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Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Reading the article in the Globe and Mail that detailed that Saskatchewan had to cough up almost $1M to hold up its end of the bargain when it did not meet the $3.5M financial guarantee the Memorial Cup gave me a sense of deja vu in it came to the bid proceedings. 

You can find the article:  HERE

Canadian Interuniversity Sport's bidding process for the CIS Men's Basketball Championship used the notion of financial guarantees as one of its determining  factors for host cities and basically have "financially guaranteed" themselves into a corner as there are only a small handful of venues willing to meet the steep financial guarantees.  Using this sort of financial threshold as currency in the bidding process is a nice little cash cow for the league, but it really limits those who have the financial wherewithal to be able to take a tax dollar bath should the guarantee not be met. 

Call it "if you guarantee it, they will come"   

The CIS has really been limited to Halifax, and more recently Ottawa for their Final 8 Basketball Tournament the past 30 years.  Others have kicked the tires and made a bid (Hamilton comes to mind), but without knowing what the financial guarantee is from the other side makes for a game of financial blind man's buff.  You don't know the other side's financial guarantee, you just put your blind faith that your number is greater than that of your competitor. Again, it is a chance few are willing to take when it comes to tax payer dollars having to shore up the difference.  The good news for the CIS is that Ryerson, with the new Mattamy Centre and UBC will host the next two years before the bid processing starts again.  Expect Halifax to get back into the mix.  The self-proclaimed "Basketball Capital of Canada" maintained a pretty good stranglehold on the tournament for upwards of three decades. 

Similarly, like CIS basketball the Canadian Hockey League is running the risk of limiting its options when it comes to the bid processes.  Few can afford to play a high stakes game with tax payer money.  Should you reach the guarantee, no problem.  Pay the bills and count the money. If not, expect a hefty bill in the mail for your city or province, much like the one that Saskatchewan got when it fell $668 000 short, on top of their $250 000 investment in rink board improvements.  What does that mean?   Smaller communities who likely could do an outstanding job of hosting a Memorial Cup are likely to squeezed out of the equation.    A franchise like Niagara who will have a brand new arena next year might make an ideal host, should they enter the bid process.  However tax payers in the city were not pleased to see some of their dollars go to a new arena considering that the 2 000 capacity Seymour Hannah Complex  is fairly new, and would likely be reluctant to see more potential tax dollars go if an exorbitant financial guarantee is not met. 

So expect to see a lot of London, Kitchener, Barrie and maybe Windsor or Oshawa from an OHL perspective, but not the Owen Sounds, or likely Sarnia's of the world.   All could likely host a great tournament, but not at the prices set by the CHL.   

Financial guarantees are nothing new in the world of big event planning, and from a macro perspective it is very good business to know what is going into your pocket at the end of the tournament.   You cannot fault the CHL for looking out for their own best interests.   The hope is that they do not paint themselves into a corner with few cities part of the bidding process.  Essentially, that will create a tier system some already say may exist in Canadian major junior hockey already.  

A fair shot at the hosting the biggest tournament of the year should be available to all.    After all that is the true spirit of competition. 

