Teamoakville.comComments?Blog archive

April 30, 2007

Things didn't get much better. Went for lunch and forgot my wallet. I was by myself so had to either panhandle, or walk back to the office. I chose the latter. On the good side of the ledge, when I was putting back all the junk that fell out of my briefcase earlier, I found an unused 10-ride GO Train pass, which is like finding $55. So, the day wasn't a total loss. Close, but not total.


April 30, 2007

When you can say you're having a really lousy day and you haven't actually started your work day yet, you've really achieved something.

The strap broke on my briefcase-cum-computer bag on the stairs from Union Station to BCE Place this morning, spilling newspaper, GO train passes, spare change, pens, iPod, headphones, and lots of other stuff ALL OVER THE PLACE. Hard to look graceful cleaning up a mess like that, so I didn't even try. I just scooped up my crap and moved on.

Got to the office and my security code didn't work, which is often a signal that your services are no longer required. That hadn't happened (yet -- it's early) but new security software was installed on the weekend and now I can't get in the building or to other floors to attend meetings (hey -- maybe not such a bad thing.)

When I finally get into the building, the headphones on my iPod -- still hanging out of my computer bag from the rush clean up on the busiest staircase in Canada -- snag on an arm rail and snap.

Finally get to my office -- close door, push file cabinet up against it, sit under my desk. I'll be here till 6p.


April 29, 2007

I made five (5) trips to Glen Abbey yesterday, which I think is a new personal best and none of it involved hockey. Let's just say it was a busy day on the lacrosse calendar. I saw all or parts of seven house league games yesterday.

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There must have been an odd alignment of stars this weekend because both my sons forgot equipment this weekend (having your equipment properly packed is the athlete's responsibility is this house, not the parents'.) And in fairness to the boys, they NEVER forget stuff. They're both generally pretty thorough and responsibly.

Chris forgot one of his forearm pads, sending me home to look for it. I couldn't find the thing, so I seconded Pad's gear into duty. There was a long lecture after the game about preparedness and responsibility, and me making five trips to Glen Abbey in one day.

Then today, Pad forget his helmet at field practice. Every Sunday his team has field practice, beginning with  a five-kilometre run. I wait until Pad is back from the run and then I go get groceries (because that's the kind of selfless, devoted, spare-my-bride-the-misery-of-grocery-shopping kind of guy I am.)

Of course today, the team ran without helmets and gloves, sticks only. So Pad didn't discover that he was missing his helmet until after I left. And he tried to call home to alert mom, but the phone was busy for a, um, relatively long time, so to speak, as mom caught up with her mom back in Cape Breton. And he didn't know my cell number. After practice Patrick apologized to each of the coaches and the head coach told him, "Congratulations. You're not perfect. Welcome to the world."

Which is kind of funny because a kid on Pad's hockey team last winter forgot his helmet and  . . . well, let's just say it didn't go over well with the coach but the episode -- mostly the coach's reaction to learning a helmet was missing -- became a staple for the improvisational repertoire of one the team's more theatrically talented members, much to the amusement of his teammates and eventually, even the coach.

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Me, Patrick and Chris washed and waxed a fair percentage of the cars today. We'll maybe finish this project next week. What I'm trying to say is, we have two cars. Both were washed. One was waxed. It kinda sounded for a minute there like we have 15 cars.

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As you can imagine I'm pretty ripped up about the Sens losing in double OT last night. Can barely get through the day, honestly. But I just keep putting one foot in front on the other, telling myself life must go on.


April 27, 2007

You may not know it, but I don't really care for the Ottawa Senators. Well, it's true. So it was with some dismay that I had to watch last night as the Sens scored four goals on nine shots in the first period against future Hall of Fame member Martin Brodeur. And even though the Sens had trouble breathing for much of the rest of the night, they managed to hang on for a 5-4 win over New Jersey. So, I will take a moral victory from that and predict the imminent collapse of the Senators, to be followed quickly by the folding of the franchise, the destruction of their arena (whatever it's called these days), the hasty plowing under of the rubble, and the return of the land to farming, suburban driving ranges and other bucolic pursuits. Spezza, Heatley, Redden and Phillips are welcome try out for the Leafs. But they have to wash Paul Maurice's car too.

