Monday, October 30, 2017


Hanna Bunton Makes History

Hanna makes history in CWHL

Hanna Bunton (Hockey Canada photo)
Hanna Bunton (Hockey Canada photo)

Belleville's Hanna Bunton has earned a place in the Canadian Women's Hockey League recordbook.
Bunton scored the historic first goal — the game-winner — for the Vanke Rays in their inaugural contest in the CWHL last weekend, a 3-0 win over the Toronto Furies at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto.
Bunton added an assist and was named First Star.
Bunton also had a goal for Vanke in the weekend rematch, a 3-2 Toronto victory.
The St. Theresa graduate and former Ivy League standout at Cornell University is one of a handful of Canadian and American players on the rosters of two CWHL expansion teams from China — Vanke and the Kunlun Red Star.
Other teams in the CWHL are Montreal Canadiennes, Calgary Inferno, Markham Thunder and Boston Blades. Teams play a 30-game regular season and Montreal leads the current standings with a 4-and-0 record, followed by Calgary (3-1).
The unique expansion to China by the professional CWHL was announced in June, with the two new entries playing five groups of road games in North America during the 2017-18 season. Each North American-based team will make one road trip to China.
The expansion is intended to help increase the development of the Chinese women's hockey program in preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

From The Intelligencer

Sunday, October 29, 2017


The World Series-2017

The World Series-2017

They are putting the finishing touches on the baseball fields in Houston and Los Angeles for this year's World Series. It is certainly one of the great traditions of the North American culture. I would write “American Culture”, but that all changed in 1993, as you well remember.

Apparently, it will be a hot time to begin with in Los Angeles. Over the last couple of days, it has been more than one hundred degrees in Tinseltown, and that weather is expected to remain for some time. For the record, the warmest World Series took place in Arizona in 2001.

The Dodgers send Clayton Kershaw to the mound to face Dallas Keuchel. Both are outstanding hurlers, with great stuff, and represent two of the best pitching staffs in baseball. The Dodgers have an edge in the bullpen. Their relievers have an earned run average of 0.94, whereas the Astros bullpen's ERA is 5.03. Naturally, the Dodgers look forward to seeing that bullpen door wide open on the Houston side.

Both of these teams have been unbeatable in the post-season at home. The Astros won more games on the road than did any other team. The Dodgers won more games than any other team. So this thing may come down to one final game, for all the marbles. That game would be played in L. A.

Prior to 1969, the pennant winners from the leagues played off for the title. There were no divisional races, no wild cards, no championship playoffs within leagues. All that has changed, and will likely change again, as the powers-that-be tinker with the product.

The Yankees have won more Series titles than any other team-27. Next in line are the Cardinals with 11. The Athletics have won 9, the Red Sox and the Giants 8 each. Combined, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the L. A. Dodgers have won six titles. The Astros have yet to climb the podium.

The Astros are a pesky bunch: they run well, field brilliantly, hit for power and average. The addition of Justin Verlander to the starting lineup was a great coup.

The Dodgers have very few holes in their lineup. Look for consistent hitting from Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Curtis Granderson, Cody Bellinger, and Chris Taylor.

It is a great accomplishment just to get to the World Series. It is even more fun when you get to wear the goggles and spray your teammates with champagne after the last out. To the victors go the spoils.

James Hurst

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Malcolm Subban

Malcolm Subban- The Middle One

There are many sports fans in the Quinte area who keep a close watch on former Belleville Bulls. For only one game in the 2009-2010 season, and for only thirteen minutes, we had a look at Malcolm Subban.

The following year, and for three years after that, Malcolm Subban was a regular in the Belleville goal. Mind you, we had previously seen his brother on many occasions. He now plays for the Nashville Predators, following a stint with the Montreal Canadiens. He calls himself “PK”.

And then we got to host their younger brother, Jordan, in Belleville. Shortly thereafter, the plug was pulled on the Belleville Bulls, and they were relocated to Hamilton. Starting in November, there will be another brand of exciting hockey at the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre, with the arrival of the Senators. But that is another story, for a future column.

A couple of weeks ago, Malcolm received a piece of good news. He had been picked up on waivers by the Vegas Golden Knights. Mind you, they had an excellent goaltender because they had selected the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury, who had been unprotected when the Golden Knights selected team members. Last Friday night, Fleury received a concussion in a game against the Red Wings.

Subban got the call to start on Sunday. He was directed to start against the team that had originally drafted him, the Boston Bruins. Subban had been with the Bruins organization for four seasons, but had only played in two games for the Bruins. He had played 127 games for the Providence Bruins. You might almost think he might have had something to prove to the Bruins' management.

On Sunday night, the Golden Knights defeated the Bruins 3-1. The Bruins' lone marker was scored with just 30 seconds left in the third period, a lucky goal that went in off the Vegas defender. The Knights had an empty net goal at the end of the game. The Knights have an excellent record for a new team in the league. Goaltending has played an important part.

Naturally, Subban was thrilled after his first NHL victory. He emphasized the importance of focus in NHL games. But he also played really well, cutting down angles, sneaking up to the edge of the crease for shots from the blueline. He did not leave any sloppy rebounds for easy goals. He earned the first star for the game.

He also commented, “I am truly grateful for the opportunity to play here.” Having chatted with Malcolm a few times when he was with the Bulls, that is very typical. He is a modest, unassuming, relatively quiet person. Somewhat different from his brother!

