Florida Panthers’ Jesse Winchester lands cover of Cornwall Living magazine

(Photo: TeamCornwall)
(Photo: TeamCornwall)

How fitting of the latest edition of Cornwall Living magazine to feature hometown NHLer Jesse Winchester as their cover boy. At a special event held last week at local restaurant Schnitzels’ European Flavours, Winchester himself was on hand along with a variety of local Cornwallites to witness the unveiling.

Cornwall Living showcases the citizens and their accomplishments throughout the region. Plenty of local photographers have their work featured in the magazine along with profiles of local business men and woman, athletes and creative minds. It is a fundamental part of promoting how one can thrive in Ontario’s eastern most city.

Winchester who joined the Florida Panthers last season after a few years with the close by Ottawa Senators, first started his hockey career in nearby Winchester suiting up for the Jr. B Hawks. From there he made the jump to the Junior A. Cornwall Colts for three seasons, ending with 82 points in 54 games in his last season as captain. After a successful collegiate career with Colgate University, Winchester made the big leagues as he joined the black, red and gold of Ottawa.

Winchester is a big role model for young Cornwall hockey players. His performance has not only lead him to the NHL but has led him overseas as he played last year’s lockout season with Jokerit Helsinki of the top league in Finland. He managed to secure himself the title of having the best faceoff percentage in the league.

Cornwall often gets a bad rap. It’s usually from the younger folk but as you grow more mature you realize that Cornwall is a great place to raise a family. It’s strategically placed close to Ottawa and Montreal who in itself provide many opportunities for Cornwallities as well. I was born and raised here. I’ve come to love this little city on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Your life is what you make of it. Your city is what you make of it.

Even if you leave, chances are you’ll miss this Seaway City.

Choose Cornwall.

To get your free copy of Cornwall Living, head over to request form at the City of Cornwall website.

2014 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

Time to finally give my home continent league a little love on the blog. It’s been a long while since I’ve written about the National Hockey League so the next few weeks should be full of amazing highlights and banter. I probably should’ve posted this yesterday before the start but there’s no time better than the present! Only one day of games has been played and well, my predictions aren’t off.

history-CanesCup2Ca

EASTERN CONFERENCE – FIRST ROUND

Series A A1 Boston Bruins vs W2 Detroit Red Wings

Boston in 6.
Detroit’s good luck AHL team’s steam has to run out at some point and the Bruins are just the roadblock to do it. Boston will play the body as they usually do leaving the Red Wings looking mighty small. Both goaltenders will be up to the task and this matchup will come down to pressure in the offensive zone.

Series B A2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs A3 Montreal Canadiens

Tampa in 6.
One game has already been played in this series and I took in the whole thing. From watching 9 goals get scored in a Montreal win, it’s quite obvious to point out that the goaltending and defence was a train wreck. While that is somewhat normal for the Habs in pressure-cooker games, it’s unusual for the Lightning. Watch for them to regroup and come out in full force in game two. Their spirits will continue to rise with the welcoming addition of Ben Bishop back in the lineup.

Series C M1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs W2 Columbus Blue Jackets

bobrovsky-201213Pittsburgh in 6.
Holy cow, what a game was game 1 of this series. I don’t think anybody had the Jackets having two leads in this game. I don’t know what it is with Pittsburgh, their defence, and Marc Andre Fleury in big games. Ever since they hoisted the Cup a few years ago, they’ve been terrible in the post season ever since. However they’ll be able to get to round 2. Unfortunately as much as I want Columbus to succeed, especially with Sergei Bobrovsky, the mighty Sid the Kid and Evgeni Malkin will silence their parade. Continue reading “2014 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions”

This week in hockey: tragedy and death. They’re just like us.

Bob_Probert_-_Darren_LangdonThey say bad things come in threes. That sentiment could not have been more true this week in the hockey world. Between the WHL’s Tim Bozon contracting meningitis and put into a coma, Matt Stajan and his wife losing their week old child, Rich Peverley collapsing mid way through the first period of a game and the tragedy of Terry Trafford, it’s times like these where you have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. That bigger picture being these men that we look up to are just like us.

