Today is American Thanksgiving and for the first time this season, all 30 arenas in the NHL are dark. If you’re not in a playoff spot by now, chances are you won’t be when the NHL schedule wraps up in 134 days. But it’s also a day to reflect on your blessings regardless of what side of the 49th parallel you occupy.
Here are some of mine when it comes to hockey:
The Toronto Blue Jays are putting up enough offense to win the Rocket Richard Trophy (they have that in baseball too, right?), so it’s no surprise local boy Steven Stamkos – a two-time winner of that accolade himself – dropped by to shag a few pitches himself the other day.
Stamkos is a well-known baseball fan who plays the game in the summer, despite the fact he’s one of the best hockey players in the world. But he’s not the only elite iceman whose sporting pursuits go beyond the arena. And for young players (and their parents), Stamkos is a great role model.
Randy Hernandez isn’t the son of a famous NHLer. He didn’t grow up playing on backyard ponds and his first words weren’t the name of his favorite hockey team.
“Actually, I didn’t watch hockey at all when I was little,” he said. “I didn’t watch until I was 12.”
Hernandez just completed his first full season of AAA hockey, in fact. But this year, he’ll be a member of one of the most exclusive teams on the continent, the U.S. National Team Development Program’s under-17 squad. How he got there is remarkable.
It’s difficult to type these words. Not because there’s nothing to say, but because my brain is in my way.
Today, it’s the pain. It’s not a sharp pain – that comes some days, too, in the form of migraines – but more of a dull, steadily increasing pressure, like the inside of my skull is hosting a birthday party and some poor clown keeps trying to inflate balloons inside it.
It’s been 11 years since my last serious concussion, with a couple car accidents sprinkled in since then, and I know my life will never be the same. I’m lucky to write about hockey for a living, as I can’t play it anymore. I can do 30 minutes of cardio, once a week, and if I push my luck with a second session, the vertigo kicks in. Missing a step on a staircase or hitting a big wave on boat can do me in for a couple days, too. When a subway train pulls up, I have to look away until it comes to a stop.
After visiting the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital this past Wednesday, however, I realize my path could have been very different. Had I not returned to class, cracked the books hard and written my exams just days after my severe head trauma, and taken the time to recover properly, I might have no limitations today.
That was the message delivered by Dr. Nick Reed, Dr. Michelle Keightley, and a team of uniquely qualified hockey people at Holland Bloorview as they launched Concussion & You: A Handbook for Parents and Kids. The central tenet is ensuring no young person returns from a major head injury too soon.
TSN reporter Rick Westhead had hockey Twitter all a-flutter yesterday, putting out a nugget that the 2016 World Cup of Hockey could include advertisements on the national team sweaters, paving the way for the NHL to follow suit.
Needless to say, the masses were not happy.
Anthony Cipollone won’t be old enough to head to college until 2020-21, but the 13-year-old forward has already committed to play for the NCAA’s University of Vermont.
Cipollone announced that he had committed to the program earlier this week and it appears he could be suiting up as soon as he’s old enough. He won’t be the first in his family to commit to the program, however, as his brother, Joseph, who’s three years Anthony’s elder, committed to the program in January of this year.
It’s not unusual for players to commit to schools years before they’re of age to actually suit up for the programs, but it’s more likely they commit at Joseph’s age, 16, than Anthony’s. That said, it has happened before where a not-yet-high school aged player has committed to a college program. Read more
Brent Sopel’s journey to the NHL really began in Saskatoon, where he played his major junior with the WHL’s Blades. Sopel is hoping he can help spark some other major league dreams by giving back to his community.
Sopel held a hockey camp in Saskatoon this past week that carried a fee of $950 per player. However, Sopel surprised the families of the 30 girls participating in the camp by waiving the registration fee and refunding it to the families. His hope, he told CBC, was that his gesture could help him promote future camps.
“Essentially, what I want is them to go back and build this camp little by little, year by year, just by the word of mouth, that they had a great time,” Sopel told CBC. Read more
There aren’t many players on Canada World Championship roster that went overseas with hopes of taking home a million-dollar jackpot for Hockey Canada, but thanks to the team’s incredible play over the past two weeks, they’ve done exactly that.
For the first time in World Championship history, the tournament’s media and marketing sponsor, Infront Sports & Media, offered up a $1 million jackpot to any club that could make it through the entire tournament winning every single game they played in regulation. Infront likely weren’t planning on the Canadian roster being one of the most talented World Championship rosters ever assembled, but that’s exactly how things shook out, and now Hockey Canada is $1 million richer.