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The Kelowna Rockets are going to be well represented during the 2012 World Junior Championships this December and January in Calgary and Edmonton.
Not just on the ice, and not just for Team Canada – Brett Bulmer is the only Rockets’ player invited to try out for the home team. Kelowna’s head coach Ryan Huska will backup Don Hay behind Canada’s bench, Rockets’ athletic therapist Jeff Thorburn will be on Canada’s medical staff, and Filip Vasko will be contending for a spot on Slovakia’s national roster.
Coach Huska is just as excited as the players to be representing Canada.
“It’s a thrill,” Huska said. “The players are always excited to put the jersey on and play for Canada, and it’s no different for coaches – I’m honoured to be part of this team again this year. You get a chance to coach some of the best young players in our country and you get a chance to work with and learn from some great coaches. I’m very excited, and looking forward to it.”
Even though Canada’s won the tournament more than any other country (15 times), they haven’t won gold since 2009, and the country has been chomping at the bit to re-take the throne ever since. Huska’s well aware of the pressure to win on home ice that the club will endure.
“Expectations are to win gold,” Huska stated. “Everybody knows that coming in. Canada has a lot of pride in the teams it puts into international competitions, and they expect to win. There are a lot of countries right now that could win instead of us. Our players need to understand that there will be a lot of pressure on them – especially since we are playing at home – but they have to use it in the right way. We’ll need our group to buy in and play as a team as soon as possible. If we can do that, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win. We all know the expectation is for a gold medal.”
Forty-one of Canada’s top junior players have been invited to take part in Team Canada’s Selection Camp from Dec. 10 to 14 in Calgary. Thirty-six of them are NHL draft picks. Trying to cut another 19 of the country’s best players to get the roster to 22 won’t be any easier than it was to whittle down to the current number.
“Getting down to 41 was a challenge,” explained Huska. “There were probably 15 other guys that were very close to being invited as well. It comes down to putting together the guys that make up the best team. Sometimes that most skilled or most offensive players might not be there in the end, because it’s about having the proper mix of guys that are going to generate offence, but also guys who going to be workers – guys that can kill penalties and bring energy to your team. In a short period of time, you have to find a group of players that are willing to do whatever’s necessary to make this team, and for some that might mean filling different roles than they’re used to. Our job is to find the best 22 guys that can do that.”
Kelowna forward Brett Bulmer is hoping to be one of those final 22 players. Despite being one of only a small handful of other invitees with NHL experience, and playing for Canada’s assistant coach during the season, Bulmer will have to earn his spot just like everyone else.
“The coaches have seen me a lot over the last few years,” said Bulmer. “They know as a big body I can bring a physical element. I want to go in there and be on the body a lot, because I know the European teams probably won’t be able to handle the hitting. I can add offence too though. They have a lot of depth when it comes to scoring – a lot of small, skilled guys – but I can add as much offence as anyone. They’re going to have to cut a lot of great players. I have to show my best at camp and make sure I stand out. I’ll do anything they ask of me – if they tell me to play a certain role, I’ll do it. I can’t go in thinking I have an advantage. I have to work hard, play well and show I deserve to be on the team. I have to make sure I’m ready for it. It’s a huge opportunity for me, and I’m going to make the most of it. I really want to make that team, and I’m excited about my opportunity.
“He needs to be prepared to earn a spot, just the same as the other 40 guys coming to camp. There are no free rides – he’s got to earn a spot just like everyone else. The best way for him to do that will be to use his speed and size. He makes it very difficult for defenceman to handle his size. If he can play to those strengths, he’ll give himself a chance to be on that team. It’s good for me to know him already. I’ve got to know him very well over the last three years. His NHL experience helps too. He’s been in situations in the NHL where he’s played in front of 19,000 people, so he knows every play is important and he can’t have off shifts. It’ll be the same way come Christmas time.”
Rockets’ forward Filip Vasko is excited for his chance to play for his home country of Slovakia as well. Vasko departs on Dec. 15 to join a field of 29 Slovakian players competing to wear their country’s colours on their uniform.
“I think it’s amazing for every guy who gets to play for their nation,” Vasko said. “It’s the same for me. I’m just going to try and play the best I can. I’m very proud.”
The Rockets’ leading scorer Shane McColgan was in contention for Team USA, but was recently announced as being omitted from their roster.
Of the 30 players invited to the American selection camp, 75 per cent were current NCAA players – and only one skater is from the WHL. If players of McColgan’s calibre are not being added to their roster, one has to think Team USA will again be a gold medal contender, and a threat to Canada’s chances.
“It’s a little frustrating for me,” McColgan said. “I’m just going to keep working hard the rest of the season, and try to make that team next year. You can’t really dwell on it though. We have an exciting road trip coming up, and that’s my main focus right now. When I was at the summer evaluation camp, I saw the level of the guys that will be on the final roster. They’re definitely a contender, and I wish them the best of luck. It would have been nice to represent my country, but maybe next year. I hope to be there in the future. It’ll give me time to relax over Christmas, and be fresh for the second half of the season.”
