Friday, February 26, 2010

When a beer is just a beer.

Everyone needs to relax. Actually I think everyone needs a beer. Chill out, guys. I'm serious.

So the gold medal champions in Olympic women's hockey had a beer. WOOPdeEFFINdo.

One of the last things I saw before I went to bed last night was a twitter post from Greg Wyshynski, the editor of Puck Daddy hockey blog. "Marie-Philip Poulin, with Olympic gold and a Molson. Canadian bliss" (Accompanying the tweet was the the photo you see at the top of this blog post). 

I had a laugh and thought, 'well deserved, ladies'.

That tweet was followed up by "Hope all this 'Marie-Philip Poulin is underage!!!' stuff is in good fun. Otherwise, our world's been taken over by Debby Downers & Killjoys" 

I didn't think much would come of the underage stuff, but then reports that "Gilbert Felli, the IOC's executive director of the Olympic Games, said he wasn't aware of the celebration until informed by a reporter with The Associated Press"

Who is this douchebag reporter from AP who felt it necessary to be the Debby Downer? Haven't you given a glass of wine or champagne to your teenager at special events? She won a freaking gold medal... she scored the only two goals in the game. Let her have a freaking beer. I mean it wasn't even good beer. It was a Molson. 

But instead the IOC has to be all fatherly.

"If that's the case, that is not good," said Felli about the celebration. "It is not what we want to see. I don't think it's a good promotion of sport values. If they celebrate in the changing room, that's one thing, but not in public."

Hmm... okay.

What's the difference between what the girls did, and skeleton gold medalist Jon Montgomery chugging a pitcher of beer in front of a big crowd in Whistler on national television? I believe an open-liqour-in-public fine in Vancouver runs around $230. Beer chugging... sport values... right. But none of us cared, we all thought it was awesome and fun. Why? What's the difference? Why are people outraged about what the women did?

Is IOC members flying first class around the world, being wined dined and bribed a good promotion of sports values? Just sayin'.

Here's another one to chew on.

What's the difference between the girls having a beer on the ice after everyone's left. And the fans getting absolutely trashed in the stands? Did I mention that all the fans were gone?


 Ironically this is a photo by the Associated Press.

Consistantly media are allowed in the dressing room after a big win. Stanley Cup, Super Bowl, World Series... shall I go on? When have you not seen shots of players popping champagne. What's the difference there?

These athletes are people. People drink. To say that because they are athletes means they should not drink is ludicrous.

This 'controversy' if you can call it that... is ridiculous! They had a beer. End of story.

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

Monday, February 22, 2010

Walking the line.

Halifax Mooseheads 17-year-old defenseman Garrett Clarke plays on the edge. He's gritty, he hits, he digs hard and he's a pit bull around his own net. Generally, a real annoyance to play against.

The only problem — he consistently teeters over the edge.

As effective as his in-your-face style can be at drawing penalties and creating some jump for his team, he  also takes unnecessary and untimely penalties himself. The last thing a not-so-talented team needs... is penalty kills (see: Toronto Maple Leafs).

This means Clarke has found himself in the Cam Russell dog house a few times this season.

"I'll admit I've got stupid penalties this year," said Clarke while sitting out as a scratch on the team's Rimouski roadtrip a few weeks ago.

"Cam's not really disappointed in the way I'm playing, it's just those stupid penalties. I'm hearing it from him and my agent."

There's a couple recent examples that come to mind. February 5 game against the Saint John Sea Dogs. The basement Halifax Mooseheads are leading the nation-leading Saint John Sea Dogs by a goal in the third period.

Garrett Clarke takes a penalty with 1:47 to go, opening the door for a Michael Kirkpatrick goal with 42 seconds left.

You could argue the Sea Dogs would've scored anyway, with all their skill and firepower, but trying to kill off one of the more deadly powerplays can't help your chances at holding onto a lead. And once Kirkpatrick tied it up, you knew the Moose really had no chance at winning.

The next game he found himself riding the pine in the third period in a win over Cape Breton and the game after that he was watching from the press box.

Fast forward to February 19, the Mooseheads are holding on to a 4-4 tie after blowing a 3-0 lead on the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

Garrett Clarke takes a kneeing penalty in the offensive zone at the 12:13 mark. Not that a kneeing penalty is ever necessary, but a kneeing penalty in the offensive zone in a tie game is even less so. I'm sure the veins in coach Cam Russell's neck were about to burst. Of course you can guess how the story went, the Screaming Eagles scored on the ensuing five minute powerplay and win the game.

To make matters worse, the five-minute kneeing major and game misconduct came with an automatic one-game suspension — at a time when the Mooseheads were already smarting with several injuries. Pascal Amyot out with an injury, seeing his team short-manned tried to come back prematurely and potentially made his injury worse.

"I know what I gotta do, I just got to keep playing the way I'm playing. Play gritty stay below that fine line. I just got to go out there and stay cool," says Clarke.

"It's tough for me, you get in the heat of the moment you're just trying to play hard and gritty and when I make those stupid penalties I know it hurts the team and it hurts me to see the team hurt like that."

Now forget incidents like the above and remember the Garrett Clarke who has scored some timely goals, drawn some timely penalties, and given his team that spark with a big open-ice hit. That's the Garrett Clarke the Halifax Mooseheads need, and Garrett Clarke knows that's the Garrett Clarke the team needs. And that's the Garrett Clarke I hope shows up for training camp in August. 

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

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A mercy rule is not the answer.

Every Olympics we have this discussion.

And every year people miss the mark.

I'm talking about women's hockey. Specifically when a powerhouse like Canada plays a hapless Slovakia and thumps them 18-0.

