Saturday, March 9, 2019

Review of His Hands were Quiet

This is my review of my wife's book, His Hands were Quiet, the second book in the Zachary Goldman Mysteries series.


Zachary takes on a case which puts him into a shocking situation.  

He meets with a broken mother, Mira Kelly, who refuses to believe that her son's death was an accident. Quentin was special to her. Quentin was an autistic young man who wanted to be understood but never quite got his wish.

The case takes Zachary to The Summit Learning Center.  Summit has a controversial education method. Zachary meets Dr. Abato, who rationalizes this method:

Dr. Abato nodded gravely. “We have to put a stop to it, Mr. Goldman. I have to save as many of these children as I can, by whatever means I can devise. To hell with rules and regulations. Somebody has to do something for them.” 

That is little comfort to Mira Kelly, who no longer has her son. Coming back to the "shock." Zachary believes their method is barbaric.  Dr. Abato explains that they are the parents last chance; they have given up hope. The parents just want their children to be able to cope in the world; they have exhausted all other options. The aversives are supposed to be strenuously monitored and are not life-threatening. The kids receive tokens if they do as they are supposed to, which they can spend on rewards.

"This is our store," Abato pointed out a glass-fronted retail store where Zachary saw girl's frilly dresses, handbags, snacks, magazines, and other sundries that a commissary or gift shop might have. 

So why would any child want to leave?

Why indeed.

Zachary believes that if it seems too good to be true, it is. He himself spent a lot of time in Bonnie Brown, another residential school. Could his own experiences be clouding his judgements?  How could he counter Dr. Abato's claims? "We have an incredible success rate," and "We have succeeded in improving the behaviour of some of the country's most intractable students. They can learn! Even those who refuse to talk."

What else could go wrong? Will this case help Zachary put his demons to rest, or will make things even worse?

This book will keep you on your toes! You won't be able to put it down.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Nostalgia

A few years back, I wrote a blog on nostalgia and got some huge reviews of it. So, on with another blog on the golden years of hockey in honour of my father.

I remember the Canada Cup in 1976. One of my favourite 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 the 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 that 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. Haha.

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 Canadiens 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 generally 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.  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 to 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
Take care.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Maple Leafs to do list

Yes, it is this time of year, the General Managers all go to the shopping malls to haggle over prices. The Maple Leafs are no different. They would love to add another no-nonsense dman to make the opposition, let's say, more cooperative. Now, this is just me, but I think they should look into acquiring a seasoned backup goalie who has some playoffs experience. I have not heard that the Leafs are even sniffing for a backup at this point.

Let's look at the dmen the Maple Leafs are considering.

Radko Gudas

Radko means business. A big physical dman, he can fit in as a great number four or five. He has shown great strides in his play and will both add some offence to the game and shore up the defence.  He is solid in his own zone. But so far, they have not been able to coax him out of Philly. Keep an eye on him, especially if he goes on the market.

Adam McQuaid

You get what you pay for — a serviceable number six dman. Adam can give the Leafs precisely what they need as a third pairing defenceman. He won't hurt them in their own end. McQuaid is a stay-home dman who knows his limitations. He is a smart player who does not get caught pinching in. He won't add any offence, but he will shore up the defensive zone play, something the Maple Leafs so vitally need.

The third line gritty forward who can beef up the Maple Leafs for a matchup against the Bruins. Everyone knows the Bruins intimidated the Leafs into submission last year. The Maple Leafs would love to eliminate that problem this year.

Wayne Simmonds

Simmonds would add some beef to the team. The Maple Leafs have a very gifted forward who lacks the size to go to the net. Wayne fits this bill. His specialty is garbage goals. He will go to the net and find the puck. If he has to beat up someone to get it, so be it. He would get his share of goals, and maybe clear some room for Matthews and Tavares.

Marcus Johansson

Marcus is a solid winger with some speed. I have not heard him connected with the Maple Leafs, but he is being shopped around. He would add some offence, but his size would help give the smaller forwards some room to roam. He was very talented with the Capitals; he could just be able to regain his offence in Toronto. He would be a good fit for the Leafs.

Eric Staal

The last one on this list Eric Staal. He is the perfect faceoff specialist, with plenty of grit. Eric is on the market for a price; will the Maple Leafs bite? Only time will tell.

Here is one more morsel to chew on: The Leafs may be looking for a solid number four centre. They need a solid penalty-killer with some size to wreak havoc and get inside the Bruins' heads. The Maple Leafs need to get bigger; it is time to stand up to the bully.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The halfway winners

Predicting the awards to the players at the halfway mark

Hart Trophy 

Conner McDavid
Overall, the best player in the NHL. Where would the Oilers be without him? Seriously a no-brainer. He has to be in on this trophy.  Connor is being used in all situations from killing penalties to the power-play. He will be on the ice to send a game into overtime and will be on the ice to preserve a lead.

