It’s something he has done before — successfully, I might add — but Kaspars Daugavins went for it again: he pressed the toe of his blade into the puck and took off, barrelling down on Tuukka Rask. Ripping a quick spin-o-rama, Daugavins tried to bury the puck, which was still tucked tightly under the toe of his stick, but was denied. He skated back to the bench with his head down. But today his attempt has the hockey world talking.

I’d like to say I fall in line with the majority of hockey fans when saying that I’m not a proponent of the shootout, but that would be a lie. While I understand the merit of deciding a game with extra hockey, and with the notions of 3-on-3 or expanded overtime being bandied about, I have to admit there’s something that encapsulates me about the one-on-one between a shooter and goaltender. I want to see supremely skilled players do things with a puck that I could barely dream of, and I want to have those ideas inspire others to try jaw-dropping moves and carry on an era of shootout flare.

This is where Daugavins comes in. Post-game, David Krejci — whose Bruins squad Daugavins tried his awe-inspiring attempt against — said he wouldn’t be pleased if a player on his own team tried that. I’m not Nostradamus, but I’d venture a guess and say Krejci would probably be having a laugh on the bench if, say, Brad Marchand had pulled that out of his bag of tricks.

Think about the most memorable goals from the near decade of hockey that has been played since the inception of the NHL’s shootout era. If you didn’t think immediately about Marek Malik’s between-the-legs, Pavel Datsyuk’s signature deke, or Patrick Kane mesmerizing Niklas Backstrom, I’d be surprised. Those are moves that were played on highlight reels throughout the continent. They are what sells the game.

We have engaged in the fighting debate enough to come to the conclusion that, in reality, it likely is no longer really selling the game. But when a fan sees something like Daugavins attempt? You can guarantee they think about watching a bit more puck to see what these guys can do.

I don’t doubt that Ryan Lambert was on to something today he brought up the point about Daugavins and Linus Omark — whose shootout attempts became something of legend — were both European players. That, no doubt, probably has a bit to do with the scrutiny Daugavins is facing from fellow players. Surely, Good Canadian Boy Sidney Crosby would never do something outlandish in the midst of a game that wouldn’t be considered classy.

The problem here is hockey’s archaic view of right and wrong. Many in the league would decry Daugavins attempt because hockey has some obsession with the “old school,” and an inherent want to stay true to the form it has always been. As Lambert also pointed out, hockey is more inclined to accept a borderline hit and chalk it up to part of the game than they are to embrace creative play that can bring fans to their feet.

There is nothing wrong with what Daugavins did. It is — in a more literal sense than hits from behind and staged fights — part of the game. He was within his bounds to attempt it, and if he had scored, I would have applauded the next to try it.

Vancouver Canucks forward Zack Kassian fought 13 times during the 2008-09 season as a member of the Winsor Spitfires. (Image courtesy WikiCommons)

Vancouver Canucks forward Zack Kassian fought 13 times during the 2008-09 season as a member of the Winsor Spitfires. (Image courtesy WikiCommons)

Nearly one full season complete, and it appears the Ontario Hockey League’s sanctions on fighting have put a serious dent in the amount of fisticuffs you’re seeing during league action.

Before the puck had dropped to ring in the 2012-13 OHL season, the league made several rule changes. The one receiving the most attention — and rightfully so after what feels like years of debate surrounding player safety, concussions, and fighting — was the OHL’s decision to put limits on player fights.

The amendments to the player legislation (which do not appear in the leagues downloadable rulebook) are as follows:

  1. If a player is assessed a fighting major for the 11th – 15th time during the regular season, such player is assessed an automatic two (2) game suspension for each additional fighting major in addition to any other penalties assessed.
  2. If a player is assessed a fighting major for the 16th time or more during the regular season, such player is assessed an automatic two (2) game suspension and the hockey club is fined $1,000.00 for each additional fighting major in addition to any other penalties assessed.
  3. If a player is deemed to be the instigator in any of the fights above the ten (10) game threshold, such player would be assessed an automatic four (4) game suspension in addition to any other penalties assessed.

