Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tribute to Dad

I wrote this story a little while ago but I was missing dad so I thought I would do this tribute again.

I remember the Canada Cup in 1976. One of my favorite players was Daryl Sittler, who was the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Daryl went on to score the winning goal for team Canada in the9 championship game against the Czechs. At the time, I wrote for the school newspaper. Of course, I wrote in the sports department. The story on the Canada Cup was my first story for the paper. I remember bringing it home so that my father could read it, so he would be proud of me.

Hockey always brought us together. I remember how disappointed we were when we could not watch the last half of 1972 Canada Russia series, known as the “super series”. We missed it because I was at school and Dad was at work. I remember going home after game eight. which was the last game of the series. When Dad came home, I did the play-by-play of the game winning goal by Paul Henderson, which gave Canada the series. I really could not do Foster Hewit justice, but my father did not care.

I remember listening to Danny Gallivan, even though he was the Montréal Canadiens play-by-play man. I used to love mimicking his play-by-play style. My father used to get mad at this, because he was a huge Maple Leafs fan. According to him, it was against the Constitution to like anything about the Montréal Canadiens. One of my favourite hockey sayings - or should I say hockey calls - was the call of Danny's Gullivan's of “Savard's spinarama”. That was for us old farts, who used to watch hockey on the radio. Ha ha.

My dad loves the old Leafs players, for example Dave Keon, George Armstrong, and Johnny Bower. An interesting fact about Johnny Bower that my father told me is that nobody ever really knew how old he was, and he liked it that way. I remember the last time (I was 35 back then) that the Maple Leafs won the Cup back in 1967. It was especially gratifying to us, because the Maple Leafs beat their rivals, the Montréal Canadiens in six games. The supposed experts picked the Canadians to win the Cup in five games.

In the golden years of hockey, my dad used to tell me men were men. The fighters would fight face-to-face. Granted, there were incidents of players trying to injure other players; but that would normally be a mutual thing -- there would be none of these hits from behind to cause injury. If players wanted to get even, they would do the old-fashioned way: by duking it out. Yes, there was violence, but it was a different kind of violence. The players actually respected each other. No, it was not a perfect world, but most of these players went home with a clear conscience, unlike some of the players today

The goalies were the bravest ones -- or maybe the craziest. My dad often wondered how they would stop shots without the mask, leaving their delicate features unprotected. One of our most favourite goalies was the ageless wonder, Johnny Bower, who I did not know had started out with the New York Rangers. We had a lot of mixed feelings when the Maple Leafs acquired the ex Montréal Canadien Jacques Plante. Again, with the Canadien issues. We did not want to break protocol by liking anything involving the Montréal Canadiens. It was harder for Dad than for me, because I never really saw him in a Montréal Canadiens sweater.

I will always treasure my time with my dad, and be very thankful for the sport of hockey that brought us so much closer together. 

Before I sign off, I thought I would give you a peek into part of my personal life that I don't usually let people in on. I wanted to show you this to try help people understand me better. This little segue is the introduction to a book that I would someday like to write. 

Have you ever heard of the saying “simple minds, simple pleasures”. That saying means something to me. You see, when I was young, I never heard a word, or said a word for the first 4 to 6 years of my life. Basically, I was born deaf, and the doctors never expected me to hear. 

As a result, I never did well in school. My math, English, and yes especially my grammar, suffered hugely. I turned to hockey, so I could find something that I was good at. An escape from the world, you might say. I actually found something that I was good at, where nobody pointed their fingers at me. Hockey is my simple pleasure.

The game of hockey taught me that there is more to life than being accepted, and that with hard work, even a person with a learning disability can be successful and live a normal life. That is the reason I am opening myself up now -- for the benefit of others like me. This is for the people who were told they would never amount to anything. That is total nonsense. You can. That is why this game of hockey became so much more than a game to me; it's my life. 

Until next time -

Love Ya Dad

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lou Lamoriello: Does this Change the Rebuild?

