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Posts Tagged ‘Air Canada’

Hockey Talkie: Cooke, Chara, Kovalev, Heritage Classic, and Everything In Between.

March 23, 2011 10 comments

 

I love love LOVE Matt Cooke’s regular season/1st round playoff suspension. Faaaaaaaar overdue. The guy did not deserve as many chances as he got to clean up his act. Only thing better would have been if it were for all playoffs, or more.  I don’t care how good of a guy HBO’s 24/7 series made him seem like, and how much his teammates stick up for him, guys who play like that need to be removed from the game.  Curious that the Mario Lemieux factor finally wrangled an apology out of him too. 

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I can’t help but think Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty was locationally circumstancial. Anyone who’s had their ribcage rattled off Sparrow Gardens’ mid-bench wood pillars knows what I mean (for those who don’t know, that was the now-demolished wartime built airplane hangar/converted home-rink of the Briercrest Clippers, the college team I played for). As absolutely terrible as the result was, the hit would’ve turned out ok anywhere in the rink there was glass, and it seems a little out of character for Chara to go out of his way to hurt a guy like that. I could be wrong. Maybe there’s more to the story that the camera didn’t catch; some stick work, or something that set him off. Good for the NHL in beefing up the stanchion padding in rinks, but do we really need that little media area anyways? I get the ongoing American media sell of hockey and every nook and cranny of the game to increase viewership, but that little hut that houses reporters to call color-commentary and jump on the team benches mid-game to bother coaches for questions doesn’t seem necessary. Not to say that the Euro’s are doing it right, but some of their rinks benches are completely open, and don’t even have a divisible separation point between both teams, besides a huge gap of space. But then again, both teams walk out to the ice side by side, like they’re not about to go out on the ice and try to kill each other, so take that analogy with a grain of salt.

Good call on the no suspension for Chara though, much to the chagrin of Air Canada, who threatened to pull its sponsorship of the NHL out if the league didn’t make its product safer. I respect the move, but it sure would’ve held more water if the 6 Canadian and 5 American based NHL teams spend between $2.5 – 3.5million per season each on Air Canada  flights (via HNIC’s Jeff Marek on Twitter), and if Air Canada wasn’t such a terrible airline.

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So I’ve entered the 1st round of playoffs in the Bourne’s Blog fantasy hockey league. This year marks the first year I’ve put money on the line, and the first year I won the 1st overall pick selection. I selected Alexander Ovechkin, on the basis that I thought he would be awesome yet again. Instead of awesome, I got above-average. And now, when I need him the most, Ovechkin has decided to take 7-10 days off, while each round lasts one week. FML.

Speaking of infuriating Russians, a lesser man would’ve taken the hint he wasn’t wanted, retired, and headed back to Russia after being traded for a conditional 7th round pick. Not Alexi Kovalev. A “conditional” pick seems like the worst one to get in a draft, and pretty well the absolute minimum of acceptability when it comes to collateral in a deal. Doesn’t conditional just mean that the team who’s offered the pick will make sure you get the worst choice possible in that round?

Penguins: “Our conditions… just make sure your pick isn’t taller than 5’5”, he can’t weight more than 165 lbs, and make sure he’s got no track record of doing or winning anything significant or noteworthy in his hockey career. Stick within those parameters and we’ve got a deal.”

Senators: “… that sounds fair.”

Both, under their breath: “ ………suckers!!”

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Vincent Lecavalier did to PK Subban what Mike Richards wouldn’t, and would only talk about someone doing if he kept playing the way he does:  I don’t get what Vinny was so mad about; should Subban have just let him stand in front of his goalie, or maybe politely asked him to move? Maybe he was just mad that a rookie defenceman has played more games, has more assists, and gets more minutes per game and shifts per game than him. Why do the league’s veteran players get so angry with young, quick, talented players who celebrate their goals, and play a highly physical and exciting to watch style of hockey? Surely a Cup champ and seasoned veteran can’t feel threatened by the presence of this new brand of player, can he? Subban sure seems to make a lot of other players mad for fairly perplexing reasons.

