Friday, August 11, 2017


Braqd Richardson Ready for the 2017-2018 Season

Belleville's Brad Richardson eager to howl with the Coyotes again

(Getty Images)
Arizona Coyotes centre Brad Richardson of Belleville doesn't like to remember what happened to him last November when he suffered a serious leg injury in a game against the Vancouver Canucks.
That being said, he sometimes can't help recall the look of horror on a fan's face as he lay on the ice, writhing in pain with a fractured fibula and tibia.
"When I think about that night it's hard," Richardson said Thursday after an informal skating session with a handful of other players at the Ice Den in Scottsdale, AZ. "I kind of get hot and sweaty when I do because the pain was so unbelievable. When it happened I knew it was really bad right away. I could feel my leg snap.
"But I can still see that fan in the crowd and see his face vividly. His expression was like 'Oh my God!' and I remember thinking 'Oh boy, I'm in trouble.' Even though I knew it was pretty bad, that fan's face summed up just how bad it really was."
Richardson underwent surgery in Vancouver the day after his injury. Fast forward nine months and Richardson can't wait to get back on the ice in an NHL game.
He tried to return to the Coyotes lineup late last season, but his body simply wouldn't allow it. He opted to have a second surgery in late March to "clean up some things" inside his leg.
"I wanted to play at the end of last year and I tried to come back, but there was just too much pain," Richardson said. "I tried to push through and some days I thought 'OK, maybe I'll play by this weekend or next week,' and then the next day I'd come in and I was so sore I could barely walk. It just wasn't worth the risk of further injury.
"It was tough to swallow because that was my goal, to get back and play at least a game or two. I did everything I could. It just didn't happen.
"When you have an injury like I did, your leg is sore after working out, but then that heals and other parts of your body get thrown off — your back gets sore or your hips are out of alignment. So, it's just a lot of work trying to get everything to work together again.
"It's a constant battle to make your body feel good again and get back up to speed."
Richardson has been in Arizona for most of the off-season and feels he's extremely close to being 100 per cent healthy, after basically having to learn how to walk again.
"If training camp started tomorrow I'd be out there," he said. "I feel night-and-day different than I did four months ago. I probably need a little more time on the ice and some reps, but I'm feeling really good and I'm ready to go.
"The hardest thing was trying to get my leg strong and to fire again and be normal. I put a lot of hours in doing that. Realistically it might take me a little bit of time just to get back in and feel confident, but I think it's going to happen.
"I want to get better and I'm planning on it. I've put the work in to get better."
Richardson has another month to get even more prepared for his 13th NHL season.
The Coyotes will be counting on him to help lead a young team. At 32 he's now the oldest player on the roster.
"I did notice that recently and I'm not too excited about that," said a smiling Richardson. "I don't feel old in any sense of the word. I believe I have a lot of years left in my career, but yes, right now I'm the oldest guy on the team. It is what it is. We have a very young team so we're going to need a bunch of the older guys to lead by example.
"I'll just fit in and do what I can in that aspect."
Richardson has spoken to new head coach Rick Tocchet and is embracing the numerous changes the Coyotes have made in the off-season — including the addition of fellow Belleville native, forward Nick Cousins, in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers.
"It's going to be different, that's for sure, but I'm excited," Richardson said. "I think we're at that point where you have to try something different if you're not making the playoffs every year. I don't know Rick very well, but everyone I've talked to about him has had good things to say.
"He wants to play a fast-paced style, which I'm good with, and I think we have a lot of guys who will like playing that style. It's going to be interesting. I'm anxious for September to get here and to see what's going to happen."
Until then, Richardson will continue to skate regularly in the Valley and to work to make his leg stronger. He's found a new appreciation for playing in the NHL and he can't wait to do it again.
"I've been taking a one-hurdle-at-a-time approach," said Richardson. "I've passed every stage so far so I'm looking forward to progressing. The No. 1 person who has to push you is yourself. I have motivation. I want to keep playing and playing at a really high level and keep getting better every year.
"I've enjoyed every day of my career, but I think I'll enjoy it even more now."

The above story was written by Dave Vest, the Arizona Coyotes senior director of news content, and appears on the NHL team's official website.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Dem Bums-2017

The Brooklyn Dodgers were affectionately known as “Dem Bums”. They moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1957, after winning their first and only World Series in 1955. They won the World Series 5 times after the relocation: 1959, 1963, 1965, 1982, and 1988. It has been almost 30 years since they won the crown.