Canada will play intrasquad games on Dec. 11 and 12 and one exhibition game against a CIS all-star team, before finalizing their roster on Dec. 14.
They’ll then play in three exhibition games prior to the tournament, and then open the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship on December 26th against Finland.
***[UPDATE: DEC 14/11]***
For Immediate Release – Dec. 14, 2011
Kelowna Rockets forward Brett Bulmer is heading back to join the Rockets after narrowly missing out on making the Team Canada World Junior Tournament.
Bulmer was among the cuts Wednesday morning as Team Canada named its 22 man roster for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship in Calgary and Edmonton.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” Bulmer said in a media scrum at the team hotel after hearing the news. “I thought I worked hard, did everything they asked of me at camp so it’s really disappointing. I thought I had a good shot. I worked hard, got on the body and did everything they asked but…”
Bulmer was in the Rockets lineup Wednesday when the team faced Regina.
The Kelowna Rockets defeated the Regina Pats 3-2 in overtime on Wednesday night. Wednesday’s game began with a bang when Brett Bulmer scored just 19 seconds into the game, less than 10 hours after being released from Team Canada’s World Junior program. After getting the news, Bulmer made the trip from Calgary to Regina, joining the Rockets and making an immediate impact. For Bulmer it was his 12th goal of the season.
For More Information:
Kevin Parnell, media relations
Call or text: 250-491-8407
Everyone remember the Double Championship Challenge (DCC) that I hosted over the last hockey season? You know, the one to see which players would win both the Olympic Gold Medal and Stanley Cup in the same season? Well after many candidates and contest entrants were eliminated, when Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook did exactly that, we had a winner. Congratulations to Rich Abney of Kelowna, the first ever SDC Blogs’ Quadrennial DCC Champion! Here’s your fifteen minutes of fame (or however long until the next post). Rich wins the t-shirt you see pictured, and 4 years of bragging rights! [Doubly interesting because Rich works with the runner up, Ryley Herzog, at the same store] Stay tuned for the blog’s next contest… you could be our next winner!
Without further adieu, enjoy Serenity Now… The SDC Blogs’ first video blog!
So Canada 2 got bounced from the IIHF World Championships, and Corey Perry is eliminated from the DCC. Anybody care? The only thing worth bothering with is that Canada will probably lose some ground in the official world rankings for hockey, after we reclaimed it so awesomely in the Olympics. Meh, we still rule at hockey. Did anyone really not think Ray Whitney was going to lead us to international glory against Ovechkin, and every other player who was mad they lost at the Olympics, when all our good players were quite content with what they already accomplished for us?
Chicago’s manhandling of San Jose has awoken Joe Thornton from his comatose state, but is it already too late? Answer: yes. Montreal decided they like winning better than losing too. Interesting hockey coming up…
So The Office ended its most recent season Thursday night. All year, I was left with a lingering thought of this, one of my favourite shows: I wish the Office writers turned Parks & Recreation’s writers hadn’t given P&R all the good scripts and storylines this season. It really was not The Office’s best season. Though the shows’ writers will deny it, P&R is clearly the Pawnee, Indiana version of The Office. For whatever reason, Rashida Jones, the former Karen Filippelli on The Office who ended up as the Manager of Dunder-Mifflin Utica, for some reason changed her name to Ann Perkins, cut her hair, abandoned her child and husband, moved to Indiana, became a nurse, and met and befriended Leslie Knope the female, Indiana version of Michael Scott. There she also met April, the female Dwight Schrute; Mark, the Indiana Jim Halpert; Tom, the Andy Bernard of Indian descent; Jerry, the fat Toby; and Donna, the large, African-American Kelly. Surely you can make a few other connections yourself if you watch both shows. Too bad it means that one show has to get mediocre. Maybe that’s at least partially why Steve Carell isn’t coming back after next season…
With DVR’s, PVR’s, and torrent downloading, is anyone even watching TV anymore? It’s great to record TV and watch it when you like, but you still have to fast forward the commercials. To my wife and I, downloading torrents is definitely the way to go. You can’t watch it immediately because you have to wait for the show to be uploaded, but no one’s doing that anyway, hence all the D and P V-R’ing. As far as mindless entertainment goes, there’s nothing like watching your favourite 22 minute episode commercial free. The only lame part is that you have to wait a week for new stuff. One of the best moves I ever made (and I give full credit to my wife for this) is starting to watch LOST this way after four seasons had already gone by. We could string together 3 or 4 episodes together in one sitting, and never be left dangling off any dramatic cliffs unless we chose to. Now unfortunately, we’ve caught up to speed; luckily right in time for the big finale of which has no chance in satisfying anyone in tying up all the series’ loose ends to viewers’ satisfaction. Much like Seinfeld’s finale, and Dr. Dre’s Detox album, the hype has created an unobtainable contentment standard. When you think about Seinfeld’s finale from a logistical standpoint, where did you think Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer – the most cynical and judgemental fictional characters on the planet (albeit the most hilarious as well) – deserved to end up, besides in prison, with each other? I have a feeling LOST’s finale is going to make sense in the end, but the majority of people will not be happy with it.
