Thursday, December 27, 2007

WJC - CAN 2, SVK 0

Not a pretty game, that’s for sure.

In the pre-game show, we get to see a nice little piece on Kyle Turris, the superstar freshman at the University of Wisconsin. Seems as though his father, Bruce, is a former professional lacrosse player and he taught his son the game, but Kyle ultimately chose hockey for a career. We also learn that Bruce Turris is an economist, but Kyle couldn’t say it when he was a kid, so he told all his friends that his father was a ‘communist.’ Classic story to tell the kids someday…

Coming into today’s game, goalie Julius Hudacek was the story for the Slovak team. He went undrafted in the NHL, but he played incredibly well yesterday against the Swedes, stopping 46 of 50 shots in a heartbreaking loss. The only goals that he allowed against Sweden were of the power play variety (3) or shorthanded (1). He was expected to continue that performance in today’s game against the Canucks.

Yesterday’s game against the Czech’s saw the Canadians take penalty after penalty, and I’m happy to say that the penalty total for the red and white was lower this time around, but that doesn’t mean that the refereeing was any better. More on that later…

This game wasn’t exactly the best game to watch. It seemed as though neither team could really get things going. Sure, there were a few players who played great – Kyle Turris and Drew Doughty come to mind – but the overall play by the team was not stellar. This team is known for winning faceoffs to control the play (they won 68% of their faceoffs in the first game, with a number of players winning more than 80%), but I don’t think they won half of their faceoffs today. And then there was Brandon Sutter…

I will start off by saying that Brandon Sutter is one of my favourite players on this team. He doesn’t score a lot of goals, but he is normally great on faceoffs, and I believe that he will be one day win the Selke in the NHL because he plays a great defensive game. He blocks shots, makes big hits, and causes the opponent to turn over the puck. However, he hasn’t been that great in this tournament yet, and I believe that it’s because he is hurt. Sutter hit Michael Frolik yesterday in the first period and hurt his arm/shoulder. He came back for the 2nd period, but he hasn’t been the same. Pierre McGuire noticed this too, and said that he is definitely hurt but playing through the pain like any Sutter would do. Today, it looked like he hurt his shoulder again, and potentially hurt his leg as well. He is one courageous kid for playing through it all, but I wonder how effective he will be in the long run. Hartsburg already gave Turris faceoff duty because Sutter doesn’t have the strength to win faceoffs. Team Canada does have a 13th forward in Tavares, but he doesn’t have the defensive mindset of Sutter. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, for sure.

As you will notice at the top of this piece, Canada did manage to score two power play goals. The first, from Turris (Alzner and Doughty) came in the second period while Canada was up on a 2 man advantage. The insurance goal came late in the third period when Drew Doughty was skating in the neutral zone, made a nice spin-o-rama play to avoid the Slovaks and get back into the offensive zone, identified Kyle Turris going to the net and made a slick pass that Turris lifted over Hudacek.

The Good about the Canucks – A Defensive Minded Team

It’s a little hard to lose a game when you don’t give up any goals. Canada’s defensive core is solid, and the goaltenders have been the best players on the ice. It’s not often that goalie will earn a 44-save shutout, and then sit out the next game, only to watch the other goalie earn a shutout of his own. Here’s the million dollar question for Hartsy – who’s the starting goalie? Bernier or Mason?

The Bad about the Canucks – Where are the Goals?

Sure, Canada is winning, so it’s hard to really be down on scoring, but these last two games were games that Canada was ‘supposed’ to win, and the results could have gone either way. The power play is working pretty well, although it looked a bit flat at times today, but the Canucks only have one even strength tally in two games. If their offensive unit doesn’t start to make things happen soon, then the winning streak may snap before the end of the tournament.

The Ugly – The Striped Buffoons are in Europe too

Remember how I said that neither team could get things going? Well, do you think that 19 penalties could have an effect on the flow of the game?

