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Jan 31, 2011

It was a weekend so full of hockey that Oakville needed to close to the schools for a day to let the kids recover. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

The tyke Blackhawks went into Brantford on Friday morning for a tournament that was, for many of the players, their first exposure to tournament hockey as we competed in the Brantford Church Hockey League select tyke division.

Our guys played like heroes, every one of them.

We went unbeaten on Friday, with a tie and big win. The tie came when the other team scored with less than a second on the clock!

In the big afternoon win, I'd like to think we represented our town and association well. Leading by a silly amount after eight minutes, I called the referee over and said that while time outs were prohibited, I needed a timeout to realign the team -- we weren't interested in winning by 25 goals. The ref smiled and said, "take all the time you need."

We moved the rabbits back to defence and forbid the stronger players from going to the net. Two pass minimum before shooting. Etc etc. We didn't score many goals in the remainder of the game and afterwards, a tournament official came in to our room and thanked us for our sportsmanship. Not all hockey lessons are learned on the ice and our kids got that part of the weekend right.

On Saturday, the boys opened with another lopsided win in an 8:30a start, again invoking some creative rules to keep the score down.

We didn’t play again until 3p. When I walked into the dressing room I could sense that “Houston, we have a problem.”

Up early for the drive to Brantford, and then lunch and then bowling and then excited, individual photo ops with Walter Gretzky, our guys had a serious case of “fun burn.” Turkey legs, as Coach Dave called it.

We lost 8-3 to the local Brantford 99ers -- a Select team -- but the good news was that we had already qualified for the final and we’d get another crack at them on Sunday morning – presumably with fresh legs!

The final proved to be everything we wanted for our guys and the turkey legs were gone.

The other team was a little faster, a little deeper, and frankly a little better. That’s why we went to Brantford – we wanted our guys to have to push themselves harder than they normally do.

We fell behind 2-0 but we worked hard on the bench to keep the boys focussed on the job.

"We can play with this team. We can come back. Just do what you know how to do."

And boy, did we fight back.

We tied the score then fell behind again, then with less than four minutes to go, we tied it.

The tykes were literally jumping up and down they were so excited.

Into overtime we went and we dominated the play until. . . the other guys scored exactly two minutes in, taking a 4-3 win.

I would say our players were disappointed for about five seconds.

But standing on the blue line at the old Brantford Civic Centre, the site of the 2008 Allan Cup, lined up for their medals, I think it dawned on each one of them that they hadn’t actually lost anything.

The other guys just happened to win, but our guys came a long way in two and a half days.

I could write 500 words on every player on the team, but I won’t. Suffice to say they all stepped up their games and didn’t just play, but competed. And competed very hard. We were short two important players all weekend and we missed them, but hopefully they'll be back next weekend.

Our team ate at Boston Pizza and went bowling and laughed and met Walter Gretzky and, oh yeah. They played five games in two days, losing just once in regulation time.

Several players scored their first ever goals in minor hockey.

Another player – not necessarily the guy we would have expected, either – made two, absolutely heroic, game-saving plays on defence in the last 90 seconds of the championship game. The coaches, the parents, his teammates went wild as he answered the call for his team. It was for me the moment of the weekend, where the guy you never expected to step up, steps up twice.

Everyone played EXTRA large on Sunday.

- - -

An aside from the weekend:

As the boys lined up for the faceoff to start OT, coach Dave turned to me and said, “there really is nothing better than tyke hockey.”

And you know what? I’ve seen a lot of hockey at a lot of levels. And I really don’t think there is anything better.

I don’t have a kid on the team so for me it’s simply a privilege to get to experience all the highs and lows of minor hockey through new sets of eyes. Honestly, it’s the greatest privilege I have, and I’m grateful that I have the chance. Every time I walk in that room it’s like stepping into a time machine.

There really is nothing better than tyke hockey.

Go Blackhawks Go!

 - - -

 I donated a hard hat to the team at the start of the season. After every game, the hard hat goes to the the player who worked the hardest, grinded it out . . . did the heavy lifting. We encourage the boys to write on it, put their numbers on it, anything they want. We want them to make it theirs and make it important.

The young man who had the helmet after Saturday morning's game did the whole team a favour by getting Canada's hockey dad, Walter Gretzky, to add his name to the Blackhawks' hard-hat award. Forthwith, it will be known as the Gretzky Hat.

You can see his signature on the helmet brim in the photo below.


This next one is one of my favourite photos from the weekend, and there's a lesson in this photo for all hockey coaches and parents, especially when tykes are involved. Call it, Boys Will Be Boys, but the point is that the tournament and the team experience is just the structure around which the kids and the families will hang out together for a couple of days. But at the core, they're still kids and they will be looking to have fun just like they always do -- on and off the ice.

Fair enough.

So while you're in the hallway fretting over the lineup or thinking a clever way to teach the 1-2-2 trap forecheck in six minutes, well, chances are the boys are going to have their own priorities. As a coach, a secret to a long life is learning that indulging things like a GameBoy is part of the deal when you have a room full of seven and eight year old boys.

Makes sense to me.

- - -

The smiles in this next one say it all. Walter Gretzky has the patience of a saint. He sat in a hard wooden chair signing his name and chatting with parents and players for a long, long time. I'm not sure who was more excited -- the dads or the kids.

Mr. Gretzky smiled and chatted with everyone. Everyone.

It says something remarkable about Canada that the father of our most revered hockey player is as big a celebrity as his son. I honestly don't think it would have been a bigger deal for us if Wayne had showed up.

Having Walter there at a minor hockey tournament in Brantford just felt genuine.

And you can't fake smiles like these!

- - -

I didn't get to tell you about the stuff my own kids did on the weekend. (Chris and the Jets won, Pad's team lost in overtime to the Blades -- not a great weekend for OT, on reflection!) Suffice to say there were a lot of rinks for us on the weekend.

The tyke parents will sometimes ask me, how often am I in a rink? Glad you asked.

Last Thursday night I didn't have to be in a rink. I'm not sure what I did that night, but I hope I enjoyed myself.

Friday I was in four rinks. Saturday I was in three. Sunday -- one rink in Brantford and then had to attend a junior hockey fundraiser.

Tonight: Pad practices.

Tuesday night: Chris practices

Wednesday night: Pad practices.

Thursday night: Pad has a road game.

Friday night: Chris as a game.

Saturday: Tyke Blackhawks are in a tournament in Oshawa, multiple rinks and games.

Saturday night: Pad plays at home

Sunday: tykes in Oshawa.

Sunday afternoon: Pad plays on the road

Monday night: Pad practices

Tuesday night: Chris practices

Wednesday night: Pad practices

Thursday (Feb 10th): Another night off!


As Maxwell Smart used to say . .  ."and loving it!"


Jan 27, 2011

This is either a late Thursday post or an early Friday one.

