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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Night Thoughts

Image result for Neil Patrick HarrisImage result for dean blundellImage result for leafs tank nation
Well, the Oscars are on and seeing as I have not seen a first run movie in an actual theatre in over three years,  the glitz, glamour, posturing and posing mean absolutely nothing to me.  The last movie I saw in the theatre was a Stars and Strollers afternoon feature watching Horrible Bosses.   My wife and I bought our then four month old baby to the theatre and enjoyed an afternoon of solitude and Kevin Spacey playing a grade a prick with other parents and their young ones.   Just before that I saw Hot Tub Time Machine and seeing as Hot Tub Time Machine 2 just got released and did not crack the best picture list, I'm out. 

This gives me lots of time to pontificate and ruminate on a variety of hockey related topics. 

Remember when the IceDogs were 2-13, the pitchforks were out and everyone should have either got traded or fired?   Seems like forever doesn't it.  Since then the IceDogs have rocketed to above .500 look to be cinch to qualify for the playoffs for an 8th consecutive year and have put the fear of God in a good portion of the Eastern Conference.    Today's comeback 6-5 victory over North Bay might have been the most special victory of the year for a number of reasons.  Down 4-1 entering the 3rd the Dogs pounded Jake Smith for 22 shots and five goals, winning the game with :57 left in regulation with Carter Verhaeghe's 2nd of the game.  Not too many times you can claim a comeback of that magnitude over a Stan Butler coached team. It was also a nice feather in the cap for assistant coaches David Bell and Billy Burke who were filling in for Marty Williamson.  Marty was in B.C. doing some scouting.  It was a smart decision by Marty to look at the schedule, see a trip to North Bay and Barrie in late February and then book a trop to B.C. to check out some hockey.   The team has three lines rolling and a fourth line that chips in and rarely has a bad shift.   Pouring in 5 goals of more has been a regular occurrence and good times reign at the Meridian Centre, where the team has won 6 straight.   Marty Williamson has his crew rolling and peaking at the right time.   

Oh it could be a busy playoff season for yours truly if both the IceDogs AND the Bulldogs qualify for the playoffs.   The Bulldogs have been playing very well as of late and at the time of this writing are one point out of the 8th final playoff spot in the Western Conference currently occupied by the Chicago Wolves.  Daily standings checks will be necessary as the 7-12 spots in the conference are separated by just 8 points.   Hamilton had been on a roll, winning 9 of 11 before getting dropped in back to back games in Grand Rapids, picking up one point in a 3-2 OT loss.  Hardily a surprise as the Bulldogs have had a number of key personnel called up to Montreal.  Jared Tinordi, Greg Pateryn, Christian Thomas and Jacob DelaRose are all up with the Habs right now.  Such is life in the AHL.  Getting any three of those guys will be a boost to the Bulldogs.   Not sure if some of them are being showcased as potential trade bait as the NHL Trade Deadline is March 2nd.  Lots of AHL franchises could either get decimated or receive an unexpected boost come trade deadline, so a lot of players start looking over their shoulders and checking the transaction pages on a regular basis. 

The less said about the Leafs the better.  It truly is a franchise low point to the point that I have lost track of their record over the past couple of months.  It is something like 4-22-0-2.  What I can say is that I have never embraced the concept of tank nation with any team that I have supported.  I am wired to compete, not embrace of cheer losing.   As a long time Leaf fan this is a very difficult run of hockey to accept.  And I cheered for the team in the 80's and there were some horrific teams then.  In fact back in grade school or early high school, I would wear my Mike Palmateer or Wendel Clark Leaf shirt every time the team won.  In those days that meant plenty of time to have the shirt washed and dried between wins.  Heck, I could have sent it out for dry cleaning and still would have had time.   A true sign it was the 80's was that I would wear either a crisp white or blue turtleneck underneath my Leaf shirt.  Couple that with a stunning pair of acid wash jeans, and I was strutting...right into fashion oblivion.   