I am certain that Malcolm would cherish the opportunity to stay with the parent club. That remains to be seen. In the meantime, with a few games like last Sunday's game, he will remain anNHLer.

James Hurst

Sunday, October 15, 2017


October-A Great Time for Sports Fans!!

Toronto Blue Jay fans are now recovering after a disappointing season. Lockers have been cleaned, meetings held, and next year's starting lineup will be a mystery for some time to come.

And now, the same applies to the Boston Red Sox. They lost their game yesterday against the Houston Astros. That ended the Divisional Series with the Astros winning three games to one. Dustin Pedroia grounded out to Jose Altuve for the final out to seal the deal.

Both teams relied on the ace starting pitchers to get the job done. The Red Sox called Chris Sele in from the bullpen, and the Astros gave the nod to Justin Verlander as the game wore on. Both pitched effectively, but Sale got touched up for a home run by Bregman to ruin his day.

                                                  David Price, Pre Season.

It was the first post-season series win for the Astros since 2005, and they now proceed to the American league Championship Series, which starts this Friday. They will face the Yankees, or the Cleveland Indians.

Altuve continues to show that he is a cut above. Standing at 5 feet, 6 inches, he is dwarfted by most Major League Baseball players. Over the last few seasons, he has shown that he is one of the best second baseman in the game today, and he continues to pave his way to Cooperstown. In the past four seasons, he has had more than 200 hits, a milestone. He is now a perennial all star. He has won Gold Gloves, and has been a Silver Slugger. He has won several batting titles in the last few years, while also leading the league in stolen bases.

Signed as a free agent by the Astros in 2007, when he was 17, he made his debut in 2011. The Venezuelan native brings a magic to the game that is worth the price of admission.

The Yankees dropped their first two games against the Cleveland Indians, but caught a break in their first game. Edwin Encarnacion has been unable to play due to a sore ankle. The Tribe misses his bat in the lineup. They win be back at it on Wednesday night, with Sabathia on the mound for the Yankees, and Kluber for the Indians. Winner moves on, loser goes home.

All of this leads to the World Series which will start in a week or so. There is always talk that there is a lack of interest in baseball today. I investigated the purchase of a ticket for one of the games at Yankee Stadium. Almost $ 200 in American funds, (plus transaction fees, of course) to sit in the grandstand, so far away that even Aaron Judge could not hit one to me.

I read this morning that former NFL great Y. A. Tittle passed away. He was a popular name when we played sandlot football on the campus at Belleville Collegiate in the early sixties. He was a great quarterback, especially for the New York Giants.

And yes, Leaf fans have unfurled their flags, with good reason. They have a strong young team, a fine coach, and should do well this year. A step at a time.

James Hurst

October 10, 2017.

James Hurst


Thanks, Jose

By the time that this newspaper gets into your hands, the Toronto Blue Jays are expected to jettison Jose Bautista from their roster. It is all a matter of dollars and cents, There is also a little bit of...”Well, what have you done for us lately?” thrown into the equation.

Admittedly, Bautista has not had a great season for the Jays. There are always many factors that contribute to a lack of success for any athlete. Jose is getting a little long in the tooth, now 37 years old. But he is in remarkable physical condition, and he has worked extremely hard the past several years to keep himself in the game. He is forever bending and stretching, curling and twitching, in order to maintain his physical status. Too often do we see older players pulling up lame on routine ground balls.

He works very hard. Most of the discussions from the pundits from Toronto indicate that he does not shy away from game preparation. In that regard, I am reminded of Jaromir Jagr. Jagr spent many hours before games with incredible physical workouts. Old guys like he and Jose know that there are plenty of young bucks on the sidelines ready to take their place.

They know that the younger players are often bigger, stronger, faster, and likely more fit. It just drives the older guys to work that much harder. But with all athletes, in all games, there comes a point of diminishing returns. Quite often there are teams which need these older athletes, for a variety of reasons.

One of the reasons I hear is that “They are good in the clubhouse”. That is now always the case. There are older players who have always been jerks their entire careers, and they likely won't change. There are others who have difficulty communicating, either because of their nature, or because they do not have a strong command of one of baseball's languages. That could be English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, or a few others.

Several years ago, baseball opened up the doors for older athletes with strong batting skills. The American League adopted the “Designated Hitter”. Teams could hire these big boppers to stride to the plate, whack the cover off the ball, and then return to the dugout. They do not have to catch flies, field grounders, nor run into fences chasing foul balls. They are paid to hit, especially with power. No such role exists for hockey players. Consequently, no one has picked up Jagr, at this point in time. He still remains as one of the top five players of all time, truly phenomenal.

I was most impressed with the way the Toronto fans expressed their feelings toward Bautista during his final series against the Yankees. He played hard the entire series, batting well, chasing balls in the outfield. He still has the skills.

But the powers that be have indicated that they do not wish to bring him back next year. It would be an expensive venture for the team. I believe I heard the approximate number of $17 000 000. If he gets picked up by another team, he may be able to make between 2 and 5 million dollars, That is just a wild guess.

I am sure the team consulted with him before the season, and asked him about doing something similar to Big Papi's sunset tour last year. I can see Bautista indicating he would have no part of that. Even in his last on=field interview in Toronto, he hinted that he would like to be playing, possibly in Toronto.

He expressed his feeling that he loved the city. All players do that when they are being shuttled out the door. Jose sounded more genuine than many of the others. He has always been a class act, a great player, and should be remembered as one of the top Blue Jay players in the short history of the team.

Mucha suerte, Jose.

James Hurst
October 2, 2017

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