But by the time most of you catch up with this I’ll be in beautiful Brantford with the tyke red Blackhawks.

We’re in a tournament tomorrow and Saturday and it figures to be a fun time. Even though we’re a house league squad we registered in the Select division because we want to see the boys get pushed a little, with playoffs only a couple of weeks away.

The tyke experience for me this season has been terrific, not least of all because I don’t actually have a kid on the team. Hockey is a lot easier when you’re not dressing a kid.

We talked about trying to sneak Pad into the tournament lineup, but we figured a 6 foot, 4 inch tyke might draw attention, so it’s just me from our family.

Both our games tomorrow are against Brantford select squads, presumably culled from their house league system.

Win or lose, there will be Boston Pizza and bowling.

And lots of Diet Pepsi!

- - -

One of the teams we’re playing is, yes, the Brantford 99ers. I can’t imagine who they’re named after.

The Great One marked his 50th birthday this week and on TSN, the panel was asked which piece of Gretzky equipment most identified him during his remarkable career. The consensus winner was the tucked-in jersey, with the Jofa helmet a distance 2nd.

Before he actually played organized minor hockey, Pad always – always, always, always – tucked in his jersey, a la Wayne.

Incredibly, Gretzky retired the spring after we moved to Oakville in 1999 – Chris wasn’t even three yet, Pad was barely five. But it doesn’t feel like that long ago.

But more than a decade later, every game night when Pad takes to the ice with his junior team I always make sure to be there for the pre-game skate, 30 minutes before the start time.

And every night – just as he did in IP and tyke and atom and peewee and bantam and midget -- he comes out on the ice with the back right side of his jersey tucked in to his hockey pants.

And he’s not the only one.

I’ll tell you this much: The tykes are in for a hell of a pre-game speech tomorrow morning in Brantford, and you’re going to hate yourself for missing it.

Taking the ice in the cradle of the town that gave us Wayne Gretzky, on the week of his 50th birthday, is about as Canadian a moment as these tykes will have for some time.

We’re going to fire up the next generation to do their town proud. And there may be a lot of tucked-in jerseys for that first game!

Where’s Walter?

- - -

It’s going to be a busy weekend. The Plague continues to stalk the residents of our residence, with Laura being the latest victim. I’m only functioning at about 70 per cent, and Pad has been miserably dragging himself through exams this week, missing a game and practice in the process. He hasn’t been to the gym even once.

Chris plays tomorrow night at Sixteen Mile, shortly after my return from Brantford. Then Saturday it’s back to Brantford for another pair of games, and then Pad plays Saturday night. Hopefully there will be another game Sunday morning in Brantford and then, as we like to say, the rest of the weekend is ours.

This weekend is a relative picnic compared to next weekend, when the tyke Blackhawks are camping out in Oshawa at another tournament.

More on that later.

Drive safely.

Hug the kids!


Jan 26, 2011

Boring political dissertation coming . . . there’s a hockey hook. Hang in there.

- - -

Governing is hard.

I'm a bit of a JFK-phile, and I've read a lot on his life and short presidency.

In April 1961 on the morning after the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, President John F. Kennedy summoned the Republican Senate leader – Barry Goldwater – to the Oval Office for a briefing.

Kennedy and Goldwater knew each other well. Goldwater was mounting a campaign to win the 1964 Republican presidential nomination – in other words, he wanted to defeat Kennedy in the next election.

Goldwater entered the Oval Office and the president looked world-weary, having been up most of the night babysitting the failed invasion that was intended to topple Castro.

Kennedy had his feet on the desk when the Arizona senator walked in and the men locked eyes.

Kennedy spoke:

“So you want this f****** job, eh?”

Which is to say, governing is hard.

- - -

I’ve covered politics in one way or another for most of my professional career. And one thing I’ve learned to be 100 per cent true is that governing is hard – no matter which party wins, at what level. The longer you have power, the harder it gets.

Our current federal government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the longest serving minority government in Canadian history now. That fact may be owing to good management, or it may be owing to good luck -- the inability of the other guys to mount a serious challenge. But Canada has done OK under this government, one that we once all regarded as fresh and new.

Five years on, it’s no longer new.

I’m not here to put forward a judgment on the Conservative government record, but rather to point to something that illustrates what I’m trying to say about governing being hard.

In the first couple of years, it’s pretty easy to say “we inherited this mess, give us some time.” After a while, though, the mess becomes yours.

And right now there is an interesting confluence of issues brewing, all swirling around interest within Quebec about bringing the NHL back to Quebec City.

On that point, I say great idea. In principle.

The catch is Quebec City needs a new arena, which will cost several hundred million dollars.

Whenever that much money is in play, it becomes a political issue. And the political question is, should the federal government put $175 million of your tax dollars toward the bill to build a new rink for a possible NHL franchise in Quebec?

That, my friends, is politics. And it gets harder.

Add to the mix that the Bloc Quebecois is urging Harper to do just that. (I’m sure the prime minister is grateful for the advice.)

Add to the mix that on the Canadian political landscape, it is virtually impossible to win a majority government without winning a significant portion of seats in Quebec. (So, alienating Quebec voters = a bad idea for a prime minister hoping to win a majority.)

Add to the mix that they are talking about naming the place Rene Levesque Arena.

And then add to the mix that Edmonton and Calgary both need millions of dollars to upgrade or replace aging arenas, and will also have their hands out if Ottawa ploughs money into Quebec City. Winnipeg too. And then there are the CFL stadiums.

So, let’s summarize:

The most popular political party in Quebec (the BQ) is pressuring a minority federal government with aspirations to win a majority to put $175 million in federal tax money into a privately-owned rink for millionaire hockey players that will be named after the most lionized separatist in Quebec history, all without setting a precedent that creates a run on federal money for NHL rinks in other cities.

Good luck with this one. We’ll be watching.

Like I said, governing is hard.

Read more here.

And here.

- - -

Good lord, the Leafs stink.

- - -

Steelers vs. the Packers in the Super Bowl.

Both teams are great traditional franchises with nine Super Bowl titles between them.

One of them has a quarterback who should be in prison for rape, but instead he got a six-game suspension.

I’m not going to make a big morality play here, given that the NFL has more than one convicted felon under contract, and the NFL has fairly consistently screwed up handling such matters.

But if you’ve done any reading at all on the quarterback in question then you know this is a very tough guy to cheer for, regardless of your team loyalties. I won’t be sporting black and yellow on game day.

I could post links to more information on this matter but I’m going to spare younger readers that temptation. They’re all smarter than me anyway and can find it on their own if they really care.

Go Packers.


Jan 25, 2011

The Toronto Star is running a series of first-person snipets from readers, all telling stories of how the skinny kid they played minor hockey with years ago turned out to be an NHL star years later. They are very good and well worth your time to read.

I have no similar brush with greatness from my playing days.


