Saturday, 30 April 2011

Pucks, Politics and the Players....

As the minor hockey tryout season wraps up this week with the majority of junior clubs running their rookie camps, a number of young players will be looking to extend their hockey careers to the next level.

Starting in mid April AAA, AA and A clubs across Ontario began the process of assembling their rosters for the 2011-12 season, with the midget AAA loop finalizing the bulk of their rosters towards the end of the summer and into early fall. Most other age groups have have the bulk of their line-up's intact following these skates and continue into the summer.

To anyone who is or has been involved within the minor hockey circles, this process has begun some time ago, in most cases before the end of 2010 or shortly after 2011 began.  It is a process that normally begins with coaching staff being lined up at that time, giving those involved the chance to scout, recruit and begin putting the proper pieces to the puzzle needed to ice the type of club that they are looking for.

Being on both sides of the coin (player and coach) I have seen my fair share of politics that come into the game, it is something that is as much of a given as death and taxes. Unfortunately this is something that can ultimately blindside any player, parent or coach if the political circus rolls into town unexpectedly. It is unfortunate and most of the time not fair, but to those who have been around the game know it is a trend that will not soon go away.

Numerous players will lose the chance to play on a team, let alone a specific level because of the interference of someone who has made up their mind well before that player has even packed their bag and twisted Mom or Dad's arm to go to a skate. In some cases, the parent is one who is caught off guard while their son or daughter has a pretty clear idea of whats in store. This happens every spring and usually creeps its head out every now again in the summer and tends to be in affect until the start of winter.

It is something that will ultimately drive numerous good players, parents and coaches from the game in general, some not venturing back for years if ever again. Yes, even coaches. For every story you hear of a coach who has paid their way into a position or recruited a club in order to make sure their son or daughter is playing on a team, there are a handful of excellent, well trained and extremely talented coaches left on the sidelines watching a handful of teams implode as the hockey season begins to ween out the contenders from the pretenders as the season kicks into high gear.

Minor hockey teaches everyone involved a number of valuable lessons that we carry with us for the bulk of our lives. One thing I have learned is to expect the unexpected and always remember being yourself and believing in who you are will ultimately carry you to the places you wish to be and dreams you wish to achieve. And politics, they will always be there so make sure not to let them stand in your way and for their own good, the way of your shot! Be true to yourself and those around, then ultimately you will be the one with the last laugh and all of the ice time you can imagine.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Tampa Bay Lightning Recall Mike Angelidis

Chip N Chase is proud to announce that Mike Anglidis has been recalled by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Chip N Chase is a long time supporter of Mike during his career dating back to his days in the GTHL through his time with the Owen Sound Attack and Albany of the American League prior to joining the Tampa farm club in Norfolk this season.

He is a hell of a guy and is well deserving of this opprotunity to be a National Hockey League player. Congrats to a class act on and off the ice.

Hughson and Simpson.....equal one too many slap passes

Upon completion of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs taking place on Wednesday night with the Montreal Canadiens being eliminated in overtime by the Boston Bruins, the number of Canadian teams still in contention is the Vancouver Canucks. While a great number of loyal Canadian hockey fans will turn their allegiance towards the Canucks, there appears to be two notable Canadians who are making it very clear who they are rallying for. Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson not only are covering every game the Canucks are having covered by the CBC, they also appear to be letting it known they are cheering for the Canucks as well.

With every “slap pass”, or pass made from “Daniel to Henrik” and the analysis of everything aimed towards (or against) the Canucks it is growing increasingly obvious that something needs to be said to the dynamic duo, and I am not referring to the Sedin twins either. CBC has never been shy to provide a pro Canadian feel to their telecasts when one of the six clubs are playing but you cannot help but notice that Hughson and Simpson have taken that approach to a whole new level. From defending questionable actions or plays by a Canuck,  the obvious anxiousness to see the Canucks beat the Blackhawks and the never ending adoration for anyone or anything wearing a Canucks jersey.

I say this, not to bash the Canucks because they are a fine, well coached and well run hockey club with a solid organizational structure in place. These observations are nothing new as the dynamic duo have had trouble hiding their affection in the past. How Hughson and Simpson get away with this baffles me and takes away from what is generally the finest hockey telecast in the world. Being a neutral and unbiased partner is how all games should be called and covered by any play by play team on a national station like CBC, TSN, NCB and Versus;  I can understand those rules being bent by those who work in a particular market and are hired to strictly cover that specific hockey club.  Anyone who remembers the tandem Fred Cusick and Derek Sanderson covering the Boston Bruins throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s can certainly recall them being as pro Bruin as you can get,  Joe Bowen follows similar lines covering the Maple Leafs or even the 6th  man of the ice for the Senators Dean Brown in Ottawa since the Senators joined the National Hockey League. I should also point out Ian Mendes in Ottawa who is better known to many as “Ian Sensdes” for his above and beyond coverage of his beloved Senators.

