Jason Kay is the Editor in Chief of The Hockey News and has been with the brand since 1989. No, that's not a typo. Born in England, raised in Toronto, he arrived in his home and adopted land as a baby in 1967, just in time to see the Maple Leafs win their last Stanley Cup. A stay-at-home defenseman once upon a time, Kay knows his NHL dreams are long dead, but he hasn't given up hope of winning the Brier.
After watching the final minutes of regulation of Game 6 in the Islanders-Panthers first round series, I was all ready to perch my soap box atop my high horse, which was balancing on my ivory tower.
With New York’s net empty in the dying moments, there were two trips that could have been called – one on Vincent Trocheck, the other Reilly Smith – infractions that either negated Panthers’ chances to seal the game, or at least given the Islanders a penalty. You could argue there was a tad of embellishment on the Smith fall, but it was borderline. Instead of a minor being called in either instance, the refs “let them play” and we all know the result.
The revival of the classic Mean Joe Greene Coca-Cola ad for this year’s Super Bowl got us to reminiscing about hockey’s commercials of yesteryear. After some Google deep diving, it became apparent there are schools of fish in this sea of schlock, so we decided to offer up 10 of the best/worst.
The spots on this list either are either amusingly awkward, hilariously dated or just plain nostalgic fun. No modern-day slick ads allowed, no matter how funny.
1. Ron and Ally’s Pizza. The prototype for future SCTV spoof commercials. No? Check out Gilles Meloche glancing off-screen after he delivers his lines. And of course, the pizza parlor is on a street called Minnehaha. Ha.Ha.
2. Twohey beer. An Aussie brewery decided to use hockey to sell some suds and the result is, umm, compelling. It includes the memorable lyric, “They put you in to guard the bin not hand out gifts.” How do you feel?
3. Ford/Mercury. Mario Tremblay, some cars, 1980s music and Solid Gold dancers – what could go wrong?
4. Esso. This was a great promotion back in the day. What were Power Players. “Power Players were hockey stamps. Color stamps that Esso made.” The only hitch? You had to spend a minimum $3 on gas.
5. CCM. Two superstars yuk it up, particularly at the end with some engagingly forced laughter.
6. Mercury, part deux. Bobby Hull, Rob Gilbert, a cool-cat golfer and an announcer star in this floating heads ad that we believe was shot somewhere in the Twilight Zone. (Editor’s Note: an earlier version of this post identified Rod Gilbert as Marcel Dionne).
7. 7-Up. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe Canada turned 7-Up.
8. Grecian Formula. We couldn’t do this list without adding the classic Rocket Richard ad. Two minutes for looking so good! In a ref’s uniform. Guess the rioting days were over.
9. Swanson Hungry Man. Hey, the performances by Lanny McDonald and Brian Glennie aren’t too bad. It’s the laughter at the end that clinches it, though. Meow!
10. Weetabix. Darryl Sittler and Norm Ullman. Wooden sticks and wooden deliveries.
In a feature running in the Jan. 25 edition of The Hockey News on Bob Hartley, the Calgary Flames coach tells writer Louis Jean, “I would kill to win.”
We understand that it’s an exaggerative figure of speech, but it underscores the already obvious: sports professionals at the highest level are hard-wired to achieve, unconditionally.
So it didn’t come as a particular surprise when Patrick O’Sullivan revealed recently that Alex Burrows had taunted him several years ago, a couple times in fact, about the child abuse he endured at the hands of his father.
The knee-jerk reaction is to furrow the brow and wag a finger at Burrows, decrying the despicable nature of his comments. That he has a reputation for existing on the edge – earlier this season he was accused, but not found “guilty” of uttering insensitive remarks about Jordin Tootoo’s family – doesn’t aid Burrows’ cause. There is no excuse for the gross insensitivity. And Burrows did apologize after being publicly called out.
Two years ago at this time, Canadian hockey fans were all a Twitter about who would tend goal for them at the Olympics.
Carey Price wasn’t yet Carey Price, having finished tied for 10th in Vezina Trophy voting the previous season. Roberto Luongo was a co-favorite for Sochi, but he didn’t inspire universal confidence. Stoppers such as Mike Smith, Cam Ward and Corey Crawford were also blended into a situation that was screaming for someone to elevate.
Overall to that point in 2013-14, Canadian goalies comprised just 38 per cent of the NHL’s netminder population, far below the country’s representation among all positions (52 per cent). The Vezina had ceased to be a birthright of Canadians; Americans and Europeans won six consecutively before Price’s heroics last season. It had people wondering just what was wrong with Canadian goalie development.
There are three things dominating NHL expansion chatter: location, location and, yes, location. We get it. The notion of where to place the league’s next team(s) is sexy and emotional.
But the concept of growing the business by selling more franchises isn’t all shifts and giggles. There are multiple considerations and potential ramifications. Success in any given market comes with as much certainty as an Alex Ovechkin guaranteed win.
The league’s most recent forays paint a checkered picture. From 1998 to 2000, the NHL added four teams: Nashville, Atlanta (who high-tailed it to Winnipeg when things failed in Georgia), Minnesota and Columbus. In 59 combined seasons, the quartet has had 18 playoff appearances, about a 30 percent success rate. Overall, with other factors being equal, NHL teams today have a 53 percent chance of making it to mid-April. In those 18 appearances, the clubs have won a total of six rounds, four by the Wild and two by the Preds. None has won a Cup or made it to the final. Heck, the Thrashers/Jets have yet to win as much as a post-season game. Read more
The NHL is on fire: Expansion, progressive rule changes, an epic draft, pending free agency, the anticipation of big trades…and next season’s schedule? Already?
Before sweaty-palmed teenagers even mount the stage and don a jersey and cap at the draft, fans of their teams know when and where all 82 games will be played in 2015-16. It’s the earliest release of a schedule in recent memory.