Tuesday, February 11, 2014


At the Olympic Break 2014

I trust that most of you are spending a fair amount of time, even some in odd hours, to catch a few Olympic waves. I also trust that you watched the tribute to “The Beatles” on Sunday night, the 50th anniversary of their show on Ed Sullivan. Flurries of memories danced in the brain as one performer after another performed the great tunes of the “Fab Four”.

                                                     George, John, Ringo, Paul-The Beatles

I was introduced to The Beatles in a basement on the East Hill of Belleville in late 1963. Bev Davies had a birthday party, and she had picked up the Beatles first album in London, England. After “It won’t be Long”,   “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, and the rest of those great tunes on that album, I was hooked. Still resounds in my head today.

Last Thursday I crossed the state to watch the Panthers and the Red Wings. It has been a tough season for both teams, a struggle most of the time. Naturally, the expectations are a little higher in Detroit, as failure has never been an option. The Red Wings are supposed to be in the playoffs every season, and are expected to be in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. There are some players who are near the end of their careers in Detroit, and management is becoming increasingly impatient with them.

They have plenty of talent down on the farm, and Coach Babcock and General Manager  Ken Holland will not hesitate to shuffle the lineup for results. Last Thursday, Daniel Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi, and Patrick Eaves were scratches. Eaves is not yet thirty, but Bertuzzi is 39, and Cleary is 35. The Wings also rely on the aging Daniel Alfredsson this year, after he was poached from the Senators. He too is in his forties, but still has plenty in his tank.

                                                                        Daniel Cleary

It is a little unsettling to think of Cleary and Bertuzzi as old grizzled veterans in the NHL. It seems like yesterday when we ranted against Bertuzzi, as he tore apart the Bulls every time he came to the Quinte Sports Centre. He was a force to contend with as a junior, much larger and stronger than most of the Bulls. Cleary was an elite player when he came to Belleville, skilled in every department. He struggled with his own demons early in his NHL career, survived, and has experienced rewarding seasons in Detroit. He asked me to pass on my best to all of his friends in Belleville.

Even though it has been fifteen years since he skated for the Bulls, he keeps in touch. “Are they building a new rink in Belleville?” he asked me when we chatted after the game. He had heard the rumours. I indicated that the situation has not changed since Dr. Vaughan had the team. They could use a larger arena, but it would be an expensive proposition.

                                                             Kyle Quincey and James Hurst

Kyle Quincey was originally drafted by the Wings as their second choice in 2003. He had spent a couple of years in the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League, not far from his home in the Caledon Hills. He attended high school with my brother’s kids, and I introduced myself. He is a typically Canadian professional hockey player: easy to chat with, friendly and unassuming. Most scribes on the professional sports circuit maintain that hockey players are by far the easiest athletes to interview from all of the major sports. It is a credit to the players, and their organizations, that they remain somewhat humble, considering the circumstances.

Quincey is looking forward to the Olympic break this year. In 2012, he played on the Canadian team in the World Championships. Although drafted by Detroit, he has played for the Kings and the Avalanche, before returning to the Wings in 2011. He has played 350 games in the NHL, and has more than 100 points. He also has accumulated 334 minutes in penalties, an average of almost a minute per game.

The Wings scratched out a 3-1 victory, with an empty net goal. The Panthers had one shot on goal in the first period, until Scott Upshall jumped out of the penalty box, raced in alone and scored on Howard at 19:34. Hardly a potent offensive attack! The Wings scored twice on Tim Thomas, played “kitty bar the door”, and skated away with the win. Tough times ahead for both squads.

Enjoy the Olympics!

February 10, 2014

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