Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Congratulations Eddie!

Yesterday Eddie Belfour was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. His perimeter fans may remember him more for his interesting and often questionable behavior off the ice. He drank, he got rowdy, he had special demands. But as Joe Nieuwendyk, also inducted yesterday and a teammate of Belfour during their Stanley Cup winning years with the Dallas Stars, talked about the off-ice Eddie he made a special point that no matter what went on with Eddie the Eagle away from the net, when the clock hit 20:00 and the period light said 1, he was ready to go, play hard and make saves. And that is what separated him from being just another clown-athlete out of uniform.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dallas First Taste of NHL

Check out this article. I remember the day. My Dad took my brothers down to Reunion Arena to watch the NHL in Dallas. Oilers v Red Wings. They went early to secure autographs from The Great One AND he also gave them a signed stick. As he handed it to them, my chitty-chatty brothers who were full of excitement on the drive down, just stood there in silent awe. So, my Dad chatted with Gretzky and he said he and his teammates were loving Dallas - mostly because noone recognized them. Debbie Downer.

NHL exhibition in Dallas draws 16,656/ Gretzky fails to score but displays form


WED 10/01/1986 HOUSTON CHRONICLE, Section Sports, Page 1, NO STAR Edition

DALLAS - So Dallas got its first look at the National Hockey League - and vice-versa. It was a case of a city and a league trying to decide if they liked each other well enough to make a lasting relationship.

The exhibition game between the Edmonton Oilers and Detroit Red Wings, won by the Oilers 3-1, at Reunion Arena on Tuesday night was erroneously billed, repeatedly, as "the first NHL game in Texas."

Actually, the NHL's Atlanta Flames, now the Calgary Flames, once played a game in Houston against the Aeros of the World Hockey Association. And if you want pure NHL, the Los Angeles Kings and New York Islanders once played an exhibition in Fort Wrth.

Never mind. Those games were probably as forgettable as this one. It was NHL all right, but it was also exhibition quality, with little intensity or skating and passing artistry and few scoring opportunities.

At its best, hockey is a uniquely fast and physical sport, it was not played that way Tuesday night.

It was an unusually quiet game by NHL standards. Not much bashing of glass and boards, not much in the way of explosive applause.

But while it's hard to measure the extent of fan enjoyment in the game, there's no disputing the fact that they came in big numbers. The game was a sellout at 16,656 paid.

The fans appeared to know what was going on. They did not, for example, cheer at routine saves. To make things clearer for them, the public address announcer frequently explained rules and procedures.

It was the kind of big-numbered crowd Dallas needed if it wants to land an NHL franchise in the next several years.

The league is in an expansive mood again, following retrenchment in the `70's which saw franchises fail in San Francisco-Oakland, Atlanta, Kansas City, Denver and Cleveland.

Within four or five years, the NHL is expected to grow from 21 to 24 teams. According to Al Strachan of The Hockey News, "Dallas and San Francisco are good bets (for expansion); then there will be a dogfight for the third spot."

Attempts are being made to evaluate hockey enthusiasm in Dallas, which does have an active and growing junior hockey program. And the city has some familiarity with pro hockey, as the Chicago Black Hawks used to keep a Central Hockey League team here.

Questionnaires were distributed at Tuesday's game with such inquiries as "Would you attend an NHL game in Reunion Arena in the Fall of 1987?" and "Did you come to tonight's game only to see Wayne Gretzky?"

You can't blame them if they did come solely to see the Great Gretzky. There is no athlete in North America who dominates a sport the way Gretzky reigns in hockey.

A 100-point season used to be the standard for hockey superstardom, but Gretzky scored 215 points last season.

Gretzky glides silently over the ice, back and forth, in and out of the drifting mass of players. He seems for much of the time to be playing like everybody else, the mere mortals.

Then, suddenly, he sees an opportunity, reaches for the puck, taps i with his stick and settles it onto the ice so it's flat and can be easily transported, and then he shifts into high gear and bursts out of the pack and heads like a torpedo for the net.

He made this patented play a couple of times Tuesday, but he couldn't finish it off.

He had a good chance to score in the first period, rushing in from the right side. But goalie Greg Stefan blocked his shot with his right armpad. Gretzky tried again a few minutes later from the left side, but he didn't get much power into his shot and Stefan made an easy save.

The NHL is toughening up on violence. They've been saying that for years, but it looks like they really mean it this time. By tossing a player after his second major penalty, the fighters can't stay around long.

Detroit's Warren Young's fight with Jeff Beukeboom was little more than a grapple that did not even bring the crowd to its feet. A better fight occurred in a concessions line after the second period when one man spilt another's drink and punches were exchanged.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Always Keep Going

Read this story for inspiration and remember it when you feel your goals are out of reach, life is stacking up against you and you don't know if you can beat the odds. As someone who came degrees from being paralyzed in a 25 foot fall, I thank God everyday and remember how fortunate those of us are who have full use of our bodies

Note: Travis Roy is NOT Patrick Roy's son.


Sixteen years ago, rising hockey star Travis Roy a stepped onto the ice, realizing his dream of playing on a Division 1 hockey team, one of his goals in an ever-evolving list of goal-setting he began in high school.

But life for the Boston University freshman changed 11 seconds into his first college hockey game when a crash into the boards left him paralyzed from the neck down.

