack Style is the hand crafted look of the entire dwelling, with log steps, foundations and fireplaces made of river rock and railings made of twigs.  You may even run across a home that’s exterior is entirely covered in birch bark, which doesn’t actually look that nice (sort of like it’s rotting) but is definitely unique.  It was in Lake Placid that the Adirondack Chair was invented, though it seems every cottage region since has tried to coin the chair as their own.  I’m looking at you Muskoka.

So do yourself a favour and jump in the car, break out your map and head down to Lake Placid next time you’re looking to relax, you won’t be disappointed.

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises

NHL is Back!

The NHL officially started it’s first full season in two years and even though there’s still some bitter contempt left over from yet another lockout, as hockey fans will know, it’s hard to contain my excitement for a full NHL season.  With just 3 days of hockey done already there’s already a number of very interesting story lines beginning to unfold so I thought I’d take a second and go over a few of them.

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1. Parros Goes Down

It’s very early on in the season but already the “fighting in hockey” debate has risen to the top of the hockey media stew.  The full line brawl during the pre-season game between the Leafs and Sabres got the conversation started as Leaf star Phil Kessel tried to chop the legs off Sabres goon John Scott.  I’ve already posted my thoughts on this event here, but it was obviously just the tip of the fighting debate iceberg.  What really got the debate going was when the new Habs protector George Parros was removed from the ice on a stretcher during their opening game against Leafs, last years league leader in fighting majors.  

Parros smashed his chin off the ice when both he and Leafs tough guy Colton Orr lost their footing during their second fight of the game.  Kind of a freak event, but as Don Cherry points out here, Parros is a smart guy (Princeton graduate) and knows full well that if you fight, there’s a good chance you’re going to get hurt.  That said, players on both benches were equally uneasy  and as circus-like as the Bell Centre atmosphere was throughout the game and especially during the fights, you could hear a pin drop as the Canadiens trainers began strapping Parros to a stretcher.  

In a league that’s been plagued with concussions and even deaths of some enforcers, the NHL is pretty clear when it comes to fighting.  “It’s what is special about our game,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, adding, “We don’t go out of our way to market or promote that, it is what it is and happens when it happens and while some people would prefer not to see it in the game, other people enjoy seeing it.”  The only rule added regarding fights this year was a 2 minute penalty for players who remove their own helmets during a fight, which they’ve already figured a way around and obviously was no help to Parros.  It will be interesting to see if there are any further steps taken to help protect players as the season continues.

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2. Patrick Roy goes Patrick Roy!

In a story line I had completely overlooked Patrick Roy returned to the NHL with the passion and exuberance only he can deliver.  As the new head coach of the Colorado Avalanche, Roy’s début was going extremely well holding a 6-1 lead over the Anaheim Ducks nearing the end of the 3rd period.  But with just 6 seconds left Anaheim’s Ben Lovejoy threw a questionable knee-on-knee hit on Avalanche prospect Nathan McKinnon that sent Roy off the rails.  Having just witnessed what he perceived as an attempt to injure last year’s first overall pick when the game a fat lady away from being over, Roy took exception and supposedly Lovejoy a few choice words on his way back to the bench.  This set off Boudreau who snapped back, a couple squirts from a water bottle from perennial pest Corey Perry (a former CHE camper) and Roy snapped and almost flattened Boudreau in the process.  A quick $10000, some words of wisdom from coaches around the league and a couple of interviews later and it seems like Patrick Roy is exactly where he wants to be: right in the center of the NHL spotlight.  Looks like the Colorado Avalanche might actually be worth watching this year.

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3. Leafs Nation!

There’s no one guarding their spot on Bay Street yet, but Leafs fans everywhere are ecstatic with their teams play thus far.  Though their two wins have been marred with controversy resulting from their rough and tumble playing style, there are plenty of reasons for leafs fans to be excited.  Phil Kessel seems to be in great shape and on point, which has paid off as they resigned him to an 8-year, $64 million contract extension.  Off-season acquisitions Dave Boland and Jonathon Bernier have both played pivotal roles in their quick start and seem to be settling in with their new team.  We’ve yet to see how David Clarkson performs in the blue and white during the regular season (on 10 game suspension for leaving the bench during this altercation), but he’s certainly bought the respect of his teammates and the fans by stepping up to protect the Leafs smaller, more talented players.  Like everything in the big smoke, it’s a great mix of new and old, skill and toughness, size and speed and if Randy Carlyle can somehow keep the suspensions to a minimum, they might just make a consecutive playoff appearance, which is great for Leafs Nation!

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Regardless of how you feel about last year’s lockout, October is always a great time of year for hockey fans as the season gets rolling and we get to see familiar faces in unfamiliar uniforms.  But most importantly, it’s just plain old fun to watch good hockey!  This year Canadian Hockey Enterprises has 5 tournaments with the option to see an NHL game including two games featuring the 2013 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks: on November 15 – 17 in Montreal you can see the Canadiens vs. Rangers, on March 28 – 30 you can see the Senators vs. Blackhawks in Ottawa, or see the Canucks vs. Ducks in Vancouver.  The on the weekend of April 3 – 6, teams can see the Coyotes battle the Oilers in Phoenix, or Blackhawks vs. Wild in Chicago.

Give our office a call and I’ll fill you in on the details.

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises