Friday, October 26, 2012


Hockey-Southern Style 2012

You can only keep a good man, or a good woman, out of a hockey rink for so long. For that matter, bad people count as well. Once we settled into the southern life style here in Fort Myers, we scouted the possibilities of upcoming games of the Florida Everblades.

They began the season with six games against a new team in the league, the Orlando Solar Bears. It is a revived franchise. Almost fifteen years ago, I watched a Solar Bears game, and Alan Bester was in the Bears’ net. He got shelled, and pulled himself before the end of the second period. I waited to speak to him after the game. I think he was showered, dressed, and on the road before the third period began.

Also that evening, far up in the stands, sitting all by himself, was a keen hockey observer who also knew a little about the game: Bobby Orr. I introduced my sons, and myself to him, and told him one of my favourite Dukes was Doug Orr, his nephew. Perfectly understandable.

At last Wednesday’s game at the Germain Arena, old eagle eyes spotted another hockey legend in the last row, on a scouting mission: Scotty Bowman! These guys never quit. Always on a bird dog mission to find that certain individual who might have been a late bloomer., and an important piece of the hockey puzzle.

The Everblades are celebrating their fifteenth season in the ECHL. Team President Craig Brush sits in the corner of the rink, keeping a close eye on his team. He is a transplanted Canadian, from the Toronto area who played his shinny at Cornell several years ago. They are also celebrating their Championship Season last year when they won the Kelly Cup, for the  first time.

                                                        Dylan Clarke-South Carolina Stingrays
The Everblades were playing against the South Carolina Sting Rays, a team they faced 13 times last year. Listed on the Sting Rays roster is # 48 Dylan Clarke. Dylan hails from Belleville, had a cup of coffee with the Wellington Dukes, and spent the rest of his OPJHL time with the Kingston Voyageurs. “I was traded to the Voyageurs for Sean Turner, and a little cash,” he told me at the game. Unfortunately, at this point in the season, Dylan, along with a few teammates, including Tyler Johnson, is sitting out a few games.

                                                        Tyler Johnson and Dylan Clarke
This inactivity comes directly from the NHL lockout. Players who would be skating in the NHL have been sent down to the American Hockey League. The Stingrays are affiliated with the Providence Bruins of the AHL, and the parent team is in Boston. As a result, players who would normally skate for Providence have been shipped to the Stingrays, and players like Clarke get the short end of the stick, for the time being.

Clarke spent his minor hockey days in the Quinte area under the tutelage of local hockey coaches including his father, Robert “Buzz” Clarke. He attended Georges Vanier School, and St. Theresa’s Secondary School in Belleville. He began his junior hockey career in Napanee, moving up from the Bantam ranks. He spent three years with the Voyageurs, two as captain, and caught the eye of several American College coaches. He decided on the State University of New York in Plattsburgh, and spent four very productive years there, earning his degree.

He also had an opportunity to renew acquaintances with a few former Dukes who had chosen to play in Oswego. “We had a great rivalry with that team. All of a sudden, I was facing Peter Magagna, Josh Chamberlain, Tyler Lyons, Jared Anderson, and Joe Hall,” he added, smiling. “Same old guys, same intensity!”

Dylan believes that he and Rusty Masters are the only players from his minor hockey days still “living the dream”. Masters also played three years in the OPJHL with Port Hope and Trenton. He is currently with the Rapid City Rush of the Central Hockey League.

Clarke told me that he likes his chances of upward mobility better in the ECHL. “There is more opportunity to get called up from here.” He played for the Tulsa Oilers in the CHL last year. He is well aware of the opportunity to see the world as a hockey player, as his brother Dale, also a former Duke, has played for a dozen teams in the last 12 years, including a stint with the St. Louis Blues.

He sent his best to his many hockey friends in the Quinte area. He enjoyed watching his teammate Daniel Koger score as the fifth player in the shootout to give the Sting Rays the victory.

