Originally appeared at Olympic.ca
The news: On Tuesday the Canadian Olympic Committee announced plans to foster LGBTQ inclusivity in national sport. The #OneTeam Athlete Ambassador program will hit schools to speak about mental fitness and equality, supported by a first-ever school resource Read more
Originally posted at Olympic.ca
We all sort of chuckled when Canada’s men were playing ball hockey in the summer.
It was strange yet familiar, there was something about insurance, and it looked fun. But when Mike Babcock had the floor, he Read more
If cowboys in the wild west come in all varieties, then maybe it makes sense the Canadian ski racing buckaroos are all so different.
A silver medallist at 2013’s test event in Sochi, Ben Thomsen is a ‘scrappy skier’ according toJan Hudec, Read more
Miikka Kiprusoff can’t be the only player on his game Thursday night if the Flames are to knock off Shane Doan and the smokin’ hot Coyotes. (Colleen De Neve, Calgary Herald)
The Calgary Flames open up the month of March with a mini road trip on back-to-back nights. First up tonight it will be the Phoenix Coyotes, followed by the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
These are important games. Yes, that gets said a whole lot this time of year, but it’s pretty obvious when you’re talking about a Flames team that went winless, (0-2-2), in their previous four games, all at home.
I’m not sure if it’s the calendar turning to March, or that the Flames’ winless skid put them 11th, but these games feel pretty big. The two teams in 8th and 9th, Dallas and Colorado, are winning games at a regular rate. Being four points back is one thing, but the Flames also need to make up regulation wins on their Western Conference rivals. Through 64 games, Dallas has 29, compared to 26 for Colorado. The Flames have 25 regulation wins, although they do have a game at hand. (Can we ignore LA and assume they’ll keep losing?) It goes without saying that those regulation wins would make a difference should we encounter a point total tie at the end of the season.
Facing the Coyotes, a team who didn’t lose in regulation in the month of February, the Flames will need some big efforts from their top two lines. It needs to be an Iggy-show, Cammie-show, Olli, Glennie, a whoever-show, it doesn’t matter. NOT a Kipper-show. In the words of a famous but not-well-known Flames analyst, (my brother), “if it wasn’t for Kipper doing the scorpion every other night, the Flames would be 12th”, at the time the team was 9th, now even with Miikka’s superb goaltending, they’re almost in that quoted spot.
If the Flames do manage a win, it’ll be short-lived and a short victory flight to Anaheim to face the Ducks less than 24 hours later. This is a building that has confounded every edition of the Calgary Flames since their last win at the Honda Center on January 19, 2004. Most people would tell you that there’s no particular reason for this and I’d have to agree. It’s just a date. The only people talking about it will be those sitting or watching from the other side of the plexiglass. However, against a somewhat surging Ducks team the Flames will have to be good. As Brent Sutter commented after the team’s full practice on Wednesday, “a big part of the game is about emotion, we need to have that, I was us to have that.” Certainly, to overcome those tired game legs, it’ll be all about emotion in California on Friday.
It’s a critical potential four points for the Flames because it doesn’t get any easier from here. Example? On Sunday they’ll be back in the ‘Dome for another pretty important game. An afternoon tilt with none other than the Dallas Stars. Depending on the next 48 hours, it could be a battle for 8th, or not.
Al MacInnis will be honoured on February 27, prior to puck drop between the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues.
The Hall of Fame defenceman, notorious for his booming shot, will receive a banner in the rafters of the Scotiabank Saddledome as part of the “Forever A Flame” program. MacInnis will be the first ever to receive such an honour.
A native of Inverness, Nova Scotia, MacInnis wore #2 for the length of his career and played 23 NHL seasons. The Flames drafted him in the 1981 Entry Draft, and although he played his first NHL game on December 30, 1981 it wouldn’t be until 1983-84 that he would complete the bulk of an NHL schedule.