Granted, some of these penalties are justified, but a number of them made you want to yell obscenities at the television or computer. Sure, the Europeans don’t like the North American style of hockey with all of the hitting, but they were dishing out penalties to players – Slovak and Canadian – for stupid reasons, and the Slovaks got the dirtier end of the stick today. The refs truly seem to want to take any kind of physical play out of the game of hockey. As McGuire likes to say, “That was 2 minutes for being strong.”

And how’s this for a stupid penalty: the puck goes up and over the glass (which is a measly three feet high), and Turris goes to the box for delay of game. This one had me scratching my head because, in international hockey, it’s not a penalty. And it’s not as though Turris did it on purpose.

Three Stars of the Game
(1) Kyle Turris, with 2 power play goals
(2) Steve Mason, with the shutout
(3) Julius Hudacek, with 32 saves and keeping his team in the game

To close things up, here’s a Team Canada stat – they haven’t allowed an even strength goal for more than 375 minutes of play. The last one scored on Canada was by Bill Sweatt in Game 2 of last year’s WJC.

For more WJC coverage, make sure to check out

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

WJC - CAN 3, CZE 0

This game was a lot closer than the score suggests.

Before the game, Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire gave us a little history lesson. At the WJC, Canada has an 8-0-2 record against the Czechs, and the last time they didn’t win was back in 1993 when the game ended in a tie.

So, to the game we go. The Czechs aren’t believed to be contenders for the gold medal, but they still have some firepower up front. Michael Frolik is making his fourth appearance at the WJC and is one of the most dangerous offensive players on the Czech team. Pair him with Jakub Voracek, and you have a line that is hard to contain, so Coach Hartsburg matched that line with his shutdown line of Brandon Sutter, Stefan Legein, and Wayne Simmonds.

Stamkos took an elbowing penalty not long into the first period, and the Czechs looked energetic on the PP. It actually turned into a 5-3 PP after Logan Pyett took a hooking penalty, and the Czechs managed to have several great chances, but Jonathan Bernier was solid from the very beginning.

Speaking of Bernier, he was the reason why Canada managed to get through the first period without giving up a goal. The Czechs were strong and had 13 shots on goal going into the intermission. The Canadians, however, were jittery in the first period, turning over the puck to the Czechs time and again. Drew Doughty seemed a bit nervous and he had a hard time controlling the puck, even turning it over to Voracek at his blue line, giving Voracek a great scoring chance.

The second period saw Canada score its first goal, with John Tavares scoring on the power play (from Steve Stamkos and Logan Pyett).

Canada extended its lead in the third period thanks to an even strength marker from Matthew Halischuk (Josh Godfrey and Steve Stamkos) and another power play goal from Tavares (Stamkos).

I have to give a lot of credit to the Czechs, however, for playing a great game. Goaltender Michal Neuvirth was solid and kept his team in the game with some big saves. Frolik and Voracek really tried hard to solve the problem that is Bernier, but they fell short this time. I truly believe that the Czechs could have won this game had Bernier been a little shakier in net.

The Good about the Canucks – Special Teams Rule

Although it was a slow start, they found their groove in the second period, especially on the power play. They scored twice on five power plays, and they managed to sustain pressure on the Czech squad.

The penalty kill was superb, as it was in the Super Series. The Czechs had 9 opportunities, but Canada shut the door on each one.

The Bad about the Canucks – Discipline Problems

This is always a problem for Canada in international competition: discipline. International rules are different from North American rules, and Team Canada always seems to parade to the penalty box. Some of the calls are complete and total phantom calls that make you want to yell at the refs for being stupid (and those seem to happen with more frequency in international games), but Canada took a lot of dumb tripping/hooking/holding penalties. It’s one thing to kill a penalty for a big hit, it’s another to kill a stupid obstruction penalty. My guess is that Hartsburg will stress this to his players between now and tomorrow’s game against the Slovaks.

The Ugly Whistles

There was nothing particularly ugly about the Canucks right now, but what I don’t care for are the whistles in the crowd. In North America, when something happens that we don’t like, we boo, some louder than others. In Europe, they blow whistles. Can you see the problem here?

