Sunday, January 31, 2010

A diamond in the very very very rough.

The media lounge at the Centre Bionest in Shawinigan was crammed with NHL scouts as the Halifax Mooseheads took on the Shawinigan Cataractes Saturday afternoon.

They were there to check out Mooseheads goaltender Mathieu Corbeil, who after the mid-season NHL central scouting report, is sitting third amongst North American goaltenders.

Al Jensen with NHL Central Scouting says he loves size and athleticism of Corbeil. When asked if he could compare Corbeil to an NHL goalie, Jensen said he couldn't think of one that was as big as Corbeil.

And despite losing 3-2, Corbeil put on a clinic for the scouts in attendance. He faced 28 shots which included three breakaways, one which was a 2-0 rush.

But this story isn't just about Corbeil.

In the depths of this losing season for the Halifax Mooseheads I want to point out to everyone the light at the end of the tunnel.

I know they always say don't go towards the light.... but screw it. We're going towards the light. I can't take this dark anymore, and I think I'm starting to get vitamin D deficiency.

Corbeil has been standing on his head all year. Imagine what he'll be like when there's a team in front of him.

The team's defensive core is largely made up of 17 year olds. This is a Midget AAA lineup. They will be a good team in front of Corbeil one day.

The team isn't stacked geezers either, despite being able to carry three 20-year-olds, Linden Bahm is the only over-ager on the roster.

With the trade of Spencer Metcalfe the team has Pascal Amyot, Paul Dimitruk, Gerrad Grant
Charles Bety, Matthew Stoddard and goaltender Peter Delmas, and Tomas Knotek.

It's hard to say what the team will do with this situation. Knotek would take up both a 20-year-old spot and one of the two European player spots. I think the team is leaning on keeping Peter Delmas to help Corbeil with the load. And it's a tossup between the rest, but it's likely some of them will be on the trading block during the draft.

Generally teams don't like to use up one of the three 20-year-old spots and one of the two European spots for one player. But the team will probably make an exception for Knotek. He is scoring goals, he's the captain and he has a no-trade clause.

Then there's players like Brent Andrews. Andrews played in the World U-17 Championships for Team Atlantic in Timmons, Ontario over the Christmas break. He was player of the game twice and scouts with Hockey Canada say he was one of the best, if not THE best winger on the ice at the tournament. Expect big things.

Defenseman Konrad Abeltschauser has already started to pack some pounds on the lanky frame he came to us with in August. I'm sure with a good stint of off-season training he'll be a blueline bruiser.

Bradley MacDonald who was a second rounder in 2008, had a tough go in Victoriaville and Quebec and refused to report to PEI. He finally ended up where he wanted, which despite my concerns about such an attitude of a player, it has worked out for the Mooseheads in the end. Expect some numbers from him in the future.

Then there's the fact that the Mooseheads have a bounty of draft picks this year.

The team has their own first round draft pick, and looking at the scenery right now, it's going to be the 1st overall pick. The one unfortunate thing, is this year there are no clear-cut number oners coming up through the AAA ranks.

There are also 4 more picks in the top 40.

The Mooseheads own 2nd and 3rd round pick.
Rimouski's 2nd round pick
Victoriaville's 2nd round pick

I'm almost giddy when I think of the potential of this team down the road, then I remember we still have this season to get through. Hang in there fans!

Jennifer Casey was born and raised in Halifax. She loves all sports but tries to stick to writing about hockey for sanity purposes. You can follow her on twitter @jenncaseyhfx

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Danton shows rust in SMU debut, but is the team's only spark

Admittedly I was not able to go to the Mike Danton Show (SMU vs Acadia) at the Halifax Forum Wednesday night. I was sitting behind the board down the street for the Halifax Mooseheads road game.

But I was monitoring the game's live stats, and from all accounts from friends and the numerous tweets from inside the Forum, Danton had a good game.

He showed some rust, but played physical, skated hard and registered three shots on net. And by the third period, with his team down 3-0 he scored SMU's only goal and seemed to provide a spark for his teammates.

He said he wasn't nervous before the game, but he was a bit anxious.

"Scoring the goal was a huge monkey off my back," Danton said after the game.

