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[Archive] 2014 interview with Matt Irwin

August 25, 2014 Leave a comment

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My interview with San Jose Sharks’ defenceman Matt Irwin posted on The Score’s Backhand Shelf blog on March 26, 2014. The NHL sophomore went on to play his first season entirely in the NHL, with no AHL appearances. He boosted his game appearances from 38 to 62, added 11 assists to his 2012-13 total for a career high 17, finished with a career high 19 points and +5 rating. He also made his first ever NHL Stanley Cup playoff appearance and scored his first ever NHL Stanley Cup playoff goal in the first round against the LA Kings. 

The audio of this interview can be heard on XP PSP: the eXPat Pro Sports Podcast, or on iTunes

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Interview: Getting to know San Jose Sharks’ defenseman Matt Irwin

Matt Irwin2

He may not be a household name just yet, but San Jose Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin may work his way into your mental NHL player directory yet. Now in his second NHL season, the 26 year old British Columbian is continuing a trend from his amateur career that has seen his point totals, ice-time, and contributions to his team’s success dynamically increase every year.

Irwin spoke with me at length about his long road to the NHL and what he’ll have to do to stay there, the tough decisions he was required to make and small window of opportunity he had to live out his dream, past teammates that helped get him where he is now, current ones that help make him better, what the San Jose Sharks will have to do to win their first Stanley Cup, what it takes to be consistently inserted into a lineup full of Olympians, All-Stars, and Stanley Cup champions, and more.

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Let’s start at the beginning. In 04-05, you got to play three games of Junior A hockey just up the road from your hometown of Brentwood Bay, BC, with the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL. You didn’t record any points, but did skate alongside future NHLer Jason Garisson. In 05-06, you played alongside future NHLer Colin Greening in Nanaimo for 56 games and had 9 points. In 06-07 you exploded for 49 points, was the team’s top scoring d-man, the Clippers won the BCHL, and you were named the BCHL’s best defenceman. 07-08 was more of the same, as you’re again the team’s top scoring d man, and win league’s best defenceman. So explain your rather dynamic development in junior hockey — what did you take away from the guys you played with that went on to play at higher levels of the game, and how did it help influence your junior career to produce what it did? 

Irwin: “Those three games were as an affiliate player. I played Junior B with Saanich in Victoria, and got an opportunity to play in three games [with Nanaimo] and see what it was all about. It was a big step for me. From there, I got the opportunity to sign and play [the following season] with them for the whole year where I got to play on a consistent basis. Not a lot of power play time, more five-on-five minutes. The following year when everything picked up, Bill [Bestwick] gave me a great opportunity to play on the power play. The first five games of that year I had five or six goals. It was all happening really fast, I wasn’t expecting it. I was working on my shot, Bill had me working on it all the time. That’s where the offensive side of it started to come together.”

After you completed your junior career, you moved on to play NCAA hockey with UMass Amherst from 2008 to 2010. Instead of playing four seasons you only played two, joining the AHL’s Worchester Sharks at the end of the 09-10 season, and did not return to the NCAA. Why did you choose not to stay for all four years after taking the BCHL scholarship route rather than major junior? Talk about making the choice to abandon a fully funded education.

irwin hit2Irwin: “It’s interesting how it worked out. When you mention the WHL, I never had any interest in it at all until my 19 year old year of junior. At that point, it made no sense to leave Junior A and forgo a scholarship that I was about to get at that time to play only another year and a half of hockey, when I could play five and a half more years with the four year scholarship instead.

“I had full intentions going in when I stepped on campus at UMass of playing my four years and getting an education. After my first year, San Jose and some other teams were interested in bringing me out to their development camps. I ended up going to San Jose’s, and they showed a lot of interest afterwards, regardless of whether or not I wanted to stay at school or leave then. I chose to go back for another year at UMass, and then after my second year, they offered a contract. It was the hardest decision I’ve had to make in terms of hockey. You’re leaving an education on the table that’s paid for, to pursue a dream that you’ve had since you were a kid with no guarantee that you’ll make it to the NHL, or even be able to stick in the AHL. It was a risk. I got a lot of support from my family. What they told me, and what made me make my mind up, was that school would always be there, but my window of opportunity to chase my dream to play in the NHL or play professional hockey at my age – I was 22 when I left school, so I was older — to establish myself at that level in the AHL and get a crack at the NHL wasn’t a large one. I figured that school would always be there. Jumping at the opportunity was something I had always wanted to do, and dreamt about as a kid. Afterwards, I could go back to school and go from there. I’ve been going back to school, and I’ll be getting a degree pretty soon, so everything’s falling into place.”