It appears as if they are making a serious move in that direction this year Their record, for the past 50 games is astounding. They have won 43, and lost just 7 of those games. No team has done that in more than a hundred years, not since the Giants did it in 1912. They lead the National League West Division by 14 ½ games. They recently acquired Yu Darvish, one of the top pitchers in baseball. They have several outstanding young players.

In a recent interview, manager Dave Roberts outlined a few other reasons why the Dodgers are in contention. “This team has won the Division Championship four times, without going on to win the World Series. They are hungry, and they have a chip on their shoulders. It is a very unselfish group of guys who want to win. We play the right way, and we are finding ways to win games.” Roberts won a Series as a player.

They have the best pitching staff in baseball. They have a collective Earned Run Average of 3.07, and have 34 Saves. The pitchers have struck out 1049 batters while only giving up 291 walks. They have the very best pitcher in baseball, Clay Kershaw. He has won 15 games, losing only 2. Unfortunately, Kershaw is now on the disabled list, but is expected back before the playoffs.

The Dodgers are so far ahead of everyone else that they are gearing up for a long post-season run. Much of their success comes from the tyeam's ability to hit the “long ball”. Last weekend, they swept the New York Mets. They hammered 5 home runs, en route to a 7-4 comeback victory. It was their 32nd come-from-behind win this year.

They had the good fortune to call up a rookie in late April who became an instant star. Cody Bellinger, a son of former major league player Clay, stands third in the list of home run hitters in the major leagues with 32 dingers, trailing only Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins and the Yankee rookie sensation, Aaron Judge.
Justin Turner leads the team with a .349 batting average.

Yasiel Puig is now ready to become serious baseball player. When he first joined the Dodgers, after leaving Cuba, he was overwhelmed with the prospect of becoming a major league player. Puig was suspended a few times by the Dodgers for his poor play. He stands 6' 7”, and weighs about 260 pounds. He has all the tools to be an outstanding player.

Do not be surprised if you happen to see the Dodgers hoist the World Series trophy in October. They seem to have all of the pieces in place.

James Hurst
August 7, 2017.

Thursday, August 03, 2017


Baseball Hall of Fame Inductions-2017

They opened the doors of the Hall, just slightly last weekend, to permit three players and two executives to pass into the Hall. Each is honoured with a plaque, a permanent reminder that each contribute significantly to the game of baseball. The Hall is located in Cooperstown, New York, an easy day's drive from this part of Ontario. It is a wonderful place, and a delightful town, well worth the effort.

Former Commissioner Bud Selig and John Schuerholz were inducted. But this is really about the players. The Baseball Hall of |Fame is the toughest of all four major sports' halls to enter. They don't just induct you. You become “enshrined”, almost like having your baby boots bronzed.

Tim Raines entered the Hall as a Montreal Expo. He played for the Expos from 1979 to 1990, with a brief stint in 2001. He also played for the White Sox, the Yankees, the A's, the Orioles, and the Marlins.

During one ten year stretch in his career, he was an elite player. From 1991 onward, he had more hits, more runs scored, and more times reaching base than any other player. Tim Raines could run. He stole more than 70 stolen bases in 6 straight years. He finished his career with 808 stolen bases. He was an all star outfielder his first seven seasons in the major leagues. He won the batting title in 1986. And he won two World Series rings with the Yankees, but not with the Expos. That is indeed a sore spot.

Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez spent most of his career with the Texas Rangers. He was there from 1991 to 2002, also briefly in 2009. he also had stops in Florida, Detroit, with the Yankees, the Astros, the Nationals, and again with the Marlins. He won a World Series with the Marlins in 2003. He won 13 Gold Gloves as the best catcher in the league, and attended 14 All Star games.

Pudge hit .296 over the 21 seasons he spent in the major leagues. He finished his career with more hits, doubles, and total bases than any other catcher in the history of the game. He also caught 2 427 games to establish a mark for other catchers.

Jeffrey Robert Bagwell played his entire career with the Houston Astros from 1991 to 2005. He had a career batting average of .297. Other impressive numbers? He scored 1 517 runs, he drove in 1 529 runs over his 15 year career, and he hit 30 home runs in nine different seasons. He even chalked up 202 stolen bases. He was a durable player, with 160 or more games played in six seasons.

