Sadly, we cannot ask Pat Quinn what he thinks of the NHL’s implementation of a coach’s challenge for offside calls. As it was with almost any subject from World War II strategy to the neutral zone trap, it would have been very interesting to hear the former coaching great’s perspective on it.
Your trusty correspondent has been covering this game for almost 30 years and they have never seen a coach who had a deeper disdain for officials than Quinn did. And the roots of that go back to May 24, 1980. And if you want to talk about how one of these overturned calls can change a game or a series, consider the fact that not one, but two were not overturned that day had an enormous impact on a series, a career and a legacy.
Minor hockey is getting very complicated. At the top levels, the battle for talent is constant and the CHL’s feeder leagues don’t just involve local kids – you also have international flavor. For example, Russian-born player Nikita Korostelev, the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect who currently skates with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, was not considered an “import” by the league, because he played two years of minor hockey for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. This year, the same squad boasts several Russian-born players, including Kirill Nizhnikov, who is expected to go very high in the OHL draft.
And at the OHL Cup, the victorious York-Simcoe Express were backstopped by goalie Andrei Berezinskiy, himself Moscow-born.
Which brings us to Alexis Gravel, who competed at that same tournament with the Mississauga Senators. A 6-foot-2, 195-pound netminder with great athleticism and a dad who played pro, Gravel would be a dream for any OHL team – but they can’t have him.
The Canadian Blind Hockey Association’s annual tournament is taking place this weekend at Toronto’s Mattamy Athletic Centre, and this may be the most important tournament in the sport’s history because it could be the first step for blind hockey on its journey to become a Paralympic sport.
Friday night featured the tournament’s inaugural ‘Select Division’ game, which is a contest that pits the tournament’s best players against each other, pulling from each of the competing teams in order to provide a showcase for the game. The game, which the Eastern select team won 4-2 over their Western rivals, was hopefully the first of many steps on a long journey the CBHA is taking to create a World Championship and position the sport to become part of the Paralympics by 2026.
“The idea behind it is to have a more competitive division while still maintaining the inclusive approach and making sure everyone is able to participate in the tournaments,” said CBHA communication director Nick Beatty. “The goal is to develop the competitive side in terms of trying to find players who are moving toward a World Championship is ideally what we’re trying to develop here.” Read more
So 44 days and 19 games after the Dennis Wideman Affair began, we’re where most observers predicted we would be – with Wideman being hit with a 10-game suspension for abusing an official.
And nobody is particularly happy with this. The NHL, which originally mandated a 20-game suspension that was upheld in an appeal to the commissioner, said in a statement, “We strenuously disagree with the Arbitrator’s ruling and are reviewing the opinion in detail to determine what next steps may be appropriate.” That’s code for, “Don’t be surprised to see this thing end up in court.”
When it comes to a tournament such as the World Cup of Hockey, and other short-term international hockey events, there are certain ingredients that lead to success or failure.
Few know that better than Hockey Hall of Fame defenceman Chris Pronger, who helped Canada win gold medals at the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympics, the 1997 World Championship and the 1993 World Junior Championship.
Pronger played key roles on all those teams. THN.com asked the hulking rearguard to pinpoint several key ingredients to winning such an event.
In case you haven’t noticed, Dean Lombardi is a pretty interesting and witty guy. When talking about his American roster for the World Cup of Hockey, he channeled his inner historian and talked about how Alexander the Great didn’t reveal his plans for the Battle of Gaugamela in advance.
But like Alexander the Great – the former Macedonian king, not the guy from Washington who scores all the goals – Lombardi knows his opponent/nemesis. And when it comes to the World Cup of Hockey, Lombardi knows his equivalent of King Darius of Persia. All he has to do for that is look over the border.
Quick: Who is on your roster for Canada’s World Cup team? You could list off 40 players without really being wrong, but unfortunately the squad’s brain trust was only revealing 16 today. And though big names such as Brent Burns and Corey Perry aren’t there yet, it seems like the team would have preferred to name more guys today.
The World Cash Grab of Hockey™ has brought the NHL and its players’ association together like never before. That much was evident on Wednesday afternoon when NHLPA executive director Don Fehr and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly appeared together and were so much in lockstep that there were reports they left the room arm-in-arm whistling the same show tune.
Which is great if you’re a big fan of peace and harmony between the players and their owners. With six more years remaining in the collective bargaining agreement, there must be a certain amount of resignation to their situation. But anyone looking for Fehr to show his teeth the way he did to Major League Baseball must be disappointed.