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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Analyzing the Harsh Penalty to OHL Referee Joe Monette

I have done some pretty silly things on Twitter, and had one or two comments not taken in the true spirit of my intention.  Rightfully so I got slapped on the wrist, and completely understood how the Tweets that I made got taken out of context.  That is the downfall of social media, particularly Twitter in which you only get 140 characters to get your point across.  

Referee Joe Monette made a very, very foolish decision last Friday night after officiating the Soo/Windsor game when he made some extremely discriminatory, and stereotypical remarks about the good folks from Sault Ste Marie.  Using terms like "slim pickens" and referencing size and dental work was about as foolish as it can get.   Monette claimed it was a joke between he and a friend, and that no malice was intended.  Point taken,  but in your role as a representative of the OHL and its Officials, he was so far over the line that SIRI could not get him back there.  

For this ill-advised attempt at humour, David Branch came down heavily on Monette, suspending him for the balance of the year, including play-offs.  Branch said that Monette contravened the leagues social media, was detrimental to the league etc.  You could read the wording of the decision HERE 

The banishment for the rest of the year is unduly harsh, if you equate an officials schedule with that of an OHL team.  In essence he was suspended for upwards of 20 games, + playoffs where officials likely get more post-season games on a merit based system.   

Now, I would have suspended Monette, no question about that, and any games on his schedule with the Sault on it would be changed.   A penalty such as the one meted out though is excessive, and will try to use a legal analogy to explain it.  

I equate on-ice incidents involving players that require supplemental discipline to be akin to Criminal Law.  There is a clear transgression and the player pays for it by not being able to compete.  Something like what Monette did falls outside of that, and discriminatory terms such as the ones he used are more a Human Rights issue, and that is an element of the law that is consequenced differently.  There are punitive measures, but there is also the goal of correcting the wrong with consequences such as letters of apology, human rights training, monetary considerations etc.   I would have given Monette 10 games, have that factor into his playoff schedule, had him issue an official letter of apology and sent him to sensitivity training on his own dime.   Balance of the season banishment is for the most serious or repeat offender.  

This was a foolish decision made by someone who did not recognize that he most uphold certain standards as an official in a league such as the Ontario Hockey League.  It did not, however, warrant the punishment he was dealt.  

And, one final word for Joe Monette.  Twitter has something called a direct message.  It goes to your friend and only your friend.  Its something to consider for next time. 

Steve Clark
OHL TV Play by Play Broadcaster
Niagara IceDogs

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Just a short commentary today on how the OHL got it wrong with the Brett Ritchie suspension.  Sure if you strictly interpret the law, it is a slam-dunk automatic suspension.  However, rarely in our legal system do we strictly interpret the laws. There is always room for mitigating, or aggravating circumstances.   

When Nick Czinder felled Aaron Haydon with a hit from behind, Ritchie did what good leaders do.  While the hit by Czinder was not vicious by any stretch of the imagine, the towering leader did what he had to do He saw a wrong being dealt out to a rookie by a veteran, and jumped in to protect Haydon, felling Czinder after a good exchange of punches.   . He was assessed two for instigating, five for fighting and an automatic game misconduct for instigating a fight in the last five minutes of a game.   Again, interpreting the rule to the T, the OHL got it right.   However, you have to leave room to interpret the circumstances beyond the actual infraction.  The OHL did not, and that is why, in my opinion they got it wrong.   

Tonight the Ice Dogs, sans Ritchie will take on the high flying Barrie Colts.  The Colts have owned the IceDogs for the bulk of the season, and even without Mark Scheifle are a tough bunch to deal with.   With no Brett Ritchie and a largely youthful line up the Dogs will have to be at their best to deal with Barrie.  

Catch the game tonight on TV Cogeco in HD, and on the OHL Action Pack starting at 7pm.  Al Galloway, Ed Burkholder and I will lead you through the action. 

