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Oct 31, 2007

The bantam AA Rangers beat Caledon 6-4 last night in the north country. I wasn't there but I gather the game was a see-saw battle with some lead changes. I asked Pad what the coaches had to say after it was over and he said the coaches liked the way the team kept working and didn't give up.

The win leaves the Rangers in third place overall in the 11-team loop -- but they have four games in hand on second-place Georgetown who is up on them by only a single point. Burlington is three points up in first place, unbeaten with one game in hand on the Rangers. And Oakville is one point up on Brampton, each with one loss in eight games. The Rangers practice tonight and then host Caledon on Saturday night.

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It's one of those times of year where our garage looks like a warehouse. Socks for minor peewee teams. Calendars for parents. Etc etc. Hopefully within a week or so the season will be on cruise control and the heavy lifting of getting minor hockey launched for another year will be finished (figuratively and literally.)

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The bantam Ranger AAA squad is off to a good start, for those of you who watch these things. 8-2-1 after 11 games and tied for top spot with Hamilton. Here's hoping the good play continues.

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John Ferguson's job is apparently safe until the end of the season -- or so says this report. This is "inside baseball" reading for only the real die-hard Leaf fan. If you're a die-easy Leaf fan, you're probably already cheering for Pittsburgh now.

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I did my Halloween thing yesterday, so I'll just say I hope everyone has a safe and fun evening. We're trying to figure out how to be at a practice for Pad, home to hand out treats, and have one of us on the streets with Chris, more or less at the same time. I suspect we will be relying on the kindness of others to get it all done. I know for a fact that there will be varying degrees of parental Halloween silliness taking place today around our town and others, but I won't be involved in any of it -- and that's probably a good thing for all concerned.


Oct 30, 2007

Just last night, as we scraped the guts out of pumpkins, draped the porch with spider web, and helped Chris carve pumpkins into ghoulish visages of the season (Pad was doing homework) there was discussion of the unmitigated stupidity of scheduling kids to play or practice on Halloween.

Now to be clear, I'm talking about kids up to about age 11 or 12, maybe 13. Pad and the AA bantams will practice tomorrow night, and that's fine with me. The 14 year olds shouldn't be going door to door, unless they're chaperoning younger siblings or gathering food for the food bank. If Pad wants to have a couple of friends over after practice to watch a scary movie and order a pizza, I'm fine with that. But he won't be running around the neighbourhood and banging on doors. (The specter of the likes of Pad -- six foot one, deep voice, etc., standing on a doorstep asking for candy feels more like a shakedown than trick or treating, and is scary enough that he wouldn't need a costume. The reality is people think he's older than he is and going out on Halloween isn't worth the hassle.)

But where was I? Oh yeah . .

For younger kids, Halloween today rates just behind Christmas (assuming you celebrate that particular holiday and I know there are lots of other cultures with their own special event(s) so, work with me here.)

Chris gets over-the-moon excited about Oct 31. He absolutely loves it. As a kid, frankly, I could take it or leave it. I liked the chips and candy, but the whole trick-or-treat thing, well, I just wasn't a big fan.

Some people on our street decorate their houses more elaborately than they do for Christmas. Street parties are held. It is a big, big deal.

Which gets to my point that maybe the people putting together the schedules are far past their child-rearing years and don't "get" it. Because if they did, you wouldn't read stories of lunacy like this one from Toronto.

I understand the ice and scheduling issues -- I'm a convener. But in this instance, a solution was proposed and rejected.

I have no doubt there are similar issues closer to home. But really. Everyone, give your heads a shake. Halloween is once a year. Let the kids be kids. You have the entire rest of hockey season to delude yourself into thinking your kid is going to the NHL. He/she'd rather dress up and run from door to door for a couple of hours.

 - - -

Halloween was a bit of a free-for-all where I grew up in a rural corner of Nova Scotia. In addition to soaped windows and the odd slashed tire, there were obligatory bon fires (tires will do) in the middle of the road, and sometimes the local hooligan brain trust would attempt to set fire to an abandoned house or barn. Luckily, our hooligans were never in danger of being shortlisted for the Nobel Prize for Vandalism so generally not much came of such things beyond having the good souls at the volunteer fire department put down their beers and fire up the aging fire engine to scream through the cool night to douse whatever inept excuse for a blaze the locals had managed to create.

In our neighbourhood in Oakville tomorrow night, it will be all over and lights out by 8p. This seems better.

- - -

Mitch Kvasni and his bantam AE Rangers won gold on the weekend at a tournament in Rochester. Pad played for Mitch in minor atom house league and loved him -- finished first, lost in the championship game, and had fun and learned all the way.

This is a team that you know is well coached so I'm not surprised to hear they're doing well.

Pad and the AA squad travel to Caledon tonight where they can expect a tough, physical game, because that's what Caledon always serves up. I have to miss this one.

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Keeping with the Halloween theme, my remarks yesterday about the Leafs have come back to haunt me.

Very scary display of hockey last night at the ACC, with the Leafs getting pounded 7-1 by Washington -- a team with some key injuries, a middling record and iffy prospects.

It was ugly. And given that the Leafs have virtually no salary cap room and overpaid wildly for some players, there won't be any significant changes to the roster any time soon.

Leaf fans, this is your team. Enjoy.


Oct 28, 2007

Leaf Nation pauses and relaxes.

The Leafs won again last night, their second road win in two games begging the question, should they give up playing any more home games?

The answer, of course, is no, because then Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment would have a harder time turning you upside down and shaking the nickels and dimes from your pockets, which they apparently do very, very well.

In case you missed it, the Toronto Star had a terrific exclusive report on the owners of the Leafs and their suddenly not-so-secret finances. Read all about it here.

The upshot is that the Leafs are far, far better at making money then, say, making the playoffs.

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I received an unsolicited, blog-related gift today from a hockey dad and blog reader who read about our appreciation of all things The Boss. I will put it in the category of Springsteen-related gifting. It is much, much appreciated and will be used a lot.

More generally, the whole idea of gifts for bloggers is well worth exploring!

Thanks again. It's very, very cool.

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It's early afternoon on Sunday and the end of the "scheduled" weekend events is within sight and the homework appears to be well in hand. So hope abounds that tonight will be as close to what passes for a quiet version of normal as we can imagine.

Pad and the bantam AA Rangers dropped Dundas 6-2 last night in a game they could have easily won by twice that margin. The coaches started moving forwards to defence and vice versa to avoid a blowout after building a 5-0 first period lead.

 I was (again) confused and disappointed by the lack of any interest by game officials in calling hits to the head. Maybe they see the game from a different angle. Maybe they've never been in close proximity to a kid with a head injury.

But when a player comes off the ice saying his ears are ringing and he feels sick and there was no penalty . . . well, it is what it is. Draw your own conclusions.

Putting your gloves together at the moment of impact and delivering an uppercut blow to the cage is not a check, it's a hit to the head.

And yes, it's a pet peeve of mine, and no, I'm not going to shut up about it, and any kid who checks this way, regardless of who they play for or their age or level, should be penalized. Period.

- - -

Chris and his house league team won today, 4-2 after falling behind early -- like, really early. Like, 13 seconds into the game. And for much of the first period we were on our heels but the boys fought back, Zach held the fort in goal and the Flyers topped the Gators.

The best game of the day was the Eagles and Hound Dogs trading punches (figuratively) in a 5-5 draw that felt like a college basketball game where last shot wins.

The Vikings topped the Wings in the third game.

One of the refs this morning is a teenage who helped coach my team a few years back and he and his on-ice partner called a terrific game I thought.

