Monday, January 28, 2013


Helmer Marches On!

                                                                     Bryan Helmer

When the news flashed across the screens recently that Bryan Helmer had signed with the Springfield Falcons to play hockey, it came as no surprise to hockey observers in the Quinte area. We have followed Helmer’s career for the past several years.

By no means was the start to his hockey career auspicious. He had been invited to the Belleville Bulls’ training camp in 1989. Both he and Tod Lavender were asked to clean their lockers after a few exhibition games. Helmer decided to join Tod in Wellington, and moved into the Lavender home, perhaps for the weekend. He seemed to enjoy Diane’s cooking, and Garry’s wit. He stayed four years.

As the announcer/scorekeeper and occasional timer, I had a front row seat for all of Hermy’s games. From the very start, he appeared to be a man among the kids. He was taller, stronger, and had great hockey instincts. Throughout his career in the Metro Juniour Hockey League, he was an all star. Most of us could not fathom why Larry Mavety, the coach of the Bulls, had no interest in Helmer. We looked at it, from a Dukes’ perspective, as their loss, our gain.

From that moment on, we have followed Helmer’s career with great interest. No matter where he played, it was always an experience he relished. Never once did he take the situation for granted. Throughout his career, he knew he was playing a kid’s game, and getting paid for it. The journey has taken him far and wide in the hockey circles, for almost 25 years.

I heard from Bryan a couple of days ago. “I’m very excited about playing my 20th year (as a professional hockey player). I am so lucky to play this long.” Most of us who know Bryan, luck has little to do with it. Just plain hard work.

We went to see Bryan play in Montreal when he was with the St. Louis Blues. I spoke with coach Joel Quenneville after the game, and he said that he was very pleased with Helmer’s game. We waited for some time to meet Helmer after the game. He was winding down on the stationary bike for almost fifteen minutes. He was thrilled to meet family and friends, with a large contingent from the Winchester area. Habs Hall of Famer Larry Robinson also hails from Winchester, and was Helmer’s idol from day one.

Helmer made the quantum leap from the Wellington Dukes to the American Hockey League Albany River Rats to begin his pro career. He spent five years with the Rats before moving on. And move he did, year after year: Las Vegas, Worcester, Phoenix, St. Louis, Worcester again, and then Vancouver. Take a deep breath, I’m not finished.

Kansas City, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Springfield, Phoenix, Grand Rapids, San Antonio, Hershey, Washington, Oklahoma City, and Springfield again. Simply doing what he loved, and, yes thanks, I will take a pay cheque.

I can assure you that no matter where he played, he was loved. He did what it takes to help in the communities in which he played. He visited hospitals and schools, signed a million autographs, posed for photographs. Always the consummate professional. On several occasions, he has been selected as team captain, by his teammates.

Helmer often returns to Wellington for the Garry Lavender Memorial Golf tournament. When the old Duke Dome was put to rest, and the Essroc Centre opened in Wellington, he made a special trip to the village to drop the puck, before continuing his career in Oklahoma City.

Every time he steps on the ice, he adds to his record of playing more games than any other defenceman in the AHL. With 563 helpers, he has assisted on more goals than any other defenceman in the history of the league. Only two other individuals, Willie Marshall and Fred Glover played more seasons in the AHL, one more than Hermy. We will not be surprised to see him in uniform again next season, likely in the AHL.

James Hurst

Friday, January 25, 2013


Lightning Camp in South West Florida

The Tampa Bay Lightning completed their four day mini camp last Thursday at the Germaine Arena in Estero, just south of Fort Myers, Florida. It was a special event for hockey fans in the area, as the doors were open for the entire camp.