What are you going to graduate with? What’d you see yourself doing with that education if pro hockey hadn’t worked out? How are you taking classes while playing in the NHL?  

Irwin: “I hadn’t declared before, but it’ll be a Bachelor’s in Management Degree. I hadn’t looked too far into what I could do. It was more or less that I just wanted to get myself a degree. Something in the business world. I was deciding on what degree would interest me the most and which I’d be able to do the majority of online, so that’s where it went. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do if hockey doesn’t pan out. We’ll let those chips fall where they may and cross that bridge when we come to it.”

While with playing in the AHL with Worchester, you skated alongside Logan Couture and Tommy Wingels who were on their way up to the NHL, and Jonathan Cheechoo who was rounding out his North American playing career. Was it reminiscent of your experience in Nanaimo, playing with future NHL guys? What did you learn from them at that level, now only one step away from the top? 

Irwin: “It was huge going there. It was definitely an eye opener going to pro. It’s a totally different lifestyle. When you’re in school, you’re either in the books or involved in your social life and hockey, whereas when you move on to pro it’s pretty much hockey in the morning and then you’ve got the rest of the day to do what you want.

“You learn a lot from those guys that I’ve been around. Cheech was a great mentor for me to have my first year — a guy that had established himself as a goal scorer in the NHL, and won the Rocket Richard trophy for most goals in the league while he was in San Jose. Just to see how those guys prepare for practices and games, seeing them get called up, sent down, and how they react to being sent down. It doesn’t change their game. They get a little pace, they get hungry, and keep pushing forward because the ultimate goal is to stick in the NHL. You learn from different experiences, and I think that helped my game a lot.”

You played two more seasons with Worchester afterwards — At 25 years old, did you still think you had a good shot at the NHL, or were you starting to think about other options? Some guys at that age who are playing in the minors start thinking about other career paths, and ultimately some decide to move on, thinking their window is closed. 

Irwin: “Well I kept up the school thing, but I was still chasing that dream of playing in the NHL. Like I said, when I left school, my window of opportunity was very small because of my age, and it’s not too often you see guys that are 25 and older that are getting a fair crack in the NHL. There are a handful of guys, but your chances get smaller and smaller because there’s so much young talent coming up. I knew where I stood in the organization. They always believed in me, and told me that I was on the right track — right where they wanted me to be as far as development. I thank them and give them a lot of credit for staying with me, believing in me, and giving me that opportunity. The first year that I got called up I never played, my second year I got called up, didn’t play, but got to practice with the team for a week. That was a cool experience. Then when the lockout ended last year I got invited to training camp, and was able to play with the team for the majority of that season. I never gave up on the dream of playing in the NHL. When I was 25 it was only my third year of pro, so I knew if I kept going in the direction I was going, playing well and being dependable in Worchester, they were going to give me a chance up here in San Jose.”

Last season you got called up to San Jose for 38 games. Talk about getting to play your first NHL games after chasing your dream for so long, and what the season was like trying to prove you belonged up there. 

irwin hitIrwin: “It’s pretty cool once you step on the ice, you hear the anthem for your first NHL game, your family’s in the building… it was a cool experience, something I’ll never forget. But then you realize you want to stay there, and prove to yourself, the coaches, and your teammates that you do belong in this league. It’s very cliché to say, but you just come to the rink everyday, work hard, prepare like you’re playing the game, practice to get better, improve and challenge yourself, and translate that over to the game and play consistently. Do what makes you successful, don’t try to do too much. All those things were running through my head. I didn’t want to over think and do anything I wouldn’t normally do. I just wanted to stay consistent and do the things that had gotten me to where I was at that point. I knew what those things were, tried to stick with them, and help the team win.”

How noticeable was the jump in level of play? You took a very incremental route of levels to get to the NHL, and must have seen tangible spikes in talent and speed at every league you ascended to. Did it take some getting used to?  