And finally, a vignette from the weekend to bring us back to where we came in (a sign of the high-quality blogging you've come to expect and feel tempted to reward with imported cars, country homes, fine wine and cases of Corona).

A highlight of the day was when one of the young refs turned to me on the bench and said, "Hey, did the Leafs beat the Rangers last night?"

I said, "Incredibly, yes." He pumped his fist a la Tiger Woods and exclaimed, "YES!"

Hope springs eternal. Leaf Nation sleeps easy tonight.


Oct 26, 2007

Sitting in the airport in Fredericton after taking some time to drive around for half an hour on a glorious fall afternoon. The St John River is dead flat calm and the campus of UNB on the hill behind the city makes for a bucolic setting.

The guy I'm travelling with just discovered that he's not booked on the 5:35p flight with me, he's on the 8:50p flight. So Fredericton is not feeling all that bucolic for him now. Ouch.

While here I got to have dinner with my nephew and a friend of his. It was fun and the two UNB freshmen didn't make me feel like too much of an old guy.

Afterwards I met up with a group of editors (the folks I met with today more formally) and it was great. Lots of stories of outrageous behaviour and lapses in judgment involving everyone but me. I sat quietly sipping my Diet Pepsi and listening.


The meetings are over but what has been a long and busy week churns on and on.

Pad and the Rangers practice tonight and if I'm lucky I'll get home in time for some of that. Chris is attending a digital imaging camp in the morning, then has swimming, then hockey practice, and then we run from practice to Pad's game vs. Georgetown.

On Sunday, Chris plays, I coach and convene three games, and Pad has dryland and a practice.

So, a typical weekend not unlike that of many other people around town.

I'm too tired to be funny right now. Have a safe weekend!


Oct 26, 2007

Burlington beat the AA bantam Rangers 3-1 last night it what I'm told was a chippy-bordering-on-dirty game. No other details -- I know the Oakville side was missing some guys due to illness and injury but the bottom line is they lost -- which everyone does, eventually.

Sorry I missed it.

- - -

The Leafs beat Pittsburgh last night? Really? How did THAT happen?


Oct 24, 2007

Sorry for being late getting to the blog today but life is like that.

I'm dealing with a major IT crisis on the home front, one which I think I've fixed but only time will tell.

As a kid in Nova Scotia, I remember being endlessly fascinated and impressed with the way my dad could fix just about anything mechanical. A car that wouldn't start on a cold day, a broken down furnace, or water heater, or a plumbing problem.

To me, he might as well have been erecting the pyramids, because it seemed incomprehensible to my little head.

Well, I think the 2007 equivalent is a guy who can solve an IT crisis. I'm not saying I'm one of those guys, but I know more than some taxpayers at this address so that means I earn my keep.

Today's crisis was a complete email failure; it took be probably five hours in front of the PC plus another 90 minutes of researching before I got the nerve to start mucking with things.

Since it's HER email, and not mine, the onus is on me to make it right. I hope I did.

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I'm off to beautiful Fredericton tomorrow so don't expect burning words of wisdom or hilarity. On the other hand, I'm flying Air Canada and their ability to turn a routine two-hour flight into the airborne version of the Bataan Death March holds few equals on this planet, so who knows what adventure the next 48 hours will hold?

For sure, I'm linking up with my academic star nephew for dinner and I hope a lot of freshman undergrad chatter about life at UNB. I'm looking forward to that, because I can learn a lot from smart guys like JJ.

Pad and the Rangers play Burlington and Big Wally and almost-as-big-Brett tomorrow night in the town to my immediate right. Wish I could be there, but they'll have to do this one without me.

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I'm not sure who does the writeups for Mitch Kvasni's bantam AE Ranger web site, but they're pretty funny. It may be the second-funniest hockey site in Oakville. Unfortunately, they're not archived but they are well worth checking in on a couple of times a week to read the funny one liners. You can visit their site here.


Oct 23, 2007

Some slice-of-life musing today.

I'm sitting on a GO Train that isn't GO-ing anywhere right now, stopped about half a killometre west of Union Station because of congestion problems at the hub. And now they've told us that the engine just shut down, so we might be a while.

The Rangers are back on the ice tonight for a practice and then play Burlington in a Thursday night road game. We're looking forward to that one because Burlington is the first place team, and they have a former Ranger and teammate of Pad's on their blue line.

But sitting on a stationary train watching the rain come down in sheets and soaked commuters waiting for the next opportunity to get wetter, I have to say I'm not loving Toronto today.

Two days ago I woke up in the Adirondack mountains to a clear sky and a view of the mountains and a crystal lake. Today, this.

I've got a business dinner tonight and will be travelling Thursday and Friday (missing the Ranger game, again) while Laura has the school parent council she chairs, plus plus plus.

The kids are swamped with "catch-up" homework -- Patrick was doing a PowerPoint presentation to review a book he read for English, Chris was doing math, as usual.

Pad is pretty solid in math, but it's a challenge for Chris. Both of us are writers/editors, so having us help the kids with math homework is like asking Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles to judge Olympic ice dancing (which might actually be a step forward, come to think of it, even if one of them is actually dead.)

Anyway, sometimes you can see the kids feeling just a wee bit overwhelmed with it all. And parents, too.

Like last night, when Pad lost his "binder."

His binder basically contains his academic life. Assignments, calendars, study material, everything all in one place to be conveniently lost all at once.

Laura went to get Pad after his school volleyball game last evening, after which it was discovered the binder was missing. It would be less disturbing at this stage of our lives to discover President Bush had lost the launch codes to the nuclear arsenal.

Backtracking over his steps, returning to the school, etc, was fruitless.

I made the strategic mistake of calling home to help -- suggesting that they backtrack over his steps, returning to the school, etc., whereupon I had my head chewed off down to a bloody, pulsing stump.

A few minutes later I was emailed by my lovely bride -- the binder was found by a teacher and locked up safely for the night. But there were assignments due this morning, she had a parent council meeting, and would I ensure that Pad found someone with the needed assignment sheets, and then could I build a photocopying machine, duplicate the sheets, and then return the originals from whence they came.

All of which, I might add, I did. Except the build-the-copying-machine part. We found a neighbour with a photocopier, and shuttled back to the home of the kid who lent us the originals, and then headed for home.

(I haven't even mentioned the highlight of the day -- the girl at the drycleaners last night told me she was "totally loving my eyes" which, to say the least, I found startling because I had been reading my Blackberry on the train and thought my eyes were bloodshot. Anyway, it was an offhand comment from a stranger and it made me laugh.)

Once home, we edited the PowerPoint -- Pad did most of the work, I just showed him some tricks for animating his graphics -- Chris did his math, and my head slowly grew back from where it had been chewed off.

I did three loads of laundry in the midst of this, plus barbequed some chicken for dinner, which was late, which is normal around here.

All of which is to say, today I'm staring out a rain-streaked train window and thinking about mountain country and maybe opening a little storefront where I can hang a sign that says "Will Blog For Food and My Kids' University Tuition."

Maybe another day I'll do that. For now, the train is finally moving.

GO Transit apologizes for any inconvenience and wishes me a nice day.

Same to you.


Oct 22, 2007

We got home around 8:20p last night, making only one brief pit stop after fueling up for the trek back to Oakville from Lake Placid. About six hours of travel time all tolled.

Both boys had homework and needless to say, not all of it got done. To Pad's credit he camped out with my laptop and wireless Internet at the hotel Sunday morning in Lake Placid and did a science assignment. Laura's efforts to get Chris through some math after we got home pretty much collapsed in mutual fatigue.

Here are the boys celebrating their bronze medal, which after the hole they dug for themselves felt much bigger and brighter:

After Oakville scored in overtime to win, goalie Jack Gillis, who if I was to go out on a limb and pick a team MVP from the weekend would have been the man, did a very classy thing.