Lou Lamoriello is the new GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Saying that, I wonder how this changes the process on the direction of the team goes? Or does it? How comfortable is Lou with being there for the next five years in a total rebuild? Or does this mean that Shanny has told him that this is quicker? There is no quick fix here. The Leafs have to do this the right way.

Lou is set in his ways. It’s either his way or no way. Lou has to be given the green light. He must have the final say on this team's direction. So how does this affect Mike Babcock? When the Leafs hired Babcock, Shanny gave Babcock some say on the transactions. More to the point: Babcock has been given the final say.

How is Mike Babcock going to take this after hearing this press conference? Can these two communicate? Can they agree on the direction the team going to take? Lou pretty much said he is the one who is going to make the final choice. What happens if Babcock and Lamoriello disagree on an issue? Will Babcock let things go or will there be a power struggle?

How far will this rebuild go? What do the Leafs do with the core that is left?


I know we all have heard the news that Babcock wants Dion to stay for the full rebuild. This confuses me. He is a replaceable seven million dollar defenseman who is drastically overpaid. He is a number three man on most teams in the NHL. That being said, there is a huge market for him. There are a quite a few teams who have shown interest. Does Lou agree with Mike in keeping Dion?

I say they have to take advantage of the market and send him packing,  and hope to grab some more draft picks to help with the rebuild.

I will say this much: Lou has many contacts. There is no one who does not respect him. His ability to find talent in the college ranks with the best. His experience will be valuable to the Leafs in this rebuild.


The  next step is the next step, Is trying to deal with Joffrey Lupul.  Lupul has voiced his displeasure in the past. His last year he was okay at times, but most of the year he was either injured or disinterested. In past seasons, he was a twenty goal scorer. He has been a leader and a positive influence in the dressing room. 

The major obstacle is a $5.25 million cap hit. Whoever is going to acquire Lupul will want to send some cap back.  Good luck with getting a team to take that cap on with no cap coming back. That being said, the Leafs have to get as many assets as possible coming back for him.

The second obstacle is that other teams know he wants no part of a rebuild. They will not throw too many lifelines to him. Basically, they have the Leafs over a barrel and the Leafs know it.


Tyler is basically the Leafs' best asset. He was the Leafs' number one centre most of the year. He was used in all aspects of the game. He was used in powerplays and penalty killing situations.  

On most teams, he could be a average second centre. On a very few teams he could be a number one centre.  But on every team, at the very least he would an excellent third line centre.   

Tyler is not great at any aspect of the game.  That being said, he does so many things well. He is a very reliable player who could help many teams. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

What can we expect from the Oilers?

Written by FriesenNHL

This is a blog I would have liked to have gotten out much earlier.

What can we expect from the Edmonton Oilers this coming season? In all honesty, I expect nothing less than fighting for a playoff spot until the very end.

The changes made by the Oilers so far this off-season are more than they have made in the past 10 years. An experienced winner in a GM, a coach that has shown he can get the most out of players and bring a team to an elite level, an upgraded defence, upgraded goaltending, and then there is this McDavid kid.

None of these changes would have happened without the Oilers winning McDavid. Before that happened, I was told the plan was to move forward with the rebuild. They believed McTavish was a competent GM to do this. McDavid changed everyhing. The Oilers knew at that moment the window to start winning had now opened and they needed a GM capable of making the changes necessary as quickly as possible.

Chiarelli has done well to improve the team in the very short time he has been here, but I will not ignore a huge mistake he has made already. Chiarelli had every intention to giving Dougie Hamilton an offer sheet, and did nothing to hide the fact he planned on doing so.The threat of Chiarelli getting Hamilton put Boston into panic mode to trade him. When the Oilers tried to make a trade for Hamilton, they found out Boston wanted a lot from them. Boston wanted Chiarelli to pay, because Chiarelli was the reason Hamilton was going to be traded in the first place. The Flames ended up with Hamilton for a much lesser price. Had Chiarelli kept his offer sheet plans very quiet, there is a good chance Hamilton would be an Oiler instead of a Flame.

