Monday, December 27, 2010

TVOS at The Hockey Writers: Spezza Injury Could End Senators Playoff Dream

Jason Spezza will be
out of action for at least
4 to 6 weeks
(Slidingsideways/Flickr)
The Ottawa Senators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 3-1 score on Sunday evening at Scotiabank Place. However, the win was a costly one for Ottawa, as the team announced today that their most dynamic playmaker, Jason Spezza, is sidelined for at least 4 to 6 weeks with a right shoulder injury. Can the offensively challenged Senators survive without Spezza as they attempt to catch the Boston Bruins for the 8th and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference?

Read about the injury, the reaction, and Ottawa's hunt for a playoff spot at The Hockey Writers

Friday, December 24, 2010

TVOS at The Hockey Writers: "Ask the Alumni" - Send Us A Question For Theo Fleury

Working with the NHL Alumni Association, The Hockey Writers has started an exciting new feature - "Ask the Alumni".

Readers now have the opportunity to be part of my interviews with members of the NHL Alumni Association and see their answers in articles posted at The Hockey Writers. We are pleased to announce that our next guest for the "Ask the Alumni" series at The Hockey Writers is Theo Fleury!

We are accepting your question for Theoren Fleury until January 9th, 2011 at thwnhlalumni@gmail.com

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: Can The Christmas Break Cure Hurting Senators?

20-year-old Erik Karlsson is
second in team scoring
 with 20 points
(Dan4th/Flickr)
The Ottawa Senators head into the Christmas Break on a winning note, with a 2-1 victory in Nashville over the Predators. However, this far into the season, GM Bryan Murray did not expect the team he assembled to be 10th in the Eastern Conference. The Boston Bruins currently hold the 8th and final playoff position with a six point lead and three games in hand.

Murray thinks his squad is a playoff team but the numbers tell a different story.

You can find the full article at The Hockey Writers.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: Interview with Georges Laraque

Georges Laraque with his fellow
Deputy Leader of the Green Party
Adriane Carr
(Photo by Brent Granby/Flickr)
For the casual hockey fan, the name Georges Laraque conjures up images of one of the true heavyweights in the history of the NHL; a man that took on any challenger in his role as a fighter in the league. However, there is much more to this "enforcer" then his knockout punch. He is very passionate about the environment, better treatment for our animal friends - becoming a vegan in 2009, and last summer he became the Deputy Leader of Canada's Green Party. He is also active in helping numerous charities. Very open and honest, it was a thoroughly enlightening conversation.

The December guest for my "Ask the Alumni" series is Georges Laraque - Read the interview at The Hockey Writers

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Would A New Coach And GM Help The Calgary Flames This Season?

Back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, a trip through Alberta for a NHL team almost certainly meant a two-game losing streak. Once Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, and the Oilers were done dazzling a team with their goal scoring abilities, it was off to Calgary to face Lanny McDonald, Al MacInnis, Theo Fleury, Doug Gilmour and the rest of the red-hot Calgary Flames. It was a part of the schedule that no team enjoyed.

Lately though, a trip through Alberta has been a little easier to handle. While the Oilers are showing signs of life with some great young talent, for some reason, the Flames have lost their sizzle and find themselves near the bottom of the Western Conference and searching for solutions.

It is often said that there are no “must win” games in October, November, and early December. Teams that get off to a slow start have plenty of time in an 82-game schedule to establish their systems and rebound from a poor beginning. Having said that, I am a firm believer that when a team does get off to a slow start, there are “have to” win games; not out of desperation, but as a means of gaining confidence and finding a winning attitude.

For the Calgary Flames, the “have to” win games are behind them, they are clearly in must win mode. The Flames started the season with a 4-0 loss to their provincial rivals, the Edmonton Oilers, and have been hit-and-miss since then. They have some convincing victories (a 6-2 win over Columbus on October 22nd and a 3-2 shootout victory in Philadelphia on November 26th for example), to go along with some embarrassing losses (a 7-2 loss to Washington on October 30th and a 7-2 loss to their division rivals from Vancouver on December 1st).

Thirty-two games into the season and they have a 14-15-3 record and 31 points, not a terrible beginning, but an inconsistent one. In the difficult Western Conference, Calgary must find their winning attitude - and quickly, or they risk falling out of contention for the final playoff position. As it stands now, they are only four points out of a playoff spot in 13th place, but more was expected of this team. If you read the news coming out of Alberta, many fans believe it is time for a change behind the bench and in the General Manager’s office.

At this point in the schedule, it is time for the Flames to put together a winning streak, if the losing continues, it could be said that the season was lost in October. Last year, the St. Louis Blues finished the season with 90 points, ninth in the Western Conference. It appears a similar point total is required to reach the playoffs this year. Several of the teams in the West appear ready to race towards the finish line - Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, and Vancouver have all played solidly, which leaves four playoff positions left for the remaining 11 teams. Teams like Chicago, San Jose, and Colorado will make a strong push for the playoffs in the New Year and that will put even more pressure on a team like Calgary.

The problem in Calgary is not necessarily scoring goals; they have only been shutout on two occasions this year. Overall, they are 17th in the league with 89 goals for (2.69 goals per game). The Flames are not allowing an alarming number of goals either; they rank 18th in the league in the goals against category (93 goals allowed, 2.84 goals per game). Much like the Ottawa Senators and their struggles in the nation’s capital, the inability to win back-to-back games is leaving the Flames in a chase position instead of being in control of their own destiny.

There is little doubt that Brent and Darryl Sutter are knowledgeable hockey men, but whatever systems they are trying to sell in Calgary, the players and the fans are not ready to buy into it. Unlike the Oilers, a team that admits they are in a rebuilding mode with a 5-7 year plan, the Flames are built for right now. One cannot help but wonder if the fire and brimstone of the Sutters and the era of running a team with an iron-fist have passed. Players with long-term contracts know they can outlast any coach in today’s NHL, and if the team as a whole stops listening to their head coach, it is usually only a matter of time before a change is made.

Miikka Kiprusoff is still one of the elite goaltenders in the league, Jarome Iginla (his 14 goals and 16 assists leads the team) is still the heart and soul of the franchise, but they cannot get the job done by themselves. The Alex Tanguay signing appears to be paying off (2nd on the team in scoring with 9 goals and 16 assists), as is the Brendan Morrison deal (5 goals and 14 assists).

Looking at Olli Jokinen’s second stint in Calgary though and you realize that the support a player like Iginla requires is not present. Matt Stajan’s $3.5 million cap hit hurts this team, as does the $3 million to Niklas Hagman and Ales Kotalik. When you are thinking about contending teams, having those three players near the top of your payroll does not conjure up images of Stanley Cup parades. The age of the players leading the way in Calgary illustrates the point that, unlike their Alberta rivals in Edmonton, this team was supposed to challenge for the Stanley Cup now - not in 3-5 years.

