Eric Perrin hold’s “Kanada-malja” (The canada-bucket) after winning the Finnish championship 2011-12. A true high light in his career. 

A lot would agree that NHL is the best hockey league we have today in the world, a league where most players want to be. On the other hand, it is not said that exactly every player would be happy to play there.

Many players have though found their fortune and happiness elsewhere than USA & Canada. Two players who have found their exclusive existence in the city Jyväskylä, Finland are Eric Perrin and Ramzi Abid. Not sure if it is the final destination in their hockey lives but they are towards the end of their careers, be sure though that they have still a lot to give.

Three real attempts Perrin made to make a career in NHL, in Tampa Bay lightning and Atlanta Thrashers. Even if he did quite decent numbers during those days there, the destiny wanted something else. Through Avangard Omsk in Russia he came back to the club JYP in Jyväskylä, where he played a season 2002-03. Before that he tried is luck in Jokerit Helsinki, Ässät Pori and HPK Hämeenlinna. What does that tell? Obviously he was not done with Finland the first round, he just had to come back…and be one of the players that made JYP to winners of SM-liiga the year 2011-12.

His countryman Ramzi Abid from Montréal, Quebec had four attempts to make an NHL career, in Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Atlanta Thrashers and Nashville Predators. After that he tried some years in Switzerland, Russia, Sweden and Austria before his and Perrin’s paths crossed in Finland.

They are playing in a team I call myself “the termites” even if their logo is supposed to be a hurricane. Because they have such a game style that makes them almost literarily eat up their opponents. Extremely patient in the attacking zone and they defend their own goal almost better than any paranoid guard can protect an international airport from terror attacks these days. Perrin and Abid are the leading “termites” of course in this nest called JYP.

I have asked myself why aren’t they playing in NHL, the best league in the world? Of course it is not easy to keep a place for anyone, but it is also that players are also humans, thinking such that they do also realize where they are most happy and sometimes or a lot of times that place is somewhere else.

A big reason to come to Jyväskylä and JYP is just to play hockey, a game that these guys love very much. The Interview with Perrin where he explains in English his feelings about his hockey life starts  1:25 min into the clip.Kind of funny video with Finnish rap music.

 

Last year JYP were defeated by Ässät, Pori, the champions in the semis. But the team with Perrin and Abid is gaining new strength and looking forward to a new season.

Their European Trophy tour so far has begun in a very pleasant way: 2 games- 2 victories. Next victim for the “termites” (my own nickname for them) is Slovan Bratislava, Slovakia on Thursday. It is after all a small surprise that they are the best Finnish team, but I forgot for a while that they are a pain in –beep – to face and very difficult to beat.

I have seen Perrin more than Abid, but I can tell that they are both very competent players on this level and they will sure make the hockey life to a hell for the other team defenders and goalies. Perhaps they are not skilled with the hook like any Ovechkin but they are deadly effective when they got an opportunity to score…. or bite as a happy…nasty…termite.

The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.

 

/Arto Palovaara, from Arena Kalevala, Betsafe 

Connecting the worldwide hockey family together by telling stories from Finnish Liiga and national teams 

 

 

The Euro trophy tournament will begin next week. 32 teams will compete about the Et-cup. Last year the SHL-team Luleå Hockey won after defeating their league-rivals from Karlstad, Färjestad BK.

A lot of hockey leaders around Europe have the idea to let it grow to a Champions league tournament for hockey teams, which is a splendid idea I think! Exactly what hockey as sport need at this moment to find new interesting competitions and I’ll support that tournament in every aspect!

I’ll be covering the Finnish teams and their ET-adventure because I am writing about SM-liiga and national teams for Betsafe and my blog “Arena Kalevala”.

Hockey need also touch new areas. There are continents still to explore where to bring new members and let our hockey family grow.

Connected to this I’d like to say further: something that crossed my mind after following the twitter update from the tournament called “Pitsiturnaus” in Rauma, Finland, including the teams Rauman Lukko, TPS Turku, Oulun Kärpät, Pori Ässät, SaiPa and Ilves Tampere. I didn’t see the games myself, because I had something else to do at the moment, but as I said I followed the twitter update from the teams who were involved in this tournament.  For the academic fact I can tell that Rauman Lukko won the tournament after defeating the SM-liiga champions from last season, the neighbors Pori Ässät 2-1.

Nice little tournament. A good warm-up before the season starts. The host did everything to make their visitors to enjoy the day with food and accomondation.  Hopefully “Pitsiturnaus” will last so long as I live, because I love hockey and hockey need these kinds of tournaments.

