Category Archives: Hockey

News around the NHL

Light at the end of the tunnel for Oilers fans

Oilers fans have been witness to yet another debacle of their clubs season as they seem destined to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season. After signing Nicolai Habibulin from Chicago over the summer and signing Mike Comrie to a one-year deal, there was a sense from fans that a good season was in the making. The bad omen that many fans thought surrounded the Oilers after the charades of Comrie running out or being shipped out of town, depending on which way you looked at it meant the Oilers and Comrie had turned over a new leaf. Oilers management signed future hall of fame coach Pat Quinn to a four-year deal and brought in Tom Renney and Jim Flemming to give the Oilers one of the most experienced and capable coaching staffs in the NHL. That never happned and the Oilers have been bottom dwellers and 16 points out of eight place in the western conference for weeks now. This will be the fourth straight year the Oilers have failed to make the playoffs and hockey die-hards in Edmonton are upset. Actually, pissed off would be a more accurate way of describing the fans attitude towards the team’s lack of performance. The players aren’t completely to blame. Decimated by injuries, total of 257 man games lost and several players suffered from the flu and other illnesses throughout the season. It hasn’t all been bad news for the Oiler fans. The wait is over for Oilers fan who have waited three years for Dustin Penner to break out of his funk since he signed a 5-year 21.25 M offer sheet from then Oilers General Manager Kevin Lowe who saw something in Penner that nobody watching the NHL in the last three years had seen a glimpse of up until this point. No more calling out by reporters who flagged the large forward for being overweight. Penner came to camp in the best shape of his life, minimized his use of barley drinks over the summer and flew out of the starting gate this season. Before the mid point of the season Penner had already surpassed his totals from the previous two seasons and even got a good look by the Canadian Olympic team scouts and has carried the load for the Oilers most of the season with 41 points in 46 games and a +6 rating. After starting the season in the press box, Robert Nilson has found his edge and is now showing a compete level that matches his skill level. It’s now showing on the ice. Gilbert Brule, the player who was given up on by the Columbus Blue Jackets last season with a demotion to their AHL affiliate came into Oilers camp on fire and that continued when the season began. Brule is high risk at times, but he seems to be maturing into a quality third line player who can be counted on to contribute some valuable offence, while playing the body and forechecking hard to get the puck back. To add to the Oilers problems this season, Habibulin suffered a back injury and has missed 23 games this season, leaving Jeff Druin Deslaurier and Devon Dubnyk to carry the load and the weight of the entire Oiler nation. Oilers dynamic forward Ales Hemsky was lost to shoulder injury, missing the last 21 games and disappointing Oiler fans who began to see Hemsky come out of his shell as he looked ready to make the jump to a legitimate All-Star status. Anouther bright spot for the Oilers has been the play of call-up Ryan Potulny, who has recorded 16 points in 31 games. The light at the end of the tunnel are the prospects available at this years draft. Jordan Eberle had a strong straining camp and pre-season; however, was sent back to his junior team, The Regina Pats for the betterment of his development. The kid, nicknamed The Messiah” to folks in Regina, extended his reputation for clutch play after scoring two goalsls in the remaining minutes of the World Junior Gold medal game against the United States. Canada lost in overtime, but that magic by Eberle is bound to follow him along during his professional career. The Oilers have a future star and hall of famer in my mind and a player who will help the Oilers in the very near future. Taylor Hall destroyed the competition at the World Juniors and there’s a strong chance the Oilers could be in a position to draft him this summer. Tyler Seguin and Cam Fowler are no slouches in the draft either. They are both rising stars who could change the fortunes of any franchise if Hall isn’t available. Look no further than the Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and several others who have built their franchise around a strong rebuilding process. History backs the notion that building a stable of quality high draft picks is the key to winning and setting up the opportunity for a small dynasty, despite the parity in the NHL. Oiler fans have been asking for a rebuild and now they’re getting it. Admittedly, it’s been the most painful season to watch the Oilers, not to mention many years of mediocrity, but hitting rock bottom may be what is needed to wake-up to a beautiful sunrise.

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Lethbridge College hockey team M.I.A.

The Kodiak bear (epitomizing strength, courage, stamina, and an undying perseverance) has been the face of Lethbridge College sports teams since 1962, and won’t be representing Canada’s most loved sport this year.

A  college hockey team is missing in action, and no such team has ever   existed in the ACAC’s  47th year history in partnership Lethbridge College.

Lethbridge college President, Tracy Edwards says that it’s far too expensive to run a hockey team, and that the colleges which have a team a team in the ACAC, are finding major funds or a full community sport involvement as it’s the main sports attraction.

Edwards also says that the athletic department doesn’t get much money, and can only afford to pay for so many sports so a hockey team is not in the college’s future plans.

The $350,000 dollars in costs associated with running a team in the ACAC is nearly the entire budget for the Athletic program, says Athletic director, Mark Kosak.  Those costs include paying for team gear, costs of renting an ice surface for practices, and home games, along with paying between $20,000, and $25,000 dollars for sticks alone. The cost’s associated with traveling all over the province of Alberta is not a cheap either.

