Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Drouin doesn't report to Mooseheads camp

Players arrived to training camp Wednesday morning but one face was missing.

Jonathan Drouin, the Mooseheads 2nd overall pick in the entry draft this year, did not report.

“We recieved a call from his agent two days ago saying that they were having second thoughts,” says General Manager Cam Russell. “His father wanted him to stay back and finish his high school in Quebec and play another year of Midget.”

The decision came as a surprise to Russell. He says Drouin donned the Mooseheads jersey at the June draft and committed to team.

“It’s just in the last week or so,” says Russell. “I don’t know if its nerves or schooling but that is what we’re talking to the agent and the family about right now.”

Russell says at this point Drouin may still report adding he believes making the jump to junior hockey is the best possible way for him to develop.

“He was a high pick in the draft. We feel that he can obviously come in here and be an impact guy right now,” says Russell.

Drouin was fourth in Quebec midget AAA scoring last year with 35 goals and 57 assists for 92 points in 60 games.

The Mooseheads paid a price at the June draft to acquire Drouin, dealing their fourth and 40th overall picks, a third round pick in 2012 and 17-year-old defenseman Simon Desmarais to the Rouyn-Noranada Huskies.

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

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Intent, malice, really??

Under NHL rules if your stick makes contact with a player's facial area it's a high-sticking penalty. Regardless of if the player "meant" to do it. You must be in control of your stick at all times. (Imagine that.)

Will someone please tell me why this appears to be the only rule that takes this sort of "you must be aware of your actions regardless of intent"?

Certainly swinging your stick around is dangerous. There's always the danger of contact with eyes, but many times a player gets clipped and it's a few stitches or no injury at all. But it's an automatic penalty.

Somehow a player can be irresponsible with everything except the stick and give a player a concussion that can stick with you forever -- and -- it's all good?

Everyone knows it's not "all good" but that's the message the NHL sent today when it decided not to hand out any further disciplinary action against Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. 

I've seen a lot of comment about the hit on Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. If you're one of the few people who haven't watched TV or been on the internet in the last 24 hours here it is.

Chara had his head up. The puck was long gone. He was called for interference and booted from the game.

In Mike Murphy's statement about the hit, the excuse is that Chara didn't leave his feet and he didn't "target" Pacioretty's head. In my opinion he absolutely targetted the head. Maybe he didn't put his elbow directly into his head but he certainly pushed Pacioretty into the glass in a way that his head would inevitably make contact with a solid object. 

"Oh but he didn't MEAN to do it".

Give me a break. I don't care what you say, Chara saw that glass coming. Besides, I could care less if he meant to do it. There are murderers who stand before a judge and say they didn't "mean" to do it. Too bad buddy, you're still going to jail.Why can't the NHL treat it's players like that.

Max Pacioretty is undoubtedly out for the season with a "severe concussion" and several broken vertebrae. He's lucky he's not paralyzed. The Habs are now without a player who's been putting up excellent numbers for an AHL call-up. That's not justice.

Then there's the fact the NHL is without it's star. Sidney Crosby was on a tear. Perhaps a record-breaking tear. They were without him at the All-Boring-Game. And they may be without him for the playoffs. Because some guy on the Capitals didn't "mean" to get his elbow up and hit him in the head.

Enough with this 'intent' bullshit.

I can't understand how the NHL can continually let this slide. The dysfunction is mindboggling. Absolutely mindf$^$ingboggling.

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

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crosby vs. Ovechkin

Oh what a poor season for the NHL to make a big deal about Crosby vs. Ovechkin. 

HBO just spent a month following around the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, focusing on Crosby versus Ovechkin. It's the latest installment of HBO's "24/7" and it's titled Hard Knocks and the four-part series kicks off tonight. 

Then there's the appearance in the latest issue of Vanity Fair where the two are interviewed about the Winter Classic and the 'rivalry' between the two. There's also a video from the photo shoot where the two awkwardly shake hands and read a book, which can be found on


The NHL has sent the two "rivals" (and for whatever reason, Jeremy Roenick as well) to The Price is Right where they'll help showcase a trip to the Winter Classic. Throughout all the stories I'm seeing, they call Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby's 'nemisis'. 

And yet.... I'm not so sure Ovechkin is really a worthy nemesis to be honest. I would call Steven Stamkos a nemesis. Steven Stamkos tied Crosby for the Rocket Richard trophy and is at 44 points this season. Can I mention Steven Stamkos was born in 1990... 1990!!!!

I mean lets take a look at the comparison between Crosby and Ovechkin, not that 36 points on the season is chump change -- but he's not exactly on the furied pace that Crosby is. (Let's not mention the Olympic appearance - or lackthereof - of Ovechkin.)

Sidney Crosby 

Alexander Ovechkin

Crosby is on a point streak that spans 18 games, meanwhile by Ovechkin standards -- he's struggling.