Nikita Kucherov
Well, duh. Of course, I have Kucherov in this conversation. He is the best right winger in the game today. He might be the best playmaker in the game. Kucherov is carrying this team on his shoulders. He is one of the most complete players in the game.

Johnny Gaudreau
Another obvious choice. Johnny Hockey is one of the best young forwards in the game. He is on a career year in goal assists and points, is part of one of the hottest lines in the NHL, and is one of the elite forwards in the game.

Selke Trophy 

Patrice Bergeron
Patrice is one of the best defensive forwards in the game. He is a fantastic all-around forward. Bergeron is one of the best penalties killers in the game. A terrific faceoff man, valuable on the penalty-kill because he gives the Bruins a great chance to ice the puck right away or get control of the puck.

Sean Couturier
A gritty forward who will do whatever it takes to get a puck out of the zone.  Sean always goes up against the top line of the opposition and gets all the tough assignments. A minus two plus minus on a very bad team is very impressive. He is a smart young player who leads by example.

Anze Kopitar
Anze is the Kings' best all-around forward. He continues to put 100 percent into every game. Kopitar is the leader of the Kings, the best defensive forwards in their lineup.

Calder Trophy 

Elias Pettersson
There is Elias, and then there is everyone else. Pettersson is an elite forward. He is a smooth playmaker with a wrist shot that puts the fear of you-know-what into goalies. He is my prediction for rookie of the year.

Rasmus Dahlin
Sabres have a gem in Rasmus. Rasmus is the ultimate puck-moving defencemen who will only improve offensively. My only concern is his need to improve defensively. He needs to get stronger, and I think he will.

Brady Tkachuck
Brady is a power forward who can mix it up with best of them. Like his older brother,  he plays with a chip on his shoulder. He just needs to keep his head up.

GM of the Year 

Calgary Flames Brad Treliving
Brad is everyone's pick; he has done everything right. The only blemish is the signing of O'Neal, but there were a lot of teams that would have done the same. I was ecstatic when the Flames signed him. Right now, he is a sexy pick for the GM of the year.

NYI Islanders Lou Lamoriello
Lou has found the perfect combination of players to fit Barry Trotz's system. He is the man with a plan, and that plan has worked. A lot of people questioned him for bringing in Leo Komarov. Well, who is laughing now?

Montreal Canadiens Marc Bergevin
Who would have picked the Habs in a playoff spot this time of year? He has brought the perfect combination.  The biggest gamble is Antti Niemi, who has proven to a good up to know. He has to bring one more piece to fight for a playoff spot. They are definitely one of the stories of the year.

Norris Trophy  

Mark Giordano
Mark is on a career year at 35 years old. He is a miracle—right now he is one of the best in the League.  Giordano is one of the smartest players when it comes to pitching in; he seems to know when to step into the fray and when not to. He is a great playmaking defender who can distribute the puck to the defencemen.

Brent Burns
Brent has shot that breaks bones. Brent is a terrific powerplay quarterback who can hit a one-timer with the best of them. He uses his strength to his advantage, often outworking the opposition to get into scoring positions.

Victor Hedman
Hedman is one of my favourites. He is slick puck-moving defencemen. He does everything that is asked of him and more. He is easily the Bolts' best defencemen. Without him, they would be at a loss. Heman is one of the best in the Leagues and is the perfect dman to go with Stamkos.

Vezina Trophy

Robin Lehner
Lehner is on a mission to bring the Isles into the playoffs. He is playing for one reason only, and that is the playoffs. He has been outstanding all season. Rob gives the Isles every chance to win.

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Where would the Bolts be without Andrei? He has been their number one all season. He is second in the NHL in save percentage. Has been a rock all season with the Bolts and is the reason they are a force.

Marc-Andre Fleury
Fleury leads the NHL in shutouts and wins. He is the glue that holds everything together. He is one of the most consistent goalies in the League—consistently good. Marc-Andre is the reason Vegas has a chance to win every night.



Wednesday, January 30, 2019

What do the Leafs get with Muzzin?


What do you get with Jake Muzzin?  Another puck-moving dman who can play in his own end. It is a terrific move. He has dreamed of playing for the Leafs since he was a kid. Jake brings a stability to the defence that the Maple Leafs have not had in years. There were significant concerns that necessitated bringing Muzzin in. There was too much pressure on the offence to score four goals a game in order to win. Reilly has been begging for another defenceman to help him out. He can relax now that he does not have to be Superman.

Muzzin adds another element that a tremendous asset. The powerplay has been running stale. Adding another element might be just what the doctor ordered for the Maple Leafs. Gardenier may become available if the price is right. The Leafs have an all-in mentality; they can compete with anyone.