Amid the chaos of kids piling on one another as they do after winning in overtime, one Ranger was missing from the pile: Jack.

He skated from his net directly to the Ashburn goalie who was en route to his bench, where I'm sure he offered words of encouragement before joining his teammates in their celebration. Anyone who knows Jack would not be surprised by that gesture.

A word about the jerseys -- the really clever among you might note that, "Hey, those aren't Ranger colours!."

No, they're not. They're Team Canada.

For administrative and bureaucratic reasons I won't attempt to explain, there was some doubt as to whether the Rangers would even have regular Ranger jerseys in time for this tournament. Since the Rangers were the only Canadian team in their division, alternative arrangements were made. They looked great!

- - -

In our absence, Chris's team won 2-1 in what must have been a rocker of a game over the Hound Dogs. Still with House League, I notice from the minor peewee red scoring numbers that by pal Brendan Dickie -- the hero of a championship game in white two years ago -- sits atop the scoring stats with five goals and three assists.


Oct 21, 2007

The bantam AA Oakville Rangers beat Ashburn, Va., 2-1 in overtime Sunday to take the bronze medal at the Can-Am Tournament in Lake Placid.

Mark McIntyre took a nifty pass from Patrick Griffin and buried the winner past the Ashburn keeper who saw a lot of pucks in a good game. Oakville dominated the game, the Ashburn goalie kept them in it.

Webster, NY -- who we beat 5-0 on Saturday -- edged Carolina Jr Hurricanes 3-2 also in OT to take the gold.

Hitting the road for home shortly.

A fun weekend.


Oct 20, 2007

So, our  first Saturday game in Lake Placid was against the Carolina Jr Hurricanes, a AAA team, and the second was to be against the Webster, NY, Cyclones, also a AAA team.

Carolina was very good, perhaps the best team we've seen this season and they wore us down, winning 4-1. It wasn't that our guys played poorly, but the 'Canes were simply better. Our guys led for a spell early but it wasn't to be and they really didn't give their best showing.

So that sent us into the afternoon against Webster, the only undefeated team in our bracket at 3-0. They beat Carolina on Friday, so we figured we'd have our hands full.

Having scored only four goals in three games, I was guessing to anyone who would listen that a break out of goals was overdue, and I was right.

The Rangers did a lot of things well and soundly thumped Webster 5-0, with Jack Gillis getting the shutout.

Webster and Carolina will meet for the gold medal tomorrow, and we will play Ashburn, VA., for the bronze. We beat them 3-1 on Friday.

Last year here with the single-A Rangers, Pad and his team also played in the bronze medal game, losing to a Boston-area team they had beaten two days earlier.

Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself!


Oct 19, 2007

The bantam AA Rangers, wearing Team Canada black and red, bounced back in their evening game, beating a fast Ashburn, VA., squad 3-1 with an empty net, short handed goal to end the game. Again, Jack Gillis was instrumental in the win, and Ryan Runciman's goal with 10 seconds left in the second period ended a nearly five full periods of scoring famine for the Rangers.

Patrick Griffin notched the winner and Mark Cece got the insurance goal.

- - -

It was pissing rain after the game and I ran back to the hotel to get the car and then proceeded to run a shuttle service from the Olympic Centre back to our hotel. I got the wettest, but Neil got pretty wet too doing the same thing. Anyway we won and no one minded the rain.

There's some potential for really funny blogging in here, but I'm wet and tired and, well, use your imaginations.

Here are the boys posing in their Team Canada Blacks.

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Matt McLaughlin won a $1,000 scholarship for having the best essay in the bantam division on hockey.


Oct 19, 2007

The boys opened the Lake Placid adventure by dropping an unremarkable 1-0 decision to Suffolk, NY. The stars of the game were the goalies at each end, but otherwise there wasn't a lot to commend this effort to anyone.

The Rangers failed to use the big ice surface to any strategic degree, with forwards bunching up on the attack and . . well, it was one of those games, I guess.

It's warm here but otherwise grey and dreary and a little rainy right now. But a change is as good as a rest and the boys are having fun together as a team.

We're hoping for a better effort this evening vs. Ashburn, VA.


Oct 19, 2007

Long day, uneventful drive, good practice.

Sometimes, as the saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words. So, this saves a blogger some effort. It was cool to watch.


Oct 18, 2007

Since I'm going to be driving all day, don't expect much in the way of a blog update. The boys don't play in Lake Placid till Friday afternoon, so Laura called and asked about practice ice and presto -- 9:15p practice in the Herb Brooks Arena tonight. Try doing that in Oakville! Practice ice on 24 hours notice!

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If you're bored and looking for stuff to look at, Tri County standings are online. Finally. Click here to go there, starting with the bantam AA page, which shows the Rangers packed near the top with also-undefeated Burlington and Brampton.

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Oct 17, 2007

Darcy Tucker wants everyone in Leaf Nation to get off Bryan McCabe's back. I'm sure Darcy's a standup guy, and teammates should stand up for their teammates.

But telling people to stop booing the guy who scored on his own net in overtime, skated into his own net, etc.? Forget it.

I'll make Darcy a deal. When the Leafs' ticket prices fall to the point where an average family of four doesn't have to spend the equivalent of a month's grocery bill to go to a game, maybe once every two or three years if they're lucky, then and only then can the Leafs suggest when it's appropriate to boo.

Until then, the people paying the salaries with ticket revenue, merchandise, Leaf TV subscriptions, watching games on TV and watching all those beer commercials . . . they can feel free to boo a guy making $7 million a year if they don't think he's getting the job done.

It's part of the deal for the privilege of making almost $87,000 a game.

You can read the story here.

- - -

Pad and the AA bantams hit the road for Lake Placid tomorrow, playing twice Friday and Saturday against US teams in a tournament. The Rangers will face off with the Ashburn, Virginia, XTreme; the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes; the Webster, NY, Cyclones; and the Suffolk, NY, PAL.

I'll check in from time to time to let you know how that goes. The bad news is that Chris misses his game this week (he's not happy) and I'll be dodging convening duties.

- - -

It was 20 years ago today that we got married.

The pace of life sometimes makes one overlook a lot of what it takes to stay married that long -- hiding the really sharp knives is a good start. Aside from being a wonderful partner and friend, Laura is one of the many volunteers in our town who make a massive contribution to the lives of all of Oakville's kids. Her energy and enthusiasm are boundless. She never expects and rarely receives recognition, she's always willing to help and she doesn't just talk a good game, she delivers.

You can tell the season of the year by walking through our foyer or living room. Lacrosse jerseys. Hockey trophies and medals. Hockey jerseys. Lacrosse trophies and t-shirts. Shirts for the school band. Book club stuff. Deliveries from a Pampered Chef fundraiser. On and on and on. It's less of a living room than it is a warehouse.

She is a serial volunteerer. She can't help helping.

Many of our years together have been spent running from rinks, running to rinks, running to fields, running to birthday parties, running everywhere and anywhere our kids need to be. She does most of the running.

She never misses an important occasion for the boys, whether it's a big game or school concert or a small quiet thing at home that means a lot to them.

I know more than a few blog readers have been in leagues or on team's where Laura was a manager or a hockey mom or just a helper. You know what I mean. The rest will have to take my word for it.

Thanks and Happy Anniversary. To celebrate, I'm taking you to  . . . LAKE PLACID!!

You can thank me later.


Oct 16, 2007

And, grim news from pro lacrosse. The National Lacrosse League has gassed it's upcoming season after the owners and players could not agree on a contract. Bummer.

Story here.


