- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports1 day ago
When news broke on Monday that a second attempt was being made to unionize players in the Canadian Hockey League it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Despite the first failed endeavour back in the summer of 2012, it was only a matter of time before someone tried again.
There is money to be had in the CHL. The business of major junior hockey is now lucrative enough to make it ripe for lawyers and organizers who want a cut and for the team owners who want to keep making bank.
Do players need a formal union? Probably not. But what the CHL does need – and desperately – is a third party to arbitrate issues between agents and players and the leagues to make sure the best interests of these kids are being served.
Players already have people to advocate on their behalf in the form of agents. Like the management groups of the teams they play for – some are very good at their jobs and some aren’t. The idea of some young, timid 16-year-old being coerced into signing a contract in some Faustian bargain is naive.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
It was two summers ago that the initial idea of unionizing players in the Canadian Hockey League was first discussed. The project was mishandled from the start by a group with unclear motives and certification of the roughly 1,400 players never got off the ground.
Jerry Dias is here to change that.
As president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, Dias is taking up the fight to create a union for CHLers.
“The facts are we are a reputable Canadian union and we’re determined,” said Dias in an interview with Yahoo Sports on Monday. “We’re not going to allow the high-priced lawyers that are employed by the league to push us around.”
But it's off to a rocky start.
The Canadian Hockey League Players’ Association (CHLPA) was the group that first tried to unionize players in 2012. The idea of a potential union was sound, but the group running it was not. The CHLPA was plagued by miscues and a number of their statements via social media were puzzling. They refused to name anyone behind the scenes involved with their board, until the CHLPA hired former NHLer Georges Laraque as their executive director.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Buzzing The Net14 days ago
PHILADELPHIA— One year ago Daniel Walcott was sitting on his couch at home watching the NHL Draft and dreaming about the possibility that one day that could be him hearing his name called.
At the time, however, reality dictated that the dream was a stretch. The defenceman was playing for Lindenwood University close to St. Louis in the American Collegiate Hockey Association – a small college loop unaffiliated with the NCAA. He was playing against older, more mature players, but his talents went largely unnoticed.
“Playing there last year I watched the draft from my house,” said Walcott. “I thought maybe one day – next year is my last year. I thought maybe, possibly something would work out if I worked really hard and got seen.”
Sometimes all you need is one person to see you and believe in your talents. On Saturday, the New York Rangers called his name from the draft floor in the fifth round.
“Fortunately I was seen and the dream came true,” he said sporting a wide smile.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports15 days ago
PHILADELPHIA - A young girl sat in the stands cheering on her older brother playing junior hockey in Biel, Switzerland. In the final minutes of the intermissions, Caroline Ehlers, a pretty, fair-haired girl with bright-blue eyes, would hover above the tunnel leading on to the ice so she could talk to her brother, Nikolaj.
To hear him tell it now, their conversations were always one-way and Caroline, in those moments, was more drill sergeant than his 14-year-old sister.
“Get your ass in front of the net,” he said, mimicking his sibling. “You need to score here! You need to keep cycling and moving your feet.”
At the scouting combine at the end of May, Ehlers had some NHL teams laughing when he admitted that Caroline was his main coaching inspiration and the one person who knew his game the best.
“They didn’t believe me,” said Ehlers. “They were laughing, but it’s the truth. It’s kind of funny, but not a lot of people know that my sister has probably had the biggest impact on my career.”
For Christmas, Ehler’s aunt gave Caroline a small blanket. It was white and had the outline of a hockey player in gold and the words “Hockey Coach” written on it.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports16 days ago
PHILADELPHIA — There was only one thing that could bring Sami Kapanen out of retirement. It took something much more than money and fame. Those things he already had after playing more than 800 games in the NHL.
The lure to continue in hockey was something that he could not even quantify in either English or his native Finnish. More than his love of the game, it was the love of his son, Kasperi, that brought his aging body out of retirement for another year of the grind.
“It was the reason I kept pushing myself to give it one more year to have a chance to play with him,” said the 41-year-old. “It’s special and it’s hard to put into exact words. You feel so proud that your son is on the ice at the age of 16, 17 and that he’s capable of playing with men on a professional level of hockey.
“It probably means more to a dad than to a son.”
