Tag Archives: NHL

Silver Habs Spoons

From the days of the National Hockey Association, NHA – my spoons, that I don’t eat chocolate ice cream or tap out a tune on my leg with. All they do is sit in my cabinet and look nice. A set of four of these was sold at Classic Auctions several years ago.

The NHA existed from 1909 to 1917, and was the genesis of the NHL. An excellent look at this league can be seen right here


The following were the NHA teams and their year of inception:

Cobalt Silver Kings 1909-10
Haileybury Hockey Club 1909-10
Montreal Wanderers 1909-10
Montreal Canadiens 1909-10
Montreal Shamrocks 1909-10
Ottawa Senators 1909-10
Quebec Bulldogs 1910-11
Renfrew Creamery Kings 1909-10
Toronto Ontarios 1913-14
Toronto Tecumsehs 1912-13
Toronto 228th Battalion 1916-17
Toronto Blueshirts 1912-13
Toronto Ontario Shamrocks 1914-15

Do Referees Affect The Outcome Of Games?

Disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy was on 60 Minutes Sunday night, talking about how he gambled on basketball and how he was ultimately fired from his $300,000 a year job, his wife divorced him, he did eleven months in prison, and his world came crashing down. His winning average on these bets were around 80%, and he received a lousy $2000 for every bet he was successful at. The mob, of course, made millions from this guy, and a couple of them also ended up doing time.

But what he says about the goings-on in the NBA makes me wonder if something similar isn’t happening in the NHL. Not once have I ever accused the NHL of any sort of fixing or indiscretion, but when I heard what Donaghy had to say, I made me think a little, not about referees gambling, but about how they might affect the outcome of games.

Donaghy says NBA referees have a certain relationship with players, coachs, GM’s, and owners, and they will either help or screw over certain players if deemed necessary. Allen Iverson, for instance, incurred the wrath of the referees for things he’d said, and so in turn, the refs wouldn’t call fouls on him, or call curious fouls against him, either of which threw him off his game which would directly change the outcome. And Donaghy says the referee supervisors approved of the officials punishing Iverson.

The league would favour superstar Kobe Bryant because calls in the past against him had been missed, and so Bryant was often given special treatment by the officials.

The refs in general discuss among each other who they like and dislike and how they may band together to help or hurt different individuals. Donaghy also says the league wants playoff games to be extended as it means more money, and they also want the big-market teams to advance, not the small markets.

Do you think any of the above might pertain to the NHL? Do you think the referees let things slide when it comes to Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. Maybe Ovechkin deserved more than a two-game suspension for his knee-on-knee hit, but because he’s a marquee player whom fans buy tickets to see, he was given a minimal sentence. And he was hurt for the two games anyway, so the suspension was redundant.

Do you think a player like Sean Avery, who surely talks trash to not only opposing players but referees too, would be looked at closer than others, and some fouls against him are let go, and the slightest thing he does is called?

Do you think any of what Donaghy says about basketball might be happening in hockey,  if the NHL approves certain things decided upon by the referees and whether they really do want the big markets to succeed more than smaller markets. Are marquee players treated with kid gloves?  Are they doing and thinking what’s best for the sport?

Gary Bettman and the league would deny any of this ’till the cows come home. But if it happens in the NBA, certainly it could happen in the NHL.

I hardly think league brass are angels.

It’s My Party And I’ll Rant If I Want To

Rant time:

The old ’86 Plymouth shitbox I bought for $650 three months ago as a work car didn’t start this morning for the second time in two days, and I’m in a lousy mood. So I thought I’d add this while I’m waiting to go out and howl at the moon.

People like Gary Bettman at NHL headquarters and Brian Burke in Toronto think they run the league. They walk around and come across in interviews as purely self-centred, with “I’m smart and you’re not” attitudes. Well, they don’t run the league, they’re only paid monkeys who are allowed to make as many mistakes as they can and still hold their jobs. They’re much smarter about being lawyers and evading subjects like a good politician than they are about being hockey men.