What made me a bit sad was that some other sport journalists – no mention the names because it is not necessary to hang out someone – wrote some awkward comments about the “Pitsi” tournament in Rauma because it is not big as Stanley cup for example.

All right if cover the NHL and write interesting articles also making daily interviews with the big guys. That’s fine. I love to read everything I am able about NHL and everything that happens there.

But unfortunately the tone of the comments about the “Pitsi” tournament were more like “hohoho, I am writing about NHL and that’s the only thing that counts and I am Mr. Big shot, I know everything…yada…yada…and I am too big for …yada..,yada.…”….

Let me get this straight, all right?

First of all and once more:

I love Stanley cup and NHL, that’s the cream of the cream. Nothing is bigger than Stanley cup. Well, perhaps the Olympics then when all the professionals are allowed to play and then the world cup with all the best players, after that comes world championship.

But every player can’t be like Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and Patrick Kane etc. Every other tournament beyond Stanley cup can’t be like Stanley cup. Nonetheless, we need these little tournaments like “Pitsiturnaus”, not only in Finland or Europe, even in Africa, Australia, South America, Asia.

Might sound unbelievable for many years but it is from these little tournaments and exhibition games around the world

……. the game of hockey grows. Like flowers on a huge and wide meadow.

Believe that these players that are way behind NHL, KHL etc. are fighting on the Ice and they do their absolute best in every situation, also that they have fun. They love also hockey as much as any other NHL-player or other pro player!

Hockey is not a game only for some exclusive bunch of people, it is everyone’s game and….every little tournament is much as important as Stanley cup or world cup are even if they are at the bottom of the pyramid.

I really hope that other continents outside of Europe and North America get support from the IIHF, NHL and KHL also from other pro leagues like SM-liiga to let the game grow by small tournaments here and there everywhere around the world.

By that also new members will be invited to the hockey family that it will be one-day a worldwide game for real.

I’d like to start a campaign for our mutual beloved game hockey by these hash tags #Ilovehockey and #hockeyiseveryonesgame on twitter.

Spread the word around to your friends, family and colleagues at your work and make a stand that our game is a game for everyone!

I let this speak for itself


/Arto Palovaara, from Arena Kalevala, Betsafe 

Connecting the worldwide hockey family closer to each other by telling stories from the Finnish SM-liiga and national team.

 


 

 

 

 

 

I always love when you can apply a hockey players name to a conversation.

 

 

I am not sure if anyone of you my dear American and Canadian readers have experienced the Nordic light during the summers that we have over this side of the planet.

It is just fantastic that there are such contrasts in the nature: From total winter darkness to total summer light.

There is still some hockey going on despite the summer time.

A lot of Boston Bruins and Chicago Black Hawk fans sitting on the needles and hope that their team will win. Wish both teams and fans good luck. May the best win!

I wrote my thoughts already at my main blog, and I can talk about it here as well. Why not? Or what the heck?

However, this is what I had in my mind:

Players are changing clubs the same way another change t-shirt. The “magic” around a trade is gone since a long time ago. A transfer these days are certainly not at the same level the trade that happened 1988. Yeah, you know whom I am talking about: the great one, Mister himself, when he moved from Edmonton to Los Angeles Kings.

Edmonton Oilers was my NHL team at that time, and still are even if I am not that hard core nowadays the way I was then. But you can imagine how I really felt when he decided to sign for the Kings. It took several months before I could let that go and move on somehow: Yeah, “somehow”.  Geez….

Well, I am not that totally indifferent about trades today. But it is not that huge that I’d shocked, shaken and disturbed. Life showed that it is not that bad if a player or several players choose to change from one team to another because they probably pay better or give them something else that they didn’t got from the club they wish to leave.

And my own coach experiences from the time when I was coach for a youth team in basketball (can you believe that I was coach? Well, that’s true) showed that the team has to run with those players that there is in one way or another and as coach I had to work with them, to make them believe that they really are better than they might think at the moment about them selves.

There is no other way and that’s the way it is, pure sport and life reality.

Furthermore, one player or a few players going away somewhere else is not the end of the world. If the case would be so after all, then it would be a good time to have an overlook at the organization and ask why it is so that exactly everything depends on one or two-three players?

But…. You know what?

Now I really wish you my dear reader a great midsummer holiday. We here in Scandinavia celebrate the midsummer evening on Friday.  Also I wish you a good week.

I am going to have a good time at the lake of Saimaa in Finland and hopefully catch some fish! And it will be visiting the sauna as well.

Greetings and see you soon!

/Arto Palovaara, from Arena Kalevala at Betsafe 

Connecting the worldwide hockey family closer to each other by telling stories from the Finnish SM-liiga and national teams. 