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My Chris made his school's 4 X 100 relay team for his age group. In all the fuss and commotion around Pad's various rep tryouts, Chris sometimes gets temporarily lost in the shuffle. So there was much puffing and thumping of chests, high-fives, a small parade, a provincially declared holiday, and hearty congratulations. I'm really proud of him. He marches to his own beat, he does his own thing, and he always seems to be moving in the right direction. Funny and popular, Chris has more friends than Elvis and unlike the King, he doesn't sit in the Jungle Room and shoot at the TV, which is quite a relief. I asked Chris who else was on his relay team. "Don't know. Not a clue, dad. I saw my name on the list and that was all I needed. I was outta there."

Classic Chris.

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Lacrosse dominates the weekend agenda for us. The boys get to lounge at home today as part of the aforementioned provincial holiday marking Chris's track achievement (OK -- it's actually a PD Day at school, but the kids still get to stay home). Chris has a game tomorrow afternoon, Pad is refereeing two games and then time keeping at two more. Sunday he has a run and a practice with the lacrosse team. The field lacrosse season was supposed to open Sunday in scenic Port Colburne, but the fields are closed becase of wet conditions so those games are postponed. We actually find ourselves with Saturday night off (after about 6p). Upon realizing this, Laura and I stood in the kitchen staring at each other in mute silence, confused by what to make of a five-hour vacant window in the weekend schedule. All four of us at home at the same time on a weekend. How cool will that be?

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Bantam A/AE Ranger tryouts start tonight and run for four consecutive days. We have many friends trying out, coaching and participating in a bunch of ways. Very sincere good luck to all of you.


April 26, 2007

Patrick and 15 other kids were selected to the Ranger AA team last night -- there's one goalie position to be determined later on.

Pad was pretty happy and as a parent that's a big part of the equation you're hoping for. The other part is the coaching staff -- you want to see positive, knowledgeable people who are good role models with good values. I think we win on that count, too.

But, as you've heard me say here before, the process was long and torturous and there's no doubt it did not turn out as well for some kids as it did for mine.

Some players who were on the AAA team last year were moved to AA. And some AA kids were cut and told to try out starting tomorrow at the AE/A tryouts. These are 13 and 14 year old kids and emotions were raw, understandably so.

Pad, his new teammates and the parents gathered for a quick meeting after the selection meetings were done (more famously known as the Walk of Shame, which is what the kids and parents call the walk the players make after exiting the room where they learn their fate.)

It was an odd dynamic -- some formerly AAA kids feeling a bit shell shocked to find themselves playing AA. The AA returnees probably feeling either disappointed they didn't move up, or relieved they didn't get cut. And a handful of former single A players like Pad, who were happy. The coach said all the right things and made everyone feel welcome. And to their great credit, when the kids were called upon to introduce themselves to each other, the AAA kids each said they were proud to be part of the team. Those kids will be looked to as leaders and I have to say they didn't disappoint. The other kids aren't stupid and they heard the right message from some of the most talented guys in the room.

At that point some of the tension lifted, the signing of documents ensued and the boys gravitated into clumps and chattered like old ladies after a church social. It has a ways to go, but it started to feel like a team.

As I said yesterday, there was going to be some heartache last night and for sure there was. There are guys Patrick played with last year who were cut and his disappointment on learning their fates was truly tangible. In one case he winced when I told him.

But a page was turned last night and three weeks of rep lacrosse and hockey tryouts are over for us. On the one hand it was fun and thrilling because Pad missed it all last spring with a broken leg.

On the other hand, it was long and exhausting. I'm glad it's over.


April 25, 2007

The torturous marathon known as the Oakville Rangers rep hockey tryouts hits the halfway point tonight. Tonight's the night the final cuts will be made at the minor bantam, bantam and minor midget AA/AAA tryouts and those two teams will be finalized.

We will be focused on the bantam session and the fate of Pad and many of his friends.

This will be the fifth session -- some were an hour, some two hours -- and like the song says, there's gonna be a heartache tonight. Too many skaters and goalies and only so many spots. As a parent you can only hope your kid is spared that, but they've all heard it at one time or another, or will soon enough.

Regardless, we'll find out tonight and whatever happens won't be the end of the world or the highlight of the year. I've already told Pad -- a single-A player last year, an AE player the year before that -- that whatever happens he should be proud to have have stayed this long with the AA/AAA sessions. He's earned a hard look from the coaches; all you can do is your best and then it's out of your hands.

AE/A tryouts begin on Friday and the torturous marathon known as the Oakville Rangers rep hockey tryouts will repeat itself again until two more teams of bantams are selected. I'll let you know what happens tonight.

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NHL Playoffs, round two predictions. Did I mention that I was 7-1 in the first round?


