Hockey Headlines

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Hockey Show - Episode 129

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, returns tonight with another guest that you'll probably want to meet. We were lucky enough to have Sean Pronger on the show to talk a little about his life as a journeyman, and tonight will feature another guy who had a long career in hockey, both on the ice and off it, and has written a book about it. We almost had him on for the Christmas Day show, but scheduling conflicts prevented that. More specifically, I'm kind of glad it didn't work out because he was with his family.

If you read the entry for Teebz's Book Club yesterday, you already know that I'm a fan of Terry Ryan's book. Tonight on the show, we welcome the man, the myth, the legend in Mr. Terry Ryan to discuss his book, his time in hockey, what he's doing now, and much more. Be ready for a few laughs as we break down just who the toughest guy he fought was, get his thoughts on a number of teams he played for and some of the cities he played in, and we'll talk about some current NHL and AHL stuff on which Terry will have some insight. I'm excited to have Terry on the show for the full hour, so join us at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 UMFM!

It should also be noted that there is major announcement that I happy to report here on HBIC. I had written an article about Jared Keeso's YouTube series called Letterkenny Problems that was linked back to from Huffington Post. Needless to say, I got a ton of hits from that link, but the real talent was on the videos where Jared and Nathan Dales posed as two country bumpkins from Letterkenny, Ontario who talk about the problems in their little town. If you've been a long-time listener to The Hockey Show, you know that Jared had been working on developing the web series into an actual TV series for some time.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce that, after winning the Shaw Media Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role at the 2015 Canadian Screen Actors Awards, Jared Keeso and Nathan Dales had Letterkenny Problems green-lighted by CraveTV to become a series! How cool is that?!? Congratulations, Jared and Nathan!

The phones will be closed tonight, but the show, as always, will be live on 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! You can tweet me anytime you like by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show. Terry Ryan and his tales of a "first-round nothing" are on the show tonight! Don't miss it!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

TBC: Tales Of A First-Round Nothing

Judging a player's career is always a subjective topic. Those who play for a long time and amass a pile of points are generally viewed as stars while those who have a cup of coffee in the NHL are generally considered journeymen. Those who come in with hype from being a first-round pick but flame out with little to show for it are generally considered busts. But is that fair if he has a long and storied career not playing in the NHL? With that in mind, Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Tales of a First-Round Nothing, written by Terry Ryan and published by ECW Press. Terry's book is funny, intellectual, and he tells a helluva story. In saying that, there's a great message in Tales of a First-Round Nothing about living one's life to the fullest.

From the ECW website, "Terry Ryan played professional hockey for nearly a decade, and now plays in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League. He currently works as a production assistant on the hit CBC show Republic of Doyle and lives in Portugal Cove, Newfoundland, with his wife and their two children." I should also throw in that he has won a two ball hockey world championships as a member of Team Canada's entries while also picking up a silver medal and a bronze medal. Terry has also won a silver medal in the Allan Cup tournament. In short, he has had a long and storied career both on and off the ice with hockey, and is enjoying life as a family man!

Tales of a First-Round Nothing at a glance is the story of Terry Ryan being drafted eighth-overall in 1995 by the storied Montreal Canadiens, his childhood team, and playing a grand total of eight games for them. Most would label that pick as a bust, but Terry's stories show so much more than just the black-and-white numbers of stats and games played as he became a journeyman after a few unfortunate breaks. But, as the saying goes, "Success is a journey, not a destination."

Terry talks a lot about his time in junior hockey with the Tri-City Americans and the Red Deer Rebels early on, and it sounds like he really enjoyed his time in the WHL. You might be asking how a kid from Newfoundland got to play in the WHL? Well, he moved to BC and suited up for the Quesnel Millionaires as a 14 and 15 year-old in order for the Americans to draft him! Terry has some funny stories from being a lanky 14 year-old kid playing against older guys in Quesnel, and continues with some outrageous stories from his junior days.

He was drafted by the Canadiens, but he played in Fredericton for the AHL Canadiens to start his professional career where he became good friends with Arron Asham. There were a lot of friendships forged on that team, but Asham has remained a close friend and wrote one of the forewords for Tales of a First-Round Nothing! There were also a few guys that Terry met that he wasn't so fond of, and the names might surprise you. I'm not going to reveal who they are - buy the book! - but I was surprised when Terry spoke about their actions towards Terry.