If you’re looking for the BEST TV TORRENT DOWNLOAD SITE IN THE WORLD, look no further than eztv.it . Posts every day’s new episode torrents, and they’re always virus-free. If you live anywhere besides the USA, don’t waste your time with hulu.com , no matter what it says you’ll be able to watch. I want to hack and destroy hulu.com every time it tells me my video can’t be displayed in my region (note to security people reading this: I’m not actually capable of doing either of those). I can watch U.S. shows on TV, download U.S. shows from the internet, but can’t stream them from hulu.com because I live outside the U.S. That seems fair.
And lastly, HD and Blu-Ray, Plasma and LCD all seem a little low-tech now that 3D TV’s exist, don’t they? The technology train sure has chugging along the last few years; this “Digital Age” that we’re living in may end up being the continually the awesomest thing ever, or the complete and utter death of itself and modern commerce. What’s that? You bought a 50” HD plasma TV last year for $5000 that’s now obsolete? That’s a shame…
As all of Canada is aware (and most of the US is pretending not to know anything about it or what we’re talking about) CANADA WON THE OLYMPICS AND WE’RE THE BEST IN WORLD AT MORE STUFF THAN EVERYONE ELSE ESPECIALLY HOCKEY STILL.
With that in mind, I was thinking the other day, that there’s a handful of Canadian hockey players that played for Team Canada this past Olympics and won gold there, that have teams that qualified for the NHL playoffs, and have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup this year. So for the following list of players (and coaches), there’s a HUGE opportunity to pretty much have the awesomest year of hockey possible, if they were to win both championships in the same season:
Vancouver Canucks - Roberto Luongo
Pittsburgh Penguins - Sidney Crosby, Marc-André Fleury (does it count if you didn’t play any games?)
New Jersey Devils - Martin Brodeur, Jacques Lemaire
Chicago Blackhawks – Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews
Nashville Predators - Shea Weber
Los Angeles Kings - Drew Doughty
Philadelphia Flyers - Chris Pronger, Michael Richards
San Jose Sharks - Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton (does it count if you didn’t contribute?)
Boston Bruins - Patrice Bergeron
Detroit Red Wings - Mike Babcock
Buffalo Sabres - Lindy Ruff
Members of the Sharks and Blackhawks have the most personnel with the opportunity. But don’t count out Sid and Fleury’s Pens (mostly Sid’s), Brodeur’s been playing out of his mind for Jersey so far, Doughty may be a darkhorse, wily ol’ Mike Babcock and the Wings always have a chance. You can count out Luongo.
So, here’s what I am proposing. I will allow people to post their bets for Stanley Cup Champs/Olympic Gold aka “Double Hockey Awesomeness & Supremacy” (name subject to change), via the comment board. Once the last team is eliminated in the first round (to the nearest millisecond) I will tally the final ballots, and close the wagering. Until the cutoff time, feel free to change your votes, but be warned, I will only take your last choice at the elimination of the final first round team. The person(s) who correctly choose the correct players/team that win it all this year will receive….something, from me. I’m thinking an SDC Blogs t-shirt that says “I’M THE SMARTEST MAN/WOMAN ALIVE”, or something like that. I’ll let you know when I get it nailed down. Whatever, everyone likes t-shirts, right?
*** SDC TRIVIA: Who was/were the last player/players to win the Stanley Cup /Olympic Gold aka “Double Hockey Awesomeness & Supremacy” in the same season?***
(no prize awarded for this one)
So with that, happy betting! Enjoy the playoffs, and may the best/luckiest person win!
GO KINGS GO!
I’m pretty sure I’m going to need some Olympic detox. Withdrawals are surely on their way. I was hyper-tweeting on twitter, and my blogs reached record outputs (and hits!). A few of my readers were concerned I’d never return from Olympic themed blogs. So, with the intention of moving back to various topics, here is my last Olympic blog… for now.
Sidney. Freaking. Crosby. I could watch that “Golden Goal” (as announcer Chris Cuthbert called it) on loop for, probably ever. I heard one comparison already of that goal to the likes of the Paul Henderson goal in the ’72 Summit Series, and the Gretzky-to-Lemieux Canada Cup goal, and I have to say I agree with the alignment. It really was one of those goals that you’re going to always remember where you were and who you were with when it happened. It didn’t matter if you were a hockey fan, or even ever played hockey once in your life – if you are Canadian, you were excited.
