We all know that guy who buys the most expensive hockey stick but can barely hit the net, or the guy who plays beer league hockey more for the drinking than the game itself. It’s those types who inspired the IFC comedy Benders, which follows the on and off-ice misadventures of four men who have an unhealthy obsession for playing on their terrible team.
“If you’ve been in a locker room before, or on any kind of rec league hockey team, these guys exist,” said actor Mark Gessner, who plays the bespectacled Dickie Litski on the show.
For many NHL goaltenders looms the ever-present threat of equipment reductions and restrictions. And this off-season, goalies will again be a likely target in the effort to increase scoring.
“I know it seems like a broken record or Groundhog Day, but goaltending equipment always comes up,” said Kay Whitmore, the NHL’s director of hockey operations and goaltender equipment. “We’ve done trimming and nipping and tucking here and there, but I think it’s time to look into this a little deeper.”
NHLers spend most of their youth climbing the ranks, making sacrifices and pushing themselves to the limit just for a shot at the big time. When they finally get there, the reward is the opportunity to play in the best league on the planet – and to get paid handsomely for it. But holding onto that money isn’t always easy, which is where professionals such as Roman Fradkin come in.
A wealth advisor with RBC Dominion Securities in Winnipeg, Fradkin works with around 20 NHLers, including Jonathan Bernier, Dale Weise and Alexander Burmistrov. His mission is to make players see the light when it comes to saving and investing the right way, because a pro athletes’ earning window may be lucrative, but it’s also small. “You’ve got six or seven years to make 50 years worth of money,” Fradkin said.
By Bob Duff
After Henrik Zetterberg scored just two goals over the final 29 games of the 2014-15 season, the murmurs began.
When Zetterberg went through an entire Stanley Cup playoff series without scoring for the first time since he entered the NHL in 2002, the whispers grew stronger. Had Zetterberg’s odometer reached the point where it was time to trade him in for a newer model?
Nope. He just needed more fuel in the tank.
The latest advancement in concussion prevention is considered “genius” and could one day be just another piece of equipment, akin to wearing a helmet or a cup – and that’s according to a concussion expert who didn’t have anything to do with its creation.
For now, it’s known simply as “the collar,” and it is in development by Performance Sports Group, the parent company of Bauer Hockey. The collar aims to provide a solution to what’s known as “slosh theory.” Essentially, when a blow to the head occurs, the brain moves around inside the skull because of the extra space, occupied by blood and brain fluid. Helmets cannot prevent the brain from sloshing around inside the cranium, but, according to its creators, the collar can. Blood flows out of the brain through the jugular vein, which creates that space inside the skull. The collar gently presses on the vein on each side and slows the outflow of the blood, just enough to stop the brain from shaking.
Angela Mastrangelo couldn’t have known buying her son, Jason Nold, goaltending equipment would months later result in one of the most heartwarming gestures she’s ever experienced, just as Eric Vogel couldn’t have known he was about to meet and later bring an incredible amount of joy to two complete strangers.
Mastrangelo, 38, and Vogel, 26, met in October when Nold was looking to upgrade his goalie gear. He had begun playing the position in May, but the then-13-year-old was already outgrowing some of his equipment. Vogel, a goaltending specialist at Total Hockey and former FHL goaltender, helped his two customers and, when they parted ways, he handed his personal number to Mastrangelo in case she or her son had any questions. Two weeks later, she got in touch.
“She said he needs help with some goalie stuff and this and that,” Vogel recalled. “I said maybe I’d see (Jason) and his father at the rink, and she said, ‘Well, there’s a story behind that.’” Read more
A humble little puck changed television sports forever during the 46th NHL All-Star Game, 20 years ago, in 1996, when the Fox Network debuted its FoxTrax System. It was a special effect that tracked every movement of the puck, then superimposed a bluish glow around it for television viewers – all in real-time. It was the first augmented reality system used in sports, merging computer graphics with live sports.
The breakthrough, however, was met with mixed response. “The more casual fans, or even those who were just learning about hockey, tended to love it,” said Rick Cavallaro, the chief engineer and project manager of FoxTrax. “A lot of hardcore fans did not. But even among hardcore fans, a lot of them seemed to like one aspect or another of it.”
File this under the Captain Obvious department: Martin Brodeur owns just about every major record for goaltenders: wins (691), shutouts (125), games played (1, 266), 30-win seasons (14), 40-win seasons (eight), minutes played (74,439)…you get the point.
But one record eluded him his entire career. In fact, no goalie has ever done it, though a few, including Brodeur, have come close. He tried for it every season, and it wasn’t like he couldn’t have done it. The problem was trying to convince the killjoys who called the shots in New Jersey to let him try.
“I always begged my goalie coach, ‘Come on! One year. Let’s do it. This could be a record. I’ll play all 82 games. You can pull me after seven minutes if you want. Just let me start 82 games,’” Brodeur said, laughing. “He never bit on it.”