The exact problem that I am thinking of actually happened back in May 2007 at the Men’s World Championships in Russia when Canada was playing Finland. Someone in the crowd blew a whistle and the Finns stopped playing because they thought that the refs blew the play dead. They didn’t, and Canada scored. The Finns were upset, and rightfully so – I wouldn’t want my team to give up a goal based on a rogue fan blowing a whistle.

Three Stars of the Game
(1) Jonathan Bernier, stopped 44 shots for the shutout
(2) Steve Stamkos, 3 assists
(3) John Tavares, 2 goals, even though he was limited to just a few power play shifts

This game was particularly important for Hockey Canada because it was their 19th consecutive win at the World Juniors, a streak that dates back three years and is now a tournament record. Prior to tonight’s game, Canuck goalies have had a save percentage of 0.951, and the Canadians have outscored their opponents 86 to 20 in 18 games.

For more WJC coverage, including recaps of each game, check out

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Ghost of World Juniors Past

With the World Juniors just days away - less than 2 days, in fact - I thought I'd share some stories that I found on from past WJC. The TSN crew that normally covers the WJC - Bob McKenzie, Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire - all answered a series of questions about past Championships that they have covered, and there were some good stories.

Here's the cream of the crop (and all in their words, from

What was the best or worst place you ever spent the holidays while covering the World Juniors?

: It is difficult to rate the best or worst but I can say this: There is perhaps nothing quite like a New Year's Eve in Helsinki, which is to suggest the level of imbibing there probably exceeds anything I have seen anywhere in my life, but in terms of a "you had to be there to believe it" Christmas or New Year's Even moment it was in Ostrava in the Czech Republic at the 1994 WJC.

We were staying in a nice hotel in Ostrava, which is a mid-sized industrial type city, and it was New Year's Eve and TSN had purchased tickets for all of us for a New Year' Eve dinner/dance in the hotel ballroom. The dinner was quite nice, a band, sort of an Eagles knock-off, was playing and the place was packed with a big cross-section of people. There were obviously some local people, as well as a bunch of NHL scouts and management types, many of whom had their families in tow, as well as a rather large TSN group.

Late in the evening, an hour or so before midnight, the band took a break and some sort of "show" began. If I recall, the first act was a pair of flamenco dancers or something like that, followed by a magician of sorts. The next act involved a woman, in what can best be described as an I Dream of Jeannie outfit, doing some sort of impressionistic dance. Adorned in many chiffon scarves and such, one by one they seemed to be disappearing. At one point, I said to the guys at our table, "Is it possible this woman is doing a striptease?" No, everyone said, because as we looked around we could see that there were many families in the ballroom and some teenage children. No way.

Uh, yes way. One thing to led to another and suddenly this woman was prancing around the dance floor entirely naked and if that weren't enough of a shock, she pulled out a large wicker basket and unleashed a very large and long live snake onto the floor. This being a family website and all, what happened after that is left to your imagination.

Eventually, the "show" ended and the traveling troupe exited the hotel into the Ostrava night. It goes without saying that the entire place was in a state of shock, almost as surprised as when much later that evening, while in the local "disco," the same flamenco dancers showed up there, only to be followed the same "show" that was put on at the hotel.

Ask anyone who was there at the 1994 WJC in Ostrava and chances are they have a story about the "Snake Lady."

As for one of the more memorable "forgettable" moments, if there is such a thing, was at the 2000 WJC in Skelleftea, Sweden.

New Year's Eve of a new Millenium was, of course, greeted with great fanfare worldwide. Skelleftea is located in northern Sweden, not too far from the Arctic Circle and is subjected to about 20 hours of darkness each day. Gord Miller and I plus some others were doing our best to ring in the New Year and the new Millenium.

Just after the stroke of midnight, Gord turned to me and said, "You know, Bobby, all my life I wondered where I would be when the year 2000 began and, with all due respect, I can assure it wasn't spending it with you in northern Sweden."

No argument there.

What is your favourite off-ice memory from the World Juniors?

McKenzie: I don't know that I would call it a favorite memory but I will not soon forget how cold it was in Saskatoon for the 1991 WJC. I have never been anywhere in the world - not Alaska, not northern Sweden near the Arctic Circle, not even Winnipeg -- where it was colder for longer than it was in Saskatoon that year.