And wasn’t that the spectacle of Vancouver 2010? All of us Canadians were excited, everywhere; seemingly all the time. Not just in Vancouver; not even just in Canada. Every living room, every pub, bar, airport, restaurant, Tim Hortons’, basement suite, townhouse, apartment, mobile home, rancher, bus, plane, car, city street, or any other dwelling place across the globe that displaced Canadians were currently occupying went absolutely bananas when they saw on their TV or computer, or heard on their radio or phone that Crosby’s shot went in. And it wasn’t just during that game; the jubilation and camaraderie really lasted throughout the entirety of the 17 days that were the 2010 Winter Olympics. There was video evidence from various cities from the East Coast all the way across the country to the West Coast of Canada; from Kandahar, Afghanistan to LAX; of Canadians loving every moment. I got to experience a few events, and even sported car flags on my vehicle (2 lost due to accidental window roll-downs, and one to manufacturers defect). And who could forget the red Olympic mittens? I had my pair.
We cheered and applauded, and/or got a little teary every time a Canadian earned a medal. Was there a better back-story than Alexandre Bilodeau drawing inspiration from his disabled brother and winning Canada’s first gold medal at home? We loved seeing giddy Marianne St-Gelais and Charles Hamelin win their medals and embrace. Who could keep their composure after Joannie Rochette won her bronze just days after the death of her mother? Canadian males everywhere grunted as Jon Montgomery screamed in victory, and guzzled a pitcher of beer. We couldn’t stop from singing “O Canada” in the curling rink, and causing non-traditional delays. The stories go on and on. And as I referenced already, when Crosby went five-hole on Miller, silenced the fear of loss, and Canada triumphed over the US, and took the overall gold medal lead and set the all-time Winter Olympic record, well, is it of any surprise that IOC President Jacques Rogge was “boo’ed” when he announced the games were officially closed?
Our hearts broke every time one of our athletes told us they felt like they let us down. Skeleton’ist Mellisa Hollingsworth, and cross-country skiier Devon Kershaw both broke down in tears as they fell short of the medal podium, and Jeremy Wotherspoon capped is career off still without an Olympic gold medal. Through them wearing their hearts, pride, and passion on the sleeves of their Canadian uniforms, we not only forgave them (we were never mad at them), but we embraced them.
We rallied together anytime negative and irrelevant criticism was thrown our way, and retaliated in a civil way, if necessary. We defended ourselves in, probably, a most unexpected manner. When foreign newspapers and other media outlets tried to point out all our shortcomings as hosts, we accented our strengths, did our best to clean up our messes, and kept on waving the Maple Leaf and breaking into spontaneous street-hockey games anywhere and everywhere, with anyone who wanted to join in. From the time the torch reached our shores from Greece and paraded to every corner of our country, to the time the flame was extinguished and started its journey to the next host, we were a team out there. Even our Prime Minister placed bets on u
IOC President, Jacques Rogge, assessed Vancouver 2010 as “excellent and most friendly”. Perhaps in part from being Canadian and watching Canadian broadcasts, my spectrum of the games were quite partisan. But in all honesty, compared to any other Olympics I’ve seen from any previous year, Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic Games were the best. Games. Ever. Many have said Canada forged itself a new identity, and put some swagger in our step. Some say it was there all along. Whatever it is that we’ve become as far as a united nation, I hope we never forget it.
Olympic Quips: Quality Over Quantity, Happy With Harper, Big Kid Pictograms, and More Hockey Thoughts.
Our country, and the world, has certainly been critical of our little “Own The Podium” program that we developed. Now, the goal was to win more medals than any other country, and the likelihood of that happening is fading. But do consider the following: We’ve won more gold medals than anyone else, meaning we’re the best in the world at more sports than any other country, INCLUDING the first place US. We tied the all-time Winter Olympic record for most gold medals at 13. If a country had 32 bronze medals for coming in third every time, and another had a fraction of that amount in gold first place medals, wouldn’t you give the nod to the country with the gold’s? Also, we’ve set another Canadian record for our medal count in Torino, which also was up from the previous record. And thirdly, our female athletes are destroying our male athletes in medal winnings.
I think it’s pretty cool that our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper is attending so many Olympic events. Apparently he’s been paying his own way for tickets (as he should be), so he must have some deep pockets; tickets for medal events like he’s attended are all in the multiple hundreds of dollars range. That aside, you likely wouldn’t see US President Barack Obama, or certainly not our old friend George W Bush, amongst the common people at such a largely populated public event. Harper’s high-fiving Wayne Gretzky, and hugging athletes as they win medals. I like it.
Who did Pepsi think they were kidding when they tried to make us chant “Eh Oh Canada Go” because they had a contest and awarded a prize to someone
who came up with, what they believed to be, the best original chant? I’m sure the entrant meant well, but come on. Chants are as spontaneous as the wave, or events depicted in Bacardi commercials; like throwing a lot of rocks in the water, building an island, and having an insane party, all on a whim. Our standard “Go Canada Go” chant is fine the way it is. Also, I’ve enjoyed “WE WANT RUS-SIA CLAP, CLAP, CLAP-CLAP-CLAP”; also sub-in SWE-DEN and U-S-A at the sight of inevitable Team Canada hockey wins as my favourites so far.
