• Fear of failure: NHLers past and present reveal what keeps them up at night

    Ken Campbell
    Even in his St. Louis heyday, Brett Hull used to fear he'd never score another goal. (Ian Tomlinson/Allsport)

    Editor’s note: It’s almost Halloween, so it’s the perfect time to explore the spooky side of hockey. The following story appears in THN’s scariest edition ever: The Fear Issue. Grab a copy on newsstands today or order one here!

    Ray Ferraro remembers coming home from practice one day in 1990 and seeing the light on his answering machine blinking. The message was from Ed Johnston, his GM with the Hartford Whalers. Things weren’t going well. It was mid-November and Ferraro had scored only two goals in his first 15 games. He had scored at least 20 goals in each of his five full NHL seasons to that point, including seasons of 41 and 30 goals.

    But the blinking light and the message were a clear indication of what was coming and Ferraro knew it. He was getting traded, and before he returned Johnston’s call, he picked up a copy of The Hockey News that was on his kitchen table and began to desperately go through its pages.

    “I looked through the league trying to figure out who would want me,” Ferraro recalled, “and I couldn’t come up with anybody.”

    Almost a quarter of a century later, Ferraro’s vantage point allows him to see the game from a place where everything seems so easy. As a between-the-benches analyst for TSN, he’s far more comfortable in his abilities as a broadcaster than he ever was as an NHLer. He also has a front-row seat to the fear and uncertainty that can consume players. He can relate on an all-too-familiar level with the scorer who comes back to the bench muttering about a missed opportunity, questioning himself and wondering if this will be the time when he just can’t get out of this slump. He can see the fear in the eyes of the fourth-liners on two-way contracts and aging veterans who are hanging on by their fingertips. The ones who are playing scared are the guys who get rid of the puck as quickly as it lands on their sticks, since you can’t make a mistake if you don’t have the puck. They’re the ones who get it on their stick in the scoring zone, and yet somehow it all blows up.

    There’s a lot of fear in the game of hockey. With players bigger, stronger and more physical than ever before, the fear of injury is omnipresent. Those who fight for a living go into every game knowing there’s a chance they’ll get punched in the face with someone’s bare knuckles. It’s not a wonderful way to live. For star players, however, if there’s anyone who should be immune to the fear of their place in the game, it should be them.

    But it isn’t always. When Brett Hull was at the height of his talents and challenging Wayne Gretzky’s single-season record for goals, he was on top of the world. You’d think he’d wake up every morning gleefully thinking about how he was going to make some poor goalie’s life miserable that night. He might have had a goal or a hat trick the night before, but rather than brimming with confidence that he’d continue to score, Hull was wracked by insecurity.

    “I wake up every day scared to death that I’ll never score again,” Hull said at the time. “I’ve never talked to Wayne (Gretzky) about it and I’ve never heard him mention it, but when he first started, he was so awesome he had to have that inner fear of failure, or he never would have done as well as he did. I can’t even sleep at night sometimes.”

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  • Watch Aaron Ekblad butcher ‘Call Me Maybe’ in Panthers visit to children’s hospital

    Jared Clinton
    Aaron Ekblad (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

    Aaron Ekblad is a talented young defenseman who plays for the Florida Panthers. But did you know Aaron Ekblad is also a terrible singer who plays for the Florida Panthers?

    In a video captured by Panthers Vision, you can watch defensemen Ekblad, Willie Mitchell, Erik Gudbranson, Dylan Olsen, and Colby Robak visit The Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, with the big payoff coming shortly after the 1:16 mark: Read more

  • Celebrity overtime: Five questions with Hercules portrayer Kevin Sorbo

    Amber Dowling
    Kevin Sorbo (Investigation Discovery/Chris Leschinsky)

    Stars like hockey too, and everyone once in a while they’re more interested in chatting up last night’s game than they are in pontificating about their latest TV or film projects. In our weekly “Celebrity Overtime” feature, we take five minutes with various celebrities to discuss their love of the good old-fashioned game.

    Kevin Sorbo is a well-travelled guy; he’s been in a handful of sitcoms like Dharma & Greg and Just Shoot Me, made the soapy teen rounds on The O.C., and did the sci-fi circuit with Andromeda. Aside from a dozen upcoming film roles, Sorbo’s latest TV venture is the “Charming Bigamist” character in Investigation Discovery’s Heartbreakers. The mini-series reunited “Hollywood Hunks” of the ‘80s and ‘90s like Rob Estes and Jack Wagner to play good-looking dudes in real life who turned slightly … murderous.

    Of course to most of us, Sorbo will always be the one and only Herc thanks to his role on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Turns out, hockey was a part of his workout to get the Greek hero physique in his younger days.

    Q: We understand you used to play hockey.