Behind the fame, notoriety, money and everything else that comes with being a professional hockey player, there’s something that we always fail to see. They are human beings with private lives and deal with problems and issues very similar to ours. We’re not much different when it comes down to the thick of things.

I remember when I was about 7 or 8, my Dad took me to see the Cornwall Aces play. The St. John’s Maple Leafs were in town and Brent Gretzky just happened to be suiting up for them that day. In the second intermission my Dad noticed that Walter Gretzky was sitting a few rows above us. He tried to coax me into going up and getting an autograph. “No, Dad! He’s a celebrity.” I replied. My father laughed and shook his head. “He’s not going to bite you. He’s just like us.”

He’s just like us.

snowIt’s hard to differentiate between hockey player/celebrity and human being at times. My Dad ended up going over and chatting with Walter Gretzky for the whole third period, he seemed happy to oblige; maybe even shocked that somebody actually picked him out of the crowd in little old Cornwall, Ontario.

I’ve read a countless number of hockey player autobiographies over the years and I don’t know how many times I’ve related to certain issues these hard driven characters have went through. They struggle with adversity in the same kind. Some more than others. Just remember to when you’re hearing all of these unfortunate stories that come out in the hockey world that they’re dealing with the same issues we all are. We’re all just trying to be accepted in this crazy society and world. They just happen to have the spotlight shine brighter on them with some not even wanting it.

It’s a thankless job to be a role model in today’s world. The world is flying by too fast and the next person to become said role model is just waiting around the corner. Hold on to these players you idolize as they won’t be around forever.

They’re just like us.

Stadium Series – How many is too many?

Another weekend of outdoor hockey games has come and gone for the NHL. Another weekend where I didn’t spend a minute watching either game.

I don’t hate the idea of outdoor games but they have seemed to have lost their luster. The first couple of Winter Classic and Heritage Classic games were great. They brought back that old time feel of playing shinny out on the pond or on your backyard rink growing up with snowflakes cascading all around you. After the third one though, that was enough for me as I was watching at home on television.

Raanta at Soldier Field. (Photo: Jason Kessenich www.aepoc.com)
Raanta at Soldier Field. (Photo: Jason Kessenich http://www.aepoc.com)

These outdoor games played in baseball stadiums and football fields are meant to be watched in person. The experience of being in a famed sporting venue while watching a game of hockey under the lights and dark of night. Not at home on your couch squinting to see the puck because the camera is 8 million miles away.

Essentially, it’s a money grab. The whole Stadium Series shtick was brought up, at least in my mind anyway, as a way to suck fans back into the game from last year’s lockout and make money from all the revenue lost. New merchandise to be bought, crazy ticket prices and what have you. Great idea, marketed insanely well and it worked. Maybe too well. I mean hell, some of the baseball teams can’t even sell out their own stadiums.

How many more are we going to see of these though? It’s already lost its appeal to most hardcore fans around the league because of what I stated earlier; the camera angles are atrocious. The build up to them is kind of stupid as well. It’s nothing special, just another game albeit played outside.

My thinking is I hope the NHL will stick with what they know. Keep the Winter Classic and the Heritage Classic. If you really want to dabble with the Stadium Series, have one or two games. Not 5 or 6. The human mind gets sick of things quick. It’ll be just a matter of time before the next big marketing ploy comes knocking at Bettman’s door.

The Dallas Stars are shining. You should probably take notice.

Since my beloved Philadelphia Flyers are off to what some may call a rough year, (I’d call it something much worse but I digress.), I’ve come to pay more and more attention to my adopted second team and favourite west coast team, the Dallas Stars.

1969_dallas_stars-alternate-2014What a couple of nights they’ve had in Alberta. If you combine both games, the Stars outscored the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, 10 goals to 3. Backstopped by two amazing performances from Kari Lehtonen, the Stars first line of Tyler Seguin, (thanks Boston!), Jamie Benn and 2013 first round draft pick Valeri Nichushkin exploded in a way that this Dallas team hasn’t seen for a very long time. The poor Flames were stunned as Seguin scored 4 goals on route to a 5 point night and Benn finished in his own fine fashion with 6. Both players are now tied for the team lead in points with 22. There’s no doubt that the Team Canada brass will be taking a closer look at both Seguin and Benn. Benn over Giroux at this point.

