My love for hockey started with a game that a friend took me to in 1979; Portland Winterhawks vs New Westminster Bruins at Memorial Coliseum in Portland. The game was fast, exciting and violent. Those days, the Bruins were the hated, hated, hated rivals of the 'Hawks and on that particular night, the game digressed into a melee on the ice, leaving both teams without enough players to finish the match with :07 left on the clock. I was hooked.
The next season, my buddy and I bought season tickets and held on to those tickets through high school and the first years of college (until economics of living on our own made it unaffordable anymore).
I continued to follow the team from a distance and catch an occaisional game now and then. I witnessed the 83 Memorial Cup and I listened to the 98 Memorial Cup final on a scratchy dial up connection in China...and most recently I watched a match last season while in town on business.
I associate the team with success...Wayne and David Babych, Tony Currie, Cam Neely, Ray Ferraro, Clint Malarchuk, Adam Deadmarsh, Brendan Morrow, Marian Hossa...those are the heroes of the 'Hawks. The last two years have been brutal in that respect. Reading about a team that cannot score goals...gets pounded night after night has just not been fun for someone that remembers seasons like this.
The team's ownership for the past few years have been shaky at best and the result has been a franchise that was one of the mose sought after by players, to one in which players don't want anything to do with...
"It's more of a bigger picture than at the coaching level," Johnston says, before explaining that the proverbial ball (or puck) had been dropped in scouting, drafting, recruiting and signing players; many high-end players have chosen not play for the Winter Hawks. He says the Winter Hawks' list remains thin with players born in the 1988-91 years, or current players ages 17 to 20.
"It starts at the top, both with a financial and (overall) commitment to make sure everything from education to billets to medical ... everything's taken care of," he says. "When those fell by the wayside, it hurt recruitment and it wasn't an attraction to come here. In this league, everything's about drafting, recruiting, getting good players."
And so, my favorite hometown hockey team will start to move on. Will the moves be the same old promises that we have heard in the past, or will it be concrete changes that can re-build pride in a franchise that has sported the Indian head for over 30 years in Portland?
I plan on attending a game during an upcoming business trip and I am hopeful of the signs of a team and management that care. I would hate for the ghosts of Jim Dobson and Boris Fistric to be bored in the rafters of the old MC...let's give them something to fight about!
This is the time of year I miss at home. Nooo...not the weather...or the neighbors...no, I miss this time of year for the sports.
There you go...the round up. I am really looking forward to hockey starting again...although I am aprehensious about the Canucks this year. They've got a lot of youth, which could make things fun...or it could make things ugly. Here's hoping some of the vets can step it up a notch as well.
I was in Portland in October of last year and had a free evening. So, I hopped on the Max and rode to Memorial Coliseum to catch a Winterhawk game. I hadn't been to the arena in years (other games I had seen were at the Rose Garden), so it was cool to reminisce a bit about the old days of watching junior hockey.
As I walked in, I picked up a program, stopped by the booster table to check it out, then over to the souvenir stand. I ended up walking away with a sweater...I could never afford one when I was a kid.
Then we stepped into the arena...empty. The Hawks struggled last year, but the place was so sparse with people, it was a bit sad. We enjoyed the game...although it was obvious the team was young and inexperienced...the did win. Which isn't saying much for the remainder of the season.
Then in the off season, there were rumblings about the ownership and a possible move to another city, or a purchase by another group. It appears as though several Hawk alumni are stepping to the fore, to try and save the team.
“It’s gone from a model franchise to the joke of the Canadian Hockey League.”
(Brent) Peterson decided awhile back to make an effort to do something about it. While he’s not leaving the Predators – he has a two-year contract in his pocket – he’s put together a formidable team of investors seeking to buy the team from Jim Goldsmith, Jack Donovan and John Bryant.
The group includes former Winter Hawks Brenden Morrow, Marian Hossa, Ray Ferraro and Scott Nichol (to name a few), along with PGA golfer and former Portland resident Peter Jacobsen, a longtime friend of Peterson.
The more I read the articles about the demise of the team, the more it makes me sick to my stomach. What was once the model team of the WHL, is now a laughingstock...in just a matter of a couple years. Peterson, who coached the team to one of its Memorial Cup victories (with Morrow and Hossa in the lineup) has seen enough.
I hope and pray they can get a hold of this team and help turn it around. As I sat in that arena last October, I had that feeling of picking up season tickets again, when I move back. Enjoying the games with my wife and son would be a great way to spend the cold, dark and rainy winters in Oregon...it would be even more fun if the money for those tickets were going to people that cared about the team and its terrific history.
While bouncing around You Tube the other day, I ran across this gem of highlights from Portland's two Memorial Cup victories.
1983: Cam Neely scores the hat trick...Ray Ferraro scores the icing...Mike Vernon backstops the 'Hawks to victory. The second goal they show in the series of highlights is one of the prettiest goals I have ever seen in hockey. That's me in the front row behind the net in the white pants...
