As father fights terminal cancer, NHL fan slams lockout in jarring clip (VIDEO)

19 Oct

There are provocative videos about the NHL, made by angry fans with a message for both owners and players.

And then there's this video by "eamu99" on YouTube: stunning, jarring minute-long clip in which a son laments the lockout at the bedside of his father, whom he says is fighting terminal cancer:

"I hope that the doctors and nurses that keep my dad alive get a raise. And that you get your asses back on the ice before it's too late." Man …

Here's a bit more from "eamu99":

Just wanna catch a game with my dad. There is a deal for the players within the NHL. But there is a contract with the communities that these players come from as well. When you are mentally strong enough to become an elite athlete you are a special human being (in most cases anyways) . A human being that can lead and inspire the people around them and their communities. The NHL take these extraordinary people and display them so their effect is amplified. Because of this lockout we have displaced inspiration and it is sad. I am sure that whoever misses out on their little piece of inspiration wont be refunded. Seems there is no deal for the fans in the NHL.

The video was put together by Canada native John Dick, 31, who studied journalism at the University of Queensland in Australia. While attending school, his father Bruce was diagnosed with cancer back in Canada.

"My dad wouldn't allow me to come back. He made me finish university," said John Dick.

The last time John saw his father was several years ago; i.e. the last time the NHL locked out its players. He traveled to see him again because Bruce was given just weeks to live.

Knowing that his son was a filmmaker, Bruce suggested they do a project together. "You're not going to be picking up any chicks the way you're looking," quipped John at the time.

The two finally settled on a mutual animosity for the NHL, the NHLPA and the lockout as their subject. John played hockey growing up and remains a fan; Bruce was an Edmonton Oilers dynasty fan that continued to follow the game.

John's premise was simple: Delivering a gut-punch of a message, underscored by his father's condition.

"How many tickets have me and my dad bought? How many times have we seen [the NHL]?" he asked. "You don't play hockey for other hockey players. You don't play for the owners. You play for the fans."

John said he hopes the NHL's top brass, including Gary Bettman, sees the video. And that maybe, just maybe, it has an impact on their desire to lock out the players.

As for his father, John said he's spending as much time as he can with him. Instead of the NHL, they'll watch CFL football games in the hospital.

Admittedly, it's difficult to hear his father talk about watching the NHL upon conclusion of the football game, knowing that the League won't be playing any time soon.

"He forgets. He's on a lot of pain killers," said John.

Tags: being, clip, , eamu, , John Dick, , , terminal cancer
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Roberto Luongo to the Maple Leafs: Denials, details and his probable destination

19 Oct

The Vancouver Canucks trading their backup goaltender Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers never really made sense, outside of Luongo's possession of a no-movement clause and willingness to go to there.

Why would the Panthers want a goaltender when they've been grooming Jacob Markstrom for several seasons, and are fairly happy with their veteran tandem anyway? Why would they ante up anything close to what the Canucks want for Luongo, who won't simply be a salary dump? Why would the Panthers want that salary on their cap? (Oh, that's right: Because when he retires, it'll be the Canucks' salary again.)

[Nick Cotsonika: Enough with the grudges and greed, get down to business and solve the CBA]

The Toronto Maple Leafs, on the other hand, could use Roberto Luongo. (All due respect to James Reimer, a nice young goalie transformed into Hockey Jesus in some desperate Toronton media circles.)

Roberto Luongo would make them a playoff team. Yes, seriously, that's the impact: Putting him between the pipes means the Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference top eight. At the very least, their team GAA won't be 29th overall next season.

So how do we make this happen?

From Damien Cox of the Toronto Star:

Yes, the Leafs remain very much interested in securing the services of Luongo, and the talks are very much alive. It's believed Leaf GM Brian Burke and his Vancouver counterpart Mike Gillis spoke as recently as two weeks ago, at which time the Canucks demands were reduced from the bounty they requested at the draft, but not enough for the Leafs to agree to anything.