Oct 16, 2007

The next big thing in hockey might be the ThermaBlade -- technology that used a rechargeable battery and a data chip to heat a hockey skate blade to a constant 5 degrees Celsius, reducing friction with the ice, particularly on starting.

(I'd like to see them heat a blade to 5 degrees at Oakville's Kinoak Arena in January, but that's just me. I don't think it can be done!)

It might be very cool. If it has any effect, I bet it will be to make the really good skaters even better, and the really average and lower skaters . . . less impact.

For example, have changes in golf equipment technology closed the gap between Tiger Woods and everyone else? Your average weekend golfer now has the ability to hit the ball further into the woods than ever before, but it doesn't mean he's any better or that the trend is for lower handicaps.

But, I'm just guessing. Will legions of beer-league players with money line up to get the $400 blades to add to their skates? You bet they will.

Should they be legal equipment? I dunno. Battery-enhanced skate blades? Just asking.

Available only in adult sizes now. NHL and NHLPA looking at the product.

Read the story here.

Visit the company's web site here.


Oct 16, 2007


Bryan McCabe scores in OT to  . . . give Buffalo a 5-4 win last night. The big guy fires one into his own net while trying to clear the puck. Oh my. Let's roll the tape . . .

Oct 16, 2007

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band stormed the Air Canada Centre last night and marked my 20th wedding anniversary with a blow-your-hats-off rock tour de force in front of 20,000, including the four of us.

Standing in the pitch black of the ACC he roared the rhetorical chorus from his new album's first single (Radio Nowhere) and asked, "Is anybody alive out there???!"

The answer was immediate, intense and didn't let up for nearly three hours as he roared through a selection of new songs and E Street classics that was by times overwhelming. There was virtually no break in between songs. They just played and played and played.

Driving out chords on the wooden Fender like he was pounding nails, Springsteen looked nothing of his 58 years and the supporting cast -- including crowd favourites Clarence Clemons and Steve van Zandt -- performed with the gusto of teenagers. A friend of mine saw Van Zandt in an ACC bar five minutes before show time. I like that.

The real treat of the night for us was simply experiencing the show through the kids. All skepticism of their parents' tastes in music vanished in the cool October night as the Boss traded guitars solos with Van Zandt. The energy would have raised the dead and the boys were standing and clapping and enjoying the show like everyone else.

The show was political without being preachy. Springsteen noted, before playing the title song of his new CD Magic, that these are perilous times we live in and the song wasn't about magic as much as it was about tricks and be careful to know the difference.

It was the third time I've seen Springsteen, the 2nd with the E Street Band and it was hands down the best. Sharing it with the boys made it the best concert I've ever seen.

There were personal highlights -- the Springsteen standards like For You, Candy's Room, She's the One, The Promised Land, Darlington County, and The Rising. The last song before the encore, Badlands, raised the temperature of the concert to air punching, hand-clapping, pandemonium. But I also enjoyed the new songs and we were glad we spent the time getting familiar with songs like Last To Die and Long Walk Home.

He led the encore by saying he wished "they all could be Canadian girls" and played Girls In Their Summer Clothes from the new CD, and then gave the people what they wanted, turning on every light in the joint and diving into Thundercrack, Born To Run, Dancing in the Dark and wrapping up with the Seeger Sessions anthem, American Land, complete with lyrics on the big screen for people to sing along.

It felt like a Cape Breton kitchen party with the folksy jig at the end, if you can imagine 20,000 people in your kitchen.

There were more than a few Greg Norman golf jackets and sport coats and lots of graying hair. But there were lots of young people too and to that end people in our section shared their binoculars with the kids and told them over and over what we bored them with for weeks -- they were lucky to see a show like this, but the standard of what they will expect from concerts for the rest of their lives may now be set unrealistically high.

We got home just before midnight and the whirl of life began at 6a with getting Pad out to volleyball practice.

My ears are still ringing.

The show didn't start till 8:15p, which tested Chris's patience sorely, but that was the only flaw on the evening. It was sweat-flying, ass-kicking, stand-up-and-roar rock n' roll.

The only regret I had at the end of the night was that we paid all that money for seats we didn't need -- we were on our feet all night long.


The set list from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Oct 15, Air Canada Centre, Toronto:

Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Bike
For You  (performed for the first time on this tour)
Reason To Believe
Candy's Room
She's The One
Livin' In The Future
The Promised Land
Town Called Heartbreak
Incident On 57th Street
Darlington County
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last To Die
Long Walk Home
Girls In Their Summer Clothes
Born To Run
Dancing In The Dark
American Land


Oct 15, 2007

For those who missed the live event, here is Bryan McCabe, skating into a net and creating a scoring chance for the other team. Hold your applause till the end:


Oct 15, 2007

For Oakville minor hockey fans with friends, family or just a general interest in house league peewee results, standings, and more, visit the site Michael has built over at . Lots of cool stuff that will be of interest!



Oct 15, 2007

Shorthanded and with the goalie on the bench, Brian Heggum hit Mark McIntyre with a tape-to-tape 30-foot pass to set up the extra attacker for a breakaway which McIntyre buried with 54 seconds left to lift the AA bantam Rangers to a 2-2 tie in Brampton last night.

It was a stunning turn of events shortly after the Rangers were penalized late in the game. Brampton opened the scoring in the first and Matt McLaughlin's fifth goal of the weekend tied it 30 seconds later. A second period Brampton goal looked like it was going to be the difference but the Rangers had all the momentum in the third and McIntyre's dagger had to make the tie feel like a loss for the Battalion.

The game was played at the old Memorial Arena in Brampton -- the smallest ice surface I've seen in some time which didn't leave either team a lot of room to move around. but the tight quarters also made for some entertaining hockey.

Brampton is a pretty good hockey team with some talented kids. Clearly they are a team to watch for in our loop.

The Rangers carry a 4-0-1 Tri County record into Lake Placid and the Can/Am Cup later this week.

- - -

We're off to the Boss tonight. It will be fun!


Oct 14, 2007

The bantam AA Rangers ran their Tri County record to 4-0-0 last night with a 6-1 win over Georgetown. Nothing remarkable happened.

I'm kidding.

Matt McLaughlin, who basically couldn't buy a goal thus far this year exploded for four to pace the attack. That's a big night in anyone's book.

 Jack Gillis was back in net and I'm told he made a series of spectacular saves when it was a 3-1 game and after that the momentum shifted to the Rangers.

Michael Wood and Jake Cussen, on loan from the A squad, added singles. Mark McIntyre, Mark Cece and Alex Magee each had a pair of assists.

- - -

I missed the game because I was on the ice at practice with Chris and the Flyers, who were prepping for today's game with the Eagles. The Flyers looked very good and Zack notched the shutout as the Flyers prevailed 4-0. It was a good game and the Eagles certainly had their share of shots, but Zack came up big when he had to.

- - -

One more sleep til the Boss.


Oct 13, 2007

Two more sleeps till Springsteen.

- - -

The fall weather has arrived -- a week late, but better late than never. The house was a brisk 18 degrees this morning but everyone is still in bed so I have not yet turned on the furnace. It's sunny out and I may be able to avoid it for one more day . . .

- - -

Pad and the Abbey Park High School volleyball squad came third in a tournament in Mississauga yesterday. Or as I like to say, third means you're the runner-up loser. OK, that's harsh. There was a bunch of teams and third is quite respectable. He knows I'm kidding.

- - -

The bantam AA Rangers are heading for Lake Placid and the Can/Am Cup next weekend. Some of the parents on our team haven't been there yet -- we did this tournament last year and lost in the bronze medal game in a stinker of a match -- and have asked what to expect.