I’m glad for Tyler Seguin as well. Since he’s gotten away from Claude Julien’s defensive style of play in Boston, he’s been adapting insanely well with Lindy Ruff’s more offensive system.

Take into consideration that the average age of that line is 21. Assuming that nobody has a freak injury, gets traded or goes back to Russia (Hey, it COULD happen. *shrugs*), this line could spell trouble for a very long time, at least a good 10 years. These boys are just starting out their careers and have plenty of hockey to play.

And that’s just the first line.

Nichushkin. (Photo: IffyBear. flickr.)
Nichushkin. (Photo: IffyBear. flickr.)

The second line of depth features veteran Erik Cole, Cody Eakin and breakout sensation, Quebec native, Alex Chiasson. Chiasson is going to be another player to watch and a key player to Dallas’ success. He’s racked up 11 points in 19 games and has proven that he belongs up in the show. His speed and head for the ice is astounding.

I can’t write this article without mentioning how great Kari Lehtonen has been playing. The man is posting a .929 save percentage and will definitely be a shoe in for Team Finland in Sochi. It’s great to finally see him thrive as he is one goaltender who deserves it.

Dallas also have a very strong farm system in the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League. Travis Morin, Colton Sceviour, Jamie Oleksiak, and plenty more are just one step away from their big leap into the show. Believe me when I say that Dallas will be a force in the next couple of years. There definitely is a New Star Rising.

Sean Pronger’s Journeyman, The Life of a 4th Liner

Unfortunately I’ve been a little under the weather lately and it doesn’t seem to be letting up; hence the lack of posts. However, while not being able to be feeling up to par to manage some interesting pieces, it’s given me the chance to do a lot of reading. So I figured hey, why not a book review.

I first heard of this book about 8 months ago. I had just gotten out of surgery and was bedridden for a long time with pretty much nothing to do. I had gotten into the habit of tuning into Jay Onrait and Dan O’toole’s weekly podcast and one week the “special” guest happened to be Sean Pronger.

1297346026824_ORIGINALPronger, (the lesser known Pronger at that), was promoting his new book, “Journeyman – The Guy Who’s Seen Everything In Hockey“. He was recalling a couple of stories in it; how he was traded to the New York Rangers and got to be on a line with Gretzky during his last year. (There’s a huge and hilarious story behind it. It’s not on a line you would think.) and how Ray Ferraro thought Steve Duschesne was everything that was wrong with the Los Angeles Kings in the late 1990’s.

So motivatied with this information, I finally got around to picking it up last week. Now, I do a lot of reading, no joke. Most of it is either biographies or serial killer dramas and most biographies are hockey related. I must say that this is one of the BEST hockey books I have read in such a long time.

Of course it’s about Pronger’s life of being the dreaded 4th liner and journeyman of the NHL. For those of you who don’t know what a journeyman is, it’s constantly being sent up and down between leagues, being traded (he played 29 games in an NHL season between 3 team. Yeah.) and all the ins and outs and frustrations tied with it.

Nobody ever thinks of the 4th line. What’s always going through their minds. Are they gonna be sent down today? Will do good enough to get a promotion on the squad? Will they be considered a healthy scratch? Should they start packing their bags? Everything that runs through a player’s head in these circumstances are covered in this book and that’s what makes it great to read. It’s about the other guys.

Pronger is very humourous and pokes a lot of fun at himself which makes it very great to read. The book flows at an even pace but after every chapter, you’re always captivated to read more and find out which team (or league….shoutout East Coast…) he got sent to next.

If you’re not a reader but at least a hockey fan, do yourself a favour and pick this up. It gives you a lot more respect for the grinders on our favourite teams.

An apology from a disgruntled Philadelphia Flyers fan

32008_440250514621_4995458_nFor some of you that know me, you will know that I’ve grown up a die hard and faithful fan of the black and orange, my beloved Philadelphia Flyers.