How much more exciting would this "rivalry" be if it happened in a season where both players were playing at the top of their game? Don't get me wrong, I'm going to watch on New Year's Day. In just a few years the Winter Classic has become a tradition. However, it kinda seems like the NHL is forcing it just 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 or find her on her blog National Passtime

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

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cole Harbour team to kick of HNIC tonight

Tonight's matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens will feature some Nova Scotians besides Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

The Cole Harbour Atom AAA Wings will be introducing the first Saturday night game. Coach Brad MacLeod says it's been a whirlwind couple of weeks.

"Yah it's probably one of the most exciting things a lot of them have been through," he says. "It all happened at once, first they found out they made the team."

And then they taped their national television debut a few weeks back, which features them introducing the HNIC pre-game show as well as tee-ing up the big game.

"They're completely over the moon about it," says MacLeod, adding that the parents and himself are equally excited.

The team, made up of nine and 10-year-olds will be getting together tonight at Gamebreakers to watch themselves and the match on a big screen.

MacLeod says it's extra special because the team will be introducing a hometown hero.

"Everyone is pretty close to Sidney Crosby, he still has a lot of roots in the Cole Harbour area," he says. "I would say there's lots of kids on the teams who still have connections with him."

Hockey Night in Canada gets underway at 7:30 p.m. on CBC.

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

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

One Frk of a strange deal....

Yesterday morning a news release from the Halifax Mooseheads came across my desk. I figured it was just another couple of roster cuts. 

Not so, in fact it was a strangely vague resolution to a very big problem for the team. 
"Halifax Mooseheads GM/Head Coach Cam Russell announced today that the Club has secured the IIHF release of Martin Frk from HC Energie Karlovy Vary of the Czech Ice Hockey Association," said the release.

Wha, wha, whaaaa? 

As of Saturday Mooseheads owner Bobby Smith had said although negotiations were ongoing and there was very little movement from Frk's Czech team. Yet four days later he's set to lace 'em up for practice this morning. Which says to me Frk was already in Halifax when the team announced the big win.
In case you've missed the beginning of this saga. The Mooseheads drafted Martin Frk third overall in the CHL Import Draft. He is touted as a possible 1st overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, however, Frk's stock in the Import Draft decreased because he had a professional contract with Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic and his team said they weren't letting him go.

The two teams appealed to the IIHF and last week, hockey's governing body on disputes between international leagues, ruled in Karlovy Vary's favour. 

Team owner Bobby Smith said the dispute "wasn't over yet" and said the team would be appealing through lawyers. Frk signed the long-term contract, that would see him owned by Karlovy Vary until 2013, and team lawyers were expected to argue that 16-year-old Frk was too young to be held to such a contract. 

Also working in the team's favour was that Frk himself said he wanted to play in Halifax. However, there hasn't been any subsequent rulings from the IIHF.

So, how in the Frk did the team get his release secured ? The first thing I thought when I saw the release was "who's first-born was sent to the Czech Republic?" Has anyone seen Bobby Smith's kid lately?

Regardless of how it was done, however, this is huge news for the team.

"It's a great boost for our team offensively, it's a big thrill for our fans," said Coach Cam Russell.

Russell, who has never seen Frk play, says it's likely he'll play on the top line. However fans will have to wait to see the much-anticipated Czech play, Russell says he won't be in the lineup until the first regular season game September 10. 

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, May 25, 2010

World Championships schmampionships.

Did anyone else not give two flying who-haws about the IIHF World Hockey Championships this year?

I mean, really, It's not something I make an effort to make sure I'm in front of the television for in any year. It was fun when it was in Halifax, but when Canada lost, well, I wasn't heartbroken. The tournament is just not something I can get into. I can't be alone here. It's sort of this odd collection of semi-good players whose teams didn't make the playoffs. Also, I'd rather watch the playoffs. The World Championships is kind of like the Spengler Cup at World Junior time. It's sorta just there in the background.

I'm especially blah about the tournament in an Olympic year. It's too soon. The women don't play a world championship in Olympic years. Why do the men? It just seems bizarre.

Who was Canada's goaltender this year anyway? (No seriously, I'm asking.) Google tells me: Chris Mason. Good lord. 

So you see where I'm going with this. This isn't the collection of the best players in the world. There are definitely some of the best players. But it just can't compare to the Olympics or the World Juniors, where it's the best players facing the best players - and there's no doubt over who the true champions are.

This is why I was truly baffled by the IIHF scolding players who don't answer the call to play at the World Championships. 

"Why is a 22-year-old Sidney Crosby tired when a 34-year-old Ryan Smyth is answering the bell for his country despite having represented Canada at the Worlds already on eight occasions?" wrote Szymon Szemberg, the IIHF's director of communications in an article titled 'Saying no to your country'.

Okay. Let's keep going. 

"Players who say no to representing their country at the World Championship without a legitimate reason turn their backs not only on the team and its fans but also to the system which developed them and made them rich and famous," wrote Szemberg. "They should pay back, but they don't."

Pay back eh. And they owe the IIHF what? These players thrilled the world at the Olympics just months ago. Boo hoo your tournament isn't very good. Don't take it out on your players.

**ring ring**

"Oh hey, IIHF President Rene Fasel? Yah. Gary Bettman here. Whatsup. Listen. Bud. I just wanted to point out that our players' contracts don't end until June 30. Yup that's right they're still under NHL contract until June 30. We could tell them they can't play in the tournament. Just saying."