1998: Very different story. Overtime. Brendan Morrow on the ice...Marion Hossa in the locker room with a blown out knee suffered with 5 mins to go in regulation. Me? Huddled around my dial up connection at home in Guangzhou, China...I won't forget that call from Dean Vrooman
These guys will remember this, forever. I just love the reaction of the crowd.
There are many reasons why I hate ESPN Asia...but I will limit it to a handful:
1. No NFL Coverage
2. No NCAA Final Four Coverage
3. No NHL Coverage
4. Snooker, Badminton & Table Tennis
5. No NCAA Football Coverage
Ahh...but alas, they advertise MLB coverage for the year. I never realized though, that the MLB had only one team.
|09-Apr-08||18:00||ESPN||Tampa Bay Rays Vs New York Yankees®|
|11-Apr-08||8:00||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Kansas City Royals(L)|
|11-Apr-08||14:01||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Kansas City Royals(R)|
|11-Apr-08||21:30||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Kansas City Royals(R)|
|12-Apr-08||11:00||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Kansas City Royals(R)|
|12-Apr-08||16:00||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Boston Red Sox(S)|
|13-Apr-08||1:00||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Boston Red Sox(R)|
|13-Apr-08||8:00||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Boston Red Sox(R)|
|13-Apr-08||16:30||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Boston Red Sox(S)|
|13-Apr-08||21:30||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Boston Red Sox(R)|
|14-Apr-08||18:00||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Kansas City Royals(R)|
|15-Apr-08||17:30||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Boston Red Sox(R)|
|16-Apr-08||18:00||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Boston Red Sox(R)|
|18-Apr-08||7:00||ESPN||Boston Red Sox Vs New York Yankees(L)|
|18-Apr-08||14:01||ESPN||Boston Red Sox Vs New York Yankees(R)|
|18-Apr-08||21:30||ESPN||Boston Red Sox Vs New York Yankees(R)|
|19-Apr-08||7:00||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Baltimore Orioles(L)|
|19-Apr-08||14:00||ESPN||Boston Red Sox Vs New York Yankees(R)|
|19-Apr-08||21:00||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Baltimore Orioles(R)|
|20-Apr-08||7:00||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Baltimore Orioles(L)|
|20-Apr-08||14:00||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Baltimore Orioles(R)|
|20-Apr-08||21:00||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Baltimore Orioles(R)|
|21-Apr-08||18:00||ESPN||Boston Red Sox Vs New York Yankees(R)|
|22-Apr-08||17:30||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Baltimore Orioles(R)|
|23-Apr-08||18:00||ESPN||New York Yankees Vs Baltimore Orioles(R)|
You may ask...if they don't cover any of the sports above, what DO they cover??? Here is a snapshot of today's action packed day in sports...
|09-Apr-08||0:00||ESPN||ASIAN 9-BALL TOUR GUINNESS 9-BALL TOUR 2008|
|09-Apr-08||1:30||ESPN||STREETBALL THE 2007 AND 1 MIX TAPE TOUR(R)|
|09-Apr-08||2:00||ESPN||SPORTSCENTER SPORTSCENTER ASIA(R)|
|09-Apr-08||2:30||ESPN||UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2007/08 UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUELIVERPOOL|
|09-Apr-08||5:00||ESPN||CHEERLEADING UCA COLLEGE DANCE TEAMSORLANDO|
|09-Apr-08||5:30||ESPN||SPORTSCENTER SPORTSCENTER ASIA(R)|
|09-Apr-08||6:00||ESPN||INTERNATIONAL IRONMAN TRIATHLON IRONMAN SOUTH KOREA(R)|
|09-Apr-08||7:00||ESPN||SPORTSCENTER SPORTSCENTER ASIA(R)|
|09-Apr-08||7:30||ESPN||SPORTSCENTER BEIJING SPORTSCENTER SPECIAL: COUNTDOWN TO BEIJING(R)|
|09-Apr-08||8:00||ESPN||GREAT OUTDOOR GAMES ESPN GREAT OUTDOOR GAMES(R)|
|09-Apr-08||10:00||ESPN||SPORTSCENTER ASIA SPORTSCENTER RIGHT NOW(T)|
|09-Apr-08||10:01||ESPN||WINTER X-GAMES WINTER X-GAMES 11 - DAY 2MT. ASPEN|
|09-Apr-08||11:30||ESPN||YACHTING BARCELONA WORLD RACE 2007/08(T)|
|09-Apr-08||12:00||ESPN||SPORTSCENTER ASIASPORTSCENTER RIGHT NOW(R)|
|09-Apr-08||12:01||ESPN||BILLIARDS INTERNATIONAL EVENTS2006 WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONSUNCASVILLE|
|09-Apr-08||13:00||ESPN||BILLIARDS INTERNATIONAL EVENTS2006 WORLD CUP OF TRICK SHOTSUNCASVILLE|
|09-Apr-08||14:00||ESPN||SPORTSCENTER ASIASPORTSCENTER RIGHT NOW(R)|
|09-Apr-08||14:01||ESPN||INTERNATIONAL IRONMAN TRIATHLON IRONMAN SOUTH KOREA(R)|
|09-Apr-08||15:00||ESPN||CHEERLEADING UCA HIGH SCHOOL CHEERLEADING (PART 2)ORLANDO|
|09-Apr-08||16:00||ESPN||SPORTSCENTER ASIASPORTSCENTER RIGHT NOW(R)|
|09-Apr-08||16:01||ESPN||UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2007/08 UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUELIVERPOOL|
|09-Apr-08||18:00||ESPN||MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL NEW YORK|
|09-Apr-08||21:00||ESPN||SPORTSCENTER SPORTSCENTER ASIA(S)|
|09-Apr-08||22:00||ESPN||ASIAN 9-BALL TOURGUINNESS 9-BALL TOUR 2008|
|09-Apr-08||23:30||ESPN||SPORTSCENTER SPORTSCENTER ASIA(S)|
Summarize? Snooker...Triathalon...Hoops...Outdoor Games...Yachting...Cheerleading...and nearly 5 hours of Sportscenter (Asia...not the USA version). And the best part is...they repeat it all over again for you, in case you missed it earlier.