What does the future hold in Calgary? There is no easy answer to that question. Even with changes at the top or behind the bench, the poor decisions on some contracts will not go away any time soon. Matt Stajan is a Flame until the end of the 2013-2014 season; Kotalik, Hagman, and Jokinen have another year remaining on their contracts. In today’s NHL, trading away these players will be difficult - to shed a bad contract, a team will have to acquire a bad contract.

For an organization that has not seen the second round of the playoffs since before the lockout and did not qualify for the post-season last year, it is difficult to say that the future looks bright in Calgary, with or without a change in management. Heading into 2011, the Flames have officially entered “must win” territory.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Montreal Canadiens: Team Chemistry, Carey Price, and Jaroslav Who?

This article was first published in the December 15th edition of Main Street Magazine and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by Main Street Week News to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Magazine delivered right to your inbox.

A wonderful year at Main Street Magazine is wrapping up and 2011 is right around the corner. As 2010 ends, it is a great time to share a few thoughts on the Montreal Canadiens and their first 30 games.

Team Chemistry: When the Canadiens backed their way into last season’s playoffs, most hockey analysts expected a first round loss to the Washington Capitals. However, as they rode the hot-hand of Jaroslav Halak, the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge came together as a group and fought their way to the Eastern Conference Final. After defeating the heavily favoured Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, the clock struck midnight on their fairy tale trip through the post-season.

Coming into the 2010-2011 season, the team has proven that while Halak was a key contributor in the post-season, perhaps his brilliance overshadowed another element to the team - chemistry. With a full season together, this year’s squad has marched straight to the top of their division and the conference. There is still a long way to go, but at this point, it looks like the Boston Bruins are the only Northeast Division team capable of catching the Habs. The players have become familiar with Jacques Martin’s coaching style and they appear to genuinely like each other. They are having fun on and off the ice; confidence and chemistry can take this team deep into the playoffs again this season.

Jaroslav Who? After Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier traded goaltender Jaroslav Halak, all eyes looked towards Carey Price. Could Bob Gainey’s “thoroughbred” finally become the team’s next great goaltender? As the team passes the 30-game mark, we are well on our way to knowing the answer.

Price appears to be the “real deal” in Montreal; he is near the top of most statistical categories with the league’s elite goaltenders. The young man from Anahim Lake, BC leads the league in games played (27), minutes played (1,623) and wins (17). He is second in the league in shutouts (4) and total saves (757), and his 1.96 goals against average ranks fourth overall. Not too bad for a kid with so many doubters heading into the season. Unsure of how he would perform as the team’s number one goaltender, the Canadiens wisely signed Price to a two-year contract at $2.75 million per year. With the season he is having, it may already be time to think contract extension. The more success this young man has, the more costly it will be in the end.

The “Other” Guys: When Halak went to St. Louis in a trade for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz, the overwhelming sentiment in Montreal was anger. A legitimate number one goaltender traded for two unproven prospects - the fans were outraged! Halak has impressed hockey fans in St. Louis and Price has performed in Montreal, taking some of the pressure off the Canadiens GM. Having said that, Eller and Schultz will forever be known as the “other guys” in the Halak deal. So, how are they doing?

Eller has hit the ice in all but one of Montreal’s games, scoring two goals and adding four assists. The first round pick (13th overall) in the 2007 draft has demonstrated some playmaking skills, while not being a defensive liability. He will make some mistakes, as all rookies do, but he is learning on the job, which will only help his career moving forward.

Schultz has played 17 games for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the American Hockey League. After playing his junior hockey with the Calgary Hitmen in the Western Hockey League, Schultz is considered a long-term project. He will not be in Montreal this season but his time in Hamilton will help him develop into a strong third or fourth line player.

Have a safe and happy holiday everyone - I will see you back here at Main Street in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: Alex Kovalev And The Upcoming NHL Roster Freeze


Alex Kovalev - The Russian Riddle
(Dan4th/Flickr)

The NHL's annual holiday roster freeze is set to begin on December 19th, and Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray must decide whether he will attempt to make a trade before the deadline. With four games over the holiday period, if the Senators continue with their inconsistent play, it may be too late after the break to pull the trigger on a trade that will save the season in Ottawa.

There is also a growing rift between head coach Cory Clouston and Alex "the Russian Riddle" Kovalev - How long can they coexist before the situation becomes yet another distraction for the struggling Sens?

Read about the week ahead for Bryan Murray at The Hockey Writers

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: Senators D-Man Matt Carkner and the Capital City Condors


Matt and Zachary

Three years ago, Jim and Shana Perkins created the Capital City Condors - a hockey team for children with special needs. With the help of many wonderful volunteers, including Ottawa Senators defenceman Matt Carkner, the Condors are changing lives in the nation's capital.

Read my interview with Jim Perkins and learn more about the Capital City Condors at The Hockey Writers

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Future Looks Bright For Kevin Lowe's Edmonton Oilers

A portion of this article first appeared in the December 2010 edition of Main Street and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by Main Street Week News to have a look at a great community newspaper.

Last year, Lachute’s own Kevin Lowe began checking in with Main Street to keep us up to date with the news in Edmonton. Once again, he has taken time from a very busy schedule with the Oilers to share his thoughts with The Voice of Sport.

The Oilers struggled through injuries last season and found themselves at the bottom of the standings and in the hunt for the first overall pick in the NHL Draft. While they would have preferred to have more W’s in the win column, having the opportunity to select a future star kept Lowe, General Manager Steve Tambellini, and the organization’s scouting department very busy behind the scenes.

“The people that put in all the leg work and hours and time on the road are the scouts; guys like Steve and myself in upper management, we put as much time in as we can, but it pales in comparison to what those guys do,” Lowe explained.

“Last year, hopefully it was a bit of a rarity for us that we got to pick first, but we knew for some time that we would have that chance. We were able to really hone in and focus a lot of attention on the number one pick. Having said that, that doesn’t mean we don’t put that kind of attention and time into every year. There is so much room for error that you have to do everything possible in terms of asking the right questions and doing the research.”

“There are no guarantees that whoever you draft, that they are going to become NHL players. You want to try to minimize the potential for error because the draft is so critical to the lifeblood of the organization. If you want to have sustainability you have to draft well, if you want to try and win a championship you have to draft well; everything revolves around the drafting.”

With that number one pick, the Oilers selected Taylor Hall, a junior star with the Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey League and a two-time Memorial Cup winner. What was it about Hall that made him stand out from the other eligible players?