 

Source of picture: France24.com

The economic result from the last world championship that went in Finland & Sweden is on the table. While the Finnish hockey association were successful and earned several million euros, the Swedish side had a loss between 20-25 million SEK, which is pretty much -if only say 20 million – about 2 882 342,77 US dollar.

Perhaps for an NHL team organization or for anyone else it is not that much money really but a hockey association it is. I think it is just sad and I don’t wish that anyone.  Not sure how they will cover that up, but I hope actually that they will find something.

So, what to do? Should we skip the World championship in the future?

Well, first of all I think we have to be honest to our selves. For some of you it might sound just harsh, but if look our selves in the mirror: Hockey is not that global, as some people like to think that it is. It is just silly to compare a world known soccer star to…Ovechkin or Crosby. They don’t mean anything to a guy in Australia, China or South Africa. Perhaps there might be some odd fellow who is watching hockey from a flat screen that is hanging down from a branch somewhere in the outback’s or just sitting an awkward pub in Melbourne alone front of the TV with a pint of beer in his hands.

But mention the name Leo Messi you will notice that most people around the world will recognize that name.

With other words, there is a lot to do for the hockey family to achieve that fame level as the soccer or basketballs players have. Don’t get me wrong though, I think myself hockey is the best sport in the world and I really wish that it shall expand more, until that point that there is proper leagues all over the entire world. “We” are not just there yet. That’s fact and we have to face it.

Maybe it might be unnecessary to compare and in general it is. But it has to be said as well. Hockey is absolutely number 1 in Finland. In Sweden it is not despite that they have won a lot more Championships all time than Finland have. Furthermore, the Finnish fans are obviously prepared to pay the ticket fee, while in Sweden a lot of people wont.

I don’t know really how much people in USA and Canada care about World championship for national teams. Might depend whom am I asking? If not, it is reasonable because at the moment: there is nothing bigger or equal to the Stanley cup. That’s another fact.

So, perhaps we really have to look some alternative solutions for the national team tournaments where the absolute best players are involved? We have the Olympics and the World cup is back again soon. That’s something to build on I think.

Would it be a good idea to have World cup every year or every second year when it is not Olympics? Should only one country at the time arrange the tournament or should it be played in every country that is qualified in the tournament?

That’s some of the questions I throw out to everyone who knows better than I do.

Other questions I toss in the air to people with deeper insights than I have:

How to connect the worldwide hockey family closer to each other? How to expand the game to places where hockey is more or less unknown or at least very odd? Also at the same time keep up the good work in those countries where hockey is strong?

We have to remember that hockey is luxury for a lot of people nowadays, even in countries like Finland and Sweden. The equipment is too expensive for many. Which is pity. How to reach around that obstacle?

To the last:

I love myself national team tournaments, if it is World cup, World championship or whatever they are called. It’s a joy to hear the Swiss fans or other fans chanting before, during and after the games and feel the atmosphere from the surrounding. It’s a true hockey party.

And I’d like to experience hockey parties the rest of my life that everyone can join in. So there lays a great responsibility on people including us who are writing about hockey to invite those who are not or who might not have afford with it at the moment.

There’s something for the NHL, KHL and IIHF together with every other national hockey association to deal with and hopefully corporate better in the future somehow to make it happen.

/Arto Palovaara, from Arena Kalevala at Betsafe

Connecting the worldwide hockey family closer to each other by telling stories from the Finnish SM-liiga and national teams.

Ps. a reminder for us that hockey is not after all exactly everything, from my part, my condolences to the family of Kristians Perss. Perss who has been found in Daugava River, Latvia. Rest in peace Kristians Ds.

 

 

 

 

 

Shaun Heshka celebrating for Ässät 2012-13.  Source: MTV3 

There was a time when everyone thought that they’d never get to the playoffs. Ässät from Pori was deep down the bottom of SM-liiga table until January this year 2013. Suddenly something happen. Ässät won 14 games in a row during January and February. Going on like an unstoppable machine. Everyone was overwhelmed by their change and surprised so to say at least. Everyone said:

-Where did that lightning come from? The sky was clear for Christ sake!

Among the main reasons to this sudden success was that Ässät had found a good balance between the offensive and the defensive. Call that very good timing because they really needed to win. Everyone begun to work hard for each other in every game rest of the season. Also the goalie, Antti Raanta became literarily a wall.

One of the main pieces in this team Ässät during the last season was Shaun Hehska. Long time since I have ever seen anyone taking the command in the defense the way as he did. Not sure what to say really, but he was basically the chief, the sergeant, leading the team from behind and supporting the young guns Daniel Brodin and Joel Armia in their offensive work.