In a surprise move The Fan 590 uprooted their incumbent morning show with Greg Brady and Andrew Walker for Dean Blundell and Company, scheduled to debut on Monday March 2nd.  It will feature Dean Blundell and, well, Company as no one else has been named yet to man the morning show with the acerbic Blundell.   Blundell was formerly with the 102.1 The Edge as the morning show man and owned the 18-34 demo with a combination of shock jock, push the envelope humour.   Hilarious on one day and running afoul of the censors there was no question that Blundell delivered ratings.  The Edge and Corus Entertainment finally had their fill of Blundell after a couple of bits that were homophobic and sent him packing.  Will his brand work on sports talk radio?  Will it me a less controversial Dean Blundell?   Will he be able to deliver compelling sports talk to a savvy audience?   Time will tell.  Who the rest of the "and Company" part of Dean Blundell and Company is will determine the direction that the show will take.  As for Brady and Walker?  I cannot tell whether this qualifies as a demotion for them.  Radio ratings are driven by the A.M. drive and the P.M. drive.  Right now there is a strong possibility that they will helm the 1-4 show, replacing Tim and Sid who will take their act to TV

The dog days of the season are upon us and that means a busy two weeks with six broadcasts in nine days (2 Bulldog and 4 IceDogs).  I am very much cognisant of the fact that I am very lucky to call OHL and AHL hockey for a local and provincial TV audience.  The reality is that juggling a full time job, raising a family and numerous times at the arena can be a grind.    As both teams are playing well and are right in the middle of playoff races (see above items), motivation will not be a problem.   Trying to turn four suits (three fit well, and one well, is a bit of a tight squeeze) and a number of shirts and ties into a new and fresh ensemble will prove to be a challenge, particularly if you are standing beside Ed Burkholder!  Standing beside that guy people are going to bring their taxes to me at tax time, as I'd look pretty darn conservative! 

See you at the rink!
Steve Clark

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Canadian Basketball League... Could another survive?

Back in 2011, I wrote extensively about the prospects of a National Basketball League in Canada when the NBL attempted to make inroads into a sports market tough to crack.

My thoughts are here:

Fast forward to 2015. 

The NBL continues to stand, but its lurching, a little punch drunk and would not take too much to topple the entire league.    London and Halifax draw well, but other teams have had spotty success to say the least. The NBL has defied the odds of many by the plain fact that it is still standing today. It really should be considered a success story. That said if you peel back the layers you can certainly see some exploitable holes.   Franchises in Ottawa, Oshawa as well as a couple in Quebec have either folded or been booted from the league. The TV/Radio presence has been inconsistent and caters locally rather than league wide.  One franchise took the unusual stance of banning London Free Press Reporter Morris Dallacosta, citing that he had been highly critical of one of the teams and the league.  Talk about a blow to freedom of the press, and to Dallacosta, one of the few who consistently wrote about the league.  Dallacosta continues to be a strong yet honest voice for the league and  wrote an article in late December about the fragile financials of the league. In the interest of fairness he then followed up with a somewhat more positive piece : 

Both articles appear here:

It is very interesting to note that there will be two new basketball franchises in play next year as Hamilton and St Catharines, two very good basketball cities are set to join the NBL.  That should raise a curious eyebrow or two, but I'll let that suspense build for a second as you read this article:

Enter a new face into the fray.  Former Raptors coach Butch Carter has his eyes on forming a basketball league in Canada, but one with a radically different approach.  Right now in the NBL a lot of teams use hockey arenas as their home arena and convert them.  Mississauga, Brampton, Windsor, London, Halifax all do that, which makes for a pleasing venue but not much of a visual when it comes to looking at fans in the stands.   Carter prefers smaller venues that would be cost friendly when it comes to rental prices.  The other eyebrow raising part of the Toronto Star article is the promise of a 20 year deal signed with CHCH Television.   Thats huge, a game changer, however you want to put it!  I've long espoused the view point that the OUA lost a lot of consistent exposure when it lost its OUA Game of the Week on CHCH. They did a good job of broadcasting and showcasing Canadian University Sports.  The Score,  Sportsnet, and TSN, while broadcasting university sport , have not touched CHCH when it came to consistent exposure.   Having a large TV presence is great for a league that has yet to start.  This makes the choice of St Catharines and Hamilton to go to the NBL, all the more curious as both are right in the heart of CHCH's viewing community. 

