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

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

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

The Enforcer Debate

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In recent years the NHL has made significant strides to protect it’s players through rule changes and increased suspension time.  Suspensions are getting longer every year, and new rules this year include players being forbidden from removing their own helmets during a fight, which they’ve already figured out as seen here.  Looks silly doesn’t it?  Like they’re politely removing each others helmets over tea before they punch each other in the face!

The disciplinary committee will be busy today after watching last night’s brawl between the Sabres and Leafs (click to watch), and the travesty of it all will be David Clarkson (who barely got into it) will almost certainly receive the longest suspension of everyone for leaving the bench.  Watch that video a couple of times and it seems pretty obvious the entire event was ignited by another player coming off the bench, he just did it during a shift change.  Take a quick look at the opening of the video and it’s pretty clear that John Scott, a giant at 6’8″, 270 lbs, was sent out with the clear intention to beat up somebody on the Leafs.  I don’t think it mattered who it was, but the fact that it ended up being Phil Kessel, who at that point had more goals in the game than Scott has had in his career brings the enforcer question to the forefront.  And so the question begs to be asked, if everyone knows that John Scott is nothing but an enforcer sent out to fight, shouldn’t the brunt of the blame and penalty fall on the coach and organization?

Shouldn’t Ron Rolston receive equal if not more punishment than David Clarkson?

As Damien Cox so profoundly pointed out here, hockey was not the only physical game being played yesterday, but where the old guard agree that hockey players need to be tough and also protected, others sports like football or rugby view fighting as a lack of toughness.  There are no offensive linemen who can’t block, run or tackle, but are instead sent out on the field to literally beat up the quarterback.  It would be ridiculous.  So why do we tolerate the same role in the culture of hockey?

The fighting debate in hockey has been going on for a long time and has many advocates with good points on both sides. However, there really is no debate as to whether enforcers should be allowed to exist in the league.  700 of the worlds most skilled hockey players should not have to worry about some angry giant like John Scott taking exception with one of their super stars.  If players aren’t able to compete on a regular shift throughout the game they should not be allowed to dress at all.  There are plenty of skilled players in the minors that can fill that 4th line position without losing any toughness or having a bench warmer take up space.  If the NHL really wants to stop incidents like last nights brawl, the first step has to be to penalize the coaches and organization who dress their enforcers.

Please share your thoughts whether you agree or disagree as I’d love to get some feedback on this issue.

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises

Is Fighting Part of the Game?

Video and article reigniting the fighting in hockey debate.  Is fighting just “part of the game”, or should players be held legally responsible for actions they take during a game?  With all the knowledge and awareness about the dangers of concussions and steps taken to drastically decrease hits to the head, has the game already transitioned away from the old time hockey standard?  One things for certain; you’ll see more articles like this than less in the future.