If there's one thing that Terry alludes to throughout Tales of a First-Round Nothing, it's how important team success is to him. He didn't care about winning scoring titles or amassing individual trophies as much as he cared about winning the big prize. Case in point? He was out of shape when he joined Team Canada for the 2012 World Ball Hockey Championship.
When I got to Sierre, Switzerland, for the worlds, I knew I wouldn't play much, so I did what I could to help the team off the floor. I played on the fourth line with Ray Callari and Dennis Bettencourt - two beauties who played their roles well. I filled water bottles, took charge of music in the room, and made sure the boys were always in good spirits. I was a rookie again, and humbled to even be part the team.
That's the kind of message you get throughout Tales of a First-Round Nothing as it seems that Terry never forgot how important the team aspect is. In almost every story, it is Terry Ryan who is doing something crazy to lighten the mood of the team or relieve some tension. Terry never sought glory or fame which seemed to serve him well in making friends and providing him with opportunities.

Tales of a First-Round Nothing is a fantastic book with a lot of funny stories. If you've been part of a team, you'll feel like you're listening to one of the guys tell stories again as it's written in a stream-of-consciousness style from Terry's point of view. Terry has written a great autobiographical account of his life up to this point, and I thoroughly enjoyed Tales of a First-Round Nothing. Because of this, there is no doubt that Tales of a First-Round Nothing deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Tales of a First-Round Nothing is in bookstores now, and I'm pretty certain you can find it at your local library. If nothing else, head over to the ECW Press website an pick yourself up a physical or electronic copy of Tales of a First-Round Nothing!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Show 'Em How It's Done, Coach!

As much as some wouldn't like to believe it, goaltending coaches play a large part in a team's success in hockey. They're the guys trying to help the last line of defence - the goalies - in helping them minimize weaknesses while maximizing strengths. Like any good coach, they have intimate knowledge of how to play the position and are often former NHL goalies themselves. Some goalie coaches have revitalized careers while others have turned average goalies into stars. Robb Tallas, seen to the left, is the goaltending coach for the Florida Panthers, and he was asked to help Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya in order for the Panthers to have a shot at the playoffs this season. However, I'm pretty sure he never thought he'd be asked to stop pucks in helping the Panthers on their quest for a playoff spot!

Tonight, though, we got to see the emergency goaltender pressed into duty. Well, close to being pressed into duty. Roberto Luongo started the game, and he decided to remove himself from the game as a precautionary measure after taking a high shot in the neck/shoulder area from Toronto's Leo Komarov. That, of course, meant that Al Montoya took over for Luongo. Montoya held his own in the second period, but injured his groin severely enough early in the third period that he also had to come out of the game. If you're counting the number of goalies injured for the Panthers, that's two. And that's all you're allowed to dress in the NHL for any game.

So how did the Panthers solve their goaltending woes? No, they didn't play with six skaters and an open net. Instead, this graphic tells the story, and you should note the two guys on the right. Derek MacKenzie, a forward, left the bench and was going to strap on the pads. Scottie Upshall joined him as the team frantically searched for anyone with puck-stopping abilities. Robb Tallas was thrust into action as the only true goalie left in the dressing room after Luongo and Montoya left with injuries!

With the game stopped, Montoya decided that he couldn't put the team in dire straits with a playoff spot on the line, so he returned to the ice. Visibly, you could tell he was laboring as he went back to the blue paint. That's when Tallas came down to the rink wearing full goalie garb in jersey #31!

For his appearance, Tallas signed a contract that paid him $500 in order to fulfill the emergency goaltender rules set out by the NHL. Tallas was ready to head back into the nets for the first time since 2005 and into an NHL net for the first time since 2001! The only problem? Luongo heard what was happening while he was at the hospital having his shoulder checked out, and he made his way back to BT&T Center to play the remaining 9:08 of the third period after relieving the injured-but-playing Montoya.

Robb Tallas? He got to sit as the back-up goaltender in his #31 jersey for the remainder of the game.

You might think this whole sequence of events is pretty crazy, but Robb Tallas has actually done this before! We go back to March 3, 2013 - cue the Twilight Zone music - when Robb Tallas took to the ice once more for the Panthers after a goaltending snafu. Jose Theodore had injured his groin against Carolina, and the Panthers called up Jacob Markstrom from San Antonio. Markstrom arrived, but his equipment didn't as United Airlines misplaced his bags. The Panthers needed a goalie, and they turned to goaltending coach Tallas.
Tallas wore an old Luongo #1 jersey with his name on the back as the back-up netminder in 2013 as Scott Clemmensen started the game. Markstrom's equipment would arrive midway through the first period, but rosters had been set so Tallas finished the game. He didn't appear, but he got to wear the uniform!

After the game, Tallas tweeted out a pretty funny comment.
In the end, Tallas' suiting up had no effect on the game as the injured Montoya gave up all three goals in a 3-2 loss to the Leafs. It's probably pretty comforting to the Panthers to know that they have a guy who can fill in if things go off the rails in the crease again. In saying that, I'm not sure that the 41 year-old Tallas wants a starting NHL job at this point in his career.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Trade Dud-Line!