As I reflect back on my own article in 2011, Butch Carter's model acknowledges my own approach in some ways, but goes in other directions in other ways.  I suggested that Jack Armstrong and Leo Rautins get involved as they are high profile basketball figures, and its rumoured that Rautins could be part of an Ottawa re-boot.  I still think you need to get Canada Basketball on board and have a good relationship with the national program, and I also think that you need the best college and university players from Canada in the league as well.  Carter left the Toronto Raptors back in 2000 under acrimonious circumstances, but hopefully fences can be mended and the Raps can get involved on some level.   

Overall, TV is the game changer for me.   As someone who has been involved in broadcasting university basketball and college basketball on radio and TV, I see the link that media can create with fans.  Add in some of the new and social media, and you could have something here.  I would not eschew the traditional models of media like radio and TV wholly in favour of social media as, in my opinion, retweets, Twitter, and Instagram followers are but numbers that don't necessarily translate into meaningful dollars in the way that TV/Radio numbers can. 

Ultimately, a Darwinian survivial of the fittest model would work best.  Take the best markets from the NBL, merge it with the CBL and cast aside the weaker markets.     As the CBL wants to be all Ontario next year, a model with the following franchises ,work, as long as you tailor the schedule to keep travel costs down. Taking out of the mix the NBL for now, as it seems from the Star article, they are not willing to play nice or share the sandbox, I'd start with these cities and expand from there: 

Kitchener-Waterloo (lots of interest already in that market) , Hamilton, St Catharines (if they have not fully committed to the NBL) , Ottawa (Leo Rautins/Dave Smart factor), Kingston (kicked the tires with the NBL), Guerlph/Sarnia, two cities with good basketball grassroots, I suggest would also make good markets as they have a very solid grass roots presence.   No need for plane rides with these markets and teams can be paired off for travel weekends (Kingston/Ottawa, Hamilton/St Catharines).

Honestly, I would love to see minor league basketball thrive not only in Canada, but also in the rest of Canada.  That is a long, long way off.   As it stands right now, there is no way both incarnations of a Canadian Basketball League survive, but I'd bet on the new guy and his potential TV deal over the league that appears solid on some days but staggers on other days.

Steve Clark
Steve called McMaster basketball on the radio or on TV most years from 1993-2013, and also called York Lions basketball from 2006-2011.  He currently is the TV voice of the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL and Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


People who know me in hockey circles, or who follow my Twitter feed (Cheap Plug:  @SteveClarkMedia) know that I am hardily a fan of the OHL Trade Deadlines, and in particularly these lurking on the fringes so called "Insiders" who love to fire out a number of unsubstantiated claims, or rumours and then quick to bellow "I had it first" to the social media work.   On some level I understand the need in the industry to have the scoop, or to have a good reliable network of sources, but does it really matter if so and so had the trade nailed 10 seconds before another guy in the grand scheme of things?   Not really, but as I said, it is the nature of the social media beast that is Twitter. 

The other thing I do not like about the trade deadline is the physical deadline itself.   The CHL does a wonderful job of protecting our World Juniors by banning any trading of them during the tournament. This rule was put in place as poor Steve Mason was away wearing our countries colours while London and Kitchener were finalzing a trade that would see him be shipped to Kitchener for their Memorial Cup run.  It was not exactly the distraction Mason needed and it was a good thing he was only going from London to Kitchener, a relatively short distance geographically.   The next year, even with the new rule,  it was John Tavares proudly sporting Canada red fully aware that his team colours were rumoured to be  changed from Oshawa General Red, White and Blue to London Knights Green and Gold.At least the rule was in place and nothing was completed until after the tournament.