Irwin: “I was comfortable. From the BCHL to college, it’s a different game. Every level you go up, it’s faster. You’re playing with better players. Every level above is going to be a little bit better, little faster, more structured. From the AHL to NHL, there are similarities. The North American style pro game is the same, but the skill level of players is a bit better. The AHL is a great league. It allows you to develop your skill set to translate it into the NHL. The league does such a great job of developing players, and teams do a great job of getting players and not bringing them up too soon, making sure that they’re ready. Once you’re in the NHL, it’s not so much about developing as it is about being able to step in the lineup, play, and contribute, while getting better at the same time. There’s not a lot of time to wait on development because they’ll just find someone else. It’s a business at the highest level. Once you’re there, you’ve got to do what makes you successful and keep getting better. As you go up, the leagues are obviously a little bit better than the one before, but those leagues before were very helpful and were great stepping stones to getting me where I am now.”

So far this season, you’ve played entirely with San Jose. You’ve appeared in ten more games than you played last year and have six more points, but have also missed 17 games as a healthy scratch.  Still, you’re playing between 15-22 minutes a night, and are getting up to 28 shifts a night. Do you get a sense that you’ve hollowed out some permanent real estate in the San Jose dressing room? What do you attribute your boost in production and ice-time to? 

Irwin: “Coming into this year, I wanted to establish myself as a legitimate top six defenseman in this league. This year there have been ups and downs. We’ve got a great group of d-men between the seven of us. Any of us could play on any given night. We’ve got some young d-men, and some veterans in Dan Boyle, Scott Hannan, and Brad Stuart. Obviously Marc-Edouard Vlasic too, who made the Olympic team and won a gold medal – he’s my age, but he’s played almost 600 games in the NHL. He’s another veteran presence for guys like myself, Justin Braun and Jason Demers, who are the younger guys that don’t have as many games of experience as they do. We have a really solid group of d-men that any one of which can play on any given night. When you do play, you want to take advantage of that opportunity, and help the team win. I’ve sat out my share of games this year, but it’s part of the learning process. You get to see the game from a different angle, and you realize that you actually have more time with the puck than you think you might. It’s good to step back from the game a little bit. Obviously you want to play, but when you do sit out for a couple of games, you’ve got to take it as a way to learn and improve yourself, instead of dwelling on the fact that you’re not playing and being a bad teammate. You’ve got to stay positive until you get that next opportunity to step back in and play.”

You’ve got a pretty elite group this year – 4 Olympians in total between gold medalists Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, bronze medalist Antti Niemi (also 2nd in NHL wins), and Joe Pavelski, in addition to some of the NHL’s elite in Joe Thornton (2nd in NHL assists), Logan Couture, Dan Boyle, and others. The team is currently 4th overall. Is this the roster of San Jose Sharks that finally get past the seemingly cursed third round? What will it take to do so? How is it playing with guys who have accumulated the accolades they have?  

Irwin: “Those are so pretty impressive names to have all in one locker room. When you first get to the team you get caught watching, seeing how they go about their business. It’s pretty impressive what they do, because they’ve been doing it consistently for so long. That’s one thing I’ve tried to learn from those guys — consistency. That’s one of the greatest attributes someone can have playing in the NHL — bring it every night, be consistent, and help your team win. We’ve got guys who have been around for a long time and have won Olympic medals, Stanley Cups, NHL awards, and have been NHL All-Stars. There’s a lot of that in the room, and they’re great for young guys like myself and the others to look up to, and learn from.

“As far as whether this is ‘the year’ for us to win it all, of course we think every year is the year for us, but the league is just so tight, and it’s tough. It’s not easy to win the Cup. If it was, we’d have a handful of them already. The guys in the locker room are determined, we have a great group of core veterans and young guys, and we feel strongly about this year. Our goal is to get home ice advantage throughout the playoffs in the Western Conference, and if we’re fortunate enough to make the Stanley Cup Final, get it there too. We’re chasing Anaheim for it right now. We’re comfortable at home. We play well there. You’d always prefer that seventh game to be on your home soil if it comes down to that. Last year we lost in game seven in LA. We felt like we played well enough to win, but we ran into a really good goalie. This year’s going to be a lot of the same. With the way the new playoff format is, we’re going to have to play out of our division first, so we’re looking at playing Anaheim, LA, or one of those teams in the first round. That’s a tough first round matchup, but you’ve got to get past those teams at some point to get where you want to go. I think our team is built to make a deep playoff run. We’re a big solid team that skates well and can score. I like our team, and time will tell when we get to the playoffs.”

