Connor McDavid did this to a puck. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Adam Proteau
Connor McDavid's shattered puck (via Jay McKee's Twitter account)

No, the picture you see above you is not computer-generated trickery. That is a shattered puck. Junior hockey phenom Connor McDavid did that. Not with the assistance of any explosive materials, but with his hands and a hockey stick. Is the NHL ready for this kid? Pucks, apparently, are not.

McDavid didn’t break this poor, innocent puck during a game. He was at practice Tuesday with his Erie Otters team, when, according to assistant coach and former NHLer Jay McKee, the consensus No. 1 pick in the upcoming NHL entry draft did something he’d never seen in all his time at hockey rinks. Read more

Paralyzed fan gets awesome, heartwarming gift from FHL goalie

The Hockey News
Greg-And-Brenda-StClair

By Chris Kazarian

The legend of the United League’s Danbury Trashers was cemented midway through the team’s first season in a game against the Kalamazoo Wings.

That matchup was marred by a brawl that kicked off when Trashers left winger Brad Wingfield attempted to fight Kalamazoo’s Josh Elzinga, who declined the invitation. As Wingfield skated away, Elzinga grabbed the back of his opponent’s jersey and pulled him over his outstretched leg, breaking Wingfield’s left tibia, fibula and ankle.

Word of the incident quickly spread through the blue-collar Connecticut city, which soon embraced the fighting mentality of the Trashers. And that’s how Greg and Brenda St. Clair were introduced to hockey, enough to motivate them to attend the Trashers next game and eventually become addicted to a sport they previously knew little about. Read more

10-year-old sniper notches best hat trick you’ll see all season

Jared Clinton
Humberview Huskies forward Owen Thompson celebrates his second of three bar down goals. (via YouTube)

Slide over, Corey Perry. There’s a new king of the hat trick.

Sure, Perry’s two three-spots already this season are an incredible testament to his supreme skills, but he just didn’t do it with quite the flare 10-year-old Owen Thompson did.

Just last Friday, Thompson, who plays for the Humberview Huskies of the Greater Toronto Hockey League, scored what may be the most incredible trio of goals you’ll see all season: Read more

CHL lawsuit symbolizes larger struggle in elite amateur sport

Adam Proteau
Canadian Hockey League logo (courtesy CHL)

On a macro level across North America, there’s an ongoing battle for the hearts, minds – and most importantly, the monies – of elite teenaged athletes who are major revenue generators for their development leagues. In the United States, the NCAA collegiate system is involved in a momentous high-stakes showdown with former athletes – with potential repercussions that could shake their business model to its foundations. And in Canada, a similar war is being fought at the major junior hockey level, with the latest volley taking place Friday: a $180-million lawsuit filed against the Canadian Hockey League by former players (including former Niagara IceDogs player Sam Berg, son of retired NHLer Bill Berg) seeking outstanding wages, holiday, overtime and vacation pay and employer payroll contributions and alleging basic minimum wage laws were broken.

Leave aside the particulars in both cases, and you’re left with the same essential questions: if we’ve turned amateur sports into big business, how much of the cut do amateur athletes deserve? And why do owners get to dictate that players’ dreams of playing in the best league they can has a monetary value equal or greater to the actual money their current organizational structures bring in? It’s been a Canadian tradition to romanticize players chasing their dreams for free, but when everyone can see the amount of money that’s being made, why is it so unfair for athletes to be included in the financial windfall?

Certainly, it’s worthwhile to ask who is involved with any particular lawsuit – and in their initial response to Friday’s suit, the three commissioners involved at the junior hockey level (OHL commissioner David Branch; QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau and WHL commissioner Ron Robison) did exactly that. While promising they would “vigorously defend” against this latest legal action, the trio accused brothers Randy and Glenn Grumbley, union activists who attempted to start the Canadian Hockey League Players’ Association, of being behind it. Read more

Human rights verdict great news for transgendered players, hockey

Adam Proteau
Patrick Burke (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Score another one for progress and understanding in the hockey community: as part of a settlement with a Canadian human rights group, Hockey Canada has agreed to allow transgendered minor hockey players in Ontario to choose which dressing room they use before stepping onto the ice.