The CHL could go the extra step and protect all high school age players by not having players traded so close to exams.  Many high school exams in Ontario are the 2nd or 3rd week in January and then there is a Semester turnaround time.   Seeing as the CHL likes calling their athletes Amateur Student Athletes, to me, it would be nice to move the trade deadline back or making a trade conditional that the player report to his traded team AFTER exams are done.  No use in playing for those extra years of post secondary education if you are bombing exams because you just got traded!For those taking post-secondary courses, the trade deadline should be in line with college/university semester turnarounds of ends of courses as best as logistically possible   As the OHL promotes itself almost as a miniature version of the NHL, nothing will likely get changed about the trade deadline but they should. 

While I am really laying into the spectre of the trade deadline, don't you think it is time for a cap on what draft picks you can trade.  I saw a trade that saw Nitchie get traded to Sault St Marie a 2020 draft pick change hands.  Somewhere right now there is an 11 year old who has actually traded! As I said in a tweet, an 11 year old just got traded and was told to turn off his X Box and go to sleep.   Maybe two years in advance of the actual draft would be fair, but five?   That, to me, is a tad ridiculous.  Thinking really outside of the box it would be nice to see OHL teams somehow rewarded for keeping players for 4 or 5 years, maybe in the form of compensatory draft picks, or a supplemental draft of some sort.  Any sort of reward will do really.   Might make teams think less about trading players.  That, I know, is so far out of the box, it can't really see the box. 

Do not get wrong, I am not so down on the trade deadline that I'd like to see a moratorium on trades.  Quite the contrary as a matter of fact.   The buzz created does help market the league and the team . A league in which the teams go in cycles necessitates the trading of players. I talk to trusted sources in the league to get a sense of where a team wants to be a buyer or a seller, or who is on the move.  I love me a good block buster and when teams add assets.  I just think that the whole process could be changed to benefit the amateur student athletes who are seen as commodities rather than student aged athletes.   

Steve Clark (Insider status:   normally the 15th to break a trade, after it has been officially confirmed by the league)

Monday, December 15, 2014


Rogers turned the hockey world upside down when it negotiated a 12 year deal worth $5B out of the NHL and left old rights holders TSN left out in the regional cold.   Two months into the deal, much has been written about the on-air product, the ratings and whether or not it was the financially prudent move for both the cable giant and the NHL. $5B is a boatload to recoup in terms of  new subscribers and advertising revenue.   I have no doubt that the stress levels of the Rogers sales staff might rival that of air traffic controllers. 

Rogers promised unprecedented access to over the air games with three definitive hockey nights (Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday).  They promised to promote the stars (those with the mumps and those without) and they promised unique access to different camera angles through their Rogers Game Centre (whoops, lawsuit pending on that one).  

Have they delivered this?  Sure they have, but not without a number of pitfalls along the way.  People are complaining about regional blackouts, where to find the games and of course everyone has an opinion on the on-air personalities both in the studio.   Read the comment sections in most newspapers, or sports media columns and the reviews are not kind.  I've found that even if you give people extra stuff or content for free, they are still going to complain.  As for the on-air personalities, there are those who long for the simplicity of Ward Cornell, and those who grew tired of the punny Ron MacLean now want him back.  

Now, if you are looking for opinions or trashing of on-air personality, this is not the forum for you. What some people like, is not other peoples cuppa tea! So if you want the burying or praising of Healy, Strombo, Grapes, Romanuk, Hughson, Damien Cox etc, go to the comment sections, you will find ample material there. 