“His ability to rise in the toughest of situations; when the game is on the line, he’s the guy that appeared to be unafraid of the moment,” Lowe said. “He’s still a very young man but he has had a lot of success. When we got to meet him, he appeared to have a real genuine love for the game. Most kids do, but hockey really seemed to be his first and only focus. That really separates the great ones from all the others.”

Personally, it seems like only yesterday that I was watching Lowe lift the Stanley Cup with the Oilers, so it is hard to believe that his son Keegan, a 17-year-old defenceman with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League will soon be eligible for the NHL Draft. A long-time executive with the Oilers, Lowe could be attending the draft as a hockey dad.

“Hopefully that’s the case, he’s coming along nicely and starting to get some attention,” the proud father said. “He hasn’t made the first few lists (scouts rank the top draft eligible players), but I know that is not going to infringe or get in the way of his desire to play.”

“At the end of the day, if there was one thing that the hockey organizations could track that would be most beneficial, it’s heart and desire. If we could have a way of tracking that amongst these young players, I’d bet on the ones with the heart and desire that they will eventually find their way to the NHL. I enjoy watching Keegan’s games and it brings a special added interest for me, no question.”

Looking ahead, the Oilers are starting to accumulate some great young talent in their organization. With players like Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi, they have a solid foundation of skilled players moving forward. In a few years, with a few more key additions to the organization, they hope to bring the Stanley Cup back to Edmonton.

“We have a very knowledgeable fan base and they are very supportive, they can see the future is very bright,” said Lowe. “We had a very good draft last year and our second round picks are all playing very well in the Western Hockey League. Then we have guys in the minors that are all coming along nicely, guys like Linus Omark, Jeff Petry, and Alex Plante.”

“We have all of our picks this year and we know that there are some challenges in the near-future to stay competitive, but these guys are learning on the job. Hopefully, the fans can see what we are scripting out here, in terms of an overall plan. If we look at Chicago, and in some respects Washington, that is obviously the main template, and the final part of Chicago's plan culminated in them winning the Stanley Cup. If we fast-forward over the next 5-7 years that is what we hope we will be doing.”

“Everything is looking really good actually. You want to try and win more hockey games, but we’ve had enough nights in this season that really make us feel that we are on the right track.”

The template is in place and the future does look bright in Edmonton - since our conversation, the Oilers have won five of their last seven games, proving that the organization is indeed on the right track. As always, a very special thank you to Kevin Lowe for sharing his time with The Voice of Sport.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

NHL Rookies To Watch In 2010:Logan Couture, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Eberle

In recent years, the NHL has experienced a youth movement, as the top draft picks enter the league and make an immediate impact with their organizations. Heading into last June’s draft, the talk was Taylor or Tyler - Hall or Seguin... Who’s number one? Both players are off to a great start in their NHL careers, but amongst this year’s rookie class, three other players are making their case for consideration as Calder Trophy candidates.

Logan Couture - San Jose Sharks


A first round selection (9th overall) in the 2007 draft, Logan Couture split last season between the NHL's San Jose Sharks and the AHL’s Worcester Sharks. Couture was ready to make an impact in the NHL last season but limited roster spots and salary cap implications left the young forward bouncing between the two leagues. He played in 25 games in the NHL last season, which left him eligible for the Calder Trophy this season.

With so much traveling between leagues last year, Couture may have woken up each day wondering what city he was in, but the Guelph, Ontario native always knew how to put pucks into the back of the net. In 42 games with Worcester, he scored 20 goals and added 33 assists; he scored 5 goals and 4 assists in the NHL. He also accumulated some valuable experience in the playoffs, suiting up for 15 games with San Jose and scoring 4 goals.

In his last three games, Couture has 4 goals (a two-goal game vs. Ottawa and two against Detroit, including the game winner), and one assist. He is second in rookie scoring with 18 points (12 goals, 6 assists) and his experience from last season will help him develop this year. The fact he has plenty of talent around him in San Jose may limit his ice-time, but already knowing the ins and outs of life in the NHL has to make him a heavy favourite for the Calder.

Jeff Skinner - Carolina Hurricanes

When the Carolina Hurricanes stepped on to the stage at the 2010 NHL Draft and announced Jeff Skinner was their first round pick (7th overall), many hockey fans collectively said, “Who?”

The young man from Markham, Ontario was projected to go in the second round (34th overall), but Carolina liked what they saw in the former Kitchener Ranger and made him their top pick. He wrapped up his junior career with 50 goals and 40 assists during the regular season and finished second in OHL playoff scoring with 33 points (Taylor Hall was number one).

Stepping right into a prominent role with the Hurricanes this season, the 18-year-old has proven that Carolina GM Jim Rutherford was on the right track when he grabbed Skinner so early in the draft. In 26 games, he has 8 goals and 12 assists to lead the rookie-scoring race with 20 points. He is taking a regular shift in Carolina, averaging over 17 minutes in ice-time, and as a major part of their offence, Skinner is certainly one to watch in 2010.

Jordan Eberle - Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers are always interested in players that proudly wear the national colours for Hockey Canada, and Jordan Eberle is his generation’s Captain Canada. He has been a force on the world stage with Canada’s junior team and that experience has translated into a fast start in the NHL. In 26 games, Eberle has 5 goals and 13 assists with the up and coming Oilers.

A star with the Regina Pats in the WHL, the young right-winger was a first round selection (22nd overall) in the 2008 Draft. During his final year in junior, he scored 50 goals and added 56 assists, which brought him the title of CHL Player of the Year in 2010. With a gold and silver medal at the World Junior Championship in 2009 and 2010 on his lengthy list of accomplishments, he was also named the Tournament MVP at the 2010 WJC. He is Canada’s all-time leading scorer at the tournament with 18 goals and 18 assists.

Like Skinner in Carolina, Eberle is seeing plenty of ice-time in Edmonton; averaging almost 19 minutes per game. While there will be some highs and lows in Edmonton this year as they rebuild their team for the future, as a focal point of the offence, Eberle should continue to find the net and be in the hunt for the Calder Trophy all season.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: Ottawa's Lack of Goals Leads to New Franchise Record

Sens Need More Goals From
Players Like Mike Fisher
(Dan4th/Flickr)
The Ottawa Senators have struggled to find any consistency in the offensive zone in recent weeks and they have dropped in the Eastern Conference standings with a 3-6-1 record in their last ten games. Outscored 28-13 during that time, the Senators are in desperate need of a top-six forward, or they risk falling further in the standings and out of the playoff race.

Read about the Senators and their inability to find the net at The Hockey Writers

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: Dany Heatley Returns To Ottawa

Heatley Returns to Ottawa
Photo by Dan4th/Flickr
Hockey fans in Ottawa circled December 2nd on their calendars when the NHL released the schedule for this year - Dany Heatley finally returns to Ottawa as a member of the San Jose Sharks. The all-star forward can expect a chilly reception in the nation's capital.