Hehska’s defensive qualities also offensive such made me personally think many times if he wasn’t a bit too good for SM-liiga.  Well, I don’t know really about that, so I let the scouts and agents discuss that part. But let me put it this way:

if I’d be a scout for an NHL team, I’d be sending reports about him straight to the GM (perhaps a NHL GM are reading this?)

“Hey, here’s a guy! Yeah, you know him, he’s been over here before, but he earn a new chance”.

But a KHL manager got him first. Shaun is moving on to AK Bars Kazan in Russia.

He played all the 60 games and 16 games in the playoffs. During the regular season he made 8 goals and 23 assists, which means 30 points.  1 goal and 7 assists during playoffs he did on the team Ässät’s way to the bucket.

I know, it’s not like Erik Karlsson numbers if talk about the points, but it’s not really about that, it was about the way he took charge for the defensive work with his attitude

“Guys, we’re going to make this and you’re doing exactly what I tell you to do”.

For his deeds this season he got the Pekka Rautakallio’s award for the best defense player in SM-liiga 2012-13. Well earned and deserved.  Congratulations chief Heshka! And good luck with your new steps in KHL.

Not: Shaun Hehska played some games for Phoenix Coyotes 2009-2010. He’s originally from Melville, Canada, and started his career in Melville Millionaires.

There are a lot of other awards of course but I will go through them later on. The names of the awards come from former players and functionaries who has done honorable work for Finnish ice hockey and hockey as sport in general.

/Arto Palovaara, from Arena Kalevala and Betsafe 

Connecting the worldwide hockey family closer to each other by telling stories from the Finnish SM-liiga and Finland’s national teams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mack – Senators

Elaine – Penguins

 

The Ottawa Senators are heading into the second round of the playoffs with tons of momentum. They beat the second seed Montreal Canadiens in game 5 with a commanding 6-1 victory to close out the series 4 to 1. The whole team contributed, but most of the help came from goaltender Craig Anderson. He kept them in it at times when it looked like the team was ready to give up. Habs talked a lot of smack during the series, especially after the antics of game 3 (line brawl and last minute timeout by coach of the year candidate, Paul MacLean), which I believe positively helped the Senators. Sens will be facing a scary Penguins team who have a whole lot of offensive firepower, though historically Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have not fared well while facing the Senators, with Crosby having his worst point total against the Senators, and Malkin having his fourth worst. Thomas Vokoun is starting the series out after Fleury had a string of bad starts. Both Penguin goaltenders are shaky, and both are beatable.

 

Record Going into the Playoffs

Sens: 25 – 17 – 6

Pens: 36 – 12 – 0

 

Last Second Round Appearance

Sens: The last time the Senators were in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs was in 2007, en route the finals. They has just beaten the young and energetic Penguins in the first round by a series score of 4 to 1 and moved on to bigger and better things (literally), the New Jersey Devils. They also won that series 4 to 1.

Pens: The Penguins haven’t been seen the Conference Semifinals since the Montreal Canadiens beat them in the 2009-2010 season

 

Injury Report

Sens: The Senators went all year with a depleted lineup, missing Karlsson, Spezza, Michalek, Cowen and Anderson all for extended parts of the 2013 campaign. Since coming back from the playoffs this young team has been very healthy, with the only player with an injury being Jason Spezza who is expected to be inserted into the lineup by game 3, the first game at home. The last time he played was January 27th, against the Penguins.

Pens: The Penguins are somehow the healthiest team in the world, with no players expected to miss the game due to injury. Crosby is still wearing a face shield from the jaw injury he sustained in April.

 

Keys to Winning

Sens:

1. The Senators must shut down Sidney Crosby in order to have any chance. Hit him hard, and hit him often. They’ll need to throw the whole team off their game and the way to do that is to go after Crosby.

2. Sens need to shoot every chance they get. Both goalies are shaky and if they can ruin the confidence of both goalies the Sens won’t have much trouble getting those pucks to the back of the net.

3. Don’t target Matt Cooke. Yes, he cut your best players Achilles tendon, but consistently going after him is a good way to lose the series.

4. Don’t be intimidated by all the 35+ talent on their roster. They’re very vulnerable right now, and the Sens are hot. This Penguins team is the slowest we’ve seen in years, and this Senators team is one of the fast. Skate circles around them greybeards!

Pens:

1. Start Tomas Vokun
It’s clear that the weakest link on this season’s Pittsburgh Penguins team is Marc Andre Fleury. The guy has let a lot of soft goals in this playoff season. The Penguins defense need to trust that their goalie is going to do his job. Right now that’s not happening. Vokun has come through to save a lot of games this season.