Steve Clark

Monday, January 21, 2013

Great Start for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada

I will start with a large bias.  People will know that I am an ardent supporter of the CBC.  In fact my dream job would either be with the venerable Hockey Night in Canada, or the equally venerable Fifth Estate, which has provided countless quality programming and analysis for my Grade 11 and 12 Law classes. With this disclaimer in mind, a couple of things came to mind when Hockey Night in Canada changed up the roster and the tempo of their show for this , their celebratory 60th season.   

First of all the in-studio show added some more personnel and diversity.  Ron MacLean continues to anchor the coverage but the analyst chairs are now filled with PJ Stock, Kevin Weeks, Glen Healey and Elliote Friedman.  Andi Petrillo, who hosted a Game Day show with Stock now mans the Chevrolet IDesk and also joins the panel.   I watched a little of the pre-game show, and at first glance seemed to a "too many cooks in the kitchen" sort of thing, but I"m sure as the season shakes out each person's strengths will come shining through.  Healey, forever the curmudgeon, could stand to be a little more positive and show off his sense of humour.  Friedman is the consummate pro, and the network's best insider while the jury is out on what Weekes and Stock bring to the table.  Weekes just landed at the analyst desk after a spell as the colour commentator with Mark Lee, and he is very well spoken, something that did not necessarily translate as well in the colour commentator position.  A lot of people question whether or not Stock's every man schtick is a workable one or not.  I have worked with Petrillo before and it was no surprise to see her so successful at a young age.   She is personable, well-spoken and rarely makes an on-air mistake.  Overall,  I do like that the CBC did make some changes and took some chances with their pre-game show. 

The other two talking points were the 60th Season introductory montage and Coaches Corner.  The 60th season introduction was very well done, save for the fact that it was Aerosmith, a Boston based band that provided the background music.  Maybe Rush, recent Hall of Fame inductees, could have provided the music. Regardless, it should have been a Canadian band.  I did love the look at some of the old fashions worn on the CBC, from the powder blue, to the royal blue.  Hopefully CBC has a throwback broadcast in which all of the broadcasters don the powder blue, and use the old Ward Cornel sitck microphone.   The other elements of the productions from the great calls, to the memorable goals and images were a brilliant history lesson for enthusiasts of Hockey Night.  

Intro video is HERE

As for Coaches Corner, I laugh when I see some of the dated critiques of Don Cherry on comment boards.   They still site the perceived Xenophobia, the mispronounced names, the over-emphasis on the military etc.  Its the same stuff as 10 years ago, 20 years ago etc.   If you take a look at Coaches Corner on Saturday, it was typical Cherry as he boasted about how he was right about Nazim Kadri, and the firing of Brian Burke. Now viewers will get a double dose of Cherry as he will be back for the 1st intermission of the Western game, where there will be less of a focus on Leafs games.  I will say this: When Cherry analyzes the game, he is still spot on.  Whether you like him or not, he's still appointment TV, even for those who are his detractors.


I cannnot remember whether or not it was Sportsnet or TSN that used the idea of the Intermission "Panel Discussion", but now the game is broken down into such detail that each magnificent play, or blunder is magnified.   The mantra of live sports production is content, content, and when all else fails, more content.   Hockey Night in Canada will have upwards of 12 hours of content to fill on a daily basis when they have triple headers.   The first week showed that they are ready to embrace that challenge. 

Steve Clark

Thursday, January 17, 2013


NOTE:  This blog was submitted minutes before it was released that Ryan Strome was returning to the IceDogs.  This is why I will never be a scout or player personnel director! Stick to broadcasting kid!

Certainly has been a wild few days during these truncated NHL camps.  Many people used their AHL affiliates for warm up games/scrimmages in order to try and get players up to game speed and provide some sort of analysis for the teams that will start on Saturday. 

