Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Seasons Come, Seasons Go.
The best part of the changing seasons, and naturally I am referring to sports seasons, is that they overlap. Therefore, it is critical to have fresh batteries in your remote channel changer to keep up with the action.
In short order on Monday evening, I was able to catch glimpses of the Jays-Yankees, the Thunder-Warriors, the Penguins-Sharks, and a rain-delay replay of
Milos Raonic’s loss
at the French Open.
First-born son Arty became a dad himself this week in
for the first time. Congratulations to him and his wife Merran. Their daughter,
Alice Louise arrived at 9 pounds 14 ounces, ready to bat cleanup. My wife is
staying with them for a week or so; consequently, I am in charge of the remote.
“The Voice” is nowhere in sight. Ottawa
On Monday evening, the
Blue Jays were on the winning end of a tremendous pitching performance from
Marco Estrada. They have pulled up their socks, lately. At this point in the
season, with almost one-third of the games completed, the Jays have not lived
up to the pre-season expectations. Mind you, they have performed well lately,
and do not trail the first place Red Sox by a great deal. Toronto
The Red Sox have won 31 games, the Blue Jays 27. The Jays trail the Orioles, now in second place. As expected, the American League East Division is a tight race, and will remain that way until October. Over in the National League, the
Cubs have won 35 games, and appear destined to hoist the hardware for the first
time in a century. Chicago
Each spring I buy an informative magazine: Lindy’s Sports Baseball Preview. It describes itself as “The most authoritative baseball preview available”. The writers boldly predict the results of the 2016 season. At this point, they are slightly off the mark. Jays are to finish first, then head to the World Series. The Orioles are predicted to finish in the basement. I realize it is a long season, and results can be skewed by injuries, slumps, suspensions…The list is long. I believe the Blue Jays miss Chris Colabello, serving a drug-related suspension.
The Penguins and the Sharks clawed their way to the
Cup finals, and there is no reason to expect a short series. The Pens jumped
out to a 2-0 lead Monday night, only to see it erased by the speedy Sharks. A
late goal by Bonino stood as the winner, off a nifty play by Sidney
Crosby. As expected. Stanley
the first game of their playoff series against the Golden
State Thunder at home! They then went
down three games to one. Their main men, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson then
began to shoot out the lights. As a result, the Warriors now head to Oklahoma
for the NBA Finals. That is the home of Lebron James. You may remember him from
the recent series against the Raptors. Cleveland
Raonic lost in the fourth round in the French Open. He has contended better than any Canadian ever in international tennis competition. Canadian tennis fans look forward to the day when he accepts the accolades and awards at centre court, somewhere, in his career.
We have plans to head to
this summer to catch some tennis action. Perhaps Milos
will save his best tennis for us, in July in . London
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
NBA Conference Finals-2016
Last Monday night, the
Raptors scored an impressive 105-99 win over the Toronto
Cavaliers. It was the most important victory in the history of the team, and
evened their series at two games each. Cleveland
The Cavaliers had prepared for the series by cruising through the playoffs without losing a game; consequently, they were a lot fresher than were the Raptors. The
squad had clawed their way through a tough series against the Toronto
Heat, and were battered and bruised. Miami
LeBron James plays for the Cavaliers. He is generally recognized as one of the greatest players of all time, if not the greatest. Compared to most of the other players on the court, he is a giant. He can crash the basket, he can sweep the boards to get rebounds. And yet, when required, he can shoot the lights out with a deft touch. He has been the Most Valuable Player on several occasions.
But this is a team game, and Lebron and the Cavaliers realize he cannot do it on his own. The management of the Cavs brought in help for the big fella, and that has worked up to this point in the playoffs. Their latest addition, Channing Frye, cannot be ignored when he positions himself outside the arc. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are also key players for the Cavs.
Kyrie Irving Kevin Love
At half time Sunday, those that doubted the Raptors had serious second thoughts.
had led by 18 points at one time. They had dominated the second quarter,
outscoring the Cavs 30-17. Kyle Lowry had 15 of those points. The other key
player on the Raptors, Demar De Rozan, also had a great game. As those two go,
so go the Raptors. Toronto
Each of those teams also has a Canadian representative: Corey Joseph for the Raps, and Tristan Thompson for the Cavs. They both played well Sunday night, playing significant minutes. Both are from the
area. The fact that they are playing at the highest level indicates the
influence the Raptors have had on the game in Toronto . Canada
The series now heads back to
for game five. Game six takes place in Cleveland ,
and the areas outside the doors of the Air Toronto
Centre will be packed with fans. They call that zone “ Canada ”. The fans there
do their best to get their signs, pictures, and little faces on the television
screens as the camera pans that area frequently during the game. (“Did you see
me mom?”) Jurassic
The Western final has also been somewhat surprising. There may be an upset in the making there as well. As the fine commentator Jack Armstrong noted, “It is not preordained that the Warriors and the Cavaliers should play in the final”. It just ain’t necessarily so. The
by Steph Curry, were supposed to get by the Golden
State Thunder without much trouble. Oklahoma
But the Thunder stole one of the two games played on the coast, and basketball fans knew that the Warriors were in trouble.