The Oilers still have one more move to do. They still need that number one defenseman. I have no doubt the Oilers will make that move before the season starts. Is there a better trading partner for the Oilers than Nashville? Or vice versa? Both teams have what the other so desperately needs. In my opinion, another smart option would be to offer Ehrhoff a two-year deal. This would buy the Oilers time to see if Nurse or Klefbom can become the number one guy and if not they have the time to find a true number one. Another option would be calling LA about Voynov. The Kings may not want the negative publicity that will come with Voynov and may be willing to move him. I do not believe Nurse and Reinhart play on this team this upcoming season. I woud think Nurse will start in the AHL and be brought on board midway through the season.

With San Jose and Vancouver on the downslide, I see no reason the Oilers shouldnt be a playoff team this coming season. Finally jumping ahead of Calgary would be great too.

Monday, July 6, 2015

What to do with Gio

Reblogged from Flamesjambalaya

I can see everyone foaming at the mouth reading this title. You may be wondering where I am going with this, but bear with me. By no means am I saying Mark has worn out his welcome. What I am saying is there comes a time where we have to start being responsible with the upcoming cap issues. The Giordano name will go down in history. Mark was one of the best last season. If not for his injury, he would have easily won the Norris trophy. As it was, he had career year even missing the last part of the season. So why would I even consider asking what to do with him?

Again, I am not questioning his usefulness. He has earned my and everyone's respect. My concern is cap management. The Flames have to keep in mind they have to renew Monahan’s and Johnny Hockey's contracts. Then there is the issue of Hudler becoming a free agent in the spring. Now I know everyone is jumping on the "trade Jiri" band-wagon. But that might be easier said than done. The Flames have to consider the effects of doing so.   Consider this; what would have happened to the Flames if Jiri would not have been on that first line? How good would have Gaudreau and Monahan been without him?

The next problem the Flames have is goaltending. The Flames are saying they are fine with their goalies. But if they are really fine, why would they spend so much time trying to land a new goalie? Yes, they signed Ramo on a one-year contract, but that only complicates the issue. All three net minders are on the final years of their contracts. The process of Ortio having to clear waivers in order to be sent down adds to the drama. I am not too sure that he clears. As most of you know, Joni is on a one-way contract. This is his final year.

The third issue is the cap being locked into the defense. Think about it: Dennis Wideman 5.25 Mil, Dougie Hamilton 5.75 Mil, then there is Brodie 4.65 Mil. That is a lot of cap in the defense. Then there will be at least another 7 Mil for Gio. The Flames are talking to Mr. Cody Franson, which really makes me wonder if the Flames are exploring all their options.

How the Flames did at the draft

The Trade

Of course the biggest news of the Draft is the trade that brought Dougie Hamilton to the Flames for $15.45 Mil, with picks going back to bean town.

What do we get with Dougie? We get one of the best young defenders in the League. Already one of the best in League, with the potential of being a future Norris trophy nominee, he is a huge boost to an already-stacked defense. The Flames made trades at the deadline to get those picks to get a good young defenseman.  

The Picks

The first pick was Rasmus Andersson; a good solid pick.  Everyone was shocked about Oliver Kylington dropping down like a loaf of Christmas Cake. So I thought I would do some digging about that same issue. From what I was told, his last season was not one of his best seasons; it scared a lot of teams off. But you have to consider that it’s only one season.

The Flames were assured there were no concerns about his attitude or work ethic. So when he was there, they went ahead and made the trade to draft him at sixtieth. There is concern that he went from 24 to 60, but the Flames were willing to take a chance with him.

Flames Done?

Not even close. They have an overabundance of forwards and defense, especially if the Flames get Franson. They will be forced to move someone.  Expect Wideman or Gio to be shopped unless Gio is signed to a long term deal. 

Signing Frolik 

The Flames truly believe that Frolik can be a top-six forward. He has all the tools to do so. Frolik should go nicely with Bennett on the second line, giving the Flames more scoring depth. You have to love this signing the only negative being the cap hit. But even that is not a problem because the Flames are not in cap trouble.