- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports14 hrs ago
There might be some respite in sight for long-suffering fans of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
At the team’s annual general meeting Tuesday night, the board of directors decided to put the sale of the community-run franchise up for a vote. Unfortunately, it’s a decision on the 2015 agenda, but better late than never.
This news should give investors a year to secure funding and get their proposals and presentations in order. Last year Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg, a native of Lethbridge, penned a letter in the city’s local paper about his desire to buy the flagging franchise.
“My heart is with this team, as many people in Lethbridge know,” wrote Versteeg, who played his junior hockey with the Hurricanes. “My partners and I 100 per cent guarantee that we would keep this team in Lethbridge. We want to make it a place for families and hockey fans to enjoy the game and have fun on a nightly basis.”
- Sunaya Sapurji at Buzzing The Net6 days ago
Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...
Today's Must Read: Former Moncton Wildcats forward Matt Eagles is in his second year of med school at Memorial University. He writes candidly about what it was like to suffer though concussions - which ultimately ended his his hockey career.
"I did not want to admit to being concussed for fear I would be kept out the lineup. This fear was well founded." (CMAJ Blogs)
Daniel Sprong and Filip Chlapik scored 1:07 apart for the Charlottetown Islanders to double down on the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the lone QMJHL game last night. (Recap)
- Sunaya Sapurji at Buzzing The Net12 days ago
The Chicoutimi Sagueneens, like many other teams in the Canadian Hockey League, are trying to find a way to increase their fan base. Last season the Sagueneens saw their attendance decrease by roughly 7,000 fans.
So what does a junior team comprised of teenage boys playing in a league that prides itself on family entertainment do? Well, if you’re Chicoutimi, you kick off the new season by inviting fans to a dance party with Playboy playmates.
What exactly Playboy has to do with junior hockey in Chicoutimi, no one knows, but any publicity is good publicity, right?
"The saying any publicity is good publicity may apply to pseudo-celebrities like the Kardashians, but it certainly does not apply to corporations or sports organizations," said Dr. Lilly Buchwitz , a professor of marketing at Humber College. "Scandals, arrests, and other bad publicity damages brands, sometimes so seriously that they never recover."
She doesn't believe that in this instance however, the Sags will do irreparable damage to their brand. The event is scheduled for Saturday night after Chicoutimi’s regular season game against the Quebec Remparts.
When Sonny Milano made his decision to forgo his commitment to Boston College, he phoned head coach Jerry York to break the news. The 18-year-old had decided to give up his scholarship and sign with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers. Going back on his word meant it wasn’t an easy conversation.
Milano said he offered to meet with the long-time NCAA bench boss to explain in person, but the coach said not to worry.
“That was a tough call to make,” said Milano. “He took it pretty well. But it was tough; obviously he was a little upset. It just had to be done.”
It’s not the first time York’s program has been rejected in favour of the Canadian Hockey League and if the current climate holds, it won’t be last, either. And it’s not just a problem for Boston College. Every year myriad NCAA teams are hit with decommitments. If college coaches are lucky, they’ll at least be given the courtesy of early notice so they won’t have to scramble a week (or days) before the start of school to fill a roster spot.
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — All he wanted to do was play hockey. By age two, Jack Eichel was walking around the house with a yellow mini-stick in his hand. By three, he had already started skating by pushing a crate around on the ice to maintain his balance.
When he was four, Eichel was told by minor hockey organizers in Chelmsford, Mass., that he was too young to join their program and would have to wait. He pestered his parents, Bob and Anne, to the point where they finally relented and had him enrolled across the state line in Nashua, N.H., where the rink was only three miles from their home.
“He was a pain in the neck,” said Bob, of Jack’s persistence. “We held him off for as long as possible.”
Having grown up in Melrose, Mass., a suburb of Boston, Bob Eichel was a huge fan of the Bruins. His favourite player – of course – was Bobby Orr. Putting Jack and his older sister Jessie in skates and passing on his love of the game was a no-brainer.
Bob would give Jack instructions such as “stretch your stride” and Jack would listen intently. It wasn’t uncommon to find Jack skating around in his little red snowsuit on one of the nearby ponds shooting pucks before school.
BROSSARD, QUE — When Canada takes to the ice in Montreal on Boxing Day - some five months from now - the hopes of Canadian hockey fans will rest on the shoulders of teenage boys.
Tom Renney, the new president and chief executive officers of Hockey Canada, knows that pressure first hand. In 1999, he was a late replacement to coach the world junior team in Winnipeg after George Burnett resigned to take an NHL job.