Though the change to the rulebook was met with mixed reaction, the rule changes allowed for the league to protect its players and take a step towards what will likely become a league sans fighting. It’s for this reason that fight-fans were outspoken on what the implications could be for the future of hockey — one they wish to have fighting be a part of.

It seems fitting to bring this up now, if anytime, just a day after the Ottawa Senator’s Dave Dziurzynski suffered what looked to be a pretty serious concussion at the hands of Toronto Maple Leafs’ Frazer McLaren under a minute into the Ottawa-Toronto game last night. While the blogosphere continues to argue the outright removal of fighting (something I’d guess is unlikely to happen for many years) or just limiting it to stiffer punishment for staged fights, the model I easily see the NHL adopting is something similar to what the OHL has taken on: a fight limit. Continue Reading…

The Chicago Blackhawks were Stanley Cup Champions in 2010 and anything short of another Stanley Cup won’t be enough this season. (Image courtesy WikiCommons)

With a 5-3 win last night over the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks pushed their point-streak this season to 23 games — a record of 20-0-3. The streak, which is the longest in the history of the National Hockey League to begin a season and second longest point streak of all-time, has put the Blackhawks front-and-centre on the sports radar in the United States. But in the end, the streak means nothing if the Blackhawks don’t win the final game of the season.

Many have been discrediting the streak as a product of the loser-point era and saying the Blackhawks have been the beneficiary of a “play it safe and secure at least a single” strategy, the streak should be discredited for another reason entirely: it doesn’t mean a thing.

Though earning a record in a league that’s satiated with parity is an achievement, it would be remiss to think anyone but fans and media care much about the streak. Even with this streak being only statistically possible once every 700 years according to Richard Cleary in an interview with USA Today’s Kevin Allen, it’s still not what the players set out each season to do, and it’s not what diehard fans dream of their team doing.

However unlikely it seems, this record will fall. This record will fall, and without a Stanley Cup to commemorate what is one of the greatest seasons the Windy City’s NHL team has ever seen, it will eventually be a memory that falls by the wayside for all hockey fans.

These records, for the most part, they come and go. What was Anaheim’s record from 2006-07 is no more, but if Ducks fans were asked what they remember about that season, it would be safe to say it’s the Stanley Cup.

The Blackhawks have been impressive this season, which is an understatement, but this season is about a race to the finish, not who’s first out of the blocks.

Were the Blackhawks to slip in the playoffs and be eliminated early, the streak would not be enough to please the fans. A divisional banner, maybe the least important banner in all of hockey, is worth less than nothing.

It’s not that fan expectations of this team are too high; fan expectations are right where they should be. The Blackhawks have succeeded to a point where they’re bound to lose a few — and a few in a row, in all likelihood — but ‘Hawks fans should now be worried about when this team happens to hit the skids.

The streak is an interesting statistical oddity and something that will eventually come to an end. A Stanley Cup at the end of the season will last forever.

It was senior night in Farmington and goaltender Austin Krause was getting the start after being sat in favour of a sophomore goaltender. Krause was unhappy with his role and had supposedly premeditated this outburst. He took the puck, put it into his own goal, removed his glove, gave his coaching staff a gesture, and left the ice through an already opened gate.

s/t to @FollowThePuck and @RLMarkuson for information.

I’m incredulous at the idea of expansion.

Dustin Brown and the Los Angeles Kings are defending their Stanley Cup in 2012-13's lockout shortened season. (Image courtesy WikiCommons)

Dustin Brown and the Los Angeles Kings are defending their Stanley Cup in 2012-13’s lockout shortened season. (Image courtesy WikiCommons)

After a lockout threatened to cancel the NHL season and with the Phoenix Coyotes on the brink of losing their potential owner Greg Jamison, why are hockey fans hoping for another team – an additional team – in the Greater Toronto Area?