Yesterday, five days shy of the anniversary of that fateful night, Roy reached out to roughly 600 students across seven grades at Rockport High and Middle School to share his story, both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

"His story was inspirational," said freshman Rachel Sternlicht. "It was so beautiful. I kind of teared up at points because here is this guy that is disabled like that and yet he could keep going in his life."

Both teachers and students agreed that Roy was an example to all about how to keep moving forward in the face of the unexpected.

Roy, whose book is titled "Eleven Seconds," talked to the students about the goals and choices he made both before and after his accident on Oct. 20, 1995. He is no stranger to hard work and perseverance.

He told the students that, as a high school student, he wrote his goals and sealed them in an envelope, which he placed in his drawer to be opened at a later date. He learned from his father that, to achieve his goal of Division 1 college hockey, he would have to earn good grades. That would require more than the usual effort because he had a reading disability, a form of dyslexia. He also wanted to earn 1,000 on his SATs, which he did after five attempts.

"What are your goals?" he asked the students. "I don't know how to stay motivated except by setting goals and writing them down."

The audience first watched a four-minute video that showed the all-American life of the boy who grew up in Maine, and skated since he was 20 months old. As he grew, he said that, most of all, he wanted to be a hockey player. Then it was a fast forward to that first college hockey game, in which he was among the chosen freshmen selected to play. As he lay on the ice after the freak accident, his words to his father became newspaper headlines —- "Dad, I'm in big trouble."

He also told his dad "I made it," meaning he did achieve his dream of college hockey.

"I proved this little kid from Yarmouth, Maine, had beaten the odds," he said.

But he must also have known how drastically he would have to change his goals to meet his new circumstance.

He recalled his months in the hospital, at first on a ventilator, and looking up at the ceiling tiles.

"I wondered if this was going to be the rest of my life," he said.

Roy, now 34, talked about acceptance, and the importance of treating others with respect.

"One of the biggest challenges after the accident was just trying to fit in. I wanted people to see I was still the same Travis Roy," he told the students who sat in a hushed silence. "When you meet someone different, acknowledge them, look them in the eye and say hello. Have compassion."

"I know it's a cliche, but a positive attitude will take you farther in life than anything. It always seems the optimistic person is more likely to succeed," he said, admitting that he didn't always have that kind of positive attitude.

"I would learn to realize that I had far more living as a quadriplegic than I ever thought possible," he said. "I still had the same values that made me successful."

He talked about having love, respect and pride.

In response to questions, he told students he returned to school 10 months after the accident. He studied communications.

Asked what would be the first thing he would do if he could move, he told the students he would first hug his mother, his father, his sister and his good friends that supported him.

When asked if he had any regrets, he replied that he had no major regrets.

"But perhaps I could have been nicer or extended myself to someone at certain times," he said.

When asked what he missed most about hockey, he replied the thrill of victory or the elation that comes after scoring a goal.

"I also miss what I hated — the conditioning," he told the group, which included many athletes.

Some students were interested in his physical condition.

"I can't feel the shoes on my feet. I can't feel the watch on my wrist and I can't feel the chair I'm sitting on," he said. "I sit in this chair from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m." He demonstrated how the wheelchair changes position to help his body avoid pressure sores.

Yesterday's school program grew out of an effort by a second-year English teacher, Julianne Passeri, who teaches seventh-graders.

"I was trying to find something they would enjoy reading, that would engage them and make them want to finish the book," she said.

"Last year, my most reluctant reader mentioned his favorite book was 'Eleven Seconds' and it was my favorite book since I was 15," she recalled. "I couldn't get this kid to read a chapter so I thought we were on to something. When he and I were telling the class about the book, the kids were on the edge of their seats."

With the support of the principal and fellow teachers, the book become part of the curriculum and, with parents' help, some books were donated to the school.

Meanwhile, Passeri embarked on a mission to bring Roy to the school. With the help of the Friends of Rockport Athletics, the Rockport PTO, and many phone calls, she succeeded.

"I'm just in awe that he was actually here," said Passeri.

"It was an experience," she said. "He is just an amazing person and such a nice guy. It would be so easy for someone to be negative, but he is so positive about everything."

Note: This was originally posted by Gail McCarthy at the Gloucester Daily Times online

So this is my first post. Ta da! You and I are going to talk about sports. Alot of hockey. And hockey players and fun hockey stuff. And fun stuff in general because I like having fun. It's pretty much my favorite thing to do. That and eating. But eating is fun so I guess they're tied together. More on that later...I am a big hockey fan. But not by my own doing. When I was bigger then a skate but smaller then a goalie pad, I was already watching hockey. And not just watching hockey but living it. I have 3 brothers and they all played from the time they could walk, pretty much. Or maybe it was from the time they could get skates in their sizes. Whichever. Doesn't matter. Point is they were young. And we lived on the Air Force Academy and my brothers played for the Falcons! The kiddie league but they still got the jerseys with the striking lightning bolt. I bet opposing players saw the bolt and got really intimidated. Have you seen it??
Anyway, my weekends were spent either at the Air Force ice arena, at another arena for away games, or in the car going to or coming from games. I always wanted to play, but my Mom consistently had her go-to response: "Three boys is enough." Which was relentlessly followed up with some kind of attempt to entice me into figure skating. But I didn't want to draw 8s with my feet - I wanted to hang with my brothers and play more than just the annual Father/Daughter game (see above). Eventually I settled on street hockey in our circle drive. It was fun. I got stuffed in the goal EVERY time but I grew to appreciate and love the game even more....I get all nostalgic about my childhood....but let's focus...let's talk some Hockey!