The danger now is that the Maple Leafs are connected to all sorts of players from Wayne Simmons to Colton Parayko. The Leafs feel they are one or two players away from the Cup. There are options for trade bait from the Marlies. Timothy Liljegren, Rasmus Sandin, and forward Jeremy Bracco are the top three best options.  Could Haymen become available for a bigger fish? The time is now. Tavas and Matthews have to take leadership. They need to take the bull by the horns. Hang on; it is going to be a wild ride.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The People of Twitter

In this blog, I thought I would introduce some of my favourites personalities in Twitter's hockey world. I have some excellent peeps you should consider following.

@NHL_Campbell
Scott is a veteran with insight into how the NHL used to be. Great understanding of the Winnipeg Jets. If you want an honest opinion and not the conventional one, Scott is one of my favourites. A great hockey mind who is one of the best in the field. You can find his column here.

@P_Kreischer
I have known Paul for almost ten years, and we have had many discussions on a wide range of NHL topics. He is a passionate and valuable hockey insider.  You can follow his podcast here.  It is a terrific site for Isles fans.

@Proteautype 
Adam gave me a huge break when he gave me his first interview. He is an entertaining hockey follow and will keep you in stitches.  Adam is an informative hockey mind. He will make you think and bring you new insight.

@sportsology 
He is one of the best prospects reporters in the game. There is no one that I know of that is better at his game. He respects your views and loves to talk hockey anytime. He also reports on baseball.

@MurphysLaw74
A connected reporter for the Boston Bruins. I love his insight, and he often has inside info on what is going on the hockey world.  A worthy follow who knows his stuff. He has a lot of insight into the Boston Bruins, but has contacts all over the NHL.

@Eklund
Eklund gave me my first blogging experience. He often has discussions about all aspects of the games.  He respects everyone and their opinions, I have often had in-depth discussions with him. He welcomes all opinions and ideas and is always willing to talk hockey.

@MikeInBuffalo 
Mike is a great beat reporter on my favourites teams. He has up-to-date info on the Maple Leafs. He has strong opinions on the directions of the Leafs. He debates on all issues in the NHL.

@ugh
If you want to know about the Edmonton Oilers, Ugh is your man. He has insights on the Oilers and many more. If you want unbiased opinions, then don't follow him. He is blunt and honest will voice his thoughts: good, bad, or ugly. He says it like it is. A must-follow.

@slapschotts 
Ken Schott is a veteran hockey reporter with 25 years' experience. He is an acknowledged hockey man who covered Union and ECAC for 25 years. He gave me a terrific interview during the year, which really helped build my rep. Ken loves and lives hockey, and is an excellent source to learn what it takes to become a premium hockey player.  Ken writes for The Daily Gazette. You can find his blog here.




Thursday, January 17, 2019

You have to feel for Jake

You have to feel for Jake Gardinier, the way the fans went crazy.  Granted, he made bonehead mistakes against the Avs.  So you want to be a Maple Leaf?  I am not so sure Jake is questioning his decision right now.  I am the first to admit that he has not been good this season. He has made so many defensive mistakes this season because he tries too hard.

Gardenier has all the talent in the world. He needs to improve in the defensive zone. He knows better. He needs to stay calm and stop being nervous with the puck.  He seems to think too much with the puck.

As a whole, the Leafs have to improve there defensive play in their own zone. Way too many turnovers. The forwards are too busy going up and not giving the defence a target for the puck. Six or seven turnovers a game is just inexcusable. No matter how much offence you have, you cannot overcome the turnover machine in your zone.

There is another eyesore in the lineup, and his name is Nylander.  He is struggling. He seems to be a step behind in his play. HIs offence has struggled, along with his defence. It is just a matter of confidence.

Bad turns to worse. The offence has dried up.  The sticks have gone cold. When teams are struggling defensively, they overwork themselves in the offence game, knowing they will have score four to five goals a game. They are pressuring themselves, gripping the stick and sometimes trying to make something out of nothing. Maybe the better part of valour is to throw the puck into the zone instead of trying to make that impossible pass. Simple mistakes can become mental blocks, missing the open net, fanning on the show. This is often because the players are pressing too hard.  My favourite saying is that if you take care of the defence, the offence will take care of itself.  Simply put, find magical dmen who will help in the defensive end.

The Maple Leafs may very well turn to the Panthers for solutions. They are shopping Bogdan Kiselevich. He would be a good fit for the defence.  Or Sabres Nathan Beaulieu. The problem in both cases is that they are within the same division. Brandon Montour from the Ducks would cost an awful lot.  The Kings are rumoured to be shopping Jake Muzzin; he might be the best fit of all