The ones who really know about the NHL are the players and coaches. They make the world go around, not Bettman and Burke. And it’s not just players and coaches either. It’s also trainers and scouts and fans and beat writers. Bettman and Burke are almost nothing. All they are are arrogant and self-centred who happened to find themselves now in a position of mostly self-made power, where one man can decide for himself that cities in hot climates will definitely be hockey towns and refuses to budge on this position, and another who holds grudges (see Kevin Lowe), and talks to interviewers and to us thought the camera like he has all the answers, and talks down to us and doesn’t really have time for us.

These are not two of my favourite guys. I believe Bettman is hurting the league, and I’ve never had time for arrogant people in any walk of life. And Burke, (and his coach Ron Wilson) are as arrogant as you get. Remember Brian, we all shop at the same grocery store.

This is my rant and I feel much better now. Now I’ve decided to scrap the $650 car and buy one for a little more money. You get what you pay for, right? And maybe I’ll hold off on howling at the moon.

Message From Jim Balsillie





 Dear Hockey Fans,

Thank you for taking the time to sign up to MakeItSeven.ca. I want you to know, from one passionate hockey fan to another, I really appreciate it.

Since I announced my offer to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, the response and support I have received from across Canada has been overwhelming. Within hours, more than 10,000 people had signed up at MakeItSeven.ca and every day thousands of Canadians continue to add their names and their support. Today more than 120,000 people have joined MakeItSeven.ca. Many of you have contacted me with suggestions and advice on a number of matters related to our mission to bring another NHL team to Canada. I appreciate all of it.

While we are early in the process, I am more optimistic than ever that we are one step closer to bringing another NHL team to Southern Ontario and to Canada. I am excited to announce that two iconic Canadian brands, Home Hardware and Labatt, both supporters of hockey across this country, have joined the Make It Seven campaign. The MakeItSeven.ca website is also up and running today as our campaign hub. Through the site you, the fans, will have an opportunity to shape the Make It Seven campaign by uploading your own content, interacting with each other and getting regular updates on our progress. Please take the time to visit MakeItSeven.ca again and continue to participate in this important movement. For those of you who want to follow the progress in other ways, we have also set up an official Twitter account as @makeitseven.

Thanks again for your support. Please contact all of your friends and family and ask them to sign up with you. Together, with our partners Home Hardware and Labatt and passionate Canadian hockey fans from coast to coast, we can make it happen. Together, we can make it seven!


Jim Balsillie

SI Players’ Poll Shows 4% Think The Finns Are The Best

Sports Illustrated emailed me this little NHL poll that is published in their current edition. The question was; Which Country Produces The Best Players?

324 players voted, and players couldn’t vote for their own country. Here’s the results:

Canada 30%

Sweden 28%

Russia 27%

US 7%

Finland 4%

Are you surprised by this? For me, I suppose it looks about right, but I’m really not sure why Finland would get any votes.

Jim Balsillie Is Once Again Bettman’s Boogeyman

How can we ever believe anything Gary Bettman says. All along, the commissioner has maintained that every NHL franchise is healthy, the league is doing fantastic, and there’s no need to even consider moving a team or looking at fresh markets. Now we see what’s happened in Phoenix, (Coyotes bankrupt), and the guy Bettman has wanted no part of, Jim Balsillie, has made a big time $212.5 million offer to buy the club and move to it Canada, which Bettman dreads even more than seeing a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup. (Yes, he dreads it that much). What a dilemna for Gary. A nice solid offer to solve the problems of the Coyotes, a team everyone except him knew was in big trouble, but it could go to southern Ontario, which shatters his big dream of seeing a franchise some day in that hockey market to end all hockey markets, Kansas City.