I kept an eye on Twitter. I had the TSN TradeCentre page open. I checked in with Sportsnet when I could. However, when all was said and done today, the rich got a little richer and the tankers got a little tankier. I had no interest in keeping up with who went where today because all of the intriguing trades went down last week. The asking prices on some of the bigger names left on the market - Phaneuf, Kessel, Lecavalier - make no sense whatsoever, and I'm kind of happy to see teams not give in to stupidity.

Of all the teams to do something today, I happen to like what Anaheim did. Korbinian Holzer won't see the ice much with Anaheim's top-six defencemen logging minutes, but he's an excellent option in case of injury and definitely an upgrade over the aging Eric Brewer. Adding Simon Despres won't put the Ducks over the top either, but he's a young, puck-moving defenceman who can step in next season nicely if some of the rentals this season part ways. While Lovejoy brought a little grit to the blue line, Despres is the better overall defenceman.

However, the big addition was James Wisniewski from Columbus, and he'll be added to an already-dangerous power-play unit. Wisniewski has one of the better shots in the league, and it was apparent that they needed someone to replace the injured Sami Vatanen as he'll spend the next few weeks on the sidelines. Vatanen leads the team in power-play points with 17 and has seven goals with the man-advantage. Wisniewski comes to the Ducks with 14 power-play points on the season and seven power-play goals. He'll most likely take Vatanen's spot on the power-play until the Finn returns. With his return, the Ducks could have two solid power-play units to take them into the playoffs where special teams are always important.

I think the Rangers and Lightning overpaid for players that will help in the short-term, but won't make them any better for an extended period of time. Both teams acquired defencemen who will help in this year's playoff push, but they gave up a lot to get them. In fact, they gave up too much when it comes to both players.

Keith Yandle is decent, but Anthony Duclair, a first-round pick and a second-round pick in 2015 is idiotic when the draft is as deep as it appears. Glen Sather overpaid in a ridiculous way. Sending Duclair to Arizona, where they are stockpiling young talent, means he essentially traded a kid who looked like he was going to make the Rangers' roster next season and two excellent picks away in an effort to make a push for a Stanley Cup this year. Mortgaging the future for the sake of now is one of the things I've never understood in hockey, and it's probably why I'll never be a GM. Duclair, a second-round pick, and John Moore? Acceptable. Adding the first-rounder? Ludicrous.

Steve Yzerman, who I've always considered to be a shrewd GM, lost his marbles when it came to adding some grit to the lineup. The Lightning traded for Braydon Coburn, sending the Flyers injured defenceman Radko Gudas and first-round and third-round picks in this year's draft. They did pick up a second-round pick in both 2015 and 2016 from Boston for Brett Connolly, but they gave up a shot at acquiring another great young player with that first-round pick. The Lightning, who have been building with youth over the last couple of years, were one of those teams that guarded their first-round picks closely so they could add to their talent pool. This year, though, it seems that the Lightning are all-in with Coburn despite the value of that first-round pick.

TSN featured llamas, an offensive tweet about Joffrey Lupul, a dozen analysts and personalities, and a one-man band who, for the most part, added no value to the show. Sportsnet did their thing where they have about six different locations with analysts and personalities taking about all sorts of analytic numbers and intangibles and which teams need what kind of player. At the end of the day, I'm not sure if it was good TV, but I knew one thing when all the dust finally settled.

I didn't care.

If the networks are smart, they'll look at the trades that go down before the deadline day and adjust their broadcasting accordingly. This race to report a trade happening first is beyond ridiculous at this point. TSN was posting trades with incorrect info, player names that changed sides more than once, and had TBD on their website more than any site should. However, that's sensationalism TV in this era.

I'm done with Trade Deadline Day. Let's get to the stretch drives to see if Florida makes it in, if Los Angeles, Calgary, and San Jose can sort out who wants to get in, and if Winnipeg and Minnesota can sort out who wants to play Nashville or Anaheim first. Honestly, let's get back to hockey because this dud of a deadline wasn't worth the build-up or the hype.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Thunderbirds Grounded

The image to the left is one style of thunderbird depicted in traditional First Nations art. The thunderbird has a deep connection to the First Nations communities on the west coast, and is typically seen in their artwork and totems as a sacred icon. Unfortunately, none of this sacredness played a part in the University of Manitoba women's hockey team's success over the UBC Thunderbirds at Father David Bauer Arena this weekend as the Bisons will advance to the Canada West Women's Hockey Final with a 2-1 series win! The series was exciting, and it was capped off by an incredible Game Three which took place tonight in Vancouver. If you aren't a fan of women's hockey, you may have missed out one of this year's best hockey games.