2.Let Malkin Loose
When the Pens treat Malkin like Crosby’s equal Malkin flourishes. He becomes a God-like player that even the opposing team admires. When the Pens treat Malkin like Crosby’s backup Malkin plays like Crosby’s backup. It’s almost like Malkin locks away his inner Hockey God so that Crosby can shine. To win this series the Pens need both Malkin and Crosby to get crazy and let loose. They both need to unleash the fire and passion they have within them. When their powers combine the Pens become unstoppable.

3.Rattle Coach Maclean
Coach Maclean’s greatest talent is keeping his players under control. Last series we saw the type of havoc the Sens can unleash upon the opposing team if needed. Maclean knows the proper time and place for an explosion. If you rattle Coach the team will feel it and will inevitably explode into firestorm of hurt before the right time. Thus causing the Sens to take one stupid penalty after another.

            

Prediction

Mack: The Sens are hot and the Pens just got by a young Islanders team. The series won’t be an easy one, and the Pens are the favourites which I think plays into the Sens hands. Series will go to 6, with the Sens just edging it out. Spezza will be a big reason, and provide a huge boost to the team.

Elaine: Every fiber of my being wants to say the Sens will win. I love Evgeni Malkin but I loathe the team he plays on. I dislike the Penguins so much the actual animal is no longer my favorite animal. Which is why it pains me to say the Penguins will win it in 5. It will be a hard fought battle. We will more than likely see multiple overtimes and plenty of fights. The Penguins want to prove that getting past the Islanders was not a fluke. With a heavy heart I  believe they will.

 

 Which mascot would win in a fight?

Although Iceburgh (Penguins) has trained alongside Jean Claude Van Damme I believe that Spartacat (Senators) could take him.  Spartacat is quite the cuddly mascot.  He’s spunky, friendly, and goofy. Yet, we shouldn’t forget one thing. Sparty is a ginger. As fans of Matt Calvert (Columbus Blue Jackets Left Winger) have learned you should never never anger a ginger. They have Gingrage.

 

 

 

“If Sergei Bobrovsky is so good why would Philly get rid of him?”

I made this point multiple times during the off season. I’m a big fan of Steve Mason. Always have been, always will be. Which is why I didn’t give Bob a chance when the season started. Bad move on my part. Sergei or “Bob”, as Blue Jackets fans affectionately call him, has proven himself this season.

Now I’m constantly asking myself, “Why would Philly give away a guy like this?”  Bob is light on his feet, quick with his hands, and the definition of Russian tough.

Now Bob fever has taken over the NHL. Not only is Bob in the running for the NHL 14 cover vote, he’s also a finalist for the Vezina.

Let’s take a stroll down Bobrovsky Lane and discover why everyone is in love with Officer Bobrovsky.

 

Games played with the Blue Jackets: 38

Regulation Wins for the Blue Jackets: 21

Over the course of Steve Mason’s time with the Blue Jackets only in the 2008-2009 season did he have 50% or more wins. That right there is enough to get fans to hop into Office Bobrovsky’s Paddy Wagon.

First Shutout with the Blue Jackets: March 9th 2013

March 9th, 2013 was a glorious day. Not only did Bob record his first ever NHL shut out but it was against the Blue Jackets rival the Detroit Red Wings. Bob went on to record three more shut outs by the end of the season. For Bobrovsky Shutouts are like Lays chips. You just can’t have one.

playoff appearances with the Blue Jackets :  0

The Blue Jackets didn’t make it to the playoffs and yet Bob continues to be one of the happiest humans on earth.

Goals Allowed: 74

shots against: 1084

 

The stats should be enough to convince you of Bobrovsky’s greatness. Just in case it’s not here are a few more reasons why Bobrovsky is number one in the hearts of Blue Jackets fans.

After every game and pretty much every open practice Sergei Bobrovsky will applaud the fans. He skates around the ice applauding each and every section thanking us for the support. People often overuse the word classy but in this case I think it fits perfectly.

And finally: Bob is apart of one of the most beautiful bromances in the history of NHL bromances. Nick Foligno and Sergei Bobrovsky, or as I like to call them Folignbrov, end every game with a huge bear hug. Sometimes they skate off the ice together sticktapping each other on the bum.

 

 

If none of these things make you love Sergei Bobrovsky then you have probably never loved anything in your life.

 

VOTE FOR BOB TO BE ON THE COVER OF NHL14 HERE!!
 

 

 

 

 

The rivalry between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs is an interesting one. Considered by some to be the most intense in the NHL. On ice, the rivalry has been lackluster for years, though it’s a little different amongst fans.

Ask a Leaf fan what team they hate more than anyone, and most will say the Sens.
Ask a Sens fan what team they hate more than anyone, and some will say the Leafs.

