Teamoakville.comComments?Blog archive

 

 

Nov 29, 2011

OK. Let's try some free-association/six-degrees-of-separation (or something) style blogging today. Back in the Maritimes when I was a kid there was a high-school game show called Reach For The Top. Did they have it here? Doesn't matter. The show always ended with a series of questions it called "Short Snappers." In that spirit, here is today's offering.

Strap yourself in . . .

  • We were at Joshua Creek last night where's Chris and the novice Black Knights broke open a tight game and won 6-3. John Whaley, a former rep goalie and a local baseball star, scored five (5) goals for the winners in a Darrell Sittler-like evening. I guess he's the captain for a reason, but I've been on the bench with the guy and he's a good kid, too. I was very happy for him -- and his parents. That hockey is not John's first sport is not unusual in this town. Lots of top-end Oakville kids excel at other sports, like . . .

  • Tyler Albrecht, who was teammates with Pad on a number of Oakville Hawks rep lacrosse teams and has since made an even bigger mark at prep school and has committed to Cornell University for next fall. He has been named to the Team Canada U19 field lacrosse team. Congrats to Tyler and his very proud parents. He too, is a great kid, and as a matter of fact, he is a very good friend of . . .

  • Ben Fanelli, local hockey star now recovered from a horrible head injury and playing again for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. Ben missed a lot of hockey, including all of last season, but returned this year and recently scored his first OHL goal, an event that had to thrill his family and many friends. Here's wishing him great success ahead. Head injuries take a terrible toll in sports so it's nice to see him get back to the game at such a high level. It's not always the case, as has happened with  . . .

  • Another local hockey talent, Braeden Corbeth of the Bellville Bulls of the OHL. If you go way back to Pad's first season of MOHA hockey (1998-99) -- paperweight they called it then -- my guy was a teammate of Braeden's, even though Corbeth is a year older. A speedy forward, he recently announced his retirement from hockey after suffering a 5th concussion. As a parent your heart aches for the kid and his family because anyone with a competitive athlete -- an elite athlete -- in their life knows how much of their heart and soul goes into the chasing of the dream. You can't put a price on your health, so here's hoping he enjoys lots of success in schooling and whatever else he decides to pursue. But like I said, not everyone we know is a hockey player . . .

  • Another of Pad's friends (and another former teammate) Cole Munden was recently named one of the Golden Horseshoe Top 100 Football Players. Cole is a beast -- and also a great student and a friend who is endlessly supportive of Pad and lots of other kids. This is a big honour for him. Watch for him ripping up a collegiate field sometime very soon. Cole is famous not just for football. He has tattoos . . . speaking of which . . .

  • A woman in England is suing her ex-boyfriend who tattooed a giant, um, turd on her back while she thought she was getting something more artsy. Turns out he found out that she had been playing games with his best buddy and after a bottle of wine, he took some artistic licence. You can read about it and see the art here.

  • All of which might make a person slow down and consider what one is doing with their life. Further down the road you may want to pause and look back with a little bit of reflection. A columnist at the New York Times did that recently, asking readers to submit essays on their lives. I found the work to be quite moving and honest, and I think you will too. It is well worth your time to read The Life Reports.

 

Nov 28, 2011

Did politics spawn minor hockey, or did minor hockey create politics so that adults could have a forum for their own inanity? You better get a cup of coffee. A large one. Iíll wait.

- - -

As noted in last weekís final scribble, the bench staff of Canadaís teamô, the Oakville novice Leafs, sat in the stands and watched our troops do battle on Saturday morning. We were suspended for one game for the sin of not printing our names on a game sheet we had signed.

OK, fine. My/our bad.

VP Louis and Trainer Charles (who was on many a Ranger bench over the years with my boy Pad) helped staff the bench with coach Dan, the only regular to survive the suspension axe.

For old guys, they did well. The game was a 2-2 draw, thanks to great goaltending and The Replacements, no doubt. We gave them three cheers after the game. Actually, we are sincerely glad they came so the kids could play. Thanks, and no joking about that.

So, that was all good. Parents eventually came around to it (there was a lot of grumbling) but we shrugged and moved forward. It is never about the coaches, it is always about the kids and the kids got to play.

Everyone was smiling.

- - -

I would be thrilled to report that this was the end of it. But it is not. There are other game-sheet related things bouncing around novice hockey Ė and perhaps other divisions, I donít know.

Iím not going to go through it all chapter and verse. It would bore you and annoy me. (And no, I havenít been suspended again, although I fully expect that it will happen again.)

But I am left asking myself, how did we get into this swamp? Why, for the sake of house league hockey played by seven year olds, are we suspending volunteers for not printing their names on game sheets, or ordering games replayed because MOHA itself failed to do something that is part of its responsibilities?

I asked these questions and more to Louis Ouellette, MOHAís VP House League. He was helpful and patient and Iím sure a little wary that my objective in all of this is to pinpoint a villain. I hope I can offer honest comfort in saying that is not what Iím up to here.

Anyway, Louis points out (correctly) that game sheet rules have not changed and rules are rules. I would respectfully point out that until the move to designate all Oakville red-level house league teams ďminor developmentĒ (sort of like Select level) that no one cared whether game sheets had a coachís name printed on them as long as they were signed  (and I could provide a drawer full of them from 13 years on a MOHA bench as Exhibit A.)

Game sheets are important as a game record if things get ugly. And they are an administrative record to make sure the officials get paid. But for house league, for my 13 years, no one cared if Joeís dad was seconded to swing a gate because one of the bench staff was out of town on business or sick. Until now.

- - -

Some background:

MOHA used to have house league ďredĒ Ė the highest house league division, and one that permitted body checking for minor peewees and older.

Last spring, the OMHA Ė our governing body Ė adopted a policy to ban body checking from all levels and age groups of house league.

To get around this rule, MOHA changed all the house league ďredĒ divisions to ďminor developmentĒ which is sort of like Select, but not quite. But itís not house league either, and under it, the older divisions Ė minor peewee and up Ė get to retain body checking.

The new rule was applied in an omnibus fashion Ė meaning even age groups where kids are not allowed to hit Ė like, um, novice Ė were rolled into the MD juggernaut.

With MD comes a whole set of rules and regulations that are, to me, actually anti-house league.

Examples?

Rosters had to be set and locked down before any games were played. So, no rebalancing of teams. If a team is weak, it stays that way. Ditto for the super powers. Minor hockey drafts are imperfect and balancing allowed a chance to correct problems. That it canít be done is 100 per cent contrary to the philosophy of house league hockey.

Second, MD comes with a level of administrative rigour that conveners and referees were not prepared for. For example, a lot of refs doing novice are 15 and 16 years old. They are not doing pre-game gamesheet reviews the way a veteran ref handling a rep game would. But the OMHA expectation is that they should be. (And I wonder if the kids working MD games are being paid rep-level game fees.)

Third, the whole ďhittingĒ issue. Even if our novice team was AAA, there would be no bodychecking. So why do kids in novice, minor atom, atom, etc, need to be MD? Whatís the upside?

