Monday, January 24, 2011

Les Berry steps down as Rainmen coach

The Halifax Rainmen will be introducing their new head coach Wednesday after current coach Les Berry decided to step down.

"I have been offered and have accepted a new position with Air Canada," says Berry. "And I'm really excited about it. I've also been able to continue with TBS Communications. I really felt that it would be completely tough to do all three."

Berry says he thought the move was in the best interest of his family. He adds that his contract with the Rainmen runs one year at a time, so he didn't want to jeopradize the stability he can have with his new position.

Berry a long-time coach with various levels says he won't be coaching basketball this year because of time constraints but doesn't rule out getting back behind the bench in the future.

He also says he likes Halifax's chances this season.

"I think Oklahoma and Halifax are the best two teams in the league and I think they're headed for a championship round that will be extremely competitive," says Berry.

He says the team has brought in a lot of good talent and it's just a matter of harnessing that talent.

Berry says the stability in the league is coming and says he's seeing a lot of good things.

"But here in Halifax is tough," says Berry. "There's only so many entertainment dollars each weekend, especially when the Mooseheads are playing at home the same weekend as us."

Rainmen owner Andre Levingston says they certainly have their eye on someone to take the helm but wouldn't spill the beans ahead of Wednesday morning's announcement.
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

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Something's gotta give.

I understand that the Halifax Mooseheads are a young team. I think the fans understand they're a young team.

The average age of the Mooseheads is 17.7 years old. That's pretty young. But it's hard... oh so hard... to keep hearing that excuse about the team when you look to our neighbours in New Brunswick.

The Saint John Sea Dogs average age is... 18.1

I kid you not.

The Saint John Sea Dogs with an average age that is 0.4 more than the so-called "young" Halifax Mooseheads are #1 in the country. They've been #1 in the country for several weeks now. They had four players play in the prospects game earlier this week. They had nine players on the NHL central scouting prospects list. They went to the QMJHL finals last year!

Yes I understand that the Mooseheads mortgaged their future in the Brad Marchand deal a few years back (don't get me started on that). General Manager Marcel Patenaude paid with his job... and the fans paid with watching a non-playoff team for two seasons striaght.

However -- is that really still the team's excuse? Really? As the boys on Monday Night Football say: "C'mon man!"

Find. a. way.

Is the team really better off since Bobby Smith unceremoniously removed Cam Russell from the head coaching duties and crowned himself Coach for Life?

That was a rhetorical question... but the answer is a big resounding: NO.

The players on this team are better then they're playing. I really can't blame them, though. They are young, which means they need excellent direction.
There was a lot of optimism in the Bobby Smith camp going into the Christmas break. The Mooseheads strung together three wins. Countem, three. Well plan the parade route.

In an interview during the Christmas break, Smith said we should expect to see a different team in the second half of the season.

Yah, it's different alright.

In the last seven games the Mooseheads have one point (which was for a shootout loss, by the way, and therefore I choose not to count it). The important stat in this case is they've been outscored 45 - 16.

I'm not kidding... 45-16. Shall I say it again?


I need a beer.

This is the same team that during the first half of the season were managing to lose at least some close games. Now they're getting blown out. To me that says the players are checked-out. They do not want to play for Smith.

And sources inside the locker room say they're disallusioned. Guys are frustrated with the coaching situation. And guys' confidence in their own play is waning because everyone around them has checked-out.

There are talented players on this team. In the recent World U-17 tournament, Luca Ciampini led Team Quebec in scoring. Andrew Ryan who was playing on 5th place Team Atlantic finished 5th in overall scoring.

Martin Frk has a boatload of talent. Terenzio can stop pucks if someone would just help him out.

Either Bobby Smith needs to remove himself from coaching and find an experienced and inspirational coach who knows how to deal with a young team (Shawn MacKenzie, you out there!?!) or there needs to be a coup d'├ętat.

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

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This All-Star soap opera is terrible... change the channel!

I have to say I'm a little surprised by the swirling mess surrounding Sidney Crosby's appearance at next weekend's All Star game in Carolina.