Montreal Alouettes Return Home As Grey Cup Champions

This article was first published in the December 1st edition of Main Street Week and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by Main Street Week News to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox.

The Montreal Alouettes played two pre-season games, eighteen regular season games, and the Eastern Division Final to earn the right to play in the 98th Grey Cup against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium. After so many games, it is hard to believe that going into the final 15 minutes of their season, they were locked at 11-11 with the Roughriders; one quarter of football would decide whether they ended their year as champions once again. The last time the Grey Cup was tied going into the final quarter was 1972 - a 10-10 deadlock between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Roughriders.

Heading into the season, the Alouettes made it very clear that they did not see another trip to the Grey Cup as an opportunity to win back-to-back championships. It was a new year and a new team; last year’s victory belonged to last year’s team. However, with three consecutive trips to the league championship and victories in the last two, it may be time to start using the word “dynasty” when describing the Alouettes organization.

Once again, it was the arm of veteran quarterback Anthony Calvillo that led the Alouettes to a 21-18 win over Saskatchewan. He completed 29 of his 42 pass attempts for 336 passing yards. The Grey Cup’s Most Valuable Player was Montreal wide receiver Jamal Richardson - catching eight of Calvillo’s passes for 108 yards. Running back Avon Cobourne scored both of Montreal’s touchdowns with runs of three yards and two yards, he would finish the game with 67 rushing yards on 15 carries.

After two tremendous offensive battles in their regular season match-ups, a 54-51 Saskatchewan victory on July 1, and a 30-26 Montreal win in the rematch on August 6, the defence stole the show for much of the game in the Grey Cup. The Saskatchewan defenders reached Calvillo on three occasions for the sack and limited his options for much of the game. The same can be said of Montreal’s defence; while they only sacked Darian Durant once, they limited him to 215 passing yards and the normally dangerous rushing QB was limited to just eight yards on the ground.

The story that emerged after the game is the one that football fans in every CFL city will remember when looking back at the 98th Grey Cup for years to come. Not only had Anthony Calvillo battled the elements and the opposition to become the fifth QB in CFL history to lead his team to back-to-back championships, he did so with a tremendous weight on his mind. Calvillo revealed that he has known since his sternum injury at mid-season that he would require surgery once the season concluded. A lesion on his thyroid had been discovered, the biopsy was inconclusive and part of his thyroid must be removed before it is known whether the lesion is malignant or benign.

Having already helped his wife battle cancer during the 2007 season, the strain and the weight of such news would break most people - but not Calvillo. Instead, he went to work, capping off one of his best years statistically with the third Grey Cup title of his career. If the Montreal Alouettes have indeed become a football dynasty, there is no doubt that Calvillo is the Emperor.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: My Interview With AHL Veteran Bryan Helmer

TVOS with Bryan and the Calder Cup
As the month of November ends, the last place AHL veteran Bryan Helmer expected to be was at home waiting for a contract offer. On the verge of several milestones, the three-time Calder Cup champion  is staying positive as he faces several difficult decisions regarding his hockey future.

Read my interview with Bryan Helmer at The Hockey Writers

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: Lanny McDonald Interview - Ask the Alumni

Photo courtesy of NHL Alumni Association
My first guest for the "Ask the Alumni" series at The Hockey Writers was Hockey Hall of Fame member and Stanley Cup champion Lanny McDonald. Hockey fans were invited to send in a question for the hockey legend - here are your answers...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: 1,000 Career Points for Alex Kovalev

The Season of milestones continued for the Ottawa Senators last night, as Alex Kovalev reached the 1,000-career point plateau. With a goal and an assist in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, Kovalev joined teammate Daniel Alfredsson in the exclusive 1,000 point club.

Read about Kovalev and his milestone at The Hockey Writers

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: Difficult Week For The Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa Senators struggled through a difficult week, as they carried heavy hearts into three road games after the death of assistant coach Luke Richardson's daughter. With losses in Philadelphia, Carolina, and St. Louis, the Sens must attempt to regroup in time for Monday's home game against the Los Angeles Kings. Ottawa was outscored 17-4 in their last three games.

Read about the Ottawa Senators and their difficult week at The Hockey Writers.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Montreal Alouettes Ready For Eastern Final Showdown With Toronto

This article was first published in the November 17th edition of Main Street Week and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by Main Street Week News to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox.

With a 12-6 record and another East Division title on their resumé, the Montreal Alouettes earned a week off in the first round of the CFL playoffs. While the Alouettes took care of their bumps and bruises, and any nagging injuries from a long season, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (9-9) and Toronto Argonauts (9-9) battled for the opportunity to advance to the Eastern Final and a showdown with Montreal at the Olympic Stadium on November 21st; the winner advances to the 98th Annual Grey Cup in Edmonton, Alberta.

The Alouettes were solid defensively this season, stopping the running backs of their opponents on a regular basis; allowing the fewest rushing touchdowns of any team in the CFL and less then 100 rushing yards against per game. Statistically, they were not as good defending the pass, only Hamilton allowed more passing yards per game then Montreal, but the Alouettes led the league in interceptions with 25. They may give up yards through the air, but they find a way to steal the ball back. In the CFL, winning the turnover battle often results in victories.

Despite the absence of Anthony Calvillo for several games this season, Montreal ranked second in the CFL in total net yards, field goals, passing touchdowns, and most importantly - total points scored. Calvillo missed two games with a bruised sternum, but still passed for almost 5,000 yards and 32 touchdowns, with only seven interceptions. Once again, he is a nominee for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award.

As previously mentioned, the Tiger-Cats and Argonauts met at Hamilton’s Ivor-Wynne Stadium last Sunday (November 14th), with the Argonauts winning a close game by a 16-13 score. Coming off a 3-15 season last year, the Argonauts have struggled offensively, but they remain a dangerous opponent for Montreal. They are very good at returning kicks, giving themselves great field position when they start on offence, and their run game is dangerous; Cory Boyd finished second in the league in rushing with 1,359 rushing yards.

In his first season in the CFL, Toronto QB Cleo Lemon struggled in the pass-oriented league, but the good field position from kick-off returns and Boyd’s rushing abilities helped the Argonauts overcome any deficiencies in Lemon’s game. The Toronto QB passed for 3,433 yards but threw only 15 touchdowns and racked up 19 interceptions. The Alouettes defence will be looking to pick-off his errant passes, and knowing that Lemon has struggled as a passer, they can concentrate on stopping the running game.