The settlement ends a human rights complaint filed in August of 2013 by Oshawa, Ont., native Jesse Thompson, a 17-year-old who identifies as a male and who faced numerous obstacles in finding acceptance in the hockey world. Thompson’s mother, Alisa Thompson, told The Canadian Press her son was thrown out of dressing rooms by unenlightened coaches.

“Parents would come in and kick Jesse out of the girls’ change room because it was for girls only,” Alisa Thompson said. Read more

Hockey Canada’s elite under-17 program no longer ‘mass participation’

Ken Campbell
Team Ontario, 2008  (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

One of the stories that kind of flew under the radar this summer was Hockey Canada’s new development model when it comes to picking its teams for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. The players who are picked for that tournament from now on will be judged solely on their hockey talents, not their hometown.

Prior to this year’s tournament, which will be held in late December and early January in Sarnia, Hockey Canada submitted five regional teams from Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, Western Canada and British Columbia. Those rosters included total of 110 16-year-old players from coast-to-coast, but it didn’t encompass the best 110 16-year-old players in Canada. And the problem with that is all Canada’s opponents in the tournament – USA, Russia, Finland, Sweden and Germany – were sending the top 22 players from their countries.

“When you’re from Russia or Finland or Sweden, you don’t know anything about Atlantic Canada,” said Hockey Canada’s senior director of hockey operations Scott Salmond. “All they see is a Canadian sweater and it’s a big thrill to beat that team. In our organization, we want to have a culture of winning and the sooner we start that, the better.”

After seeing its regional teams win five of the tournaments in a row, a Canadian team has won just one of its past four tournaments and wasn’t even on the podium last year. It might be a stretch to suggest that lack of success at the Under-17s has trickled up to Canada’s struggles at the World Junior Championship, but it’s all about cultivating the best talent so that by the time the players are playing in the WJC, they’re more familiar with one another.

So instead of having five regional teams, Hockey Canada instead had a camp this past summer with the 108 best 16-year-olds, regardless of geography. From that, three rosters of 22 players each will be chosen for the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, so French speaking players from Quebec will be playing with Anglophones from British Columbia, Maritimers with players from Ontario. That way, as Salmond pointed out, the third-best goaltender in Ontario might get a chance to play in the tournament, “because he might also be the third-best goalie in all of Canada. We needed to get this quota system out of it and have the absolute best players together more often.”

The team will be selected by Hockey Canada head scout Ryan Jankowski and his regional scouts and while the three coaches – Jean-Francois Houle, Sheldon Keefe and Dan Lambert – will have some input, they will for the most part be handed their roster and told to coach the players they have been given.

This, of course, has raised the dander of those who think Hockey Canada is further catering to only elite players. By decreasing the player pool at the under-17 level by 44 players and possibly eliminating the chance for unknown players from small towns to be exposed to a high level of competition, is Hockey Canada guilty of identify and catering to only the best of the best at too young an age? Salmond says Hockey Canada’s tracking over the last decade indicates that the best players in any age group tend to move on to the elite teams anyway. Just because the 10th best player in Newfoundland gets a chance to play in the under-17s doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to elevate his game in the following years and be part of the top group of players.

“And this is not mass participation,” Salmond said. “It is a Program of Excellence and we’re not going to apologize for that.”

Neighbor calls police on kids playing street hockey

A group of kids play road hockey. (Photo by Pawel Dwulit/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Montreal and Toronto, the two rival hockey meccas, have a long, long history of fostering world class talent. They both have a reputation for being at the center of the hockey universe – but you’re technically not allowed to play the game in the streets of either city.

On Wednesday, a group of kids playing in Montreal were visited by police after a neighbor called in about the ruckus. And according to Bridget Sykucki, the mother of two of the boys playing, there’s so little vehicle traffic, they don’t even refer to it as a street.

From the CBC:

“On Wednesday, we were playing in the alleyway — we call it an alleyway because we only have our cars that are parked there. There are no street addresses that give on that street, so we call it an alleyway but theoretically, it’s a street,” she explained.

She said a neighbour came out and began yelling at the children to be quiet, and threatened to call the police.

Officers showed up a couple of hours later, Sykucki said. Read more