Oh yeah...and don't forget that Major League Baseball...which they don't even list the other team. Why call it MLB when its just Yank-me coverage? Just tell me...'We'll cover every Yank-me game through the season...screw the National League.'
So, when you flip on your tube for a 'game' tonight...think of me.
I recently came upon some gems from a friend. Way back in February of 1980, they had recorded all of ABC's broadcasts of the USA men's hockey games. I've had a copy of THE 'Miracle on Ice' game for a few years...one of the greatest upsets in sports history and one that still brings a lump in the throat when I watch it. It was a time in which I was just beginning to become interested in hockey...and the USA team burst on the scene to just build my love for the game.
Every game was represented in the pack of video...with Jim McKay hosting and Al Michaels doing play by play...it just floods the memories back to me of those times.
One of the biggest memories I have of those games were the atrocious coverage hockey received (and still recieves) during the games. The Sweden game is limited to highlights and the last three minutes of the third period. Other games evoke those memories of the ever famous line McKay would say over and over again because ABC was showing some fluff piece, instead of the games...'While we were away...' Nearly all of the goals in the USA vs West Germany game were scored off the air...brutal. Living on the west coast was even worse, as we learned of the results of the games from our afternoon newspaper before they would even show the games on TV...usually after 9pm at night.
The quality is grainy and jumpy...but that splotchy colored blue ice and the wide open skating, skinny goalies and flow of the game really brings me back to how the game is supposed to be played. At some point, maybe the Vatican will recognize this truly holy event in the light that it should be.
And then there is this newly discovered play by play of the game against the Soviets by a reporter for ABC News Radio...instead of taking notes, he just did play by play while in the arena. His call of Eruzione's game winning goal is beautiful...voice cracking and everything.
Ehhh...alright, not exactly...but surprising nonetheless.
As part of my 'entertaining' of the recent visitors I had at work, I took them out for a quick trip to a local mall, so they could see the 'underground' culture of youth in the city...and maybe pick up an item or two along the way.
We walked around and around the underground 'Update' mall that is just off the Martyr's Park subway station in GZ. This mall has countless stalls of clothing, sneakers, hair bobbles and various other knick knacks and stuff that Asian kids love.
We stopped into one shop that was loaded with all sorts of crap you might find in a Spencer's Gifts shop in the States...all manner of things that everyone was keen to check out and discuss. As I stood to the side waiting, one of the guys picked up a hand pump flashlight and was talking to me about it...they are pretty cool and he'd never seen one before. And then I peered down into the glass case the shop keepers was leaning against and I saw two small ice skates with black and yellow socks in the back of the case. I crouched down and there he was...Bobby Orr.
I quickly asked the girl how much and she proceeded through the crowd of people in her shop to the opposite corner to retrieve a box...a box that contained Wayne Gretzky, just like the Bobby Orr doll.
Knowing that I would regret myself if I only bought Bobby Orr...I bought Wayne too. I tried to bargain the prices down, but the girl quickly told me that she was not the 'boss' of the shop and she couldn't help me. I respected that and paid the RMB100.00.
Nearly 12 years ago, while browsing the cramped and dirty markets of Qingping, I stumbled across a small Cam Neely statue and made the quick (over priced) purchase. Joining Cam Neely was a cool little set with Hasek and Gretzky a couple years later...and now I have the big boys.
Uhhh...so, with all the brew-ha-ha in the NHLPA, I'd like to ask Mr. Chelios a question; Did this appointment go before a vote of all the players, like the Director position you so dearly wanted???
TORONTO - Recently retired centre Eric Lindros was named ombudsman for the National Hockey League Players' Association on Sunday.
The newly created position, under the recently ratified NHLPA constitution, will have Lindros resolving any complaints by members and/or staff of the NHLPA, reporting directly to the executive board.
Lindros will also serve as a non-voting member of the executive board, while supervising and co-ordinating the activities of the Divisional Player Representative program.
So...a guy that refused to play in Quebec and forced a trade by that team to play in the USA, is now the guy that is going to listen to complaints by its members? Huh?? This just smells rotten to me.