Top Ten Tuesday: Is Hockey Canada Too Big For Their Britches?

Well the holiday season is upon us and before we take a look back at highlights of 2014 here are some random observations from the week that was in the world of sport.

So here we go:

10 – How entertaining has Team Canada, and for that matter all of the hockey, been at the World Juniors? The latest Canadian win over Finland was played in 125 minutes (Not exactly a number that would make broadcasters happy) but the end to end action and scoring opportunities that were created is something that the pros should aspire to. Heck here’s hoping that the junior leagues can somehow find a way to parlay that excitement into a 72 game season.

9 – In case you couldn’t tell this year’s Championship is being played in Canada. As good friend and fellow broadcaster Michael Ball would say, there are a lot of people in Montreal coming to the games dressed as empty seats. Yes, it is very easy to spot the unclaimed seats during Canadian games which is almost becoming the norm. Neither Edmonton/Calgary or Saskatoon/Regina the last hosts of the event in our county could boast sell-outs. For this year’s medal round tickets are still available in Toronto for the bargain basement price range of $75-$280 dollars per seat. This begs the question has Hockey Canada grown the event too big?

8 – Of Course, Hockey Canada is trying to make the most profit possible in hosting the tournament and are using shear economics to determine host venues. However, it seems as though the tournament is losing its luster moving it out of the smaller centres such as Red Deer, Kelowna, etc. and into the larger NHL buildings. Hockey Canada of course will deny it but don’t be surprised after the 2017 event is held back in Toronto/Montreal if you see it go to Vancouver, or Quebec City (New rink) and Halifax.

7 – More hockey, and the Saskatoon Blades are on a two game winning streak coming out of the Christmas break. Great comment made by General Manager and Head Coach, Bob Woods regarding the team needing the Christmas Break. He alluded to the fact that a younger team has an added dynamic in a number of players away from home for the first time and getting a chance to recharge with family was vital and evident on a team entering the break on an 11-game-losing streak. Wow, something that needs to really be taken into account by more fans and hockey people.

6 – Staying with the WHL. Sometimes I scratch my head and perhaps I am the only one. The WHL’s self-imposed trade moratorium was to come into effect on Sunday December 14th and run through the Christmas break to December 28th. However, according to both the Calgary Hitmen, the Spokane Chiefs, and the Western Hockey League’s website the Hitmen and Chiefs were able to swing a deal that saw Spokane transfer goaltender Thatcher Demko to Calgary on December 16th. Now granted Demko is not playing in the WHL and is currently playing for team USA at the World Juniors and is attending Boston College so he is not playing in the WHL at the moment. BUT couldn’t the league have waited until the 28th to announce the deal so as not to circumvent one of their own rules.

5 – Speaking of breaking the rules. It is going to be an interesting time post-World Juniors in Portland. The Winterhawks aren’t exactly lighting the world on fire three games above .500 and 6-and-4 in their last 10. By no means are they out of the play-off picture but if the Winterhawks decide to become sellers at the deadline could the likes of Nic Petan, Chase deLeo and Oliver Bjorkstrand be on the move? AND if they are one would have to think that the Winterhawks would be looking for first round bantam picks. If you are like me you may be saying, hold on a minute here, when the WInterhawks were stripped of first round bantam picks through 2018 as punishment for the violating the league’s player benefits parameters; the punishment at the time read as though the WInterhawks would also not be allowed to make transactions where they would/could acquire a first round bantam pick. That WHL ruling went by the wayside one year into their five year punishment plan when the Hawks were able to acquire Calgary’s 2014 first round pick for Adam Tambellini last January 8th. I’m just wondering if they will be allowed or able to recapture some of those picks.

4 – Gibson’s Finest. Mike Gibson has been named the new Head Coach of the University of Regina Rams! Gibson’s latest gig as the Ottawa REDBLACKS’ offensive coordinator came to a crashing end this off-season. However, his knowledge of Regina, and the University game is going to give him some valuable tools moving forward when it comes to recruiting and filling his coaching staff. It is going to be an interesting transition from future Canadian Football Hall of Famer Frank McCrystal to Gibson.

3 – Coast-To-Coast. News also broke this week that University of Saskatchewan Huskie supporter/sponsor David Dube and my colleague Jim Mullin are pitching a proposal by where the CIS would adopt an interlocking schedule (Canada West playing Quebec, and Ontario teams in regular seasons games) starting in the fall. Part of the plan is to lure a national broadcaster to pick up the games with Mr. Dube footing the bill for the production costs in the opening season. It is an interesting idea one that I am not sure will financially fly with a lot of schools. BUT more power to them if they can realize their dream.

2 – Staying on the grid iron and I’m hoping all the best for Kelly Bates. The Saskatchewan native is a class act and was the running game and CFL draft coordinator for the BC Lions. Bates always has time to stop and say hello no matter where you may find him and he will always tell it like it is. Unfortunately for Kelly word out of the Lions is that he will not be retained under the new coaching umbrella of new Head Coach Jeff Tedford. To say he got the most out of what he had is an understatement. In 2014 he lost his star running back in Andrew Harris, in 2013 his offensive line was banged up and literally taped together. All the best Kelly!

1 – Last one on coaching. I love seeing how the CFL fan boards lit up with the news that Marc Trestman was fired in Chicago. I will be amazed if we see him in the CFL in 2015 or ever again. Every team, seemingly, has their Head Coach in place. Trestman is going to be paid for the next two years by the Bears, and Trestman will be a wanted commodity in the NFL as a coordinator should he wish to travel down that road.

Enjoy the holidays!


One Response to Top Ten Tuesday: Is Hockey Canada Too Big For Their Britches?

  1. Doug Wilson says:

    Hockey Canada too big , ya, like all sports spectacular events today, Olympics prime example, way over board with costs, money grab from fans. Many fans can not afford World junior tickets now, many more are getting close to not be able to afford tickets. No wonder the seats are empty for most games. I was at both tournaments in Saskatoon, I went because I could, but I went to see ALL of the games and great hockey, not just the Canada games. This is a tournament to expose the best of Junior Hockey, put it into the Junior Hockey market Cities.
    Doug w.

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