RIP Tony Esposito

Tony Esposito, the pioneering Hall of Fame goaltender who played almost his entire 16-year career with the Chicago Blackhawks, has died following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer, the team announced Tuesday. He was 78. Esposito debuted with Montreal during the 1968-69 season and appeared in 13 games. He was then left unprotected with the Canadiens deep in goalies and taken by the Blackhawks in an intraleague draft for $25,000, an investment that paid immediate dividends for a team that finished last in its division. Esposito helped lead the Blackhawks to first place, showcasing his butterfly style to post a 2.17 goals-against average and 15 shutouts, still a modern record for an NHL goalie. He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year as well as the Vezina Trophy given to the top goaltender. He also won the Vezina in 1972 and 1974.

Esposito was from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, just across the St. Mary’s River from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and he helped Michigan Tech to an NCAA championship in 1965. His older brother, Phil, was a star in his own right, a Hall of Fame center who played 18 seasons in the NHL. The younger Esposito’s first NHL start was Dec. 5, 1958, against Boston — and his brother. Phil Esposito scored twice on his younger brother, but Tony made 33 saves and the game ended 2-2.

Esposito helped lead Chicago to the playoffs in 14 seasons. The Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1971 and 1973, losing each time to his former team, Montreal. He is Chicago’s career leader with 418 wins and 74 shutouts. His overall record of 423-306-151 ranks 10th in league history. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988, joining his brother. The Blackhawks retired Esposito’s No. 35 on Nov. 20, 1988, and paid tribute to him again on March 19, 2008. He was named a team ambassador in a pregame ceremony attended by franchise icons and former teammates Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita. In 2017, he was selected by the league as one of the “100 Greatest Players in NHL History.”

Esposito is survived by his wife Marilyn, sons Mark and Jason, and grandchildren Lauren and Kamryn. His brother, Phil, is 79 and does radio work for the Tampa Bay Lightning, which he helped found.

Tampa Bay Lightning Win 2021 Stanley Cup

The Tampa Bay Lightning are back-to-back Stanley Cup champions after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in Game 5 on Wednesday night.  They are the second team of the salary cap era to repeat, joining the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins, though salary cap issues could make some parts of the team look different next season. Still, the Lightning will have top scorers in Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos, a top defenseman in Victor Hedman and a great goaltender in Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning won their 2020 championship in a bubble environment in Edmonton last fall, but this time, they got to celebrate in front of their fans at Amalie Arena. The Lightning are the first NHL team to clinch a Stanley Cup title at home since the Chicago Blackhawks did it in 2015 against Tampa Bay.

Canadiens Win The Western Conference Finals

I haven’t been excited for the NHL in a while. Many years ago (Jesus H. Christ, has it it been over 20 years now) I slowly got into ice hockey and watched a few games every month on ESPN. I remember watching a few episodes of a program on the channel in which they would highlight a team each episode and I sat and watched them during the summer. The program ended just before the October NHL season premier and I was excited for watching some games. That was back in the 2000-01 season and I must have watched a handful of games before the playoffs. Watching an emotional Ray Bourque being handed the Stanley Cup straight from Colorado Avalance captain, breaking tradition, sealed it for me. I was emotionally entangled.

Now though my team is the Ottawa Senators, I can get behind any Canadian side winning the toughest team competition/trophy that there is to win. I don’t mind as long as a Canadian side wins. It’s their game and they invented the sport as we know it and the rules and they have the maximum number of players in the league, despite only having 7 teams in the NHL. As the years progressed I started watching less and less games and in the past 10 years I have only watched highlights once in a while but I try to keep up with the playoffs.

This season the most storied franchise in the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens, have finally reached the Stanley Cup finals after 28 years. With an overtime goal in Game 6, the Canadiens sealed a meeting with either the Tampa Bay Lightning or the New York Islanders, who will play their series-deciding Game 7 on Friday. As well, for the first time in Montreal’s 103 year history, the club won the Clarence Campbell Bowl, traditionally given to the winner of the Western Conference champions. This will be the Canadiens’ 35th trip to the Stanley Cup Final, which begins on Monday.

They were seen as a lightweight team before the season began and barely made it to the finals. Dare Montrealers dream to win?

