Friday, April 6, 2012

Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald has written a terrific feature on Sean O’Connor, who has found success in Germany after spending eight years in the North American minor leagues. O’Connor played three seasons (1999-2002) with the Moose Jaw Warriors.
However, he has experienced two seizures in the last nine months.
Gourlie writes:
Inexplicable seizures would be worrisome enough for an otherwise healthy 30-year-old, but there’s something else that gnaws at O’Connor:
“I’ve had multiple concussions because of the role I played my whole life. So you wonder what role that has played in this,” said O’Connor.
The complete story is right here and it’s well worth your time.
Tim Wharnsby, a veteran journalist who now is with CBC, has spent the season keeping track of concussions in the NHL.
He wrote this piece Thursday that carries this headline — Concussion numbers were staggering in NHL’s 2011-12.
“The numbers are staggering,” Wharnsby writes. “When the regular season concludes on Saturday, almost 90 players and 1,700 man games will be lost to head injuries or concussion-related symptoms.”
Unfortunately, the WHL has hidden its concussion numbers all season long. But considering that the WHL plays pretty much the same game as the NHL, we can assume the junior league’s numbers also were staggering.
Walter Gretzky was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease earlier this week and his son, Wayne, spoke about it in Vancouver. Bob Mackin has that piece right here.
The Swift Current K-Motel Hurricanes won the South Saskatchewan Minor Hockey League midget AA championship earlier this week. They are coached by Tim Tisdale, one of hockey’s great guys. Tisdale, of course, scored the overtime goal that won the 1989 Memorial Cup for the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Talk about someone who has given back to the game. Tisdale has coached, officiated and served on minor hockey executive boards.
Derek Laxdal, the head coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings, is an astute individual. He isn’t on Twitter. Why not?
“Personally, I find guys that are tweeting and texting, they’re checking their phones 24/7. It’s almost addictive,” Laxdal tells Evan Daum of the Edmonton Journal. “They all want to be heard, they want to see what’s going on. I don’t think it’s very productive,” Laxdal said of social media.
“I watch the kids, I key in on it and watch people on Twitter. They’ve always got their phones in their hands. You always see people at stoplights, they’re checking their phones and I just think it’s a distraction. I think it takes away from being a productive citizen.”
He’s right. And that complete story is right here.
A note from a CHL press release regarding Sportsnet’s coverage:
“On April 13, Friday Night Hockey shifts to the WHL for Game 5 of the Husky WHL Eastern Conference Semi-Finals when the sixth place Brandon Wheat Kings visit the first place Edmonton Oil Kings at 8 p.m. ET on Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet West, and Sportsnet Pacific.”
But, gee, what if the same team wins the first four games? Or is this a best-of-nine in memory of the late Bill Hunter, who once owned the Oil Kings?
As we get some rest and relaxation prior to the start of the second round of WHL playoffs on four fronts tonight, what better than a little . . . chess?
There is an intriguing story right here about a U.S. college coach — Chess teams in U.S. colleges? Who knew? — whose team won the national championship and then departed for another school. Oh, and she took her top players with her.
A few thoughts from Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post:
The WHL needs to address its playoff format. In a 22-team league, it stands to reason that there should be two 11-team conferences, with the top eight teams in each loop advancing to the post-season. But not in the imbalanced WHL, in which there are 12 teams in the Eastern Conference and 10 in the Western Conference. As a result, four Eastern teams miss the playoffs, compared to two out west.
The format was especially unfair this year. In the Western Conference, the Victoria Royals and Everett Silvertips made the playoffs with 55 and 54 points, respectively. Yet, the Red Deer Rebels (70 points), Swift Current Broncos (62) and Lethbridge Hurricanes (59) missed the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. One step toward guarding against a recurrence of this problem would be to move the Kootenay Ice, which is not in the B.C. Division despite being based in Cranbrook, B.C., to the Western Conference and even out the conferences.
WHL referees should be made available to the media to explain penalties that have a bearing on the outcome. If a 16-year-old rookie defenceman coughs up the puck on a key goal, he has to explain himself to reporters. Yet, the officials can hide behind the league-mandated gag order. This long-standing policy was particularly irksome during a first-round series between the Warriors and Regina Pats. Anyone who attended Game 4 at the Brandt Centre would welcome a detailed, timely explanation of a controversial clipping major that was assessed to Regina's Dyson Stevenson.
If not chess, how about some golf? The Masters is ongoing in Augusta and Karen Crouse of The New York Times has written a terrific piece on the fact that it’s 2012 and the Augusta National Golf Club still doesn’t have female members. When you think about that for even one second, you realize how absurd it is.
And here is the daily tweet from Twitter star Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings: “You might not believe me but my mom is mother Theresa.”

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