At the draft, reports indicated Vancouver asked for centre Tyler Bozak, defenceman Jake Gardiner, a first-round pick and winger Matt Frattin in exchange for the 33-year-old Luongo. The Leafs had no interest in paying that kind of price, largely because there is no significant market for the services of the veteran goaltender.

Gardiner might be a deal-killer, as close to untouchable as a player on this sickly roster can come.

Chemmy from Pension Plan Puppets offers an alternative:

Ditto to young talent. Jake Gardiner should hopefully contribute value to the Leafs for a lot longer than three or four years. Toronto doesn't have enough talent to give up young potential for a few years of an old goaltender.

My Deal: I'd offer Vancouver Tyler Bozak, Cody Franson and our 2nd round pick in 2013. There's some value there for Vancouver. It's not a king's ransom but I don't think the Leafs should be moving important pieces to bring in a 33 year old. If that's not enough I'm more than happy to not have Luongo.

Bump that up to a first-round pick, and there might be a deal here. Swap out one of the two (or both) for Joe Colborne, and there's probably a deal there.

[Trending Topics: NHL's negotiating tactics aren't helping to end the lockout]

The Luongo-to-the-Leafs talk was kicked up again by a report by John Shannon of Sportsnet that the two sides had an agreement in principle to make a deal after the lockout ends. The Canucks issued a "non-denial denial" on the trade, which is expected when GM Mike Gillis is still trying to add irons to the fire. But he doubled down by saying the Leafs rumor was "untrue" on Friday.

The Leafs have some assets the Canucks might desire, and ones with which they'd be willing to part. The Canucks need to remedy the Luongo situation in order to pass the torch to Cory Schneider.

It all comes down to Luongo's desire to play for the Leafs, which comes down to a probability for championship success (low) and his comfort in the market.

Florida would have finally been a respite from the annual piling-on that Luongo faces when he and/or the Canucks fall short of a championship. Toronto offers a different kind of pressure — that of a franchise savior — but it also offers Luongo a different set of expectations than the ones he currently faces in Vancouver.

It's one pressure cooker to another, but Luongo would undoubtedly get a smoother ride in Toronto because the bar is significantly lower: "Carry us to the Cup" vs. "Get us the Eight Seed."

Tags: backup goaltender Roberto Luongo, , Kind, , Luongo, Maple Leafs, , , Roberto Luongo, talent, , Vancouver, vancouver canucks
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The Nuggets think small-market teams are better, misunderstand the advantage of big-market teams

12 Oct

Over the past few years, particularly when the lockout brought franchise finances to the forefront, there have been many debates over the size of the NBA's divide between small-market and big-market teams. It was the central cause of the lockout — even if owners ended up turning that ordeal into an attempt to extract profits from players — and it's as yet unclear if anything's really changed. Every time a superstar engineers a move to a major market, it certainly seems like it hasn't.

Nevertheless, many small-market teams rank among the best teams in the NBA — one need only look at the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs for proof. There are enough success stories, in fact, that some think small-market teams are better than their big-market counterparts. Just ask the Denver Nuggets. From Mark Kiszla for The Denver Post (via SLAM):

On a mission from the basketball gods, the Nuggets are bent on busting the myth that the NBA title can only be won in a big city of bright lights and single-name stars. "When was the last time New York won a championship?" said Denver point guard Ty Lawson, barely able to conceal a smirk. [...]

"We have an organization that has a nucleus we think is going to challenge the top echelon of teams," Karl said. "I would bet on a small market coming out the West. I'm sorry. I'll bet that. I know the Lakers are good and all that. But you have San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Denver, Memphis." Throughout the league, Karl added, "There are as many, or more, good small-market teams than there are big-market teams." [...]

"In football, any given team can win in any given year. In basketball, fans connect well with the dynasties. But you can always have those Detroit Pistons or San Antonio Spurs as an exception. Those hot spots like Miami? That's always part of a cycle. Miami is a hot spot now, but one day it will be Toronto or someplace else," said Andre Iguodala, who joined the Nuggets in trade from Philadelphia.