Fourth, there is not a single family on our team that thinks they signed their kid up for anything other than house league hockey Ė with balancing, fair play, etc etc. No one signed up for Select or MD. They never heard of it.

- - -

So, I asked Louis, why do we have MD at all? And why at novice where they canít hit anyway?

He was patient enough to answer. His reply:

ďThe MD or rather Select League designation for Novice through Midget was to match what some of our fellow associations (i.e. Brampton) were traditionally designating their top level of House League as. These centers are our own traditional competition in exhibition games and tournaments.
ďThe designation reflects the fact that we are a strong center competitively and are able to field a multi-tiered House League due to fabulous registration numbers. We are in fact the largest single association within the OMHA. Our teams, Rep down through Blue compete well in, and more often than most, win many tournaments. We are a strong Center.Ē

Heís right. MOHA is really strong.

But as a volunteer and parent, I donít see why what Brampton or anyone else does matters to the house league structure in Oakville. Iíve coached with lots of MOHA house league red teams in Select tournaments over the years. Louis is right -- that for our top old house league, now MD teams, to play in Select tournaments, they have to be able to hit. Hence, the move to Minor Development.

But Iím still left not understanding why our novice kids need MD. They canít hit at any level. Nor can minor atom. Or atom. . . .

- - -

Your correspondent is fully aware that I sound like a broken record. That doesnít mean Iím wrong and it also doesnít mean MOHA is being run by evil people. Adults can have honest disagreements.

And there are a lot of good things about house league hockey in MOHA. I go to lots of rinks, not just when my kids play. I watch and I ask questions. People are generally happy.

Some good things?

The initiative on concussion baseline testing is forward-looking, kids-first policy that showered MOHA in positive press, for good reason.

The elimination of the cartoon logos on jerseys is excellent Ė and in fact this yearís versions of the house league uniforms are the best ever. Better than Ranger garb, in my opinion. Clean, crisp lines, snappy colours Ė a great job.

The ice time allocations may not be perfect, but they are very good and show a lot of care and thought went into scheduling.

The house league drafts (I was involved in two) were among the best I have seen Ė no deal making allowed among power-hungry dads, but reasonable accommodation where it was obviously appropriate. This sounds really easy Ė trust me, it is perhaps the hardest thing to get right in minor hockey.

And a good job is being done to recruit new blood Ė lots of familiar faces remain around the rinks, but there are also lots of new faces among conveners.

- - -

So, you may reasonably ask, OK smarty pants, now what?

If the OMHA ruling had to be subverted (and as a parent and MOHA member I am unconvinced on that score), a smarter approach would have been to make all the red divisions that already had bodychecking MD and let them keep it until they finish hockey Ė grandfathering, as it were.

As subsequent cohorts of younger kids hit minor peewee, you could eliminate MD for each division Ė peewee, minor bantam, bantam, etc.) as they grew older. These kids never had body checking in the first place, so youíre not taking anything away. Within a few years, there would be no bodychecking at all in house league, and no one would have had anything taken away from them.

And yes I know Ė as with building a winning hockey team in Toronto or winning a land war in Asia, itís a lot harder than it sounds.

- - -

So, Iíll leave it all there for now.

Earnest people with good intentions put more hours into MOHA than me and still have the patience to tolerate me muttering from the stands. I appreciate that.

If I were asked my advice (and I was not) I would quite humbly suggest that a simple filter of questions be applied to everything in minor hockey. Everything. I'm sure these questions are often front of mind, but to state them out loud:

Is this in the best interests of the kids? Does this make the house league experience more fair and equitable and fun? Does it make the game safer? Does it encourage volunteers to participate? Does it encourage promotion and development of our best players? Does it protect the best interests and development opportunities of our weakest players?

The answer always needs to be yes.

 

Nov 25, 2011

Iíve been on a bench in minor hockey every season since 1997-98. Thatís a pretty long time and regular readers will know that I have more than a few stories to tell, and more than a couple of scars.

Every now and then things happen in minor hockey that make you go ďhmmmm.Ē

And one of those has happened to me and two of the three guys on our bench with the novice Leafs (have I mentioned weíre in first place?)

Because we didnít print our names out on a game sheet, weíve been suspended by the Ontario Minor Hockey Association for a game. Iím told several other coaches, trainers, bloggers, equipment managers, canteen attendants, gas pump jockeys, Twitterers and ranking diplomats have also been suspended for the same reason.

MOHAís VP of house went to the wall for we, The Aggrieved, but to no avail. Convicted, sentenced, done.

The OMHAís department of paper pushers nudged their horned-rimmed glasses up the bridge of their nose, snorted that a rule is a rule, and we lost.

Now, you might think that I would be outraged or miffed. No, when I got the news I got thirsty and had a beer (luckily it was last night and not this morning, because as I recall from my undergrad days, beer and Cheerios is an acquired taste, and I never acquired it.)

The truth is, stuff like this happens all the time and if you ever heard the old saying you canít fight city hall, well, it applies to the OMHA by a factor of 10.

Depending what side of an issue youíre on, that can work for you or against you.

A few years ago, Pad was on a team that lost an OMHA playdown semi-final game but protested because the other guys put the name of an ineligible player on the game sheet (he had been suspended for two games but only served one. The coaches on the other team assumed it was a one-game suspension and didnít look it up. They were wrong.)

So, our side protested, which felt small and technical but hey, rules are rules and the matter never even got to a hearing. The OMHA looked at the game sheet and said the other guys forfeit and that was that. (They went on to beat us in OT in game six of a first-team-to-six-points series. I still get dry heaves recalling the OT. But Iím not bitter. Not at all. Karmaís a bitch.)

Anyway, I have several points here.

First, Karmaís a bitch.

Second, rules are rules.

Third, live by the sword, die by the sword.

Kids will be confused tomorrow when the regular coaching staff on our team and others is/are sitting in the stands. They will be confused because they think weekend hockey is about them having fun. While they should be right, because that is the message our bench staff hammers home relentlessly, they're wrong. They haven't met the paper pushers yet

But that's a rant for another day.

- - -

The Oakville Rangers minor bantam AE team has made a video to participate in a contest -- first prize is a trip for the team to the World Junior Hockey Championships in Alberta.

Yes, they fill out their game sheets properly, so you should support them.

You can watch the video and vote at http://www.timbrtube.ca/videos/oakville-rangers-minor-bantam-ae/

Or, you can text your vote: v84 to 33255 .

Take a minute and help the kids out.

- - -

A hockey-filled weekend beckons. Blades at home to Hamilton tonight, then a novice game that I'll watch from the stands tomorrow morning, followed by a parent-player shinny game with the novices. Will it create awkward moments if I put Pad and Chris on the ice?

Saturday night the Blades are in Orangeville and then Sunday afternoon the novices play again, followed by a run into Toronto to see a minor midget GTHL game.

Then it's back to Oakville and Chris and the Knights play their game at 930p.

So . . . no hanging around at home and watching TV.

