A recent poll done by Ipsos Reid shows 46% of Saskatchewan residents feel their local hockey rinks/arenas are in need of repairs with bleachers being one of the main concerns.  With numbers like that, you would think communities would jump on the chance to win $100,000 dollars and runner up sums of $25,000.  

The winning community also hosts an NHL pre-season game and Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.  However, a quick scan of CBC and Kraft's Hockeyville competition website shows only ten communities have completed entries, with sixteen still awaiting completion.  It doesn't take a big effort to include your town, I got La Ronge's Mel Heglund Uniplex entered in about 15 minutes.  All you have to do is upload a picture and write a quick story.

Clearly, to win it takes considerably more work.  With time winding down until the deadline for entries communities who don't have a head start will be hard pressed to succeed, but it's far from impossible.  Some creativity over the weekend can go a long way in helping a community on to the next stage.  Phoenix Coyotes Captain Shane Doan is the 2012 NHL Ambassador for the competition.  He feels it should be a no brainer for communities to get in on the action.  "As a community, the prize is so much and the application is so simple," says Doan, "It's such an opportunity to just get the chance to really improve the centre of your town, of your community, of your city and your area."

Doan took the time Thursday to talk about the importance of Minor hockey in his life and what the money from an application could go towards.   

NHL Social Media


I thought this was interesting and worth sharing.  It's a breakdown of the people following NHL teams on twitter.  
NHL Fans on Twitter

[Via Coyle Media]

Do you follow your favourite teams on twitter?  Do you follow any SJHL teams on twitter?  You can find a list of SJHL teams on Twitter along with the members of the SJHL Media here or a list of NHL teams here.


Super Joe


You know Joe Sakic is an awesome hockey player, now observe.
What a great reaction, "did it go in?"  I love that he does a round of high-five's with the fans.  Super Joe just keeps on being... well, super.

This was one of the most talked about deals of deadline day, other than Richards-Watch.  The Avalanche trading a first round pick and a second to Washington for the RFA rights to  Semyon Varlamov.

This deal has been universally criticized by fans and media and this could herald the end of the road for Greg Sherman as GM of the Avalanche.  Leading up to the open market, the Avs were expected to sign Tomas Vokoun to a deal and it made a lot of sense, the two teams were pretty much made for each other.  I think with Vokoun in net, the Avs would have challenged for a playoff spot.  They may not have made it, but they would have been legitimate again.

Instead, it looks like the Avalanche bailed very quickly on Vokoun, we'll likely never know the reason.  They ended up trading for the rights to a player that wasn't going to be signing in Washington and the Caps were going to get nothing for.  The best comparison I can provide is the Jaroslav Halak deal that sent him from the Canadiens to the St. Louis Blues.  Halak led the Habs to the Eastern Conference Final and was showing he can be a great goalie.  The Blues sent Lars Eller (solid prospect) and Ian Schultz (fresh out of Junior) to Montreal for Halak.  In this case, the Avalanche traded what could be a lottery pick next season if Varlamov doesn't pan out for a goalie that has won a single playoff series and is already showing signs of having groin problems, though there are reports that his injury was mishandled in Washington.

The Avalanche grossly overpaid for Varlamov's services and it's just the latest in a series of suspect moves by GM Greg Sherman.  At the draft, Sherman sent defenceman John Michael Liles to Toronto for Boston's 2012 second rounder. Not to mention the deal that sent Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and a second rounder for Eric Johnson, Jay McClement and a first rounder (Duncan Siemans).  The last trade there still has to run it's course, but in all of these situations, Sherman has been regarded as 'losing' the deal by the media and fans.

When the trade announcement of acquiring Varlamov has more comments on the team's facebook post than likes, there is a serious problem.  That rarely happens in social media.  When media outlets are laughing at the deal... there is something even worse.  My question, is how can so many people see something wrong with this deal once it's made, but nobody in the Avalanche's front office takes a second and says, "Wait a second...".  It confuses me greatly.

Now, all ranting aside, the Avalanche did get a good goaltender, and this deal could very well work out just fine and everything will be hunky-dory in Avs-land.  I really like Varlamov as a goalie and was hoping the Avalanche would pick him up.  I think if he can stay healthy, there's a lot of potential for him to be an elite goalie.  There are a lot of 'ifs' though.  

One thing I would hope the Avalanche are looking in to is signing on a full time goalie coach to work with Varlamov and other eventual goalies in the system.  They took a good step in that direction signing J.S. Giguere to a two year deal, presumably to back up Varlamov or help out if things go sideways.

Greg Sherman is certainly rolling the dice with his draft picks in this situation, and if Varlamov tanks this season, it could be one of the last major moves he makes as an NHL GM.  

Guess we'll find out in October.


Unlimited Power


I found this picture of Lou Lamoriello welcoming Adam Larsson to the Devils on Puck Daddy (Yahoo Sports Hockey Blog).
My question to you is, do you see a certain resemblance here?
It's certainly looking to me like getting tossed down a giant shaft in the Death Star didn't quite finish the Emperor off.  Now he's quite content to dominate the world of hockey with a different masked Jedi at his side.  
I'll save the I told you so for when he blasts Gary Bettman with Force Lightning.

The Jets Will Feature a New Look in 2011
Jason McMaster, a former Ice Wolves trainer has a rare opportunity this off season.

He's getting the Winnipeg Jets ready for their first season in The Peg after arriving from Atlanta.  McMaster is the new Head Equipment Manager for the reborn Manitoban franchise, after spending last season with the LA Kings as an assistant.