James Hurst

October 26, 2012



Saturday, October 20, 2012


Smoke and Mirrors-Hockey 2012


I had a few minutes to kill last night. I poked my nose into a computer report on the labour situation in the National Hockey League. Remember? The hockey league that plays all of its games in North America, with the best players in the world? Yes, that’s the one.

At any rate, I listened to a 25 minute dissertation and interview with Donald Fehr, the labour expert who has taken on the role as the main spokesperson for the players. In the other corner is Gary Bettman, the person who represents the owners. Two organizations, two adversaries.

They are trying to divide a big money pie so that each group is happy. Most of the time they meet in hotel rooms, and emerge in front of a bank of microphones to indicate that they have been talking. Occasionally, one or the other sends a blurb to the media, outlining a firm position.

In this negotiation game of give and take, we know that nothing is completely firm. Each group has given us many different sets of numbers, and many different scenarios. The hockey fan cannot begin to digest the significance of the “offers”. The suggestions are all written in “legalese”, and are not for public consumption.

There are several media types vitally interested in these proceedings. They cover every word, every rumour, every possible leak in the discussions. Some of these types even think that they have the solution to the problem. Most of them predict exactly what is going to happen. Some even go so far as to give dates and times that the games will begin.

Last week we were informed that the Zambonis were warming up their engines in anticipation of the dropping of the puck. They may have dropped the puck somewhere. Most of us did not hear it.

The time has come for all of the parties concerned to pay some attention to the offended: the fans. In this case, I am referring to the fans who sit in the upper regions of the arena. The rinkside seats are not the hockey fans who really care. They do not even pay for their seats out of their own pockets.

Those are corporate regions, paid for by giant corporations. In turn, they are used to keep their corporate clients happy, with food and drink to boot in the nether regions of the building. They are also scattered around the upper areas of all new arenas, and are called “corporate boxes”. The spectator in these areas is so far removed from the ice surface that they cannot “feel” the game.

In the old rinks, prior to the days of plexiglass, and netting, and all variety of safety features, fans in the front row were often greeted with a player or two on their laps, after a particularly good body check. A couple of shoves returned the offended party back to the ice. We paid attention during the game, ready to shield our faces from flying pucks. We could hear the pucks on the sticks, the grinding of the ice from the skates.


Some new arenas have microphones installed at ice level so that the fans in the corporate boxes can “experience” the nature of the game. “These nachos are delicious! And the dip? Find me the recipe!”

In the long run, the corporations control much of the activity. They pay the fees to advertise on the television networks that carry the games. They help build the arenas, and maintain them. They have the boxes. But they also have the tax advantages to go with this activity. It is part of normal business activity. Much of it is “written off”, to the disadvantage of the fan in Section 514, Row 18, Seat 12. He has paid a scalper double the price for his once-a-year opportunity to take his kid to the rink.

The powers that be need to take all of their proposals into a big room. We will lock the doors, and send in nourishment when required. Maybe a case of whiskey to keep the fires burning. Camp cots along the walls. No one gets out until all of the details have been ironed out. Let Gary and Donald emerge, arm in arm, shouting, “We did it!”

Get it done, gentlemen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Yankees and Tigers-2012

The New York Yankees stormed into the 2012 playoffs this year sporting the best record in the second half of the season. They knocked the cover off the ball, slamming more home runs than any other team in baseball. More than 50% of their runs came as a result of round-trippers. Defense was solid. They put together a trade package to entice the Seattle Mariners to trade Ichiro.


Turn out the lights, baby. The party’s…..well, it was almost over.


They tripped, stumbled, and almost fell during the divisional playoffs. Ichiro and a very unlikely hero, Raul Ibanez, hit home runs to save the Yankee bacon. Ibanez had to emerge from the dugout on more than one occasion to acknowledge the cheers of the faithful at The Stadium.


Unfortunately for the Bronx Bombers, the momentum established during the regular season has been lost. Against the Detroit Tigers in the Championship Series for the pennant, there is nothing but gloom and doom. The Tigers are digging in at the plate, led by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.