 For followers of the Niagara IceDogs., Ryan Strome picked up one assist (unofficially) during the Blue/Orange scrimmage game held in Islander camp.   Earlier in the week he was skating on a line with veteran Brad Boyes and all indications are that he will at least break camp with the Islanders.  Strome was simply dominant at the OHL level and has developed his all round game very effectively.   Strome told me that he was most proud of his improvement in face offs, something that was markedly noted during the World Jr's when more often than not it was Strome taking the key offensive or defensive zone face offs late in the game. Dougie Hamilton, also by all indications, will start on the Boston Bruins blue line.  The rangy, offensive minded D man's smooth skating, puck moving style is well-suited for the NHL game.  There will be a steep learning curve for Hamilton, no mistake about that, but the Bruins D corp is strong and Hamilton should adjust to the NHL game at his own pace.  Brett Ritchie was returned to Niagara on Wednesday after getting some experience at NHL camp.  Big Ritch indicated on the Stars website that the experience was an excellent one for him.   He will return to Niagara where he has scored in 16 of his last 17 games.  This will also provide a key boost for the IceDogs as they hit the stretch run in a tenuous position in the OHL's Eastern Conference where just four points separate four teams in the 3-6 seeds.  Oshawa, Niagara, Sudbury and Brampton all could be playing musical positions, and the Gens also trail Belleville by just two points for the division lead.   The Eastern Conferences is there for the taking, it is so wide open.   Barrie leads the conference by 5 points, but no one is anointing them the kings of the east. The IceDogs have a good down the stretch schedule, playing 15 of their last 24 games at home.   

--Congratulations go to Carter Verhaeghe (122) and Anthony DiFruscia (181) who cracked Central Scoutings' Mid-Season rankings.  Both have developed nicely over the course of the year, and DiFruscia's has spotlighted a hard-hitting style that will bode well for him going down the stretch.  Both should receive top six minutes as well.

--The IceDogs added OA D Man Tyler Mort to help stabilize the back end, and provide a little depth.   The solid, but unspectacular Mort was playing for York University this year and has OHL experience with Kingston and Barrie. 

--We graciously step aside for Sportsnet on Friday with Belleville in town, but will return for Saturday's broadcast versus Peterborough. Game time is 7pm and the game will be on HD on TVCogeco Niagara, and standard definition on the OHL Action Pack

-- Happy to report it looks like I will be shooting more episodes of The Broadcast Booth, the TV show that I had on Cable 14.  Expect some episodes for those in the Hamilton area, hopefully in mid-March

--On the NHL front, Hockey Night in Canada kicks off its 60th season on Saturday.   Looks like there is a new set, Coaches Corner will be featured in both games of the doubleheader and the venerable Bob Cole, who is pushing 80 will start his 40th season with Hockey Night.  If you ever wonder why it is so tough to get an elite level play-by-play job, look no further than the octogenarian Cole.  There is no mandatory retirement age in broadcasting, so as long as the pipes are strong, as Cole's are, there is no reason to step aside.  

Can you picture Ed Burkhoder, Al Galloway and I still behind the Mic in our 80's?  Here is what we will look like: 

Here is Ed and I:                                             Here is Al:   

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Monday, January 14, 2013


As a regular consumer of media, a lot of newspapers have been sold, commentary generated and opinions produced on TV and Radio on the seemingly endless teachers dispute.  If you take a look at the number of viewers comments on websites, it far surpasses most other articles.  

If you also took the time to read the number of viewer commentaries, you might go legally insane at the baffling logic, gross inaccuracies and ranting tones of those who obviously have been traumatized by some sort of teacher/student interaction deep in their psyche. It seems that many people have had their voices heard, some to the point of exhaustion.  Government, Union leaders, Parents, even students are liberally (pun not intended) quoted through various media sources. 

All arguments and attempts to define the profession are ridiculous and display beyond belief.   Yet Teachers have largely had to sit back and take it.  Scant attempts to set the record straight have been met by louder on-line jeering by those who are so brave, that they use an online pseudonym.  

The ones scarcely not heard from?  The teachers themselves, the ones at the heart of the dispute instead are spoken for by those who think they know the profession inside an out.   Oh sure,  there are lots of images of teachers holding picket signs, the odd microphone clip at a rally, or a quote in a newspaper, but it does not even come close to representing the real interests of the profession.  