The Thunder are led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. In the third game of their series, Westbrook had 30 points, and Durant had 33. They ended the game with 133 points, matching a franchise record for the most points in a playoff game. That gave the Thunder a 2-1 lead, with the fourth game last night in
Before the series began, Jonas Valanciunas, the key big man for the Raptors, was injured. Bismack Biyombo, a towering transplant from Africa, was called off the bench. He has given the team more than they could imagine, sweeping the boards of all unsuccessful shots on both ends of the court. His infectious smile, and pleasant demeanor, have captured the hearts of all Raptor fans.
Fasten your seat belts, girls and boys. For Raptor fans, this is by far the best ride that they have ever had!!
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Danny Lewicki and Daniel Donohue
It was on April 21st, in 1951. The Canadiens and the Leafs battled in the
Cup final at Stanley in Maple Leaf
The game went into overtime. One of the stalwarts on the Leafs blueline,
“Bashin Bill” Barilko creased the twine behind Gerry McNeil to win the game,
and the Cup. Toronto
Old hockey fans, myself included, know the rest of the story. That was the last goal Barilko ever scored, his last time on that sheet of ice. In late August, Barilko headed out to
in a single engine plane with his dentist, Henry Hudson. On the return trip,
the plane went down, and was lost for almost 11 years. It was discovered by a
helicopter pilot, about 35 miles off course north of Quebec . Cochrane,
At least two books have been written about the tragedy: Kevin Shea’s Without a Trace, and John Melady’s The Bill Barilko Story.
Tragically Hip recorded a song in 1992 about Barilko’s fate: Fifty Kingston Mission
Barilko played his first game for the Leafs in 1947. He had been with the
Hollywood Wolves in the Hockey League.
He was good enough to play in the All Star games in 1947, 1948, and 1949. and
he won four Cups with the Leafs. He wore # 5 in his last year with the Leafs,
and that number was subsequently retired. Pacific
Daniel Donohue’s father and grandfather were at that game when Barilko scored. His grandfather had season tickets, which he used occasionally. He often doled them out to his patrons at his bar near
They were good seats, not far from the ice. Harken back with me to the arenas
in those days. Hamilton
There was no glass around the arena. Patrons sitting behind the net were protected: otherwise, those seated at ice level paid attention during the play. Pucks flew over the boards easily, as did players, on occasion.
Naturally, there was mayhem on the ice when Barilko scored. Daniel Donohue’s father sized up the situation, got his grandfather’s permission, and went into action. He jumped over the boards, raced to the
net, and dove into the net to get the puck. That puck has remained with the
family since that game. Montreal
Donohue told that story recently at the monthly gathering of NHL Alumni and friends at the Shopsy’s in
Several members of the Society for International Hockey Research were in
attendance. Paul Patskou, noted hockey historian from the Hockey Hall of Fame
also heard the address. After all was said and done, no one doubted Donohue, a
partner in a Markham
consulting firm. Toronto
Danny Lewicki was impressed with the story. He played for the Leafs in that game. It was Lewicki’s first year with the Leafs. Both he and Barilko were of Ukranian descent, both from
Lewicki spent nine years in the NHL, and finished his career with the Timmins
There was some discussion as to the value of the puck, once its authentication is confirmed. Your guess is as good as mine. But if it were the ball that won the World Series for the
Yankees that either Babe Ruth or Mickey
Mantle drove into the stands, there would be a bidding war. Likely nothing
short of a million. New
Another fine tale from the monthly Monday luncheons.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
The Canadian Women's Team
The World Under 19 Women’s Floorball Championships concluded last Sunday in
The Canadian team played its way successfully into the Gold Medal Game in the
“B” division. They had to play Belleville
once again, certainly their nemesis in the game. Germany
Trailing 5-3 in the final period, the Canadians tied the score in the dying minutes of the game. And then the Germans scored to nail down the victory, on a somewhat contentious goal. In the “A” Division,
6-3 to win the title. Finland
As a spectator at several of the Games, the rules, and the application of those rules, proved to be somewhat confusing, at times. Even though the game appears to be cloned from hockey, there are variations that are certainly derived from soccer. There is contact, and it is supposed to be incidental. On a couple of occasions, players were sent sprawling over the boards, with no call. And yet, moments later, players were sent to the penalty box for virtually no reason.