In fact, we have something going on every night but one for the next 17 days. That's just stupid.

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Drive safely. Hug the kids.

 

 

Nov 23, 2011

I have to start making better notes to myself. About six times a day I encounter something that I think could be spun into a funny, little slice-of-life vignette that will amuse you for the low, low cost of . . . nothing.

And I used to do that. Iíd send little emails to myself with the subject line ďFodderĒ and then on days when I wasnít feeling like rhetorical liftoff was anywhere close, Iíd have a file of ideas.

But for whatever reason I fell out of that remarkably good habit and began relying on the less impressive old-school tactic of ďremembering.Ē

I donít remember so well anymore.

I have two email accounts, two online bank accounts, server passwords, security codes, Blackberry and Apple user IDs, and a JD Smuckerís Jam of the Month Club membership ID.

So the odds of me remembering the slabs of whimsy that get thrown at my feet in any given day are small to none.

Iím not trying to make excuses for not writing much.

Okay.

Iím making excuses.

And I say this because sometimes someone will stop me in a rink and ask where the ideas and organization come from and the answer is, apparently, thin air.

And increasingly, thin hair, too.

Your patience is appreciated.

- - -

I have to remember to start dressing down on Tuesdays. Because on Tuesdays, two things happen.

First, Chris always has a hockey game on Tuesday nights and second, I am increasingly pressed into service as trainer. And almost always I am going from the GO train to the rink, so me and my trainerís backpack are there, with me dressed in a suit. Very spiffy? Maybe. But totally uncomfortable and donít get me started on walking on the ice to tend to the injured wearing dress shoes.

Just FYI, being trainer on a house league minor midget team, where someone else fills the water bottles, is entirely different from being a trainer on a house league novice team where someone else fills the water bottles.

In midget, it involves the following work:

  • Lean against the wall behind the bench
  • Watch the game
  • Shut up and mutter ďgood shiftĒ every now and then
  • Encourage the refs to mock the coaches.

In the unlikely event of an actual injury, I do the following (your experience may vary). For example, letís say a player gets slashed on the forearm and has pain. Action points:

  • Ask player to make fist
  • Rotate fist 90 degrees left, and then 90 degree right. If player passes out after screaming with pain, thereís a fracture. No doubt about it. Otherwise, advise player to skate it off.

If the injury involves anything other than an injury to the forearm:

  • Ask player to make fist
  • Rotate fist 90 degrees left, and then 90 degree right. Player will have no reaction and this will be totally useless, but it sets up the next step:
  • tell them to skate it off.

In novice, itís different. Every injury that occurs Ė and in fairness to our team, there have been few this year Ė is a debilitating experience. Bang an elbow? Fall down. Slash on back of leg? Fall down. Slide into the boards? Fall and stay down. Hang nail? Fall down.

You get the idea.

I mean theyíre eight years old, so I cut them some slack.

So player A is writhing on the ice, clutching his elbow. Typical dialogue after I reach the scene, which can take from eight to 10 minutes.

Me: Hey buddy. What hurts?

Him: mmmmdfgth eherw jrd hedwh

Me: Letís take out your mouth guard. There. Hey buddy. What hurts?

Him: My elbow.

Me: Elbow?

Him: Yeah

Me: Okay. Letís take a look. Make a fist . . .(you know this part)

Him: Okay.

Me: Does it hurt?

Him: A little.

Me: Does it hurt so much that youíve lost feeling in your legs?

Him: No

Me: When you have a sore elbow at home, do you fall down in the middle of the kitchen?

Him: (Smiling now) No.

Me: Do I need to call 9-1-1 or get a medical evacuation helicopter?

Him: No (laughing)

Me: Iím old you know. Making me come way out here is dangerous.

Him: What?

Me: Never mind. Get up.

 

He skates to the bench to the adoring applause of fans. Fans watch me and commence betting on when and where I will fall, and if I will hurt my forearm.

- - -

Anyway, Chrisís team played last night.

I was the trainer. I wore a nice suit. No one was hurt.

They gave up a goal with 34 seconds left and settled for a 1-1 tie.

If I was the coach and not the trainer, I would have coached them to not let the other team score with 34 seconds left.

It seems pretty obvious to me. But Iím just the trainer and no one asked.

- - -

Pad and one of his Blades teammates were selling Blades lottery tickets last night at Chris's game and they actually sold quite a few, which is no small accomplishment when dealing with grumpy parents on a rainy November night who would rather be at home in their fuzzy rabbit slippers.

The boys smiled and winked a lot and there were far more moms buying tickets than dads and the boys didnít even realize that was going on.

Me, I just felt old.

Please support the boys when you see them in a rink.

- - -

The game ended just before 9p and by then, Iím starting to think a meal would be good. But Laura had a two-day conference in Kitchener and I decided to drive her, because it was freezing rain and I didnít like her driving in that crap alone. It really was a lousy drive Ė far worse on the way back.

Oddly, when I got home Pad was in the kitchen heating soup. I thought he would have already eaten after Chrisís game and the ticket-selling duty.

ďI did eat. Iím eating again.Ē

Oh.

I got home before midnight, had an egg sandwich and went to bed. 615a came way, way too early.

My life is a rock ní roll dream.

- - -

Speaking of falling down on the ice . . .

You donít see it much in lower levels, but in junior and college hockey, thereís a dedicated equipment person who looks after the equipment -- skates, sticks, etc. Itís a really important job.

Part of the job is to make sure the sticks Ė junior players call them twigs, Ďcause thatís cooler Ė get to the bench and are kept in order.

Thereís a right way and a wrong way to get the twigs to the bench.

The right way is too boring to even talk about. No news there.

But the wrong way? Well, the wrong way  is very, very entertaining. Picture a novice-league trainer inching across the ice to the bench Ė but with sticks!

So, Iím gonna leave you with the wrong way today.

PS -- NCAA college hockey crowds are notoriously boisterous -- and cruel.

So, this is really best viewed with the sound way up. The home town Clarkson University crowd is heckling the guy Ė the St Lawrence University equipment manager -- the whole way and when the inevitable happens, the reaction dwarfs what Sid the Kid heard on Monday night after he scored.

Sorry, but itís funny. I hope he didnít hurt his forearm.

But if he did, I bet the trainer knew what to do.

 

 

 

 

Nov 21, 2011

If I ever write a hockey book, it may end up being called The Education of a Know-it-All Hockey Dad.

I think many of us start out thinking that because we went down this road as kids and players, we are fully equipped to handle what hockey will throw at our kids.

I, for one, was wrong.

The one overriding thing Iíve learned since 1997 is how little I knew, how little I know, and that every journey to a rink, even now, is part of the hockey-parent learning curve.

Cases in point:

As our older son moved through hockey, each stage brought specific anxieties and worries, none of which we as parents could control. But as all parents know, that doesnít stop you from worrying.

Way back in peewee when he played his first season in rep Ė AE Rangers! Ė he was called up to play with the A team sometimes. So, naturally youíre happy and naturally you worry that heíll do his job okay and help the team and not do anything stupid. (Is it just me, or do you always assume that disaster is just one bad decision away?) And that particular worry continued as he played A, AA and AAA and was a call up for the teams above those levels. Call me paranoid.