For many years, Scott Young worked as a columnist in Toronto. He wrote for several newspapers, and crafted books on the side. After all was said and done, he was better known as the father of Neil Young. Neil gained world-wide fame as a singer and song writer, one his own, and with the group Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

Many of us had the opportunity to enjoy Young’s books in the 1950s which were written for a younger audience. We were invited to enter the door of the hallowed hall on Carlton Street, Maple Leaf Gardens. Young walked us along the corridors to the dressing room of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He invited us to try to become part of the team. In a magical instant, I was a “Boy at the Leaf’s Camp” or a “Boy on Defence” and I would play in a game as “Scrubs on Skates”. Those were magical times, shared by many a youth.

I played alongside “Teeder” Kenndedy, Tod Sloan, Max Bentley, and Sid Smith. I sat beside Harry Watson in the dressing room, reefing at my skate laces. I giggled at “Turk” Broda’s jokes as we headed to the ice to start the practice.

I am certain the same applies to later generations from the books of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkein, or more recently the Harry Potter books by Mrs. Rowland, and rightly so.           
Back in Florida, once the lights were brightened, and the clean sheet of ice was placed, glistening, by the Zamboni, the Tampa Bay goaltenders were the first to take the ice. It was an important moment for many in attendance, having lingered in the dust for months of lock out negotiations. Mathieu Garon hails from Chandler, Quebec. He played last year for the Lightning. Anders Lindback  is from Gavle, Sweden, and arrived by trade last June.

Both goalies went into their stretching routines as the other players emerged from the dressing room through a phalanx of fans lining the barricades at the entrance to the ice. There was no pushing and shoving, no great lineups. The autograph hounds were there, but not in the same demanding fashion one sees in the northern arenas.

This was the second day of practice for the Bolts, as they had taken the ice the previous day in Tampa. They moved the camp, hook, line, and sinker to Estero for the remainder of the training camp.

Vincent Lecavalier has been the face of the Lightning franchise for many years. He recently played his 1000th game for the team. As was reported in the Fort Myers News-Press, he was impressed with the reception of the fans at the arena. “The fans here, especially the children, was an added motivation at the practice.”

                                          Listening to Drill Structures

Defenceman Eric Brewer added: “I’ve lived in Florida almost two calendar years, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised how good the fans are, how much they are into hockey, and how they just want to watch the game.” He also quipped that it was good to be back, and how normal it felt to be yelled at by the coaches.

Coach Guy Boucher indicated that they had moved the camp to Estero so that the players could bond more quickly. “We wanted to go where there were the least distractions and where it was most possible to have guys interact together. We’ve been down here before and had a good experience. We want players together all week, non-stop. Those who don’t know one another, we want to get laughs, to get things going, get some competition building up. With just five days before our first game, there’s not much time to get a team together.’

                                  Vivtor Hedamn and Vincent Lecavalier

For most of the practices, Boucher and the rest of the brass perched in the rafters of the Germaine Arena, carefully assessing the talent. They were faced with the chore of paring down the roster from the thirty invitees to the eighteen skaters that would take the ice for the first game. Legendary Hall of Fame member Steve Yzerman is the Bolt’s General Manager. He watched all practices intently, then signed for a dozen fans before heading to the dressing room during the breaks.

Julien Brisebois is the assistant GM of the Bolts, and is Yzerman’s right-hand-man. A lawyer by trade, he takes care of personnel matters, contract negotiations, and such. He also serves as the GM for the Syracuse Crunch, an American league affiliate of the Lightning. I spoke with him after the Thursday practice. “This has been a fine experience for the club,” he told me.

Assistant coaches Daniel Lacroix, Martin Raymond, and former Leaf Steve “Stumpy” Thomas took care of most of the on-ice activity during the week. They had specific ideas drawn on the message boards to share with the players. There were several gatherings at centre ice face the players as they gathered to discuss the drills.

Players participated in drills, broke for a rest while the ice was re-surfaced, then played inter squad games of blue on white. Even from the first drop of the puck, there was a hint of intensity. Mind you, I did not witness any bone-crushing hits behind the net. One could afford to keep one’s head down for an instant with the fear of running into an elbow. On the first shift, Lecavalier made it clear that he wanted the puck in the corner, and he banged away with a defenceman for the biscuit. It set a tone for the rest of them.