RIP Dale Hawerchuck

Dale Hawerchuk (April 4, 1963 – August 18, 2020) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player and coach. He was 57 years old. Hawerchuk played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 16 seasons as a member of the Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers. He won the NHL’s Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1982 and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility in 2001. Hawerchuk served as the head coach of the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League from 2010 to 2019.

Over a two-year run, Hawerchuk collected 286 points in 144 regular-season games, two Memorial Cups, CHL Player of the Year, Memorial Cup MVP and QMJHL playoff MVP. The Jets drafted the can’t-miss Toronto native first overall in 1981. Hawerchuk infamously inked his contract at the corner of Portage and Main in downtown Winnipeg after GM John Ferguson had him delivered in a Brinks truck, marking a rebirth of the franchise in the NHL.

Hawerchuk posted 100 or more points in six of his first seven seasons in the NHL, including five straight from 1983-88. From his debut in 1981 until 1993-94, Hawerchuk was second league-wide in points (1,298 ) only to Gretzky (2,157), topping Lemieux (1,211), Paul Coffey (1,246) and Mark Messier (1,220). Hawerchuk was the Jets’ captain for six seasons, then wore the ‘A’ in Buffalo for the following five. Hawerchuk is widely considered one of the best players ever to not win a Stanley Cup. The closest he got – the only time his team ever advanced past the second round – was the 1997 Stanley Cup Final with the Philadelphia Flyers, the last games he played before retiring at the age of 34 due to a degenerative hip problem.

His Jets just never had enough to sneak past the Smythe Division stalwarts in Edmonton and Calgary. On the international stage, Hawerchuk wrote a different story. Tasked with coaching Canada in the 1987 Canada Cup, Keenan learned his lesson from betting against Hawerchuk in the 1980 Memorial Cup. He was named head coach of the OHL’s Barrie Colts in 2010, where he posted five 40-plus win campaigns over nine seasons. In 2019, Hawerchuk announced he would be taking a leave of absence from the Colts for health reasons, which was later revealed to be stomach cancer. Hawerchuk completed a course of chemotherapy in April 2020, but died on August 18, 2020. Hawerchuk is survived by his wife, Crystal, and children Eric, Ben and Alexis.

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Stanley Cup playoffs are set to begin play Wednesday.

In the East, the Tampa Bay Lightning have to be the favorites after tying the Detroit Red Wings’ regular-season wins record set during the 1995-96 season. But seven really good hockey clubs are aiming for the Bolts.

In the West, Calgary has been at the top of the standings for the final third of the season, but the Flames aren’t a must-bet favorite like Tampa in the East. Winnipeg, Nashville and Vegas have been up and down but could all tear apart the West with a month of stellar play.

RIP Ray Emery

Former NHL goaltender Ray Emery drowned while swimming in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, on Sunday. He was 35. According to the Hamilton Police Department, Emery was reported missing just after 6 a.m. Sunday in Hamilton Harbour, which is on the western tip of Lake Ontario. His body was recovered in proximity to where he was last seen later in the afternoon, police said. The cause of death will be confirmed following an examination.

“They went out for a swim, and unfortunately, he did not emerge after diving in,” police Inspector Marty Schulenberg told The Hamilton Spectator. “We responded along with Hamilton Fire and EMS. Unfortunately, our efforts on the water and in the area just around the piers were met with negative results.”

Emery was an Ottawa Senators fourth-round draft pick in 2001. Over 11 NHL seasons, he played for the Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks. Nicknamed “Razor” for his aggressive style, Emery helped the Senators to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007 and won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013 as a backup to Corey Crawford. Emery last played in the NHL in the 2014-15 season for the Flyers, though he played one more professional season in the American Hockey League and in Germany’s DEL. He had a career NHL record of 145-86-28 with 16 shutouts and a 2.70 goals-against average.

Emery battled avascular necrosis, the same serious hip ailment that ended two-sport star Bo Jackson’s career. Emery played in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game Saturday night in Hamilton. Emery dealt with off-ice problems throughout his career, including an incident of road rage, assault of a trainer in Russia and behavior that led to him being sent home from Ottawa’s training camp. Emery spent a total of seven seasons in the Senators organization. With Ottawa, he sometimes found himself in hot water, including the day he missed a team flight. Another time he fought his pal, Brian McGrattan, during practice.