Speaking of rookies, Taylor Hall’s first NHL fight turned out pretty well worst-case scenario for him, with that resulting ankle injury. He picked up the Gordie Howe hat-trick though, so there’s that at least for him. That stat puts him in some elite company, and places him only 16 more off the lead set by Brendan Shanahan.

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After being written off for most of the season, Jarome Iginla’s 30 goals/10 seasons milestone sure has redeemed him in the eyes of the hockey world.

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Former Calgary Flame and current Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach, Tim Hunter is still an ugly, ugly man.

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The slow shootout approach seems stopped more often than not. Get up some speed, move around; do something less easily read by a goalie.

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I respect no-BS guys like Brian Burke & John Tortorella, but I think it’d suck to work/play for them. I’m sure Sean Avery hates every minute of playing for Torts, but at the same time, knows he’s exactly the coach he needs to get the best out of him. Burke won’t tolerate the media’s crap, and I love it. The NHL, and everyone really, needs guys that cut out the crap.

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Some NHL teams should consider rescuing Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets and offer their entire roster for him. Now THAT’D be a hype-worthy deadline deal. Sure, it’d take a few years to rebuild your roster, but assuming you have a decent farm system (any farm system can’t be that far off pace of CBJ’s actual team), you’d be back up to par in no time, AND have the addition of a franchise player. Nash deserves better. I’m going to start a FREE RICK NASH campaign, I think.

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On the Heritage Classic…..

Might as well have just worn this too.

-Did anyone else think the NHL is fairly stupid for not having the Heritage Classic be either Toronto vs Montreal, or Calgary vs Edmonton? I get the cross-continental viewership theory, but aren’t the afore mentioned rivalries a little more historic and television worthy? Based purely on rivalry/game-entertainment value, who’d you like to see in next year’s version? I’m thinking a Vancouver-Chicago one would be fun.

-Leave it to the USA to declare “Hockey Day in America” on the day Canadian teams play in the Heritage Classic outdoor game in Canada.

-Paul Brandt having a musical note on his Flames jersey in place of a number was ridiculous.

-Why did the Flames wear white pants???? So close to looking totally awesome. Then again, this is a team that throws salmon on the ice at home games, so not sure what I expected….

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And finally, why does ESPN continue to push women’s pool, dogshows, and bowling more than NHL hockey? And why does TSN continue to pick up these feeds? This is exactly why players like Pacioretty get hit into stanchions protecting the league’s media gimmicks. Americans, watch hockey already so players stop getting hurt!

My Like/HATE Relationship with Air Canada.

October 6, 2009 7 comments

 

There was a time where commercial air travel in Canada was quite good. There were at least 2 or 3 major airlines (Air Canada, Canadian Airlines, etc…), there was great in-flight service, friendly staff, competitive pricing, and everyone’s bags always came out of the baggage chute when their plane arrived. 

 One time, I had a flight that was delayed 15 or 20 minutes, which was of no consequence to me at all. The next week, I received a letter in the mail from Air Canada apologizing for the delay, and letting me know I had been credited 500 Aeroplan miles for the trouble. Nice touch.     

Then, something happened, and the face of the Canadian airline industry took a turn for the worse. Airlines began to go bankrupt, and Canadian Airlines was bought by Air Canada.  This  left Air Canada, privatized and fresh out of bankruptcy protection, as the dominant force in Northern North American flying. Perhaps they got cocky.  Perhaps they just stopped trying because they knew they had no major competition anymore. Maybe there was an actual, legitimate reason to what happened next. 