I don't fully understand the argument that Miami is a hot spot and not a budding dynasty, or even a budding major-market (given Florida's lack of income tax and Miami's reputation as a fun city), but these are secondary issues. It's also fine that consider themselves a championship contender even though they likely aren't — teams thrive on confidence, it's a new season, and Kiszla seems to have asked fairly leading questions about their ability to win it all despite not playing in New York or Los Angeles.

What I'm most interested in here is Karl's point that there are more good small-market teams than those in bigger cities. This is largely true. The Lakers and Heat are title contenders, with the Clippers, Celtics, Knicks, and Nets (now a big-market team, whether we want to admit it or not) standing as good teams who should figure in the middle seeds of their conferences' playoff brackets. The small markets fill just about every other playoff spot, from contenders like the Thunder to eighth-spot challengers like the Utah Jazz. That's a lot of good teams from outside of the obvious big-name cities, and in terms of raw numbers there are more of them.

But that comparison disregards the fact that every big market team figures to make the playoffs. If there are more good small-market teams, it's only because there are many more of them in the NBA. By percentages, big-market teams are much, much more likely to be successful. For the most part, that's because they have a much higher margin of error — while a team like the Knicks can woo enough stars to stay relevant even in the face of terrible management, a squad like the Indiana Pacers must do a lot correctly (and get very lucky in the draft) to finish third in the East.

College football writer Matt Hinton, one-time editor of Yahoo!'s Dr. Saturday blog, is fond of noting that, while All-American teams are largely made up of players with sub-elite recruiting profiles, blue-chip recruits are still much, much safer bets to become stars and therefore a useful indicator of which programs will succeed long-term. The same general point holds true for NBA market size. It's not enough to note which teams do best — serious analysis of the NBA financial landscape must also consider if that team has a structural advantage that caused its success. Proper management will always win out — again, it's not as if the Knicks punch a ticket to the Finals every year just because they're in New York — but it's a whole lot easier to contend if a team has an easier time getting stars.

That imbalance might not be the worst thing for the health of the NBA, but it's still an imbalance. Successful small-market teams are outliers, and we should acknowledge as much if we want to be serious about the future of the league.

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As it turns out, Krys Barch’s lockout tweets are surprisingly musical (VIDEO)

12 Oct

Late last month, Krys Barch sat down in front of a fire, 8 OV deep, cracked open a bottle of Porte, and took to Twitter for an epic rant about the lockout. It was a divisive moment, heralded as a rallying cry for some and criticized as a whiny and off-putting diatribe by others.

But one thing nobody called it: inherently musical. And, as it turns out, it sort of was. Youtube channel The NOC gave a section of Barch's rant the "Music twideo" treatment, setting his musings to a sweet acoustic tune sung by New York based singer Michelle Ferreira. The results? Surprisingly moving.

Granted, it helps to have Ferreira singing the crap out of Barch's words, but seriously, until the she hits the phrase "work stoppage", you'd think these lyrics were written by Aimee Mann or something.

If the whole hockey thing doesn't work out, Barch might want to consider a future in songwriting. He's got the chops.

Frankly, if this lockout drags on into next year, I hope Barch and Ferreira cut an album together. They could be the next She and Him, or The Swell Season, or even Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney

Tags: Barch, , Krys Barch, , moment, , nobody, Porte, rant,
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NHL players on the move to Europe during lockout (Yahoo! Sports)

12 Oct
PRAGUE (AP) -- Seconds into the third period, Alexander Ovechkin took control of a loose puck - one that had stopped in a pool of water.
Tags: , , Europe, , , , POOL, PRAGUE, , ,
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Gretzky follows his heart; Lombardi fights hangover; David Booth still killing things (Puck Headlines)

12 Oct

• David Booth kills Falcor the Luckdragon. And ManBearPig. And Alf. And the Lorax. [Pass it to Bulis]