One thing TSN and CBC did very well was to create new on-air sports broadcasting stars.  For TSN James Duthie, Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger were early examples of stars created through credibility and repeated exposure.  Even new guys TSN brings in like Jeff O' Neill, Ray Ferraro and Aaron Ward became credible analysts through the exposure TSN gave, and continues to give them.  For CBC, Elliot Friedman, Kelly Hrudey and Glen Healy are the guys that come to mind that became household names, respected for their on-air personality and delivery, though Healy is one of those guys who gets hammered int he comment sections for some reason.  If I am Rogers, I am looking to streamline the on-air exposure and am looking to create breakout stars.  It is tough to break out and be a star if you are among the 38 analysts/hosts that Rogers has for their hockey coverage.   Clearly they want Strombo to be the new face, so he is an easy one to give the exposure.   I will be the first to admit that I am not used to Strombo and his method of hosting.  He does not sit behind a desk, he is mobile switching back from the chairs to the glass table to standing up effortlessly.   In the long run, he will be fine and people will grow to accept him.   I think Mike Johnson could be the next star.  He is young, camera friendly and as a former Maple Leaf has some name recognition.  Plus he analyzes and breaks down the game well.   As for the rest of the on-air roster, identify who your stars could be, put them in places where they can succeed (it could be in the studio or game coverage) and them maximize their exposure.  Again, I cannot say for sure who the stars are or potentially could be but you could focus on them more than other people. I do think that some of the people are miscast and are better suited for on location game analysis while others are more studio types.   Creating stars is a process, and not done over the first couple of months of a 12 year deal.   

I am not sold yet on Sunday's Hometown Hockey quite yet , but again, its new and its a process.   The dynamic seems to be to combine the enthsiasm of college football with the audience participation of the Today Show. I like a lot of the things they are doing, and am ambivalent to others.  Not sure if they do it, but I would provide more cut ins during the game from Ron MacLean and crew to remind viewers of the hometown aspect.    Again, it will work over time, but will take time to put a dent into an audience geared towards NFL football on Sunday.  The good thing is already it appears communities want to have Hometown Hockey come to their community.  Creating a demand is never a bad thing.  

If I am Rogers, I listen to the people who cannot find games and vastly streamline my channel distribution to CBC, CITY TV and Sportsnet and provide as many double headers as I can through those channels more familiar to the average viewer.   Right now Rogers does offer up a viewing guide every weekend, but either people cannot understand or more likely, they are not bothering to check out the grid.   Streamlining the channels will help viewers find their game.   Viewers are creatures of habit and would like to know exactly where their game is. I would keep putting the guide online and try to distribute it through as many platforms as possible.  Hopefully people catch on.  Keep bumping regional games to national platforms when possible.  Rogers has been doing a very good job of this.  Make it seem like you are giving a viewer a "perk" or a "freebie" and it should assuage some of the complaining.   

The dominant theme of this is that it is very early in a 12 year partnership to be tearing down the existing on-air product by jettisoning on-air talents and radically changing the distribution or location of the game.  Ultimately, people will find something to complain about but they will still flock to hockey.  Sure there is room to grow but a more evolutionary approach is the key rather than a revolutionary method. 

Steve Clark 
Sports Media Enthusiast 
Play by Play TV for the Niagara IceDogs and the Hamilton Bulldogs


Some quick thoughts on the IceDogs weekend, and recent play:   Winston Churchill once referred to Stalin as " a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside  an enigma" It's a quote that could certainly apply to the IceDogs recent run.  No, it does not mean that Marty Williamson is Stalin, or Churchill for that matter, but the coach/GM must be pulling his hair out trying to figure out his team.  

Coming off of a three game losing the streak, the team battled the elements and themselves on route to a 7-4 win over the reeling Peterborough Petes.  The storm on Thursday's made the bus ride to the lift lock city slow and arduous and the IceDogs arrived well after their normal arrival and the game subsequently was delayed for 30 minutes to allow the team a proper warm up.   The Dogs jumped up 2-0, fell behind 4-2 and then scored 5 straight to win despite taking a slew of baffling, undisciplined and downright foolish penalties in the third and handing the Petes 11 power plays.  Still, you take the road W and run. 

Friday night saw the IceDogs sweep, yes I said sweep, Oshawa Generals with a hard fought 5-3 win. Although the Generals were missing top producers Michael DalColle (Team Canada) and Andrew Cassels, they still represent a formidable foe and the IceDogs earned every bit of that tough victory. That meant the IceDogs had four victories against Erie/Oshawa, arguably the best teams in the OHL and holders of the CHL #1 ranking during the season.   