Radko Gudas hails from the Czech Republic. He was drafted by the Lightning in 2010, and had a fine year in the AHL last year with the Admirals,setting career highs for goals, points, and penalty minutes. He ripped the first goal of the camp into the net, and was duly rewarded with glove taps from his teammates.

A short while later, Steve Stamkos was robbed by Andres Lindback on a breakaway. He slid into the boards, then picked himself up and skated over to Lindback. He tapped the goalie’s trapper with his glove, paying tribute for a fine save. Not to be expected in the regular season!

G.M. Steve Yzerman was simply grateful that the players were back on the ice. “It has been a whirlwind,” he stated on the Bolts television network, referring to the brief training camp. “I’m thrilled that we are back to playing hockey. It’s good to see that everyone showed up healthy and in good shape.” 

Naturally, many eyes were on Steve Stamkos, the young Tampa Bay forward who has taken little time to make his mark on the NHL. In 2009-2010, he scored 51 goals. Last year, he had sixty tallies. Only six other players have managed to put up more than 50 markers in two seasons, before the age of  23: Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Joe Nieuwendyk, Pavel Bure, and Alex Ovechkin.

Stamkos works well with teammate Martin St. Louis. Stamkos roomed with St. Loius during the 2009 World Hockey Championships. From the News-Press: “We created a lot of chemistry. He’s a true professional, works extremely hard. I try to pick his brain all the time. The more tendencies and experience on the ice, the more plays we make. If we’re not in a place, we should have been there”.

Coach Boucher concurred. He spoke to Stamkos about a particular drill to practice. “With those kinds of guys, the margin to improve is smaller and smaller. But he knows he wants to improve on faceoffs, and improve his strength. He wants to be one of the top two-way players in the game, and he has all the tools to do so,” he told Craig Handel of the local media.

Everblades fans kept a keen eye on Mike Angelidis, from Woodbridge, Ontario, who played in Fort Myers in 2006-2007. Since that time, he has been in the American League with Albany, Syracuse and Norfolk. He knows about the tendency to become complacent in the lower leagues, and he is doing what it takes to make the grade in the NHL. He has improved his skating, and his energy level has improved. He wanted to leave a good impression with the brass in case he did not make the big league roster.

                               Lyle Lloyd, with Gil Lafleur seated behind him

Many of the fans in attendance at the practices hailed from the north, Canadians and Americans alike. Lyle Lloyd hails from Prince Edward County, about a hundred miles east of Toronto. Lyle has refereed more games than Carter has pills, at most levels of hockey. “I am impressed with the guys here. There is a skill level, and a fitness level that you only get in the NHL." He liked the play of Cory Conacher,  Tyler Johnson, and St. Louis. On one occasion, St. Louis flew over the blue line along the boards, and ripped a hard shot at the net. “You can’t teach that,” Lloyd remarked.

Doug and Bev Townsend have also seen more than their share of hockey. They are season ticket holders of the Belleville Bulls, and also follow the exploits of several nephews still playing the game. They told me they once flew to Holland for a weekend to support Tyler Melancon, a nephew, who was playing for Herentals. They were impressed with the size of some of the players at the practice. Both Keith Aulie and victor Hedman are listed at six feet, six inches. Adam Hall and Sami Salo are well over six feet, and take up a lot of space. Even the new goalie Lindback towers above many others at six six.

                                          Doug and Bev Townsend

Gil Lafleur, no relation to Guy, he whispered, is a Sudbury snowbird. He was a Sudbury Wolves supporter, and as such, he had his eye on Benoit Pouliot, a left winger acquired from the Bruins in trade in the off-season. Pouliot was in Sudbury for three seasons before moving on.  “He had a pretty good thing going in Boston last year,” he remarked. He was impressed with the physical condition of the players.”Years ago, many NHLers stayed in shape in the summer by working in the lumber yard,” he added.
Teddy Purcell also left a positive impression. Coming down his off wing, he snapped an unexpected shot high on Lindback. He backed into the slot, took a pass from St. Louis, and ripped it into the net. Semper paratus.