Once you cross over into the States the drive is unremarkable for the first bit but gets better as you drive up into the mountains.

You're in the Adirondack mountains -- not mountains like the Rockies, but real mountains nonetheless. And that means it will be colder than it is here, especially in the morning, and at night. Bring your woolies. And something to scrape your windshield with.

The town of Lake Placid is actually on Mirror Lake. Don't ask why. It just is.

The two main rinks for the tournament are the 1932 Olympic rink and the 1980 Olympic rink. Both are walking distance from our luxurious accommodations at Northwoods Inn. I think the word "rustic" will cover the hotel. Clean and comfortable, it's, um, rustic. But it's also five minutes walk from the rinks.

The 1932 rink is sort of the Olympic equivalent of Kinoak. When you see it, you'll scratch your head and say, "Sonya Henie won a gold medal here??"

It has seating for a few hundred, and lots of girders and beams and sight lines not made for TV. But it's not without its charm and character, because remember, this is where Canada won the hockey gold in 1932.

But you can't build a thriving resort industry geared to sucking money from minor hockey parents based on what happened in 1932. No sir.

That's why they held the winter games here again in 1980 -- to take your money three decades later.

The 1932 rink and the 1980 rink -- yes, the Herb Brooks Arena -- are connected by a corridor and all kidding aside, when you walk into that bowl, you feel the history and electricity of hockey history that was made there 27 years ago. The corridors are lined with historical mementos from US hockey and figure skating history as well as the two Olympic games.

There's a very moving memorial to the 1961 US figure skating team, who all died in a tragic plane crash.

It's a beautiful facility and if everyone you meet who claims to have witnessed in person the golden moment 27 years ago was actually there, well, it would need to be the size of the Rose Bowl. But there can be no denying USA won the gold over the Soviet machine in those games, setting the stage for an isolated upstate resort area to dine out on a single event forever.

And they really do.

I'll qualify that by pointing out that the Olympic facilities are still used for training and various competitions. And the whole Olympic region is beautiful. We toured the ski jumping towers last year, went to Mount Whiteface and some of the boys (including mine) went down the Olympic bobsled run.

But. You cannot walk 10 feet without having the Miracle on Ice in your face.

There's a cable TV channel that plays 1980 highlights on a loop with Can/Am Cup moments edited in.

You can buy every imaginable souvenir of the moment from fake gold medals to t-shirts to you name it.

But American free enterprise notwithstanding, you won't find a better run tournament anywhere. You meet hockey parents from all over the place -- we play teams this year from Carolina, Virginia, and New York. And what I found last year is those parents get very excited to play a team from Canada, because even they know it's our game, so presumably our kids will be a good test.

And their kids really want to beat the guys from Canada.

So that's fun.

Our hotel is right on Main Street. There's a Starbucks next door and a very good wine store across the street. Last year it was closed more than it was open and the clerk had the personality of an Afghan warlord. But the selection was good.

There's a cool toy store across the street that sold these wooden guns that fired rubber bands. I don't know how every kid on the team managed to have one within 10 minutes of arriving at the hotel, but they did. All weekend long parents were picking rubber bands out of kids' hair.

There are a number of discount outlets on the street too and the strength of the Canadian dollar has levelled the playing field in that regard. We found that our debit card worked fine at most stores, too.

There's lots of places to run and walk, including around the lake if you're into that sort of thing.

Lake Placid is the heart of winter sport in America -- the women's national hockey team was training there last year when we were there, and me and a couple of parents wandered over to watch the junior national luge team training. They go very fast.

The five-hour plus drive not withstanding, we all enjoyed the experience last year. The Americans were great hosts, the tournament was well run, and there was a lot to do when you weren't on the ice. The boys all had a blast.

There was a sign in the 1980 rink that said it all:

Play Hard. Miracles Happen Here.


Oct 12, 2007

A power surge from the defence corps and shutout goaltending from Blair W. lifted the AA bantam Rangers to a 5-0 win over Flamborough in Waterdown last night.

O'Shea, Heggum and McIntyre all scored on rockets from the point, while Ryan and Patrick G. rounded out the scoring.

The win pushes the Rangers league record to 3-0-0. They're on the ice again Saturday night at home for the first leg of a weekend home-and-home with Georgetown.

I missed last night's game. And I'll miss the Saturday game (Chris has a practice at the same time.) And I missed all the games in Whitby last weekend.

My season ticket holder status is in jeopardy.

Just FYI, the Tri County standings are still not online. We continue to wait.

- - -

Missing last night's game due to a homework assignment with Chris, did, however, mean that I saw almost all of the Leafs' unlikely 8-1 win over the NYI. Yawn. (Leaf TV HD is now on Cogeco on channel 276.)

Yeah, they looked much better than they did in the debacle against Carolina.

But really. What does it take to motivate a bunch of millionaires who are payed to do what the rest of us pay money to participate in?

One Leaf who never mails it in is Mats Sundin, and last night he became the team's all-time leader in goals and points.

- - -

Expect another round of hand wringing at the NHL head office. Flyers' Jesse Boulerice cross checked the Canucks Ryan Kessler across the face, breaking his stick. Regular readers know my rant on hits to the head. Not only are they dangerous, they are stupid. And generally it's probably safe to say that if you have to resort to cross checking a guy to the face, you've probably already failed at your job.  Here's the clip:


- - -

The usual weekend blur ahead for us. Pad's off to Mississauga all day to a high school volleyball tournament. Tomorrow, Chris debutes in Personal Best, a semi-competitive swimming program. Then he has his birthday party at Centennial Pool, and then a hockey practice, all on Saturday. Pad has two hockey games and they both have stacks and stacks of homework. Chris has a game Sunday and I have several hours of coaching and convening duties on Sunday as well. Then more homework.


Oct 11, 2007

Just FYI for all those people (like me) who stand inside freezing at the former Twin Rinks (now Joshua Creek) wishing the old restaurant/bar was open.

Well, tenders from the town for a new operator close Oct 17. Happily, the canteen facility is open now.

The document may make for interesting reading if you know anything about the food and beverage business (I don't). Page 16 of the document gives detailed revenue and expense data from the previous owners, including that they paid no rent in 2005 or 2006.

You can find the RFP from the town here.


Oct 11, 2007

A musical interlude:

Next week, we're going to see Springsteen. All four of us, even Chris.

I won't pretend to be the biggest fan of Bruce Springsteen. My wife and her friend Allison can have that mantle.

And I'm far from the longest serving member of the club -- I was late to the party in spring 1980, fully six years after Jon Landau, reviewing a Springsteen concert in Cambridge, MA., declared: "I saw rock and roll's future and its name is Bruce Springsteen."

The album Born To Run was released the next year -- it didn't spawn a single Top-40 hit, but the legend started to grow about Springsteen's live performances -- three, three and a half hour rock spectaculars.

Darkness on the Edge of Town followed in 1978. It wasn't until 1980's double album The River that I tuned in. I've been listening like the dog in the RCA Victor picture ever since.

In 1980 I moved to Yarmouth, N.S., to be the fisheries correspondent for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. I was young and single and knew almost no one. I spent most of my evenings in that first summer listening to a lot of music.

I inherited a rambling three bedroom flat from another scribe who was leaving as I arrived. It was ridiculously large for my needs, but it was also ridiculously cheap so I took it. It was a funeral home in previous life (downstairs was by then an office supply place, empty after 5p and perfect for blasting the music very, very loud) and featured among the permanent furniture collection a stainless steel embalming table, stacks of undertaker trade magazines and empty jars that once held embalming fluid.

It had character.

It may explain why I am like I am now, and, possibly why I spent most of those evenings alone.

I digress.