The usually reliable Robinson Cano has fallen from grace. He has gone hitless in his last 26 trips to the plate, a playoff record.


The Tigers’ Omar Infante was on first base in the eighth inning. He ran to second on Austin Jackson’s single, and rounded the base. He was gunned down trying to return to second base. The second base umpire was not in a position to make the correct call, and repented after the game. After watching the video, Jeff Nelson realized his error.


The Yankee skipper, Joe Girardi, argued the call. He had the advantage over Nelson, because he had quick access to the replay. Nick Swisher’s throw from right field was on the money, and Cano had clearly tagged the runner before the base was touched.


After the game, Girardi commented about the play: “It’s hard to let it go when it changes the complexity of the game.” The Yankees did lose, but only 3-0. The previous evening, they trailed 4-0 heading to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning. In the back of Girardi’s mind, a 3-0 Tiger lead was not insurmountable. But he knew that the call would not be changed, no matter how convincing his argument might be. After the game, he continued, “It’s got to change. There’s just too much at stake. The technology is available.”


The Yankees squandered another quality start from one of their pitchers. They have four good arms in their starting rotation: Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettite, and their ace, C. C. Sabathia. The Tigers more than adequately match with their ace, Justin Verlander, and his supporting chuckers: Sanchez, Fister, and Scherzer.


The Yankees are batting a collective .192 against the Tigers in the first two games. They have struck out 20 times, and have few walks. Nick Swisher is batting .154. Alex Rodrigeuz, often ridiculed by the faithful in New York, knows what’s at stake. “We have to find a way.”


Undoubtedly the biggest blow for the Yankees is the loss of team leader and captain Derek Jeter. In a rather simple play, which he has made hundreds of times over the years, he twisted his ankle fielding a ground ball. As he finished the play, he winced in pain. He will likely miss the rest of the playoffs, and may go under the knife this week. The Yankees will miss all of the things that Jeter takes to the ball park every single day: his determination, his love of the game, his skill, his leadership. Even “ A Rod” managed to describe the loss in his own humble way: “It would be more pleasant if it never happened”.


Tiger faithful already have visions of World Series triumphs of the past dancing in their heads. You can almost hear the muffled sounds of Cadillacs from Motor City preparing for the parade. Even Manager Jim Leyland knows, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!”


James Hurst

October 15, 2012 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


Grey Cup 2012

This year’s Grey Cup game will be played in Toronto on November 25th. The names of the participants is yet to be determined. Nothing new there. Year after year, it always goes down to the wire. Teams get a lucky bounce and they are successful. They take a bad penalty, and they find themselves on the sidelines.


But the game will be played on that date, and there are thousands of people around the country preparing the stage. This is, after all, a special year, as the Canadian Football League celebrates the 100th Grey Cup Game.


There are Grey Cup celebrations in full swing across the country. The actual trophy was in Newfoundland last weekend en route to Hogtown. The Cup has been travelling by train to promote the whole concept. There are cars on the train equipped with plenty of memorabilia to stir up memories of past Grey Cup games. Once the train arrives in select areas, the Cup will be transported to a site for viewing and photographs.


The Cup will be at the RONA store in Belleville on October 29th, according to company spokesperson Bill Belnap. Belnap has been involved in football for several years, and is an unabashed Argo fan. “We will be serving breakfast that day beginning at 7:30am. The trophy will arrive at 9:30am, and will stay at the store until 11:30am. The train is scheduled to move on to Windsor at 12:45pm.”


He has dubbed his celebration as an “Argo Tailgate Party”, and he will be at the event preparing your pancakes and sausages. There will be Tim Hortons coffee available at the event, and a group from the United Way. Belnap hopes to have Argo players and cheerleaders (I second the motion!) at the event. RONA is one of the chief sponsors of the Canadian Football League.