How’s hockey in California these days? With Anaheim and LA now both having won Stanley Cups, and San Jose being in the hunt every year as well, there’s been a real evolution of interest in the game there, and competitiveness of the teams located in the state – especially when compared to how teams in that area traditionally fared in the 90’s and earlier.  

irwin body positionIrwin: “It’s great. Growing up as a kid, it wasn’t a hockey hotbed here. I didn’t know much about them. You watch the Mighty Ducks movies, and that’s pretty much all you know about hockey in California. But nowadays, it’s three teams at the top of the league almost every year. LA and Anaheim won Cups, and we’re looking for our first. It’s good for the state of California. More and more kids are getting involved in hockey. The youth programs around here are picking up steam. We’ve got a junior Sharks program that we just had our first graduate player of just suit up for us last year in Matt Tennyson. The grassroots of hockey in California are picking up, and the sport’s becoming more and more popular. I would like to think that’s in large part because of the success of the NHL teams in the area. Kids look up to us and they think hockey’s a pretty cool sport to get involved in. You see more and more players from California in the NCAA, major junior, and the pros. The number of guys from California that are making it to the NHL is going up. It’s good to see.”

Back to your Olympic teammates – did you notice any extra fatigue in them after the tournament, especially considering the travel? Did they come back totally gassed, or energized from the experience and ready to go? 

Irwin: “When those guys came back – we had Patty [Marleau], Eddie [Vlasic], Pavs [Pavelski] and Nemo [Niemi] who were all at the Olympics and all played deep in the tournament —   they were confident. They all had good tournaments. I think the hardest thing on them was the travel and the time change. Tthat’s probably where the fatigue came in, but you wouldn’t know it when we played the games. They stepped right back into the lineup, played their 20 minutes a night, and contributed to helping the team win. I think Pavs had a hat trick in his first game back. I don’t think fatigue was much of an issue. They got a lot of confidence from playing in the Olympics, and for us, that’s great. They represented their countries and our organization really well. We’re happy to have them back. They’re four of the best players on our team. They came back and didn’t miss a beat.”

Has there been any light back and forth between any of those guys regarding the different places the countries they represented finished at the Olympics? Is it a sensitive issue, or just water under the bridge?  

Irwin: “There hasn’t been too much chatter, really. There might be the odd poke here and there, but other than that, there’s not much that has been said. Coming back, the Olympics are behind them now, and the focus is on the stretch run for us. We’ve got 13 games left, and our goal is that home ice. I think they embraced the opportunity they were given at the Olympics, and here and there there might be a quick jab, but other than that, everyone’s focused on the Sharks and making a deep run.”

How did you spend the two weeks off you got during the Olympic break? It seemed like lots of guys did different things; some just trained harder, while others took time off to spend with their families and other things.

Irwin: “I went home to Victoria and spent time with friends and family. I helped out with my old Junior B team the Saanich Braves, and the hockey academy that runs out of my old high school. Other than that, I just relaxed, got engaged, and that was pretty much it.”

Regarding another current teammate of yours, what’s Raffi Torres like in the dressing room now that he’s returned, considering the drama he’s been through? Is it distracting at all to you or the other guys?

Irwin: “We’re all happy to have Raffi back. It’s been a long recovery for him. Any time you get a player back after they’ve worked so hard to get back into the lineup, the boys are excited. He’s a really good teammate. He was great while he was injured, which is tough because you might not feel part of the team when you’re out, especially for that long, and don’t travel or participate in practices. He was always around the room, chilling with the boys. When we got him back we were thrilled. He brings a presence to the lineup, adds depth and scoring, and he’s relentless on the fore check. He’s one of the better guys in the locker room. He’s funny. It was almost like he didn’t miss a beat – he had a couple of goals his first game, a couple more the next night, and he was playing physical, the way he has to to be successful. He helps our team out so much when he plays like that. It backs up our d-men, and backs other players off of them when they know Raffi’s on the ice. He’s the kind of player you need this time of year, and especially in the playoffs. We love having him in the lineup, and he adds a lot more depth to our group.”

In such a tight and dominant Western Conference, what’s it going to take to be the team that tops this year’s powerhouses like Chicago, St. Louis and Anaheim? Who’s been the toughest for you guys to play this year, and who will it be toughest for you guys to beat in a deep playoff series? 

