It’s never easy to lose someone.

It’s even harder to lose someone close unexpectedly. You’re not prepared for the emotional toll that follows the days, months and even years after one’s death. But a death is much more then mourning. It becomes a time to reflect and celebrate a life once lived to its fullest.

When the unexpected news of Matt Suderman’s passing arrived on my plate this past weekend, I was stunned as many of you were. That news is still bothering me which is only natural. When I started writing, Matt was one of first players I became good friends with. While I only caught the end of his career, I could tell that he was a special guy; especially by the way people spoke about him.

At 6’3 and 235 pounds, Suderman was a giant, albeit a very friendly one that most can testify too. A big boy coming out of the prairies with a solid junior career with the Saskatoon Blades under his belt, Suds was never known for his goal scoring prowess or point totals. No, he was that big body you wanted in front of the net, to block shots and to know you’re safe on the ice whenever he was around. Everyone needed a guy like him in the locker room.

Being a likable character and knowing his role on the ice lead to being a very late draft pick of the Atlanta Thrashers in the 7th round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Yes, that may be a late round pick but being drafted is being drafted and it’s a fantastic accomplishment. Sudsy played his entire career bouncing around the minors. That’s not unusual for most. But being able to get paid to play a game you love can sometimes be a reminder to one self that you’re one of the lucky few.

matt_sudermanSuderman was a fan favourite almost everywhere he went. Whether he was dropping the gloves against Mario Joly and Erick Lizon with the Arizona Sundogs, blocking shots for the Dundee Stars or taking the lead with the Hull Stingrays, Suderman was a man who commanded respect. And that respect was given to him a million times over.  In Hull we saw him fight for what was right and for what he believed in.

Matt Suderman was also diabetic.

I find this must be mentioned for all of young athletes out there struggling with the terrible disease or those who have just been diagnosed and thinking they have give up the sports they love. While there famous hockey stars that played and continue to play through it (Bobby Clarke and Max Domi come to mind), it’s important to know that even the tough guys and guys who you have more in common with then you think you know, also have to fight through something. Sudsy never let the illness define him. That’s one of the main reasons he’ll always be a close friend to me.

Yes, we must mourn our loss. Another great human being has left this Earth way too young. But let’s honour and celebrate our friend’s life and career with laughter, smiles and fond memories.

I leave with you a message I received one morning from Sudsy.

“Ashley, I swear to god if you use the words “semi-pro” again, I’ll slap you in the arm. Not the face, but the arm. Stings more.” 

I haven’t used that word since.

#RIPSudsy. We’ll miss you.



Yet another player comes out: Matt Suderman and the Hull Stingrays

5335902-largeThis is embarrassing and appalling to the game of hockey.

More and more professional hockey players are finally coming out of the woodwork and exposing what really goes on behind the scenes between owners, players, and the clubs they are representing. The latest to come out and add his thoughts to this epidemic is Matt Suderman who is currently playing with the Brampton Beast of the Central Hockey League.

Suderman spent some time with the Hull Stingrays of the EIHL and after taking a whole lot of time to cool off, he finally cleared the air of what happened. Essentially, another case of greed from a club owner by the name of Bobby McEwan. You can read Suderman’s entire statement here. I’m going to touch on a couple of things.

“Things were so bad that players were paying for portions of their skates/equipment because McEwan refused to buy certain brands (which were higher quality), he claimed they only wanted that brand because it was more expensive and thought everyone was out to get him.”

You’re kidding me right? You couldn’t even supply the players on your own team the basic necessities to perform on the god damn ice because you have this premonition that they’re out to “get you”? Come on, give your head a shake. Hockey is a business first and foremost. Like any business you have to spend money to make money. It’s common business sense. You think the players are out to get you because they just want to protect themselves with better equipment? Someone’s delusional.

“In my 10 years of pro hockey I’ve never seen anything like it. McEwan (owner) refused to give his players even the smallest luxury, like soap and shampoo.”

Not even commenting on that one. That’s just unfathomable.