Suddenly, without warning, the complimentary in-flight meals disappeared, and were replaced with miniscule bags of nuts (or something resembling them). Ticket prices doubled, at least. I learned that the dreamy Aeroplan miles that are supposed to accumulate rapidly and fly you everywhere for free, expired if you didn’t use contribute to your totals once a year, and were nearly useless to me; as I am not a frequent traveler. The free headphones to watch movies suddenly had a price tag on them.  Bags started not showing up on the carousel; causing major headaches and worry, until they were delivered 1,2,3 or 4 days later, if at all. I almost had to make an insurance claim for my entire bag of hockey gear when I had to miss team practices and was in danger of missing games because my equipment didn’t show up after I flew back to college after Christmas break. Even the demeanor of the attendant staff seemed to drop off.  Smiles and assurances of a safe flight were replaced by cranky, angry looking old women informing me that I could NOT have another bag of cookies on the flight, and that I should just go back to my seat and buckle my safety belt. 

 

One time I was delayed over 4 hours in Calgary while trying to catch a connection home. I, and the other plane’s worth of passengers, sat and waited, and waited, asked questions, grew agitated… and waited some more. We eventually learned that the pilot was tired and didn’t want to fly. Then we found out that there was no replacement pilot to finish the trip. It wasn’t the most welcomed message a group full of weary travelers wanted to hear over the airport PA system (you should’ve heard the groans and mutiny plots after that one). We were finally allowed to board the plane well after midnight. One may think that boarding a plane means that the flight would be taking place. In this situation, they would be wrong. We sat in our assigned seats for at least another hour, while more maintenance and de-icing were performed. Eventually we did take off, and we arrived home nearly 6 hours later than we were scheduled to.

 

I figured that if they rewarded me 500 miles for a 15 minute delay before, I must be in store for something substantial this time. So again I waited, and waited…and waited. No mail. No letters. No bonus miles. Not even a sorry. So, I wrote my own letter to them instead.  I told my story, laid it out respectfully but firmly, and awaited a response. Sometime later, I received a reply. Air Canada was indeed sorry for the situation, but regretted to inform me that everything was part of routine and policy ( or something to that tune), and that there would be no compensation of any sort. Huh???

 

Since then, a magical little company named Westjet emerged, offering cheap flights, comfy, leather (?) chairs with TV’s built into the back of them, and a friendly attendant staff that oddly seems to enjoy their jobs, and is able to make passengers enjoy their flights. It was a huge breath of fresh air. It must have rattled Air Canada. Westjet began to increase their presence across the country, and all of a sudden, Air Canada recognized they had better play catch-up. Not run-past-and-beat mind you, just simply catch-up. All of a sudden, SOME Air Canada flights had TV’s in the back of chairs. The LONG flights started offering meals again, and SOME of the attendant staff seemed a little nicer. You absolutely must take an

maybe if you'd worked a little harder...

maybe if you'd worked a little harder...

intercontinental flight on Air Canada now (Boeing 767, and 777’s), just to walk past first-class and see what they get. There are, literally, cubicles for each seat, with footrests, and a whole pile of unnecessary things that only high tax-brackets can afford.

 

I will give Air Canada some credit though, even through their stubborn policies of luggage weight, quantity and size, they recently waived at least $500 worth of charges for my wife and I for extra baggage and over-weight penalties on an inter-continental flight.   They did make us repack four suitcases and redistribute the same amount of weight however, but hey, I’ll take it. Incredibly, all 5 bags showed up when we got off the plane.   

 

It’s still a far cry from what you’d find on Thai Air (oddly, they are members of the same Star Alliance), that offers free everything, all the time, whenever you want it, friendly staff that bow to you as you arrive and leave, and gets your bags out when you arrive at your destination. Also, Horizon/Alaska Air offers a free ticket to anywhere in North America if you offer to bump yourself off an overbooked flight and take a later plane (Thanks for sponsoring my honeymoon, guys). Tough to compete with I guess, but I think I see a glimmer of an effort somewhere deep down.

             

               I still would choose any other airline if I could, but Air Canada seems to have a headlock of a monopoly over some major destinations still.  Nearly immediate failure of upstart competition doesn’t help either, but obviously someone recognizes there’s a problem and is trying to offer a solution. With any luck, the big-wigs will fly to Ottawa on private Air Canada jets, and ask for a bailout sometime soon. 

 

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