What’s the deal with the presentation of flowers after the medals? I know in Roman times, the flowers were quite coveted by the winners. Surely, it’s a tip of the cap to that tradition, today. But I mean, I’m sure the athletes are like, “WOW THIS IS AWESOME I’M THE BEST THIS MEDAL RULES… oh, and thanks for the flowers… hold on, I gotta put these in some water… for something that’s gonna die fairly soon, these seem like something that we could’ve saved spending money on for something for necessary.” Here’s a little quip about where the bouquets are made.
I’m glad Vancouver 2010 decided to use pictograms to visually interpret the events that don’t look like kindergarten scrawls, as has been done consistently for like, ever. These ones are well drawn, and actually look like what they are supposed to depict.
Team Canada’s Women’s hockey team prrrrrobably shouldn’t have been drinking champagne and smoking cigars in the public eye after their gold medal victory, especially with an underaged player on the team participating. But you’re kidding yourselves if you think these things weren’t happening anyways in the dressing room. They just got caught. Oops. Add this to the IOC’s list of reasons that will be reviewed to support women’s hockey remaining as an Olympic event… hmm, probably should’ve kept it in the room. Well, they are the best in the world, again. And they beat the Americans. On those fronts, nice going girls!
Finally, after squeaking by Slovakia, CANADA IS GOING TO DESTROY THE US IN HOCKEY AND WIN THE GOLD MEDAL AND AVENGE THEIR ROUND ROBIN LOSS AND SETTLE THE PSYCHE OF ALL CANADIANS. Given, the US has a great team, a hot goalie, and it would be good for the business of hockey for them to win, but my allegiances are unquestioned. I have a friend who is a die-hard Calgary Flames fan/Vancouver Canucks hater, so much so that the mere thought of Roberto Luongo being credited for Canada’s success spurs on thoughts of “Lu” assassination, and instead wants Iginla to be credited for all triumphs. I’ve got another (American) friend who only gets interested in hockey when the US plays Canada. After some back and forth text-taunting since the first game, I NEED Canada to win for my own pride. Is it interesting to anyone else that North American teams only make it to the Olympic finals when the games are played on NHL sized ice instead of Olympic sized ice (an insane stat; what other reason is there to have Olympic sized ice if not to be used AT THE OLYMPICS?) I think we can all agree, it’s going to be one heck of a game. Lets go Salt Lake City on ‘em!
GO CANADA GO!!!
My goodness, Canada obliterated Russia. Canada lives to fight another day, and Sid wins the latest chapter of the Crosby vs. Ovechkin showdown (actually, they both had zero points in the game, but Sid wins by default with the team win; also Ovechkin was invisible throughout the whole game). I hate to say it’s typical of Russia, but since the loss, the Russians have been skewering Canada in the media (no offence to any of the nice Russian people I know). All the people who thought that the loss to the US might have been the “inspiration” Canada needed to get things back on track may just have been onto something.
My most common thought through that game was MAN I FREAKING LOVE TEAM CANADA. I had a long term relationship with the LA Kings during the Gretzky era, had cups of coffee with the Blues, Rangers, and most recently, I’d been warming up to the Coyotes and Leafs. But all in all, Team Canada is my favourite hockey team of all time. I absolutely love it when they win, and I nearly lose my mind when they lose. All the whining about how American NHL teams are all comprised of Canadians, and when those teams win Cups, it’s really Canada winning, sort of; well this is actually all those Canadian players all together on one team, and all NHL season gripes, grudges, and affiliations are off. I’ve even come to realize that I really like the new sport neutral Team Canada logo designed for the Olympics.
I really have come to think that the Olympic tournament is the premier
international hockey competition as well. As opposed to the World Championships, you have EVERY country’s best players representing their flag; not the small percentage of NHL players who aren’t in the Stanley Cup playoffs that year. Also, the players are in peak mid-season conditioning; whereas WC players may be “mailing in” their efforts after knowing they’re not going to win the Stanley Cup. The World Cup/Canada Cup is cool too, but it has no frequency to it; only being contested every 7-8 years. It would be better if the Olympics didn’t have single elimination games, and best-of series’ instead. I wish there was a way to have every country play every country at least once, instead of the pool play, but I guess there really isn’t that kind of time. Maybe next NHL lockout, there could be a Global Hockey League, where we see countries compete in an NHL season format. How awesome would that be?
Now we face Slovakia, after what must be considered an upset after defeating defending gold medal champs, Sweden. So Sweden, you’re telling me a squad comprised of Zetterberg, Franzen, Alfredsson, both Sedin’s, Forsberg, Lidstrom, and others were not good enough to beat… wait, who does Slovakia have? Zdeno Chara? (ok they have the Hossa’s and Gaborik too, but come on, not nearly as deep as Sweden) This was the first legit upset of the tournament, in my opinion, but man were there a few close calls. The Swiss were a handful for Canada and the US, Belarus made it tough on Sweden, Latvia took a run at the Czechs, and even Norway almost edged out the Slovaks. Now by the math, Canada should roll over Slovakia, but hey, we said that about the US, didn’t we?
