Tag Archives: Hockey Canada

A Message To Everyone In Hockey

Andrew Ference was my introduction to many things beyond the hockey world that affect the hockey world, Ken Dryden wrote some of the literature I’ve read and Brock McGillis is one of the many people I follow on Twitter.

That’s just a few of them, but there are many others like Marisa Ingemi, Ryan Clark, Eric Stephens, Amalie Benjamin, Jashvina Shah and Hemal Jhaveri, just to name some more.

I’m sure people will be bringing up the conversation surrounding specialty jerseys and tape in NHL games as they already have and will again someday.

I, for one, have no problems seeing whatever specialty jerseys in warmups and would encourage that players at least use whatever tape they feel like to coincide with that night or support that cause throughout the season a la Kurtis Gabriel’s use of Pride Tape in his career.

(Yes, I know, let’s abandon the traditional “don’t use ‘I’ statements” in op-ed pieces for a moment.)

Want to use Pride Tape? Use it in game. Not just warmups.

Want to use camouflage tape on Military Appreciation Night? Use it in game.  Not just warmups.

Want to use purple tape on Hockey Fights Cancer Night? Use it in game. Not just warmups.

Don’t just put away tape after warmups if tape— of all things— is so often changed from game-to-game, stick-to-stick, broken stick-to-broken stick or whatever. 

That said, the league needs to do a better job at distinguishing special nights.

Hockey Is For Everyone Night is nice in theory, but you cannot lump every cause into one, especially if it’s only the causes you’ve yet to show proof you care about beyond the brand image.

Hockey Is For Everyone Night should be a February thing, coinciding with Willie O’Ree puck drop ceremonies and Black History Month.

That is the night when you address why it took 60 years to put O’Ree in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018, after he broke the NHL’s color barrier in 1958.

Pride Night shouldn’t be slapped under the same banner (or worse, see the St. Louis Blues watch party). The Carolina Hurricanes had Pride Night done right this season and went an extra step on their social media to value the autonomy of every LGBTQ+ human being. Take a page from them.

(I’m not opposed to being bribed for the play-in/playoffs with any leftover Pride scarves you guys might have, Canes, fully knowing that this isn’t the place or time to be asking for free things.)

How can you accomplish these event nights and promote diversity within and without your organization? Hire minority candidates in executive positions and create things like Pride Committees and Black Hockey History Committees.

As we have seen from Akim Aliu, J.T. Brown, Evander Kane, Wayne Simmonds, Kurtis Gabriel, Andrew Ference, Brock McGillis, Ben Scrivens, Braden Holtby, Patrice Bergeron, Blake Wheeler, Logan Couture, Ryan Miller and other allies (I know I did not name them all here, but if you’re one of them I missed out on, please do not feel forgotten— continue to use your voice), I can only hope more players, coaches, front office members and retired players will continue to speak up, speak out and listen.

Racism exists. Fight it. Prevent it. Put an end to it.

Black Lives Matter. Police brutality exists. 

Yes, there are good cops, but the current overarching “justice” system negates their spotlight where credit is due. That can be fixed and the good cops that truly serve and protect their communities— their entire community, white, black, Latinx, straight, LGBTQ and all— will rightfully see their time when the system is overhauled.

As long as there is no true Justice, it is an Unjust system.

Please register to vote if you aren’t already registered (U.S., Canada) and, most important, complete your entire ballot. Vote for your executive branch and legislative branch, but do not neglect your attorneys general, sheriff and others.

Nobody should have to die and yet, here we are, addressing murder after murder under the law of “innocent until proven guilty”.

We spend the majority of our days listening rather than speaking, but in actuality, we’re only hearing unless we’re actively listening— and hearing and listening are two different things.

Hearing is knowing that your mother is yelling from downstairs for you to get out of bed because the bus is coming and you’ll be late to school if you miss it, but you roll over and continue to sleep anyway.

Listening is hearing that your mother is yelling from downstairs for you to get out of bed because the bus is coming, getting up, getting dressed for school and making the bus on time to go to school and learn.

Kim Davis is doing wonderful work as the NHL’s Executive Vice President, Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs. 

Practice doesn’t make perfect and the reality of things is that it often takes many attempts before landing something that sticks. 

But practice does make better and with enough practice, things can and will be better— it’s the commitment to that practice and the followup that must follow through that matters.

The National Hockey League and its member clubs can do better.

USA Hockey can do better. Assistant Director, Hockey Operations, John Vanbiesbrouck needs to go.

Hockey Canada can do better.

The American Hockey League and its member clubs can do better.

The ECHL and its member clubs can do better.

The International Ice Hockey Federation can do better.

Beer leagues can do better. EA Sports can do better.

If you’ve ever grabbed a hockey stick, watched the sport or played the video game— you can do better.

That means all of us must learn and grow as we so often do in every other aspect of our lives. 

If you’re a player, you once had to learn to skate. That took time, effort and many stumbles, but you got better over the years.

There’s no excuse for not being better as a person. 

You’ve already done it in so many other ways, what’s one more important thing that doesn’t just occur on the ice?

Three ways to improve the NHL All Star Game

Let’s face it, most people over the age of 18 don’t care for the NHL’s annual All Star Game, but it’s still an important part of the sport nonetheless.