Bagwell was the “Rookie of the Year” when he broke in in 1991, and was the league MVP in 1994. He was an all star 4 times.

Expo fans anxiously await the results of next year's ballot. There is a good chance that Vladimir Guerrero will make the grade. Other potential inductees include Trevor Hoffman and Jim Thome. Always a fine occasion. See you there next July.

James Hurst
August 1, 2017.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


L:ate Summer Scuffle

                        Floyd Mayweather                           Conor McGregor

On August 26th, Floyd Mayweather is scheduled to fight Conor McGregor in Paradise, Nevada. Boxing fans, and those who pay attention to mixed martial arts, cannot wait for the event. It will undoubdtedly be the largest payday for all involved; the fighters, their entourage, the lawyers, the event host, the television people, and yes, the taxman. Apparently, Mayweather already owes the taxman several hundred thousand dollars.

It will also be the most publicized, nost hyped event in, dare I say, American history. And yes, the promoters did slip north of the American border with the fighters to promote the event in Toronto, as part of an eight-city tour. If you happen to see these two, with a smiling Dana White standing behind them, cover your children's ears. There will be a stream of profanities from each of the fighters, all in the name of promotion.

Neither of the two opponents was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. McGregor apprenticed as a plumber before entering the world of mixed martial arts. Mayweather grew up in a difficult world, often surrounded by addicts. Mayweather's father was a prize fighter, and often took his son to the gym.

Floyd Mayweather had a brilliant professional career, never defeated. The sports network, ESPN, ranked Mayweather as the greatest fighter, pound for pound, of the last 25 years. He is similar in stature to McGregor, around 155 pounds, roughly 5' 10”. Sometimes referred to as “Pretty Boy”, Mayweather was once listed by Forbes Magazine as “the highest paid athlete in the world”. Mayweather was born in 1977, and is now 40 years old.

McGregor is 29 years old, and that may prove to be advatageous to the Irishman. He began scrapping in the world of martial arts in 2008, and rose in the ranks to become the reigning lightweight champion. He fights under the arm of the “UFC”, the Ultimate Fighting group headed by Dana White.

This is not the first time that combattants from different worlds have met in the ring. Apparently, boxing rules will be used in this event. But don't be surprised if the rules won't be slightly twisted. Athletes from many sports worlds have sparred in the ring over the years. “The Big Train”, Lionel Conacher, went a few rounds with Jack Dempsey. Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain strapped on the gloves for a few extra bucks. Even baseball's Jose Canseco pulled on the gloves for a few rounds. Even Justin Trudeau, our Prime Minister, went a few friendly rounds!
                                                   Justin Trudeau with James Hurst

But this event has the flavour of battling kangaroos, or scuffling clawless bears.

There is one certainty that will result from this match. Someone will demand a rematch. And another to follow, until the public decides that enough is enough.

When they step into the ring in August, each fighter will wear ten ounce gloves. Once done, they will both have a few bruises, and fatter bank accounts. But they won't get a dime from me.

I didn't even watch Michael Phelps and the shark.

James Hurst
July 24, 2017.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


The End of an Era

I spent last Saturday roaming the hills north of Belleville at the Trillium Wood Golf Club. The were in the midst of the 30th Annual Rick Meagher-Medigas Celebrity Golf Tournament, helping raise funds for less fortunate individuals. When the tournament wrapped up, the event had raised more than three million dollars.

The tournament was the brainchild of Rick Meagher and friends. It just so happened that many of them worked at Medigas; however, Rick's family was also very involved at that time. As most of you know, it takes many hands to pull off a successful golf tournament.

On hand this year were many celebrities. To their credit, most of them stayed through the dinner and auction, and added to the fun. From the world of baseball, Kelly Gruber and Al Woods from the Blue Jays. Kelly lives in Texas nowadays, but likes to come to Canada to help out with events. He was on his way to another event in Prince Edward Island. I asked him if he planned to try a little lobster while in PEI. “No”, he replied. “ I plan to try a whole lot of lobster while I'm there!”