1. Sens vs New Jersey: There are few teams that can play with the discipline of the Devils and that counts for a lot at this time of year. Having one of the four or five best goalies in the history of hockey doesn't hurt either. Weigh that against a very fast, explosive Sens team, albeit one with serious questions about its goaltending and its ability to play well under pressure. Anti-Ottawa sentiments aside, I'm taking the Devils in six or seven.

2. Sabres vs. Rangers: At first glance this should be a no-brainer. The Sabres appear to be runaway favourites. I'd caution not to discount the mojo the Rangers have cooking right now. They were great down the stretch and swept Atlanta. At the end of the day, the Empire State series will go to Buffalo, but it will be closer than you think. Sabres in seven.

3. Canucks vs. Ducks: Anaheim is for real. Vancouver isn't. I think the Ducks could win it all, so Ducks in six.

4. San Jose vs. Detroit: I think this is the toughest series to call and it will go seven games. The travel in this series will be harder on Detroit than the younger Sharks. The Sharks breezed by Nashville in spite of a powerplay that went MIA in the series (two for 30.) Detroit was inconsistent against Calgary. Sharks in seven.


April 24, 2007

So, with the Canucks' win last night I was 7-1 in the first round of the playoffs which is pretty good if I do say so myself. Second round predictions coming soon.

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Reminder: the early-bird deadline for MOHA registration for 2007-08 (man, we're almost at the end of the first decade of this millenium) is May 31. Register now, save $40.


April 23, 2007

A smart friend, commenting on Oakville Mayor Rob Burton's comments to the Oakville Beaver recently on the Twin Rinks purchase, wonders (rightfully) why the major thinks it would cost $17 million to $19 million to build a two-rink facility in Oakville, when the gold-plated Twin Rinks was built for $13 million? Twin Rinks was poorly managed, over budget, and ripe for disaster. But that doesn't automatically mean it would cost the town 25 per cent more to build another twin-pad arena.

I'm still waiting for someone -- anyone -- to explain the context of this purchase with regard to addressing the shortage of ice in Oakville. It may, in fact, be a very good plan. But since no one (to my knowledge) has laid it out, there's no way to know. What's the plan? What's the strategy for the medium and long term? What's it going to cost? If you know, let me know. It's a valid question.


April 23, 2007

There are two new additions to the teamoakville community -- the first one is the Oakville Hawks bantam 1 lacrosse team, who are here. The other is the Oakville A's major mosquito AA baseball team, here. A fine sweaty bunch of young people they all are, too!


April 23, 2007

A busy weekend behind me, Monday brings pause for a break from sports for a few hours. Pad is battling a miserable bug but survived the second-last round of cuts at the Ranger AAA/AA tryouts last night. The final cuts come Wednesday. I hope he's feeling better by then.

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With only the Canucks-Stars series left to be decided, I'm doing pretty well in the opening round of the NHL playoffs. I'm 6-1 and if Vancouver wins tonight I'll be 7-1. That's a big "if" however.

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The one series I lost was the evil Senators beating Pittsburgh. OK. It was a very thorough beating I'll admit. But news that Sidney Crosby was playing on a broken foot since March 15 provides me some comfort, because if he had been 100 per cent, Ottawa would never had won, right? Um, right.


April 21, 2007

Greetings from warm, sunny Kingston where work commitments pushed me for a couple of days. I can report that the Queens students were out celebrating the end of, middle of, or start of exams last evening. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, as they should.

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OK, so the Sens beat the Penguins. I led with my heart on that one because a) I hate the Sens. That is all.

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I think I'm fairing better on the other predictions, but I'll wait till everything is actually over before tallying up my first-round winning percentages. Last year I was 6-2 in the first round.

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Laura's thankfully home from her business trip, but with me away the near-aerobic pace of what passes for weekend leisure time in our house is left to her, and her alone. Pad had a 9:30a lacrosse practice and 5k run. Then he immediately had to go to Glen Abbey to ref is first lacrosse game as an accredited official. Then at 3p, Chris and the rest of the peewee Shamrocks play their first lacrosse game. And then this evening, Pad has another 90-minute Ranger tryout. I'll get home sometime after 1a tonight, and then I'll be on deck to take Pad to lacrosse practice for 10a, and Laura will be working the registration desks at various Rangers tryouts around town. When one (or more, as was the case Friday) of us is out of town, it gives you new appreciation for the challenges faced by single parents. I know a bunch of them, as we all do. How they get it all done is beyond me. Wow.

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The Oakville Beaver's latest reporting on the Twin Rinks saga can be viewed here.