Monday, January 20, 2014


  • Aah the perils of being a young team.  the IceDogs showed their growing pains after an impressive 6-3 win over the Kingston Frontanacs, by showing up flat on the road on the weekend, dropping a 6-2 decision in Barrie and a 5-1 thrashing in North Bay.   Uneven play will plague the IceDogs from time to time this year.  They also caught a bit of lightning in a bottle as well as the Kingston victory was in the midst of what has become a 5 game road losing streak while their 5-4 OT win last weekend over Windsor was followed up by a 9-0 lambasting of the Spitfires in Erie the next day.  Big challenges await this weekend with home games versus Mississauga and Ottawa on Thurday and Saturday sandwiched around a visit to Erie on Friday night. 
  • Twitter exploded after Richard Sherman's WWE style promo interview post- Seattle's win over San Fran in the NFC Title Game.    Fox, who apparently, cut short the interview for their own reasons then decided to have a contrite and articulate Sherman on two more times before the post game ended.   What got me were the reporters chastising those who felt that Sherman was classless and out of line because there was high entertainment value not normally seen in today's cliche spewing vanilla interviews with athletes. Listen, I love a good quote or interview as much as the next guy and Sherman was must see, highly entertaining TV.  However, he was also a classless, self-absorbed jerk  as well. You can be both entertaining and a complete tool at the same time. Trust me, I've patterned both a teaching and broadcasting career around that same philosophy!
  • If I had an autobiography it might be titled Paul Romanuk Ruined My Career.  Ok, ok, it's not entirely true.  Many would say that if my broadcasting career does not advance beyond it's current state, the wounds would be self inflicted.   A few years back I can remember applying for the Raptors play by play job when they went away from a simulcast of TV.  I had actually a couple of positive conversations with then Fan 590 program director Nelson Millman about the position before Mr. Romanuk swooped in with his NHL and Olympic position and broke my heart.  Well, that might be somewhat exaggerated, but its my story and I can tell it anyway I want.  Anyways, with Rogers grabbing the national rights to the NHL next year anyone with a microphone and a voice checking to see if there are any openings comes news from Steve Simmons of The Sun that the very same evil incarnate Paul Romanuk might be in line to be the number two man behind Jim Hughson.  Nothing confirmed, but Romanuk would be a very nice fit behind Jim Hughson.  Damn you Paul Romanuk! *shakes fist like a caught Scooby Doo Villain* 
  • Oh those Raptors.  They have the city of Toronto dying to root for them, and they go and pull the grenade on themselves with a sloppy loss to an LA Lakers team that is a shell of its former self.   While fans can accept a hard fought loss against the elite of the league, a loss to the directionless Lakers is something that cannot be forgiven by a fan base who has raised their expectation level since the beginning of the year. 
  • Rooting for the Bronco's in the SuperBowl.  It has nothing to do with Richard Sherman, and a lot to do with the fact I can't stand Pete Carroll and I have a very healthy respect for Peyton Manning.  That's the SNL hosting Peyton Manning, and not the QB Peyton Manning, who broke all of my hero Dan Marino's records.   Now all Dan has is a terrible acting resume thanks to Hootie and the Blowfish and Ace Ventura and a stunning collection of both Isotoner gloves and commericals. 
  • A busy broadcasting week awaits with three games in three nights.  Two IceDog games and then a return to the Cable 14 booth for the Hamilton Bulldogs vs Toronto Marlies.  I love calling AHL games from Copps Coliseum as the sightlines are great and it gets me that much closer to the big show.  However, its the fourth straight Marlies/Bulldogs game and the story lines are  tougher to find! Still there is high entertainment value in the Battle Ontario, especially with the two teams in such close proximity in the standings.  Bang! Now we've got a storyline! Top that Paul Romanuk!

Until next time.
Steve Clark

Friday, January 17, 2014


Sure is more fun writing about a team that is winning now.  The 2013-1014 IceDogs, one of the youngest teams in the league started out playing, well, like one of the youngest teams in the league.   Errors of youth, inconsistent goaltending, goal scoring from too few sources left the IceDogs and their supporters using the much dreaded term "Tank Nation" . 

My colour colour commentator Ed Burkholder remarked that it usually takes young players until Christmas to start to get acclimatized to the league.   The pace of the game and the strength of the players are things a rookie player is not used to.  That has rung true for the IceDogs.  They began their hot streak in mid December with a successful road weekend versus Kingston and Belleville, and can boast victories over Windsor, London, Kingston (again) and a first ever victory in Plymouth.   In their last 11 games the IceDogs fashioned a 7-2-0-2 record, with regulation losses against Owen Sound, which was a post Christmas 6-2 turkey by the IceDogs, and a 4-2 loss to highly ranked Guelph in a game in which the IceDogs held a decisive shots on goal advantage.  

Last nights game was fun from a broadcasting perspective.  Kingston, though injury ravaged, is one of the top three teams in the conference.   The IceDogs jumped on the Fronts early, building a 2-0 first period lead and expanded it as high as 6-1 before coasting to a 6-3 W.  While the Fronts were missing #1 Central Scouting ranked Sam Bennett, the IceDogs were without highly touted forward Brendan Perlini, top D Man Aaron Haydon, and useful two way forward Jordan Maletta.  Plus, they lost G Brent Moran early in the game with an upper body injury.    

The Dogs are now tied for 7th in the conference with Mississauga with two games in hands and the development of 1st year players like Alex Mikulovich, and Graham Knott has been a pleasure.  With six players ranked by Central Scouting and two more draft eligibles having solid years in Anthony DiFruscia and Jordan Maletta, good times are ahead for the rest of this year and the inaugural season in the Meridian Centre. 
An article written in the St Catharines Standard indicated a councillor was pushing for the legendary building to close as soon as possible. So much for nostalgia!  The creaky building costs a fair amount of money to run and has had some issues with maintenance, not uncommon for a vintage building that pre-dates World War 2.  One plan that has been floated is for the IceDogs to play exhibition games at the Jack before moving across the road to the Meridian Centre.  Others it seems just want put an abandoned sign on the front door and can't get out fast enough!  Time will tell as the spring and summer approaches.  Maybe the final say should go to North Bay boss Stan Butler, who I'd hazard to say is not a fan of the building and may commandeer his own wrecking ball to start the process. 

Road tests for the IceDogs this weekend come in the form of the Barrie Colts, a place where the IceDogs got handed an 8-2 thrashing earlier this year and have yet to beat, and the North Bay Battalion.   Though there is separation in the standings you cannot ignore four pointers as the push for the playoffs.    The next air time for us will be Thursday January 23rd vs Mississauga and Saturday January 25th vs Ottawa.   Both games are at 7pm and are available in HD for those in the Niagara region.   

Till next time!
Steve Clark