I spent the afternoon traveling nine holes on Rob Ray's golf cart, chatting about this and that. I congratulated him on his selection to the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame. Their Induction Ceremony takes place in September, and I do hope Rob will be able to attend. He spends his winters behind a microphone, chatting about Buffalo Sabres hockey. He also owns a restaurant in Buffalo, and often helps out there in the summer. Rob is in great shape, but confessed that he likes to nibble on the product while at work.
                                                      Rob Ray and Darryl Sittler

The ever-present cell phone sat between us on the golf cart. His eight year old son was playing against West Seneca in a ball tournament. Rob got several updates from his wife during the afternoon. He tried to mask his disappointment when he heard that his team was losing, and that his son had struck out. They also have a 13 year-old- daughter.

Rob Ray was a battler in the NHL, to say the least. His name is on everyone's list as one of the toughest guys ever to play the game. But he can also excell when it comes to verbal battles. Part of his foresome was the incomparable Bill Holmes, from Wellington. Right from the first tee, they became sparring partners, adding to the hilarity.

Doug Gilmour, Al Iafrate, Mike Palmateer, Wendell Clark, Stephane Richer, Dale Hawerchuk, Brad Richardson, Andrew Shaw, Derek name a few. They all stayed and chatted with friends and fans long after the last ball landed in the 18th hole.

Across the pond, Roger Federer raised the trophy yet again as the reigning Wimbledon singles champion. It was his 8th triumph at the tournament, and his 19th Grand Slam victory. Without question, he is the best male tennis p[layer ever to walk on the courts.

The Blue Jays suffered a humbling loss on Sunday against the lowly Detroit Tigers. They showed some life, winning one of the games in the Motor City. But walking in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning really stung. There are long days ahead for our Jays.

And the RED/BLACKS have yet to taste victory in Ottawa. Again this year, the western teams have dominated. Hope to see you soon for one of their games in Ottawa!

A tip of the old baseball cap to Keith MacDonald. A member of the Belleville McFarlands when they won the World Championship in 1959, Keith has been a community leader for decades in The County. (Please don't mention that I wrote that he is celebrating his 90th birthday!)

James Hurst
July 18, 2017.

Thursday, July 06, 2017


Thornton keeps the fitness call long after hockey

 Gisele Winton Sarvis

COLLINGWOOD - Retired National Hockey League player Scott Thornton has been using his knowledge to build sport for thousands of people in the Georgian Triangle and beyond.
The 46-year-old Thornbury resident is the co-founder of the outdoor CrossFit competition UG Series Beach WOD now in its sixth year.

The July 7 to 9 event is expected to attract at least 1,000 athletes from all over the world plus their supporters to the new location, Millenium Park on Collingwood’s waterfront.
Ironically, it’s not the elite athletes he had in mind when he started the competition and it’s not the pros that keep him inspired.

“Strong athletes are there and represented, but truthfully I get motivated more by our Sunday athletes which are the beginners, the amateurs and our masters,” said Thornton.
“We’ve got a lady in her sixties who is competing. People like that is why I want to do it.
“It’s people who have never joined a gym in their life that have joined in the last two months and are out there having fun competing with their peers. Those are the ones I really get stoked about and really enjoy watching,” he said.

Thornton opened the first CrossFit gym in Collingwood, CrossFit Indestri in 2010. He started his first outdoor event as a motivator for his gym members. It was held in the winter at Scenic Caves with bar bells and kettle bells and logs in the middle of a sleet storm.
“It was exciting and it was outside and we were having fun with fitness,” he said. “We had 100, 110 people. It was a really small group, but it was exciting and fun. I was ecstatic, so then we did a summer event.”

The first UG Series Beach WOD was held in Wasaga Beach in 2012.
“With the beach, we thought let’s do a Navy Seal style event. It was very raw with sand bags, logs to carry, stuff to drag. It was more grunt work rather than skilled fitness.”
Thornton and partner Paul Sproule had a little more than 100 people but everyone found it satisfying.
They had devised divisions from absolute beginner through novice, elite and masters to make it inclusive.

“We made if fun for all which is why the event took off.”

It was held in Wasaga Beach for five years organized by Thornton, Sproule and Jennifer Nichol.
The Wheel WOD for para-athletes was added last year by organizer Chris Stoutenburg and it attracted athletes from as far away as Brazil.

“Adding that to our event was amazing. Those athletes are super inspiring to watch,” said Thornton.
While the Town of Wasaga Beach had always been supportive of the event, organizers were looking to freshen it up and felt a change of location was in order.

