Flint Firebirds owner Rolf Nilsen won’t be completely out of the picture

Ken Campbell
David Branch  (Tara Walton/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The five-year suspension levied to Flint Firebirds owner Rolf Nilsen by the Ontario League does not include off-ice activities, nor will it prevent Nilsen from participating in board of governors’ meetings or conducting league business, thn.com has learned.

And that’s a very important aspect of the suspension. Because the OHL is not denying Nilsen the opportunity to run his business and make a living from his hockey team, the suspension would have a far better opportunity of surviving a court challenge, should Nilsen choose to go that route. Nilsen has not declared his intentions and several calls to Patrick Ducharme, Nilsen’s Windsor-based lawyer, were not returned.

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Maple Leafs’ dozen debutants makes this team the greenest ever

Tobias Lindberg  (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

When Tobias Lindberg steps on the ice with the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Buffalo Sabres tonight, he’ll be part of a team record that hasn’t been matched in almost 100 years.

Lindberg, one of the prospects acquired from the Ottawa Senators in the Dion Phaneuf trade, will become the 12th player to make his NHL debut for the Leafs this season, joining William Nylander, Zach Hyman, Byron Froese, Nikita Soshnikov, Brendan Leipsic, Kasperi Kapanen, Rinat Valiev, Frederik Gauthier, Garret Sparks and Viktor Loov. It’s actually 13 if you include goalie Antoine Bibeau, who dressed as a backup for 11 games this season, but didn’t see any action.

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Minor hockey championship declared a tie, co-champions crowned after seven overtimes

Jared Clinton
TASA and Pictou were tied 1-1 after nine periods. The game was called after period 10. (via Peter Twohig/Twitter)

The Nova Scotian Peewee AA girl’s championship had two winners this past weekend as the TASA Ducks and Pictou County Selects were crowned co-champions after a marathon game the likes of which has never been seen.

The one-game, winner-take-all championship contest between the Ducks and Selects was 1-1 after three periods of play, and neither team would crack. All told, the two teams battled back and forth through an additional two and one-thirds games. Yes, that’s right: an additional seven sudden-death overtime periods were played without a game-winning goal being scored.

After the seventh overtime, the decision was made for the game to be called in the interest of protecting the “health and safety” of the players, according to Peter Twohig, the regional director for females for Hockey Nova Scotia. Read more

A hoser gives thanks for all things hockey on American Thanksgiving

Ken Campbell
Jonathan Toews (left) and Marian Hossa  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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:

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Steven Stamkos and the importance of playing other sports

Steven Stamkos (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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.

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The incredible story of Team USA’s Randy Hernandez

Ryan Kennedy
Randy Hernandez (photo courtesy of the player)

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.

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New concussion handbook teaches kids and parents how to heal properly

Matt Larkin
ConcussionHandbook

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.

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