McMaster's journey from the Junior-A ranks shows us the importance leaving good working relationships as you change jobs.  Before his stint in California, Jason was the equipment manager with the AHL's Manitoba Moose, the team True North Sports and Entertainment owned in Winnipeg as a precursor to the NHL's return.  When the deal was finalized with the then Atlanta Thrashers heading North, McMaster got the call from TNSE to come back as the head manager.

The new team couldn't be better for McMaster who moved to Winnipeg around four years ago.  As Jason puts it, "To be with any team is exciting, but to be with a place I consider home and a brand new team is an experience not too many people get."

As for the next couple of months, McMaster says there is a lot of ordering to be done and cosmetic changes to make in the dressing room the Jets will call home.  Logos need to be replaced, colours need to be changed and all this in time for the players to begin training camp.  On the subject of what the team is going to look like when it dons the jerseys for the first time, McMaster knows what colours they will wear, but is still in the dark on the logo.

McMaster offers some advice for trainers wanting to work their way towards the NHL rinks.  "Whatever team you're with, that's the most important team to you, and work hard.  It's all about work ethic and trying to get better.  Talk with other equipment guys around different leagues and just asking advice on how you fix this or do that or what would you do, and whenever you do get that chance to move up, you just... learn.  Keep learning."

Good advice from a guy that now holds one of only 30 positions available in the World.

You can listen to my full interview with Jason McMaster on the here.  


AFP/Getty Images, Mike Stobe
You thought you were free from Rebecca Black references didn't you?  Wrong.  Starting with the NBA Draft.  This is the first time I've actually watched a bulk of the Draft, and I've got to say, the NHL's just seems to be more entertaining. 

Could it be because of my higher affinity for hockey?  Quite likely, but there are a few things the NHL does better than the NBA.

1. Most of the players expected to go in the first round of the NHL draft are there.  Heck a bunch of the guys expected to go in the second round are there.  While this results in a very disappointed player being at the draft sometimes, it's better than having 15 or 16 of the first rounders available (which is what they do in the NBA.)

2. In the NHL, trades are announced and the team that acquires the pick makes the announcement/selection.  In the NBA, not so.  The team that is trading the pick makes the selection as the trade is for the 'rights' to the player.  That makes for a situation where the player is up there wearing the ball cap for a team he'll never play for.

3. In the NHL, the team makes the announcement with the GM/President up there.  The player gets his ball cap and jersey, shakes hands with the team personnel merriment all around.  In the NBA, they get a ball cap and go shake hands with the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner depending on where they get selected.  

Naturally the AGM had to fall on the same night as Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.  I imagine it will be a very quick AGM or someone will have it on in the background and it will be a very long AGM.

I've heard there may be a couple of Ice Wolves items to be announced soon, so hopefully I can track down Coach Beatty to have a quick chat and see if anything has solidified.

Remember, season ticket holders are members of Northern Lights Hockey Development Inc so come out to the Wolves Den @ 7:00 tonight to get your update on the team and vote on the issues that come up.
For tonight's Stanley Cup Final; I picked the B's to win in Seven at the beginning of the series, and I'm standing by that.  However, I feel, like the trend has been in this series, first goal wins.  If Boston gets on the board early, Canuck fans will likely get restless and Luongo will start to feel some animosity directed at his crease.  On the other side, if Vancouver nets the first one, they could be off and running.

Impact Players tonight, aside from the goalies:

Bruins: David Krejci, Rich Peverley and Dennis Seidenberg
Canucks: The Sedins, Ryan Kesler, whoever ends up playing with Daniel and Henrik after the lineup shuffles.

No matter how it goes down, it should be a very entertaining game, much like the rest of the series.  

A new poll is up, what area do the Ice Wolves need to address this off season?

Enjoy Game 7!

Thanks to North Stars Play-by-Play man, Dan O'Connor for posting this Kijiji page on Twitter because it's all class.

This guy wants to go to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals really, really bad, and here are the offerings he is prepared to make for a ticket to the game:

NHL Realignment


Holy cow what a storm Stephen Brunt whipped up during Game 3 of the East Final.  First the ecstasy of the NHL returning to Winnipeg, then the frowny faces when Bob and Darren's sources on ATL --> WPG denied a done deal.  Then the all out media/twitter war with people picking sides between TSN and Sportsnet/Globe and Mail.  Then the partying got going on Portage and Main. Calm yourselves people!!  We've all been pretty certain TNSE was going to get the Thrashers and move 'em to Winnipeg, so it's not really an if but when.

That said, it will be a fantastic moment in Canada when the impossible seventh franchise returns reversing about a decade of Sunbelt expansion dogma for the NHL.  On that note, my heart goes out to the fans in Atlanta.  I know there are some very loyal and avid fans in the city and they deserve a lot of sympathy as they watch another team leaving.  They were let down by poor ownership and team management.

My thoughts on last night's (and today's I guess) gongshow?  There is a verbal agreement in place creating the proverbial done deal, but nobody has signed on the dotted line, hence the ease of denial.  So, in fact, every body is right.  It's all in the semantics, gotta love those semantics.  In my opinion, both outlets could have chosen their words more carefully as they seemed to do through the night and into today.

So, that opens up everybody's next two favourite items.  The Winnipeg _______ name and conference realignment.  As much as I would love to see the Jets back, it won't happen.  The ownership wants to distance itself from mediocrity while the NHL is happy to keep making money off Jets jersey sales. Likely the team will become the Manitoba Moose.  As my friend Alex pointed out last night, True North has put a lot into that Moose branding and would probably like to see it remain.  As Kelly pointed out today in the newsroom, it's amazing what including the entire province/state in a name can do for marketing a la Saskatchewan Roughriders.

So with all of that taken care of, lets take a look at realignment.  Fun pictures and colours included after the break.