Crosby has been out since taking a sequence of hits to the head dating back to the January 1 Winter Classic. In that game he took a hit to the head from Dave Steckel near the end of the second period.
I was watching in real time and I absolutely thought Crosby was concussed. He looked confused and disoriented. However, he came back for the third period and then was in the lineup for the Penguins' next game against the Tampa Bay Lightening where he took another head shot -- this time a hit from behind by Victor Hedman.

The Penguins came out and said Crosby would be out for a week -- which was optimistic in my view. I would put good money on the fact that Crosby was injured in that first hit and the second hit ended up compounding the week was a BIG underestimation and I kind of doubt the Penguins ever believed he'd be back that soon.

So I had quite a laugh when I read David Shoalts' commentary on Crosby's situation in the Globe and Mail last night. Especially when I read the first paragraph:

"Even though Sidney Crosby is a shoo-in to be chosen Tuesday as one of the captains who will pick the teams for the NHL all-star game, do not be surprised if he declines to participate, even if he recovers from his concussion," Shoalts writes.

Shoo-in? I'm sorry Mr. Shoalts, but if the captains were picked in December -- certainly Crosby would be a shoo-in. However the NHL wasn't about to pick a captain who potentially might not play in the All-Star game. Let's not forget he has yet to be cleared to even practice. It's laughable to have thought on Monday that Crosby would be named captain.

This morning, Eric Staal and Niklas Lidstrom were named captains.

Shoalts then goes on to say that Crosby is 'angry' that the dishers of the head shots never faced any reparations from the league -- and because of that Crosby was going to refuse to play whether he was better or not.


I have a feeling that Mr. Shoalts has never had a concussion. Head injuries are tricky things. They can linger. You can feel fine one minute and the next minute you're not. One minute everything is clear as water -- the next you're putting milk in the oven. And stepping back into physical activity too fast can turn you into ... well... Eric Lindros.

I also have a feeling the concussion is a little more than a 'mild' one as Shoalts described it in his article. I have a feeling the Penguins haven't been fully forthright with the severity of the injury.

I fully agree there should've been a suspension for both of the hits. The Steckel hit was deemed an accident by the NHL -- But WHY were his elbows up? To me it doesn't matter if you MEANT to hit someone in the head. You still did. Treat it like a high-sticking penalty. Even though you may not have meant to hit someone in the face with your stick, you're still expected to have control of it. It should be the same for elbows.

But do you seriously believe Crosby will forgo the All-Star game in protest?
If Crosby plays against the Islanders on January 25, which is the last game before the All-Star game, then he'll play the All-Star game. If he is ready for that Islanders game he isn't about to sit out. He's too competitive (remember, he still leads the scoring race after being out for two weeks), and the Penguins' play hasn't exactly been stellar since Crosby's injury.
Enough with this foolishness, okay?

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, January 13, 2011

Way to kick a Wilson when he's down.

You've got to feel for Ron Wilson -- I mean seriously feel for the guy. Is there anyone that actually wants the job of being the coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs? Every day you come to work and about 300 reporters ask you why you haven't won a Stanley Cup. Nevermind the fact that stringing a few wins together is a near miracle.

It's a thankless job.

And so you'd think when the poor bugger had a bright spot... like... oh .... i don't know... getting his 600th win as a coach. The NHL would just let him have it.

If you haven't seen the story, the NHL has fined the Toronto Maple Leafs for a salary cap infraction after Wilson posted $600 on the dressing room bulletin board for whoever potted the winning goal.

The NHL is acting as if Ron Wilson stacked $6 million into a brief case and hung it from the front of the room. It was $600. For the NHL it's pocket change. This is a league where guys make millions a year and still get handed $91.56 a day for meals on the road.

If you think about it, if an NHL player really wanted $600, all he'd have to do was hoard his meal money for a week.

I like laughing at the Leafs just as much as the next non-Leafs fan, but does the NHL really have to make such a big deal out of absolutely nothing? Don't you have bigger problems, like, oh, i dunno... ridiculously low attendance in a quarter of your rinks?

It was Carl Gunnarsson that won the 600 smackeroos in case you were wondering.

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