Later, as a 15 year old, he attended his first junior camps, and we worried that because he is big that some older tough guy (junior camps feature players up to 20 years old) would make an example of him in some way (big guys attract attention from other big guys). It happened, but, eventually you get used to it.

Last year when he played his first season of junior hockey, he gave up the face cage for a visor. So, there was specific worry about the thousands of dollars spent on orthodontists and general worry about all sorts of things that can go wrong. But, after a while, you get used to that, too.

And then, also last year, came the first junior fight (he lost.) And then the second (he won.) And then another this year and then this past weekend, another (and a lecture from the coach on being careful to pick his spots, remember what his job is, etc etc., which I took some comfort it!)

Everyone loves to watch a hockey fight, except perhaps the parents of the guys in the fight. Itís not a pleasant thing but like all of the above examples, once youíve made the decision to participate thereís little or nothing I can do about it. Depending on how you play the game (and Pad, as Brian Burke would say, plays with varying degrees of truculence, belligerence and pugnacity), it may be a part of what you have to do from time to time.

Iím OK with it now. Laura has been slower to join the party but sheís getting there. (Laura often takes a camera to the game to take action shots. During the first fight earlier this year, she refused to take pictures. This time, she kept shooting. Go figure.)

He came home from the game Friday night (they won) sporting a sheepish grin and a small cut on the bridge of his nose, from his visor being pushed down during the scrap.

The problem with a hockey fight is that if itís a mismatch, then it could end badly for someone. Hopefully they wonít get hurt. But even in a fair match, the guys are fighting on ice and one guy could slip and fall or allow the other guy a chance to land a haymaker. Again, really all I hope for in these things is that no one gets hurt.

If you want to see video of the fight, click here. My kid is in blue. No one got hurt!

My experiences with Chris and his house league hockey are different Ė Iím constantly impressed and educated on how much these guys love the game and love just getting together once or twice a week just to play. No pressure, no worries about being cut or traded. Very, very rarely any fights.

You just need to have fun.

The education continues, with the next chapter happening tomorrow night with Chris.

I keep showing up and learning.

Some day Iíll get it right.

- - -

Of course, my journey with the novice Leafs is a journey of another colour altogether. These kids are at the age where the words of the coaches are gospel and all they want to do is make you happy. So, you have to learn to choose your words and your messages carefully Ė positive reinforcement, gentle corrective teaching when things go sideways, building individual skills and confidence inside a goal-oriented team structure.

It sounds easy, but you gain new respect for good teachers while coaching at this level.

Overall, being on the bench with these kids is more fun than I can describe.

And while we almost got chased out of the building in the first six minutes yesterday, The Juice kept kicking out pucks until his teammates remembered which direction to skate in, and the boys rallied for a 4-1 win.

We had a happy dressing room after that game.

- - -

After that I raced off for Padís afternoon road game, where they lost 4-3 in a shootout after letting the other guys build a 3-1 lead after one period.

My guy scored his first goal as a Blade, but that didnít take much of the sting out of losing.

Lots of practice time for him this week, starting tonight.

And then . . .

- - -

The Return of Sid.

After almost a year away, The Crosby Show returns to the NHL.

No need to write 400 words about this. Simply stated, the league and the game desperately needs him back after an offseason of tragedy and a league struggling to find someone to be its face during his absence.

Pity the Islanders. They get first taste.

Watch it live, 7p on CBC with a special edition of Hockey Night in Canada.

- - -

The Great Twitter Experiment is now approaching 40 followers. As Chris would say, Iím conquering the Internet. I think heís being sarcastic.

You can follow the blog-like tweets, even when Iím not blogging, by following me here.

- - -

Finally, a reminder that the Oakville Blades lottery to raise money for breast cancer research and team hockey development programs continues. A big thank you to bog reader who have stepped up. We will be contacting you this week to deliver tickets (and collect money!! J

You can get more information on the lottery here. Feel free to contact me if youíre interested in buying tickets. Thanks!

 

Nov 18, 2011

Iím back in the canyons of bank towers and office buildings. I enjoyed the change of scenery, eating my momís food, taking my dad out to run errands, and getting some business done in my home town.

But family is home, and mine is here.

There was a time in my life when business travel was fun. Before I had kids, mostly. When I was a reporter in Ottawa I always seemed to be going somewhere and Laura and I worked long hours and stayed up late with friends and then Ö kids. (Now we work long hours but come home at the end of the day.)

Even when they are teenagers you feel like you miss things if youíre not around, and security around air travel these days makes travel about as much fun as on-the-run root canal.

So, thatís my long-winded way of saying, Iím glad to be home.

- - -

Tonight in downtown Oakville, they are lighting the townís Christmas tree.

But in a case of political correctness run amuck, they arenít calling it that. Itís a Wish Tree.

And I, for one, wish someone would grow a pair and call it a Christmas tree.

I am fairly confident that our communityís track record in celebrating and encouraging diversity is pretty good and that we wouldnít be risking a civil uprising if they called the tree what it is.

I suppose itís just a coincidence that the town merchants put up a WISH tree five weeks before Christmas. I mean, why not put it up for March Break, or Canada Day, or Labour Day if itís a Wish Tree? There are lots of things to wish for then, too.

Like common sense.

Maybe after the Wish Tree lighting everyone can head home to watch Charlie Brownís Politically and Religiously Neutral Seasonal Retail Sales Opportunity Special? I always tear up at that one.

My kids enjoy the friendship of kids from all races and backgrounds. They are more colour blind to issues of race and religion than I certainly ever was at the same age. Classmates, teammates, friends, whatever. Colour and race simply donít matter.

Laura and I have friends from many backgrounds. So why do our "leaders" feel the need to walk on political egg shells around Christmas?

I know the downtown merchants are simply trying to not offend anyone by doing something to attract people to the downtown to spend money. They would call it the Festering Tree of Bedbugs if they thought it would get more people to spend money.

But no one else puts up trees in December. Itís a Christmas tree. Right?

- - -

A few weeks ago the local paper did a pretty good job looking at the future of the aging Oakville Arena. It probably raised as many questions as it answered, but thatís not a bad thing either.

Bottom line Ė the rink is more than 50 years old and while the structure is still (more or less) sound, there are honest questions to be asked about whether it should be bulldozed.

Both my boys loved playing in that rink Ė and I loved coaching there. It has a special feel and is a true hockey barn of the old school.

But, time marches on and decisions will have to be made.

My two cents (and you knew I would have an opinion) is that the town missed an opportunity with regard to the future of Oakville Arena and the development of the beautiful Sixteen Mile Sports Complex, conveniently located in a field far, far away from people.

And therein lies my issue.

Sixteen Mile is spectacular. It is the envy of almost every team that visits to play the Blades, and it is a joy to go there to watch or coach minor hockey. I love the place. Well done.

But.