One of the stories a Star reader tells is about a rather brusque encounter with the greatness that is Steve Shutt.

I found this quite illuminating personally, because 11 years ago Shutt was rude to me, rude to my kid -- Pad, who was only six years old at the time -- and conducted himself in a manner that I would be embarrassed about if I were him.

Fortunately, I'm not him.

For years I wondered if we just caught him on a bad day. It happens, right? Maybe he wasn't really a pretentious jerk, so full of himself that he couldn't deign to have a civilized conversation for 20 seconds with a hockey fan and his little boy -- because that's WHY he was there. He was sitting at a table, signing autographs, meeting fans. For the greatness that is Steve Shutt, it appeared to be a terrible burden to bear that day.

And now I know that I wasn't the only one Shutt couldn't bother to be civil to.

Steve Shutt may have been a great, great hockey player. But if my ears were on fire, I wouldn't bother asking him for a glass of water.

So, gentle reader, click this link and scroll down to the snipet that starts with, "I grew up in Etobicoke . . ." and read about this gentleman's encounter with the greatness that is Steve Shutt.

Now, I will reprint my posting from four years ago almost to the day -- January 24, 2007. Here is where I told the story of the meeting Pad and I had with the greatness that is Steve Shutt.

Happily for us, redemption was just a short walk away. The greatness that is Steve Shutt could have ruined that day for us. In the end, his behaviour just made someone else's grace shine even brighter.

Read on. From the archives:

Jan 24, 2007

NHL all star week is upon us, live from Dallas. Can you feel the excitement?

Actually, for whatever reason, Chris mostly, and Pad somewhat, were glued to the TV last night watching the young stars game -- which was low-intensity shinny among some very well paid 20 year olds -- and then the skills competition.

Back in 2000, when the game was in Toronto, I took Patrick out of school for an afternoon and we attended the fan exposition that they had at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

It was a lot of fun -- interactive displays, a roller hockey rink where Pad got to play hockey, and real NHL hall of famers to sign autographs.

When we lined up for autographs the two honored members signing were Leaf and Ranger legend Andy Bathgate and former Montreal great Steve Shutt.

Bathgate was thrilled to learn that my nephew back in the Maritimes once won an Andy Bathgate-signed hockey stick and it was displayed prominently in his room. He signed a special autograph for my nephew in addition to signing Pad's jersey.

When we got to meet Steve Shutt, I told him that as a youth I saw him play for the legendary Nova Scotia Voyageurs, an AHL team so stacked with talent it probably could have beaten many NHL teams of that era. Shutt looked at me as if I had just insulted his family. "I played six games in Halifax," he growled coldly. I said yes, and I saw one of them. I saw Larry Robinson and Mario Tremblay and Bunny Larocque too, among many others who went through Halifax.

Steve didn't want to talk about Halifax so there wasn't any small talk after that and he scrawled his name on Pad's jersey before I had the chance to ask him not to bother. Pad was only six and somewhat confused by it all. "Don't worry," I said. "Some people are just like that." Maybe Steve was having a bad day or not feeling well, but that's what happened.

Luckily, some people aren't like that at all and we were about to meet one.

Later that afternoon we were walking down a very long corridor in the convention centre. Walking towards us with a bounce in his step was a skinny guy with flowing, thinning red hair and a huge moustache. I couldn't help myself.

"LANNY!!!" I yelled, even though I had never met Lanny McDonald before in my life.

He smiled and yelled back "How ya doin?!!!" and stopped to talk. There was no one else in sight. Just the three of us.

I bored him with stories of my life-long devotion to the Leafs and that I remembered the OT goal vs the Islanders to move the Leafs to the semi finals vs Montreal and I was glad his name was on the cup from his days in Calgary. I remembered it all.

"Lanny," I said. "This is Patrick and he's a hockey player."

Lanny said he KNEW Patrick was a hockey player just by looking at him and he peppered Patrick with questions about his house league team in Oakville.

Finally, I asked Lanny if it would be OK if I took a picture of Patrick with him.

"OK?" he asked. "I insist you take a picture."

As they set themselves up to pose with Lanny down on one knee, the Leaf great then took off his Stanley Cup ring (Calgary Flames, 1988) and handed it to Patrick, who I don't think knew what it was until I told him. I was a very, very cool moment. Such an act of kindness came from a guy who did very well by the game of hockey and understood some of what hockey gave him can only be repaid by countless, spontaneous acts of kindness.

Toward kids, and their goofy parents.

Last night on TV from Dallas there were lots of little kids on the players' benches, smiling and high-fiving and having a ball.

I hope Lanny McDonald went to Dallas -- it takes a state the size of Texas to hold a smile that big.

I hope Steve Shutt stayed home.


Jan 24, 2011

In a weekend chock-full of hockey, the best was saved for last.

The tyke Blackhawks will be playing in tournaments the next two consecutive weekends, so we had to schedule extra ice to play the games that we’ll miss while we’re in Brantford and then Oshawa.

The second make-up game was played last night at Ice Sports vs the Hawks (yes, the Blackhawks vs the Hawks) and if there was a better hockey game played in Oakville on the weekend I defy you to point it out to me.

Our Blackhawks jumped to a 2-0 lead; the purple Hawks made it 3-1.

The other guys wouldn’t back off. 3-2. 3-3.

Then, mid-way through the third, the purple Hawks take a 4-3 lead. The fans went wild. Actually, almost over the top, but what are you going to do?

At this point I have to say that the goalies at both ends of the ice were unbelievable and our guy Noah turned back a number of point blank chances to keep us in the game.

With about 90 seconds left we pulled Noah for an extra attacked and with our keeper watching nervously from the bench, we tied the game at 4-4, with 1:14 left.

Our fans went wild. Actually, almost over the top, but what are you going to do?

If I had MY way, we would have stopped the game right there. No need for the next 74 seconds, thanks. This feels like the right result.

Unable to convince the refs of this, we played on. But my instincts were right and that’s how the game ended.

As we pulled the goalie I turned and looked up at the odd configuration of grandstands at Ice Sports. Both outside balconies were nearly full and the inside viewing are was solidly shoulder-to-shoulder, faces peering through the glass. The men in the adult league waiting to take the ice after us were watching intently, laughing and cheering on both teams who desperately tried to score that 5th goal. It was very loud for a tyke game, something not lost on our guys.

Man, it was fun.

Everyone likes to win but I’m glad this one was a tie. It just felt like both teams deserved something to take home. In tyke house league hockey, that’s a good feeling.

- - -

Pad’s squad split a pair of weekend games and he spent a good part of the weekend studying for exams and fighting off his version of The Plague, which still afflicts me and now challenges his considerable immune system.

At 4:30a this morning he came in to our room to tell us he had a desperate ear ache.