The Kapanens made their father-son debut together in 2013, playing on the same line with KalPa in Finland’s SM-Liiga. The elder Kapanen was also part-owner and general manager of the team, which made the pressure greater.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports17 days ago
PHILADELPHIA – It was only a matter of time before Mike Johnston was back in the NHL. The Pittsburgh Penguins presented the opportunity to return to the league as a head coach and it was an offer too good to refuse.
Johnston, who has been the head coach and general manager of the Portland Winterhawks since 2008, had previously been an associate coach with the L.A. Kings before heading to the Western Hockey League.
Johnston, 57, is a career coach, having taken a position as head coach at Camrose Lutheran College in Alberta as his first job out of school. Unable to find a job after graduating with a degree in education, he was able to parlay his love of teaching to hockey. Now, coaching hockey is the only vocation he’s ever known.
Like many of his teams – in Camrose, at the University of New Brunswick and in Portland – Johnston is adept at turning around the fortunes of struggling franchises.
“I coached for five years at UNB and they had won one game in the year before I was hired there and two games before that so it seems like those types of jobs are the ones I step into at times,” said Johnston during an interview in May. “I’ve enjoyed it. It’s nice to set the stage for a program.”
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports19 days ago
The NHL draft is only days away and it looks like Aaron Ekblad is the favourite as the No. 1 overall pick among scouts.
Yahoo Sports polled five different amateur scouts from different NHL teams to pick their brains prior to the 2014 entry draft on Friday in Philadelphia. The scouts all cover different territories – including Western Canada, the U.S., Ontario and Quebec-Maritimes.
Ekblad, a defenceman with the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts, was the player the majority would select if they held the first pick – like the Florida Panthers. If that comes to fruition, Ekblad would become the first defenceman since Erik Johnson in 2006 to go first-overall.
“He's the one player who is most ready to step in and contribute next season,” said one scout of the 6-foot-3, 213-pound defender. “Also (he’s) simply the best player available.”
“It’s hard to ignore the size on the back end, leadership experience both in (the OHL and) in national team events,” said another scout. “He has the intangibles that teams look for and there’s still room to improve.”
LONDON, Ont. — Mitchell Moroz is one of the toughest, most feared players in the Western Hockey League. On Sunday evening, standing on the ice after his Edmonton Oil Kings won the Memorial Cup, he wept openly while hugging his mom, Leigh-Ann.
“I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve,” said the forward collecting himself before meeting the media. “That’s my personality and that’s the way I play, I guess.
“These moments are really special.”
It’s been an emotional ride.
In June, the Oil Kings mourned the loss of former teammate Kristians Pelss, who drowned accidentally. He had been close to a number of players on the roster – particularly Moroz. During the tournament it was not uncommon to hear the players talk about the 20-year-old forward saying a small prayer to Pelss when the team needed it most.
After the 6-3 victory over the Guelph Storm, Pelss’ jersey was carried out onto the ice and prominently displayed in the team photo. It was a gesture – much like their season- to honour their fallen teammate’s memory.
It was also fitting that Moroz scored the game-winning goal.
LONDON, Ont. — By the time the game was over and all their interviews were done, it was already past their curfew. In this case, head coach Derek Laxdal cut his Edmonton Oil Kings some slack. After all, they had just won the longest game in Memorial Cup history – a thrilling 4-3 triple overtime victory over the Val-d’Or Foreurs that propelled the WHL champions to the tournament final on Sunday.
“I know the coaches are tired,” said Laxdal. “I can’t imagine how the players feel.”
LONDON, Ont. - Marie Forsell stands in the concourse of the Budweiser Gardens. She’s wearing an Edmonton Oil Kings jersey with the name of her son, Cody Corbett, on the back.
Forsell drove 13 hours in her green Jeep Wrangler from her home in Stillwater, Minnesota, to watch her son play at the Memorial Cup. The story of how they both made it here, however, cannot be measured in hours and miles.
“I kept promising him,” Forsell said, watching her boy play on the biggest stage in the Canadian Hockey League this week. “If you go to the Memorial Cup, I will be there whatever it takes.
"I’ll be there."
Cody and his older brother Ty played inner-city hockey in hockey-mad Minnesota. Forsell couldn’t afford to make multiple runs to the rink, so both the Corbett boys played on the same team. That meant Cody had to play with and against older kids.