I think the missed opportunity was in not tearing down Oakville Arena at the same time and replacing it with a new multi-use single-pad arena with bowl seating that could have served as an anchor for downtown development, in much the way the Air Canada Centre did for Toronto. (Ask downtown Ottawa merchants if they wish Scotiabank Place was in downtown Ottawa, not in Kanata.)

The rink could have been home to the Blades, the Buzz, top-end womenís hockey, and appealed to a walk-up crowd who could walk to shops and pubs before and after games, concerts and other events and people could use multiple transit routes to come and go. A facility like that would engender a sense of community in ways that Sixteen Mile canít, because itís pretty much impossible to get to if you donít drive.

There are much higher priorities now than another rink (and my, how times have changed on that front!) So this idea is dead on arrival.

As nice as Sixteen Mile is, there was an opportunity missed for our downtown that would have done more than a thousand Wish Trees.

You can read the Beaver's article on Oakville Arena here.

- - -

Itís Friday and we have a car so we will be at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex to watch the Blades play Milton tonight. The Blades have taken the first two games of the season from Milton, but the Icehawks are vastly improved in the last month, taking at least one point in each of their last eight games. The home side had better be ready to compete. The two teams will do it all again on Sunday afternoon in Milton.

Novice practice tomorrow, a game with the little guys Sunday before I race to Milton and . . . that will be it.

Iím looking forward to quiet Saturday night at home where Iím sure my wife will tell me how much she missed me while I was away. I missed her and the boys, but donít tell anyone.

If you donít have your snow tires on yet, itís time. Snow tires are not just for snow. The rubber compounds in summer tires and all-season tires get harder in cold weather and your car wonít stop or turn as efficiently, even on dry pavement. Itís Canada. You need four snow tires. Get them on.

Be careful on the roads as you go from one game to another this weekend. Remember that the kids are starting to get excited as the Wish Season gets closer.

Stay safe.

Hug the kids.

 

Nov 15, 2011

I'm out of town for a few days -- mostly work, but also spending some time with the folks.

I missed Chris's game on Sunday night -- the boys won again with a last minute goal -- and I'll miss his game tonight, too.

Sorry.

Pad and the Blades won a weekend pair, winning Friday over Brampton and Saturday over Burlington.

The novice Leafs won in the absence of both me and coach Dave, who is on a hardship corporate assignment in Florida. So, we ran the table on the weekend.

- - -

I had to get up very early Sunday to be at the airport for 615a which is as much fun as you would imagine it would be.

The fact that the Westjet kiosks refused to print a tag for my single piece of checked baggage didn't help my mood.

And then the security clearance line was longer than a December night. Even the NEXUS line (Nexus cards allow users to basically jump the queue) was long, but I soon realized that that was just because guards were simply diverting overflow from the other lines to the NEXUS line. I showed my card and promptly walked past about 35 people.

Buh-bye.

The victory was short lived.

Our corporate travel agent hadn't booked me a seat on the flight, meaning I was assigned a middle seat.

Wonderful.

As I eased myself into the seat, a (very) lovely 40ish woman in the row behind be expressed her dismay at my predicament. I explained that an oversight by a travel agent resulted in what she saw.

Then she said:

"I have a son who is six foot two. He hates being stuck in the middle seat."

I looked at her and said that she had to be kidding -- she was way too young to have a child who is now six-foot-two.

She smiled. "Would you like my aisle seat?"

Me: "Yep!"

It's a great country.

- - -

I don't have a lot more to report. I'm sorry I'm going to miss Chris's game tonight, but I don't miss many.

Chris astounded, amazed and dumbfounded us with his report card on Monday so I can't wait to see him in person and spend three or four hours staring at the marks.

He's always been a decent student but he has shown extra diligence this fall and all of the sudden he's seeing the results.

Memo to Chris: keep it going!.

- - -

The Twitter thing continues to roll along. Follow me here.

- - -

You can support the Oakville Blades lottery to raise money for breast cancer research and the Blades' hockey development programs by ordering online here or just email me and I can make it happen. Tickets are $20 each and you could win a car, a Caribbean vacation, and other great prizes.

Come on. You know you want to.

One loyal blog reader, minor hockey coach and oft-times counsel to the blog has committed to buy 25 tickets.

Can you or your group top that?

 

Nov 11, 2011

Iíll keep it short today. You can spend the seconds you might have spent reading here to maybe think about the sacrifices of others, or poke around the web and look at some of the good work done by various media for Remembrance Day.

Everyone should have their own reasons to pause and remember. Itís trite to say, but there is really no way for the likes of me to comprehend the magnitude of what others did so that I and my family can live the way we do and enjoy the freedoms we take for granted.

If you like to read, today is a good day to recommend the book Unbroken. Itís about a Second World War American airman, but it will give you staggering insight into the sacrifices made in the name of freedom. There is a reason they are called The Greatest Generation.

The video below is a happier one.

It shows a young Belgium lad Ė he looks to be eight or so Ė waiting for Canadian troops to pass during a ceremonial parade commemorating things that happened decades ago. In general, troops on parade like this just march, eyes straight ahead.

For Canadian and others of the Commonwealth, occasionally the parade will be ordered ďeyes right!Ē, such as when marching past royalty, or a reviewing stand, etc.

Itís quite touching to see what the Canadians do when they pass the boy as he salutes them.

Like him we should all take a moment today to honour and remember Ė not just the fallen, but all who have served, and those they left behind.

 

 

 

- - -

I was going to rant about Joe Paterno. Iíll save it for another day. I donít really want to get into it on this day. Suffice to say, heís a disgrace.

- - -

This final video resonated with me, for obvious reasons. It was produced by the garment company that sponsors the Ontario Junior Hockey League player of the month awards. Someone look a lot of care preparing it.

Regardless of whether your kid plays house league, or minor peewee A, or midget AAA, or for the Blades, youíll find a moment to connect to in these three minutes.

The video is called The Junior Lifestyle. The subjects are the Pembroke Lumber Kings, the reigning RBC Cup national junior A champions and consistently a top franchise.

The kids on these teams Ė and the teams that shape and train kids for an opportunity to play at this level, from house league to rep Ė make sacrifices. They miss a lot of things that their friends do in terms of school and social lives.

And that was the part I connected to the most. The players practicing and skating in foggy rinks and the fighting and the battles and hits and toughness Ė yes, that resonates, too. Iíve seen all of it from concussions to broken limbs to cuts and stitches.

But it was the voice talking about the things youíre going to miss if you want to be a junior A hockey player that really struck a chord with me.

Thereís not much glory in war or hockey. Sacrifices are made in the name of both.

The men and women who have served Canada to protect our freedoms are responsible for creating a land where kids like mine and yours are free to decide to make their own sacrifices to pursue something happier Ė love of a sport and perhaps a dream.

The stars of this video are juniors, but they could be rep minor players of any age.

Theyíre from Pembroke, but it could be Huntsville or East Hants, NS,  or Whitby or Oakville.

It was a reminder to me that while much of what we, as parents, watch them do on the ice looks easy, itís not. Itís hard and physical and often painful and punishing.

