2 - MORE ON REVIEW: On the subject of letting NHL coaches challenge what is and what isn’t a penalty, have at it. I can’t wait to see the mess created with that. The Cody Eakin cross check on Joe Pavelski in the last round has been widely panned as a bad call, yet many others point to the exact wording of the rule, which says a major penalty shall be called if the player is crosschecked and the infraction results in a major injury, which it did.
3 - SHORTEN IT UP!: The NHL season is too long. I wonder if I’m the only one who tunes it all out after my favorite team is eliminated. I think it’s over 8 months from start of regular season to the awarding of the trophy. Baseball is 7 months, but it’s easy to tune out for a couple of months during the hottest stretches of summer. Football only goes for 5 months and every week is intense. I’d like to see NHL start in October, wrap up around May 20th.
4 - WCBL: This is my first year being involved in the Western Canadian Baseball League. I find the dynamics of the league to be interesting in that you have six privately run teams in Alberta and six community owned teams in Saskatchewan. Four of the six Saskatchewan teams are doing very well, financially. The two in my neck of the woods (Yorkton and Melville) are set to begin the most pivotal seasons in their history.
5 - FLIN FLON BIDS: The Flin Flon Bombers have applied to host the 2021 National Junior ‘A’ Hockey Championship event. I’m not sure what the criteria is for selecting the host community, but Flin Flon would fill the rink and the atmosphere would be electric. The Whitney Forum is an historical venue and doesn’t really need any upgrades aside from improved WiFi. I hope they pull off the upset and get the nod from Hockey Canada.
6 - CALGARY COLTS: My son and I spent the weekend in Calgary at the training camp for the PFC’s Colts. I can’t say enough about the professionalism of the organization from the moment we walked through the door. They were winless last year, but I suspect they are about to experience an uptick under former CFL receivers coach Tim Kearse, who’s entering his second year. The level of communication and how they made Matthew feel at home despite having no idea who he was prior to the weekend exceeded expectations.
7 - HOLLAND BUZZ: I’ll be in a very small minority here, but count me in as a person who thinks the hiring of Ken Holland as General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers will not be as successful as many think. While Holland was the architect of numerous Stanley Cup champions in Detroit, the reality is that building a winner in the salary cap era is a lot different than when the Wings won three of their four titles. The cap was instituted in 2006, Detroit won in 2008 and then went to the finals in 2009. I’d argue this team was assembled pre-cap. Since going to the finals, Detroit has won three playoff rounds in ten years and missed the playoffs altogether for the last three. He handed out massive long term contracts to Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Justin Abdelkader, Frans Nielsen, Dan DeKeyser, Darren Helm, and maybe others. While Datsyuk and Zetterberg were superstars, the precap era allowed him to have them signed well past the expiry date of their careers. You can’t do that anymore and the Red Wings roster is littered with contract mistakes and I’d submit it’s a big reason why they’ve missed the playoffs the last three years.
8 - MEDIA BRAINWASHING: Fans who fall in love with prospects will say the reason why Detroit missed the playoffs three years in a row is because they didn’t have high draft picks. They weren’t ‘bad enough’ over the last ten years. This is a bunch of brainwashing nonsense that teams and media sell (successfully) to fans. How do you explain San Jose? They made trades for guys like Martin Jones, Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Evander Kane, and Joe Thornton. They made sure they did their homework despite not having high picks by getting Timo Meier (9th), Logan Couture (9th), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (35th), Tomas Hertl (17th), Kevin Labanc (171st), and Joe Pavelski (205th). They also had three years in there where they drafted horribly. Tanking and drafting high is easy. Anyone can do it. The Sharks have made the playoffs every year, but one, since 2004.
9 - STARS SHINING: The Battlefords North Stars may have lost the ANAVET Cup series against the MJHL’s Portage Terriers, but they have a shot at returning next season. Five of their starting defensemen are, likely, returning as well as a slew of qualified top six forwards. Goalie Joel Grzybowski, who may have been worn out from the workload, is also eligible to play one more year.
10 - FASTEST 2 MINUTES IN SPORTS?: I love the Kentucky Derby, but I’m not an avid horse racing fan and won’t proclaim to understand all the rules.What I do know is the more I see video replay used in sports, the more I despise it and the more enjoyment it sucks out of me. What was that over the weekend? I’m also not even talking about watching it on tv, like what happened on Saturday. But, being in attendance during CFL, NHL, and MLB games (which I have been for each league) while officials debate the letter of the law is boring and, seldom, satisfying even when the call goes your way. To me, replay officials should get the same chance the field officials get. One opportunity at high speed. Overturn it or don’t and let’s get back to the games.
(Mike Stackhouse is a freelance writer/broadcaster. Follow him on Twitter at @Stack1975)