"You guys have put me on the front page for the past two weeks, so it was good to get that one away."

I will say I had concerns about Mike Danton's return to Halifax. Mostly because I wondered if we were going to get the same little shift disturber we saw in the 2000 Memorial Cup.

But after all the speculation by just about every person in Halifax, Danton spoke to the media last week — and to me (and my colleagues) he seemed sincere.

That was my concern — is this guy still a jerk? Will his attitude negatively affect the dressing room? Is he still a loose cannon? That question was answered, I believe. Danton seems cool, collected, grown up, and he even apologized for his childish antics at the 2000 Memorial Cup. Great, game on.

What I am surprised about, is the other reasons people didn't think he should be playing university hockey. People seemed uneducated about the situation and formed an opinion anyways.

Mike Danton is too old.

First of all I would like to point out that 29 is not old. 30 is. No I'm kidding.

In all seriousness I heard this over and over as an argument as to why Mike Danton shouldn't be lacing them up in the AUS.

First of all: 26, 25, 27, 26, 27, 25, 25, 28, 27, 27, 27, 26, 27, 28, 25, 29, 26, 28, 27, 25, 28, 29

That is a list of the ages of Saint Mary's University hockey players. Average age: 26.72

It's hard to argue Danton is a grandpa on the team.

It's especially hard to argue this, when you consider that people go back to university at all ages. If you've got some or all of your five years of university sport eligibility left, you can play sports. It's about ability not age, which is demonstrated by Patti Blanchard.

Forty-eight-year-old Patty Blanchard of Moncton, finished 11th in Cross Country and earned second-team all-Canadian status in 2005. That's despite running against kids who were 25 years younger. Blanchard was a bronze medallist at the first-ever CIS women’s cross country championship in 1980.

Still think Mike Danton is too old?

He's got a criminal record.

And? Criminal records do not prohibit you from going to university. In fact, I think that's called discrimination. We have that Charter thingy that protects people from discrimination.

How are people with criminal records supposed to reform themselves if we don't let them have the chance to do so. If they screw up their chances so be it. But let's let the ones who want to put their lives back on track - do it.

I've heard people say things like "I don't want a convicted criminal wandering around the same campus as my daughter" ... and yet your daughter probably goes out downtown and stumbles home drunk at 4 in the morning. That's safe, eh?

SMU coach Trevor Steinburg is the son of a Canadian parole officer. He knows all about second chances. But he also knows tough love. He's said this is Danton's second chance, but also his last. The great part about Steinburg, is he's taken Danton into his home. I wouldn't expect too many shenanigans from Danton living in the Steinburg household.

Danton has already played Major Junior and professional hockey.

I really think people have this view of a bunch of kids, straight out of high school playing hockey for their university. Like you see in other sports like soccer and basketball.

As I've pointed out with the average age of the SMU hockey team, that is just not the case. SMU isn't an anomaly.

This is not the NCAA. Canadian university just works this way. Players go to university hockey after Major Junior. Most players play Major Junior until they're 19 or 20. If they don't make "The Show" then they head to university. Major Junior requires its players to be in school while playing so the transition is usually natural.

And in fact, there have been cases of players going pro after some time in the university stage (see: Jody Shelley). There are cases where players have had chances at the professional level and didn't quite cut it, so they come back to university. (see: Dominic Noel).

And for good measure, let's go back to the example of Patti Blanchard from above. Blanchard was on Canada's national cross country team before returning to university.

I have one final point that I want to make: Mike Danton is enrolled in university classes. He's bettering his life. He wants a degree. He isn't allowed to travel to the U.S. so therefore, him using the AUS as a stepping stone back into pro hockey is not a realistic assumption.

Jennifer Casey was born and raised in Halifax. She loves all sports but tries to stick to writing about hockey for sanity purposes. You can follow her on twitter @jenncaseyhfx

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Just yesterday Patrice Cormier made what I would consider a classy move:

"I fully respect the Quebec Major Junior League's decision regarding the Mikael Tam incident," Cormier said in a statement released by his Halifax-based agent Tim Cranston.

"I deeply regret the circumstances surrounding this event and wish Mikael Tam a speedy and full recovery."