From there however, MacInnis put together stunning Hall of Fame numbers. Starting as a full-time pro in the 1984-85 campaign, MacInnis rolled at a point per game pace and was voted to his first All-Star Game, (it was in Calgary that year).
MacInnis went on to be a 13-time All Star but for Flames fans who were around at the time, his most memorable moments had to come during the 1989 Stanley Cup victory. Amazingly, MacInnis led the league in post-season scoring during that run becoming the first defenceman to ever achieve that feat. Of those numbers, four goals and five assists were registered in the final series against Montreal, which led to a Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs.
MacInnis announced his retirement on September 9, 2005 as a member of the St. Louis Blues, with 1,274 career NHL points. Of that total, many were attributed to his rocket of a shot which legitimately made him one of the most feared offensive-defenceman in NHL history. MacInnis was the “Hardest Shot” king over the course of his All-Star Game appearances between 1991 and 2003. Similar to Zdeno Chara today, if MacInnis was competing in the “Hardest Shot” competition, you knew he was going to win.
MacInnis is still the Flames assists leader, with 609, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.
Over the past few NHL seasons, the Western Conference has been perennially tight when it comes to those final few playoff spots. Last season it was Chicago, fighting off Dallas and coming within a Patty Kane right hook of ending up in 9th place. Of course, the Blackhawks went on to come within a similarly slim margin of knocking off the President’s Trophy winners, but a Burrows one-timer wrote the ending to that story in favour of the hometown Canucks.
This season, just after the All Star break, the schedule resumes with no less than five, (ok sure, maybe six), teams in the hunt for the evermore elusive 8th and final.
Starting from the Top
Darryl Sutter might as well have rode an Alberta-bred stallion into town, because that’s the effect he has had on the previously disorganized Kings. Since taking over from Terry Murray before Christmas, a refreshed Sutter squad as gone 9-2-6 and currently sits in 7th place in the West. Sutter teams don’t typically falter down the stretch, and I don’t see that happening here, which is why the Kings are loosely included in this conversation. End of season projection: 7th or better
Collective sigh on behalf of the Avs when it comes to goaltending. I mean, Varlamov is young and no doubt adjusting to the starting role, but there’s no leniency in the Wild West. With a sub 900 save percentage and a GAA that usually sits around a big ugly trois, the nets has to be the biggest focus here. What I do think is that this core group of younger players has been to this party before, and knows what they’ll need to do to avoid missing the post-season. The only question that’s left is can they. I like the Colorado group and if anyone emerges late season, it’s going to be the Avalanche. End of season projection: 8th
Welcoming The Squid to town, ok pause, isn’t that what they should call him? Cammalleri > Calamari. My almost seventy year-old pops and lover of the game, can’t pronounce hockey names worth a darn. In Cammalleri’s last stint with the Flames, my Dad almost always said Calamari. “Why doesn’t that Michael Calamari score more!?” God forbid when Sven Baertschi finally cracks the line up. Anyways, The Squid was a good call, but the Flames will need more than tough angle one-timers to play past the regular season. How about a decent power play? They’ll also need to catch a fast track on some current injuries including David Moss and Curtis Glencross. End of season projection: 9th
Can I just say that I wish I was a hockey fan in the desert? Upon cruising to the ‘Yotes site, there’s an ad for their Feb 4th tilt against the Sharks: $1.00 hot dogs. One dollar!? You could almost take the whole family out for a game AND dinner for less than a single ticket inside Rogers Arena or the Scotiabank Saddledome. Haha, but I digress. This is a really aging squad, doesn’t mean they can’t pull it off but sitting on the wrong end of the bubble is bad news for anyone paying attention to the plight of the Desert Dogs. End of season projection: 10th
After starting the season looking like a serious contender, the Wild have slowed up big time. A second losing skid, (3-6-1 in their last 10), finds them planted in 8th spot, although they did get four out of four points against Dallas and Colorado before the break. Honestly, this team plays games in a confusing fashion, without consistency. There doesn’t seem to be a fluid offensive system and when the defense breaks down in their zone, it gets ugly. Bright spot alert! Mikko Koivu is skating. If he gets back in the line up it will definitely help. End of season projection: 11th
Jaaaamie Benn. Ok, got that out of my system. Kid can snipe. Definitely an NHL heavyweight if not already. However, I’m not sure if Benn’s emergence in the last season or so is enough to push his team into some extra April ice time. Dallas is tremendously streaky, right? Despite kicking off the campaign 11-4-0, since Nov 12, the team has gone 14-17-2. Winning or losing in little packets of twos and threes. With Brendan Morrow out, (although apparently close to return), they’ll have to win consistently to have a chance. Meh, I don’t see that happening. End of season projection: 12th
But what about the Anaheim Ducks…?