• Amidst the doom and gloom, Wayne Gretzky still believes the season will begin by January. He believes it in his heart. "Yeah, in my heart, I do. I think first of all you have two smart people in the commissioner and the commissioner's office leading the ownership group and of course Donald Fehr leading the NHLPA. I really believe in my heart that in '04, changing the landscape, going to a salary cap was a real big issue and a real big fight. I think this one is more of a numbers issue. I see them getting something resolved here. I think both sides want to come to a resolution. I think right now both sides are doing the best negotiating they can do. So optimistically I still believe that everyone will be back playing hockey and I sure hope so. It's a great game. It gets better every year and we have great players and great athletes and good people in our game. I know the great fans across North America right now are dearly missing the sport of hockey." [Sports Radio Interviews]

• Dean Lombardi is concerned about the Stanley Cup hangover. "I talked to a number of teams, whether it was the 49ers, Yankees, Patriots, teams that were dynasties, and wanted to know what they did after the first year they won," Lombardi told this week. "I found so many different schools of thought." [ESPN]

• Speaking of the Kings, since their Stanley Cup banner won't be hanging from the rafters any time soon, here are some alternative uses it. Why, Dustin Penner could use it as a hammock! [The Royal Half]

• CTV has had to rename lockout "Big Bang Night in Canada" after CBC claims that it would "confuse" viewers. I'll say. There's nothing more embarrassing than thinking you're in for an evening of hardcore erotica on basic cable only to get two hours of Jim Parsons bein' quirky instead. [Financial Post]

• The Buffalo Sabres will be unveiling a French Connection statue tonight in Alumni Plaza. [WGRZ]

• Manny Malhotra takes a veiled shot at the players that have basically taken the "call me when the lockout's over" approach: "If you just want to bury your head and just go to the rink and play hockey and do nothing else, you're missing a world of the behind the scenes of what really goes into a CBA, what goes into the makeup of the league, how the league operates," he said. "It's an incredible learning experience." [Sportsnet]

• Kyle Quincey has signed with the Denver Cutththroats of the Central Hockey League. [Denver Post]

• Here's what Quebec's hockey arena will look like. Hold up, said the Phoenix Coyotes, you're allowed to populate it with CGI humans? Oh man, this changes everything.

• Deryk Engelland signs in Norway. [PHT]

• Brilliantly captioned gif: "Looks like Phil Kessel gained a bit of weight during the lockout." [Reddit Hockey]

• Ellen Etchingham offers up a passionate defence of fan protests during the lockout. [Backhand Shelf]

• On sponsors are advertisers looking for contingency plans in the event of the lockout. Friends: If the advertising budget is going to waste, I am willing to sport your brands for money. [The Globe & Mail]

• Mind-blowing: keeping hockey equipment clean is the key to keeping it from smelling. In other news, you will have less tartar buildup if you brush your teeth. [Vancouver Sun]

• Cute story here about a sixth-grade hockey player born without his right hand meeting a college goaltender born without his left. [Kansas City Star]

• What makes Connor McDavid so exceptional? It's skill, isn't it? Is it skill? [The Hockey Writers]

• And finally, the legendary Ian Walker stalks the streets of Vancouver in search of hockey fans passionate about the cancelled season. Can you believe that nun doesn't care? Some hockey fan she is.

Tags: David Booth, Dean Lombardi, Donald Fehr, , hangover, , , , , Lombardi, , , wayne gretzky
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Trending Topics: Where all others have failed, YOUR NHL fan protest will definitely work

12 Oct

Trending Topics is a column that looks at the week in hockey, occasionally according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?

We live in an age of protest for the first time in a while. The 1960s saw millions of people take to the streets to give voice to their beliefs, and that trend is now back.

Every year, people protest against things like unfair economic conditions around the world and the current U.S. banking system; and that kind of dissent has even come, to a far smaller degree, to the NHL.

We've seen rallies in favor of not-trading Jason Spezza, and we've seen them in opposition to the continued reign of Scott Howson, and against the management of the Maple Leafs. Now, we're starting to see demonstrations against the lockout; the recent one outside the NHL Store in New York is a prime example, as is this Saturday's "Give Us Our Game Back" planned event in Toronto.