Markham City Council approved an “NHL ready” facility – along with colossal fees for taxpayers – and the stirring of Canadian hockey fans began. More specifically, its piqued the interest of GTA puckheads.

When the council meeting came to a close after hours of speeches, presentations, and deliberation, Paul Kelly, former Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association, told those in attendance the NHL had previously discussed expansion. The supposed expansion that was to take place would have seen the league add two teams, increasing the number of franchises from 30 to 32.

Honestly, the absurdity of expansion in the NHL leaves me bordering on speechlessness. In the most recent Forbes valuations of the NHL’s franchises nearly half the league was operating in the red, and it was a major crux of the collective bargaining that kept hockey off ice until January.

If the NHL decided to bring another team to Canada, it would certainly serve to boost revenues in the immediate area, but it would also lead to immediate revenue sharing on their end. Another owner or ownership group spreading their piece of the pie amongst the failed states of the NHL would do nothing to increase league stability.

Expansion isn’t the answer, and it hasn’t been from the outset of the leagues financial problems. It serves only as a stopgap and immediate revenue boost. If the NHL wants to get on stable footing, they need to look seriously at franchise relocation.

I understand the perception of a team relocating is that of a failing league, but the league can’t continue to operate in fear of what some will perceive as failure.

Phoenix, Florida, and Columbus are big television markets that could promise big bucks if the teams were perennially successful, but how many years away will that be? Phoenix has had a turnaround but remain a tough draw. Florida made the playoffs last season for the first time in over a decade and aren’t packing their house. And Columbus has been mired in the basement of the league since their inception in 2000. These aren’t turning around. There isn’t a future. Cut your losses.

If anything, the NHL stands a better chance contracting. We all know it won’t happen, but contraction is far better than expansion, and relocation is better than both. Let’s keep the jobs we have, keep the competition level we have, and let’s give our heads a shake.

Sunbelt Resurgence

January 24, 2013 — Leave a comment
The Bank Atlantic Center, half-empty, during a 2009 contest with the hometown Florida Panthers taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Bank Atlantic Center, half-empty, during a 2009 contest with the hometown Florida Panthers taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

As fans filed through the doors of Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, they were greeted with blood red towels draped upon their seats. Splashed across the towels was the new rebranded team motto, “We See Red,” and as fans took their seats they waited. They waited for their Florida Panthers to take the ice for their first playoff appearance in over a decade, they waited for a head-to-head with New Jersey Devils, and they waited to roar in elation – a roar that was missing for so many years and desperate to return. The series would go seven grueling games and would end on an Adam Henrique goal in overtime. As the Panthers left the ice for the final time in 2011-12, their fans that had waited so long for any reason to cheer left them with a raucous ovation. Panthers fans had waited for rebirth, and now, with an NHL lockout, they wait again.

Continue Reading…

It certainly came as a surprise to the Kamloops Blazers and the WHL when 20-year-old forward Jordan DePape decided to announce he was leaving the team.

DePape, who has since undergone surgery on a torn labrum in his right shoulder, was originally thought to be taking some time to decide on his future. While the shoulder injury will keep him sidelined for a significant amount of time, DePape told Gregg Drinnan that he’s not ruling out a possible comeback.

However, the injury has almost certainly ended DePape’s WHL career. The former MJHL Rookie of the Year has since told the Winnipeg Sun that he could possibly see coming back to play in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and has been approached about playing for the University of Manitoba Bisons.

All of this first came to my attention when DePape was listed on as being transferred from the WHL’s Blazers to “Time-Out From Hockey.” It’s not often that you see the dreaded “time out from hockey” show up on the site, but it does happen from time to time.

Continue Reading…

A Lockout Casualty

November 28, 2012 — Leave a comment

One of the newest casualties of the NHL’s lockout may be the excitement of fans in the league’s newest city.

When the NHL came back to Winnipeg during the 2011 off-season, the city couldn’t have been more electric. Fans crowded the city’s main intersection at Portage Ave. and Main St., and they flocked to tourist destination The Forks for a party that stretched from the time of the announcement until long into the night.

