Saturday, November 20, 2010

Patty Burns 1952-2010

It's a sad day in the hockey world. 

Pat Burns died at the age of 58 after a long battle with Cancer.

He was a man famous for his freak-outs. Seriously, I always thought he'd die right on the bench from a heart attack or a vein that would spectacularly pop in his neck.

But those freak-outs paid off, Pat Burns was intense and ruled his teams with an iron fist. And he was one hell of a coach. In just 14 years, Burns won three Jack Adams awards for the NHL's best coach.

After serving as a police officer in the Gatineau area, he started his coaching career in the QMJHL in 1984 with the Hull Olympiques. In his second season as coach he led the franchise to its most successful campaign where the Olympiques finished first in the league and then went on a spectacular 15-0 run in the playoffs to win the QMJHL title which earned them a Memorial Cup appearance.

"I think he paved the way for other coaches, coaches could see that coaching in the Quebec league you could move on and go to bigger and greater things," says Kim Houston with NHL Central Scouting.

The tributes poured in all over the hockey world, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper who took time while at a NATO summit in Lisbon to release a statement. 

"He was known for his tough and gritty approach to the game of hockey. He met his final and most difficult battle with that same tough and gritty spirit," said Harper. "Canada has lost a sports legend today, but Pat Burns' legacy will live on in the players and coaches whose careers he touched, as well as the young people who will skate in the Pat Burns Arena for years to come. He will not soon be forgotten."

Burns was a colourful character as well, often showing up to the arena on a motorcycle, and often seeming like a crusty, gruff man. But he also had a soft side. 

"Behind that gruff style that big growl you know it was a lovable guy," Hockey Night in Canada producer John Shannon told the Fan 590. "There was always a glint in his eye, a smile on his face and when you were one-on-one and you shared an adult beverage you had a great time and you knew he loved the game as much as you did."

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 or find her on her blog National Passtime

Friday, November 19, 2010

The trouble in Moose Country

Boy oh boy, am I getting old? Do I sound old if i say "remember the good old days in Moose Country"? 

They were heady days. The days of 7,000 average, yes average, attendance. When the team iced a team with talented players, or at least a roster who resonated with the team motto of "Pride, Heart, Determination". 

The days when The Sign Lady (the late Sue Moore) graced the seats mid-section across from the players benches with messages of inspiration on rolled up window blinds. When Lorna the dancing queen wasn't the only one dancing in the aisles. The days when there was a line snaking outside the Metro Centre and around the corner to get ahold of playoff tickets. 

The days when Jody Shelley was a fan favourite, when Jamie Brown was named all three stars, when Jean-Sebastien Giguere marched the Herd to within one game of the Memorial Cup. When the team hosted the Memorial Cup in 2000. When the Parade Square was packed for a rally before that event. When the team had stability in it's staff. (ie: They've gone through three goalie coaches in three years) 

This is the third season in a row where the team on the ice... well... they're just not very good (and that's me being nice). Who wants to drop their hard earned Loons on watching a team who's going to lose every game. And because of that it's party understandable why the air is out of the sails of Moose Country. 

But I think it started before that. Four seasons ago when the team sold the farm to get Brad Marchand and try to make a run for it all. Despite the team on the ice, the fans didn't really seem into it.

The franchise needs some renewal. And right now it doesn't help that the team owner, Bobby Smith, decided to demote Head Coach Cam Russell in favour of putting himself at the helm. Under Smith the team is 3 and 7, which is hardly something to inspire hope. In fact I hardly expect the team to do much better and I think Smith needs to find a new, QUALIFIED head coach to take the helm of the young team. 

The fans understand that the Q is an ebb and flow league where you will have that rebuilding year (usually one not three) at some point in a franchises history. But the fans are also frustrated with the team, especially when they look to the west and see franchises MUCH younger than the Mooseheads (Moncton, Saint John) who are annual contenders. In fact just this week, the NHL's QMJHL prospects rankings came out and seven Saint John Sew Dogs were in the top 25. That tells me they have their scouting ducks in a row. Do the Mooseheads have their scouting ducks in a row? I'm not so sure. To me it almost seems like the organization isn't very organized as of late.

I had said early in the season if Cam Russell didn't get a team that produced he'd be shown the door, I didn't think he'd be replaced by the owner. I think if the team keeps down this road for the next month, the fans (the ones who are left) will be asking for Smith to exit stage left as well.

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 or find her on her blog National Passtime

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Subban vs. Richards: Subban takes Round 1

A lot has been made about the trash talk coming from Mike Richards of the Flyers towards Montreal Canadiens rookie P.K. Subban.

Subban is "cocky", said the Flyers captain in a radio interview and added "he thinks he's better than a lot of people."

"You have to earn respect in this league. It takes a lot. You can't just come in here as a rookie and play like that. Hopefully someone on their team addresses it, because, uh, I'm not saying I'm going to do it, but something might happen to him if he continues to be that cocky."

What's funny is most of the coverage of this hasn't mentioned the fact that the KING of getting under the skin of opponents appears to be irked to the point where he needs to air his frustrations in public.

This is a player who basically went on a media strike last season, refusing to speak after photos and stories of the team partying ways was printed in the Phillie media. So the fact that he decided to say these comments in the public, proves PK is under his skin.

If he's such a forgettable rookie who has yet to earn respect, why waste your breath?

Is Subban really cocky? Or does he just know what to say to piss you off. Not to mention, Subban had an assist in that 3-0 win over the Flyers. A shutout would make me pretty sour, too.

If I were PK I wouldn't worry too much about "something happening" and take the fact that he irritated Richards to the point of trash-talking publicly as a compliment.

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 or find her on her blog National Passtime