When looking ahead to the Eastern Final, there are two important factors to consider. One is the fact the Alouettes are moving indoors to the Olympic Stadium. With an expected crowd in the 50,000 range, the stadium is going to be loud, which will be a huge advantage for Montreal. Another factor that could work against the Alouettes was the final two weeks of the CFL schedule. The final two games of the year were against Toronto and that provides the Argonauts with plenty of video to review and create a new game plan as they try for the upset in Montreal. Of course, it works both ways; Montreal has plenty of video on the Argonauts too.

It should make for an exciting Eastern Final, with the winner heading to Edmonton to face the winner of the Western Final, either the Calgary Stampeders (13-5) or the Saskatchewan Roughriders (10-8). The Alouettes look poised to be in their third consecutive Grey Cup game, they lost to Calgary in 2008 and defeated Saskatchewan in dramatic fashion in 2009. In the CFL, anything can happen, and it usually does - it looks like we are in for a tremendous finish to the 2010 season.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A TVOS Exclusive: Evil Ray Halladay's First Ever Interview!

MLB pitcher and best selling author Dirk Hayhurst (The Garfoose) warned us many times of the existence of “Evil Ray Halladay” and yet many chose to disregard Hayhurst’s warnings, until Evil Ray appeared on Twitter one fateful July weekend.

On Twitter, Evil Ray’s location states that he is “Behind you in the shadows”

His bio read like this - “I’m the guy that will punch you in the face if you don’t stop reading this. Or, if you’re the bleeding heart sissy type, I'm an orphan that needs money.”

Possibly the evil clone of a certain MLB pitcher, Evil X-Ray Halladay finds great joy in spreading his evil ways and tormenting friends and fans of Hayhurst, known as Garfooslings. It appears that I have earned a special place on Evil Ray’s long list of enemies for being a faithful Garfoosling and daring to ask for an interview; that simple question several months ago has changed my life!

Much Like Garlic Wards Off Vampires,
Cute Animal Pictures Keep
Evil Ray Halladay Away
Since July, my newspapers have been disappearing, replaced by poorly spelled warnings, written in crayon. Beavers covered in maple syrup have been thrown at my house. I hear mocking laughter coming from deep within dark alleys. Can I say for sure it is Evil Ray - no, I cannot, but it certainly fits his modus operandi.

He originally agreed to an interview in July, informing me we were to meet in an abandoned Lucky Charms factory. It was a trap; Evil Ray ambushed me, pelting me with blue diamonds, green clovers, and purple horseshoes for hours, until I passed out from the marshmallow beating. Plagued by nightmares from that experience, I still have the marks to remind me of Evil Ray’s evil ways.

Since that time, I have made several trips to Russia, attempting to track down any of the original scientists that are responsible for the creation of Evil Ray. The journeys have been costly and dangerous, but for my own peace of mind, and the desire to track down Evil Ray on behalf of my readers, I have continued.

To protect myself, I have spent countless hours training an elite force of ninja-penguins the subtleties of kung-fu fighting and placed a letter outlining all that I have discovered about Evil Ray in a safety deposit box, to be opened if I should disappear. For example, did you know that pictures of cute, baby animals apparently have the same effect on Evil Ray that garlic does on vampires?

While an interview with this mysterious evil clone would be one of my greatest achievements, it is also my worst nightmare come true. Last night, all those fears and a few new ones were realized - Evil Ray “decided” it was time for the interview.

Walking down the street, surrounded by my kung-fu master ninja penguins, someone, or some evil force, emerged from behind me in the shadows. I regained consciousness in an abandoned Frankenberry factory. My elite force of ninja penguins were nowhere to be found, yet a wonderful aroma filled the air, and Evil Ray continually offered me “Antarctic Chicken Burgers” and “Antarctic Chowder”...

He would not leave the shadows; mocking me from the darkness instead, with incoherent rants about Hayhurst and his Garfoose. He would not speak to me for the interview - insisting that the conversation would happen via email from across the room. Being the evil clone that he is, after a three-hour interview/interrogation, Evil Ray smashed my computer to destroy all the evidence of our conversation.

Franklin L. Llama
TVOS Computer Expert
For the past twelve hours, my brigade of llama scientists have worked on repairing the destroyed computer, attempting to recover any evidence of my conversation with Evil Ray. What follows is all that is left of my encounter with Evil X-Ray Halladay... I have looked into the eye-patch of evil and survived...



A worldwide TVOS exclusive, I present my conversation with EVIL X-RAY HALLADAY: Tales of Survival!

TVOS: So Ray, I would say thank you for meeting me, but I know that being polite would only fuel your anger, so I will skip the formalities. I have often wondered, what is your favourite Boy Band? After all, Boy Bands are an evil curse on the world; you must love one of them...


Evil Ray: My favourite Boy Band is Lady Gaga. Don’t try and tell me she’s not really a man, or at least both. Look at those cheekbones, look at that manly strut. I’ve sold enough orphans on the black market and had to have enough underground surgeries to avoid the authorities to know a faker when I see one. Every time I hear her talk about her Disco Stick, I shudder.

My number two choice would be Menudo.

TVOS: Hmm, some very fascinating insights... Tell me this Evil Ray, What is your favourite kind of evil? The Cobra Commander “take over the world” type or the Megatron “destroy the world” type? Perhaps you have created a completely new level of evil? What kind of leader will you be if you achieve world domination?

Evil Ray: These guys have it all wrong. You don’t want to take over the world, or destroy it. Obama tried one, BP tried the other and now everyone hates them. People always blame their problems on someone else, and that someone else is whoever is in power. I prefer the kind of evil that lets me take, swindle, cheat, rob, and kill, but then the people get mad at someone else for not being able to stop me.

TVOS: Your perfect brother Roy (the fact that Evil Ray is related to a certain MLB pitcher is still unconfirmed I should add), achieved perfection on the mound, a no-hitter in the playoffs, and another Cy Young Award this season. Did you call to congratulate him or did your evil and anger reach new heights as the spotlight shone brighter on your brother?


Evil Ray: Everyone wants to talk about his no hitter. Yeah, well, that’s all fine and dandy if you’re into baseball, which, unfortunately most of the idiot population of this hemisphere is. He’s the champion of hard work and how it pays off. Well I’m here to tell you that only morons work hard when I’ve lived a life of comfort stealing from other people’s accomplishments.

Besides, who’s to say I haven’t accomplished something. I put the first recorded ferret in space. I have my poster up in 36 different states and 14 countries. I have connections with people who can get you anthrax and plutonium—that kind of success doesn’t come over night, thank you very much.

TVOS: Is there any truth to the rumour I just made up that you and Triple H will headline Wrestlemania, taking on Dirk Hayhurst and The Garfoose in a no DQ, steel cage, tag-team match?