The big boys played the fighting game for the last ten minutes of the practice. They know that the time will come when they will drop the sticks and gloves during the regular season. B. J. Crombeen and Pierre-Cedric Labrie grasped at each other with one hand, holding the hammer back at the ready position. They circled, discussing the merits of position. Keith Aulie and Ryan “Buggsy” Malone did the same, a friendly dance with a teammate, smiling all the while!

                                             Keith Aulie signs for fans,

When the practice ended, the boys of winter headed to the beach for some serious volleyball. Southern hockey has its merits.

James Hurst

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Cory Conacher's NHL Debut-2013

Cory Conacher played his first National Hockey League game last Saturday night. He scored one goal as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Washington Capitals 6-3. Just sixteen months ago, he was invited to attend the Lightning’s training camp as an undrafted player. Since that time, he has seized the opportunity, and has blossomed as a hockey player.

Conacher player in the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League in 2006-2007 for Orangeville, amassing 62 points in  48 games. He caught the attention of the hockey people at Canisius College, where he spent the next four seasons. His statistics improved year after year, and Coach Dave Smith took the opportunity to contact his good friend Pat Verbeek about Conacher.

Conacher is listed in most media guides at 5’ 8”.  As I am sure you well know, for many years smaller players have virtually been ignored by scouts. To his good fortune, Verbeek is a good judge of talent, and he is also well under six feet.

Following his stellar career at Canisius, Conacher, a distant relative of the famed Conacher family, was invited to the Lightning camp. He relished the opportunity to  play at the highest level, with the best players. Naturally, he was compared to another star, Martin St. Louis.

Following one of the training camp sessions in Fort Myers, he chuckled at the comparison. “I always hear that. But you have to understand that Marty is a star in this league, and I am just starting out. So it’s good for me to see a player like that, of that size, to use as a model. I consider the comparison as a real compliment. I work hard because I see what he’s done. He has made is easier for guys like me to be considered.”

Cory told me that he had attended Frontenac School in Burlington, Ontario. He paid a compliment to one of his teachers there. “Her name is Madame Laferiere, and, well, put it this way, she kept me honest!” He also tipped his hat to one of his high school teachers, Bob Stacey, a physical education teacher at Nelson High School.

He credited his teammates from the past year in Norfolk for his outstanding rookie year in the American Hockey League. He had moved from the college ranks to the American League quite smoothly. He won the “Red” Garrett Award as the Rookie of the Year, the Les Cunningham Award as the league’s Most Valuable Player, and helped the team capture the Calder Cup.

“Tyler Johnson, P. C. Labrie, and Trevor Smith were great teammates. They gave me tips and pointers throughout the year”.

I spoke with Coach Guy Boucher after the third day of workouts at the Germaine Arena. Boucher is a good friend of Doug Orr, a former favourite of Dukes’ hockey fans. I told Boucher I used to announce Doug’s goals as scored by “Number 14 on your score sheet, number one in our hearts.” He seemed to appreciate the levity.

Boucher talked about the job at hand. He had holes to fill in a one week camp, with no exhibition games. He paid tribute to GM Steve Yzerman for the acquisitions made in the off season, particularly in goal and on defence. When I asked him about Conacher’s chances to make the squad, he gave me one of those “excuse me, but we are not there yet” looks. Thankfully, he was not offended by my nerve.

Before the game, Conacher was quoted as saying, “I’d rather get the two points for the team, than get my first goal”. As noted, both goals were accomplished.

His cousin Dale extended his holiday in Florida to catch the first game. He’s likely sharing that event with his pals in Burlington today.

James Hurst
January 21, 2013  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Sorry! No Vacancy!

Sorry! No Vacancy!