With an exam at 9:15a, his mother called an audible and took him to Emergency at O-T, followed by a trip to the drug store for antibiotics.

I’m told when he got up again at 7:45 or so he was feeling better, but tired.

No idea yet how the first exam went. Another one late this morning and he’s supposed to play hockey tonight.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, the phrase “I don’t like Mondays” is spinning through all of our heads.

- - -

Blogging is an odd business – sometimes you never know what is going to connect with folks.

Last week’s post on Gerry Rafferty, pardon the turn of phrase, hit a chord. It triggered a bunch of emails from people far and wide, every one attached to a specific memory of where they were and what they were doing when that song dominated the airwaves more than 30 years ago.

Some of the stories were touching, others funny.

But that is the power of music.

A piece of music can make you feel young again, if only for three minutes and 46 seconds.

Pretty cool, just the same.

- - -

So, still with the music thread . . .

one loyal reader sent me a note recommending that while I might not be a fan, I should watch and listen to Roxy Music’s live video performance of Tara on Youtube, which you can find here, because it has a kick-ass sax performance. And it does.

And that triggered a reply from me that said, actually, I really like Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry in particular, although there is no truth to the rumor that Slave For Love was written about me. I think Bryan Ferry was one of the most talented guys to come out of UK music in the 1970s and 80s. Avalon is a spectacular album,

Anyway . . .

Yesterday Chris and me were in the car listening to 102.1 The Edge and they were counting down the top 20 UK alt-rock bands of all time, and I was mumbling that “when I was a boy” Roxy Music was pretty alternative but there was no way they were cool enough to make the 102.1 list, right? Like, The Edge is going to play More Than This or Slave to Love, or Jealous Guy, or Avalon, or . . . .


So, seconds before they name their choice for the number one UK alt-rock band, ever, I start yelling at the radio.

And do you think I was yelling Roxy Music!!! Roxy Music!!!???

That would make a great story, right, and it would be cooler still if the announcer then said: Roxy Music!!!

Right? Right?

But, as Laura will tell you any time, I have a bewildering amount of truly useless knowledge, so I actually started yelling RADIOHEAD!!! at the radio, because that’s who I figured would be the top UK alt-rock band.

And, much to Chris’s amusement, I was right. Yeh, yeh. Old. But not entireless useless. That’s me.

If that story doesn’t warm your heart on the coldest morning of the year, well, I don’t know what to say.

So, click below to listen to Radiohead sing Creep. Infectious melody. Feel free to sing along! (“I’m a creep. I’m a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here . . .”)

Awesome song. Awesome band.

100 per cent, sax-free.

Happy Monday!


Jan 21, 2011

This weekend is being billed as the coldest of the winter thus far, and it may well be the coldest 72 hours we endure in southern Ontario this season.

So, what better time to get your head around lacrosse – sitting in sweltering arenas in May and June, listening to hail stones bounce off the roof and feeling the rumble of passing thunder storms as the kids play in the sauna below?

OK – it rarely gets that hot inside, but right now it feels like a good deal.

The hook here is that Oakville Minor Lacrosse registration kicks off this weekend at Town Hall on Trafalgar Road.

We made so many friends through lacrosse I can’t even begin to start talking about it.

When Pad “retired” from rep lacrosse before last season, I went into a season-long funk. Field lacrosse was always the signal the winter was really over and the world was renewing around us – even if that meant getting drenching in a cold soaking April rain watching games in Welland or Guelph or wherever.

Pad and I shared so many great lacrosse road trips – early morning drives to every corner of southwestern Ontario – that I still have trouble resigning myself to that chapter being closed.

But on the other hand, Chris is a career house leaguer and I love watching his box games just as much. I often show up two games early for one of Chris’s matches simply because on a spring Saturday afternoon, I love seeing all the familiar faces – some from hockey, some not – again without layers of wool and parka-like garb.

To the general annoyance of our friends who play baseball, we like to say in our house that the boys of summer play baseball, the men of summer play lacrosse.

It’s a great sport. Field lacrosse is, by a wide margin, my favourite spectator sport.

If you have a young person in your house interested in lacrosse – and yes, the ladies are welcome too – then visit the association web site here.

You can read the Oakville Beaver story here (and if you want to imagine Laura reading it aloud to you, go ahead, because she wrote it.)

Just FYI, the registration dates for lacrosse – all registration is at town hall on Trafalgar Road – are as follows:

Saturday, Jan. 22, 12:30-5:30 p.m. (Oakville and Trafalgar rooms)

Thursday, Jan. 27, 5:30-10 p.m. (Oakville and Trafalgar rooms)

Thursday, Feb. 10, 5:30 – 10 p.m. (Trafalgar room)

Saturday, Feb. 19, noon – 6 p.m. (Oakville and Trafalgar rooms)

- - -

The Leafs, humiliated in New York on Wednesday night, bounced back last night at home and beat Anaheim.

More importantly: does anyone still care?

- - -

A couple of musical items from recent weeks that The Plague prevented me from getting to in timely manner.

First – the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council bans the 25-year-old Dire Straits song, Money for Nothin’, because it contains an objectionable word.

Never mind that the song was a hit when Ronald Reagan was president, or that the word in question was used in irony, not as a hurtful weapon.

More significantly, many radio stations are happily ignoring the ban and playing the song more often than they would have otherwise.

And the standards council says it won’t bother doing anything about it.

It’s a great country.

- - -

Musical item 2:  Gerry Rafferty, a Scottish musician best known for the 1979 song Baker’s Street, died recently after years of alcohol and drug abuse.  Baker’s Street is a wonderful, soulful ballad that recounts Rafferty’s days waiting for litigation to get settled from his days with the band Stealers Wheel so that he could resume recording.

The song is commendable for two things, IMHO. First, Rafferty’s vocal performance and interpretation of the lyrics, and secondly (and more significantly) for the astounding eight-bar alto saxophone riff performed by Raphael Ravenscroft. It is (again, my opinion only) the single most memorable sax performance in pop rock history. (Apologies to Clarence Clemons, who had many virtuoso performances with the E Street Band, but none of his work won the global radio play of Baker’s Street.

The song dominated the air waves in Halifax the month that I moved out into my first apartment. I have very fond memories of the entire City to City album, and Gerry Rafferty.

If the sax riff kicking in at 25 seconds into the video below doesn’t make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, turn up the volume and try again. I wonder what it feels like to be so talented that you can first of all, write a piece of music like that, and second of all, pick up a sax make it become almost three dimensional. It must really be other-worldly to be able to do something like that.

(Incidentally, the sax solo was added because Rafferty didn't think he could do the music justice as a guitar solo. If you listen to the entire song, his guitar solo starting at 3:23 proves his worry on this point groundless. It's pretty powerful. But adding the sax was genius, and ending with back-to-back guitar solo followed by the sax solo again was a stroke of brilliance in arrangement and production. It's worth mentioning here, again, that my wife says I lead the world in unmonetizable, useless knowledge. I call it A Gift.)