Evil Ray: I can neither confirm nor deny that, since I’ve already started placing my bets. However, I can confirm I hope the imbecile Hayhurst and his stupid spotted fleabag get their ******* kicked.

TVOS: The Garfoose seems to kick your a** on a regular basis; are you scared of him?

(Editor’s note - after I asked that question, the computer recorded approximately 25 minutes of extreme language and profanities, too evil for anyone to hear without losing their minds - we lost one llama scientist to madness, I cannot risk the same for TVOS readers!)

Evil Ray: I’m not scared of anyone! Not you, not Roy, and not that mangy stuffed animal Hayhurst talks to before bedtime. And the tales of my ass getting kicked are greatly exaggerated. The first time, I wasn’t ready, plain and simple. The second time, I slipped. Number 3-10 came when I was fasting for religious reasons, and therefore not at full strength. Then I had a series of colds, viruses, and arthritic flare-ups. Recently, I did manage to step on the Garfoose’s tail. It was an evil step. Very evil.

This interview is over!!!!


...And just like that dear reader, my time with Evil Ray Halladay had mercifully ended. While it is an encounter with evil that I can never forget, there is more to his story and I will continue my quest to solve the Evil Ray Halladay mystery.

A very special thank you to Dirk Hayhurst for risking his own well-being to help set up the Evil Ray Halladay interview - If you have not visited Dirk’s new-look website, I highly recommend you drop by for a visit! I also suggest you pick up a copy of his book “The Bullpen Gospels” - it is an open and honest account of life in the minor leagues and the man beneath the uniform; it is an amazing and thoroughly entertaining book.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: Carolina Hurricanes Forward Tuomo Ruutu

Photo by Clydeorama on Flickr
The Carolina Hurricanes are within striking distance of a playoff position and second line center Tuomo Ruutu is a key part of the organization's solid foundation.

With Ruutu on the second line, Cam Ward in goal, Eric Staal leading the way as the Hurricanes captain, and the sensational Jeff Skinner emerging as one of the league's top rookies, the Hurricanes are set to be playoff contenders for years to come.

Read about Tuomo Ruutu at The Hockey Writers

Photo by Clydeorama on Flickr

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: Senators Give Full Support To Richardson Family After Tragedy

With permission from the NHL, the Ottawa Senators flew home from Philadelphia last night to join assistant coach Luke Richardson and his family for a special Celebration of Life, to honour his daughter Daron.

Hockey fans are encouraged to make a donation to the Royal Ottawa Foundation For Mental Health - Youth Program and they are invited to the special event, which will be held at Scotiabank Place on November 17th at 10am.

The full article is posted at The Hockey Writers and includes donation info and phone numbers for teens in trouble in Canada and the United States.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Send In Your Question For Georges Laraque - The Hockey Writers - "Ask the Alumni"

Working with the NHL Alumni Association, The Hockey Writers has started an exciting new feature - "Ask the Alumni".

Readers now have the opportunity to be part of my interviews with members of the NHL Alumni Association and see their answers in articles posted at The Hockey Writers. We are pleased to announce that our next guest for the "Ask the Alumni" series at The Hockey Writers is Georges Laraque!

We are accepting your question for Georges Laraque until November 28th, 2010 at thwnhlalumni@gmail.com

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: Senators Struggling Against The NHL's Elite

Photo by TVOS
The Ottawa Senators are winning their games against the teams in the lower part of the NHL standings, but when it comes to taking on the NHL's elite, Ottawa has struggled this year. Heading into an important 5-game stretch against the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, St. Louis Blues and LA Kings, they need to find some consistency.

Read about the Senators 6-2 loss against the Vancouver Canucks and their struggles against the NHL's elite teams at The Hockey Writers

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Award-Winning Author Don Reddick And "Killing Frank McGee"

A portion of this article first appeared in the November 2010 edition of Main Street and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by Main Street Week News to have a look at a great community newspaper.

Every November 11th, we honour and remember our soldiers, men and women that have sacrificed so much, allowing us to continue to live in a free and democratic society. There are many accounts of these sacrifices, but one book that captures the pain and terrible losses of war is award-winning author Don Reddick’s Killing Frank McGee.

Frank McGee is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and played with the famous Ottawa Silver Seven; a team that dominated the early days of hockey. Many consider McGee to be one of the greatest hockey players that ever hit the ice. In Killing Frank McGee, a work of historical fiction, Reddick chronicles McGee’s life and death from the point of view of his coach, Alf Smith, and a young private in the Canadian Forces in World War I - William Kinnear.

“If you go to the Hall of Fame, they have a plaque that says, ‘Frank McGee - Ottawa Silver Seven star, killed on September 16, 1916’ and that’s it,” Reddick explained on the telephone from his home in Vermont.

“I come from a big hockey town - Norwood, Massachusetts, and I grew up during the 60’s. Five guys were killed in Vietnam during that time and no one in my town can probably remember their names, but they can all remember the name of Richie Hebner (Hebner survived Vietnam and went on to have an 18-year career in Major League Baseball). I thought that it was quite remarkable that the guys that give their lives are kind of forgotten and athletes are exalted. In Frank McGee you have both of these realms come together; it is quite a story.”

“For me it became very personal. I used to deliver the Patriot-Ledger, and I actually delivered on my paper route to the Hebner household and a block further was the Fitzgerald household. Fitzgerald was one of the guys that was killed. I vividly remember to this day, when I would go collecting, they had built a shrine to their son, with a picture of him in his Marine uniform sitting on the mantle, surrounded by flowers and candles. I would find his father sitting there in the dark staring at it. That’s something that I have never forgotten.”

The accounts of Kinnear’s life in the trenches during World War I and his chance encounter with Frank McGee on the battlefields of France are incredibly moving. The camaraderie of the soldiers and the absolute horrors of war are depicted in stunning detail and realism.

Don Reddick
“I think you have to love to read in order to write,” said Reddick. “I read over 35 books about World War I. Specifically about a lot of the Canadian angles, which as an American, I didn’t know as well as I might have, so there was a tremendous amount of research that went into it. With McGee, it was even more so because I found that even his family knew nothing about him.”

“Not only did they not know how he died, they didn’t know where he died, other then that it was at the Battle of the Somme. There was a lot of mystery surrounding the guy, once I get a project I take it to heart, and I want to do a good job. I went to France and we were actually able to figure out what happened to McGee.”

“The thought behind the whole thing was that so many guys died, millions died in that war. There was a conscious effort to show the other side of it, that these were regular every-day kids that went to war and never came back.”

In telling the story of Frank McGee through the eyes of Smith and Kinnear, Reddick has created a vivid, realistic account of life in the trenches, and he received a tremendous compliment from a very knowledgeable reader.