Brett Davis oversaw the games as the President of the Canadian contingent. When I asked him about the rules of the game, he replied, “Once you get it figured, it becomes a chess match!”
Brett Davis, with Rosi Oulette
The boards are only about 40 centimeters high, and the ball often flies out of bounds. The ball is awarded to the team not responsible for shooting the ball over the boards. As in soccer. Goalies have no sticks, and rely on instinct and reflexes to stop shots. As in soccer.
But the players do carry sticks, and are adept with them in pushing around a whiffle ball about the size of a hardball.
It was truly a great international event for the area. Flags of the participating nations adorned the Sports Centre. Players, coaches, administrators, and friends from 15 nations interacted in the name of sport. Never a bad idea. Fans came from many European nations to cheer for their teams, in their own manner. That is, an incessant banging of drums, and tooting of horns. Win, lose, or draw: the same noise, constantly. They just don’t quit!
The organizers were thrilled with the turnout for the Games. There were more than 3 000 fans at the first Canadian game against the Japanese. It was great to see so many fans at the Yardmen Arena. Although the games between the European teams were not as well attended, overall attendance was outstanding!
This was the first time that the games had been held outside
Europe. The success of these games
bodes well for the future of the sport in North America.
Organizers are constantly promoting the game, hoping to see it as an Olympic
sport in 2024.
Special recognition is in order for the
Golden Hawks. They are on their way to play in the Royal Bank Cup. Wellington
Dukes fans know the experience, as we attended two Cups in Trenton and Prince
Edward Island .
Congratulations to Marc Crawford on his appointment as an assistance coach of the
Senators. His brother Todd coached the Canadian team at the Floorball games. Ottawa
And now? A little time for the Raptors, the Blue Jays, the World Hockey Championships. And yes, time to garden as well!
Wednesday, May 04, 2016
2016 World Under 19 Floorball-Women's Championships
On Wednesday, the World will arrive at the doorstep of the Quinte Region. Actually, the Opening Ceremonies took place last night. Elizabeth Manley, Canadian figure skater, was on hand to help open the games. As a matter of historical note, both she and Brian Orser were born in the Quinte Region.
The Canadian team begins their quest for gold on Wednesday morning, playing the Japanese at . Both teams are in the “D” division, along with
and Thailand .
As is the case with these types of tournaments, teams must play reasonably well
in their division to advance to the playoffs. Germany
at on Thursday.
There are tickets remaining for that event, but the game against Thailand
is sold out! Day passes for the games on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are
$20. The finals take place on Sunday. Passes for that day are $30. Japan
There are 15 countries represented at the games, including
Czech Republic ,
and Hungary .
The Canadians play USA
on Friday evening at . Germany
There is a strong local contingent at the games. The Canadian team is coached by Todd Crawford. Crawford has extensive experience in international sport, in athletics, and as a member of the Canadian bobsled team. He is heavily involved in coaching at the high school level in
His father captained the Belleville
McFarlands to the World Hockey Championship in 1959. The Crawford family was
recently celebrated in print and film, at the hand of Aaron Bell. A fine piece
of work, I might add. Belleville
Crawford realizes that his work is cut out for him. In 2014, the Canadian team won the silver medal at the Worlds in
squeaking out a 5-4 win over Poland .
Currently, the Canadians are ranked 10th in the world. As you skim
over the list of teams participating in the event, you will notice that there
is a strong European contingent. Japan, Thailand, and the two North American
countries are the only non-Europeans at the event. Germany
“We expect the offence to have balanced scoring as three lines are very deep and the fourth line is extremely active and can be counted on to shut teams down when needed,” Crawford stated. Crawford will rely on the Canadian captain, Hannah Wilson, a Belleville native, to lead the troops on the floor. Other locals involved on the team include: Alex Hoskin, and Madi Brinklow from Tyendinaga.
Braedyn Irwin also hails from Belleville, but she will suit up for the American squad. As a native North American, that is her privilege. She attends
is in Grade Eleven. Moira
Action takes place at the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre on
Games will be played in the Yardmen Arena, the former home of the
Bulls. There may be hockey there soon. If you wish to participate in the rumour
mill in that regard, be my guest! Teams will also play down the hall at “Rink
B”. The final game will take place at the Yardmen at , Sunday evening. Belleville
The president of the tournament is
Brett Davis. This is the first time the event has ever been held outside Belleville Europe,
and is under the jurisdiction of the International Floorball Federation.
There are snippets of the game on the web. It appears as if Dominik Hasek trained all of the goalies. On penalty shots, goalies kneel, and then flop. And they don’t have sticks!! It proved to be effective for the Hall of Famer from the
Let the Games begin!