April 19, 2007

If you go to this link to look at the Twin Rinks documents, go to attachment E. That's where all the bids are. There were nine in total.

Canlan bid $4.5 million. Canadian Ice Academy (in Mississauga) bid $3 million. As one smart watcher commented, both these corporations know the market and what the economics are. No doubt they were looking for a deal, but it makes the town's bid look . . . higher. Some 65 per cent higher than Canlan.

There was one bid higher than the town's -- $8.2 million from Endure Sports Management. No idea who they are.

Given that this is taxpayers money, and given that folks in the commercial business of owning rinks bid considerably lower, I'm guessing taxpayers will ask questions. I'm also guessing the mayor, who has been on the file hard, will have answers.

The key question for me remains, how does this acquisition fit the town's ice pad development strategy, and, what (exactly) is that strategy, assuming there is one. Actually, if there wasn't before, there is now --  because the town just spent $7.5 million on two ice pads.


April 19, 2007

It's official. The town owns Twin Rinks. Read the official press release here.

The headlines:

Sale price was $7.5 million, clear of any debts previously held.

The town takes over on Monday.

The rinks will stay open and functioning for a minimum of three months while the town assesses the user needs, etc. etc.

John Da Silva, manager of River Oaks Recreation Complex and MOHA hockey dad/coach, has been seconded to manage the facility and "ensure the daily operations of the facility continue as usual. "

More to come, I'm sure.

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If you're really into this sort of thing, there's some heavy reading on the receiver's web site at




April 19, 2007

It's a chaotic few days in the household with Laura away and me and the boys running from one end of town to the other from lacrosse practices to hockey tryouts. The scariest part is me making lunches and hot dinners for them -- so far, no one has been poisoned but managing things with one cook and one driver instead of two pushes the logistical coordination of activities to a near military precision. Not to mention that they favour the driving and (especially) cooking of the other person. Adding to the chaos will be my departure tomorrow for a day -- fortunately at the same time Laura returns.

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Chris's house league lacrosse team held their first practice last night and the Shamrocks look like champs to me. Of course, I say that every year with every team we land on. I'll miss the season opener because of work commitments.

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The Rangers (New York, that is) swept Atlanta and for my money it's all Dany Heatley's fault. Marian Hossa was famously traded to Atlanta from Ottawa for Heatley, and one of the many nuances of North American sport that Hossa has failed to understand is that while "Mr. October" is a great nickname for baseball players, it doesn't hang well on hockey players, who are supposed to do their best work in the spring. Heatley, while minus 2, at least has three points for the Sens in four games. Hossa has one assist and is minus six and was thoroughly outplayed by his brother on the Rangers, Marcel (plus 5, two points.)

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The Oakville Beaver finally did a story on what's happening at Twin Rinks. There's probably nothing in it that you don't already know, but you can read it here.

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As busy as I think I am at home, it's nothing compared to this. These folks are on their way to their own hockey team.


April 17, 2007

My Christopher is a decisive guy. Flush with the money from his hockey pool victory (he doesn't actually have the money yet, but no matter) Chris decided he wanted a Nintendo Wii, which is pronounced "WEEEEE!!" and that was the exact sound echoing through the house last night after the household secured this funky little device.

They're harder to find than Leaf playoff tickets, but Chris's grandmother in Cape Breton stumbled upon a cache there and grabbed one. He now owes her $289.99, plus taxes and shipping.

It's a pretty cool machine. Pad can stand on one side of the room and wirelessly throw a baseball on screen and on the other side of the room, Chris can wirelessly swing at it, just to give one example.

Anyway, the acquiring of this asset would seem to fulfill Chris's life ambition (for this week) and mayhem will ensue on the home front for days, I'm sure.

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Still no public word on what's happening with Twin Rinks, although the inbox bubbles with theories and interest. Many people have taken the time to write the mayor and I've been impressed with the speed with which he seems to get back to people. He doesn't have much to say yet, but as they say, he's on the file. People that I've heard from don't seem to be for or against the town owning the bankrupt arenas. People are very supportive of the staff of the rink, particularly Dick Decloe, but not blindly supportive. There has to be a rational business case, which was obviously lacking the first time around or the place wouldn't be bankrupt. Generally, I'd say people just want to know the facts. What's the deal? What's the price? If the town ends up owning the joint, does it supplant plans for construction of new ice pads in Oakville, or dovetail with such a plan? Is there a plan at all, and if so, let's hear it. What about the people who have subscribed to summer ice programs? On and on.