Tragedy For Humboldt

Fifteen people are dead after a collision on Friday between a Saskatchewan junior hockey team’s bus and a tractor-trailer in rural Saskatchewan. On Friday afternoon, the Broncos junior hockey team of Humboldt, Sask., were en route to a playoff game in Nipawin. Twenty-nine people were on board the team bus. At the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335, about 300 kilometres north of Regina, the bus collided with a tractor-trailer hauling peat moss. Both vehicles were obliterated by the impact. A 16-year-old player was among the dead, which included the coach, assistant coach, bus driver and a team announcer. The tractor-trailer driver survived. A dozen survivors are still in a Saskatoon hospital and four remain in critical condition.

The 15 people killed in the crash included many young players, their coach, a play-by-play radio announcer, an 18-year-old stats-keeper and a bus driver. The Saskatchewan Health Authority says four others are in serious condition and four patients are stable. Goalie Parker Tobin was killed and defenceman Xavier Labelle is alive, not the other way around, as originally reported. A fundraising campaign for the survivors and victims’ families has become GoFundMe’s most successful Canadian fundraiser ever, raising more than $6-million by Monday evening.

RIP Gordie Howe

Gordie Howe, the most legendary name in the history of professional hockey, died on Friday morning. He was 88. Known simply as “Mr. Hockey,” Howe played 26 seasons in the NHL and six seasons in the World Hockey Association. He’s the all-time leader in games played in the NHL with 1,767. He’s second in career goals (801) and fourth in career points (1,850). He won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, and was a 23-time All-Star selection. Howe suffered a serious stroke in October 2014. The hockey legend later underwent stem cell treatment in Mexico and his family saw significant improvement in him – enough that he was well enough to attend a dinner in his honor back in his hometown Sasktoon in February 2015. But he battled dementia, according to his son, Murray Howe.

Making his NHL debut for Detroit on Oct. 16, 1946, against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Howe played 32 professional hockey seasons, more than any other man. Howe was famous for his brute strength and toughness, combined with an unparalleled goal-scoring ability. He was also famous for his longevity, having played for the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80 at age 52 – the only NHL player to have played in five different decades. Another part of that longevity: Having the most points by a father/son combo in NHL history, scoring 2,592 with son Mark Howe. He won the Hart Trophy six times as NHL MVP, and won six Art Ross trophies as its leading scorer. Howe was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

Howe spent most of his career with the Detroit Red Wings, winning the Stanley Cup four times. He was in the top 10 of scorers for 21 consecutive years and was named Most Valuable Player six times, before finally retiring in 1980. He made his debut in 1946, played 26 NHL and six World Hockey Association seasons and held many of the scoring records until the rise of fellow Canadian-born legend Wayne Gretzky. Howe retired in 1971 but made a comeback with the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80 before finally quitting at 52, making him the only player whose career spanned five decades. When the NHL launched its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, Howe was the first recipient. Some recalled Howe’s tremendous physical presence. But although he was said to have inaugurated the “Gordie Howe hat trick” – a goal, an assist and a penalty for fighting in the same game – he only did it himself once. And after a particularly bruising treatment of opponent Lou Fontinato in 1959, most chose not to challenge him.

Howe was in the crowd with other hockey heroes like Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier when Canada defeated the United States to win the gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He also carried the Olympic flame in the Games torch relay. Howe met his wife, Colleen, at a bowling alley when she was 17 years old, and they were married four years later on April 15, 1953. Colleen Howe was one of the founders of the Detroit Junior Red Wings and represented both Gordie and Mark financially during their careers. She died in 2009 at age 76 after a long battle with Pick’s disease.

Canada Wins World Ice Hockey Championship

Connor McDavid’s first goal of the world hockey championship proved to be golden. McDavid’s goal in the first period stood as the winner as Canada successfully defended its world championship title with a 2-0 win over Finland in the tournament final. The 19-year-old Edmonton Oilers centre had registered eight assists in the first nine games of the tournament, but was one of just two Canadian forwards not to have recorded a goal coming into the gold-medal game. McDavid ended his drought at the 11:24 mark of the first period, driving to the net and deking out sprawling Finnish netminder Mikko Koskinen. Matt Duchene added an empty-net goal with one second left on the clock to seal the win.