Scouts still talk about that as "coldest ever." The warmest it got was minus-27 Celsius on one afternoon and most of the time it was minus-40, which is where Celsius and Farenheit meet. This wasn't a case of some thin-blooded Easterner not being able to handle prairie cold; it was cold for anyone. There was an outdoor rink across from the hotel and in the entire time we were there, some 12 days, I never saw a single kid skating on it. Their ears would have fallen off.

I remember on New Year's Eve, trying to walk three blocks downtown to go to dinner with my wife, son and nephew, and having to seek refuge in a building lobby after two blocks because the kids were almost crying it was so cold.

Other things that come to mind: the Great Alaskan Bush Company in Anchorage (don't ask); New Year's Eve in Helsinki; New Year's Eve in Gruyere, Switzerland (yes, where they make the cheese); New Year's Eve Y2K in northern Sweden; and, the LiquorDome in Halifax (Ed note: Ahhh, the Dome in H'fax...I've heard stories...haha). Are you sensing a pattern here?

What was the best individual performance by a Canadian player in the tournament?

Miller: Roberto Luongo had the best tournament I've ever seen from a Canadian player. The 1999 Canadian Junior team was goal-challenged (to say the least) and Luongo carried them to the gold medal game, which Canada lost in overtime to the Russians. Luongo was heroic in that game, and that tournament.

After the game, a reporter (not from TSN) asked Canadian coach Tom Renney if he thought Luongo was shaky on the OT goal. Renney almost jumped off the stage and strangled the guy.

What is your favourite off-ice memory from the World Juniors?

: There are so many great off-ice moments, many of them spent in far-flung places with Bob McKenzie and Pierre McGuire, but one of my favourites is from the 2005 tournament in North Dakota.

Thousands of Canadian fans from Manitoba and Saskatchewan drove down for the games, but one night the highway was closed due to a snowstorm, meaning the fans could not return home. Local officials opened the domed football stadium, and nearly 5,000 fans spent the night there.

The officials later reported two things: that the Canadians pitched in and cleaned up the next morning, leaving the stadium in immaculate condition, and that they sold more beer that night than they sold in an entire season of North Dakota football.

I'm not sure which of those two things makes me prouder.

What is your favourite on-ice memory from the World Juniors?

: My favourite on-ice memory is from the 1995 tournament, where the Canadians played the Czechs in front of a sellout crowd in Calgary.

After battling back to tie the game 5-5, Jamie Rivers - who had been driving the coaches crazy with his reckless decisions - decided to step up from the blue line and grab a loose puck. If he missed it, there were three Czechs, including Milan Hejduk, going the other way.

With coach Don Hay screaming "No!" from the bench, Rivers moved in and scored what turned out to be the game winning goal.

"Hero or zero," he said afterward.

What was the best or worst place you ever spent the holidays while covering the World Juniors?

: Let's start with the positives. The best one would probably be between Halifax and Vancouver. Those were two spectacular places. The fan-base in Halifax was so energized and the response was so positive. And in Vancouver, it was just such a big league environment and a spectacular array of buildings with a team that most people didn't think had a chance to win the World Juniors. And with a bunch of 18-year olds they really stepped up. That was arguably Brent Sutter's best coaching job on the international stage. He was spectacular in Vancouver.

The worst place I've spent the holidays? Well, there probably isn't one. Even Grand Forks, North Dakota - as cold and as harsh as it was - it's where my father was from and I brought my Dad there. I learned a lot about my family's history that trip - my Dad even pointed out his family's homestead where they lived.

I remember we walked around one night with Gord Miller Bob McKenzie and it was probably -45 Fahrenheit. As we were walking across the bridge over the Red River, my Dad looked at me and said, "The last time I walked across this bridge was VJ Day in 1945." He had three brothers that were serving overseas at the time. They were shooting fireworks off (to celebrate). That was the last time he'd been on that bridge.

That floored me.

He also told me about an uncle of mine that drowned in the river below years before.

So as tough as it was in North Dakota, for me, it was an unbelievable learning experience, one that I'll never forget.