Canada Post has also become involved in the celebration, in a major way. There are stamps featuring the trophy itself, one of the oldest trophies in North American professional sport. There are also stamps dedicated to each of the eight teams in the league.


The Argo stamp features a portrait of Mike “Pinball” Clemons, arguably one of the best ever to don the double blue uniform. He has been inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and is a great asset to the game. Following his retirement, he remained with the Argos, promoting the game. The stamp itself also depicts the famous “Mud Bowl” of 1950, when playing conditions were not ideal. You can expect the roof to be closed at the Rogers Centre in November. It is also difficult to churn artificial turf into a mud bath!


Canada Post also has many other items on sale to promote the game: First Day covers, coin and stamp sets, pens, coil dispensers, greeting cards, and framed prints. There is a limited edition, signed print set for the true Argo fan for $ 179.95.


The Canadian Mint has also produced a sparkling one dollar coin to commemorate the event. They are available at most post offices, but the supply is limited. For those of you who live in Wellington, there are still a few available.


The celebration in Toronto begins the week before the game. There are banquets, meetings, and a host of other events to kick off the game. On Thursday, the music begins with an all Canadian lineup featuring K’naan. Kreesha Turner and Mia Martina will be there to keep you hip hopping. That would not be Lawrence Welk, madam.


Friday night’s celebrants include the Sam Roberts Band, Matthew Good, Kim Mitchell, and Treble Charger. Saturday’s feature band is Big Sugar. April Wine and Miles Goodwyn will open for Sam Roberts.


On Sunday, the Pre-Game Party concert will help prepare you for the game. Burton Cummings will belt out some Guess Who tunes, with Kathleen Edwards on hand to get things under way. “Pinball” is slated to deliver a rallying speech before the game. By that stage of the game, you will be pumped!


The B.C. Lions are cruising along with a 10-4 record at this time. The Argos, Ticats and Blue Bombers are struggling to make the playoffs. As is the case with all similar situations, the beginning of the playoffs is the start of a whole new ball game. Anything can happen. In the CFL, that is guaranteed!


October 9, 2012 






Thursday, October 04, 2012


Paul Rosebush

Paul Douglas Rosebush


Paul Rosebush was born in Prince Edward County on July 5, 1975. He attended Pinecrest School in Bloomfield, and C. M. L. Snider School in Wellington. He then graduated from Prince Edward Collegiate.

Paul Rosebush is a product of the Prince Edward County Minor Hockey System. He moved on to play successfully for the Wellington Dukes at the Junior “A’ level. In 1996, he was the Most Valuable Player in the Metro Junior Hockey League. He then attended the University of Guelph, and won the National Championship in 1997. In 1998, he played with the Canadian University All Stars against the American All Stars. He also won a bronze medal at the World University games that same year. From 1999 to 2006, he starred with the Bakersfield Condors of the East Coast Hockey League. His jersey was retired in 2007.
Rosebush won three Ontario Amateur Softball Championships while playing for minor teams in The County. In 1996, he won the Canadian Junior Championship with the Napanee Express. In 1999, he won a Gold Medal in Fastball at the Pan American Games for Canada. With Owen Sound Selects, he won the Canadian Senior Championship in 2000. He won the World Championship in 2007 with Madison, Wisconsin. He was selected to the World All Star team in 2005


Debra Faye Roblin


Faye Roblin was born in Picton, Ontario on April 22, 1964. She attended Sophiasburgh Central School in Prince Edward County. While attending the school, she was encouraged to compete in track and field competitions by her teacher, Bob Webb. She participated in all sports, including baseball and hockey. When she started high school at Prince Edward Collegiate, she concentrated on the field events of javelin and shot put, under the tutelage of teacher Don Cumming.

She was awarded Ontario Championship Certificates in 1981, 1982, and 1983. She participated in the Junior Pan American Games in Venezuela in 1982, earning a fifth place finish with a javelin throw of 44.94 metres. The following year, she won the Bay of Quinte and Central Ontario Championships with throws that remain records to this day. She won the Ontario Junior title in 1983, and won silver at the Canadian Championship.