For those who don’t cheer for either team, I’ll give you a quick history lesson.

I’m only going to talk about the modern era Senators because most Toronto fans don’t consider the original Ottawa Senators a legitimate part of the current Senators history and to appease all readers I think it’s best to just leave it.

The year was 2000, and both the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs were elite powerhouses in the East. Earlier that season, Sens forward, and current NHL Star, Marian Hossa clipped young stud defenseman Bryan Berard in the eye, ending his season. Fans of the blue and white were up in arms, and though viewed as an accident throughout the league, some fans didn’t take so kindly to it.

2000 was also the first year that the Sens and Leafs met in the playoffs. Maple Leafs ended the playoffs for the Senators in 6 games, and fans of Toronto saw this as revenge for what happened earlier in the season.

The very next season the Ottawa Senators finished 2nd in the East, and the Buds finished 7th, which equated to a first round playoff matchup. The Sens had swept the season series and were the favourites to take them out early in the playoffs. In a major upset, the Leafs swept the playoff series, thus creating the first bit of hate Sens fans had ever had for the Toronto Maple Leafs team.

The next year, also in the playoffs, an incident happened. One that would change the rivalry forever. Late in Game 5, Darcy Tucker had control of the puck on the boards. Daniel Alfredsson hit  Tucker and on what became a controversial non-call. Alfredsson, with the puck, went to the net and scored the game winning goal. The moment of the hit can be seen in the halls of the SBP, where the Senators play their home games.

The very next season tempers flared once again when Leafs forward Darcy Tucker attacked Chris Neil on the bench. This was an unprovoked attack and created outrage within the Senators team. Punches were thrown and order was restored. Post-game Tucker claimed the Neil had spit on him, an allegation which has never been proven. Neil denied the incident had ever taken place.

In the same game, with minutes remaining on the game, Tie Domi jumped on Magnus Arvedson from behind and threw several punches at him, not giving Arvedson a chance to stand up for himself. Domi received a roughing minor, instigator minor, fighting major, misconduct and game misconduct. Arvedson received nothing. The next day a 5 game suspension was handed out to Tie Domi for this disgusting act of aggression rarely seen in hockey.

In January of 2004 while playing a game in Nashville, Mats Sundin, captain for the Leafs, had his stick snap on him. Instead of tossing it to the ice like we see most often in the NHL, Sundin threw the stick over the glass and into the crowd. He received a one game suspension for this, as well as league wide mockery. Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson did his own impression of the play.

The single game that Sundin was suspended for was also the game against the Senators. Alfredsson had his stick break and fake tossed it into the crowd. This created an uproar, mostly because the Leafs lost that game by a score of 7 to 1.

When we hear “Alfie Sucks” chants, and him being booed, most say that the fake toss incident is the cause. I’ve taken to asking many “Leaf fans” why they boo Alfie, and most respond with “he’s the Senators captain, oh and he also sucks”. Maybe that’s a paraphrase, but it’s certainly never a logical answer.

Since these playoffs, the Leafs have fallen to near obscurity in most hockey circles, and seemingly play their most important games when playing the Sens.

In the eyes of most Leafs fans I’ve talked to, the Battle of Ontario is alive and well, and in the eyes of most Sens fans I’ve talked to, the Battle of Ontario is dying, and a lot consider teams like the Habs, and Buffalo bigger rivals because of  past years, but the battle in the stands  tells a different story.

I’m a Sens fan living just outside of Toronto in Leafs country and get a lot of flack but am unable to give too much, which is due to the ratio of Leaf fans to Sens fans.

My personal take on Leaf fans is that the majority of them aren’t real fans and only watch the ones against rivals, like the Habs and Sens.

This includes the fans who go to games in Ottawa. When the Senators became part of the NHL 21 years ago, the majority of hockey fans in Ottawa were either for Leafs or Habs. Obviously a whole lot switched over to the Sens, but there is still a large constituency of non-Senator fans in Ottawa.   So this, as expected, equals a large constituency of non-Senator fans coming to game against the Leafs.

The majority of Leaf fans are spectacular humans, but the few who aren’t really ruin the experience for the fans. Every single fan base has their fair share of complete, total idiots and the Leafs have the biggest fan base in the league, so that equals much more complete, total idiots.

I’ve had some experiences with Leaf fans I hope to never replicate, most notably a bus ride from a game in 2012.

I was staying in a hotel, and across the road there was a restaurant that had a shuttle service taking fans to and from the game, a service that is utilized by a lot of fans who don’t live in Ottawa (like me), or who don’t enjoy that post game traffic jam that the regulars of SBP have become so accustomed to.