I'm a fan. I don't feel unpaid because Sidney Crosby wants some time off. As a fan I would rather him rest up, and stay healthy so I can see him for 82 games next NHL season with a long playoffs.

Besides, the kid scored the golden goal.

Championships schmampionships.

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, May 13, 2010

Biggest Playoff Surprises.

 1. Montreal Canadiens 

 Montreal Gazette

As a Habs fan you always hope. So, in round 1 it was: "Hey they beat Washington in the regular season".... "The Habs play to their opponents level... "If they had've gotten it together against the Leafs and Hurricanes they'd be much higher than the 8th seed" 

Then they did it. They shut down Ovie. They came back from a 3-1 series deficit. They won Game 7. On the road. Luck? Who cares. 

Next opponent. Penguins. 

Okay we're doomed. 

So this is where the real surprise is. After Sidney Crosby absolutely dismantled the Ottawa Senators and left Jason Spezza destined to be on a highlight reel forever sadly chasing Crosby around the net before he passes it off to Letang for a goal.... the Habs (mainly Sidney Crosby's new backpack Hal Gill) held the kid to just 1 goal.

And so the Habs, who must hold the most exciting 8-6 record ever are off to round 3.

2. To find out that other people are annoyed by that little girl in the East Side Mario's ad. 

Every year, for anyone who watches playoffs night in and night out, there's that one commercial that just grinds your gears. It's on at least 8 times during every game. In years previous I can think of the Pizza Delight - Grill your own bread commercial with that annoying little kid telling his dad how to put butter on bread. (And I know several people just groaned and thought 'why did you remind me')

But i was surprised to know that my disdain for the East Side Marios commercial and my particular disdain for the uncoordinated little girl who is dancing poorly is shared. 

Several of my friends share the hate for the little dancing girl and can mimic the uncoordinated jig to a tee. I've also come across several online forums bitching about the ad. Too funny. 

3. San Jose 

Seriously, these guys finish first (or very high in the standings) every year. Every year some poor sap is sitting at his hockey pool draft and says "this is the year for San Jose"... and then they lose in the first round. 

So, yes, I am surprised to see that they are off to the conference championships. I still don't have a lot of confidence in them. But who knows, maybe they'll surprise a little further.

4. Boston

This story is just crazy. Boston couldn't score a goal to save their life down the stretch. Their team to be falling apart at the seams. They were injured. They were a far cry from the Boston Bruins who finished first in the Eastern Conference last season. They just squeaked into the playoffs. 

Then the playoffs started. 

And they turned it on. They had a 3-0 lead on Phillie and they've squandered it so the surprise may be over soon. But it's still a surprise that they were able to pick off the #2 seed. 

5. Phoenix

Oh wait, this isn't a surprise. Even though they make the playoffs they still can't get fans in the seats. The saga continues.

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, April 20, 2010

Does it really bother you that much?

Why has road hockey suddenly become a national debate?

Last week, some nutter in Enfield called in the big bad RCMP on a bunch of 12-year-olds playing road hockey. Apparently people have nothing better to do then scoff at children out their window.

Great -- let's encourage kids to stay inside and play computer games, become overweight, and wait until their health care bills become a burden on society until we complain that kids don't exercise enough.

Sound dumb to you?

Or perhaps you'd prefer them to use their free time to be spray painting grafitti on your fence.

Enfield resident Debbie Jefferies says her 12-year-old son Ryan and his friends had been out playing road hockey any chance they got.

But a neighbour called police and under the Motor Vehicle Act in Nova Scotia the games now have to stop. The kids were given the option to play at a dead end street, but the 10 minute strut would be difficult to haul all the gear to.

Jeffries says she doesn't know who complained, but says it's the first she's heard of the road hockey being a problem - and she wishes that person had come to her first.

Jeffries told the Chronicle Herald the ban on shinny games broke her heart.

Nova Scotia's transportation minister Bill Estabrooks called the complaint "frivolous" and says the RCMP have better things to worry about. Oh I don't know... maybe like all the recent SHOOTINGS in the city.
Many Canadian municipalities have by-laws banning street hockey, however they're rarely enforced.

But if you think the Halifax case is new, think again. One Montreal father is fighting a case in court. He says street hockey is part of Canadian culture.

During some of the fabulous weather we got in March, 42-year-old David Sasson was playing ball hockey with a group of neighbourhood kids that included his own children in the Montreal suburb of Dollard-des-Ormeaux. A neighbour called in the coppers.

Sasson told the Globe and Mail responding officers watched the game for 45 minutes and called the complaining woman twice to try to convince her to drop the matter. Apparently the complainer was tired of the noise -- so Sasson ended up with a $75 ticket. 

Again, the neighbour never bothered to complain directly.

“We live in Canada, we have the right to play hockey,” Sasson told the Globe and Mail.

Sasson even staged a protest game in the City Hall parking lot and local police and bylaw officers JOINED IN. What does that tell you?

The Wayne Gretzkys and Sidney Crosbys are born in street hockey games. Let's not let a few old bitties ruin a national pastime.

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