C’mon, who are you Jamie McLennan? Haha, no way…
Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara hammers a slapper 108.8 MPH to win the Harden Shot Competition (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
All Star weekend commenced today in Ottawa, giving NHL fans a chance to see the superstars of their game in a more relaxed, entertainment focused environment.
Interestingly enough, the event that most embraces this big show mentality, the Breakway Challenge, turned out to be a relative sleeper compared to the other events.
The Breakaway Challenge has a slam dunk comp. format, where creativity is encouraged. The big difference is that in the case of hockey, it is more a show of technical skill than unbelievable athletic ability. No doubt,Corey Perry’s magnet stick blade is a sweet skill, but nobody is showing off anything similar to a 40+” vertical like in basketball.
But enough about that. (Oh, by the Patty Kane won the Breakaway Challenge. Something to do with a cape).
The Accuracy Shooting was mostly interesting to fans because it showcased the deadly sniping skills of budding superstarJamie Benn. It was also a nice feature for him, and will no doubt enhance his profile in other hockey markets, such as fans from the NE and Atlantic Divisions who don’t see much of Dallas’ #14.
Skip ahead to the Skills Challenge Relay, which was cool because it gave other players a chance to, well, do something. We saw both Sedins in this one, along with NW division counterpart Jarome Iginla. One-timer magic from the likes of @Hartsy19, Letang and Tavares. Highlights had to be unreal tight turns from #1 Fantasy Draft pickPavel Datsyuk, and how the Sedin twins are actually more accurate passers when they saucer cross ice. Unreal.
I could intro. the Hardest Shot competition with a preamble but instead I’ll just start with this: 108.8. You’re kidding right? That’s how many miles per hour Zdeno Chara can smash rubber. I really don’t even know what to say. Apparently he uses a 160 flex stick. It’s aWarrior in case you were wondering. Solid endorsement deal Warrior, well played. Special mention goes to pretend bronze medalist Daniel Alfredsson, 101.3. Not bad for weighing 59 lbs less than big Chara.
At this point, we’ve been watching for over two and a half hours, clearly an event made long enough to give the fans in the building some bang for their buck. It’s more than likely that much of the television audience either bailed when Corey Perry pulled something short out of his trousers, (which was momentarily scary), or watched passively throughout.
I will say that the CBC broadcast was prepared for the lulls in action, and filled the dead spots with, well, Carey Price. He was mic’d up and hilarious. The Habs ‘tender demonstrated his well-known charisma, and exchanged classic hockey boy quips with the broadcast team. It was mostly funny because while Carey was having a “beauty time” as he might put it, Glenn Healy was trying to provide overly serious, analyst type commentary. Haha, during the Breakaway Challenge, most of Healy’s remarks were lost on Price who was busy trying to think of the next goofy manoeuver.
Coming full circle, the night ended with an actual breakaway event, in the Elimination Shoot Out. Thank goodness for that. Relating to what I mentioned about a slam dunk comp., this one gave the players a chance to show power and force, combined with sweet skills. Tavares approached this with grave seriousness, probably because he had a chance to win something for once. It worked well. Jarome Iginla actually scored on his first attempt, (rare for Flames fans to see) . However the eventual winner, Steven Stamkos, did everything. He used his skates, faked a snapper, everything. It was literally a delight to watch. It also woke my buddies on the couch, to the sound of my exclamations. So sick.