In a world where everything is called a classic, this one actually is.


- - -


Other songs with memorable pop rock sax performances, off the top of my head:

Mercy Mercy Me (Marvin Gaye)

Deacon Blues (Steely Dan)

Money (Pink Floyd)

Waiting on a Friend (Rolling Stones)

Born to Run (Clarence Clemons*)

*-- best listened to in a stadium with 55,000 other people,

with all the lights on, as the final encore,

after a three and half hour show.

- - -



Plague or no plague, it’s back into the rinks this weekend. Chris and Pad both play tonight, sadly not in the same building as we enjoyed a couple weeks ago.

Chris and the Jets are at Sixteen Mile at 7:30p, and Pad (and me) will be in Milton, also for a 7:30p start, to be followed by a road game in Georgetown on Saturday night.

The tyke Blackhawks play tomorrow – a match preceded by PICTURE DAY.

Picture day can be fun, stressful, disastrous, successful, smooth-as-silk, or resignation inducing.

It all depends on a bunch of factors, none of which the coaches control.

My advice to the kids: Brylcreem, and lots of it. Don’t trust the ads. You need more than a little dab. Get a whole tube and grease up.

It’s PHOTO DAY. Hair sculpting is encouraged.  

Yes, it’s true. I don’t have a kid on this team, so it’s easy for me to be a little more laid back about hair styles, hair colour, tattoos, piercings, and the like.

The tyke parents can thank me later.

Wherever you’re off to this weekend, drive carefully. Snow, cold and winter is in the forecast. Leave early, drive slower, arrive on time. It’s a magical formula for safety and promptness!

Hug the kids.

Go Hawks!


Jan 19, 2011

I continue to gamely fight the Plague. Sadly, the Plague seems to be winning. As a result, time and inclination to do much here is lacking.

- - -

Having said that however, here’s a couple bits and pieces to catch up on.

The MOHA minor peewee red Snipers were in tournament action last weekend at the Don Montgomery Memorial Select Tournament in Scarborough.

Our heroes made their way to the final after playing against a broad range of teams from Ottawa, Toronto and the host.

In the final against Forest Hill (hmmm. Oakville vs. Forest Hill. The jokes almost write themselves here . . . Did the rink have valet parking??) Oakville cruised to a decisive 7-1 win.

My scouts tell me every player on the team stepped up their game to bring this one home.

Congratulations, guys.

Big win in the deep end of the pool with Select teams.

The Snipers players are Adam Perruzza (A), Sheldon Nunes (A) Jacob Ristivojevic (C), Mark Romano, Taylor Marcos, Garret Broad, Ryan Moore, Jack Turchet, Thomas Newman, Kyle Krebs, Nathan Dushinsky, Chris Ivankovic, Matt DiGiantommaso, Vasily Fedotov, Matthew Neilson, Liam Robertson (G)

- - -

An Oakville IP team played their first tournament – ever – after Christmas in beautiful Cobourg.

As an aside, I’ll say there’s keen, there’s really keen, and then there’s these guys making the hike with six year olds to Cobourg after Christmas. I’m not sure whether the Order of Canada or white jackets with really long sleeves is in order, but good on the coaches for finding something fun for the kids.

Anyway, as often happens at these things, they went all the way to Cobourg to find --- another Oakville team of IP players in the same tournament.

If you’re guessing the two squads met in the final, then you guessed right.

Playing on full ice with referees etc is a new experience for all the Oakville kids (who play at River Oaks on a third of the big rink every Sunday.)

In the finals, the Oakville Wolves prevailed over the Oakville Golden Eagles 9-3.

I’m told that every player got to participate in the play – getting lots of touches on the puck, etc etc.

The members of the winning Wolves are shown below, and they are: Josua Beaupre, Kael Carey, Jace Dockx, Troy Elson, Alexander Matheson, Cameron Mckay, Andrew Palucci, Alexander Pederson, Mathew Smith, Jack Toffey, Jax Wilden
The team is coached by
Allen Elson, Pat Carey and Stu Mckay.

I don’t have a roster or picture of the other Oakville squad or I’d give them equal billing. (I do know their coach, Terry Dennis, makes a great range of healthy snacks at the Old Oakville Snack Company. Whether that helps fuel his IP squad, I'm not sure!)



- - -

The two items above share a common hockey hockey heritage -- and that is, getting an early start on having tournament organizers from southern Ontario learn to dislike you at an early age.

Oakville house league system is notoriously strong. Red-level house league here is akin to select, and in some cases single-A, in some centres.

So teams often enter select tournaments -- and as the Snipers proved -- they often win, too. (As Pad's minor peewee red team, the Wolfpack did in the 2005 George "No, not the former Blue Jay" Bell Tournament in Toronto.

Keep having fun guys.

- - -

There's a funky program on the web that will create a "word cloud" from a batch of text -- like a blog, emphasizing the words that appear most often and, presumably giving you a synopsis of that blog or feature.

You can do the same thing here.

Here's what the program spit out of the latest blog postings over the last month. I don't think the word "boring" is there.

But I didn't look really hard.




 And yet more pictures.

A long-time friend, co-coach, hockey dad, and pilot -- Pilot Rick, we call him -- was recently in Israel as part of his onerous flying duties that sometime require him to work several days a month.

While walking around in the Holy City in Jerusalem when he came across the t-shirt kiosk below and yes, it would seem that hockey is becoming an international sport.

Two questions from the expert panel here at Teamoakville:

First, where is the Leaf t-shirt? (Upon reflection, I've known for some time that The Big Referee isn't a Leaf fan.)

Second, I wonder what the Hebrew script on the shirt says? It might say, Montreal Canadiens. But the mind boggles at the possibilities, and I'll go with "Leafs suck."

- - -

Having fulfilled my implied contractual obligations to occasionally spew words here (OK, poor choice of words for flu season) I will now return to being miserable.

And for the sign off, I will return to a YouTube visual I used a few years ago -- The Man Cold.

It's not just a cold, dammit! It's a MAN cold. (Note the name of the man's wife -- Laura. Also, note that in Britain dialling 9-9-9 is like dialling 9-1-1 here.

I present, the Man Cold:




Jan 13, 2011

I seem to have come down with a touch of the plague, so blogging and other pursuits may shortly grind to a halt while I suffer through this with quiet dignity.

And whining.

- - -

Misery loves company.

Hence, I (being a Leaf fan) thoroughly enjoy it when the Ottawa Senators endure a rough patch.

Make no mistake – things are grim in Ottawa.

They go thrashed 6-0 by Boston this week, have won only twice in their last 10 games, are tied with the Leafs near the bottom of the standings (but at least the Leafs have won four in a row.)