Just over a week ago, Patrice Cormier laid out a vicious elbow on the Quebec Rempart's Mikael Tam. Tam was left convulsing on the ice and was taken to hospital with head trauma. The
QMJHL suspended Cormier for the rest of the season Monday.

After Cormier's statement we all thought this nasty incident had come to an end -- Patrice Cormier was going to accept his punishment from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Hold on a minute, gang.

The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies said Tuesday they will appeal the suspension.

Coach and GM Andre Tourigny calls it "excessive" and complains that if Rouyn-Noranda went the whole way in the playoffs, Cormier could serve up to 48 games.

I understand that the Huskies have been screwed in this affair.

They just gave up a boatload of high draft picks (17-year-old forwards Michael Beaudry and Alexandre Mallet, two first-round draft picks in 2010 and first- and second-round draft picks in 2012.) in return for Jordan Caron and Cormier.

But that is the risk this team took when they decided to go for a player like Patrice Cormier. They took the risk that he might do something untimely and stupid.

Many have complained that Cormier is being used as an example. GOOD. Hits to the head have to stop. And players don't appear to be getting the message. Someone needs to be made an example of.

To make matters worse, Cormier decided to change his statement slightly.

"I respect the decision of the QMJHL even if I find it too severe," Cormier told The Canadian Press.

The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies look silly. The entire hockey community knew that the QMJHL would serve Cormier no less than the rest of the season. An appeal just further drags hockey, the league, the team and Cormier through the mud.

Jennifer Casey was born and raised in Halifax. She loves all sports but tries to stick to writing about hockey for sanity purposes. You can follow her on twitter @jenncaseyhfx

Friday, January 22, 2010

Danton update.

Check out Mike Danton's first meeting with the press since news broke that he wanted to play for Saint Mary's University in Halifax:

Jennifer Casey was born and raised in Halifax. She loves all sports but tries to stick to writing about hockey for sanity purposes. You can follow her on twitter @jenncaseyhfx

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Good thoughts for Jean

From ::

Hockey great Jean Beliveau has suffered a stroke. CTV News has learned the Montreal Canadiens legend suffered a stroke last night and was transported to the Montreal General Hospital.

He is now in the neurological department and no further details on his condition are available at this time. However, a source tells CTV News that his life is not in danger.

A 10-time Stanley Cup champion and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame -- has been named an honourary Team Canada member and honourary captain of Canada's 2010 Men's Olympic Hockey Team.

Béliveau spent his entire 20-season NHL career as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, recording 1,219 points in 1,125 games. He retired from the NHL following the 1970-71 season and never had the chance to represent Canada in international competition. The first major international event involving NHL superstars was in 1972, when Canada and Russia met in the Summit Series. The IIHF World Championship did not allow professionals to participate until 1977.

"It's unbelievable to think of some of the players who never had the chance to represent Canada in international play," says Bob Nicholson, president and CEO of Hockey Canada. "Today, we bring a new member onto the Team Canada roster. It's about time we see the great Jean Béliveau in a Team Canada sweater."

Béliveau was honoured at a press conference in Montreal, as part of the Hockey Canada Foundation gala and golf fundraiser. Serge Savard and Yvan Cournoyer, honourary chairmen of the 2009 Hockey Canada Foundation gala, presented Béliveau with a Team Canada jersey, with Béliveau's name and customary No. 4 on the back.

Monday, January 18, 2010

If I were the NJ Devils I'd be a little concerned...

Patrice Cormier has never been a particularly disciplined hockey player.

But in the past two months, it's getting downright unimpressive.

Rewind to December 2009 at the World Juniors. Despite wearing the captain's C, Cormier took several extremely dumb penalties in the preliminary exhibition round.

Including an elbow on Sweden's Anton Rodin leaving him with a bloody nose. Didn't Canadians hang Jack Johnson out to dry when he did that exact thing to Steve Downie in the 2006 World Juniors?

Sure, in this case it was prelims, but an elbow's an elbow.

