Monday, September 17, 2012

This piece right here appeared in The Globe and Mail on Saturday. It is an oral history of the 1972 series between Canada and the Soviet Union. If you are old enough to have watched that eight-game series, this will bring back a lot of memories. If you aren’t old enough to remember, you will read this and wish you were.
D Joe Morrow, who played the last four seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, got a bit excited Sunday morning and sniped at NHL commissioner Gary Bettman via Twitter.
According to Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Morrow, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first-round selection in the NHL’s 2011 draft, tweeted: "Bettmen should be the commissioner of a different sport ... Like knitting. What a joke. #stop ruining hockey."
The tweet was gone in less than an hour.
“I was speaking as a fan,” Morrow told Yohe, “not a hockey player.”
Morrow, who will turn 20 on Dec. 9, is expected to open the upcoming season with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He has yet to play in the NHL, so is not a member of the NHLPA.
JUST NOTES: The Regina Pats have assigned D Sean Whelan and F Connor Gay to SJHL teams. Whelan, 18, played last season with the midget AAA Moose Jaw Generals and will join the Estevan Bruins. Gay, 17, spent last season with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers and now will play for the Kindersley Klippers. . . . The Kootenay Ice has its roster down to 25 after assigning two players on Sunday night. D Jordan Steenbergen, 16, will join the midget AAA Red Deer Rebels, while F Douglas Morris, 17, will join a team that has yet to be determined.
If you have ever wondered about NCAA Division I hockey and finances, Monica Mendoza of the Colorado Springs Business Journal has taken a look at the Colorado College Tigers and how they feed their bank account. That piece is right here.
Who is the WHL’s King of Twitter?
That’s easy.
Here’s Darren Kramer (@DarrenKramer22): “@JtBarnettAZDK teach me and @LiamStewart11 the ropes . . . How do you have so many followers!? #WHLtwitter legend”
To which @JtBarnett AZDK replied: “When you play on every team in the CHL they start to add up hahaha”
J.T. Barnett actually is with only his fourth WHL team, having been claimed by the Kelowna Rockets off waivers from the Everett Silver tips last week.
But he does have a whole lot of Twitter followers — 36,161 as of mid-day on Sunday. That’s down from the 37,095 who were there on Friday when Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Daily Courier wrote about this phenomenon.
Here’s part of what Fisher wrote:
For those not familiar with Twitter, that's a ton of traffic.
For comparison sake, the Rockets' official team account (@Kelowna_Rockets) had only 2,721 followers. Most of Kelowna's current roster can be found on Twitter, including head coach Ryan Huska and at least 20 players, though none can hold a candle to Barnett. (Colton) Sissons is a distant second at 999, Ryan Olsen third at 843 and Damon Severson fourth at 706. That trio has something in common, all being drafted players who have attracted a bigger following thanks to the NHL fan base.
That's further evidenced by some former Rockets who have found their way to the pro ranks, including Tyson Barrie (4,713), Tyler Myers (1,534) and Brett Bulmer (1,185). Barnett, though, is not drafted nor signed by an NHL team, although he's attended rookie camps in Minnesota . . . and in New Jersey this summer with Severson. Maybe Barnett's just the WHL's version of Paul Bissonnette (323,752), a Phoenix Coyotes enforcer better known as @BizNasty2point0.
But, really, what's the deal? How can Barnett be significantly more popular than his new teammates?
"I don't think I even have a hundred, so that's pretty impressive," said (Dylen) McKinlay, a Langley product who ranks among the bottom three Rockets with 94 followers, ahead of only Mitchell Wheaton (73) and Tanner Moar (39). "It's crazy . . . I don't know how he does it, but I think it's his Instagram."
Instagram is a social-media tool that acts as a free photo-sharing program.
"That's probably the main reason," admitted Barnett, trying to downplay his online fame. "It's funny, but I don't really care too much. I don't go on (Twitter) too much, I took like a month off and went back on and was just like 'wow.' It's a lot more popular down in California, I guess.
"And I go on Instagram a lot, which in the U.S. is like BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) up here, like every person has Instagram."
That makes some sense and might explain why California products Mitchell Callahan and Shane McColgan — two former Rockets — have 2,002 and 1,172 followers, respectively, on Twitter. But with 35,000 more followers than them, it was safe to assume many of Barnett's admirers were strangers or spam accounts, right?
Wrong, apparently.
"Mainly, they're my friends," he said straight-faced. "Most of them are my friends from down in Arizona and California, but some of them I don't know.
"It's just a good way to keep in touch with guys without necessarily having to text them and stuff. You can just read what they're doing and what's going on with them. And also guys that leave the league, you want to stay in touch with them and that's one of the ways you do it."
Fisher’s complete story is right here.
Wally Hilgenberg was a mean and miserable football player as a linebacker with the Minnesota Vikings. But his death, at the age of 66, may have been because of repetitive brain trauma. . . . Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has the story of the Hilgenberg family and its feelings towards the game of football. That story is right here and it is an interesting and conflicting read.

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