So anyway, the guy who I inherited the flat from left me two things -- a three year supply of every copy of the Chronicle-Herald that he was too lazy to throw out, and, a single, solitary Springsteen poster that captured my imagination completely.

It was a shot of Springsteen, taken from behind, with his old wooden Fender slung across his back and a pair of old canvas Conserve all-stars dangling from the machine heads (those things you turn to tune a guitar.) It said Springsteen across the top and promoted the coming album, Born to Run, across the bottom.

It was this poster.

I thought to myself, anyone with a poster that cool must be alright. And I went out and bought The River, Born to Run, and Darkness on the Edge of Town (not all at the same time I might add.) I thought his music was terrific.

It took 12 years before I saw him in concert, at Skydome in November 1992. I remember during the encore when he hit the first chord of Born to Run every light in the place came on and I wondered if it was deliberate or if the electricity of the moment had simply tripped every switch in southern Ontario. And at that moment you could feel the full gravity of the man's impact in the faces illuminated in that sudden light. It was like some sort of old-time revival with people dancing and swaying and singing and stomping and clapping. I've never forgot it.

Laura saw him again years later (with Allison) and then we went together a couple of summer's ago to see him solo in a totally acoustic show that was like a different type of church service. We were in the sixth row, and it was hard to get Laura's attention on anything for about a week after that.

On Monday night, we're going to introduce the boys -- owners of four (five? six?) guitars littering my basement and loosening the pictures on my walls when they practice between their weekly lesson -- to The Boss.

Chris is game for anything. Life is an adventure and he knows this much -- this is going to be a big-time rock 'n roll show because I told him so. That's all he needed to know.

Pad is more skeptical. He tilts hard toward bands with names like Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park, Sum 41, and his cousin's illScarlett. As well he should -- I didn't listen to my parents' music, either.

So, he's not sure what's in it for him.

What's in it for him?

Well, Bruce is 58 now, a full 30 years older than Laura (yeah, I know. I'm no good at math but sometimes that's a good thing.) So, he's no longer the future of rock n' roll.

But he is still the yardstick against which all live bands are measured. As in, "they played almost as long as Springsteen." "They showed the type of energy you'd expect from Springsteen."

And it's not just Springsteen -- it's the full E Street Band. Clarence Clemons. Stevie van Zandt. Roy Bittan, Nils Lofgren, Danny Federici, Max Weinburg, Mrs. Springsteen (Patti Scialfa), Garry Tallent and Soozie Tyrell.

We've listened to the new CD enough now that we know the parts we like -- which is most of them. Not that Springsteen will only play the new stuff. As the kids say, that's not how he rolls.

I'm looking forward to hearing the new songs, hearing the old songs played in new ways, and taking the whole thing in. Mostly, I'm looking forward to watching the creation of two new Springsteen fans.

As sure as I'm sitting here, any skepticism will be blown away by that same old wooden fender that hooked me 27 short years ago.

- - -

Bantam AA hockey tonight in Flamborough, which I'm guessing I'm going to miss. Scores and highlights later if I do get there.


Oct. 10, 2007

Just to update the news of Paul Finlay's recent passing. You can view his obituary here. The service is Friday.


Oct. 10, 2007

I've been doing the stats for the 1996 MOHA house league kids for a few years. They're back. Minor bantam house league players, parents and the truly bored can review the data by clicking the appropriate button on the teamoakville index here.

And, no. I won't change the numbers if you email me!

- - -

Pad and the AA bantams had dryland training last night, which actually started to look worthwhile with the addition of Universal Gym to the small Rangers training facility at River Oaks. The second-hand unit allows for some needed light weight training under supervised conditions. And since it's not free weights, the risk of a brain-cramped 14 year old cracking open his skull or having a bar crush his windpipe is reduced almost completely.

Yes, I know it's a cheery thought. Sorry.

- - -

The AA bantam Rangers practice tonight and then travel to beautiful Flamborough (the hamlet formerly known as Waterdown) for a road game Thursday night. Friday sees another practice, and then Saturday and Sunday is a home-and-home with Georgetown. One night off, then a practice AND dryland on Tuesday, one day off, and then off to Lake Placid, NY, for the Can/AM Cup.

On his Facebook account, Pad recently joined a group named appropriately, "I can't. I have hockey."

- - -

It was with a sense of wonder, sprinkled with a sense of bewilderment, mixed with the sensation of wanting to hurl, as I watched the Leaf game last night. It was not the 7-1 score and the near complete humiliation of the blue shirts on home ice. I have low expectations, remember.

No, my moment of complete despair came in the third period when Bryan McCabe, the $7 million defenceman, picked up the puck in his own end, on the powerplay. He rounded back behind the net to set up the breakout. He then basically tripped over the net, coughing up the puck to the Hurricanes, who didn't score -- probably only because they were tired of holding their hands over their heads celebrating.

I watch a lot of minor hockey -- from blue house league to AAA -- and everything in between. And if I saw one of those kids trip over a net, I would probably shake my head.

So, to see the highest paid Leaf -- yes, he makes more than Sundin -- do it is to send one to the Columbus Blue Jackets web site in search of the sign up page for their fan club.

This will be lost on younger readers, but way back in the 1980s, before Al Gore invented the Internet and the Oilers were a powerhouse, a singer named Hughie Lewis had a hit song called "I want a New Drug."

Well, me? With apologies to Mr. Lewis, I want a new team. Feel free to sing along. You know the tune.

I want a new team. One that won't make me sick. One that won't charge too much, when they play like sh--.

Enough said I think.

- - -


Oct 9, 2007

Before I forget, the bagel debate rages on.

A loyal reader points us to Bagel World. North. Way north -- Wilson Ave just west of Bathurst. A long trek, he says, but better than a Montreal bagel.

"Yes, better," he insisted.

In the meantime, read this story from the Toronto Star last summer where the great Toronto bagel debate already played out.

But you know, there could be holes in this story.


Oct 9, 2007

Pending the arrival of MOHA's funky new statistics hosting system, house league standings and stats for white and blue minor peewee will be available on this site. The white stats are up now here.

And yes, I know you got two assists that the ref didn't give you. But the game sheets are final and I'm old. So leave me alone.

And, get off my lawn!


Oct 9, 2007

We had an outstanding meal last night, one of those rare occasions when there was no one trying to run out the door to a practice or game or meeting or whatever. I can say all the trite things about the importance of family and all of that, but I'll spare you except to say, it is so true.

Anyway, it was fun and it was hot. We stubbornly resisted turning on the air conditioning in spite of the 30 degree temperature. It seemed like doing that was like turning on the furnace in August. In retrospect, we probably should have.

After we ate Laura and I sat in the back yard and talked and waited for a cool breeze, but there was wasn't one. 

- - -

Later in the evening, we learned of some very sad news.

Paul Finlay lost his long battle and died late last week. Paul was a familiar and smiling face around our rinks -- one of his boys played in the same division as Chris for a number of years before moving up to red house league and more recently the GTHL. They also played summer hockey together. So, our paths crossed often.

Paul always had a smile and an encouraging word for all the kids and his devotion to his own family was obvious from the hours he spent fostering their interest in hockey and many other things, I'm sure. He was a really nice guy.

Our sympathy and best wishes go out to his family.

Friends of Paul can visit Jennifer and the family at Skinner & Middlebrook Funeral Home, 128 Lakeshore Rd. East, Misssissauga, on Thursday evening from 7p to 9p.


Oct 8, 2007

I remember when as a family one of the things we'd do on Thanksgiving was pull on our jeans and a favourite old sweater or sweatshirt and head out for a country drive to a pumpkin farm, or a walk somewhere to enjoy the escarpment and the fall colours and the crisp, cool fall air.