She attended California State University in Fresno in 1983, and won bronze at the NCAA Championships in 1984. She represented Canada at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in 1986, and was national champion in 1987.

She currently resides in The County with her husband, Jeroen Verhoog.


Sam Mulholland

Samuel Charles Mulholland


A County resident for more than fifty years, “Sam” Mulholland was born in Kingston, Ontario, October 10, 1929. He attended Frontenac Public School and Kingston Collegiate Vocational Institute. He led the football team to the Kingston Championship in 1944. He competed in many events in track and field championships, often coming first in the events he entered. In 1943, he starred with the KCVI Commandos when they won the collegiate championship.

In 1945, he played for the Kingston Victorias at the Junior “B” level. In 1946, Sam signed on with the Galt Rockets. He played one season in Galt, and was called up to the Philadelphia Rockets of the American Hockey League, making his professional debut at the age of nineteen. He played for several other professional teams before retiring in 1952.

Sam was also an outstanding softball and baseball player, and was invited to attend the Brooklyn Dodger camp in Vero Beach in 1949. He led many Kingston teams-Ponies, Athletics, Locos, Alcans, Optimists, to name a few, to titles at the Cricket Field and at McGaffin Stadium.

In 1953 he moved to Prince Edward County, and continued playing and coaching the sports he loved best. He also trained and drove harness racing horses for years at all of the major tracks in Ontario.


Earl Marvin

August Earl Marvin


Earl Marvin was born in Hancock, Minnesota, on February 25, 1901. His father was a County native, and four years later, he moved the family to Prince Edward County. Marvin attended Elementary School at Boardman’s School in Hillier Township. In his early days, he spent eleven years sailing on the Great Lakes, and earned his engineer’s papers.

In 1938, he became Chief Constable of Wellington. He stayed at his post until 1968, when the provincial police took over the policing of the village.

Marvin began trap shooting in 1957. He entered his first major competition in 1967, winning nine trophies. He also received a Dominion of Canada award for shooting 100 out of 100 at the Prince Edward Rod and Gun Club. As a veteran shooter, he won singles awards in Ontario seven times, from 1964 to 1977. In 1978, he travelled to Vancouver where he won the Canadian Trap Shooting Association award for the high, overall, veterans’ trophy. He won the Ontario Provincial Trap Shoot Association veterans’ doubles trophy in 1979 in Hamilton.

He died on December 30, 1989, in St. Catharines, Ontario.


Keith Macdonald

Keith MacDonald


Keith MacDonald was born in Prince Edward Country on July 18, 1927. He attended West Lake School in The County, then attended Albert College in Belleville. A life long farmer, he still tills the soil settled by his ancestors in 1822.

He gained his love of sport from his father, and excelled in many different athletic areas. In the early 1940s, he won the tennis championship at Albert; however, Keith is to be recognized for his prowess on the baseball diamond, and in the hockey arena.

As a member of the Belleville McFarlands, Keith won the World Championship of hockey in 1959 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He won the Allan Cup with the team in Kelowna, British Columbia, in 1958. He worked his way up to the Senior “A” level through various junior and intermediate teams in The County, and with the Senior “B” teams in Belleville.

In the summer, MacDonald played on several fastball and baseball teams in The County, and in Belleville. He won the Eastern Ontario Intermediate “C” Championship with the Bloomfield Silver Ribbons. In 1954, he played third base for the Belleville Batas, winning the All Ontario Baseball Championship.

Always a fierce competitor, Keith MacDonald was a valued member of every team he played for, and an important member of the community in Prince Edward County.


Garry Lavender

Garry Gordon Lavender


Born in Picton on June 4th, 1946, Garry Lavender was a lifelong resident of Prince Edward County. He attended C. M. L. Snider School in Wellington, and Prince Edward Collegiate in Picton. He then attended the University of Toronto.