 People more familiar with this sort of thing than me tell me that facts will be scarce until the receiver tells people they can talk -- gag orders being fairly routine during this sort of process. Fair enough. Nevertheless I continue to find it surprising that our town's newspaper isn't all over this important local story, at least posing the questions, pressing our elected officials -- all of them -- for whatever comment they can offer, publishing publicly available information on the process, and gathering informed analysis of probable options from experienced analysts.

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Ranger tryout season is upon us, with the first kids having hit the ice last night for minor peewee, peewee and minor midget AAA/AA. For a complete schedule, go to Spring Tryouts.htm .


April 15, 2007

Disclaimer:  I lived in Ottawa from 1990-93 and 1995-1998. Had some fun too.

I think the dumbest thing I've seen in the Stanley Cup playoffs so far is the reaction of Ottawa fans whenever Sidney Crosby touches the puck. They boo the most talented 18 year old hockey player on Earth for no other reason than he is great. I don't think he ever dissed Ottawa, or mocked the players, or insulted their ties, or the way they iron the pleats in their Dockers, that they iron their dress socks, or noted the location of their rink amid asphalt acreages of car dealerships in Kanata. No, they boo him for being great and they think they're clever.

I'm all for more "edge" in hockey. There needs to be more rivalry, more intensity, more story lines.

But booing someone just because he happens to be a great athlete seems pretty stupid.

If Crosby said he knew a great orthodontist who could make sense of Dany Heatley's mouth, that would be both funny and worth booing him for.

If Crosby said Ottawa was like Cole Harbour without the glamour, that would be funny and worth booing him for.

If Crosby said he hadn't seen Ottawa fans this excited since they changed the seating arrangements for the last Auditor General's report, that would be funny and worth booing him for.

But he hasn't, so Ottawa fans kind of look a bit petulant and amateurish; like they don't really understand the game.

But hey, it's Ottawa. I'm sure everyone in attendance filled out the appropriate forms entitling them to boo Sid.

Oh. In case you missed it Crosby scored twice and the Penguins won 4-3. So, as you can see the fans really threw him off his game. Well done.

BTW there's no truth to the rumour that Wade Redden was seen booking tee times for next week. Nope. Not true. That's Alfredsson's job.


April 15, 2007

Does anyone know what's happening at Twin Rinks?

Oakville's newest ice facility, less than three years old, has apparently gone bankrupt, been put up to auction, and the receiver is evaluating bids. The rumour mill says the Town of Oakville is among those bidders and may well end up owning the place.

There are lots of rumours. Like the ice will be taken out next week. Like the Oakville Hornets and Dick Decloe have been told to vacate the building. There's a rumour for just about every scenario.

All in all, it sounds like more of a mess than Brittney Spears' marriage.

Financial considerations aside -- which are not insignificant, I'm sure, but I am in no position to judge -- there are a lot of questions with big implications for hockey in Oakville.

First, why has the town been silent on this matter if indeed it is bidding to own, or even decided not to make a bid for Twin Rinks? It's our money -- millions of dollars of it, in fact -- so a little illumination on this for the taxpayers would be helpful. Naturally the town wouldn't want to compromise a bid by telling the world its plan. But if they did bid, they did it with yours and my money.

And if the town decided not to bid, why not? The fate of this issue has implications either way.

So, share some of the vision it with the people paying the bills.

Other questions?

What happens to the hundreds of families who paid for summer hockey/skating programs at Twin Rinks?

What happens to the Oakville Hornets girls hockey association, based out of Twin Rinks?

What happens to the Dick Decloe hockey school based out of Twin Rinks?

What happens to the Oakville Blades Jr A team?

Whatever the town's strategy is on this, how does it fit with whatever vision or plan there is to actually add more ice in Oakville, not simply participate in changing ownership of existing arenas? Having the town buy Twin Rinks may make perfect sense as part of a larger plan -- problem is, no one is telling us plebes the plan.

Some out there are positing the argument that once the town owns Twin Rinks, the Hornets and Decloe and the Blades have no business running private and non-municipal enterprises out of a town recreation facility.

Um, please. Give me a break.

Is the guy who sharpens skates at River Oaks a town employee?

Are the companies that have all the junk-food vending machines at town rinks owned by the municipality?

MOHA and the Oakville Skating club each have offices at River Oaks.

How many other examples are there of private businesses working from government-owned facilities? Lots.

Yes, there should be a fair process for determining who gets access to that space, what the revenue share is with the town, and how it will best serve the collective good of the town. But there's nothing wrong with it.

Anyway, like I said at the outset, it sounds like a mess.