These games are supposed to be treated like a real game. And leading by taking, untimely, dumb, retaliatory penalties is no way to lead.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon's game in Rouyn-Noranda. Before you hit play on the video below, a warning: it's ugly. It's real ugly. The hit occurs just after the 1 minute mark.

The hit on Quebec Remparts defenseman Mikael Tam occurred in overtime. There was no immediate provocation. No reason to throw up an elbow into someone's face. Cormier had just come off the bench.

If you keep watching, Tam was convulsing on the ice. He was eventually taken off the ice on a stretcher. He's in hospital in stable condition, however he has trauma to his skull and brain and lost several teeth.

For what?

Seriously Cormier, Keep. your. bows. down.

The QMJHL released a brief statement on the brutal hit Monday, "The incident which occurred during yesterday's game between the Quebec Remparts and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and which involved Patrice Cormier and Mikael Tam is under review by QMJHL authorities."

Quebec Rempart coach Patrick Roy filed a complaint with Quebec Provincial Police, and really, I don't blame him. His son was taken through the legal system after his fight, and I would consider this much worse. (edit: despite reports in the Canadian Press that say Roy was the one to file the complaint, reports are now that a representative with the team say no one from the team initiated the complaint, they only provided statements)

This Cormier elbow is sickening on so many levels. I have never been so discouraged about the game of hockey as now," said TSN's Bob MacKenzie on his Twitter account.

Quite frankly I think Cormier should be out for the rest of the season -- Including playoffs.

I would think this is a very likely outcome as well. Considering the precident the OHL set in November when they suspended 20-year-old Michael Liambas of the Erie Otters for the entire season.

It's incredible that Cormier would risk such a fate on something as dumb as an elbow to the face, especially considering what the Huskies gave up in trading for Cormier and Jordan Caron (17-year-old forwards Michael Beaudry and Alexandre Mallet, two first-round draft picks in 2010 and first- and second-round draft picks in 2012.)

Cormier is a New Jersey Devils prospect, and I'm sure they're wondering if a tiger can change its stripes.

Jennifer Casey was born and raised in Halifax. She loves all sports but tries to stick to writing about hockey for sanity purposes. You can follow her on twitter @jenncaseyhfx

Friday, January 15, 2010

Your Friday haha.

Nothing to do with hockey but whatever. Jimmy Fallon does Neil Young singing "Pants on the Ground"

If this isn't funny, head here:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mike Danton is coming to town.

Merry freaking Christmas Halifax media.

Remember Mike Danton?

He was the guy who played for the St. Louis Blues who sorta, kinda, almost committed murder... well it was indirect really... clearly a smooth dude, he unknowingly hired a cop instead of a real hitman in a murder-for-hire plot against his agent and former coach David Frost. Of course some didn't really see a problem with this whole plot thingy after Frost was convicted of 12 counts of sexual exploitation related to acts on three females and four males between the ages of 14 and 16. I mean this guy sounds like a real Graham James (see: Sheldon Kennedy and Theoron Fluery).

Anyways, clearly when you hire a cop to murder someone you pretty much end up in jail. In 2009 he was transferred to Canadian prison where he was granted parole in September.

However, somewhere along the lines Danton is all like... oops, I actually meant to kill my dad... not David Frost. Dude, seriously? I was actually feeling kind of bad for you after hearing all that creepy stuff about Frost. (CBC's Fifth Estate did a doc on the controlling relationship Frost had over Danton. And backs up my theory this guy is another Graham James and a parasite on society.)

Okay now that you have the background. Mike Danton has decided to enroll at Saint Mary's University in Halifax. He's also going to play hockey for the Saint Mary's Huskies varsity hockey team.

"I'm very proud of the fact that Saint Mary's is standing behind this situation in the light that we are," says Saint Mary's athletic director Steve Sarty.

"I'm happy to be involved in the situation and Saint Mary's being the progressive university that we pride ourself on, has taken a very humane stance on this."

That's great, maybe this kid (not really a kid... he's 29) needs a second chance. Clearly he's been surrounded by crazy people his entire life. And really it's not like he's planning on heading back to The Show... he can't travel to the United States. And he did take correspondence courses through Queens while in the slammer.

So maybe this is just a guy trying to get his life in order.