The shuttle ride was about 50/50 in terms of Sens to Leaf fans, with most Sens fans being older and probable Ottawa natives and most fans of the Blue and White being in their 20′s and probable out of towners. The ride there was alright, with the odd chirp from the front of the bus to the back where the Leafers had set up camp. Everyone was eagerly awaiting the game, and it seemed no one seemed overly intoxicated at this point.

The game was a blowout – in the Leafs favour, with a final score being 5 to 0. I was expecting World War III to break out as my dad and I were walking to the bus, and my expectations were most definitely met.

By this point the Leaf fans had finished supporting my beloved Sens by purchasing an abundance of 10 dollar alcoholic beverages all before last call in the 2nd intermission. I thank them for not only supporting my team by buying the ticket, but also the wages of the Ottawa Senators by getting all those extras.

With the sad, sad fans sitting in the front, the rambunctious, heavily intoxicated, pepperoni smelling fans in the back saw this as an opportunity to show their pride which I totally respect. I’m sure that if the Sens had won a blowout game I’d be yelling too, just not to the same extent and I wouldn’t smell like sweat and beer. It’s also okay that they stunk of alcohol and pepperettes because if you’re buying a ticket to the game, I think you should be allowed to do whatever you want.

Half way through the bus ride home, these “fans” began the ever lovable “Alfie Sucks” chant, most likely not knowing why Alfie sucks, or if their team was even above .500 that year. Only knowing that it has become a ritual to boo that #11 whenever he touches the puck, to give him a little added boost perhaps, only because that’s what their drunken friends had also been doing.

They know his name, and they know he sucks, and they’re also homophobes, so the “Alfie Sucks” chant quickly morphed into an “Alfie Sucks D*ck” chant. For most of the sober humans who had their morals still intact, this was a disgusting sign of their ignorance and Sens and Leaf fans had come together at last in their loathe for the idiots at the back of the bus.

An elderly lady, in her early to mid 70′s was the first to stand up, calling what they were saying disgusting and ignorant. She definitely had a point. In response to this absolutely ridiculous comment that the lady had made, the drunken fans in the back began a “Lady Who Stood Up Sucks D*ck” chant, though in smaller numbers because I like to believe that most of the people are actually good humans and chirping Daniel Alfredsson is a lot  more forgivable than an old lady.

These are the type of comments that Burke, former GM of Leafs and GM at the time of this, would be horrified to hear. As most know, Burke is a strong supporter of gay rights and had a gay son, Brendan, who tragically died in a car accident in February of 2010 at the age of 21.  He helped create the You Can Play Project, website here. I recommend everyone look at this website, and perhaps donate to as good a cause as any.

Her husband had stood up and was preparing to defend his wife by heading to back end of the bus to begin a fight with people who were 50 years younger. A Leaf fan, who was thankfully not morally corrupt, stopped him and yelled to the back of the bus a couple obscenities, asking them to stop, proudly representing his Kessel jersey on his back.

He got a nice “if you’re not going to stick by the Leafs then take that jersey off!”, a hilarious statement.

The bus ride finally came to a stop after a couple fights almost ensued. I realized when I had gotten off the bus that the two maniacs who were making all the commotion were staying in my hotel and I held the door for them as they walked through and got a “thanks buddy” as they walked past. I did this not as a sign of respect or forgiveness but to make them feel like horrible humans. I go by the cliche saying that is “killing people with kindness”. Words I try to live by.

Ottawa and Toronto have a rich history of hard fought playoff battles but those days have since fizzled out.

On Saturday, April 20th, 2013, the Toronto Maple Leafs clinched a playoff spot. They did this in a game against Ottawa in Ottawa. The game was the last of the season between these two and had a 4-1 final score.

I speak for not only Senator fans, but fans of hockey in general when I say congratulations to Toronto. Though, it’s true some horrible experiences have come at the hands of Leafs Nation, but they’re a team who deserves to have made the playoffs at least once in the last 9 years. Ownership that could care less about on ice product has made it hard to create a winning team and atmosphere but I think they’ve finally done something right.

Nazem Kadri is hitting his stride this year, Phil Kessel has finally learned to pass, and their supporting cast hasn’t been this deep in recent memory.

Though, not built for a long run in the playoffs, you never know what can happen and no one should ever be surprised to see a team like this go deep. See 2012 Stanley Cup winner, the LA Kings.

Like I previously noted, most Leaf fans are great people and every  fanbase has fans that they wish they didn’t. The Toronto Maple Leafs have an enormous fanbase so they have a good amount of terrible fans, more than any other.

I can’t speak for everyone, but this avid hockey fan is very proud in what the Leafs have accomplished, and wish them a long playoffs, and a bright future, when not playing the Senators. I know most true hockey fans can agree.