So it was all set up for a 6 point sweep of the weekend as the rebuilding Saginaw Spirit came to town, off of a 6-4 defeat at the hands of Erie.  A series of moves by the Spirit seemed to indicate they had an eye towards the future, and it promised to be the easiest of the three games of the weekend.   Right?  Right?  Wrong!  The IceDogs came out with all the sizzle of a deflated balloon and got pounded 7-1.  Missed passes, lines not on the same page and a general all around lethargy left the 4000 plus in attendance a tad confused, as they wondered whether or not it was the same team that had taken the ice 24 hours before.  It was by far the flattest performance of the year on home ice and again raised the question of whether or not this team could be a surprise contender, or a mere pretender in the eastern conference.   

As we approach the mid way point of the season, there are no clear answers, and really no more excuses.  The injury list has been reduced and impact performers Brendan Perlini, Cody Payne and Ryan Mantha are back.  On paper the IceDogs have three solid forward lines and a fourth line that should provide energy and forechecking.   This is neither the time nor the forum to name names, but there are players not performing to expectations, both on the score sheet and in doing the little things, the intangibles that make a team better.  

Every time I see this team show the potential that they possess they put up a performance like Saturday's game and undo a lot of the good they had previously accomplished.  Do I believe in this team still?  Yes, but like the old hockey cliche goes, I'm taking this team one game at a time until I figure out exactly who they are.   

Steve Clark 
Niagara IceDogs TV Play by Play

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pot Shots, Scatter Shots, Off the Cuff Thoughts

Took a couple of weeks away, and now I'm feeling the urge to share thoughts and feelings (Working title for my new easy listening album, by the way) .  I come to praise not bury (Title of my soon to be written autobiography:  Just trying to avoid having to wear a toga on the front cover, as the quote is from Julius Caesar) !

-- Nice bounce back by the IceDogs.  So far this year they twice have had six game losing streaks, and then they just finished a three game losing streak.  A blowout of Belleville was followed by a solid 4-1 win over the CHL's #1 team, the Oshawa Generals.  Old habits die hard though and a couple of late third period goals doomed the Dogs as they lost 4-2 to North Bay.  Still 4/6 points is an nice haul, considering the opposition.   Guelph is on Thursday and then it is back to the road again for three.   

--The much ballyhooed selection camp for Canada's World Juniors camp was announced on Monday.  Normally with these sorts of things there is much more discussion about the omissions than the guys who made it, and this was no exception.  I am not going to dive headlong into that debate because,more often than not guys who made the list get tossed under the bus because player X made it.  Lets face it, all the players listed deserve to be there.  I think that we as Canadians are taking this tournament far too seriously, but it drives ticket sales, merchandise and TV numbers, and has become a big deal. 

-- I'm not a guy who follows the WHL or Q (oops better make that QMJHL, lest we get mixed up with that Ghomeshi guy), so I 'm not equipped to analyze the roster.  I am surprised that one of Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner and Josh Ho-Sang did not make the cut.  Ho-Sang in particular has become the intriguing omission.  No one seems to know how to take Ho-Sang, which is a shame because I think if you dig deeper you get a guy who is passionate, sensitive and opinionated (fist bump PK Subban). Rogers, through their 5 Billion dollar package aims to promote the players and the superstars of the game.  This runs counter to the hockey culture of media being comfortable and accepting of guys who spew well worn cliches.  Players who have an opinion, or are articulate are a curiosity.  Ho-Sang, to me , fits the latter.  He could be a game breaking superstar if he puts it all together and could be a high profile star in this league, if hockey will let him. 

-- Hockey media blogger Steve Lepore got in a ton of hot water, and lost his job after it was publicized that he had been essentially preying on a number of women via social media.   Again, beware the perils of social media and the fact that nothing is really going to be personal, particularly if you offend the wrong person.    OHL players have learned that and now Lepore has.   His behaviour was predatory and inexcusable.  He has since apologized on social media which is the start on a very, very long road to redemption.