Hockey protests, it seems, aren't exactly partisan. Canadians, both Sens and Leafs fans, have done them. American fans have done them. And they've all accomplished the same thing.

Jack squat.

Thus, it's logical to assume, if not wholly set your watch to, this rally attracting a few dozen fans at the absolute maximum, and absolutely nothing at all happening whatsoever. They'll mill around at whichever out-of-the-way street corner they choose to gather, maybe shout a few things. Some guy who fancies himself the Leader of this particular ineffectual movement might stand on a milk carton and shout some words with no one could disagree — "The lockout sucks! Whaddaya say, gang?" — to a smattering of applause.

Then… nothing.

The thing with these protests is that you everyone knows they're not going to do anything to sway the opinions of either the NHL or the PA.

Bill Daly is not bursting into Gary Bettman's office saying, "Gary, 12 people have clicked 'Attending' on this protest Facebook invite. We better start the season post haste!"

Likewise, the Fehr brothers aren't monitoring Twitter to see if anyone has a strong enough opinion to make them take a 30-percent salary rollback. Instead of glumly gathering outside the NHL Store in your Ranger jersey, you could have gone for a nice walk, read a book, or talked to a loved one. Think about it.

The entire thing is stupid. The idea of it. The execution of it. The sad attempts to get coverage for it. If you go to one of these events, you are dumb and wasting your time.

This is, apparently, especially true of the one planned for tomorrow. The fine folks at Pension Plan Puppets already told Torontonians not to waste their time on the matter, linking to a Toronto Star interview with one of its organizers, who said, "We're concerned about the lockout's effects on local businesses, on this city's and this country's hockey traditions."

Yeah, local business. A key component to all this. Because it turns out that even the slightest digging (okay, goading) from the PPP boys uncovered that some of the guys promoting this this thing are, you guessed it, small business owners. It is in their financial interest for you or your friends to show up to this rally and promote the idea that this lockout is not only hurting fans, but also local businesses around the rink. (This despite the fact there's no evidence that local economies are hurt by work stoppages in pro sports.)

So not only is this particular protest, it seems to also be cynical and half-assed.

Here's what you can do instead: Accept that this lockout is going to happen no matter how many people show up and protest.

What, exactly, is being protested remains somewhat unclear. If it's the general idea that the lockout is not a good thing for hockey fans, then maybe it's time to start protesting other demonstrably not-good stuff, like world hunger, human rights violations, or Michael Bay. No one likes that. Just go out in front of your house with a sign about how bad it is and walk in a circle. There, now you're Doing Something about it. Or at least, as much of a Something as this fan rally will accomplish.

Here's the deal: Nothing you do at any time in the next few months is going to matter even a little bit. Instead, if you think you can make a difference, wouldn't it be a better idea to do so somewhere it'll actually matter?

Instead of paying a hundred bucks for tickets to a game that has since been canceled, have a few beers and eat before and after, why not donate even some of that money to a local nonprofit or a charity that means something to you? Instead of spending hundreds of hours in front of your TV watching hockey this winter, you might want think about volunteering somewhere.There are causes that actually need your attention and support, and need it desperately. Giving that hour or two of your time you might have considered flushing down the toilet by attending a stupid rally would actually be put to good use. Doing even a rudimentary amount of research online will help you find organizations in your area, and the odds that you'll have to look at any self-important dummies in Leafs jerseys shouting about the lockout will be reduced significantly.

If you wanna make a difference, get serious about it and stop believing this crap will end the lockout any faster.

And if you're the kind of person who thinks organizing something like this is a good idea, stop wasting everyone's time.

Pearls of Biz-dom

We all know that there isn't a better Twitter account out there than that of Paul Bissonnette. So why not find his best bit of advice on love, life and lappers from the last week?