Last week the Baseball Writers Association of America decided that they would not elect a single player into the Hall of Fame. After all of the ballots were cast, and counted, Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson took the podium, opened the envelope, and announced, “And the winner is?  Nobody”.

Many of the writers have sent a clear message to the baseball nation. They have indicated they will not tolerate cheating. There are players who should have been inducted into the Hall, on their baseball merits. But they failed to receive sufficient support from the media. They allegedly took medication to enhance their performances. Then they denied it.

These are slightly murky waters, as the public has not seen all of the evidence regarding the names of the players caught taking steroids. We do know that there is a long list, and we also know that the drugs they took did enhance performance.

Players ballooned in size, and became home run hitters overnight. Part of the problem lay with the teams, and the administrators of the game. Some believe that shutting the barn door after all the cows have escaped is not the solution to the problem.

I am rattled by the following: Bert Blyleven was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year. He was on the ballot for 14 years. On his second year on the ballot, he garnered only 14.1 percent of the vote.  Twelve years later he made the grade.

Barry Bonds received 206 votes of the 569 votes cast, which is 36.2 %. Roger Clemens got 214 votes, registering 37.6 %. Sammy Sosa received 71 votes. Rafael Palmeiro was named 50 times.
Bonds and Clemens both registered more than 30 % of the vote. Therefore, according to Blyleven’s results, they may head into the Hall long before the 15 year mark is reached, when they would no longer be eligible. Some believe that the culprits may get in next year, that the writers chose not to include them for one year “as a lesson”.

That stinks. How in the world did they each get that many votes? The reason is that there are many sports fans and writers who do not care. According to their reasoning, we enter the world of “So what, who cares?” They put up majestic numbers, they entertained, they put bums in the seats. They were good for the game. Nonsense.

The League now plans to test for human growth hormone, another drug to enhance performance this coming season. It was on the test list during last season’s Spring Training. The League and the Players’ association reached an agreement last Thursday to allow the testing. As was reported in the Associated Press, the drug test results of all players will be kept by the World Anti-Doping Agency in Laval, Quebec. Christine Ayotte, the director of the Laval agency added that the addition of random blood testing and a “longitudinal profiling program makes baseball’s program second to none in detecting and deterring the use of synthetic human growth hormone and testosterone”.

Commissioner Bud Selig stated, “This is a proud and a great day for baseball. We will continue to be a leader in this field and do what we have to do.”
Every player will be tested “at least once”. Understandably, there will be players who will be caught cheating. There is a bucket full of cash at the end of the rainbow. Many players feel that it is worth the risk.

Many writers vote against the likes of Bonds and Clemens because of their alleged use of the substances. Others are upset by their constant denials of the usage. Still others do not appreciate the arrogance that goes with the denials.
I cringe when I think of what the Hall of Fame ballots might look like in the next few years. It does matter!

James Hurst


Randy Rowe-A Classy Road Warrior

Randy Rowe-Road Warrior With Class

Randy Rowe is currently in his sixteenth hockey campaign away from home. It began with a four year stint with the Belleville Bulls. He now plays for the Toledo Walleye in the East Coast Hockey League, and was in Fort Myers last week to play against the Florida Everblades.

He was not at all thrilled with the outcome of the visit. The schedule dictates that teams often play against each other three times in a row, to cut down on travel expenses. That gives players from both sides plenty of opportunity to retaliate for nasty business. As well, the league uses two linesman, but only one referee. The Walleye came into the games leading the Everblades; they limped home without taking a point.

At dinner after the game on Friday night, Randy explained the current roster woes that all teams in the ECHL are suffering at the present time. “Several players from the AHL are being recalled to the NHL teams, now that the lockout has been lifted. In turn, the AHL teams are pulling players from the ECHL to fill the rosters. We lost six players in the last two days.” Truly a coach’s nightmare.

Randy crawled off the ice midway through the first period after taking a wicked slapshot from the point on his thigh. Always the consummate pro, he did not miss a shift. Mind you, he walked with some difficulty after the game.