There will be little time wasted on Bill 115. It's a deeply-flawed Bill put forth by a Premier who hit the back door when the heat was turned up, and whose early salvo fired in the whole dispute was a laughable video attempt at a warm-hearted olive branch extended out to teachers.  Whomever green-lighted that should either have been canned, or was playing a magnificent practical joke on the premier.  The Bill itself was stamped and put into force by an Education Minister/former lawyer, combative in nature and refusing to really answer any questions on the matter, instead sticking to a well-worn smoke-screen of a script about "Putting Students 1st"

As far as the repatriation of extra-curricular activity, that is something of a more sensitive subject among the profession. Extra curricular are an integral part of a school day, and part of the development of the student but not the most important.  Daily education is always, and should always be the most important part of the school day  and I would stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow professionals who are innovative, articulate, educated and above all always are looking for that added motivational tool to reach a very diverse student population in their daily lessons.   Many people have lost sight of that during this battle and through it  teachers have been seen as one of the main villains in this beyond its best date tragic farce.

On the whole the profession has taken a sound beating, and its time to start the long, slow rehabilitation of a profession that has largely been misunderstood by a public who only really have their own memories of school draw upon and have been misled by a polarizing Education Minister, and a government whose recent strategy was to have the Premier quit and the parliament prorogued, despite the fact important decisions need to be made. 

Time to push the reset button, get back to business as usual, and get back to restoring faith in a system that has, and continues to produced top notch, educated professionals. 

Steve Clark
Law Teacher

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Got a New Years resolution or two:   Shorter blog posts, and more gratuitous self-promotion are in for 2013.  It will hopefully lead to more frequent posts, as I fell off the map a little bit in December.  

For the IceDogs and their big three of Strome, Ritchie and Dougie Hamilton, I will stand by my thoughts in my last blog found HERE .  The Dogs have added St Catharine's native Jordan Maletta from Windsor and Mitchell Fitzmorris from Kingston so far, and have yet to move any significant assets yet.  If any of the big three are dealt, the term "conditional" will be added as all three are headed for NHL camps. 

On the whole, I wish that the OHL would limit the trading of high school aged players during the school year. It can't be easy picking up stakes and moving school in the middle of the school year for any reason, let alone hockey.  That said, it is part of the business, and I do not begrudge any GM from the making the necessary moves to improve their team either presently or in the future.  Plus I expect the players love hearing their names in the Hot Stove Lounge.  

Looks like the early winners so far are Owen Sound and Kitchener. Both added stud D men (Owen Sound- Cody Ceci, Kitchener- Frank Corrado).  Both teams are taking dead aim at the London Knights who are the unquestioned top dogs in the OHL.  Belleville added bruising winger Tyler Graovac to their line-up for the stretch run as well, as the Ottawa 67's are holding a bit of a fire sale. 

-- The NHL returned to a very mixed reaction.  Some fans are apathetic, others vow a protest of some sort, and yet others are thrilled. Call me the latter.  I'm a hockey guy at heart and glad to see some NHL hockey this year, if only for the OHL guys who can get achieve their dream.  I'm also happy for the ancillary businesses, and team employees who are back to work now!

--Call me a broadcasting geek, but I'm interested in seeing Hockey Night in Canada, TSN, and Sportsnet's broadcast schedule.   Fans are going to get their fill of hockey on TV for sure.  One question:  Will Bob Cole return for another season in the booth?  

--IceDogs take on the re-tooled Owen Sound Attack on Thursday at The Jack . TV Cogeco in HD and the OHL Action Pack will broadcast.  Ed, Al and I will have the call.

-I will also be court side at McMaster on Saturday calling MAC/Western in a hoops doubleheader on Hamilton's Cable 14. The game will be taped for later that day. 

--Gratuitous plug:  go to and hit "Like" I will be posting broadcasting content and updates.  Look for IceDog highlights there too!

Steve Clark