BizNasty on exciting lockout alternatives: "That was more uneventful than the movie The Grey. #Giants #Reds"

If you've got something for Trending Topics, holla at Lambert on Twitter or . He'll even credit you so you get a thousand followers in one day and you'll become the most popular person on the Internet! You can also visit his blog if you're so inclined.

Tags: , , , , Maple Leafs, , protest, store
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Labor board in Canada rules lockout can continue (Yahoo! Sports)

10 Oct
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -- The Alberta Labor Relations Board has ruled that the NHL's lockout of players from the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames can continue.
Tags: , Flames, labor, , ,
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Bruins coach Julien keeps busy during lockout (Yahoo! Sports)

10 Oct
BOSTON (AP) -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien will keep busy during the NHL lockout.
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Will NHL players still smile for cameras, clown at All-Star game after bitter lockout?

10 Oct

Feelings about the NHL All-Star game typically range from "nobody cares, cancel it" to "nobody cares, but the skills competition is pretty sweet." But the essential aim of the weekend is to better connect the biggest stars in the league with their fans.

Well, and the league's sponsors.

It's the same principle that's given us things like NHL players delivering tickets to fans or making appearances at local businesses or opening the doors of their houses to HBO's cameras. It's behavior that speaks to a partnership between the league and its employees, who act as front men for a $3.3 billion-generating business.

A big part of the reason the NHL has generated that money: That today's stars, many of them young, have gone further than any group that preceded them to promote the game. Clowning at the trick shot competition. Tweeting with the paying customers. Attending fan fests just so some slob in an ill-fitting sweater can take a mobile phone picture with them.

Players like Alex Ovechkin entered the league right after the 2004-05 lockout. Players like Michael Cammalleri were just getting established. Both players are the kinds of ambassadors the NHL wants to have amongst its players. Both players, however, have bitterly addressed this lockout and its consequences in recent weeks.

Will the league's top players still embrace their roles as promoters of the NHL and "partners" in its success if the owners take a large percentage of revenue from them in the next CBA?

If the players lose, does apathy win?

Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet had a great piece about this on Monday, wondering if this generation of stars would stop going the extra mile for a league that … well, is treating them like the cattle on The Devellano Ranch:

So will the players be willing to go the extra mile again once this meaningless lockout ends? I'm not so sure. For the young stars like Crosby, Ovie, Shea Weber and Ilya Kovolchuk who are locked into mega-million long-term deals, what is their incentive to grow the game now? To put more money into the 54 per cent share of the revenues the owners want? Why the NHL needed to drag these accommodating young guys through what should have been an easily avoidable financial war is beyond me.

… The bad blood Bettman created -- once again -- with the most important assets of the NHL's $3.3-billion empire should have been avoidable. This new generation is now learning to hate Gary Bettman, just as my generation did, because they know his strategy is to first take away the their livelihood, then construct a great deal for the owners based on players missing Ferrari payments.

But because Bettman chose this hard line of negotiating once again, his biggest obstacle won't just be getting the CBA deal he wants for his owners, it will be getting his players to jump through those promotional "hula hoops" that helped push revenue past $3 billion.

First, Kypreos is right: These players hate Bettman. Maybe not with the psychotic passion of a Chris Chelios, but they intensely dislike the man, to the point where those emotions alone would irrationally extend this work stoppage.

But to his point about jumping through promotional hoops for the NHL … as they say, all politics are local.

Maybe on a national level this means a few more players losing their heart and opting out of the NHL All-Star game — one can easily imagine that happening whenever they play the next one. Then we'll all have fun with the fines and suspensions in its aftermath.

But a lot of what the players do in the community is charitable. That's a lot of their face time. It's hard to imagine a group of NHLers rejected a request from a children's hospital because it would be a publicity opportunity for their team.

But even beyond that admittedly heartstring-tugging scenario — a lot of these guys aren't going to punish the home fans for the sins of the owners.

Oh, wait, check that: The sins of the other owners. We all know that the players' own executives and check-signers aren't to blame for this mess, or else they'd have been called out specifically by now …

Tags: , , , , , , nobody
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