Irwin: “We always have tough games against LA. It won’t be a walk in the park for any team that makes the playoffs. There may be upsets based on your seeds and where you’re ranked going into them, but the parity in the league is so tight. There are teams on the wildcard bubble like Dallas who would be tough to play in the first round of the playoffs. Whoever you draw in the first round isn’t going to be easy, and as you go on it won’t get any easier. LA, Chicago, Anaheim all have great teams, big bodies, great players, depth throughout the lineup, rolling four lines – I think that’s what makes those teams so good, having four lines and six d-men that can play, and it’s not just a burden placed on two lines and four d-men to play heavy minutes. In a playoff series, that’ll take its toll eventually. To be able to spread the minutes out among the lineup is important. All those teams have that ability with the depth they have at all positions.”

As a defenseman, who’s one guy you don’t want to see bearing down on you on a 1-on-1 or an odd-man break? 

Irwin: “There are a lot of guys in this league that have the ability to make you look really funny if they get that chance. Datsyuk, Jagr – he’s just so good and so strong even at his age and with how long he’s been playing. He’s just a dominant force. He doesn’t look like he’s that fast, but he can move. His first couple of strides are so quick, and he’s a big body. He’s hard to get the puck from and he’s got great vision. Those types of players are the ones that on any given play can make you look silly.”

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2nd Quadrennial Double Championship Challenge!

May 20, 2014 5 comments

cup goldWell it’s getting on in the 2014 NHL playoffs, and it’s about time to dust of the old Double Championship Challenge for it’s second quadrennial go-round. If this seems Greek to you, click here to catch up on what the 1st Quadrennial Double Championship Challenge was all about. You may recall Rich Abney walked away with a championship t-shirt and four years of bragging rights in 2010 after picking the Chicago Blackhawks’ Canadian Olympic team members to win gold and the Stanley Cup in the same season.

So let’s have at it — cast your votes on who will win this quadrennial’s crown as outright best in the world.

Here’s who’s left:

Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp — Chicago Blackhawks [note: Keith & Toews can repeat as back-to-back DCC champs]

Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter — Los Angeles Kings 

Martin St-Louis, Rick Nash — New York Rangers

 Carey Price, P.K. Subban — Montreal Canadiens

Here’s who’s eliminated:

Marc-Édouard Vlasic, Patrick Marleau — San Jose Sharks

Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz — Pittsburgh Penguins

Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo — St. Louis Blues

Ryan Getzlaf , Corey Perry — Anaheim Ducks

Matt Duchene — Colorado Avalanche

  Jamie Benn — Dallas Stars

Patrice Bergeron — Boston Bruins

Here’s who did not qualify: 

Roberto Luongo — Vancouver Canucks

Mike Smith — Phoenix Coyotes

Shea Weber — Nashville Predators

John Tavares — New York Islanders

And unlike 2010 when Corey Perry joined Canada’s World Championship roster after winning Olympic gold in Vancouver, there are no players or staff that are representing Canada twice in the same season this time around.

Who’s your pick? Leave a comment to let us know! Choose correctly and you’ll be eligible to win an exclusive prize from Serenity Now…The SDC Blogs.

Rules: To enter, leave a comment on this post with your name, your pick, and where you’re from. One vote only — no do-overs. Those who select correctly will be entered into a draw for the grand prize. Good luck!

 

XP PSP s01e14: San Jose Sharks’ Matt Irwin interview

March 29, 2014 Leave a comment

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

He may not be a household name just yet, but San Jose Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin may work his way into your mental NHL player directory yet. Now in his second NHL season, the 26 year old British Columbian is continuing a trend from his amateur career that has seen his point totals, ice-time, and contributions to his team’s success dynamically increase every year.

Irwin spoke with me at length about his long road to the NHL and what he’ll have to do to stay there, the tough decisions he was required to make and small window of opportunity he had to live out his dream, past teammates that helped get him where he is now, current ones that help make him better, what the San Jose Sharks will have to do to win their first Stanley Cup, what it takes to be consistently inserted into a lineup full of Olympians, All-Stars, and Stanley Cup champions, and more.

Click here to listen to the XP PSP audio podcast at Podbean

Download XP PSP on iTuneshttps://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/xppsp/id643817929

Click here to read the written version of this interview on The Score’s Backhand Shelf.

Hockey Talkie: Boogaard, Roenick vs Marleau, Uptown Sports/Todd Reynolds vs Sean Avery, and Some Thoughts On Free Speech.

May 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Wow, lotta action in the hockey world lately….