Randy began with the Bulls in 1997, and played until 2001. Many Bulls fans will remember their trips to Ottawa for the Memorial Cup Finals when Rowe was a teammate of Jonathon Cheechoo, Justin Papineau, and Chris Stanley. In his final year with the Bulls, he skated with Kyle Wellwood, Matt Stajan, Branko Radivojevic, Cody McCormick, and Mike Renzi, to name a few. Rowe potted 64 goals in 63 games in his final season with the Bulls.

When asked about his current injury status, and lumps and bruises over the years, Randy shrugged. “I think I’ve broken just about every bone in my body, including my back.” He does work hard to keep in playing shape, and assisted others in that regard last summer in Belleville. He has completed courses in fitness training, but would dearly love to get involved with firefighting when he finishes his hockey career. “There are similarities in both, especially when it comes to working as a team.”

                         Randy Rowe signs an autograph for Judy Cole from Bennington, Vermont

Randy spent three years with the Peoria Rivermen in the ECHL before he began moving from the ECHL to the AHL for several years. He had stints in St. John’s with the Maple Leafs, in Springfield with the Falcons, and with the Lake Erie Monsters in the AHL.

He told me his favourite team in the NHL is the Vancouver Canucks. Always a big fan of Mark Messier and Pavel Bure, his first NHL training camp was with the Canucks.

Randy indicated that he might be nearing the end of his career. He has seen a lot of chain restaurants, slept in hundreds of different beds, and has spent plenty of time on the road. He has purchased a house in Quinte West, overlooking the new YMCA.

When I asked him whether or not meeting curfew would be a problem, he chuckled and added, “I am the oldest guy on the team. There are advantages in being the senior guy!”
Yet another success story for the Belleville Bulls. A great kid playing the game he loves, and making a living at it!

James Hurst

Saturday, January 05, 2013


The Dog Ate My Breakfast!

That is up there with the best excuses a teacher hears when the job does not get done.

As a Canadian hockey fan, I have heard a few good ones over the past few months. Some have emanated from the so-called negotiations for the National Hockey League. Other excuses come as a result of the recent performance of the Canadian National Junior Team at the World Championships in Ufa, Russia.

                                                                                         Seth Jones

The team breezed through the preliminary rounds to earn a berth in the semi-finals, and drew the American team as an opponent. The Canadians were eliminated by Seth Jones and the Americans in a game that was never in doubt. Final Score 5-1. Adding insult to injury, they dropped an overtime decision to the Russians 6-5, and will not mount the podium this year.

As expected, a host of authoritative voices has been heard these past few days, explaining the loss. There have also been many excuses thrown out there. Some of the following may apply. Others have come from the depths of my imagination.

1.       We were fatigued by the trans Atlantic flight, and we did not have adequate time to adjust to our surroundings.

2.       The food was terrible. Many of our players had serious food poisoning before the big game.

3.       We did not have enough time to get to know each other, to learn the nuances of each other’s game.

4.       Our skates were tied too tight.

5.       Our skates were too loose.

6.       I lost an edge and let that guy get by me.

7.       We had too much time after the preliminary rounds, and we were rusty.

8.       We did not have enough time after the preliminary rounds to analyze the Americans, and make adjustments.

9.       The ice was poor.

10.   The referees were terrible.

11.   The referees had it in for us. They would not let us play our game. They called everything.

12.   The referees let the game get out of hand. They had their whistles in their pockets.

13.   We did not get any breaks. The puck just did not bounce our way.

14.    We had far more injuries than they did.

15. Our biorhythms were not perfect.

16. Our astrologer indicated the stars were not inproper alignment.

 I think I have just begun to scratch the surface. Moving on…..

 There might be another, perhaps more meaningful list:

1.       They were better than we were. Perhaps bigger, stronger, faster.

2.       They had better coaches than we did. At least their coaches made better decisions.

3.       They were in better condition.

4.       They finished their checks better than we did.

5.       They protected their lead very well. We did not have a chance to do the same.

6.       They got better goaltending than we did. The played better on defence. Their forwards capitalized on scoring chances. We didn’t.