--Damn tough weekend to be a Hamilton football fan as both the Marauders and Tiger Cats lost heartbreaking nail biters.  Pretty proud of my hometown, though I wonder why Hamilton cannot have nice things like other cities.  

--Much as I like to promote my own career and own TV games (did I mention spectacular HD?), if you want to attend one AHL game this year, make it Friday December 5th at 7:30 at First Ontario Centre.   It is military appreciation night and there will be a special ceremony for Nathan Cirillo, the soldier tragically killed in Ottawa several weeks back.  It is sure to be very emotional.

--Finally, true confessions time. I am a big WWE fan, at least I used to me.  While I never want to classify myself as the mature person on the face of the earth, I am not a teenager or younger, and that is who the current product is geared to.  The jokes are juvinile, and cringe worthy and its just not in anyway appealing.  Maybe I should have given this up a long time ago, but it kept pulling me in .  Now its alienating and painful to watch.   I'm out.....until at least the Royal Rumble, because that is the Road to Wrestlemania!!!

-- Busy weekend for me personally.  IceDogs v Guelph on Thursday.  Hamilton v Toronto on Friday, both on TV locally and both in stunning HD. I will try and get some video up of the games if I can.  You can check for updated schedules as to where I will be and what I will be doing.  

Steve Clark 
TV Voice Hamilton Bulldogs/ Niagara IceDogs

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Man, there are a lot of nerds covering hockey. 

Man, there was a lot of moral self-righteousness and outrage.   

For those late to the party, Connor McDavid got into a fight last night and hurt his hand when he missed his intended mark and hit the boards instead.  I will pause and give those who see fights as the evil in hockey an opportunity to dab away their tears. 

When the Connor McDavid injury news filtered down, there were scarcely enough soap boxes to cover everyones disapproval, agenda promoting, and  self-promoting.   They seemed to fall into these categories: 

1 "See, I told you they should take fighting out of hockey" 

2. "Connor McDavid should know better because he's a generational talent" 

3. "How are they going to sell tickets in Toronto and Montreal for the World Junior Championships"

4. "This just furthers my argument that CHL hockey is evil. players are the modern day coal miners and David Branch presides over the Hunger Games"  Tongue in cheek, but no doubt the CHLPA and the lawsuit guys were thinking about it.  

Note, that I haven't listed a category for "voice of reason" . For that go to Victor Fernandes column.  He covers the Erie Otters day in and day out and knows a thing or two about the Otters.  Even Victor had to be a tad bemused as he was on every Toronto sports radio show talking about this.

Here is Fernandes' take here: 

For the anti-fighting softies, I offer the following.  The fact that fighting has been muted in the game of hockey is cause for much back patting amongst so called hockey media.   I offer the counter that the fact that McDavid had to fight for himself was the problem.  I had a couple of people watch THE WHOLE PLAY and not just the McDavid soundbite and they seemed to offer up the fact that there was a liberty or two taken with McDavid before the fight.  

In the good old days when Gretzky had Semenko and McSorely and Gordie Howe had his elbows, there was no messing with the star.  Now Crosby and McDavid have to fend off sticks, shoulders, elbows, knees, etc while the enforcer is starting to be from a bygone era.  

The second argument was promoted by a couple of people, including a former GM turned broadcaster.  Connor McDavid is generational talent who is 17 years old, and prone to 17 year old emotions no matter how poised and protected he is.  Everyone has a breaking point. Even Harry Potter, another "Chosen One" had a misstep or two and lost his temper the odd time on his way to the (Spoiler Alert) vanquishing of Voldemort. 

By the way, did you see how McDavid acquitted himself in that fight?   He showed a mean streak that would have done Dale Hunter and Mark Messier proud.  I like the fact that he can handle himself when the going gets rough, just too bad he got injured, and I hope that the injury is not serious.  

Other opinions worth reading for your approval and disapproval are here: 

Come on man! Lets gain some perspective here.  So for the moral outrage crew, the fighting is evil crews, the generational talent crew and the Jr World Hockey ticket angst crew?  Give your damn head a shake and look beyond your own soapbox. 

Steve Clark