All in all, as a big hockey fan, I sat through the entire Skill Competition. Doubtful that casual fans would have made it more than half an hour and that’s too bad because they missed this…
I have to say that July has been a pretty interesting month. It started in Ottawa, where I was invited to a reception hosting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, (Will and Kate). I also met Prime Minister Harper, and Governor General Johnston. Not only this, but I hung out in the tent room, a giant former indoor tennis court with fabric stretched from wall to ceiling.
A little story about the whole event: http://j.mp/lL1FQp
Crazy stuff happening on the home front! I added another truck to the Green Grads fleet, added some new employees and I am now considering two additional services for the fall. I have to say that is has been a crazy month for my business. Both in terms of milestones, and the amount of change that accompanies them. It is awesome to construct the evolution of my little company, as it goes from small to…not so small, to…who knows!
The entire month of July blew by, underneath rainy Vancouver skies. I am writing this in a Montreal hotel room hoping to fly back today to some real summer. This past weekend I announced Summer Nationals and Pan American Games Trials! It was a lot of fun, both to do something I find really enjoyable, (announcing), and to see old friends and teammates.
Tonight it is a flight back to Vancouver, and an oath to a good friend to make August an epic summer month. Time to let it unfold.
If I could share everything I learned today, this would be an enormous post.
So here are some excerpts instead:
Have you ever been to an outdoor sporting event in the desert?
At the 2022 World Cup here in Qatar, the new stadiums will all be cooled by sustainable energy systems. That means that spectators sit in a chilled zone of 20.5 degrees celcius, but limited to the seating area. This is crazy if you think about a 65,000 seat stadium in the middle of desert summer. And it uses 80% less energy than comparable stadiums.
One Planet living. Right now we’re using WAY too much of our resources. BioRegional is a British social enterprise that is helping the London 2012 Games own the environmental sphere. I saw the Executive Director speak today, and the website is an awesome resource. http://www.bioregional.com/
The Green Economy. This is something that the UN has been pushing for years, 1-2% of our worldwide GDP pumped into green initiatives would stabilize business and of course reduce carbon emissions, save our water, slow global warming and all the rest. And it’s not green babble. Top economists tell us this will work. Also, it is critical for developing nations. http://hqweb.unep.org/greeneconomy/
The day was not without a little fun either. Luke, Sonali, Hissa, Dalma and I went to a traditional night market. And we found the birds.
Speaking tomorrow, it’s streaming live at 4 AM PST/7 AM MST. Get up and watch, it”ll be awesome! http://j.mp/k8vbAW
I am sitting at the base of the twelve level pyramid that is the Sheraton Doha. Around me there are exquisite statements of Qatari art and expression, including a dome made of interlocking right angles that covers a grand chandelier of 10,000 crystals that sweeps light across the inside, with classic Arabian splendour.
To be honest, I sometimes stand in my own shoes, and cannot help but look around and be excited about the opportunities and experiences I have been afforded.
Tonight, I watched Dr. Jacques Rogge, and Heir Apparent HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani declare open the 9th World Conference on Sport and the Environment. I feel as though I am a part of something that will really make a difference, not only in the sporting world, but ultimately in the lives of everyone on earth.
This is a daunting yet enticing possibility.
I am startled at how much I want to help. And I am not alone! Today I met Tracey Holmes our mentor, Sonali, Luke, Hissa and Dalma. My fellow panelists for Plenary 5 and my fellow young people that will share their vision for ways we can all “Play for a Greener Future”.
Tomorrow the conference begins!
You can follow my tweets @callumng, hopefully I can get internet access to share thoughts from each panel.
It is also streaming live right here starting at 9 AM local time, so 11 PM PST/2 AM EST http://bit.ly/k8vbAW