Devon Barker, who was interning in an eighth grade art class when the announcement came down, said her class was stopped to watch the conference live.

“The class was excited,” said Barker, laughing. “It brought a bit of enthusiasm to a rather lackluster art class.”

Barker added the students had been talking about the imminent announcement all morning, and some of the children were even wearing Jets gear from their original incarnation.

Donny Braemer, who isn’t necessarily sour on the Jets, is more than fed up with the NHL.

“I’m more fed up with the Board of Governors,” said Braemer. “I know it’s players and owners, not just the Jets. I would say I’m upset at the league as a whole, it’s not just one team.”

“They didn’t move the team to Winnipeg from Atlanta to be locked out,” added Braemer.

Patrick Williams, who covers the Jets for, said Jets fans haven’t really been voicing their displeasure as much as other markets.

“I haven’t really heard that sentiment outside of a handful of people,” said Williams, via email. “However, I have been very surprised by the lack of talk about the lockout in Winnipeg, given the level of fan interest last season. People here seem very non-chalant about it.”

Before his gig with, Williams covered the AHL and, being based out of Manitoba, he was able to see first hand the support that the Moose garnered from the hockey community in Winnipeg. Williams did say, however, that the NHL reigns supreme no matter the case.

“For the vast majority of people here, having an NHL team – even a mediocre team – trumps having a winning AHL team,” said Williams.

In a town known for its frivolity, the Moose were a better “deal,” and much more affordable for a family of four. (As a proud Winnipegger, even I can admit that the city is known to spend the extra gas money to drive across the entire city to save a buck.) But Winnipeggers are now paying for a premium product.

While there are the few who would rather have the AHL team back – some who would argue that at this point hockey is hockey, and in this trying time, something is better than nothing – it seems as though the majority of Winnipeggers are steadfast in thinking its NHL or bust.

Courtesy Demonoid

Torrent users, rejoice. File sharing website and BitTorrent tracker Demonoid is back online after being shut down since late July.

A BitTorrent tracker like Demonoid lets its users find torrents – small pieces of a file separated onto different hosts – that can then be downloaded as a complete file.

Often, torrents are hosted by “seeders” – or uploaders – and downloaded by “leechers”.

Though torrent hosting and distribution is illegal in many countries, there are a number of torrent websites, with Demonoid being one of the most notable.

Matt Lischynski, a Demonoid user for several years, said he didn’t expect it to ever come back, but welcomed the news.

“When the website comes back, I’ll be using it,” said Lischynski. “It’s how I get my music – a lot of stuff I can’t find in music stores.”

Lischynski said he uses the service to download roughly 10 to 15 albums a month.

Even with the shutdowns, Bernie Monette, program coordinator for web development at Humber, said Demonoid doesn’t risk losing its large user base.

Continue Reading…

Malls run by Cadillac Fairview are hoping to keep Ontario residents north of the border with extended shopping hours for Black Friday.

Black Friday, which falls on the day after American Thanksgiving this week, is one of the busiest shopping days of the year in the U.S., and Cadillac Fairview wants that business to stay close to home.

“It’s certainly a hope to keep shoppers within Canada,” said Meredith Vlitas, the senior marketing director at Toronto’s Eaton Centre. “We wanted to help Torontonians avoid long lines, the commute, and be able to find deals in the comfort and convenience of their own back yard.”

Canadians saw an increase in duty-free exempt goods on June 1, raising the amount from $50 to $200 on 24-hour trips south and from $400 to $800 on stays of 48 hours or more, making shopping trips to the U.S. far more enticing for Canadians.

Deloitte, a Canadian professional services firm, released a survey saying nearly 40 per cent of Ontarians plan to head south for their holiday shopping.

While Cadillac Fairview said in a release that the extended shopping hours aim to keep shoppers spending their money in Ontario, a separate Deloitte survey shows store hours may not have anything to do with where or why shoppers spend. Continue Reading…