Gary Bettman should go back to his roots, the NBA, where there’s only one Canadian team to have bad dreams about, and bring in a real hockey man. (Ken Dryden?) Bettman’s vision of hockey in non-hockey markets is a distorted, unrealistic, weird dream, liking forming a yacht club in Somalia. Telling the world that Phoenix was on solid ground and not going anywhere a month ago and now in bankruptcy and accepting loans from the league to pay back rent and such, was not only completely incorrect, but a downright lie. He knew this franchise was hovering near a cliff. Is he that stubborn he couldn’t just admit it?

Let’s hope Jim Balsillie is successful in his bid to bring the Coyotes to southern Ontario. And it’s not only $212 million he’s ready to fork out, but another $17 million on top of it to the Coyotes to let them carry on until the sale is complete. And the math is so neat and precise. Subtract one team from a non-hockey market and add one to a hockey-mad area which will undoubtably add serious dollar bills to the league coffers. I did very poorly in math in school, but these numbers I understand completely.

Gary Bettman’s vision of making the NHL a kissing cousin of the NFL, MLB, and the NBA in the US was just silly to begin with. Why couldn’t he see that the TV rights weren’t going to happen like he thought, the corporate and advertising dollars were only a fantasy. Hockey in the US is only a very small piece of a gigantic pie. A franchise in Canada, not Phoenix, not Kansas City, is the only answer. Bettman has never understood this. Jim Balsillie, on the other hand, gets it completely.

Now That I Know How To Become Bobby Orr, Can I Have A Second Chance?

It’s something I’ve always wondered. Why do some people end up being so talented they can make it to the NHL, or NBA, or write the great novel, or win gold in the Olympics, while most of don’t come within a country mile. Did they work harder than the rest of us? We’re they born with the proper alignment of muscles and tissues?  Or were they simply born with the the right genes that the rest of us didn’t get? And if  they were just born with it, it doesn’t seem fair at all.

Lord knows I worked plenty hard as a kid to get to the NHL. Outdoor rinks before and after school. The same for indoor practices when I got older. I took shot after shot against boards propped up against snowbanks. Running at the track and tennis in the summer to get those legs in shape. No lack of desire, that’s for sure.  But I didn’t even come close. And then you hear that some, like Yvon Lambert and Butch Bouchard, didn’t even play organized hockey until they were fifteen years old. It wasn’t like they worked harder than me.

And what about the extreme cases? How did Bobby Orr become Bobby Orr or Gretzky become The Great One, or Tiger Woods becoming what he’s become, or any athlete who rose above the rest? Were they born with it, or did they just work harder than the rest of us? Did Wayne Gretzky work harder than Kyle Wellwood, for example. Did Wellwood work harder than me?

David Brooks talks about this in the New York Times. He talks of Mozart, and how his early abilities were far from special, how he wouldn’t have stood out among today’s top young performers. But he says Mozart had the same thing Tiger Woods had – the ability to focus for long periods of time and a father intent on improving his skills. Mozart got his 10,000 hours of practice in early and built from there. Just like Woods did, and Gretzky. Brooks says top performers spend many more hours rigourously practicing their craft. So as much as I thought I practised a lot, it probably wasn’t near enough.

The article goes on to say that the mind wants to turn deliberate, newly learned skills into unconscious, automatically performed skills, but the mind is sloppy and will settle for good enough. By practicing slowly, by breaking skills down into tiny parts and repeating, the strenuous student forces the brain to internalize a better pattern of performance. Then a young athlete or writer, for example, finds a mentor who provides feedback, views the performance from the outside, corrects the smallest errors, and pushes the person to take on tougher challenges.

“The brain is phenomenally plastic. We construct ourselves through behaviour. It’s not who you are, it’s what you do.”

Apparently the rest of us didn’t do enough, and that’s why you and I never became Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky, or even Kyle Wellwood. But the article never does explain how someone like Lambert or Bouchard can make it to the bigs only a few years after starting to play the game. Maybe there’s no explanation for that.