While I’m not old enough to remember the magic of winning back to back Stanley Cups, the days of the Broadstreet Bullies or the dreaded Cooperalls, I am old enough to have witnessed the glory days of Ron Hextall, the “Legion of Doom” line, Roger Nielson leading the team from behind the bench and many more exciting and amazing memories.

However, what happened last night has left me disgusted and embarrassed for the first time for being a fan of my team.

Granted the year is not playing out like we have hoped. A couple of bone head moves made by Paul Holmgren and company can leave the team deflated. I’m sure the tension throughout the entire organization is not something I’d like to endure but this is hockey and in times of rebuilding, these things happen.

I miss Ilya Bryzgalov. (Photo: Jai Agnish. Flickr)
I miss Ilya Bryzgalov. (Photo: Jai Agnish. Flickr)

Tension, frustration, the pressure from the ridiculous Philly media and fans came to an abrupt halt in last night’s game against the Washington Capitals. While I commend Wayne Simmonds for trying to spark some life into the arena and his team, I don’t think it was warranted when your team is already down by 7(!?). Should’ve tried a little earlier Wayner. All jokes aside, I have nothing bad to say about your actions.

What happened next was appalling and I KNEW something like this was going to happen when we announced the signing of Ray Emery. Did nobody remember him attacking a trainer in the KHL? Guess not.

For those of you who don’t know what happened or don’t follow hockey, Emery is a goaltender who skated the length of the ice to fight the opposing Capitals goaltender, Brayden Holtby. Holtby did not want anything to do with this and tried backing away. Instinctively, Emery grabbed him and started a 2 minute assault by pounding fists into the back of his head. The referee stopped players from jumping in to aide Holtby. What’s even more disgusting is that Emery gave up 4 goals, earned 29 penalty minutes, beat the shit out of Holtby and the Philadelphia media gave him third star of the game. Ridiculous.

Brian McGratton once said that Ray Emery would be a top 5 fighter if he wasn’t a goaltender. The man is a boxer on skates with a screw loose. This is just the sort of thing that is going to get people to jump on the “fighting should be banned from hockey” bandwagon.

I cover a lot of the LNAH which is a league known for its fights, whether staged or not. I am disgusted to think that guys like Emery and Jon Scott will most likely ended up in this league based on that reason alone.

How do you fix this mess? I’m not sure. With Ed Snider around, I’m not sure if Paul Holmgren will be leaving anytime soon. Homer, take a page out of Bobby Clarke’s book and maybe step down. A whole overhaul needs to take place.

In closing, on behalf of this Flyers fan to the rest of hockey fans across the globe, I apologize for the stupid actions in last night’s game. I will be sitting with a paperbag over my head for the rest of the season.

The decades old debate: Hockey and Fighting

Well since everyone has jumped on the bandwagon, I figured I might as well hop aboard and give my two cents.
Bob_Probert_-_Darren_Langdon
Hockey and fighting.

This debate has been going on for decades. While I could get into a whole spiel on the cons of fighting and why in this day and age it should possibly be taken out, I would not agree with what I what I had wrote. Fighting belongs in hockey.

It’s not just about beating somebody’s face in. It’s much more than that. It’s about taking punches to the face to ignite your team to rally from a deficit. It’s about sparking the home town crowd to build an erupting atmosphere in the arena. There’s a lot more to it and has to stay. It’s there for a reason.

Chin meet ice. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Chin meet ice. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Yes, what happened to George Parros on Tuesday night during the Canadiens home opener was frightening and of course nobody likes to see someone get hurt but that was not the result of a fight. It was not a punch that got him concussed; it was his chin hitting the ice on an awkward fall. That could have happened at any point in the game to any player regardless of a fight. The guy is not stupid, he went to Princeton for christ sakes, he knows what he was doing.

However with that being said, fighting has changed. Gone are the days of the tough men like Bob Probert, Stu “The Grim Reaper” Grimson, and Jon Kordic, Wade Belak (shoutout Coventry fans),among others.  The way hockey is being played now is completely different. It’s a mesh of both North American and European styles. More rules are being implemented whether it helps the game flourish or not.

1011973_10151571105053732_1488936880_nThis whole helmet debacle thing is a joke. I realize they are trying to protect the players and do what’s right but it’s down right silly. Hockey is a dangerous game; it’s meant to be. It’s the fast strides by the players; the verbal and physical altercations that keep fans coming back for more.