What was the best individual performance by a Canadian player in the tournament?

: There's so many, that's really a tough one. I would say Dion Phaneuf and Shea Weber as the shut down pair for Canada at the World Juniors in Grand Forks. They just kept throwing them out there and throwing them out there. They were phenomenal, I mean, those guys were scary good. It was amazing to see how mature they were and how physical they were, especially when they had to face the Russians with Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin. They just destroyed those guys.

So I would say the two of them in an unheralded way. Everyone focuses on the point-getters, but these guys were so good defensively, so mature defensively, you just knew they were going to be impact players in the NHL pretty quick.

For a non-Canadian performance, Ovechkin would probably be the best one. Ovechkin was phenomenal (seven goals in North Dakota, which made the performance by Phaneuf and Weber even more impressive).

Another guy who was great in terms of an individual performance was Zach Parise in Helsinki the year the Americans won the gold medal. He was the Player of the Tournament that year. That was amazingly impressive.

What is your favourite off-ice memory from the World Juniors?

McGuire: Before game one in Finland, producer Jon Hynes saying in my earpiece that the (production) truck had blown up, and that every replay we were going to do was going to be blind. So I had to pick the replay out and tell them exactly what I wanted to show. Then they had to tell me when the tape was rolling and I just had to fly blind - without using a video monitor - for about a period-and-a-half to two periods.

What I really remember was the composure level of the staff. I remember how composed Franklin Rubenstien (stats) was, and how composed Gord Miller was, and Jon Hynes (producer) and Paul Hemming (director) in the truck, and Jamie Brannigan in replay, Mike Mills (tape) and all those guys. I'll never forget that.

All Jon said was, "Pete, I've got bad news for you. The truck just blew up!" Nobody ever talked about it so I don't think anybody at home ever knew.

This is the important thing for me. It's such a privilege to do (the World Juniors), it's something you never take for granted. We've become an interesting little family that does a lot together. All the guys are all in it for the same reason - they love Canada, they love Team Canada and they love bringing the games back to Canada.

We've become each other's family, not by blood, but by work. We've had the same crew for a long time and we've seen a lot of different places - and nobody ever complains.

So with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas. I'll be back on Boxing Day (December 26th) to keep you up to date on the WJC - and be sure to check out for WJC coverage.

Is it all my fault?

Back on Thursday, November 15th, I wrote this:

[P]art of me is hoping that the Pens don't get past the Quarterfinals of this
year's Stanley Cup playoffs - assuming that they even qualify for the playoffs. A
really big part of me is hoping that they get the boot...

Since then, this is what has happened:
- Max Talbot and Marc-André Fleury have sustained high ankle sprains
- Ryan Malone has a leg infection
- Mark Eaton may be lost for the season with a knee injury
- There were a few embarrassments, like that Philly game. Ouch.

Is this my doing? Because if so, this wasn't what I was wishing for...

What's next? A pandemic raging through the entire dressing room - twice?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

IIHF names inductees for the Hall of Fame

The International Ice Hockey Federation has named the 2008 Hall of Fame inductees, and the list includes a new group of people: women.

For the first time in history, women will be inducted into the IIHF HOF. It's about time.

The list of players to be honoured in May at the World Championships include:

Angela James of Thornhill, Ontario

Geraldine Heaney of Weston, Ontario

and Cammi Granato of Downers Grove, Illinois.

Oh, and someone named Mario Lemieux will be honoured as well. I hear he was a pretty good hockey player.

Team Canada WJC update - the exhibition games

This year’s Junior team has been in Europe for almost a week to do some team bonding activities – like give each other nicknames, or impersonate TSN legend Gino Reda (I’m talking about you, Stefan Legein). Oh, and they have also played a couple of exhibition games to iron out the ‘kinks’ in their play.

Let’s briefly recap these two games, shall we?

Game 1 vs. Red Bull Salzburg in Austria.
Final score: 5-0
Alternate captain Brad Marchand had two assists and was named player of the game on the same day that he was traded from Val d’Or of the QMJHL to Halifax for a 17-year-old player and 5 (!) draft picks.