And I guess he better, hockey coach Trevor Steinburg said it's good for him to have a second chance... but it's also his last. So basically: Smarten the F&^%$ up and I guess I'll keep ya around if I have to.

Anyways, from what I can tell the guy is a natural at making friends, so he should be fine in his new surroundings.

For example, those in Moose Country out there, perhaps you were around for the 2000 Memorial Cup when Mr. Danton went by the name Mike Jefferson.

Remember when he strolled into Halifax, said he wanted to spear Ramzi Abid (then the CHL's second highest scorer, and a Mooseheads fan favourite) in the face.

Then went on to taunt the QMJHL by saying the CHL's leading scorer Brad Richards was basically a pussy and wouldn't last three days in the OHL.

Like, I hated Brad Richards back then. He played for the dirty ol' Rimouski Oceanic. Despite the geographical distance between Halifax and Rimouski, I would've considered them a bitter rival at the time. Annnnnd they had just swept Halifax out of the playoffs a few weeks earlier. But HEY we were hosting the Memorial Cup so we still got to go to the tea party.

Anyways, point being, despite my hatred for Rimouski and Richards, suddenly I found myself cheering for them when they weren't playing the Mooseheads.


Mike Jefferson/Danton.

Oh did I mention Richards won the tournament MVP, and Jefferson/Danton refused to shake his hand afterwards.

Have fun with THAT one SMU. I mean, you've always been known as the school who recruits for... shall we say brawn, not brain? I can only imagine how you plan to top this one.

Jennifer Casey was born and raised in Halifax. She loves all sports but tries to stick to writing about hockey for sanity purposes. You can follow her on twitter @jenncaseyhfx

Friday, January 8, 2010


Sorry about the long break here on the blog. It's been a busy month good and bad.

Let's just say I prorogued the blog.

So a lot has happened since the last post.

First of all the Olympic flame has just crossed the Ontario-Manitoba border. Wait... really? This really is taking forever. One thing I did notice is one of the torch bearers was tackled by a protestor and the newsmedia with Olympic rights (the CTVs and TSNs of the world) kind of pretended it didn't happen.

World Juniors.

There will be no second use for any time soon. The Canadian boys failed to win a sixth straight gold, losing in overtime to the Americans.

Should they have even been in overtime? Probably not.

Besides that totally awesome (sense the extreme sarcasm?) goal that Jake Allen let in, in the third period to make it 5-3... the team didn't really give him much help.

Now I cannot blame one kid. Jordan "the babyfaced assassin" Eberle came out with yet another last minute heroic (he scored with 5.4 seconds left last year in the final). Really the Oilers should just call this kid up now -- lord knows they need it.

But in all seriousness, I think the downfall of this team was a mix of format and coaching. Looking at the roster the Canadians are extremely talented. Did they play like a TEAM in the final? Sure... for about 4 minutes at the end of the game. How many times did the Canadians try to break into the US zone by skating it in, only to be foiled. More times than I care to count. In fact it's probably around the same number as the number of odd-man rushes the US players ended up with.

The Canadians never really had to play as a team to win. Their first three games were a dance, and sure they looked good. But who doesn't look good against Latvia.

Lets throw one more problem into the mix. This is the superstitious side coming out.

Coach for gold medal 1 and 2: Sutter
Coach for gold medal 3 and 4: Hartsburg
Coach for gold medal 5: Quinn

Quinn you threw off the time-space continuum of coaching. Clearly you are being of no help to the Edmonton Oilers. Perhaps coming back for your required second gold would've been the proper thing to do.

Ok enough.

The Olympic Team.

I love it.I was at work when the team was announced. There were some surprises and my colleagues balked at the idea that Patrice Bergeron was named to the team.

But in my mind you can't just take the top 12 scoring forwards, because that will get you nowhere when the other team is killing you in faceoffs and winning the battles.

Bergeron is a faceoff man, he's used in every situation in Boston, and he's not afraid to get into the corners. I can see him doing anything that the coaches ask. And I think he would work out well on a line with someone like Mike Richards.

Anyways, I like the balance of old and young. And the choice of Scott Niedermayer as captain is appropriate.

I like Canada's chances with these guys on the ice.