Fighting will never be banned. You may see limits on how many fights per year but it will never be taken out of the game entirely and rightfully so.

We wish the best for George Parros and hope he gets back in the lineup soon. I’m just disappointed I won’t be seeing him fight in person Saturday night.

In honour of Jonathan Bernier and Ryan Miller’s fight, a goalie fight compilation

BU0YVlLCYAAMfAR

In case you haven’t heard, there was a huge line brawl in last night’s Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres match up. Complete with Phil Kessel doing his best “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan impression and everyone’s favourite: a goalie fight.

For your viewing pleasure:

Of course, this got me to thinking. Why not honour the greatness that is a goalie fight. Here are some scrums that stick out in my mind.

First off the bat is Philadelphia’s favourite hot headed goaltender, Ron Hextall. While Hexy is most remembered for being insane and slashing the hell out of players, there’s one incident that pretty much shuts him up in the years following. His opponent? None other then another Leafs, Felix “The Cat” Potvin.
Hextall gets his ass handed to him by Potvin. One of the best goalie fights of all time.

Continue reading “In honour of Jonathan Bernier and Ryan Miller’s fight, a goalie fight compilation”

Hard Headed: The NHL and the helmet debacle

By Ed Kimberley
Coventry, England

Most of my writing on March Hockey has covered the EIHL. However, I thought I’d make a quick remark about the new NHL rule surrounding the removing of your helmet before or during a fight. Under the new rules removing your helmet now comes with a coincidental 2 minute penalty on top of the standard 5 minute major for the fight itself. Although this doesn’t seem like much a penalty, its presence seems merely a formality as we have seen in a latest round of preseason games there is always a way around it:

Note that Barch and Gallant are both communicating pre-fight “hey no leave it on just undo it, and ill take it off.” To me it all sounds so very chivalrous and a fantastically typical response between two respected tough guys before they go.

Why bother then with the rule might you ask?

Well it’s a bit of a paradoxical situation. The NHL is trying to avoid being sued by players families as a result of head injuries sustained in fights, very similar to the situation the NFL is facing at the moment. However by having players leave their helmets on during a fight, it also causes a different injury problem: hand injuries. Now this may not seem too bad and I would say I would rather have a broken hand or finger than a concussion but it’s still an injury that will cause players to miss games.

mirasty-yablonski-590x445If we look back to when helmets were made mandatory in the NHL, players were trying to get the helmet off the other combatant. Sure this causes more damage when you hit them, but it also prevents broken fingers, knuckles, wrists and hands through striking a helmet. Speaking from my limited experience, punching a helmet hurts; I have broken a few fingers and split knuckles during a fight because of this. Now fortunately at the level I played I didn’t really have to worry about missing practise or missing a game but in an NHL where the enforcer role is changing, and these guys are literally fighting for their ice time. Not only does adding an extra 2 minute eat into the limited time they have already but I question how effective it will be?

The OHL fighting rule that requires the helmets stay on and mandatory visors doesn’t seem to have deterred hockey’s future throwing the fists (although this is something Ashley will know more about). (March’s note: OHL only allows 10 fights a year per player.)

The EIHL has not adopted this rule, although there is legislation regarding jersey tie downs. IF you don’t have your jersey tied down before a fight you can get thrown out of the game for illegal equipment. This is to protect guys who get lost when their jersey is pulled over their head leaving them pretty vulnerable. Now in theory again this is a great idea, however it is flawed. Firstly I haven’t seen a lot of enforcing of this rule. Secondly a lot of guys I have spoken to have had their tie down break during the fight, (its essentially a Velcro strap) making it difficult to judge if it was tied down in the first place. Thirdly I know how restricting they can feel and although a regular fighter might sacrifice this for extra movement fights, well, just happen and being caught unawares can lead to a fairly irritating ejection.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to see fighting stay in hockey but first and foremost players do need to be protected. Derek Boogaards death came as an indirect result of blows to the head he had sustained in a fight, something we don’t want to see happen again. However there needs to be another way around this problem.