The pain in Ottawa, however, is exacerbated by the reality that it was only in 2007 that this team (well, the franchise really because this team as little in common with the 2007 Eastern Conference champs) went to the Stanley Cup finals.

They lost, sure. But what would Leaf fans give for a run to the finals? A lot.

But today, Ottawa’s chance of returning to the playoffs, let alone the finals, is a remote dream – a wisp of smoke dissipating over the Ottawa River on a cold, unforgiving January morning.

Ever since the strategically disasterous decision to keep Wade Redden and let Zdeno Chara run off to free agency and the Boston Bruins, the Senators have been a toxic waste dump of NHL hopes and dreams.

The hangover of that decision of course is that Redden, too, is now long gone – out of the NHL altogether as the highest paid player in the history of the AHL, toiling for the Rangers’ farm team in Hartford while running out his six-year, $39 million contract.

Anyway, I suspect a big shakeup is coming for Ottawa. It has to be coming. And soon.

If you feel about the Sens the same way I do (and I’m not sure if I ever mentioned it, but I don’t really care for the Senators) then you might want to read this.

- - -

OK, we’re going to break some new ground here.

One of my long-time hockey friends has a problem: he works in a small but busy office downtown and is looking to hire someone to take responsibility for a number of different tasks: some legal stuff, some numbers stuff, and taking care of keeping the office running (etc). All of which is probably only a three-day-a-week job. One solution: hire one of the many highly qualified and talented stay-at-home moms or dads who want to work outside the home but need lots of flexibility on hours, school vacations and stuff. To quote him: “We don’t care how or when the work gets done, as long as it gets done.”

No doubt many of these people are out there. The problem is: how do you find them? Hence the request for me to mention this on the blog. A first for us here at Teamoakville: hockey, current events, journalism, and now employment agency.

If you are interested, send me an email here and I’ll reply quickly, telling you how to get in touch with these folks.


Jan 11, 2011

Hey! How about those Leafs? They won again last night – their third win in a row!

Can you feel the excitement?

Na, me either.

I hate to be the guy to rain on the parade but in what has become an annual ritual here at Teamoakville, I am today declaring that the Leafs cannot make the playoffs.

This is a painful ritual, but, it’s one I have to throw out there for you die-hards to digest now, so that when the first week of April comes you’re not shocked.

I know you’re kicking the empty beer cans out of the way and asking on what basis do I make this pronouncement.

Well, to that I say: it’s the Internet and I can say whatever I want. So can you. Get a blog.

But more rationally, consider these facts.

First, the Leafs, in spite of the recent wins, are still three games under .500 and 11 points out of a playoff spot.

Considering that they won the first four games of the season, and the last three in a row, that means over the 35 games in between they are 10 games under .500. That's probably a more relevant sample of their play.


Now . . . let’s compare that to the playoff threshold for the Eastern Conference.

Last season it only took 88 points to make the playoffs. That was an anomaly.

In the five seasons before that, it took 93, 94, 92, 92, and 91 points.

So, let’s say the Leafs need 91 (I think it will be a little higher, but I’m being nice.)

The Leafs therefore need 53 points in the second half of the season. Or, they need to play 12 games OVER .500 in that time.

Sorry. I’m giggling. Wait until I compose myself.

At that clip over an entire season, the Leafs would amass 106 points, a level they have never reached in franchise history.

Never. Not once.

So, what would make anyone think that this roster can suddenly – over 41 games – do what some pretty good teams in Leaf history never could?

Blind optimism maybe?

No, the reality is that the Leafs are playing to avoid giving Boston yet another top draft pick in June, and not much else.

There will be no spring hockey in the ACC – or Ottawa, for that matter.

They’re worse than the Leafs.

I guess the challenge resides with the Leafs to prove me wrong. It would be interesting if they did – because we’d all get to see some decent hockey in the process.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Watching the Leafs miss the playoffs is the passion that unites us all.


Jan 10, 2011

In case you missed it, while the OMHA publication Hometown Hockey is not the definitive word on all hockey things in Ontario, it’s a pretty good magazine that does a decent job of reporting on events in the association, and raising questions and issues in a way that is accessible to kids and adults alike.

I don’t spend a lot of time with it when it arrives at our house, but we all thumb through it.

The latest edition is chock full of Top 10 hockey lists.

The more aged readers here will recall a time – about 30 years ago – when books of lists were hotter than reality TV. It was a sort of pop-literary fad in the early 1980s that passed rather quickly (unlike reality TV).

The OMHA lists are fun, completely subjective (things like best hockey movies, best hockey songs, etc) and there are two significant nods to Oakville among them.

First and most importantly, the MOHA’s Richard Bell Memorial Tournament ranked 4th on the list of tournaments to go to, behind only the Little NHL Tournament, OMHA Maple Lodge Farms Hockey Festival (I wonder how that one made the list?) and the Quebec City peewee tournament.

Pretty good company to be in, I’d say.

The other list that Oakville cracked was “Top 10 Minor Hocky Arenas in the OMHA.”

Kinoak came in at number 2.

HA! Kidding.

No, actually the new 16 Mile Sports Complex rang in at number 3, just behind Dan Snyder Arena in Woolwich and the Canada Summit Arena in Huntsville.


You can click here to view an e-version of the magazine. It’s the one with the cover that says “Top Ten”

PS – there is a list of Top 10 coldest arenas on the OMHA, and neither Maplegrove nor Kinoak (“The Coldest Place on Earth ™) made the list. I know for a fact that someone from the OMHA freezes his logos off at Kinoak every Saturday morning for tyke hockey, so I may ask for an official review.

PPS – there was no list for top blogs!

- - -

Not the most fruitful hockey weekend for us.

Chris lost a squeaker Friday night and then Pad got smoked.

The tykes came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

Chris salvaged the weekend last night with a 6-3 exhibition win.

But all in all, sort of BLAH.

- - -

We were all a bit surprised to see the snow on Saturday morning. Apparently so was the town, which was rather slow to bother with things like plows and salt.

I did notice, however, that the town’s Lawn-Destruction Unit sidewalk plows were out in force almost immediately, ripping up sod and driveway sidings cheerfully removing snow.

Thanks for that.

- - -

Speaking of reality TV, My boys are absolutely enthralled with the HBO series 24-7, the latest instalment being a four-part documentary chronicling the run-up to the 2011 winter classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals.

If you love hockey, then you have to take the time to watch this one.

It is the NHL, including some of its warts and all. The language is salty. The cast – the players and coaches – are endearing, childish, insightful, dumb, goofy, thoughtful. You name it, it’s all there.

It’s educational – for example, you can learn all sorts of new ways to deploy the F-Bomb by listening to Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau try to cajole his squad into winning.

Some of it is laugh-out-loud funny. Some of it isn’t.

But it sure is compelling TV and it has been such an overwhelming hit with viewers that HBO is now looking at doing another 24-7 with the NHL for the playoffs.