    A: Yeah, at the varsity level, but I also played basketball and eventually I had to pick. So, I picked basketball because I hate cold weather. Now I haven’t played in years.

    Q: Since you’re originally from Minnesota, is it safe to say you’re a Wilds fan?

    A: Oh heck yeah. I’m still a Minnesota guy through and throughout and I’m a big Wild fan. I was also completely bummed out when my North Stars moved to Dallas and a few years later they won the Cup. I was so upset about that. But I grew up with the Minnesota North Stars, certainly, but I still follow the Vikings and the Wild. The hockey arena there is beautiful.

    Q: Could you pick a favourite player?

    A: I gotta go back to my days as a kid growing up, and back then and I guess to me still, the best player was still Lou Nanne, a Canadian guy. And Brett Hull is a very good buddy of mine as well, so I should probably at least mention him.

    Q: Now that you live in L.A. are the Kings your backup team?

    A: Oh yeah. I go to games. I was pumped last year because I got to go to three of the playoff games, which was fun.

    Q: Who do you typically go to games with?

    A: I take my boys. My 12-year-old loves it. When I first moved out here nobody went to the Kings games. When they got Gretzky it was the smartest thing they’d ever done because it filled the place up and it was always busy. But when I first went, there were maybe 6,000 people there. Back then, I took a buddy of mine who had never been to a hockey game and I was explaining the rules to him and everything. It was one of those unbelievable, crazy games, back in the late ‘80s when they still used to fight a lot. Three fights, 13 goals. 8-5. It was like an insane game. I said, ‘Wait, it’s not always like this! You get a lot of 4-2 or 5-3 games, or it can be more like soccer, where games are 2-1.’ Unless it was the Germany semi-final in that World Cup. Now that was unbelievable!

    Amber Dowling is a freelance lifestyle/entertainment writer, yoga and wine enthusiast and all-around player of sports. She currently serves as the vice-president of the Television Critics Association and has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows across North America. An advocate for Canadian Television and a lover of the medium in general, Amber founded TheTVJunkies.com as a spot for fellow enthusiasts to connect and collaborate. She previously spent almost eight years as the EIC for TV Guide Canada.

  • Help Jack Jablonski create the world’s largest stick-tap

    Jared Clinton
    JablonskiCover

    It’s a sign of respect, appreciation, and a cheer for those who get back up from injury. In leading the world’s largest stick-tap, Jack Jablonski hopes to capture one of hockey’s greatest traditions to lead the charge in support and awareness for those looking to recover from spinal cord injuries.

    Jablonski, who turned 19 on Oct. 25, was left without the use of his arms and legs by a hit during a high school hockey game when he was only 16. After the diagnosis came, the outpouring began. From Wayne Gretzky to Pavel Datsyuk, the well wishes rolled in. All the while, the young Minnesota native believed he could, if he truly worked for it, get back on the ice. Read more

  • Columbus Blue Jackets injuries: Laugh so you’re not crying

    Ryan Kennedy
    Mark Letestu (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Nathan Horton, Boone Jenner, Brandon Dubinsky and Sergei Bobrovsky. That’s a lot of core to have on the shelf but the Columbus – oh wait, add Mark Letestu to the IR – Blue Jackets are doing what they – also, James Wisniewski, are you kidding me? – uh, can.

    Spirits were high in Columbus this summer after the franchise’s second-ever playoff berth ended with its first-ever post-season victories, even if the Jackets fell to Pittsburgh in the first round. But it seems the only spirits present now in Ohio are phantoms of the operating table, as the Jackets have been killed by injuries throughout the lineup. Along with the players mentioned above, players such as Ryan Murray, Matt Calvert, Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson have also missed time.

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  • Ducks’ Frederik Andersen embodies Mr. Blonde with Reservoir Dogs mask

    Jared Clinton
    AndersenMaskFeatured

    There’s something fitting about Anaheim Ducks’ goaltender Frederik Andersen donning a mask featuring one of the most famous crime movies of all-time. After all, his work in usurping former Ducks keeper Jonas Hiller’s place was a heist the likes of which we rarely see anymore. And some of the saves he’s made this season are criminal in their own right.

    Andersen, with the help of Swedish goalie mask artist/wizard David Gunnarsson, will enter the cage with a brand new Reservoir Dogs themed mask which has been dubbed “Reservoir Ducks” by the duo. Take a look: Read more

  • Rumor Roundup: Stars may be aligning for Martin Brodeur

    MartinBrodeur

    It appears the Boston Bruins could look elsewhere for help at right wing. While they reportedly had interest in Buffalo Sabres winger Chris Stewart, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claims it doesn’t appear a deal can be made at this time.

    Friedman claims the asking price was either two young players or a young player and a draft pick. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty commended Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli for walking away, noting Chiarelli is pleased with the improved stability his forward lines have shown in recent games. Read more