And BTW, if you are a reader of the Oakville Beaver, then you probably have no clue what I'm talking about.  If the town's three-times-a-week newspaper has covered this story, I missed it. Luckily though, all the latest news on the renovated LCBO store at the Town Centre is there for issue-oriented, news-hungry readers.

Do you have questions about what's happening at Twin Rinks? Click here to send Mayor Rob Burton a note and ask what's up. He's a good guy. He's a hockey guy. He's the mayor. I bet he knows.


April 12, 2007

Anyone stay up until 3:45a to watch the Canucks win in OT? No, me either.

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The Sens looked pretty impressive in the first period last night. I hate that.

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Pad made the Oakville Hawks bantam 1 lacrosse team, which means he gets to practice in a rainy field this weekend, which he's oddly excited about. It also means I get to watch a practice in a rainy field this weekend, which is less exciting than it sounds.

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Both my kids have their team parties this weekend and then the season will be done. Finito. Over. Tryouts for next year start Wednesday.


April 10, 2007

We're kind of back in the thick of it now. Chris had a three-on-three tournament last night -- a light, fun thing that ended the on-ice portion of his hockey season. His team didn't win but he did get a goal and a couple of assists and told anyone he passed that he won $400 recently.

He has his house league lacrosse evaluation tonight at Glen Abbey while Pad and I will be at Maplegrove for round two of the bantam rep lacrosse tryouts, to be followed by another two hour session tomorrow night.

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NHL playoff predictions anyone? I did well at this a year ago, so why not look foolish and do it all again? Fearlessly, my picks:


Buffalo vs. the Islanders -- Sabres in five at most. Buffalo was going to make mincemeat out of whoever won the 8th playoff spot. The honour goes to Long Island, where golf courses are now opening up.


New Jersey vs Tampa Bay -- Hard to bet against Martin Brodeur who has had a good year and is a big reason why the Devils did better than expected. Tampa is fast, young, and creative. I'm not sure about their goaltending, and this is playoff hockey. Devils in seven.


Atlanta vs the Rangers -- Does anyone care? I guess we have to, so I'll pick the Rangers, who played decently in the last month or so. I won't be picking them in the next round. Rangers in six.


Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh -- This is the one we've been waiting for and ALL the pressure is on Ottawa. And history shows how well they cope under pressure. My dislike for the Sens is well known, but . . . remember how long it took the Red Wings and Stevie Y to break through and win a Cup. The Sens are very, very deep. They also do not have any Nova Scotians in the lineup, and the Pens have one -- Sid the Kid. I just think the Pens are for real, the Sens are still soulless and . . . the Pens win in a seven very hard fought games.



Detroit vs. Calgary -- Red Wings in six. Calgary has been fairly indifferent of late and the Red Wings know how to win at this time of year.


Anahiem vs. Minnesota -- I like the Ducks. Hate the name, like the team. I think they could win it all, in fact. Ducks in five.


Vancouver vs. Dallas -- Two words -- Roberto Luongo. The Canuck 'keeper is having a career year on the left coast. Marty Turco is somewhat less consistent come playoffs. Vancouver in six.


Nashville vs. San Jose -- The Sharks are kind of like the Sens of the west.On paper, they look like they have the lineup to roll deep into May hockey. Their reality has been different. But I don't expect Nashville will slow them up in the first round, so I'm picking the Sharks to be the dominant predator (sorry) in this one. Sharks in five.



April 9, 2007

Well, we're back in Oakville after enduring the worst weather of the pre-summer season on Saturday in Halifax. More than 25 centimetres of snow fell in a little better than four hours -- it was falling at a ridiculous pace that made driving almost impossible.

Luckily, we weren't driving far, holed up as we were with pretty much my entire family celebrating my parents 60th wedding anniversary not far from the place they still live and have lived for more than 50 of those years.

It was a great weekend. Friday night was a surprise 50th birthday party for my sister; Laura and I got to see my nephew Jared play for the Riverside (NB) AA Blues in the SEDMA tournament, and I got to meet and re-meet a lot of old friends and new friends of my folks.

The stars of the show were my two-year-old niece Sophia and seven-week-old niece Ava, and my boys knocked my socks off with the mature way they handled themselves at such a function, that didn't offer a lot of entertainment for 10 and 13 year old boys.

My best man from my wedding was there. My first two hockey coaches were there (one was my dad!) My grade five home room teacher was there, as was my grade six social studies teacher.