7.       We may have been slightly overconfident.

In order to create a suitable spin, it is suggested that pundits take a couple of items from Column “A”, and mix them with a couple from column “B”.

As has been the case in the past, we need time to lick our wounds, and prepare for the next competition. We will do our best. It is, after all, our game.

James Hurst

Tuesday, January 01, 2013


American College Football Bowl Games-2012-2013


More than fifty years ago, Disneyland opened in California. For some reason the concept captivated my father, and he decided that the entire family would visit the West Coast. We combined the excursion with visits to San Diego, San Francisco, Knott’s Berry Farm, and the Rose Bowl Parade.

It was indeed a monumental adventure. We boarded the train in Belleville, stopped in Toronto, caught another train to Chicago, then headed across the United States to California. I spent most of the cross country trip travelling up and down that train with my younger brother David. There were few people who did not know us by the time we screeched to a halt in San Francisco. I was ten years old, he is fifteen months younger than I. We were avowed sports fans at the time, still are.

We were bitterly disappointed in Los Angeles when my father announced that he had procured tickets to the Rose Bowl game for my older brother Dick and himself. David and I got shut out.

I remember that Michigan State played UCLA, and that the Spartans triumphed 17-14 against the Bruins. With a little internet snooping, I discovered that Earl Morrall, later to become a legendary Baltimore Colt, threw a touchdown pass for the Spartans. Ronnie Knox was the quarterback for the Bruins. More than 100 000 fans attended the game.

There were few Bowl games at that time. This of course was long before there was a Super Bowl, and the Grey Cup was only fifty years old. We had a Cotton Bowl, a Sugar Bowl, an Orange Bowl, and a Gator Bowl.

How times have changed!

At last count, I discovered there are now thirty-five bowl games this season for college players in the United States. It has become a nightmare of names.

The first bowl game of the year, the New Mexico Bowl, was played in Albuquerque on December 15th. Arizona defeated Nevada 49-48. The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl also took place that day.

You may have missed the Poinsettia Bowl, before Christmas.  The Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl followed the next evening. That was followed by the MAACO Bowl, the Little Caesar’s Bowl, the Russell Athletic Bowl, and the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Last Saturday they played the following: the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, the Pinstripe Bowl, the Alamo Bowl and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. 

Most Americans have their favourite school represented in a Bowl. Some of the locals around the pool will be in front of the television when the chosen Bowl takes place. Paul Cross is an avowed Georgia fan, and he will watch his team play in the Capital Bowl against Nebraska on Tuesday evening. His daughter attended Georgia Tech, and they play in the Sun Bowl the night before. He told me his house is divided. Good thing they do not face each other in post season activity.

Art Mercier hails from the Boston area, and supports local teams. With no appearances by eith BU or Boston College, he is focusing his attention on his beloved Patriots. “Anybody except Ohio State,” he told me.

Don Cole was pleased to see the Orange from Syracuse crush West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium last Saturday. He entered a state of mourning Sunday afternoon when his Giants were ushered out the playoff door.

The game which garners most of the attention of football fans takes place on January 7th. It is entitled the BCS Bowl, and features the two top teams in the country, as chosen by a panel. Notre Dame has yet to be defeated this year, and they will play Alabama in Miami Gardens, Florida. A great rivalry from two legendary college football franchises.

There is almost $ 18 000 000 doled out to the colleges involved in the top five Bowl Games. Buys a lot of pens and pencils.

Many pundits would like to see a system in place whereby there is a playoff structure, like the Final Four of basketball. Then again, the game is supposed to be secondary. That is supposed to happen next year.
After all, the players are students, and their education comes first. There are more than 400 000 student athletes in National Collegiate Athletic Association programs in the United States. All worthwhile.


James Hurst

December 30, 2012



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