As I sit here today I can hear the neighbours' kid splashing in the pools. The high today is forecast to be around 30 -- higher with the humidex.

All of which is to say, it doesn't feel much like Thanksgiving. But, more importantly it will taste like Thanksgiving. Turkey on the menu tonight.

- - -

The Rangers beat Gloucester (ON) 3-2 yesterday to finish up in Whitby. Blair W. was a call up to tend goal as Jack rested a sore leg and the scouts report he was terrific. Again, I missed this one, but from all accounts it was a much better effort overall against a good team.

- - -

I missed that game because I was with Chris at his house league opener, a 5-3 loss, including an empty net goal. I thought our side played very well -- they skated hard, had a lot of jump, and generated a lot of chances. My pal Cameron in the other net figured large in his team's success as they carried a 4-0 lead into the third. Our guys didn't roll over and got within a goal, but we needed another 45 seconds. It was a fun start to the season.


Oct 7, 2007

The data would suggest the London AA bantam Knights are better than the Oakville Rangers, beating us again yesterday in Whitby 5-0. I wasn't there so I can't report on the game but I think it's safe to say that there's no good spin to be placed on that result for the blue shirts.

The second game of the day vs. North Toronto also goes into the books as a loss, 4-2 with an empty net goal. The Rangers led 1-0 and 2-1, but fell behind in the third and that was that. Again, sorry I wasn't there so no details on scorers or heroic moments.

- - -

I got to be the first person to wish Chris a Happy Birthday yesterday when I woke him at 5a for practice. We went to Tim's after with another dad and his son and later to Burger King (his pick) for a birthday lunch while mom and Pad lived it up in Whitby. We did the family birthday thing last night and odds are looking good that tomorrow we'll all be home to enjoy turkey.

Listening to everyone talk about preparations for large family get togethers, I'm reminded that living so far away from our families is a curse and a blessing. While we'd love to be able to join everyone at a family get together, we're also spared the torment of trying to be with two families at the same time, coordinating dinner around the hockey/school/whatever schedules for everyone in the family, not to mention  the work that comes with having 25 people over for dinner.

Tomorrow we'll sit around our table and talk and laugh and enjoy each other's company for an hour before the whirl of life lifts us from the table again to scatter in different directions. I hope wherever you are you have a great Thanksgiving. You don't have to look far to see all the things we have to be thankful for around here.

- - -

Bagel Update: An Oakville-based reader who is familiar with "New York bagels" having been born and raised across the river in New Jersey, lends a voice of support to the call for an Oakville-based Montreal/New York-style bagel store. We're glad we're not alone!


Oct 5, 2007

A rare late afternoon weekday update, since I'm fighting neither traffic nor GO Transit today.

I had a conversation last night (at a rink, where else?) with a mom on Pad's team who had been exploring the blog and discovered this family's obsession with Montreal-style bagels.

Others in the conversation clearly thought we were both daft, but also clearly didn't know the wonder of a real bagel.

Neatly summarized, one of the biggest challenges we faced when we left Ottawa for the GTA was finding suitable bagels. The kids won't happily eat the rolls-with-holes that pass as bagels here and for months we had friends cart them from Montreal and Ottawa until I discovered St. Urbain Bagels in St Lawrence Market downtown.

So anyway . . . this mom proceeds to tell me about Taylor'd Bagels -- in Oakville, no less!! At the corner of Dundas and Third Line, and I had never heard of it.

I literally gasped with excitement , imagining that on the two Sunday mornings a year when I'm not at a rink or a lacrosse game or a field lacrosse tournament or travelling, that I could actually bring fresh bagels to Laura and the boys, just like I did in Ottawa, with the Sunday New York Times tucked under my arm, whereupon we'd hoe into those suckers and read the massive Sunday paper and . . . just . . . relax.

So today, I hop in the car and drive to Taylor'd Bagels, ready to experience the wonder of a locally made, Montreal-style, hand-rolled, hand-dipped, wood-fire-oven baked, bagel.

And there was a sign on the door.

It's closed. Forever.

I'm not sure when it happened -- judging by the newspapers piled at the door, I'd say within the last 48 hours, no longer.

I have no clue what happened and I wish those folks well.

But my dream of a local bagel that my kids won't turn their noses up at is snuffed out. For now.

Pass the jam. I'm having toast.

- - -

I actually did update the bog this morning. Technical gremlins. Sorry. That posting, such as it is, is below.


Oct 5, 2007

Having things to do today that don't require me to sit in a meeting room, have other people in my office, or otherwise interact with the population at large, I'm working from home. Or at least I will be when I finish writing this. That it is a beautiful day that is also a PD day for the boys and it's the cusp of a long weekend in the throes of flaming fall foliage, well that just makes opting to give the GO train a pass all that much easier.

Not that I mind interacting with people. But there are times. Like the time the woman on the GO train saw the earphones hanging from my head and asked me what I was listening to. I said, actually the batteries are dead but I leave the earphones in so no one will talk to me.

I'm not always like that -- except in the morning. And sometimes late in the day. And around lunch . . .and . .

- - -

The bantam AA Rangers get a rematch with the London team that dismantled them pretty effectively less than a month ago at an early bird tournament. They will square off tomorrow in a tournament conveniently located in Whitby. Between lacrosse and hockey I've spent enough time in Whitby in the last three months that I feel like I should buy a house there. But I won't.

Anyway, the Rangers are playing much better now than they were when they lost to London so hopefully it will be a good game. And I think they'll have a full lineup too, which between injury and suspensions hasn't happened for a long time. They also play North Toronto, tomorrow.

The Rangers take a four game winning streak into Whitby.

- - -

I will mostly have to rely on others for Whitby info, as I'll be here in Oakville with Chris, who among other things will celebrate his 11th birthday tomorrow and oddly, spending the day in Whitby watching his brother play hockey isn't on the list of things he wants to do.

Of course, getting up for a 6a practice isn't on his list either, but he's going to be doing that, and then we'll spend the day doing things he wants to do and reading emails from relatives trapped in Whitby.

His house league team plays their first league game on Sunday.

- - -

The Leafs lost their second in a row to the Sens last night. I saw bits and pieces. The result doesn't surprise me.

Meanwhile, Oakville native Sam Gagne played his first NHL game last night with the Edmonton Oilers and he got an assist as the Oilers beat San Jose for their 5th straight win in a home opener.

Pad and others on the Oakville Hawks Bantam 1 lacrosse team trained over the summer once a week at Beyond The Next Level at Ice Sports. And whenever they were there, Sam Gagne was already there. And when they left, Sam Gagne was still there. The smart guys on the team figured out that Sam knows what it takes to be ready to make the NHL, even on a team as bad as the Oilers. It's hard to imagine the Oilers will send him back to junior.


Oct 4, 2007

The bantam AA Rangers skated out of Stoney Creek with a 3-1 win last night, courtesy of lots of stellar play by Jack Gillis in goal. The Rangers were sloppy in the first two periods and Jack stole his first game of the season as the Warriors pelted the Ranger net with shots to no avail.

The game was a fairly sloppy affair I thought -- lots of missed passes and bouncing pucks. It wasn't until the third period that the Rangers started taking the game to Stoney Creek.

Cory Camilleri (who had a three-point night) scored the winner with four minutes left and the insurance goal a few minutes later on a 170 foot shot into an empty net. Mark McIntyre opened the scoring in a game where the Rangers never trailed with a rocket from the blue line, with Camilleri getting an assist on that one as well.

The Rangers are now 2-0-0 in league play and have won four straight overall.