The most pure entertainment was the drive into Halifax that night through the snow -- it was a genuine blizzard with snow falling literally in clumps the size of pancakes. Most of the roads weren't plowed but we took it slow and the car only went sideways once, at which point Laura helpfully pointed out that I was driving too fast. I politely thanked her for her intervention.

I learned an important new expression this weekend -- no, not "Leafs Suck" -- but rather Exploding Cats. The friends we stayed with have two large, fuzzy, silly cats that tangle regularly and when they do, the fur literally flies and the ensuing wreckage kind of looks like a cat exploded. And when someone comes across this scene you are supposed to remark that there was a "cat explosion" and then retrieve a vacuum cleaner.

We got up and watched Premier League football, played air hockey, ate well, fought off colds, tolerated the blizzard, toasted my parents, appreciated family, and watched Augusta National humiliate a bunch of golfers when we could squeeze it in.

We delayed Easter 24 hours with special dispensation from the Easter Bunny, we watched anxiously all day Sunday as our 4p flight gradually got pushed back farther and farther. We boarded the plane at 6:30p, we sat on the tarmac for an hour, we watched the RCMP board the plane and escort off a guy who verbally abused a flight attendant.

We used Park n Fly for the first time (it's good) and got home so late we didn't bother eating anything. We were too tired.

Pad and Chris had a light snack and at 11:20p I told them they could have 10 more minutes to watch TV and then they had to go to bed.

Chris spoke for us all when he said: "I don't want 10 more minutes. I want to go to bed."

Amen to that. And we did.

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Chris awoke first on Monday -- all of us off school and work except Laura -- not to take advantage of the one-day-delayed Easter egg hunt, but rather to check the final standings in a hockey pool and to confirm he had won. And he did. Today, the hunt began for a Nintendo Wii. His money, his choice. No luck yet, but we're looking.

- - -

No tears here over the Leafs. They were not good enough and it's hard to imagine the Sabres looking at that game Saturday night and thinking of both the Leafs and the Habs, "who are these clowns?" Maybe, now that the Leafs have missed the playoffs again for the second straight year, meaningful change will come. Or, maybe the Raptors will get in two or even three playoff series and make everyone at MLSE forget the Leafs for a while as the Raptors fluff up the coffers for a while.


April 5, 2007

The annual joke in our house at this time of year goes something like this: "Hockey's over. Did you enjoy the off season?"

The reason that's funny is that Pad and the Rangers had their last ice time last night. Farewell to all, see you at the team party.

Rep lacrosse tryouts start tonight at 8p. So, the off season will have lasted all of about 26.5 hours. We got a lot done in that time mind you.

- - -

"Must Win Tour 2007" hits Long Island tonight and the Leafs, well, must win. While I am genuinely past caring, I would like to see both Toronto and Montreal win so that Saturday night's game at the ACC will really, really matter. That game would be something if there's a playoff spot on the line.

- - -

No minor hockey this weekend. Instead we'll be celebrating my parents' 60th wedding anniversary. There's really no way to explain 60 years of marriage. I think it would be like trying to explain the ocean, or a Marilyn Manson concert, to someone who's never seen it. Certainly I won't attempt it.

But, here are the top songs of 1947. I don't know one of them. Not one.

Near You-- Francis Craig
Heartaches-- Ted Weems
Ballerina-- Vaughn Monroe
Peg O’ My Heart-- Harmonicats (also Buddy Clark and The Three Suns)
Smoke! Smoke! Smoke!-- Tex Williams
Managua, Nicaragua-- Freddy Martin
Chi-Baba, Chi-Baba-- Perry Como
Mam’selle-- Art Lund (also Frank Sinatra)
Linda-- Ray Noble with Buddy Clark
Huggin’ and Chalkin’-- Hoagy Carmichael

The top films of 1947 included Miracle on 34th Street (seen it), The Bachelor and Bobby Soxer (heard of it), Dark Passage (Heard of it), Gentleman's Agreement (won Best Picture) and Dead Reckoning (heard of it.)

The world has changed more in the last 60 years than it did in all of the 600 years before it, and through all of that my parents managed to raise a family, instill some values in us, and pass along a sense of family that is as strong in us as any clan I know. There's much to be grateful for and this weekend will mark a rare couple of days when we're all in the same place.

And, one of my nephews is in a hockey tournament at the same time, which is appropriate if you knew the way hockey drove life in the household of my youth, much as it does in my own household of today.

Happy Anniversary.

- - -

Tie Domi apparently had a rep-parent moment recently at his son's GTHL peewee AAA game. How events unfolded seem subject to debate and interpretation. Regardless, the Globe and Mail's Allan Maki offers a nice perspective on it all here.