Khaira Pride of Punjabi-Canadian Hockey Fans

Jujhar “J. J.” Khaira (born August 13, 1994) is a Canadian professional ice hockey Center currently playing for the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League (NHL). Khaira was drafted 63rd overall by the Oilers in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Khaira is just the third Punjabi player to appear in the NHL, after making his NHL debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins on November 28, 2015, he also became the third player of South Asian descent to play in the NHL, after Robin Bawa, and Manny Malhotra.

After two seasons in the British Columbia Hockey League with the Prince George Spruce Kings Khaira and after he was drafted by the Oilers, Khaira committed to play collegiate hockey with Michigan Tech of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. At the completion of his freshman season in 2012–13 with Huskies, Khaira left college to pursue a major junior career closer to home in the Western Hockey League with the Everett Silvertips. On August 7, 2013, he was signed to a three-year entry-level contract with the Edmonton Oilers. In the following 2013–14 season, Khaira posted 43 points in 59 games with the Silvertips. At the elimination in first-round of the post-season, Khaira then made his professional debut with the Oilers AHL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons, joining the club for their post-season run.

He suited up for the Oilers playing on a line with Anton Lander and Matt Hendricks. Robin Bawa and Manny Malhotra are the other two Punjabi players to have played in the NHL. Bawa played 61 games in four seasons, including 42 with the 1992-93 San Jose Sharks. Malhotra had a storied 991-game career and is currently a free agent.

Dupuis Unable To Play Hockey Due To Blood Clots

Sad news to restart posting about hockey after such a long gap.

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis will no longer play hockey because of a medical condition related to blood clots, Dupuis and the Penguins announced Tuesday. Dupuis felt pain in his chest during a Dec. 1 game against the San Jose Sharks, one of several games he either left early or did not play this season for precautionary reasons. He was cleared and returned to play on back-to-back nights against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks last weekend but said he was already considering retirement. Dupuis was playing this season taking blood thinners. He was diagnosed with blood clots in January 2014 shortly after sustaining torn ligaments in his knee and missed the remainder of the 2014-15 season after a blood clot in his lung was discovered in November. He was cleared to work out and take contact in June 2015.

Dupuis spoke about the aftermath of coming out of the game against the Sharks and the mental toll the health concerns took. The Penguins will place Dupuis, 36, on long-term injured reserve and continue to pay his salary. He is in the third year of a four-year contract with an average annual salary of $3.75 million. Dupuis made the NHL as an undrafted player, scoring a goal in his first game for the Minnesota Wild on April 2, 2001. He became a regular with the Wild over the following four-plus seasons, scoring 20 goals and 48 points during the 2002-03 season, when Minnesota reached the Western Conference Final. Dupuis was traded twice during the 2006-07 season, from the Wild to the New York Rangers, and after six games from the Rangers to the Atlanta Thrashers.

Dupuis played 79 games with the Thrashers before he was dealt again prior to the 2008 NHL Trade Deadline, this time to the Penguins in a trade that also involved forward Marian Hossa. Dupuis helped Pittsburgh reach the 2008 Stanley Cup Final, where it lost in six games to the Detroit Red Wings, and win the Stanley Cup in 2009 in a seven-game series against Detroit. A frequent linemate of Sidney Crosby during his time with the Penguins, Dupuis set NHL career highs in 2011-12 with 25 goals and 59 points. He averaged 18 goals and 40 points in his first five full seasons in Pittsburgh before his final three seasons were curtailed by injuries and the blood clots. Dupuis finishes with 190 goals and 409 points in 871 regular-season games, and 19 goals and 44 points in 97 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Marty St.Louis Retires From Active Hockey

One of my favourite players just hung up his skates for the final time. Martin St. Louis on Thursday announced his retirement from the NHL after 16 season. St. Louis, who turned 40 on June 18, had 21 goals and 54 points in 74 games with the New York Rangers last season. “I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride,” St. Louis said in a statement released by the Rangers. “I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years. “I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents.”