And they canít wait to do it again. Really, thatís remarkable. Theyíre just kids.

PS Ė Iíve never been to the rink in Pembroke. It looks like a great old barn.

 

- - -

Thank you to the people who responded to my pitch for supporting the Oakville Blades Jr A raffle. Breast cancer research is a worthy cause, as are the young men on this team.

If you missed it, you can click here to zip down to yesterday's post.

We need your support.

 

Nov  10, 2011

There was a terrific minor midget hockey game for Chris and the Knights on Tuesday night. Playing from a trailing position for almost the entire game thanks to a very, very hot goalie on the other end of the ice, the guys fought back.

The boys finally tied it with less than two minutes left.

I love these games. This is pure, joy-of-the-game hockey. No one pretends they are going to the NHL anymore. They play because they like to play and they are all very comfortable in their skin.

The team also had what may have been the first on-bench trainer in the history of MOHA decked out in a pinstripe suit and cuff links.

Hey Ė you canít knock a guy for trying to raise the sartorial bar a few inches, right?

- - -

The other hockey player in our house is back at it tonight, too. The Blades host the Brampton Capitals on Rick Hansen Night in Oakville. Itís a bit of an odd name, because Rick wonít be there. But the evening will be Oakvilleís turn to honour the 25th anniversary of his remarkable Man in Motion world tour way back in the day, before Laura realized that marrying me was signing on for a life of hockey.

You can read the local paperís story on whatís coming up tonight.

Public skating and a slice of pizza for $5, among other things. And then you can come watch the Blades and say hi to me.

I may be in the pub before the game.

In fact, itís a very good bet. Iíll be with the leggy blonde.

- - -

Still with the Blades . . .

The team has launched its big fundraising project for the year and itís a good one.

The project is a lottery with some really cool prizes (a 2012 Chevy Cruze LT, a Caribbean vacation, Leaf tickets, golf packages, dining packages, and more. Click here for details and online ticket ordering.

Proceeds from the ticket sales support not just the Blades development programs Ė funds will also go from every ticket sold to the Canadian Cancer Society and breast cancer research.

Further Ė if local minor sports teams and other community non-profit groups wish to sell tickets, then they can use a portion of the funds for their fundraising goals. Itís community oriented, itís important and itís great value.

Frankly Iím stunned youíre still reading and havenít run off to buy tickets.

But since youíre still here, hereís the thing.

First, breast cancer is a horrible thing. It doesnít touch your life, so much as it mauls your life. In our family we know this first hand and sadly, that makes us in no way unique. Too many friends, neighbours, and family members have been hit with this horrible disease. That my wonderful mother-in-law is a survivor able to make Cape Bretonís finest chocolate chip cookies for her grandsons every summer is testimony to an indisputable fact: your dollars in support of cancer research MAKE A DIFFERENCE. It can be beaten. (See how I sucked up there? Only two, maybe three more years of sleeping in the barn in Cape Breton and I'll be invited into the main house. Maybe.)

Second, the Oakville Blades Jr A Hockey Club does an awful lot to promote the interests of the young men who earn a spot on the team. The coaches and management demand excellence and push hard. Some kids win scholarships. Others move on to major junior hockey. Some eventually play pro. And they ALL give back to the community through volunteer work and supporting things like this lottery. I have seen the priority the team management puts on the kidsí development. Itís impressive.

Third, you guys get to read this blog for free. I donít post ads, I donít charge admission, I donít put up a link to PayPal and beg for contributions (yet.)

So, Iím going to ask a favour.

Iím going to ask that if youíve ever been entertained, amused, or informed by my scribbling here, that you please consider supporting this fundraiser by buying tickets. (They are $20 each.)

And Iíll tell you what. If you coach a sports team in MOHA or the Hornets or whatever, and you get your team to sell tickets, I will arrange for an Oakville Blade (or two) to come liven up one of your teamís practices. No charge (but they may want a juice box).

Regardless of all that Ė this is important and it supports important goals.

Iím going to stand on the soap box here and say I never ask you for anything, but Iím asking now.

You can click here to contact me and I will get you tickets.

If you prefer (and women who hang out at Oakville radiology clinics in July just might) I can arrange for a handsome, young, 6-foot-4 inch hockey player to deliver the tickets with a sparkling smile.

Whatever it takes.

Laura and I support this cause, and this lottery, wholeheartedly. Some of you have already stepped up big. Thank you.

For the rest of you reading this right now:

I hope you won't find it an imposition if I ask you to consider supporting the goals of this cause by buying tickets.

I appreciate that there are many demands on your time and money, but if you are interested please let me know by return email and I will ensure a large hockey player appears on your doorstep soon.

Thanks in advance for your consideration of this. I really hope to hear from you soon.

Thanks!

 

Nov 8, 2011

Joe Frazier died yesterday. He was the former heavyweight boxing champion of the world when that meant something. He was the first man to beat Muhammad Ali. That meant something then, too.

When I was a kid and the Ali-Frazier rivalry was in its heyday, there was no Internet or cable TV. You could barely get fight highlights on a three-minute sports package two days after the fight was over.

But I would go to bed with a little transistor radio under my pillow and I would listen to those epic fights. In a dark room with my imagination filling in the pictures, it was wondrous.

Few kids today will ever know that feeling, of hearing something that they could never actually see.

Frazier, Ali and a few others were giants of the sporting world. I was never a big boxing fan, but they transcended their sport and were pillars of popular culture in ways that the clowns parading around octagons in MMA fights today could never be.

When the great athletes of the 20th century are remembered, Smokin' Joe will be high on the list. No one will recall Brock Lesner.

I wish there was a way I could tell my kids just how big the Ali-Frazier fights were. But I don't think I am a good enough writer to make them understand.

Suffice to say that when they fought, it was unquestionably the biggest story in the world that day.

Take the pre-fight hype in Rocky, multiply it by 1,000 and you might get the idea.

Biggest. Story. In the world. Everywhere in the world.

RIP Smokin' Joe.

Read more here.

 

Nov 7, 2011

It's been a fairly hectic week and it's not really often that I come out of a weekend feeling tired. But for some reason I am tired and maybe it's because of the week that's behind me.

A week ago Sunday there was a 9p midget game. The next night a road trip to Hamilton for Pad and another late night. And then the night after that he was in Buffalo and his brother had a 10p game. Laura was out curling on Wednesday, and Friday night was a Blades home game that didn't start until 830p, followed by a Blades road game Saturday night in beautiful Georgetown, plus a practice for Chris.

A little less travel this week, but it's going to feel just as hectic -- starting with a 730a breakfast meeting tomorrow.

Arrgh.

- - -

Pad's team split their weekend pair with Georgetown, losing Saturday night 4-3 in OT after winning on Friday 5-4, also in OT. As one of the players Tweeted, it felt a little like the playoffs.