Firstly, Derek Boogaard.  I hope not to say anything inflammatory on this issue, because I really do think it’s quite a tragedy that he has died at the age of 28.  The guy was a world-class athlete who had to be in that kind of shape to play in the best hockey league in the world.  Every tweet and every interview comment I’ve heard from other players was about how great of a guy he was.  So all that said (and respect to all of it), why did this guy die before the age of 30?  I heard on a TV report that he had been partaking in the NHL’s substance abuse program, which may answer some questions.  Bob Probert, another league toughguy, was known to have a drug problem, and also the donation of his brain to science after his death revealed significant brain damage as a result of a career full of taking fists to his skull.  Boogaard was 70 NHL fights deep himself, and will also, reportedly, have his brain examined;  it’ll be interesting to see what is revealed as a result.  Whether his death was a result of a drug overdose, brain damage, enlarged heart, or somehow natural causes, it’s an absolute shame that someone so young (my age, actually) is no longer around, especially someone that no one has a bad thing to say about. 

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more civil times.

Secondly, Jeremy Roenick vs Patrick Marleau.  I love JR’s outspoken persona, and his fearless attitude to call it “as it is”, or at least, as he sees it.  Frankly, it’s good for TV.  He tore into Marleau for having zero points, and for playing gutless, earlier on in the San Jose/Detroit series.  Marleau shrugged it off, and then scored the series winning goal in game 7, subtlely jamming those comments right down Roenick’s throat (non-confrontationally, of course).  Though Roenick wouldn’t stray from his original opinion, he tried to skew it into some twisted form of inspiration that was meant to motivate Marleau on to offensive contribution.  Well whatever it was, it worked; but I doubt Jeremy was as happy about it as he attempted to let on.  At least it made for some good TV drama.  Is it an easy for you to tell when the NHL tries to sell the game to Americans as it is for me? 

 

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And further on the right to one’s opinion….

Thirdly, Todd Reynolds, Vice President of Uptown Sports, an agency representing 11 NHL players.  On May 9th, he tweeted, “Very sad to read Sean Avery’s misguided support of same-gender “marriage”. Legal or not, it will always be wrong.” , after Sean Avery publicly supported gay marriage, and any gay hockey player in the NHL who had yet to make his sexual orientation public knowledge.   Immediately the media and public backlash painted Todd as a hateful, intolerant bigot; amongst other things. 

I honestly don’t have much of a problem with any of this.  Here’s why: we live in a democratic society, gifted with the right to free speech.  Mr. Reynolds has an opinion, and he spoke it in a public forum.  By the same token, he should be prepared to receive free speech criticism in return, no matter how uneducated and inaccurate those opinions may be.  Todd believes same-sex marriage is wrong – so what?  That’s his opinion, based on his belief system, which he has every right to.  It’s not like he just passed a law, he just said what he believes; which is something many people are too afraid to do.  People can disagree with what he said all they want, but calling him hateful seems a bit of a stretch; not to mention, attention-starved.  Reynolds also tweeted later, “… I believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. This is my personal viewpoint. I Do not hate anyone.”   I don’t see why it has to go any further than that.  The fact is, everyone that expressed their disagreement of Todd Reynolds’ opinion, just did exactly what he did: speak their opinion.  Should they all be judged for it too?

I know another staff member at Uptown Sports whom I know is a Christian, and I don’t think it’s a leap to assume Reynolds is too; nor that they believe in the Biblical definition of marriage.  The gay-marriage topic has been a “hot-button” issue for some time now, and it seems the assumed opinion of Christians (that only men and women should marry), or really, anyone opposed to gay-marriage, is increasingly more and more wrong according to the general populous, and that people who share that opinion are archaic and need to be corrected (in a less polite fashion).  I am a Christian myself.  I know one gay guy and girl, and they’re great people that I have no problem with.  Their lifestyle is not for me (whether they chose it, or were born that way), but I respect that it is theirs and not mine.  To be honest, I don’t know where I stand on the marriage issue, but I do know that people should be more concerned about who people are in character rather than what they’re labelled as before telling them what the correct way to live their lives is.  I’ve met black people, Asian people, gay people, disabled people, white people, women, Muslims, Americans, and a lot of other people that have been labelled into minority groups.  The fact is that some of them have been awesome people, and some have been total jackasses.  Not the entire group, the individuals.  The government will pass laws and people will always disagree with them; I’m more concerned about learning what kind of a person someone is on their own, apart from everything I’m supposed to believe they are because of what I’ve heard from others.      