I think it’s great for hockey as a whole, but obviously not great for Canada. We’re no longer afforded the luxury of thinking we’re automatically the best in the world when it comes to international matchups (someone tell all the women’s teams besides Canada and the US to follow suit). We’ve known this since 2006 in Turin really, but people like to pretend as if those Olympics never happened; isn’t it odd that the only Olympics Canadians seem to “remember” in terms of hockey is 2002? Obviously our best showing, but you have to take the bad with the good and make adjustments if you’re going to remain king of the hill. Another thing that escapes Canadian hockey fans memories is that both Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo were our goalies in Turin as well. Luckily, we’ve already bested our placement from that time.
Go Canada GO!
So many Olympic thoughts running through my brain. After watching it on TV EVERYday so far, and even going to Vancouver to see a few events, I gotta say I’m really enjoying the Olympics overall. I don’t think I’d be
wrong to say that most Canadians are as well. Have you ever seen spontaneous jubilation in streets, or random outbursts of “O Canada” at curling matches before? Unreal. Truly something special; whether you’re viewing from afar, or are there to experience it in person.
Most people internationally would likely say the same thing as well. Unfortunately, there are a few members of the American and British press who want to rain on everyone’s parade by labelling Vancouver 2010 as the “worst games ever”.
Sure, the weather hasn’t been ideal; but events have continued, and medals have been awarded. Sorry we forgot to import the weather machine that does our meteorological bidding. Our courses are too hard? The competitors are the best in the world at their sports, right? Should we make
them easier for everyone? Sorry for training on our own tracks a lot; didn’t know that was such a bad thing. The world doesn’t like our “Own The Podium” program, where we give more money and training opportunities than we historically have to our Olympic athletes in hopes of them winning a lot of medals? Oh, sorry, should we just go back to being a mediocre sporting nation for everyone else to roll over like they used to? What we gave our competitors is still nowhere near that of other nations, and hey, it’s not even working out THAT well for us so far, so chill. We’re doing alright though, and no one here is going to be less proud of our athletes for any reason.
A malfunction in the Opening Ceremonies? Um… whoops. We swear they were working in practice. Some people thought the flaming icicles looked like male genitalia, or drug paraphernalia? Well, think what you want, but be careful what indigenous people you vocalize those opinions around. No one can get close to the flame? Hey, they’re working on it. I got a few good pics; I’m not complaining. The US beating Canada in men’s hockey? Wait, that’s Canada’s complaint. Blame it on the goalies when things go squirrely, right?
And the death of Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili; well that was simply a tragedy, nothing else. That track has been ridden countless times safely, and it’s a very unfortunate and sobering example of just how dangerous that sport is.
So England and America, oh yee dwelling in glass houses and flats; how did your prior Olympic Games hostings turn out?
London’s Olympic Games in 1908 saw England piss off the Finnish, Swedish, and USA by not displaying their flags at the Opening Ceremonies. Finland decided not to march, and Sweden left all together. The Americans were then asked to “dip” their flag to the Royals, which they outright refused. Solid international relations, England.
The USA’s Games hosting tenures haven’t been “squeaky clean” either.
Atlanta’s 1996’s Summer Games were considered over-commercialized, had a highly criticized Olympic Village and Opening Ceremonies by spectators and athletes alike, and… what else, what else…. OH YEAH, there was a BOMBING that killed 2 people and injured 111 others.
Salt Lake City’s Winter Games of 2002 were marred by a bribery scandal (all-expense-paid ski trips, scholarships, Super Bowl trips, plastic surgery, deals on real estate, jobs for family members, and cash for IOC delegates from the Utah bid committee) to bring the Olympics to Utah which saw several IOC members expelled, and others resign. Allegations of foul play in figure skating judging saw scores and results reviewed and medals re-awarded. Suspect refereeing in speed skating DQ’ed a Korean, and angered that entire country to the point that the Olympic website crashed from the overload of threatening emails sent to them over the result. Russians threatened to go home after they felt they were unfairly accused of doping in cross-country skiing.
Los Angeles’ Games of 1984 were boycotted by 16 countries. In LA’s 1932 Games, President Hoover became the first head of state in Olympic history not to even show up at the event. The 1904 Games in St. Louis became a sideshow of The World’s Fair, and lasted four and a half months.
Now, all that to say to the critics look, we know things have been going wrong. We’re working on it. No one said Vancouver 2010 was going to be perfect. And let’s be honest, everyone throwing stones at us right now has got plenty of skeletons in their own closets from when they tried to host the Olympic Games previously. Can we at least agree that it’s a rather dubious task? And London, you get them again in 2012, so you better be expecting an earful the second after the first thing goes wrong. I’ll take a few unseasonably warm days in Whistler over any of those other issues any day. There’s just so much good to be taken from these Games, maybe we can all just quit pointing fingers at our follies and just enjoy our athletes rising above the childish media behavior?