If CBC wants to maintain its standard of coverage and professionalism with his “Hockey Night in Canada” brand someone should take a stroll down to the booth and have a little chat with their employees prior to game time. Weather it is the Vancouver Canucks hosting the Nashville Predators or the Anaheim Ducks taking on the Minnesota Wild, CBC should be providing commentary that is a little less with the pom-poms and more with the play by play.

Dubs' Tidbit - Two other events kick off today and tomorrow, first the 2011 Men's IIHF World Hockey Championships and the Royal Bank Cup. Both provide some great and entertaining action for any hockey fan to enjoy.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

If there is one thing I look forward to year in, year out, it is the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and even hockey fan with their head properly screwed on straight would agree it is the best two weeks of the year to be a fan. Multiple games on TV almost every night (with overtime if we are lucky) and if you are lucky the team you eat-sleep-breathe is one of the 16 teams left to chase the mug Lord Stanley decided to donate to the National Hockey League so many years ago.
Nothing against rounds two, three and of course four,  but the first round always takes the cake and always will. This year we had some interesting stories lines take place and unfold, making the second round just as, if not more compelling. How far will Ovechken and the Capitals go? Are the Predators the Rodney Dangerfield team of the NHL? or will Guy Boucher's magic in Tampa continue....and what's the deal with the Canucks anyways? We could go on and on but in the end the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs are already shaping up well in two ways....some great action every night and we will see a new Champion come June. Can't wait.

No Pain - No Gain

As the NHL playoffs are on the cusp of starting the second round there are a few ongoing and over played stories that need to take a backseat to the games taking place on the ice.

First foremost, the over analyzing of any bodycheck that is deemed to be dirty or as the politically correct world calls them “head shots”. While I do support safety amongst the players and even more so players respecting one another, there needs to be a refresher in the fact hockey (especially at the professional level) is a contact sport and from time to time players will get injured. It is an aspect of the game that those who play it are well aware and in turn are taught to protect themselves on the ice at all times.  

Much like in Football when a quarterback is hammered by a linebacker on a blindside sack, a catcher in baseball takes a foul ball off the shoulder or a basketball player takes a hard tumble while driving the paint, or a race car driver who gets clipped coming around the corner, you are going to have players injured during a course of a hockey game. With the science of sports medicine being taken to new levels on almost a daily basis, we have learned a great deal about the affects of injuries of all athletes long term; It is this type of research which will only enhance and improve how all sports are played and taught moving forward. This not only will benefit the athlete but it will benefit the world of sports itself, this is something which needs to be embraced, yet respecting the nature of how each sport is played.

On almost a nightly basis I watch a panel of “experts” analyze another bodycheck that has been placed under a microscope and broken down frame by frame. It is almost as compelling as watching the JFK assassination footage for the umpteenth time.  This trend seems leave out one glaring omission, what could the injured player done to protect themselves? Did they turn their back to the play in the danger zone? Were they skating with their head down? Were they “admiring” a pass or watching the play instead of protecting themselves? This is not an angle to justify any dirty hits or actions that have and/or will take place, it is one that often gets misplaced when this topic is discussed.

With the game of hockey changing following the lockout of 2004-05, we have seen the style of hockey and how it is played today taking a different look compared to the past. With so much emphasis played on speed and opening up the game throughout all of the zones, we are seeing some tremendously skilled athletes perform at higher level and pace year in  and year out. With the “clutch and grab” element being phased out by the NHL amongst many other tactics used in the past that would give even the most offensively challenged teams a chance to compete with the elite. These were the types of antics that drove a player like Mario Lemieux to retire and call the NHL a “garage league”. While Mario and others were tired of what the game had become, I wonder if any of them saw what the new rules would bring to light moving forward, an excellent example of this being two of his employees Sidney Crosby and Matt Cooke.

The real question is, how does the NHL find and manage a happy medium of maintain physical play as it should, while studying and defining the grey areas that continue to eat up air time and take away from how the game is being played.  The player needs to be accountable for their actions on both sides of the coin when they engage into every night, just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Welcome to Chip N Chase Hockey

Greetings friends....
This is just a quick post as Chip N Chase hits the world wide web. This blog will tackle all sorts of topics and issues related to the best game in the world. No stone will go unturned and everyone should keep their heads up.
This is the best time of year to be a hockey fan and it is the perfect time to get things rolling here at Chip N Chase. Weather it is talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs or the wild adventures of the world of minor hockey, we will have you covered.
Thanks for checking us out and keep your stick on the ice.
Going low stick side.