Chris had no games on the weekend, but the novice Leafs did. Just like the real Leafs, our gang was involved in a one-sided shutout. Unlike the real Leafs, our guys managed to be on the right side of the score, winning 5-0. The game was actually closer than that except for a couple of shifts where we seemed to put it away. This being novice hockey, I have no doubt the other guys will regroup quickly and probably toilet paper a tree in my yard.

- - -

Did you remember to put the clock back Saturday night? A guy in my office was sitting in a meeting room all by himself today, wondering where everyone was until he realized that the reason no one showed up for his 3p meeting was that he was an hour early.

D'oh.

- - -

My legions of Twitter followers were tweeted treated to some real-time Twittering during the novice game on Saturday, when I took advantage of a break in play to snap and tweet photos.

I am a one-man internet content machine.

- - -

One of our novice guys -- playing defence -- made a dazzling end-to-end rush Saturday. We don't normally encourage that sort of thing (we like to see them pass), but our rule of thumb is that the games belong to the kids and practices belong to the coaches. And besides, what were we going to do? Jump over the boards and trip him? Anyway, it was a great rush -- complete with a toe drag -- even if he didn't score.

When he returned to the bench I told him it was awesome to watch him skate.

"You looked just like Paul Coffey!!"

Blank stare.

"Do you know who Paul Coffey is?"

Shakes his head no.

"It's a compliment. You looked good."

And then I complained to no one in particular, but mostly the young ref standing in front of me at that moment, that I felt really old.

It's not like Paul Coffey played for the Charlestown Chiefs.

I understand if kids don't get references to Doug Harvey or Eddie Shore. But come on. Paul Frickin' Coffey? He only retired 10 years ago. (Yeah I know -- three years before the player I was talking to was born. Shut up. All of you. I'm not that old. All you kids, get off my lawn!)

- - -

So, I bought a blender for Kim Kardasian and Kris KHumphries (she left him because his name didn't meet the family requirement for the letter K, so I'm trying to help)  and now I don't know what to do.

I lost the receipt so I can't return it. Plus, I bet they already have one.

And since the wedding is off I don't want to be insensitive and send it as a divorce gift.

What's a modern man to do?

- - -

Speaking of Tweeting and blogging and Facebook and smoke signals and cave drawings and all manner of social media, the Globe's Roy MacGregor had an interesting piece in the weekend paper on "the thumbing down" of sports journalism. I'm not sure I agree with all of his points, but he makes some good ones as he always does. For me, media have to evolve in the way we deliver information to remain relevant. My kids will be adults in a few years and it's a pretty safe bet that their journalism will not be wrapped tight with an elastic band and thrown at the door every morning. But it is also true that while writing out your thoughts 140 characters at a time creates an interesting discipline, it's no way to tell the Paul Coffey story.

But an interesting subtext to this is that Laura was sitting in the kitchen reading Roy's story in the actual newspaper and brought it to me in the family room proudly exclaiming "blog fodder!!" I told her I had already read the story. I found the story after TSN uber-hockey dude Bob McKenzie tweeted his reaction to it and I saw the Tweet because I follow Bob on Twitter.

Sort of ironic. Or something.

You can read Roy's piece here.

- - -

In the meantime, follow me following Paula Creamer on Twitter.

Click here.

 

Nov 4, 2011

How long will this particular mirage last?

The Leafs dominated Columbus last night, chasing Oakville native Steve Mason from the goal en route to a 4-1 win.

The victory leaves Toronto in first place in their division, first place in their conference, and first place in the entire NHL.

Ben Scrivens was terrific in goal in his NHL debut.

I'm not going to say much more because it's hard to type here on the bandwagon, what with everyone climbing aboard.

I have no doubt I will have lots of elbow room soon.

Read more on the Leaf win here.

---

Interesting fuss yesterday triggered by remarks from Newfoundland and Labrador's Lieutenant Governor John Crosbie, who has always been quick with a joke or sarcastic comment dating back to well before his time as a federal cabinet minister in Brian Mulroney's governments, back when dinosaurs walked the Earth and I walked on Parliament Hill.

Was the joke racist? It was a joke about the political climate of Pakistan, not Pakistani people.

Every day I hear people tell Newfoundland jokes, Cape Breton jokes, etc. People in Alberta tell jokes about Saskatchewan farmers.

But having said all of that, whatever the intended spirit of the remarks, Mr. Crosbie is the Queen's representative in Newfoundland and as such he might want to consider being a little more boring while on official business.

You can read the story here and come to you own conclusions.

- - -

The Great Twitter Experiment continues, and there continue to be signs of life. From a standing start of about, oh, two followers, I'm now closing in on 30 in less than three days.

As Chris said, "let me know dad when you rule the Internet." (I'll keep you posted.)

But the appeal of Twitter is less about attracting followers than it is about the immediacy of the interaction. I think it helps if you're predisposed to using social media, blogging, etc., but that's by no means a prerequisite.

In the meantime, click here to sign on. I'm averaging six or eight tweets a day and a panel of independent literary scholars have judged these missives to be some of the greatest prose authored in any language in the post-WW2 era.**

You don't want to miss it.

** -- this is a lie.

- - -

A busy but manageable weekend schedule at hand: a pair of Blades games tonight and Saturday, back-to-back with arch rivals Georgetown.

Novice practice tomorrow and a game Sunday. Chris and the minor midgets have some practice ice Saturday night.

So while there will be no lazing about on Friday or Saturday night, we'll manage just fine.

We love to get out and watch the games and there will be no shortage of those opportunities.

Wherever your travels take you this weekend, drive carefully. After all, you're going to gain an hour on Saturday night so use it to slow down (or to sleep in a little longer on Sunday morning!)

Have a great weekend. Hug the kids!

 

Nov 3, 2011

Watching the Leafs play the Devils last night was an odd experience. The score flattered the Devils in my opinion and I'm not used to saying that about Toronto.

I'll admit there were times when the trading of goals back and forth seemed like it would end badly for the Leafs -- what with the future Hall of Fame goalie at the other end of the rink -- but they won and it was never in doubt.

How long can this go on?

- - -

Just FYI, I looked to see how much it would cost for two seats to the Leafs-Bruins game on Saturday. A pair of reds -- lower bowl, on an end corner -- was $367.

Miffed, I then checked for season tickets to the Buffalo Sabres. Two seats in the same lower bowl location cost about $3500 -- for 41 home games. Hmm.

- - -

Occasionally when riding the GO Train I will be overcome with the urge to strangle the living crap out of someone, or, at the very least, beat them in the side of the head with a baseball bat that has a spike driven through it.

But then I remember what the doctors have said and I recite Jimmy Buffett lyrics and retreat to my happy place and the morons get to go on with their day.

The thing that usually drives me around the bend is  . . . talking.

Yeah, I know. It probably seems really petty to want to do mortal harm to people for talking.

But I think there are certain rules of decorum for a civilized commute and a primary one -- especially for the morning ride to work -- is SHUT THE F*** UP!.

As a creature of habit, I sit in the same car on the same train almost every day. Years of exhaustive research have taught me which car is most likely to have the fewest people in it. It's not that I'm anti-social, it's just that I don't want to be around or in contact with other people.