“Books of this nature don’t make you rich and famous, so a lot of the satisfaction is in the smaller things. I received an email from a member of the Canadian Air Force and he mentioned that he thought every Canadian kid should read the book. Something like that is a bit overwhelming; to get a letter like that validates all of the work. That is a wonderful thing.”

Thank you to Don for sharing his thoughts with Main Street, and thank you to all of our veterans for their service and sacrifices. Whether it is November or July, when you meet a veteran, take a moment, shake their hand and say thank you! Have a great sports day everyone.

For more information about Don Reddick and his wonderful books, visit his website at http://www.donreddick.com/.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: Halak and Conklin Leading The Way For Blues

Jaroslav Halak (HockeyBroad/Flickr)
The best start in franchise history has the St. Louis Blues at the top of their division and the NHL. Jaroslav Halak and Ty Conklin have backstopped the franchise as the NHL's newest dynamic duo.


Photo by:
Cheryl Adams (HockeyBroad/Flickr)
HockeyBroad.com

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Two Game Suspension For Joe Thornton Was Warranted...

(Dan4th/Flickr)
In dealing with the head shot and concussion issue in the NHL, the overwhelming sentiment is that it is time for a change of attitude by the league and amongst its players. Approximately 12 games into a new season, with a new rule on “blind-side” hits in place, we are still witnessing an alarming number of reckless plays resulting in head injuries.

I have said it before, I will say it again - a concussion is a brain injury; the long-term repercussions of a brain injury is not comparable to any other type of injury in sports. The league has suspended players in the past for knee-on-knee hits, after all, destroying an opponents knee could be career ending; completely scrambling an opponents brain, well, that’s not so bad apparently...

When I speak with current and former players, I always discuss the issue of concussions. It is an area of concern for me personally, as a sports columnist and sports fan, and it is a topic that is not going away any time soon. The main point they often stress is that very few players in any league are deliberately looking to end another player’s career. Hockey is a high-impact sport, injuries are part of the game, and they will occur on a regular basis. The fact remains though, if players are going to continue to target their opponent's head, then the league must step in; a “change of culture” is a phrase we have been hearing a lot lately.

Video of Joe Thornton's hit on David Perron

The two-game suspension handed down to San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton is appropriate. His hit on St. Louis Blues forward David Perron meets every criteria of the new rule. While I doubt that Thornton intended to cause serious injury, the fact remains, he did. The comments of his brother (who is also his agent), and the comments from the league when they upheld the suspension are what have me concerned and led to today's posting here at TVOS.

John Thornton made one valid point though - why did the league compare his brother’s hit to Nick Foligno’s hit on Patrick Dwyer, a hit that resulted in a $2,500 fine and no suspension. There is no doubt that the Foligno hit should have resulted in a similar two game suspension. When the league handed down a fine, they did set a dangerous precedent; one they could have avoided. It was early in the season - you want to send a message to the players that you will be tough on anyone that makes contact with an opponent’s head; there was your chance. Instead, the league continued with the “Wheel of Justice”, spinning the roulette wheel, where it lands, no one knows...

Video of Nick Foligno's hit on Patrick Dwyer

For the Thorntons to ask the league, “What could Joe have done differently?” and for the league to have no answer is beyond ridiculous... The answer is quite simple - do not hit Perron...

It is one thing to keep track of the players on the ice; to have someone step out of the penalty box, take several strides towards you, and deliver a check from seemingly out of nowhere is quite another story. What could Thornton have done differently? Well, he could have tried to get to Perron a second sooner and with the simple act of lifting his opponent's stick, steal the puck and create an odd-man rush in the other direction. Since Perron had already passed the puck, Thornton could have skated like hell towards his own zone and played some defence. After all, his team had just killed off his penalty; a line change would be forthcoming. To put it simply, the hit was unnecessary.

In Thornton’s defence, the hit on Perron has been legal for decades; it has been considered a good hockey play for over a century. However, with the knowledge and information we now have on brain injuries, these plays have to stop. We have witnessed the devastating effects of repeated head trauma in retired NFL players, wrestlers, and boxers; damage so severe it has led to suicides.

Think it will never happen in the hockey world... Think again...

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: NHL's Top Rookie? Carolina's Jeff Skinner...

Carolina's Jeff Skinner (VirtKitty/Flickr)
Heading into the 2010 NHL Draft everyone was talking about Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. Twelve games into his rookie season, it is Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner leading the rookie scoring race.

Read about the seventh overall pick Jeff Skinner and his Hurricanes at The Hockey Writers

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: An Interview With Author Don Reddick

Award-Winning Author Don Reddick
In 1904, a group of hockey players left the Yukon to challenge the Ottawa Silver Seven for the Stanley Cup. Ninety-two years later, another generation of players re-enacted the epic journey, challenging the Ottawa Senators Alumni.

Award-winning author Don Reddick was part of the group that travelled from Dawson City to Ottawa and he chronicled the adventure in his book - The Trail Less Traveled.

Read the interview with Don Reddick at The Hockey Writers

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Voice Of Sport And Movember!!

This article was first published in the November 3rd edition of Main Street Week and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by Main Street Week News to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox.

Noticed A Few New Moustaches Around Town?
Business Garfoose And The Voice Support Movember!
Halloween has come and gone, but you may notice that several men in your neighbourhood are sporting moustaches these days. No, these newly cultivated ‘staches are not remnants from a frightful costume or a Tom Selleck look-alike contest - the calendar has turned the page to November, which means it is also Movember.

In 2003, a group of men in Australia created Movember, a movement that has now swept through many countries and around the globe. Dedicated to helping raise awareness of men’s issues (in Canada it is prostate cancer), participants lend their upper-lip to charity, growing moustaches and raising much needed funds. While some men may look silly with a moustache (me for example!), the “Movember” movement in Canada raised $7.8 million for Prostate Cancer Canada last year.

According to recent statistics, prostate cancer will affect 1 in 6 Canadian men this year, making it the most common cancer to afflict men in our country; 4,400 men will die of the disease this year. While Movember participants are having fun with their new-look moustaches, the simple act of letting your “Mo” grow helps Prostate Cancer Canada develop new programs related to raising awareness, education, support for those affected by the disease, and new research focused on the prevention, detection, treatment, and hopefully a cure.

Many current and former NHL players have joined in the battle against prostate cancer. Retired NHL player Lanny McDonald and his world famous moustache is a spokesman for the Movember movement. With that in mind, The Voice of Sport has jumped on board to support this important event. My upper-lip will be a little warmer this month...

If you would like more information on Movember, or if you would like to support my moustache, drop by my website, The Voice of Sport.com for a link to my donation page and Movember Canada’s website.

