Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jonathan Roy

Certainly you’ve heard the story by now. Sad that hockey gets such excellent coverage when things get a little off the tracks.

I played the game. I got a late start. Skating, height, weight, bone structure all worked against me. Well those are just my excuses when I see player like Ryan Shannon or the career of Cliff Ronning. My stature is about the same as theirs. Later when the guys were still playing and I was more of a on ice liability than an asset, I took my turn behind the bench. As a coach, I was far better in win loss columns than in goals, assists and penalty minutes as a player.

I’ve seen a lot of junior games though not that many recently. The clips of the dust up between the Ramparts and the Sagueneens Saturday night (22-Mar-08) looks not unlike any Tier Two or WHL game from the 1970’s.

Did I ever send my guys out to engage the other team in a ‘line brawl’ when the scoreboard showed the game was over? No. I never had to. The guys seemed to instinctively know when the time was right. Quite the opposite actually, as a coach I found myself tasked more with getting the guys to channel their aggression into a positive result when a game started to slip away.


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Monday, March 24, 2008

Bobby Orr’s Birthday

Last Thursday, March 20, 2008 was Bobby Orr’s 60th Birthday. I stuck me as interesting on a few fronts. Here in West Vancouver, we had the pleasure of seeing Bobby contribute to Darwin Head’s winning of several cars and $1,000,000 in a GM sponsored puck shoot at GM Place. The hug fest that followed Drawin’s success left you with the distinct impression that Bobby was genuinely excited for the guy. As Darwin made the rounds of local sports talk the next day or two, he returned the sentiments saying the million bucks was nice but the real treasure was he had gotten to hang out with Bobby Orr for a day.

The link between Darwin Head’s success and Bobby’s lack of financial success as a player is tragic. Many believe that Bobby was hockey’s first millionaire. This is just not true. The Boston organization paid Bobby about $75,000 for his first two years. In 1971-72 Boston did award Bobby a $200,000 per year contract with a five year term giving him $1 million over the life of that contract.

In the same era, Derek Sanderson and Bobby Hull were both lured away to the WHA with big contracts. Sanderson was to be paid $2.65 million by the Philly Blazers. Sanderson only played eight games with the Blazers before returning to the NHL. In 1972-73 Bobby Hull was given a $2.75 million over ten years. The contract called for $1 million up front. Bobby Hull was most likely your first million per year hockey player.

Here is an amazing Orr fact that is true. Bobby was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame at age 31, the youngest player ever inducted. Bobby won eight consecutive Norris Trophies between 1968 and 1975. If there is any doubt that Orr defined the position of defense during that time consider that Harry Howell preceded and Denis Potvin followed him as the bookend Norris winners.

Bobby now heads up Orr Hockey Group and is the agent for several players including Jason Spezza, the Staal Brothers, Rick DiPietro and Nathan Horton and several other young talents.


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Friday, March 21, 2008

West Vancouver Point of Interest

I know this has nothing to do with hockey. In addition to my passion with hockey I do spend some time on politics. Much of my current interest is in the happenings with the Democrats’ selection of a candidate for this fall’s USA Presidential Elections. It is funny how we look far afield for matters to concentrate on when often there are often issues in our own home or community left unattended to.

I was reading one of the local free newspapers over toast and tea this morning and a near full page ad caught my eye. Some small group of locals is displeased with the local district council’s fiscal responsibility. Government responsibility, particularly on financial matters, is a subject dear to my heart.

I have no affiliation with this group nor would I foresee any relationship with them. Their desire to spend time and resources on making the local administration more accountable is admirable.

Cursory review of their information shows they have a simplistic view to the use of data to support their position. I found this a bit strange in that they claim higher education and business savvy. Still their message is ‘bang on.’ Government costs too much!

Their web site is here<-click.

I will also offer that I am not a supporter of Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones or any member of the district council. Ms. Goldsmith-Jones was elected, in part, on a platform of economic development in West Vancouver. While I have not done any supporting research, my impression has been that, during her reign, there has been a net negative amount of commercial activity in the Ambleside area. An area Madame Mayor specifically defined as one of her goals for revitalization through multi use projects. I do see posted signs of proposed changes in Ambleside Park and we are all reminded of the enormous construction effort going on at the West Van Rec Centre.

I wonder how hard Mayor Goldsmith-Jones and her team are working to offset these costs through improved and transparent management, business and government partnerships and user pay programs. I encourage the ITAC to continue their efforts to pressure District Administrators towards sound financial management.


Who is the best NHL referee?

Maybe in offering an option on the question we should ask who is the average referee? Analysis of stats at National Hockey League Officials Association web site shows that the average NHL Referee is 42 years old and has been working NHL games for 13 seasons. In that time, on average, he has officiated 565 regular season games and 46 playoff games. The average guy works 39 games per year. There is a 5 in 6 chance he is Canadian born. If he isn’t a Canadian, he is one of the five American born active referees.

The at the top end of the experience scale Kerry Fraser is the most senior referee. Kerry, and his hair, have been policing the NHL for 34 years, has worked 1700 regular season games and 257 playoff games. Don Koharski has 30 years with Bill McCreary and Dan Marouelli both having 25 years. Fraser, Koharski and McCreary all have over 200 playoff games on their resume. Marouelli is not far behind with 179.

Kerry Fraser over his career has averaged 58 games per season. McCreary has the highest average with 70 games per year over his 25 years. Marouelli and Koharski also have similar stats at 64 and 61 games per year respectively. In addition, Don VanMassenhoven, in a 15 year career is currently at a 62 games per year.

The NHL is said to have a ranking system for their officials. Obviously this information is not made public. We do know, however, that playoff assignments are determined by these league maintained rankings. Given the records, McCreary and Koharski should have the highest rankings as they have the highest percentage of playoff games to total games. There are four referees with similar stats in this area. Kerry Fraser is one of the other two, plus a new name to this analysis Kevin Pollock. Pollock has only 10 years of experience which is less than the average. Yet in those 10 years Pollock has been assigned to 68 playoff games. Paul Devorski and Brad Watson join Marouelli in a second tier group just below the four mentioned above.

So who is the best referee? I have no idea. And, keep in mind, the numbers above represent only currently active referees. Using the associations statistics and what we know of league policy, Bill McCreary and Kevin Pollock must have the highest rankings with Don Koharski, Kerry Fraser and Dan Marouelli not too far behind.

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Court Case Decision - Update

On 10-Jan-2008, Madame Justice Catherine Wedge ruled in favour of Aquilini. Her judgement confirmed the ownership of the Vancouver Canucks and General Motors Place rests with Aquilini.

The root of the issue was whether Aquilini had a partnership with Tom Gaglardi and Ryan Beedie at the time Aquilini purchased the team and other assets from John McCaw.

The judge wrote “Even assuming the three men entered into a relationship giving rise to fiduciary duties, the relationship ended in March 2004 as did any fiduciary obligations arising from it.”

This means that, in her opinion, the partnership between the parties ended in March 2004 and prior to the transaction that saw the team ownership change.

As would be expected, Beedie and Gaglardi appealed the decision. On 5-Feb-2008 a claim was made to the BC Supreme Court seeking to set aside the 10-Jan ruling.

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