Now what did bother me was hearing that Sportsnet announcer, Damian Goddard, was fired for supporting Reynolds in his opinion.  Goddard tweeted, I completely and whole-heartedly support Todd Reynolds and his support for the traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage.”  Sportsnet then cut ties with Goddard, saying in a press release,

Damian Goddard is no longer with Rogers Sportsnet. Mr. Goddard was a freelance contractor and in recent weeks it had become clear that he is not the right fit for our organization. As this is a confidential personnel matter, we will not be commenting further except to say that views expressed by Mr. Goddard on Twitter are his own and do not reflect the views of Rogers or Rogers Sportsnet.”

While it may be inappropriate to make public, opinionated, comments while you’re supposed to be an unbiased reporter, especially while working for a national broadcaster, I don’t see why a guy is no longer capable of performing his job and earning a living based on speaking his democratic right to his opinion.  This is the sort of thing I have a problem with, and I respect Rogers Sportsnet a lot less for it.  And I already disliked Rogers a lot to begin with.  Goddard doesn’t have to support gay-marriage if he doesn’t want to, nor does anyone else.  If anyone in this situation has a right to be angry, I think it is probably Goddard.  I guess he should have added his later tweeted disclaimer, “…damian goddard’s tweets reflect the views of damian goddard” on a little sooner.

Double Championship Challenge Update, and Food for Thought… Where To Find The Best Cooking and Wings in the World!

May 7, 2010 6 comments

 First, an update on our remaining candidates in The SDC Blogs’ Double Championship Challenge, and their respective representatives:

 Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Keith – represented by Rich Abney.

  

 

 

Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fluery – represented by Grant McMillan and Adam Whitmore. 

  

 

Patrice Bergeron – unclaimed.

  

Mike Richards and Chris Pronger – represented by Ryley Herzog.

  

Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, and Patrick Marleau – represented by Rob Cunning.

  

 

Mike Babcock – unclaimed.

  

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Roberto Luongo – represented by Casey Fodor and Jeff Bourne. 

Good Luck to all participants!  I’ve got a feeling we’re going to see a Chicago-Pittsburgh final… we”ll see what pans out!_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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Now for something completely different, some good old-fashioned blogging non-sense….

Recently, I got my annual box of Girl Guide cookies.  Every year I have the same thought: why can’t they sell boxes of just the vanilla cookies?  They’re just so much better than the chocolate row.  I can never find anyone in time that’s willing to trade all my chocolate cookies for all their vanilla cookies.  I ate them all.  Don’t act like you’ve never eaten an entire box yourself. 

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I just don’t understand why Saskatchewan is the only place on the planet that knows to mix hot sauce and ranch together to make buffalo wings.  It’s an incredible combination; dare I say the best one out there for chicken wing sauces.  I always have to order a side of ranch dressing with my wings at restaurants, because no one here knows what I’m talking about.  Shoutout to the Moose Jaw Brewsters/Cornerstone Pub for making the best wings I’ve ever had, anywhere.

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Avocadoes are runaway the best vegetable on the planet. Probably ever. Put them on anything and tell me the food’s not instantly better.  Good for you too.  And with great avocadoes, of course come great guacamole, which is currently dominating even Old El Paso salsa (best salsa EVER) in my chip-dipping world.  So hot right now, Avocadoes.   

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Never, EVER,  turn down Mexican food made by an actual Mexicans.  I don’t mean the North American infused Tex-Mex stuff you get at Taco Bell or Taco Time, I mean a homemade meal cooked the way that was passed down through Mexican families.  I’ve been incredibly fortunate to experience it twice, and man, it’s on another level.  Fresh cooked corn tortillas, guacamole, salsa, refried beans, and whatever meat happens to be on the menu… freaking incredible.  So good…

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There should be a rule against selling/growing mandarin oranges with seeds in them.  Ever buy a box of oranges that was full of seeds that just absolutely wrecked your day, all because after you bit into the orange slice and crunched down on an unexpected and unwelcomed seed?  I’ll tell you what it is, the problem arises when you buy “Chinese” oranges instead of “Japanese” oranges (the traditional Christmas oranges).  No I don’t dislike Chinese people for all those jumping to conclusions, I just need the right oranges sent over for me to demolish with pleasure.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Nothing Says “Best in the World” Like a Stanley Cup AND a Gold Medal In The Same Season.

April 21, 2010 18 comments

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!

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