I think US Men’s Hockey Team GM, Brian Burke, said it best with this earlier quote in response to the criticisms of Vancouver 2010:
“I think that’s bullshit. I’ve been to four Winter Olympics. This is the best one I’ve been to in terms of organization. You’re going to have glitches in an event this size. With this many people, logistical things with multiple venues, you’re going to have glitches. I don’t know why people are whining about it. I think it’s been extraordinarily well run — again, this is my fourth one so it’s not like I’m a novice. I think they’ve done a marvellous job here. I wish people would quit bitching about it.”
Man, for a million reasons, I wish Brian Burke was Canadian.
Is it just me, or did the Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, and Colorado Avalanche all get lazy when it came to 3rd jersey design time? Maybe they just had nothing at the deadline, and blindly approved blue uniforms; when blue isn’t even one of their official team colors? Did the Predators just rip off a Maple Leafs symbol and stitch on that stupid prehistoric cat with the major incisor issue? Did Florida not notice that Chicago, Minnesota, St Louis, and Pittsburgh all already did the emblem with the symbol in the middle and team name circled around it, and that the Blues and Pens already did it with the same colors? How many people in the NHL were asleep at the wheel here?
If I were the type of person who was looking for players to make my team better, why in the world would I want to be on the lookout for a player with a lot of PIM’s? Isn’t getting penalties, sitting in the box for varying periods of time, and making your team play with a man down because of your error, and increasing the likelihood of being scored on, a bad thing? It boggles my mind that players will get chosen over others based on this stat, because the player with high PIM’s is supposed to make the team “tougher”. There are lots of players who play a physical style that can make a team tougher and don’t have to sit in the penalty box to show it. I just saw a sidebar on TV that said Keith Tkachuk moved into the top 5 all-time PIM leaders with just shy of 2200. Errm… congrats, Keith, you sat in the penalty box for 36 games worth of time. Thanks for helping out…
Now that Wayne Gretzky and Joe Sakic have both retired, and Pavel Datsyuk has won the trophy three years in a row, is it time to do away with the Lady Byng Award for the NHL’s most gentlemanly player? Does anyone in the league care, or aspire to win it anymore (did they ever?)? Like WWE did with the European and Light Heavyweight championship belts; maybe the NHL should slowly stop talking about it, never show it on camera, and very sneakily just phase it out. In the era of the Sean Avery’s, Steve Downie’s, and Dan Carcillo’s, maybe the NHL should in contrast introduce the Johnny Knoxville Award for biggest jackass of the year; as hockey tips slightly closer to “entertainment” for the sake of selling the game in an American market, and is certainly not dissuading the behaviour.
Marty Turco is the most over-rated goalie in the NHL. For a guy considered for Team Canada a few times, he really doesn’t ever get it done, does he?
Speaking of Dallas Stars, Mike Modano seems to be just hanging on to that spot of his (and a few other classics in the league, I might add) in Dallas, doesn’t he? He’s earning his keep, but as that era of players seems to be drawing to a close, it’s enough to wonder how much longer he can keep from going the way of the dinosaur. He’s always been a really good player; recently I heard him described as “the best skater I ever saw” by a former NHL’er. For some reason, he could never keep that Captain’s “C” on his jersey. I always secretly liked him as a player (it helped that he wears my number); but as an American, my Canadian pride refused to allow it.
I told this story in person the other day, so I decided to re-release it, ala Greatest Hits style. As a wordpress special bonus, check out the photographic evidence to verify the story! Enjoy.
(originally posted February 18th, 2009)
August 19, 2005.
In preparation for the 2006 Winter Olympics, the Canadian Men’s Hockey Team was having an “orientation camp(still not clear on what that meant, or why they didn’t just call it ‘practice’)” in my hometown of Kelowna BC. The Executive Director for Team Canada at the time was none other than my boyhood (and if anyone was, I guess current as well) hero, Wayne Gretzky.
Now, let me help you to understand what I mean when I say “hero” here. I mean from the age that I was aware Gretzky was really good at hockey and played for the LA Kings (circa 1990), I owned jerseys, hockey cards, posters, Halloween costumes, books, shoes, officially endorsed products and equipment, and attempted haircuts in likeness… I was a advertising field day for this man.
It became my goal to come full circle, and meet my hero.