Game 2 vs. Slovakia.
Final score: 6-1
Seventeen-year-old superstar John Tavares had two goals and a helper, and the other 17-year-old phenom Steve Stamkos is quickly making a name for himself as a solid two way player.

If you’ve ever watched Team Canada play in an international game, what quickly becomes apparent is the so-called lack of discipline by Canadian players. Referees in the international arena call the game differently, and the Canucks typically find themselves in the box for committing offences that wouldn’t be punishable in North America.

It really tests a team’s abilities on the PK, and it can make for some frazzled fans.

As usual, these two exhibition games saw the Canadians parade to the penalty box as if Santa himself was in there giving away an Xbox 360 to all who come and visit. Thankfully, the PK (penalty kill, not defenceman PK Subban) was money, just like it was this summer in the Super Series.

In fact, this year’s team appears solid all around – goaltending, defence, and offence. With so many players returning from the Super Series, and the new players adapting so well, I firmly believe that the Canucks have a great shot at the four-peat. They may not have Jonathan Toews, Marc Staal, or Carey Price, but they do have one fine group of young hockey players with tons of potential who want to win – badly.

"There's definitely a lot of pressure but we got a close bunch here and we know what we want to do together," said Matthias. "We want to bring home a fourth consecutive gold medal.

"We're going to do everything we can to make Canada proud."

And we are all pulling for them.

Next up: a third (and final) exhibition game against Finland on Saturday.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Rocket - one great movie

What is the best hockey movie you have ever seen?

Slap Shot?

Mighty Ducks? (I dunno, some people think so...)

How about adding The Rocket to the list? It is a movie about the life of Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, and is definitely one of my favourites. I bought the DVD last Christmas and I've watched it over a dozen times. You can read a review of the movie at the PensBlog (in fact, it was their review that made me want to promote the movie even more).

While the lead actor is Roy Dupuis (who also played The Rocket in a Canadian Heritage commercial and in a TV biography), there are also a few NHLers making appearances.


Sean Avery as Bob Dill, an Englishman who hates French people.

And Vincent Lecavalier as Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau.

And Ian Laperrière as HHOFer Bernard "Boom Boom" Geoffrion.

Great movie. Get it. Watch it. Love it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Countdown to Ice Bowl

New Year’s Day is all about celebration. And football (ugh). But this year, it’s all about hockey, with Ice Bowl 2008.

The Pens and Sabres will meet on January 1st to play an outdoor game at the Ralph Wilson Stadium. Sweet.

I originally wanted to make the trip to Buffalo and experience Ice Bowl in the flesh, but I thought about it – it’s not called “Ice” Bowl for nothing (or ‘Winter’ Classic, as the NHL calls it). It’s gonna be frickin’ cold, sitting there for three, four, five hours.

Just ask Georges Laraque.

Laraque was an Edmonton Oiler when the team played the Habs in the Heritage Classic on November 22, 2003, and it was c-o-l-d….-29C cold. But according to Laraque, it felt like -50C with the windchill. Ugh. That’s ‘snot freezing on your face’ cold. Not a pretty sight.

The guys had to wear toques under their helmets to keep their heads somewhat warm, they wore three layers of long-sleeved polypro underwear (instead of one layer), and few of them actually wanted to play.

"It was a game where you would rather be sitting on the bench than playing because we had heaters at our bench," Laraque said. "It was the only game I've ever been in when guys didn't mind being bench warmers! And, no one was complaining about a lack of ice time. On that day, it was not a bad thing to be sitting.”

Thankfully, Buffalo isn’t like Edmonton, so it is less likely that the temperatures will dip that low – but it is winter, so who knows. Maybe it will be a blizzard, or maybe it will be 10C outside and the ice will melt (roller hockey, anyone?). In any case, the weather will certainly be the story going into the game.

Laraque won’t be the only outdoor hockey veteran playing in “Ice Bowl.” Never mind the virtual Canadian tradition of playing pond hockey all winter long – I’m guessing a lot of players have engaged in this kind of fun stuff growing up – but Ty Conklin (current Pens backup) was the starting goaltender for Edmonton, and Ryan Miller (Buffalo goalie) and Adam Hall (Pens forward) played in the “Cold War” while studying at Michigan State in 2001.