OK. I am anti-social. But I think at 6:55a that's a normal thing.

So anyway, this young couple get on the train every day and about 20 per cent of the time, they sit with or near me. I can't blame them for wanting to be with or near someone like me, but.

They talk. Actually, she talks and he doesn't discourage it. The conversation is banal and pedestrian and of the variety that could easily wait until they are retired and have more time (alone) together.

But no. She feels the need to talk about last night's dinner right now. He carries the look of a man thinking "only 63 more years and this will be over."

If you want to talk, then walk to work.

And someone tell those kids to get off my lawn, too.

- - -

The Great Social Media Experiment is gaining traction, as my twitter account is now being followed by a pilot, a baker, a lawyer, a teacher/skier, an investment banker and several others, all in the last day or two.

I am keeping up my end of the bargain by occasionally posting witty (to me) and droll (to you) commentary on a diverse and entirely useless range of matters.

But, many others are simply clicking through to my Twitter page to read the blather without actually committing to "follow" me. (I once had a teacher who said that she hoped for the sake of future humanity I would never have "followers" but that was way before Twitter and an entirely different story.)

So, having gained a teeny-tiny foothold in the Twitterverse, I'm going to go to Step 2 of my social experiment. Shortly, I will limit access to my Twitter page to people who actually have requested to follow me. I won't deny anyone who asks (except Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan), but I want the people who click on "follow" to feel the love.

As for the rest of you, I can only assume that you are the types of people who talk on the train during the morning commute. Don't get me started again.

Anyway, to those who signed on, thanks and welcome.

 

Nov 2, 2011

The best hockey game available last night was the minor midget house league match between Chrisís squad and the other guys in yellow. (Minor midget house leaguers do not appear to be obsessed with making sure their team nicknames are widely known, as the scoreboard duly noted Yellow vs Black. A legendary confrontation.)

Our good guys found themselves looking up from the ugly end of a 3-0 score and veteran observers firmly believed there was more entertainment value to be had from watching the waitresses wipe down tables in the restaurant.

But then . . . in totally uncharacteristic fashion the good guys roared back, scoring four straight goals, two of them in the final period, to scoop victory from the drooling maw of certain defeat.

A couple of the goals were not pretty. But they all counted and the Knights, as they call themselves, improved their record to 2-1-1.

If it hadnít been a 10p start it would have been even more fun.

At the other end of the QEW the Blades won over the Junior Sabres 4-2. So, we were two for two on the evening.

- - -

I recently pointed out to faithful readers that I would get more engaged in Tweeting and encouraged you to click on the provided link. And by golly, you have, making my Twitter feed, by far, the most frequented exit link from this site.

But few of you have bothered to click on ďFollowĒ once you get to the Twitter page, no doubt because you donít have a Twitter account, or (more likely) you really donít care that much.

Well. I laugh in your general direction.

Without a Twitter account youíre missing out on real-time access to bon mots as ďdoes this look infected to youĒ or ďdriving on the QEW at rush hour sucksĒ or any manner of hilarity around hand sanitizer as a hair product, toothpaste as skin moisturizer, or other ways to convert toiletries into personal torture implements.

Anyway, this is really just a social networking experiment for me as I begin to ponder the future of my blog as I approach the 6th anniversary of giving away content for free. (Iíll admit, the business model needs work to reach profitability.)

Chief ponder: If I can snap out 140-character bits at will, why blog (which takes time and effort, in spite of what it looks like to you!)

Anyway Ė indulge me. Click here to go to my Twitter feed, then click FOLLOW.

If you do, you could become part of a select group to be extended a limited chance to spend a small amount of money for a shot at winning a brand new 2012 Chevy Cruze LT, a sunny vacation, golf packages, and more, all while supporting cancer research, hockey and other charitable causes.

No, Iím not joking! Anyway youíre all a bunch of deadbeat freeloaders, so click follow or Iím coming to your house.

Also, if you donít Iím going to drop the cat Iím hold out the window to the sidewalk four floors below. Itís not high enough to do mortal harm, and the animalís suffering will be your fault.

- - -

Phil Kessel was named NHL player of the month for October, the first Leaf to win the honor since Lincoln presidency, almost a half century before the NHL started.

Thatís quite a feat.

I didnít hear one single Leaf fan whining in October about the Leafs giving up two top draft picks (one of whom already has his name on the Stanley Cup for Christís sake) to get Kessel.

But I expect the whining to begin again soon. Very, very soon.

- - -

The pile of chocolate left over from Halloween mysteriously gets smaller while Iím at work.

I freely admit to taking two or three of the min-Hershey bars each evening (not that Iím ever home, BTW. And if I was awake, Iíd bring some to work. But Iím not that with it at that hour). But others claim that other-worldly forces must be chowing down on the treats, or they are victims of global warming.

Hmmm.

Best. Treats. Ever. And peanut safe, too.

 

- - -

Today is/was bring your kid to work day. So there were a fair number of sleepy, cranky, disinterested, unimpressed, unamused, surly, ill-tempered, plugged-in, tuned-out, sullen, hungry Grade 9 students trailing along behind various moms and dads on the GO train this morning.

I think itís a safe bet that most kids would prefer a day anywhere to a day at school.

Except maybe compared to a day at their parentsí workplace.

I could be wrong, but it didnít look like I was.

- - -

Hockey-free evening for me. Pad has a practice, Laura will be curling. Leafs at New Jersey on TV.

I expect to be asleep early, but I hope the Leafs stay awake.

 

 

Nov 1, 2011

Not much time for blogging these days.

Routine on Monday: up at 6a, GO train, work, GO train home, QEW/403 to Hamilton, watch Blades lose 5-4 in shootout, 403/QEW home, sleep, up at 6a, GO train, work, GO train home (and later) QEW to Buffalo to watch the Blades play the junior Sabres, then QEW home.

I know how to live in the fast lane. If the QEW had a fast lane, which most of the time it does not!

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I missed Halloween, because I was watching scary things in Hamilton, but reliable sources tell me that we only had about 30 or so kids at the door.

Would anyone like a chocolate bar?

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In the absence of time to blog, I am becoming a fool for Twitter. It's becoming sort of like a blog, but constructed 140 characters at a time.

You can follow the absence of meaningful insight and snarky sarcasm by clicking here.

Follow me. What could go wrong?

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Since I have been spending what little recreation time I have exploring the QEW and 403, I have not called home for a couple days.

So for the benefit of hockey fans on the east coast, Chris and the minor midget Knights lost 5-3 on Sunday night.

They play again tonight at 10p.

Hmm -- minor hockey at 10p on a Tuesday night. Almost as much fun as driving to Buffalo at rush hour. And back. On a Tuesday.

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Three Oakville boys have made the Team Canada East squad that will play in the World Junior A Hockey Challenge over the next 10 days in Langley, BC.

Braeden Russell and Phil Hampton of the Oakville Blades and Patrick Megannety of the Georgetown Raiders are all now en route to the left coast.

Congratulations and good luck!