 

Cheers,

Mack

 

This is a mini documentary about the rivalry that takes place in the stands. Very well done. Recommend all hockey fans watch to get a visual of what being a Senators fan is like when attending these games; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FNPqzymadU

 

 

 

Earlier this week it was reported that the NHL was finalizing the addition of 5 more outdoor games to the 2013-2014 NHL schedule. Honestly, this is the last thing that should be on their mind. Below are four things I find to be more important than adding 5 outdoor games.

 

1. What is going on with the Coyotes?

      Honestly, does anyone know what is going on with the Coyotes Organization right now? Are they staying? Are they going? Is there a buyer? At the end of the season if there is no viable income coming from the organization I say shut it down. Don’t even think twice about it, just shut it down. I know that sounds callous but this has been a hot button for a few years now. At what point do you stop talking and start doing?

 

2. Where are the two new teams going?

The NHL took the time to release the finalized realignment yet no one knows where the new teams will be located. I’ve heard rumblings of Seattle and Ontario.  Although putting a team in Ontario will likely mess with the realignment and force a newly moved team back to the East. Toronto would also benefit from having a second NHL team. Unfortunately, the NHL would have to deal with the same issue as putting a team in Ontario. Quebec would be out for the same exact reason too. So where should the NHL put two, maybe three, teams?

a) Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage has a lot of attractions to draw people into the idea of going to see a hockey game there. I know I would travel from Ohio to Alaska to take in a game, go to the zoo, and see a few glaciers before they all melt. Plus, Brandon Dubinsky is from Alaska. Need I say more?

b) North Dakota/ South Dakota

You can’t honestly tell me that people in those two states do not like hockey. The question is are there enough people in either state who would come out to a NHL game.

c) New Orleans, Louisiana

This one is probably the biggest reach of them all. I have no clue where they would build a stadium or if people in the area would go to a game. For some reason the thought of putting a team in NOLA intrigues me. In the off season, which is most of hockey season, travel is inexpensive. Plus, believe it or not, there are a lot of hockey fans in Mississippi and Arkansas. Could the NHL corner the market on the southern fans by putting a team in NOLA? Is it worth the risk?

d) Regina, Saskatchewan

I don’t know much about Canada but I do know that I enjoy saying the word Saskatchewan. I’d also like to see the country that invented the game have a few more teams. Plus, it would be nice for the Jets to have a Canadian team nearby.

 

One of the biggest challenges of expanding the NHL is creating a buzz for these new teams. I would have no problem with adding two, or three, extra outdoor games next year. This would be a one year only thing and it would be in the town of the new team. Their opponents for those games should be the 2012-2013 Stanley Cup winner and whatever two teams would draw in the biggest crowd. If you’re in the business of making money and not making your fans angry this would have been the route to take.

 

3. Where’s my All-Star Game?

The city of Columbus has been asking this question for quite some time. When Columbus lost the All-Star game with the lock out an estimated 72 million dollars  in earnings went with it. A lot of time and effort went into preparing for the All-Star game. Shirts were made, banners hung, and new hotels were built. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the havoc you wrecked upon the wonderful Columbus Blue Jackets ticket reps. Can you even imagine what it would be like to have to take those angry/frustrated calls from fans? Bless their hearts. So NHL if you could give the All-Star game back to Columbus that  would be great.

 

4. The Olympics

Apparently the Olympics are still a hot topic right now. Should the NHL let them play? Should the NHL not let them play? For me the answer is “Yes, we should let them play in the Olympics”.

Every four years hockey becomes relevant in the United States. For two weeks “mainstream” sports fans are glued to their televisions watching games. They are constantly checking their phones for updates. Names like Kane, Kesler, Howard, and Johnson become household names through out America. People begin to realize that the term “icing” does not just apply to cupcakes. Yes, during those two weeks our favorite players names get slaughtered. Yes, we field a lot of elementary hockey questions. Who cares people are finally invested in hockey.

The NHL constantly talks about wanting to create more revenue and draw in new fans. Letting the players participate in the Olympics can do just those things. Pretty much every television around the world is tuned into the Olympics. If any of the NHL players do well  people in other countries are going to order “Game Center Live” and different television packages so they can continue to watch their favorite player. They are going to order jerseys and fan gear. Who knows they may even come to America and Canada to see their favorite Olympian play in a NHL game. So why even entertain the thought of not allowing players to participate in one of the most prestigious events to ever exist? What does the NHL gain from not letting them play? I’ll tell you what they gain : angry fans and angry players. Especially since these guys are already entering into Olympic training mode.

 

 

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