What might be a bit concerning for Pens fans is the “Classic Curse” – the Oilers were on a roll going into the Heritage classic 4 years ago, but then lost 9 of the following 10 games, and had a 3-9-4 record over the following 16 games.

They missed the playoffs by 2 lousy points. Ouch.

But we can’t start worrying about that, otherwise it will certainly happen. No need to jinx things. We should just anxiously await this event, start planning the party…

I’ll be sitting in my room, watching the game on TV with a nice cup of hot chocolate, while thousands of people freeze their asses off.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And the winner of the 2007 Lou Marsh Award is....

Sidney Crosby, of course.

I think my post a couple of days ago was enough to help Crosby clinch the Award from the others. I am just that good. haha

But seriously, this is just the latest in a long list of awards that Crosby has won this year, and deservedly so. His competition for "Canadian Athlete of the Year" was stiff too:

Steve Nash (Victoria, BC): finished 2nd in NBA MVP voting
Erik Guay (Mont-Tremblant, PQ): won 5 medals on the World Cup skiing circuit
Adam van Koeverden (Oakville, ON): World Champion in the 500 m kayak
Steve Molitor (Sarnia, ON): defended his IBF super-bantamweight title in boxing...twice

But Crosby has them beat with his Ross-Hart-Pearson hat trick.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Need to know more about the 2008 World Juniors?

If you are looking for coverage of the 2008 World Junior Hockey Championships, I will be writing a series of articles for Faceoff Factor.

Tournament Schedule? Check

TSN Broadcast Schedule? Check

History of the Tourney? Check

Team Rosters? Check

Game Recaps? Check

You checking out the WJC coverage on Check

Ok, that's me being lame again...but seriously, I hope you check it out.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Crosby vs. Nash - Who will win?

This week, the media people will vote on the winner for this year's Lou Marsh Trophy (aka Canadian Athlete of the Year). It seems that it will be down to Sidney Crosby and Steve Nash.

Who will win?

Nash is an incredibly great basketball player. Two time NBA MVP. No question, he deserved the award when he won in 2005. But...

It's Crosby's year. He cleaned up at the NHL Awards in June. He was one of the major forces that led the Pens to a playoff berth last season - a season that saw a 47-point improvement over the year before. He is the face of the league, the youngest to be named a permanent captain of an NHL team, and the youngest in North American sports history to lead his league in scoring.

The last hockey player to win the Lou Marsh was Lemieux back in 1993. Canada is a country that takes pride in hockey (it's pretty much our religion), so why not honour the best player from 2007?

I truly, honestly can't think of another Canadian athlete who had a bigger year than Crosby, and I say that without bias.

So, media peoples of Canada: vote Crosby to win the Lou Marsh Trophy. You know you want to.

Now all we need is to find some Canadian athlete with the last name Stills....I know, that was lame.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

High quality journalism

Okay, I'm a bit of a nerd. I'm one of those freaks that will notice spelling mistakes and the occasional grammatical error (though sometimes I am guilty of those...)

I can also pick out a factual error now and then, and this one caught my eye as I was reading an article about Clara Hughes.

For those who don't know, Hughes is a Canadian athlete who started out in speed skating, switched to cycling, and then switched back to long track speed skating. She's also one of Canada's most decorated Olympic athletes.

At this weekend's World Cup event in Russia, Hughes placed second. Here's what CBC wrote:

Hughes claimed silver in speed skating's team pursuit at the Olympics in Turin
last year, to go with two bronzes she won in cycling at the 1996 Atlanta Summer
Games and a bronze in speed skating at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

Okay, all of the above info is true. Hughes did win two bronze medals in Atlanta in cycling, a bronze in speed skating in Salt Lake, and a silver in Torino. But how in the world did they miss her GOLD medal in the 5000 m event in Torino??? I can still see her collapsing from exhaustion after her race.

Looks like somebody needed a fact checker for their article...