Renney ended up settling for a silver medal after the team lost of Russia in overtime of the gold medal game. He believes the opportunity to play at home is one of the biggest advantages Canada will have with the crowd behind them in Montreal and Toronto.
“It’s great,” said Renney of being able to play at home. “It might be the best thing that happens to them in their careers in this point in time. The responsibility of winning at home is a lofty one, there’s no question about that, but boy, it can certainly develop some resiliency and resolve in finding a way (to win).
“I enjoyed it and I know our players did. They loved the responsibility of having to show up and perform.”
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Earlier this week at Team Canada’s camp in Montreal, Benoit Groulx raised some eyebrows when he said his team should take a page from the Finnish playbook for the 2015 world junior hockey championships.
Finland, the Canadian coach said, plays the hard, gritty, relentless hockey that wins gold medals. It’s the style of play Groulx wants Canada to rediscover when the tournament moves to home ice in Montreal and Toronto in December.
“I really feel they were copying us in the past,” Groulx said of the other under-20 nations. “The way Finland won the gold last year was the Canadian way. We have to go back to that. It’s exactly what has to start (at summer camp).”
“I think what Ben was saying is (the Finns) played our game better than we did,” said Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada’s vice-president of hockey operations. “And I don’t even know if it’s our game – it’s the way that everyone should play if they want to win – that’s not the Canadian way, that’s the right way.”
Nevertheless, the Finns appreciate the compliment.
“That’s nice to hear,” said goaltender Juuse Saros, who backstopped the Young Lions to gold at the 2014 tournament in Malmo, Sweden.
BROSSARD, QUE. — Over the course of his three-year Ontario Hockey League career, Ben Harpur has faced his share of talented forwards. Young NHL stars like Edmonton’s Nail Yakupov and Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk are a couple of names that come to mind.
The one that stands out the most, however, is Connor McDavid, Harpur’s teammate at Canada’s summer world junior camp.
“He’s one of the greatest skaters I’ve ever played against,” said the Guelph Storm defenceman. “When you’re in the corners, just his shiftiness, it’s hard to defend against him. It seems every time he touches the puck he’s making something happen, so it keeps you on your toes.”
At this point, you’d have to be cut off completely from the hockey world to have missed the comprehensive coverage of the teenager projected to be the game's next great player. McDavid is only 17, but has been profiled exhaustively since he was granted exceptional status by the OHL two years earlier to play with the Erie Otters against older kids. At 15, he became the youngest hockey player to sign a multi-million dollar endorsement deal with Reebok and had been followed around by reporters from the New York Times.
BROSSARD, QUE.— As far as head coach Benoit Groulx is concerned, pressure is a good thing. It’s nice he feels that way, because as the man in charge of righting the ship for Team Canada at the 2015 world junior championships – the heat is on.
“We’re in August and I think you’re the tenth person to ask me about the pressure in Canada,” said Groulx, with a smile.
The tournament, a favourite Christmas-time pastime for many Canadians, is back on home turf this year in both Toronto and Montreal, two cities with massive NHL fan bases. Canada has finished fourth at the tournament for two consecutive years – the first time since 1978-81 - and last won gold in 2009.
“I think the way we think and we approach that, it’s more about embracing the tournament and embracing the situation,” said Groulx. “We’re in our country – the top two cities, maybe – in the world to play hockey. The fans are going to be behind us and you know what, if you have pressure it’s because you have a chance to win. When people don’t expect you to win, you don’t have any pressure.”
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports2 mths ago
It was a few weeks ago when Kyle Dubas was in Mexico – getting married – that he first heard from Brendan Shanahan. The president of the Toronto Maple Leafs wanted to talk to him as Dubas, the GM of the Soo Greyhounds, had been identified as a bright young hockey mind.
On Tuesday afternoon, Dubas and his sharp hockey mind was hired as the Leafs’ new assistant general manager.
A lot of people in the hockey world have written, in print and on social media, about how this 28-year-old wunderkind embraced analytics to quickly turn around the fortunes of the Greyhounds. The team was in trouble when Dubas left his job as a player agent to go home and fix the OHL team his grandfather had once coached.
It’s a nice narrative for July, when there isn’t much in the way of hockey news.
The reality is rebuilding the Greyhounds was arduous and there were missteps for Dubas. It took three seasons just for them to get to the second round of the OHL playoffs. After his first year in Sault Ste. Marie, many fans wanted him fired. The team’s poor performance meant he had to fire head coach Mike Stapleton in 2012. The learning curve was not very forgiving.