Their next games are Saturday in a Thanksgiving Tournament in Whitby, vs. London and North Toronto, and then Sunday against Gloucester.

- - -

Meanwhile, the Leafs lost in overtime to the Sens. So far, three people today have said to me: "It could have been worse."

There's that low expectation thing again.

Anyway, worse may happen tonight in Ottawa for the return match.

I'm clearly a "glass half empty" kind of guy.

- - -

In case you need coffee, Starbucks has opened a new store in BCE Place. The only thing that makes this interesting to a non-coffee drinker like me is that there's already a Starbucks in BCE Place, on the same level, too. So, if you're really in need of a $5 coffee and can't spare the 45 seconds it takes to walk to the existing outlet, there's now a new location, which is about a 20 second walk from the Starbucks in the RBC Tower, also on the same level.

I have to go -- I think someone's building a Starbucks in my driveway.


Oct 3, 2007

Pad has a double header today -- high school volleyball in Burlington and then from there, directly on to Stoney Creek for hockey. Makes for a long day, more for his mother than him. I'll be hard pressed to get to either event, but it's too early to say.

- - -

Chris and the runners from Abbey Lane elementary school did very well at the preliminary cross country meet yesterday. Chris was third in his age group from Abbey Lane, meaning he gets another half day off school next week to run again in the regional meet. And really, that's what it's all about.

- - -

Senators are in town to play the Leafs tonight to open the NHL season for both teams.

What are the chances of the Leafs making the playoffs? Let me rephrase the question -- How many inflatable air bags would it take to raise the Titanic?

It's entirely possible I guess that the Leafs could squeak into a seventh or eighth spot for the playoffs. One big thing they have going for them is their coach, Paul Maurice, who impresses me endlessly whenever I hear him interviewed. But what they don't have is depth. And depth wins.

With the exception of Blake and Toskala, this is basically the same team that missed the playoffs a year ago. Now, if Blake can score the 35 goals he was hired to score, things look up. If Toskala lives up to his billing as the latest incarnation of the Leaf tradition of top-line goalies (Potvin, Cujo, Belfour) things get even better. Because each of those guys could steal games for the Leafs when the defence decidied to mail one in. And the Leaf defence this year looks a lot like a group that will be hard pressed to keep up.

Imagine if Sundin or Tucker or Kaberle go down with an injury that takes them out of the lineup for six weeks. There's no backup plan.

Because I'm a moron, I'll continue to cheer for the home team. But I continue to mourn the fact that the bar is set so low in one of the greatest hockey markets on Earth.

Do the Yankees settle for just making the playoffs?

Do the Patriots settled for just making the playoffs?

Is Brazil happy just to qualify for the World Cup?

Does Tiger Woods high-five his caddy when he finishes third in the Masters?

So, why do the Leafs think we should all be excited that they could be, maybe, a contender for the eighth spot?

Nothing will change until the strategic imperative for the Leafs is winning the Cup. And with a corporate structure that is built to maximize shareholder value, as opposed to winning championships, the Leafs have no on-ice strategy to contend with the elite teams.

What's funny is that when MLSE saw all the empty seats at Raptor games, they blew up the team and brought in a guy who, in the course of one off season, turned the doormat Raptors into a playoff contender -- division champs, actually -- virtually overnight.

But in a town where Leaf season tickets are passed on in wills, the revenue flow from suckers like me is assured, win or lose. And it costs less to lose. You do the math.

And enjoy the season.

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Further to my weekend rant on hits to the head, a veteran referee emailed me to say kids can be suspended for hits to the heads, depending on the local rules, the severity of the hit, etc. I appreciate that he took the time, because I like getting email when it's not always from kids or parents looking for stats that don't live here any more. I look forward to the day when I see just as many kids tossed for head contact as I see for checking from behind.

Except for my kid. He'd never do such a thing.

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Further to my promise yesterday to find out when MOHA will begin the host the stats, standings and game results for house league, the answer is . . . they don't know yet. They ask your patience, and sometimes patience is a good thing. As soon as I get the word, I'll pass it on.

Also, those of you looking for Tri County standings at the usual place are no doubt wondering why last year's stats are the only ones available. I'm told by the gurus of Tri County hockey that there have been a lot of schedule changes, teams dropping out, or moving up a level or down a level, that have made a mess of plans. They hope to have it straightened out shortly and you can check here when that happens.

The absence of a Tri County site for this season so far makes it impossible to keep track of what other Ranger teams are doing, and I know many of you like that news. When I know, I'll tell you.


Oct 2, 2007

If I can deviate from hockey for a moment, Bruce Springsteen's new album, Magic, is available today. Don't tell Laura, but I'll be getting this for her as a surprise. He may be 58 (30 years older than Laura), and this album, according to the reviews, is dark and brooding, but with his tour now rolling with the E Street Band, the Boss will still bring it, and he will bring it to Toronto on Oct 15. And we're going. Read the album review here.

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For only the 7th time in baseball history there was a one-game, winner-take-all game last night with a playoff spot on the line. Colorado edged San Diego in 13 innings. I'd like to say I saw the whole thing, but I fell asleep. The one-game playoff I remember most vividly was from 1978 -- I still had lots of brain cells then -- when Bucky Dent homered to lead the Yankees past the Red Sox.

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As I mentioned yesterday, lots and lots of kids came here looking for standings and scoring stats from their weekend games. I'll check with the hockey office today and find out what's up with the new hosted service MOHA is going to use and update you later.

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Two consecutive hockey-free days on the calendar for our house, which is rare and gives us all time to read up on Brittney Spears latest adventures and discuss them at length around the dinner table. Pad's high school volleyball team won yesterday, and he had a 7a practice this morning. Chris has a cross country meet today and with the overnight rain that could turn into a bit of a muddy adventure.

I don't know what it's like in your house, but there's lot of homework for us on all fronts, especially for Pad as he tries to get in front of the workload in advance of a tournament this weekend in Whitby and another in two weeks in Lake Placid. He emerged from a pile of papers and books last night at 8:45p looking very weary. But thank goodness his mother was a good student and can instill some good homework ethic, because I was a fairly indifferent student when it came to homework. And classwork. And anything with the word "work" in it. I was good at lunch, though.

- - -

One of the things Pad had to do for school was pick a book -- a novel -- to read. We had already pointed him to The Catcher in The Rye before the assignment came down and he was enjoying that a lot, but someone else claimed it for class, so he had to find another.

Back to the bookcase and we came up with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. That one was disallowed because there's a movie version and the teacher (probably wisely) wasn't allowing any books that had been made into movies.

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The Leafs open the season at home Wednesday against Ottawa, then go to Ottawa on Thursday for a return match. As I recall, these two games went very, very badly for Toronto last year. Anyone taking bets?


Oct. 1, 2007

Large technical problems have beset teamoakville such that one might think the US military was involved. Thankfully, they're not. And thankfully, I ranted in full on Saturday so you all have something to read. I'm working through this crap with my site host, but it takes time and I have a day job so, . . . no clever words right now.

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A reminder to the legions of red house league minor peewee players pounding the site looking for stats and standings, as I know you all started playing games this past weekend. After years of using this site for your stats, you're all well trained. MOHA intends to host the standings itself this year. Once they do that (and no, I don't know when it will begin), I'll make sure there are links etc to that page from here. In the meantime, be patient. Take a younger sibling for a walk. Clean your room. Turn down your iPod. Do some homework.

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I've built a new page for Chris's hockey team, the minor peewee white Oakville Flyers, at .

It is very purple, which is the colour of their jerseys. Because when I think Flyers, I think "purple." And I'm sure you do too. There's nothing there yet, but there will be. Soon.

If you'd like to sponsor his team, email me!!