The tickets had sold out nearly immediately, without my inclusion in the possession or purchase of any of them. I was working for the Okanagan Hockey School at the time, a school that boasts many NHL alumni as instructors and/or part owners. They happened to have an in with the orientation camp, and were able to get some of the instructors free passes to the practices. I immediately snapped 2 passes up to the sold out event. After work, my brother and I zipped down to Prospera place to take our seats, my old Gretzky LA Kings jersey and Sharpie marker in tow. We managed to catch the players just heading out onto the ice, so we decided to see if a few of them would autograph some stuff for us. First out of the gate was Martin Brodeur, pretty much the best goaltender in the world at the time, and pretty high in the all-time record books. When we asked him to sign, he shrugged us, and the other people standing by the gate, right off. I didn’t think much of it, thinking, “well it’s just a practice, no big deal. He’s got all that goalie gear on anyways, it’s probably going to be a huge hassle for him anyways. ” Following up Brodeur were Ed Jovanovski, Todd Bertuzzi, and the other TWO goalies, Marty Turco and Roberto Luongo. ALL of which put down their gloves and sticks, and signed stuff for a few minutes until everyone was content. I decided to think less of Martin Brodeur after that moment.
After heading back to our ticketed seats, a friend who we had ended up sitting near advised me to look to my right. Heeding the advice, I turned my head, and who would I see, but “The Great One,” himself. Yes, by all modern calendars, I was 22 years old at the time, but in that moment, I was no more than 10 years old again. Wayne.was.here. And I could see him. I could have thrown something at him if I wanted. He was sitting in the stands, with his cronies (Kevin Lowe and company), taking notes or something. Realizing the current environment was no place to make a scene, I decided to keep a watchful eye on his every move, as to not be eluded ( for those wondering, I do not enjoy being eluded). The ice-session came to an end, and so did Wayne’s viewing. I really had no ideas as to what to do. They were sitting in a roped off area, and exited through the back. Wayne was escaping, and my already small window of opportunity was closing. I had nothing. I accepted it, and decided to take off, at least being happy I saw him, however unfulfilled I was truly feeling. As we made our way out, I took I noticed the “backstage” area, all roped off, with black curtains and everything. People were surrounding the guard rails, hoping to catch a glimpse of their heros. I also noticed people walking into the area with the same passes around their necks as ours; the only difference being theirs has “All Access” Sharpie marked on the bottom. I looked around my neck at my pass. I looked in my left hand containing a Sharpie marker. I realized I had one shot at his.
My brother and I ducked behind a corner and I quickly scribbled “All Access” at the bottom of our passes, in the closest handwriting facsimile I could muster. I managed to catch the attention of a lady heading in, and acted bewildered about the direction I was supposed to go, showing her my pass. She took a look at it, at me, and said, “come on, I’ll take you in.” My mouth said humble and appreciative things, and my mind stood in awe of what it had apparently just pulled off.
I tried my best not to act like an idiot and to try to make it seem like I was supposed to be back there. But it was tough. Everyone was back there, Iginla, St. Louis, Lecavalier, Yzerman, Bertuzzi, Sakic, Heatley, Nash, Smyth… everyone. It was incredible. Part of my blend-in technique was to see what catering had to offer. I noticed Ken Hitchcock at the table (cue the jokes), and decided to ask him how he could possibly narrow down this amount of talent to one team’s worth, over some veggies and dip. He didn’t really give me a straight answer. I asked Stevey Y how he liked Kelowna, to which he responded he wished he could live here. He, Iginla, St. Louis, Smyth and Lecavalier all signed my hat, all with smiles on their faces, all classy guys.
I found a place on the wall and decided just to hang out for a bit. That’s when I was again advised to turn my head, this time to the left. Wayne. I was back in the hunt. He was signing some sticks for some people. He finished up and was heading our way. I immediately started to draw up a mental game plan as to what my move was going to be, not that dis-similiar from the Mr. Bean episode were he meets the queen. I didn’t want to go into a thing about telling him he was my hero for all these years, yada yada… one part because surely he hears that everyday, another because as aforementioned I was trying not to look like an idiot, and another simply because of time. I was going to have mere moments to make contact. I decided on the handshake and autograph request, hopefully with coherent speech. Again, I knew I was only going to get one shot at this as well. Wayne ducked into a hallway. My heart sank momentarily, but then he came back out and was again headed in our direction. My heart was functioning again. This was it. I was in range. I made eye contact. I remember at that moment thinking I pictured him being taller. I stuck out my hand. Suprisingly and incredibly, he returned the shake, I think a little bewildered himself. I muttered, “Hi Wayne, can you sign my jersey?” or something of the likes. He replied, “um…hold on, I’ll be right back.” I agreed to the terms and faded back into the wall, hoping to reconvene in the near future. We waited. And waited. We hung out for a little while longer and started to get antsy. I found Pat Quinn and asked him haphazardly if Wayne was still around. Pat said Wayne took off. My heart nearly broke into a million pieces.
My brother and I took a de-briefing as to the events that had just taken place. We snuck into somewhere we weren’t allowed. We met the best hockey players in the world. I saw Wayne Gretzky, shook his hand, said something to him, and he even replied with a partial sentence to me. All in all, not a bad day. I went home all smiles. Sure Wayne blew me off, but I accomplished my goal and did meet my boyhood hero.
And that’s how I met Wayne Gretzky.
Ask my brother Rob if you don’t believe me.