At the daily IOC-VANOC briefing, officials were asked if there should be a mercy rule in women's hockey.

"Clearly if you're on the losing side of a hiding, it's never much fun. But I'm sure they had a great experience and I'm sure they're thankful to be Olympians," said IOC director of communications Mark Adams.

"You know these things happen in all sports, at all levels. They're a good team but clearly yesterday Canada were the better team by a long way."

Then there was 2006.

Canada handed the host Italians a 16-0 beating in the opening game of the Turin Olympics.

"I'm upset that Canada has been running up the score, especially against the host nation," said Team USA defenseman Angela Ruggiero.

"There was no need for that. They're trying to pad their stats... Canada is running up the score for whatever reasons -- personal, short-term."

People are missing the boat here. It's not about padding stats. I don't think Haley Wickenheiser, the most prolific scorer in women's hockey, needs to pad her stats.

It's also not about mercy. I'm sure Canada would like to let up after they were certain their lead was sufficient.

But here's the problem. In international hockey, if there's two identical records in the standings, the tie-breakers are done by goal-differential.

So if Canada and USA both go undefeated through the tournament, and meet in the final. The home ice advantage is awarded to the team with the most goals scored.

That doesn't exactly breed mercy. In international play you can't control what other teams will do, so you don't want to leave anything to chance.

And this is nothing new, take the 2010 World Juniors. Latvia lost 16-0 to Canada and 12-1 to the USA.

There doesn't need to be a mercy rule -- using goals-scored as the tie breaker needs to be removed. There would still be blowouts, but I'm sure the scores would lower a bit.

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, February 12, 2010

Bizarre press release from the Green Party

So this press release just showed up saying Georges Laraques will be making an announcement Saturday at an event in Montreal.

The only thing I can think is he's announcing his foray into politics. Stay tuned.

Georges Laraque to make an announcement in Montreal

MONTRÉAL – Montréal hockey player Georges Laraque, actively involved with a number of social and humanitarian causes, is inviting the media to a screening of TERRIENS, the French version of EARTHLINGS. Mr. Laraque, who is hosting the event alongside many prominent guests, will make an announcement.

Georges Laraque:

What: Screening of TERRIENS, the French version of EARTHLINGS narrated by Georges Laraque

When: Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 1:30 p.m.

Where: HEC Montréal, IBM Amphitheatre, 3000 Côte-Sainte-Catherine Rd., Montréal, QC, H3T 2A7; Université de Montréal metro station.

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, February 10, 2010

Mooseheads battle back for win over PEI Rocket

The Halifax Mooseheads pulled out an exciting 5-4 shootout win over the PEI Rocket Wednesday night.

"It's nice to win a shootout, we've been in them before and struggled at times," said assistant coach Jason Troini.

The Moose were outshot 35-22, however they still managed to win with the help of goaltender Peter Delmas.

The Mooseheads pulled ahead on a pair of goals early in the second, and it appeared they might run away with the game.

However PEI's Jordan Escott decided the game wasn't over yet when he scored two goals just seconds apart to tie the game at three.

In the third PEI's Benjamin Casavant notched his 27th of the season and pulled the PEI Rocket ahead for the first lead of the night.

It wasn't until 3:20 left in the game that Mooseheads captain Tomas Knotek tied the game at four, sending the game to overtime. Knotek had four goals during the team's five-game homestand.

"Tomas has obviously struggled when he came back from the World Juniors, he's shooting the puck now, and he's more aggressive with the puck," says Troini.

Gabe Desjardins was the only shootout scorer as both goaltenders shut the door on the first three shooters.

"He's been finding his touch," says Troini about Desjardins.

"He's a big factor, when he plays well we win, and it was nice to see him put up on that top line."

The Mooseheads now head out on the road, they play the Rimouski Oceanic Saturday, with a 5pm AST start.

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

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

QMJHL ponders what to do with Scandella

After handing out a season-long + playoffs suspension to Patrice Cormier for an elbow to the head that left the Quebec Rempart's Mikael Tam convulsing on the ice, the QMJHL has a ponderous situation on their hands.

Val-d'Or defenceman Marco Scandella, who also played with Cormier on Team Canada at the World Juniors, finds himself in a very similar situation:


Thursday the QMJHL handed an indefinite suspension while they figure out what to do with Scandella.

A few week ago, the QMJHL did the same thing and a week later suspended Patrice Cormier for the rest of the season. The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies said they plan on appealing the "excessive decision", and said that should the Huskies go all the way, the suspension has the potential to be 48 games.

To me, 48 games is not enough.

And here's where the QMJHL needs to step in. Sure Alexandre Durette walked away from this one. He has some really gross stitches on his mouth, but he walked away. He wasn't left on the ice convulsing, he wasn't taken out on a stretcher, and he didn't end up in the hospital with brain injuries.

But his visor did shatter into pieces.

He was lucky.

And this is where the QMJHL has to step in and push the common complaint out the door, that big suspensions only happens when someone is seriously hurt.

There doesn't seem to be near the outrage about the Scandella hit as there was about the Cormier hit. And yet it's equally disgusting. It's equally as dangerous. And if it shattered his visor and sent his stick flying about 30 feet in the air, then it probably could've/should've shattered a few facial bones.

There was no penalty on the call, despite there are several infractions that could've been called. Charging and elbowing would've been a good start. The kid was definitely bleeding, isn't that an extra two?

How many kids have to have luck on their side before a hit-to-the-head is an automatic suspension and a fine to the team.

That's what the QMJHL should do. Unfortunately Scandella needs to sit out the rest of the season. And grassroots hockey needs to start teaching a little respect on the ice.

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