TVOS and The Hockey Writers Present “Ask the Alumni”

Along with my web site and my columns here at Main Street, one of my jobs as a sports columnist is writing for The Hockey Writers.com; I cover the Ottawa Senators and the NHL Alumni for the site. It is an exciting time in my career, as The Voice of Sport, The Hockey Writers, and the NHL Alumni Association recently teamed up for a new project - “Ask the Alumni”

When our favourite NHL players retire, they may leave the spotlight of the NHL, but they never leave the hearts and minds of their fans. To help bridge the gap between hockey fans and their hockey heroes, with the assistance of NHL Alumni Executive Director Mark Napier and Media Relations Coordinator Dylan Wade, I will be interviewing an Alumni member each month for The Hockey Writers. Here is my favourite part of the project - the readers get to supply the questions.

I would like to invite Main Street readers to join in on this project - Who is your favourite retired NHL player and if you could ask him one question, what would it be? Our first NHL Alumni guest is Lanny McDonald and his famous moustache! Send me an email at thwnhlalumni@gmail.com with a question for Mr. McDonald or to suggest an Alumni guest.

That is it for this week folks - remember to support Movember and the many fresh, new moustaches that will be sprouting up this month! Have a great sports day everyone.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Voice of Sport at The Hockey Writers: Jarkko Ruutu - Super Pest or Super Hero?

Photo by TVOS
It is a season of milestones in Ottawa this year - Daniel Alfredsson's 1,000th career point, Sergei Gonchar's 1,000th NHL game, and Jarkko Ruutu's 1,000 career penalty minutes.

Every team has at least one - the third or fourth line grinder, the shift-disturber... The guy you love to hate when he plays your team, but the guy you love to have when he wears your team's uniform.

Jarkko Ruutu - Super Pest or Super Hero?

Read about Ruutu and his role with the Ottawa Senators at The Hockey Writers

Monday, November 1, 2010

Send In Your Questions For Lanny McDonald - The Hockey Writers - "Ask The Alumni"

Working with the NHL Alumni Association, The Hockey Writers has started an exciting new feature - "Ask the Alumni".

Readers now have the opportunity to be part of my interviews with members of the NHL Alumni Association and see their answers in articles posted at The Hockey Writers. We are pleased to announce that our first guest for the "Ask the Alumni" series at The Hockey Writers is Lanny McDonald!

With over 1,100 games in the NHL, Lanny McDonald is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and a Stanley Cup champion with the 1989 Calgary Flames - and he is taking time to answer your questions - so send them along to thwnhlalumni@gmail.com

Thursday, October 28, 2010

TVOS at The Hockey Writers: Carolina Hurricanes Finally Arrive Home...

Wearing a few different hats at The Hockey Writers these days... Along with my coverage of the Ottawa Senators and the NHL Alumni Association, you can add the St. Louis Blues and Carolina Hurricanes to the list.

Last night, the Hurricanes finally arrived at the RBC Center in Raleigh for their "home opener"... Unfortunately, the Washington Capitals spoiled the party with a 3-0 win.

Read about the Hurricanes home opener at The Hockey Writers.com

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

TVOS at The Hockey Writers: 1,000 NHL Games for Gonchar

The Ottawa Senators celebrated Sergei Gonchar's 1,000th career game with a pre-game ceremony and a 5-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday evening.

Read all about the milestone moment at The Hockey Writers.com

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TVOS at The Hockey Writers: Halak Named 2nd Star By NHL In Weekly Honours

Halak at the 2010 Olympics
Photo by s.yume on Flickr
Do hockey fans in Montreal have the Blues? Jaroslav Halak has found a home and his comfort zone in St. Louis; he was named the 2nd Star of the Week by the NHL.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Voice Of Sport, The Hockey Writers And The NHL Alumni Association

TVOS, The Hockey Writers, and the NHL Alumni Association
present "Ask the Alumni"
TVOS, The Hockey Writers and the NHL Alumni Association are pleased to announce a new project at The Hockey Writers - "Ask the Alumni"

When our hockey heroes leave the spotlight of the NHL, they certainly do not leave the hearts and minds of their fans. With this new project, you will have the chance to submit a question and connect with former NHL players.

Read all the details at The Hockey Writers.com and find out how to submit your questions.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

TVOS at The Hockey Writers: 1,000 NHL Points For Alfredsson

Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson reached an important career milestone Friday evening in Buffalo... His hat trick brought him to 1,000 career points in the NHL.

Congrats Alfie!!

Read all about it at The Hockey Writers.com

Friday, October 22, 2010

Have The Montreal "Boo-Birds" Migrated South?

This article was first published in the October 22nd edition of Main Street Week and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by Main Street Week News to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox every Friday.

The theme of my September 24th Main Street Week article was how the new NHL season is a fresh start for every team. After a great trip through the playoffs last year with Jaroslav Halak leading the way, the Montreal Canadiens decided that Carey Price would be their number one goaltender moving forward, and the concept of a fresh start also applied to the young net minder. Much to my surprise, that very same week, the boo-birds were out in full-force when Price stumbled in his first pre-season game, allowing four goals on nine shots.

While I was critical of the Halak trade, the timing of the deal more then the fact that he was dealt, the Canadiens management team obviously has faith in Price, after all, their jobs depend on a successful year. So now that the season has begun and Price is statistically one of the better goaltenders in the early portion of the season, I am left wondering - have the boo-birds migrated with our other feathered friends? Perhaps they are waiting for the first losing streak to make their return.

As I write this column, the Canadiens are second in the Northeast Division, with a 3-1-1 win/loss record, one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for first place. On a side note, when was the last time the Maple Leafs were in first place? Getting back to my point, Price has started every game for the Canadiens and has a 2.57 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. He has looked composed in the Montreal net, covering his angles and working with the defencemen to limit the second chance opportunities of the opposition.

While the season is still in its early stages, it is a positive sign that Price is playing well. Signed to a two-year contract, with a $2.75 million salary cap hit both years, he is still a few years away from outright free agency. When his current contract expires, he becomes a restricted free agent, which means other teams can make a contract offer but Montreal has the right to match the deal or let Price go and receive compensation; the same scenario the Canadiens faced when they decided to trade Halak.

The one thing I have been wondering since the boo-birds swooped in on Price during the pre-season opener is this... What if he does become the great goaltender Bob Gainey and current GM Pierre Gauthier believe he can become. While it is tremendous that the Canadiens have many passionate fans, there is the risk that Price does become an all-star calibre goaltender and chooses to leave town at the age of 25 because he is tired of the second-guessing and the turmoil in Montreal.

If he continues to improve, there is a very real possibility that Price can become an elite goaltender in the NHL and in the modern day era of free agency and the salary cap, he could lead someone else’s team to the Stanley Cup. Something the Montreal boo-birds might want to take into consideration. Have a great sports day everyone.