“Somehow Bobby McEwan worked out a deal where the team would receive money for players attending schools and working with the kids. A majority of the visits were done by younger British players who didn’t receive a salary. They were promised money for these visits and went to schools two, sometimes three times a week, some of the visits were for three or four hours. None of them have seen a dime of the money promised, all of the money went straight into McEwan’s pocket. During Movember, a player had somebody fundraising for him during a game, for charity. Bobby McEwan was irate, claiming this player was taking money from him, and even demanded a cut of the money raised. “

If these allegations are true, (which I’m 99.9% certain they are), this has to be one of the most unacceptable things I’ve ever read. Its one thing to steal from your players (which is still damn unthinkable) but to demand a cut of money that’s raised for charity just makes you a complete scumbag. I don’t know this guy, but just that alone gives the Hull Stingrays and to an extent the EIHL a black eye in the hockey world. I’m glad I don’t know what charity this money was raised for otherwise, I’d be ripping even more.

D_GrhnPFThe most terrible part of this whole thing is that Matt Suderman is not the only player that this is happening to. Although Joe Grimaldi is a bit of a pain in the locker room according to some players, he brought a few hate fueled tweets to Twitter a few weeks ago concerning the owner of the Nottingham Panthers. However, the EIHL is not the only league that this is happening to either. It’s an epidemic that needs to be stopped. No longer are hockey players just walking doorknobs who don’t know anything about business practices and just play the game anymore. Everyone is informed on how things work.

You also can’t get away with things in this day and age especially with the presence of social media. Things get out and they get out quick. Whether this will do anything to the club is another story but every damn team would be in much better positions with owners who care. Of course that’s far fetched to say.

Suderman isn’t the only one. Mike Danton came out earlier this year about how he was treated in Kazakhstan. That’s Kazakhstan though and you can kind of expect it to come from there. Not a hockey “juggernaut” like the EIHL. Even over year in North America with leagues like the LNAH, FHL, to a lesser extent the CHL, it’s happening here too.

Sadly, nothing is ever going to change. It would need to take a whole overhaul of a team or league to get things moving in the right direction with players getting what they’re owed. As long as they type of owners are in charge, there’s not much hope. I hope more and more players start to come out with how they’re being treated. It’s almost as if there’s a stigma attached to it. Almost like you’re not man enough to take it if you speak up. Well guess what, times have change and it’s time to get your due.

Brampton Beast, the Central League and Matt Suderman

BramptonBeastFor a first year team, the Brampton Beast are proving themselves to be more than just a push over. Not that they intended to be but before today’s game against the Tulsa Oilers, they sit a game above .500 and 6th in the 10 team league. That’s a pretty healthy position to be in as we come to mid-season’s Christmas break.

It’s a good learning year and I expect them to jump a little higher in the standings come season’s end. I suspect them to end up in the top five which will pay dividends for next year as the Central League is expected to acquire two new expansion teams and up their squads to 12. No cities have been named or areas of interest have been announced but I would expect another Canadian team as to play rivalry for the Beast. Central league is difficult to pin point though as they have franchises in the most oddest places but they make it work.

Although a circle of controversy has followed him in his Elite league past, Matt Suderman has decided to lace the skates right back up with the Beast at home in Canada. After sending the first half of the season with the Hull Stingrays in England, Suderman left with a bad taste in his mouth from the league’s officiating and the fans. While I can’t comment on the officiating as I haven’t seen enough games (although what I have seen, it’s terrible. However, it’s been most Coventry Blaze games), I can comment on the accusations of the fans.

I’ve seen it in plenty of leagues. Some fans think it’s their god given right to antagonize the players. While that’s okay in some respects to haggle the opposing team (and there’s a fine line to be crossed their as well), when it comes to the home team, they think that they work for them. They feel entitled to harass the individuals who entertain them night in and night out. Of course, that comes with the territory I suppose but Suderman’s quote of “The fans think that they know hockey, but they don’t.”, is true to many teams and leagues.

The only difference here is that Suderman is just expressing himself out in the public eye as I’m sure many other players would love to do. While that might be showing a black spot on the organization and league, it’s nothing new or shocking and people need to put on their big boy panties and suck it up. Keyboard warriors indeed.

4e304eb2689ce247a72a3b848c0e614fThat being said, Suderman is going to make a huge impact for the Beast. It’s not his first rodeo in the league. He won the Ray Miron (shoutout Cornwall), President’s Cup back in 2008 with the Arizona Sundogs so he knows the teams and league well. His big 6’3 frame will do wonders guarding the blueline alongside the other giants of Michael Couch and Andrew Darrigo.

The Beast take on the Oilers today at 2pm eastern before they resume after the Christmas break with a set with the Quad City Mallards.