Sunday, June 22, 2014

USA Hockey posts solid numbers . . . Whatever happened to Eric (The Flea) Allen?

1. A report issued by USA Hockey earlier this month shows player registration at an all-time high. In 2013-14, USA Hockey reports it had 519,417 registered players. . . . In Oregon, home of the Portland Winterhawks, registration was up 60.2 per cent, to 2,148 players. . . . Chris Peters of The United States of Hockey has a great look at all the numbers right here. . . . In looking at Oregon, he writes: “I think part of Oregon’s rapid growth is aided by adult leagues coming under USA Hockey registration that were not previously, skewing the numbers. That said, youth hockey is also up across the board. I think the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks and their recent stretch of excellent teams and ability to connect the greater Portland area to hockey has really made an impact here in some meaningful ways.” . . . The state of Washington, which boasts four WHL franchises, is up 5.7 per cent to 8,369 players. “I don’t have much of a theory on how this is happening, but Washington state has been trending up in hockey participation for years now,” Peters writes. “Four WHL teams and a strong NAHL club definitely have to be helping in some ways here.” . . . Peters also breaks down some numbers to show that, although it’s early, it seems the decision to remove body-checking from the lower age groups is starting to pay dividends.

2. While watching Germany and Ghana play to a 2-2 draw at the World Cup on Saturday afternoon, a thought crossed my mind. Yes, that happens once in a while. . . . It was late in the game and both teams were going hard; in other words, there was no sitting back and playing for the tie and the resulting overtime or shootout. . . . In the first round of the World Cup, a regulation-time victory is worth three points; a draw gives one point to each team. The loser doesn’t get a thing. . . . Hey, hockey, are you paying attention?

3. BTW, you don’t have to like soccer to have enjoyed that game between Germany and Ghana. Not only did both teams play hard until the end, it was ample proof that there are times when there isn’t anything wrong with a game that ends in a draw.

4. As I headed out on my daily walk early Saturday afternoon, I flipped on XM Radio and it happened to be set on ESPN. Jon Champion and Stewart Robson were calling Germany versus Ghana and doing an excellent job of it. . . . JP Dellacamera and Tommy Smyth will have today’s much-anticipated match between Portugal and the U.S. Game time is 2:30 p.m. Pacific. . . . Smyth, by the way, had one of those moments during Friday’s Costa Rica-Italy game. Awful Announcing has more on that right here.

5. A junior A hockey coach, who also owned the franchise, once told me that a perfect season meant losing Game 7 of the championship final at home. That meant, he explained, that the team would make money. A Game 7 victory and the ensuing travels would only cost money. . . . That crossed my mind as I read this piece right here from Robin Short of the St. John’s Telegram. In the column, Short explains how the St. John’s IceCaps got to Game 5 of the AHL final and ended up losing “350 large.” . . . But had the series gone to a Game 6, that figure would have been more than $500,000.

6. Amateur sport may be in its death throes and it’s happening in a courtroom in Oakland. Yes, it involves the NCAA, which maintains that it shouldn’t pay a salary to student-athletes. Charles P. Pierce of Grantland has an excellent piece right here.

7. Daniel Snyder, the owner of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, has so far ignored all the cries for him to change the team’s nickname. As the heat intensifies, how should Roger Goodell, the NFL’s commissioner, approach the situation? William C. Rhoden of The New York Times opines right here.

8. If you are a football fan, you may remember former Toronto Argonauts star Eric (The Flea) Allen. Today, he lives in South Carolina where his mother looks after him. His family is working to find a lawyer, meaning the CFL soon may be facing one of those concussion lawsuits. Terry Ott of The Concussion Blog has more right here.

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