“The event itself allows for deep water and now we can do more swimming,” Thornton said.
“We are passionate about the Town of Collingwood and the community. That was a big driver in bringing it over here as well.”

After starting the UG Series, Thornton sold his share of the CrossFit gym to Stoutenburg and expanded UG events to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto for a total of 25 competitions.

Thornton has now scaled back to the single annual Beach WOD as he has other local business interests and projects.

Growing up in London, he played Major Jr. A hockey with the former Belleville Bulls for three years.

He was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1989 and went on to have an 18-year career with the NHL.

From the Leafs, the 6’ 3” winger then played for the Edmonton Oilers, the Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars and the San Jose Sharks. He finished his hockey career with the Los Angeles Kings, retiring in 2008.

Scott and his wife Joelle, who is a runner, were looking for a good community to raise their son Nash and daughter Zoe, now 21 and 17 respectively, and they chose Collingwood.

“This area encourages recreation and wellness and it’s a real nice place to raise a family.” Organizing the Beach WOD encourages a healthy lifestyle both for competitors and for spectators, who potentially join a gym, he said.

The event needs 100 to 125 volunteers to do time keeping, data entry, set up and tear down.
Anyone wanting to volunteer should go to the website or email:

A wonderful guy, and a fan favourite when he played for the Bulls.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017


Holy Smoak!

The All Star Break is just around the corner for Major league Baseball. The Toronto Blue Jays have had a dismal June, and July has been even worse. Players have an opportunity to heal some wounds, relieve aching muscles, and rethink their game during the break.

One of the Jays will not have much chance to relax during the break. That would be Justin Smoak, because he was selected, by the fans, to play first base for the American League All Stars. It is an honour, and well deserved, as he is in the midst of his finest season in baseball.

Smoak began his career in 2010 with the Texas Rangers. The following year he became a Seattle Mariner, and he played for the Mariners until 2015, when he joined the Jays. He was a part-time player for the Jays in his first year, but managed to hit 18 home runs in less than 300 at bats. This indicated that he had a power stroke, and he is a switch-hitter. On July 1st that year, he hit home runs from both sides of the plate!

He will be joined by the rest of the American League All Stars when they take the field in Miami.

Behind the plate, Salvador Perez, the lumbering receiver from the Kansas City Royals. At second base is the diminuitive Jose Altuve, from the Houston Astros. His batting average is currently .327, one of the highest in the league. At shortstop is his teammate Carlos Correa. Outfielder George Springer also plays for the Astros. It is no surprise, considering that they have three all stars on the squad, that the Astros are faring well this year. They currently lead the American League West division by 15 games over the Angels, a lead that they most likely will maintain for the rest of the season.

At third base is Jose Ramirez from the Cleveland Indians. Outfielders are Mike Trout, (currently on the disabled list), and the remarkable Aaron Judge from the Yankees. Judge is a giant, even among some very large baseball players. He stands 6' 7”, and weighs almost 300 pounds. He is a “shoe in” as Rookie of the Year, and may well be selected as the Most Valuable Player. Corey Dickerson of the Rays rounds out the AL All Stars as the Designated Hitter.

Buster Posey from the San Francisco Giants will start his fifth All Star game. The Washington Nationals have three starters who have been selected: Ryan Zimmerman at 1st base, Daniel Murphy at 2nd base, and Bryce Harper in the outfield.

Nolan Arenado has 27 doubles so far this year, and leads the league in that category. He represents the Colorado Rockies, playing 3rd base. The Rockies' Charlie Blackmon leads the NL with 104 hits, and 10 triples, and will play the outfield. The other outfielder is Marcel Ozuna, certainly a favourite as he represents the Marlins. The game will be played on his home field in Miami.

Starting at short stop for the Senior League is Zack Cozart from the Reds.

The Boston Red Sox lead the AL East, and the Jays trail by ten games. They are 5 games behind in the Wild Card chase. Perish those statistics, as it is far too soon to focus on them. Management of all teams will give them some consideration as they plan for the rest of the season. If the Jays front office fails to see much light at the end of the tunnel, you will likely see major changes in the next few weeks. You may have your heart broken.

The Washington Nationals, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers all lead their divisions in the National League. But the season is not yet half finished, with more than 80 games to play. No one is turning out the lights, not even here in Canada.

Happy 150th, by the way!!

James Hurst
July 4, 2017

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