UBC took Game by a 2-1 score in a game that had all the makings of a playoff game between heated rivals - tight checking, solid goaltending, a late rally, and a lot of penalties. Former Team Canada goaltender Danielle Dubé recorded the win for the Thunderbirds, and they had the edge in the best-of-three series early. However, Manitoba rallied in Game Two with a thrilling double-overtime goal from Alexandra Anderson to give Manitoba the 2-1 victory. Again, there was no love lost on these two teams as they had totaled 26 minor penalties in the two games to that point with 16 of them occurring in Game Two. The rubber match would determine who would advance to the final to play the University of Alberta Pandas, and that's where we pick up this story.

These two teams continued their physical play as Game Three started, and UBC was whistled for the first penalty as Kaylin Snodgrass was sent off for interference. Did I mention this was a physical series? Of the eight minor penalties called tonight, two were for hits to the head and two were for bodychecking. In any case, Manitoba grabbed an early lead as Alanna Sharman - Canada West's leading scorer during the regular season - was sent in alone on Dubé and made no mistake in potting her fourth goal of the playoffs midway through the first period. UBC would mount a few sustained attacks, but the defence and goaltender of Rachel Dyck sent the Bisons into the intermission with the 1-0 lead.

The second period saw both teams continue their playoff-style hockey as the tight checking persisted. Manitoba, it seemed, was told by head coach Jon Rempel to sacrifice the body as Manitoba blocked a ton of shots. UBC had a few good chances, but nothing would find the twine as the period would expire with Manitoba still leading 1-0. In a rather humorous moment, the camera caught Manitoba forward Alana Serhan having a discussion with UBC fans while she sat in the penalty box. It appeared they were debating a heated topic, though, as gestures and expressions indicated a lively debate. To their credit, UBC fans were boisterous all night, and it really ramped up the atmosphere at Father David Bauer Arena despite their team trailing 1-0 after two periods.

The third period started with Manitoba on the power-play as Nikola Brown-John's penalty for bodychecking carried over from the second period. The Bisons didn't waste this opportunity as Alana Serhan scored on a great setup from Alanna Sharman just 24 seconds in, and the Bisons had a two-goal advantage. If you have been following this Bisons squad over the last couple of weeks, you know that a two-goal lead is anything but safe, so could they handle the Thunderbirds in the last 19:36?

UBC applied incredible pressure for the remainder of the game, pinning the Bisons in their own zone for minutes at a time at points. That persistent offensive effort would pay off when Rebecca Unrau would deflect a Celine Tardif shot in front of the net with Rachel Dyck unable to corral the redirected puck at 10:56. With 9:04 remaining, the lead was cut in half, and the momentum was almost entirely on the T-Birds' side.

The last five minutes of the game was played entirely inside the Bisons' zone aside from the odd clearing attempt. UBC brought everything they had, and Manitoba threw bodies all over the ice to block shots. Kayleigh Wiens, in particular, blocked a Tatiana Rafter shot that ricocheted off her shin pad and was finally retrieved by UBC inside their own zone! Rachel Dyck made a couple of incredible pad saves to keep the lead intact, and the final horn would sound amidst a flurry of activity in front of Dyck with the Bisons on top by that 2-1 score!

The Bisons will now travel to Edmonton to battle one of the top women's teams in the country in the Alberta Pandas with a berth to the CIS Championships on the line in Calgary. Alberta and Manitoba split the season series at 2-2 with both teams winning once at home and once on the road. Alberta won 1-0 and lost 4-3 in the weekend series in Edmonton on November 7 and 8, and Manitoba won 1-0 and lost 3-2 in the series in Winnipeg on November 28 and 29. As you can see, both teams scored seven goals while giving up seven goals, and both teams recorded a shutout. Needless to say, this series should be another closely-fought battle. I'm psyched for it!

If you're in Edmonton and heading down to catch the action, may I suggest something? If you're going to chirp, it's probably not a good idea to chirp Bisons goalie Amanda Schubert. Schubert, for her part, has been a huge supporter of Rachel Dyck's play this season, and she's embraced her role on the team in the playoffs as the back-up goalie. Chirping her about sitting the bench is honestly dumb because one of the two goalies HAS to sit on the bench. However, that didn't stop Schubert from exacting a little revenge and stealing the fan's sign about her having the best seat in the house, and she posted it to Twitter with the following awesome message:
That's why this team is awesome, and that's why you don't mess with Schubert. This team is really coming together at the right time and getting key contributions from players such as Courtlyn Oswald, Alexandra Anderson, and Erica Rieder. The top line of Alana Serhan, Alanna Sharman, and Maggie Litchfield-Medd is one of the best in women's hockey at this very moment, but they'll have to be at their best once more against Canada West's best team in Alberta and top goaltender in Lindsay Post. The Bisons have proven they can win on Clare Drake Arena ice, though, so this series will be about which team executes better and it might come down to a couple of bounces one way or the other.

As for the T-Birds, there will be no more chirping this season as the Herd advance! Go Herd Go!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!