The average college student pays ($3,500 dollars in tuition costs), including an unspecified amount of money allocated towards athletic Fees.

Make a trip down to Nicolas Sheran hockey rink at 10:45 PM, and watch the level of hockey that’s out there.  The players deliver quality passes, fast skating, and hard fore-checking.   College enrolled hockey players are competitive, and able to show that fighting spirit wearing the Kodiak bear upon their crest.

The college is missing out on catching the students, and the community spirit for the large bear you fixate on when you walk past the athletic department.

Students should get angry, and petition the Board of Govenors, and students association to rule in favor of supporting young men, and women to wear the Kodiak crest as they hit the ice.

N.H.L.’s Secrecy Is Hurting The Game

“Upper body injury”, a teammate shouts from the other side of the locker room as blood drips from the finger of number nine. Jeers and laughs can be heard in amateur rinks all over the nation as fans, media, and even the players give there mixed reviews regarding the labeling of any injury as either an upper or lower body injury. If you have been living on the planet Venus for the past few months I’ll understand if you don’t know about the N.H.L.’s newest and most controversial rule. The ruling gives teams the right to withhold the specifics of player injuries from the fans and media. Three quarters of the way through the season and mixed reviews along with heavy criticism is finding its way back to the desk of N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman and the N.H.L.’s 30 general managers who voted unanimously in favor of the new rule back in November. Did you get the memo Gary Bettman? Fans aren’t happy.

In an information savvy business like the media, it has Journalists up in arms since they are unable to properly inform hockey fans about there favorite stars off-ice status. If a fan is thinking about buying a mini-season game pack to watch Sydney Crosby play the Oilers, Canucks, and the Flames, then that fan has a right to know if Crosby will actually be playing. The growing consensus with Journalists is that the lack of information will lead to further speculation when reporting player injuries or they will face the iron fist of an angry fan base. Credibility with its fans should be a concern as the N.H.L. moves towards the completion of its first season with the implementation of this new rule.

Some tight lipped organizations like the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins will not disclose any information about player’s injuries while some clubs are opting to call it either an upper or lower body injury. After watching two of his players targeted during last seasons playoff run, Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland says he had enough and went to the N.H.L.’s governing body. Holland first suggested the rule for just during playoff time where he doesn’t think it’s necessary for the fans to know about every injury. That escalated into a full season selective secrecy at every team’s discretion. Johan Franzen came back during last season’s playoff run after suffering a head injury or what is now called an “upper body injury.” It was released to the public that Franzen was suffering from post concussion symptoms. Players from the opposition started taking extra liberties, and as a result the N.H.L. believes its new rule will protect players like Franzen from being targeted.

Should Johan Franzen have been on the ice if he was in that rough of shape? It’s a rough game out there and many of today’s athletes learn the mantra of, “winning at all cost.” Isn’t that what the N.H.L. uses to sell fans on the Stanley Cup each year. There is a reason why the Stanley cup is considered by many the most difficult trophy to win in pro sports. It’s a battle out there and players will take every advantage they can get to gain an edge on the competition.

In winters past there was no clear cut guide for teams to follow when reporting injuries to the public. This lead to bluffing, downright lying, and disclosures resembling complete honesty at times, but nobody really believed it anyways. The rule states that NHL clubs are prohibited from providing untruthful representation of the player or the status of his injury. Now it seems that N.H.L. teams are acting with more ethical respect towards each other, but it’s not right that the fans in the stands who pay for these players salaries are getting the short end of the stick.

Are the Oilers buyers or sellers?

It’s once again that time of year for Edmonton Oiler fans. Fighting tooth and nail for a chance to sneak into the post season. Injuries, softmore slumps and under performing players have plagued the Oilers season. Devastating injuries to Captain Ethan Moreau, stalwart penalty killing specialist Fernando Pisani, and swift puck moving defencemen Lubomir Visnovsky has made it difficult for the Oilers to climb the western conference standings.

A bright spot for the Edmonton Oilers has been the emergence of Ales Hemsky into a budding superstar in the N.H.L. Chants from Rexall place and the fans watching on there television sets back home were, “Shoot, common, shoot the puck Hemmer.” It would seem the Oilers assistant captain is finally listening to his fans. Hemsky is bringing some joy to fans during an otherwise gloomy season with 50 points and a plus 2 rating after 47 games.

Sam Gagne and Robert Nilson struggled out of the gate but seem to be catching there stride now. Despite working hard every shift, Erik Cole can’t buy a goal and may be headed out the door as the NHL nears its March 4th trade deadline. The salary of players who may be available is likely to be too high  risk for general managers to gamble on.

The Edmonton oilers are a skilled young team who are experiencing growing pains and are a team of the future. General manager Steve Tambellini is unlikely to make any big moves but may want to add a secondary scorer.