- - -

The Masters starts today. I almost forgot, which is just sad. I'll weigh in deeply tonight. It's a big deal though. Spring is near!


April 4, 2007

Yeah, I'm still here. Things are still busy and we're scrambling around at home trying to get ready for a family thing on the weekend while mopping up the final details of hockey season. To that end, there's a three-on-three atom tournament Monday night for a couple of hours and I'm helping get that thing up and running.

In between, we stare at the TV and alternately swear and cheer the Leafs as they convulse their way to the season's finish line.

While I maintain my position that it would be better for them to miss the playoffs again, it's difficult to turn off four decades of bred-in-the-bone support for the team. Two OT wins in three games is fun to watch.

- - -

Chris continues to watch NHL games much, much closer than anyone else in our house. He continues to lead the minor bantam A team's hockey pool and will talk to anyone who will listen about all the ways he is going to spend the money if he hangs on to win.

- - -

Pad and the Rangers hit the ice for the last time as a team tonight, burning off their final hour of ice with a bit of a romp -- shinny and fun stuff. I can say without hesitation that Patrick learned more about hockey this year than he did in all the other years combined. And he was also closer to all the kids on this team than he had been in other years.

This team had a unique bond, I thought, and the kids were very close to turning it into something special. For me and Laura, the best parts were the people we met through the team. The other parents, the grandparents, the people you thought you knew from around town but didn't really. You learn a lot about people when you're stuck in a rink foyer in Woolwich at 7:30p on weeknight in November with an hour to kill before game time. You learn a lot about people at weekend-long tournaments in places like Windsor or Peterborough or Lake Placid (my personal favourite experience of the season.) Anyway, you learn stuff. You watch your kid learn stuff. You share all that stuff and learn more stuff. On really good days you get to watch your kid execute something on the ice that you know he struggled with in practice or previous games. You watch the ballet that is a well-executed breakout defeating an intense forecheck, or the metronome-like rhythm of good passing and puck movement on a power play. You watch those things and realize the kids are learning and they're having fun. That's all good.

You mostly forget some of the other stuff, because there were tough days in there too.

On a rainy April morning you look backwards, smile, shrug, and think, yeah. I'd do that all again. When are tyrouts?


April 1, 2007

For this household hockey season came to an end just after 9:30a this morning when the minor bantam Oakville Rangers lost 2-1 to Applewood in the fifth overtime of their quarterfinal game in the Bill Buss Tournament in Mississauga.

That's right -- fifth OT. Five minutes of four on four. Then five of 3 on 3. Then 2 on 2. And again. And again.

The Rangers' name this year might well have Chameleons because often they would play up or down to the level of their opponent.

Like when they tied the Applewood AE yesterday 1-1.

Or like today, when they took the best minor bantam A team in Toronto, Mississauga and Scarborough to five overtimes.

This Applewood team won the Metro A Playdowns among the teams from the GTHL East, West, Mississauga and Scarborough. So, this was a quality team.

And so, apparently are the Rangers -- when they wanted to be.

Tri County regular season champs.

OMHA semi finalists.

A lot to be proud of. Enjoy the off season. Lacrosse starts in earnest Thursday, and hockey tryouts for 2007-08 are less than a month away.

- - -

The game may have taken something out of Applewood's tank. They lost to Woodstock 3-2 in the semi finals. Sarnia blanked Woodstock 2-0 in the final after Sarnia drubbed Clarkson 8-1 in the other semi. Sarnia gave up three goals in six games, and scored 24.

- - -

Meanwhile, further along the 401, Quite West beat Riverside 2-1 in overtime Saturday to win the OMHA minor bantam finals. The five games left the two teams separated by one goal. Congratulations to the champs, and to Riverside especially, whose trail to the finals took them through Oakville. I have no doubt some of the players on each side will cross paths again.

- - -

I had to go to Chatham today for personal reasons. When I left Oakville around 12:30p, it was five degrees and raining. By the time I got to Chatham it was sunny and 20 there. When I got home it was seven degrees and clearing. Chatham weather wins.

- - -

Leafs are in NYC to play the Rangers in the next leg of their "Must Win" tour 2007. They barely escaped last night from Sid and the Pens but they did win. The Leafs are a very respectable 6-2-2 in their last 10 games as they run at a playoff spot. Trouble is, Montreal -- just in front of them -- is 8-2, and and the Rangers are 7-2-1. It's a tough race when you lose only two of 10 games and still lose ground. Than blown 4-1 lead against Buffalo 11 days ago looks huge now.