St. Louis had 391 goals and 1,033 points in 1,134 regular-season games. Prior to spending the past season-plus with the Rangers, St. Louis played parts of 13 seasons with the Lightning (2000-2014) and 69 games with the Calgary Flames (1998-2000). The Flames took a chance on the 5-foot-8, 180-pound sniper by signing him to a contract on Feb. 18, 1998. He quickly became an inspiration to undersized and undrafted players looking to one day make an impact in the NHL. St. Louis came to the Rangers in a midseason trade with the Lightning in March 2014. The move made sense since he lives in Connecticut and had always relished the opportunity to play for the Rangers. After finishing the 2014-15 regular season with his lowest point total since 2001-02, St. Louis had a goal and seven points in 19 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He became an unrestricted free agent July 1. The New York Post reported last month that the Rangers didn’t intend to bring him back for his expected salary-cap charge for 2015-16; St. Louis had just finished a four-year contract with an average cap charge of $5.625 million, according to war-on-ice.com. St. Louis averaged 16:30 of ice time during the playoffs. The Rangers lost to the Lightning in seven games in the 2015 Eastern Conference Final. St. Louis helped the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 and scored his 1,000th NHL point last season. One of the more memorable moments of the 2014 playoffs took place when St. Louis scored in a 3-1 Game 6 victory in the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden three days day after his mother, France, died of a heart attack at the age of 63. As replays of the goal were shown on the center-ice scoreboard, the MSG crowd began chanting, “Marty! Marty!” The emotional moment occurred on Mother’s Day, and served as a springboard for the Rangers to reach the Stanley Cup.

St. Louis played in seven NHL All-Star Games and was named All NHL First Team once and Second Team four times. He won the Art Ross Trophy as the League’s leading scorer (2003-04 and 2012-13) twice (2004, 2013) and the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded for sportsmanship and gentlemanly play combined with a high standard of playing ability, on three occasions (2010, 2011, 2013).

What Game/Sport Would You Like To Redesign?

What Game/Sport Would You Like to Redesign?

I know the original prompt says just game but I am adding sport to it. Alright, so currently there are only sports that I watch and care for ; football and ice hockey (or soccer & hockey as N.Americans call it). I still have a passing interest in tennis but not enough to sit and watch games being played either recorded or live. I just don’t feel like I have the time or patience to do so.

So football : I’d like to being a change in how substitutes are done. 1) no restrictions on how many substitutes are allowed per game and b) players can have multiple shifts like they have in hockey. I feel that this way top players won’t get too tired or exhausted and can still contribute to the end and critical moments of the game without the fear of being overplayed & exhausted. And also make it mandatory to review contentious goal lines, penalties & penalties in the matches. So many games we have a team being robbed of points or even losing because the referee and/or linesman got the decision wrong or did not see it properly. They are human, bring technology to help them make the right call.

Right, now onto hockey :  fighting – get rid of it. Seriously how is this nonsense still tolerated in a classy sport like hockey? It is ridiculous! Also bad hits that can cause serious damage to a player who gets badly injured and even have terrible concussions which can end his career way too early. Make it safer for the talents to shine. Also increase the size of the ice rink and add a player or two. I could be more fun. I would also make the goal size bigger but I might be hunted down by Mounties and thrown in a jail to rot for the rest of my life.

So that’s my two cents worth of opinions on the two sports that I love.

Prompt from The Learning Network from The New York Times

The 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Begins

Or rather it starts on the 15th of April with the 16 teams who have qualified looking for the ultimate glory on ice. Thi season 5 Canadian teams have made it to the playoffs, finally having enough teams to account for the game usually dominated in numbers by Canadian players. Calgary, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa qualified for the playoffs while Edmonton & Toronto sit on the sidelines.

As usual I will be supporting my team the Ottawa Senators and if they get beaten and the Jets are still in it I will be screaming for Winnipeg. Canadian teams all the way. I haven’t watched any live games since 2013 and haven’t even followed the league games this season at all but I will be keeping an eye on the playoffs. GO SENS GO!