You can read more on what might be next here.


Jan 7, 2011

Chris and I were watching the Leaf game last night, wherein the blue and white led comfortably 4-2 after two periods.

He looked at me and said, “well, they’re winning.”

I nodded.

And then he added (prophetically) “that’s what we said last night after the second period.”

Yes. Indeed we did.

The Leafs quickly turned a 5-2 third-period lead into an OT shootout, but unlike the juniors they managed to win.

Nothing is ever easy with these guys.

Read more here.

- - -

The hockey intelligentsia seems to be acknowledging today what I said yesterday – Canada lost a junior hockey tournament, we didn’t collectively decide to do away with national medicare.

One of my favourite writers reviews the landscape and the implications if you click here.

And his conclusion is: breathe deep. It’s okay.

- - -

I don’t know whether it was because the juniors lost, or whether I just hadn’t bored my wife to tears with (yet another) hockey story from my youth in some time.

But the other night I got to recall to her my launch into minor hockey about a million years ago.

Back then – I think I was seven or eight years old that first year – it was called Squirt, and you played it until you became peewee age. Then you played two years of peewee, two years of bantam, two years of midget.

Our first team was bad. I mean, epically bad. I’m pretty sure local minstrels wrote folk songs about how bad we were so the story could be easily retold for generations – a sort of cautionary tale.

My foray into minor hockey was born of a local hockey war that divided our community and resulted in there being two minor hockey associations for a geographic area that was so small it had a total population of fewer than 1,000 souls and boasted two gas stations in the area. How the area supported two associations is beyond me.

I won’t go into the details – frankly I don’t remember them all, I don’t really care now, and I’d screw it up in the retelling. Suffice to say that the association I played in (Tri-Village) regarded the other association (Riverlake) in much the same way Canada regarded the Soviet hockey team in those days.

Anyway, that first squirt team routinely lost by double-digit scores. 13-0. 16-0. 12-0.

If we scored a goal it was considered a triumph worthy of movie-of-the-week consideration.

We played against other rural Nova Scotia community teams north of Halifax and south of Truro. Enfield, Milford, Elmsdale, Lantz, Stewiacke, Dutch Settlement, and the entertaining squad from the Micmac reserve. They all looked forward to pounding the beejeezus out of Tri Village.

We won one (1) game that year. But by the end of the year, signs of life were showing.

The next year we were respectably middle of the pack.

And in our final season before peewee we had become a team to be reckoned with.

I think we won the league championship both years in peewee and the first year of bantam before losing in the final in the second year in bantam.

Considering from where we came, it was pretty good run. We didn’t play in tournaments – there were none, or very few. We didn’t do lunches at Boston Pizza – we lived in really rural country. It was purely about the hockey.

That experience in house league hockey never left me and had a big influence over shaping my enthusiasm for house league hockey to this day.

In those days – because of the nature of the league – we were allowed to play rep and house league at the same time. In some communities if the guys who played rep couldn’t play house league, then some communities would not have been able to ice a house league team each week. So, the rep guys played both.

And through that I got to make friends with kids from Enfield, Milford, Elmsdale, Lantz, Stewiacke, Dutch Settlement etc – some of which have endured well into adulthood.

I never played a game of midget hockey. I went from bantam to the local junior loop and got knocked around a lot (I think I was 6-3 and 169 pounds or something) before my wonky knees had enough.

At this point in the story Laura finds a reason to leave the room, or make a call.

I don’t have a single bad memory of any of it. Recalling driving to a decrepit old barn of a rink in sometimes blizzard conditions to get pasted still makes me smile.

I hope the tykes and bantams and others I get to hang around with these days remember this time of their hockey lives half as fondly.

It sure goes by fast.

- - -

The other recent tale of yore inflicted on Laura over the holidays came during the Winter Classic – the annual outdoor NHL game at some venue or another – Pittsburgh this year.

It’s always – always – preceded with some soft-focus clap-trap about outdoor hockey being the essence of Canada and hockey and blah blah blah.

It’s a nice theory. But.

I saw a feature on TSN I think where they asked some of the participants if they ever played a game outside as a kid. Only one had.

Most NHLers were high-end players from the get go. They played on rep teams and played and practiced inside. Maybe their dad made a backyard rink, but very, very few ever shovelled off a spot on a lake or pond to play after school.

(Here it comes.)

Like I did.

There was no rink in our community. So if we wanted to play (and we did) more often than what was on the schedule, then we hit the pond across the tracks from my house every chance we could.

Lakes and ponds froze before Christmas in those days and stayed frozen until spring.

And everyone played in those days. Every kid had skates and a stick and age was not relevant. There was no goalie gear. The youngest kids typically got stuck in goal and typically got hit in the face with pucks. It was a rite of passage.

I would come home from school, grab my skates and head to the pond every day I could and we’d play until after dark.

When my dad came home from work he would eventually go out on the front veranda and blow a whistle, signalling to me to come home and eat.

Whereupon arriving home, I would find shake-and-bake pork chops reheating in the oven, well past their dinnertime perfection and having adopted the texture of a baseball glove.

None of which mattered to me in the least.

Sometimes we’d hack a hole in the ice and manually flood the playing area. Or we’d move to a new part of the pond when the one we were using got too chewed up.

But it didn’t matter. We were having fun.

In those days, in that community, it was 100 per cent normal that 10 year old boys would do that. The older kids sort of watched out for the younger guys and helped tie skates and apply snow packs to bloody noses. The mothers would periodically call one another to see if anyone had gone home, so they could figure out which kids were still on the ice.

Today, I can’t imagine a parent allowing their 10 year old to go to a frozen lake, without adult supervision, while crossing railroad tracks en route.

And I don’t say that because I’m suggesting parents today are more conscientious than parents then. Far from it.

The reality is that this is the post-Paul Bernardo/Tori Stafford world we live in. And up to a certain age we don’t let them out of our sight, and for good reason.

That pond is now almost completely ingrown with weeds now. It’s more of a wetland than a pond. The lake is still a lake, but I don’t think it sees a lot of shinny when it eventually freezes well into January or February, and then only briefly.

But whenever they talk about the winter classic on TV, that’s what I recall.

I played in 500 winter classics and I won every one of them.

I can’t imagine a better moment from when I was a kid then the anticipation of pulling on my skates at the side of pond, sitting on a rock trying to be the first guy out on new patch of fresh, glassy ice.

Unless maybe it was the sound of dad’s whistle, telling me what I already knew – that I was exhausted and hungry and needed to go home.

I’d pull my skates off with numb fingers, the only sounds being the cut of my friends’ skates on the ice, the wind in the fir trees, the pounding of my own heart, and probably a train passing by.

Winter classic?

Man, I could tell you some stories.

- - -

It’s Hockey Night In Oakville – well, at least in my house.