For starters, the host city is provided with a boost in tourism for a weekend in January, while the local community receives more attention and support from the league in terms of growing the game for the duration leading up to that weekend and beyond– making it more accessible, more affordable and more inclusive, ideally.

It’s because of the good public relations and the charitable efforts made that the All Star Game should never go away.

That said, it could use some improvements to try to bring back the casual onlookers of the sport or even the diehards that tune out for the night and would rather watch paint dry.

Here’s three ways to try to bring more eyes to the game and at the very least boost its ratings on a weekend when not much else is happening to distract viewers from that season’s best NHLers having a little fun (how dare they).

Make it like the 2016 World Cup of Hockey

Want to further exemplify how the game is continuing to evolve, while getting younger and faster? Look no further than introducing a 23 and under team inspired by the 2016 World Cup of Hockey’s Team North America to the 3-on-3 format of the All Star Game!

Simply go back to naming teams after players and having them select their teammates and/or opponents, then pit the 23-year-olds and younger against the 30-year-olds and older and see if Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Rasmus Dahlin can beat Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin (assuming he wouldn’t skip the game) and John Carlson.

Want an added challenge? Bring back the Young Stars Game for players ranging in age from 18 to 20 and have them take on each other in an East vs. West format or simply throw them into the fire with the 23 and under team, 24 to 29-year-old team and 30 and older team (or something like that).

But seriously, either adopt the World Cup of Hockey teams for a 3-on-3 battle, mix it up with a young vs. old mentality or just pick who goes to the All Star Game and let them create their teams.

Imagine a team solely comprised of goaltenders. Now that’s worth tuning in for.

Better yet, let’s have the Elite Women’s team take on NHLers in a Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs inspired matchup or have Marie-Philip Poulin lace up her skates alongside Crosby, while Hilary Knight suits up with Matthews and unleash the fury that is all of Hockey Canada and USA Hockey coming together for an ultimate 3-on-3 battle.

Make it a weekend of skills

If most fans over the age of 18 are tuning in for All Star weekend festivities just to see who’s the fastest skater, who has the hardest shot, what kind of crazy relay race Gatorade has come up this year or the all-new addition of a 3-on-3 women’s game to the skills competition, then why not make it a two-night main event?

The Hardest Shot competition, for example, wouldn’t get to be featured on both nights with the possibility of players altering their sticks within legal manners to try to get more speed on their shot– unless you wanted to add something like that as a curveball.

If you don’t want to expand the number of events, then get creative and allow a little tampering for players to study what they did on the first night, learn what their competition did better and try to beat that on the second night.

Alternatively, the league could just have have a mixture of traditional skills (Hardest Shot, Fastest Skater, Accuracy Shooting) and newer competitions (Shooting Stars, Save Streak, Elite Women’s 3-on-3 game) spread out over two nights with the return of the Breakaway Challenge, Skills Challenge Relay, Premier Passer, Puck Control Relay, Elimination Shootout and whatever you can come with to split each night with six different events.

Bring back the Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format or have the divisions compete against each other and award points to the winners of each event.

The squad with the most points at the end of the two-night challenge wins bonus money or something.

Throw in an extra $50,000 for a charity that the winning team was playing for and you’ve got yourself even more good PR.

Don’t announce the All Star rosters until player introductions

Remember the outrage about Team USA’s 2010 Winter Games roster after it was announced immediately following the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park?

This would be like that, but with more people than ever before on Hockey Twitter™ completely freaking out about how Jack Johnson was named to the All Star Game.

Think of the controversy that could be drummed up in real-time without allowing anyone to have about a month to whine about All Star snubs or substitutions.

Even better, it might force players to go to the game instead of using the built-in time off from the bye week as an excuse to skip out on something that’s made for fans to get a chance to see who they might otherwise not see regularly.

(So the NHLPA’s never going to agree to this idea from the start, because time off matters.)

Sure the schedule currently lets every market see players from out of town, but the novelty of the All Star Game has always been that the host city and its fans (or anyone that may have traveled from out of town to the region) can get to see the stars of the game without the barriers of dynamic ticket pricing getting in the way (in theory) for a family of four that might not be able to afford a regular matchup against one of the more superstar loaded teams.

This idea’s the hardest one to pull off given how well secrets are kept in the league (they’re not), as well as due to the fact that people would know by warmups who’s made the team and tweet about it, plus the fact that All Star merchandise with any player’s likeness would still need to be made ahead of time to sell at just the right time leading up to the game and thereafter (which could get leaked).

New jerseys and future Winter Classic venues and teams are constantly being disclosed before official announcements or reveals, which can sometimes take the fun away from the moment when it actually happens or– more often– only further stew angry complaints on social media until fans see it on the ice.

But just think, what if we all agreed to show up to Enterprise Center or watch the 2020 All Star Game on TV without knowing who’s in it only to find out that Brad Marchand was left off the team even though he’s currently 6th in league scoring (with 64 points– 10 points fewer than league leader, McDavid) or that anyone from the Detroit Red Wings or New Jersey Devils even made the team despite the former being on track for the worst regular season since the 2016-17 Colorado Avalanche?

Imagine the drama– then watch them play a 3-on-3 tournament!

Oh yeah, this also assumes that you’d somehow not spoil the rosters with the Skills Competition, but we can work those details out at a later time.