Garry, along with his brothers Tom, Bob, and Paul, formed the nucleus of several sports teams in The County. They won the All Ontario Pee Wee Baseball Championship in 1959. They won softball championships from 1960 to 1966.

In 1964, Garry won the All Ontario OHA Juvenile Hockey Championship. In 1968, he was the player-coach of the Wellington Dukes Intermediate “D” hockey team. From 1971 to 1985, he coached the Dukes at the Junior “C” level.

Garry spent hours in the rinks and on the fields as a referee, manager, convenor, organizer, and executive with many teams. He refereed lacrosse for five years in The County and in Napanee. Under Garry’s leadership, the Wellington Dukes represented Eastern Canada at the Royal Bank Cup in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Garry always had time for a game of golf, and won the Barclay Trophy in 1974, and the Jenkin Evans Award in 1975 at the Picton Golf Club.

After his death, he was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow Award for his dedicated service to the community.

Monday, October 01, 2012


Don't Poke The Bear!

The Toronto Blue Jays completed a four game series against the New York Yankees last weekend. The series ended in a draw, two games apiece. More importantly for the Yankees, they have scratched out just enough wins to gain a berth in post-season play. The Blue Jays have three games remaining at home. They will then pack their bags and head to warmer climes, one would hope.


It has been a frustrating season for all concerned in the Blue Jay organization. They have been plagued by injuries. As a result, they have used more players this season than ever before. Several players have not lived up to their potential. Then again, that is always the case when you just don’t win. There has been a spot of controversy, here and there. The end result? No World Series rings this year.


The game on Sunday had all the earmarks of a fine outing for thousands of fans. The first 20 000 fans who entered the Rogers Centre were given a Jays T shirt, numbered and named. They were also greeted outside the stadium by a drummer who sits on the main level hammering his drums: smiling, posing for photos, acting  as a goodwill ambassador for the organization. A congenial type, he told me he has been there since the first game played at SkyDome, shine or shine. (Rain is not great for the drums!)


I was also greeted by half a dozen musicians playing “Take me out to the ballgame” in the rotunda inside the stadium. Nice homey feeling, enhancing the experience.


The game itself? Mostly forgettable for Blue Jay fans. They built up a 5-1 lead, then watched it vanish as the Yankees woke up and scored at will, winning the game 9-6. The Bronx Bombers  scratched and clawed their way to victory. They did get one home run from Eric Chavez in the third inning, but that was their lone run until the floodgates opened in the late innings.


They won with singles and doubles, sacrifice hits, and good defensive play. In the third inning, Ichiro Suzuki chased a ball hit by Edwin Encarnacion far into the corner of the right field. Ichiro will be thirty-nine years old this month. He shows no sign of ageing, as he again demonstrated that he is one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He snagged that ball, and was pounded by his team mates when he got to the dugout.


Last year, for the first time in his major league career, he was not an all star, nor did he win a Gold Glove as a premier fielder. But for the ten previous seasons, that is what he did. No other player in the history of the game has ever achieved that success, from his rookie season onward. He accomplished this after nine seasons with Orix in the Japanese league. The Yankees picked him up in July. Talk about the rich getting richer!


Derek Jeter ended the game with three hits, adding to his impressive lifetime totals. It is a joy to watch him play. Sure, he has lost a step or two chasing down ground balls. But he is still a premier ball player, and I am certain he will enjoy yet another season of post-season play.


The Blue Jays’ shortstop, Yunel Escobar, is winding down his sixth season at the Major League level. I am continuously impressed with his skills in the field. At second base, a fellow Cuban, Adeiny Hechavarria, is also brilliant. The Jays would be wise to lock up both of those players with extensive contracts. Strength up the middle has always been critical to the success of any baseball team.


In his post game session with the media, Manager John Farrell tried to put a positive spin on a difficult season. He said that his starting pitcher, Henderson Alvarez, will go into the off season with plenty of confidence. He started the season well, struggled in the middle, and finished strongly.


Before you know it, they will be stretching in Dunedin.





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