Chris and the bantam Jets face off at 6:30p at Sixteen Mile Creek, and then I get to walk down the long corridor, pay my $12 and watch Pad and his team play the Blades at 7:30p on the big ice.

Two sons. Two games. Same building. Consecutive ice times.

This never happens and I can’t wait.

I hope something similar is in store for your weekend.

Whatever is on tap for you, drive safely and have fun.

Hug the kids.


Jan 6, 2011

Oh, for goodness sake. Pull it together, people.

Yeah, I would have preferred if Canada had won last night over Russia but frankly, it doesn’t gnaw at me that it did not. From listening to the radio on the way into the city this morning you’d think that we just found out Sidney Crosby was born in Russia.

I would not trade 10 World Junior gold medals for the Olympic gold we won in Vancouver.

And as much as we care about this tournament, the reality is no one else does.

Outside of Canada – and border hosts like Buffalo – the world junior tournament could be held at Maplegrove Arena and there would hardly ever be a lineup for coffee at the canteen.

Canada played one really, awful, smelly, disinterested period of hockey and they paid dearly for it.

But full credit to the Russians. Scoring five goals in the third period of the championship game against the acknowledged global hockey superpower?

Maybe, just maybe, Canada didn’t so much lose the game as the Russians came out and won it.

Sometimes we can get a little too smug and a little too close to the Kool-Aid from the TSN hockey panel and lose sight of just exactly how good many other countries are at hockey. And that means they are capable of playing a great 20 minutes, or 40, or 60 and taking down us, or the USA or anyone else on any given night.

We lost. I slept just fine.

There are no excuses and no places to hide. And at the next winter Olympics Canada will still be the favourites to win.


Because we have enough good hockey players to build three junior teams almost as good as the one that lost last night.

Losing one game is not a condemnation of our system or athletes. It’s one game.

Having said that, my guess is that we should get used to losing because fewer kids are enrolling in minor hockey here (probably because of cost) and other countries – notably the USA – are churning out high-end prospects like the Leafs churn out losses.

A final note – my mother pretty much called this one last night.

I spoke to her at the end of the second period back in NS and she was already ragging on Canada’s play in the last part of the 2nd period, and was concerned that Canada wasn’t playing like it was trying to close the deal.

And when my mother is right, she is really, really right.

But, no hand-wringing here. We lost, they won. They deserved it.

- - -

I know it’s a short week for many of us who had Monday off. But man, I’m on the verge of exhaustion. Sleeping in and avoiding rinks for the best part of two weeks is a hard habit to break.

In addition to work, Laura and I have been dealing with the return of the hockey routine (Monday – practice, Tuesday – practice, Wednesday – practice, Friday – game, then another game, etc. etc.)

Plus Chris’s netbook became infected with the most insidious malady I’ve had to confront as the household IT person. “System Tool” installs itself in various layers of your Windows operating system and acts like an anti-virus program. It tells you your computer is infected with dozens of viruses and worms when in reality it is infected with only System Tool. It then asks you for a credit card number so you can download a tool to make it stop.

Yeah right. There’s a good idea.

Problem is that his AVG software didn’t stop it, couldn’t remove it, and the virus blocked him from using the internet.

Anyway, I won’t bore you with the cure, but I finally managed to get the thing removed (without paying money!)

Let’s just say as the household IT guy, I had a better night than Team Canada and the netbook is back in business for now.

Another example of why the world should be on Mac!


Jan 4, 2011

Happy New Year. We’re back.

- - -

The easiest way to know that the holiday season is well and truly over around our house is that there’s a lot less food in the house to eat.

We had a fair amount of eats laid in this year – the most damaging stuff being the baking that Laura did herself.

And now that it’s all gone, I’m sort of going through some kind of a chocolate-caramel-chocolate (etc) withdrawal thingy.

I expect to be a little shaky for a few days. Or weeks.

It was fun while it lasted.

- - -

I actually didn’t return to work on Monday – I’m not sure a majority of people did.

But the kids had to go back to school, which seemed quite odd to me. In the olden days, if there was a stat holiday on a weekend, then the following Monday was always a holiday.

School kids in Nova Scotia didn’t go back to school until Tuesday, for example.

But, not so here.

So what could or should have been a final day of the holiday break spent sleeping in was actually a day of getting up early and then not really going anywhere.

For what it’s worth, Chris said that even though he had to go to school he wasn’t planning on learning anything that day.

That’s my boy.

- - -

I spent a healthy portion of my day in the garage. No, it wasn’t because Laura banished me there (good guess, though. It happens.)

No, I was dealing with the post-Xmas recycling and garbage.

Not only did we take down all the Christmas decorations on Sunday, we also started cleaning up the basement.

And to that end, we’re starting to offload things.

I have two older-style TVs I’m going to get rid of – one is 24 inch, the old is 12 inch. Both work fine. $20 for the little one, $50 for the big one (an RCA). Email me here if you want one or either.

We have two computer monitors – a smaller, flat-screen model (I’m gonna guess it’s 14 inch, maybe 15 or 16) that is well used, but works fine. $25.

There’s also a large, older CRT style (as in, not flat screen) that we’re getting rid of. Works fine. $25. Email me here if you’re interested.

First come, first served!

- - -

The rest of you rushed home from work (if you worked) or moved one last time from the dinner table to the TV to watch Canada paste the US last night in the World Junior tournament.

I got to drive to very cold rink where older son had a practice at 8p, a convenient time that ensured I missed the start, the conclusion, and the parts in between.

No matter. The good guys won in front a boisterous crowd in Buffalo, ON.

Bring on the Russians.

Read more here.

- - -

The best part of yesterday’s games wasn’t that Canada beat the USA, although that was nice.

No, the best part was Sweden losing in overtime to Russia.

After all, Sweden coach Roger Ronnberg told the media after his squad edged Canada in a shootout Friday that Canada wasn’t as tough as the Czech, or (cough, cough) the Russians.

OK. Fair enough.

And hey. Maybe he was right.

Because his team lost to Russia.

Have a good time in the bronze medal game. And have a safe flight home!

- - -

I arrived at the GO station this morning to discover that neither of the Presto card readers (that many commuters like me use to pay our fares) was working. So being the honest guy that I am, I walked from the north entrance of the west end to the south entrance, and the machines weren’t working there either.

GO Transit lost a lot of money this morning, because my devotion to honesty expires at that point and I can tell you no one else seemed to care.

I did email customer service to tell them that the machines weren’t working – not because I’m a great, helpful guy, but because I wanted to be able to show it to the fare enforcement people in case I got caught in a spot check for my fare.

But no one checked.

Maybe they are still on holiday.

- - -

We’re back at the rink tonight – Chris has a 9pm practice at Kinoak, aka “The Coldest Place on Earth ™”

The holidays are over. Now begins the long march to, well, March.