Jim PlayFair Loses It!

There is no question that former hockey player turned coach Jim Playfair will no matter what always be remembered for his comical tirade which occurred behind the Abbotsford Heat’s bench last Saturday night. This memorable event which will be played for years to come occurred during the second period of a game that the Heat would eventually lose by a 4-0 score against the Hamilton Bulldogs. Playfair who as a player was known as a fighter showed his fighting spirit on the bench when Abbotsford hard- nosed forward JD Watt was assessed a five minute major penalty for charging Hamilton goalie Cedrick Desjardins. Following the play Watt who looked to be pushed into the goaltender argued his case before getting the boot from referee Jamie Koharski. This was all to much for Playfair to take as he suddenly lost his cool and as a result put on a memorable show for all fans in attendance. “It was the wrong call by the referee… I think J.D. Watt is making a play, their goaltender comes out into the (faceoff) circle, (Watt) got pushed by a defenceman and (the goaltender) went down.” “By no means did he try and run this goaltender to deserve a five minute major so I disagreed with it and that’s it.” In showing his displeasure Playfair first began by violently ripping off his suit jacket before proceeding to smash a couple of hockey sticks over the boards and throwing the lose shavings onto the ice. While doing this he was naturally dealing out profanities to Koharski. While he acknowledged on Monday that it might not have been the most mature way to deal with his feelings he isn’t about to back down and apologize. “It isn’t my proudest moment for sure,” he said. “It’s not to the point where it’s embarrassing.” I can’t take it back. It’s something that happened in the heat of the moment.” Playfair was fined but as of yet not suspended. His finest hour as a coach came in 2001 when he led the Saint John Flames to a Calder Cup victory. Playfair also coached the Calgary Flames for the 2006 season.

Pat Burns Arena…by Neil Becker

I don’t mean to get sentimental but this morning I clicked on my computer to the TSN website and immediately had what felt like a huge knot in my stomach. On the screen a shocking picture of a frail looking Pat Burns reminded me of how special health is in everyday life. Whenever I think of this fiery ex NHL coach what comes to mind is his booming voice along with his big build. Being a huge hockey fan I knew about his current fight with lung cancer but didn’t realize until turning Friday morning just how skinny and weak this three time Jack Adams trophy winner is looking and sadly how that signature booming voice is now reduced to a near whisper. Burns who in 2003 enjoyed his finest hour as a coach by leading the New Jersey Devils to a Stanley Cup title was in Quebec on Friday for a press conference announcing that a new arena in Stanstead Quebec is going be constructed and once open in 2011 named after Burns. “Maybe there’s a Wayne Gretzky or a Mario Lemieux or a Sidney Crosby sitting here,” Burns said referring to a group of local minor hockey players who were on hand. “A young player could come from Stanstead who plays in an arena named after me.” After battling colon and liver cancer Burns who is only 56 years-old didn’t want to once again endure chemotherapy when the cancer returned to his lungs in 2009. Joined by his wife Lyne and two kids Jason and Maureen Burns came from Florida for this occasion where he also got to mingle with prime minster Terry Harper who was present for the festivities. Despite his gruff exterior behind the bench Burns who knows that his life is coming to an end wanted to do something to help kids and promote hockey that’s where the idea for constructing the Pat Burns Arena on the campus on Stanstead University first initiated. Even though it’ll be on the school grounds it’ll still be used by the public. Burns showed his bravery on this morning by discussing how his family is coping with his sickness. “It’s a tough time for my family,” Burns who in his career coached the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils said. “I know my life is nearing its end and I accept that.” That my friends is bravery and though this might sound naive I pray that somehow Burns can muster up one more fight and beat the cancer that has spread to his lungs.

Stve Stamkos is tied for the Goal Scoring Lead!

 

After scoring two goals on Thursday to help his Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Boston Bruins forward Steve Stamkos could hardly believe that he’s now tied with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead in goals scored. After scoring a respectable 23 goals in his rookie season this former 2008 first overall Lightning pick has exploded with 45 goals and is a serious candidate to win the Rocket Richard Trophy. Still with only eight games remaining the first priority to Stamkos is for his Bolts to make the playoffs. “It would be nice to win the scoring title,” Stamkos whose two goals were the difference in a 5-3 win against the Boston Bruins said. “But if I win and help this team win at the same time, that’s (better). I want to help this team win and see what happens at the end of the year.” Looking to build on their modest two game winning streak the Lightning are now only six points behind Boston for the eighth and final playoff spot. “We’ve got an uphill climb, but no one in this dressing room is quitting right now,” Stamkos who has 86 points on the season said. “We’ve been very inconsistent this year and it’s definitely cost us to where we are right now. But we’ve still got a shot. We’ve got to believe that.” Following this two goal performance Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien whose team has now won only two of their last 14 home games had nothing but strong praise when the subject turned to Steve Stamkos. “He’s a young player that’s had a great year, and he’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Julien said. “They’re led by a guy named St. Louis, who’s the heart and soul of this team. This young player (Stamkos) is kind of riding his coattail and soaking in everything he can.” The average hockey fan brings up the names Ovechkin and Crosby as the league’s premier superstars but without a doubt the name Stamkos should be added to that mix. Besides for Stamkos also scoring for the Bolts were Marty St. Louis, and Paul Szczechura with two. Meanwhile the Bruins who are only two points ahead of the Atlanta Thrashers for the final playoff spot got goals from Mark Recchi, Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk.

Jose Theodore on the Road to the Vezina

Over the past 10 weeks, or so, Washington Capitals goalie, Jose Theodore, is rounding into Vezina trophy form; which means big trouble for the other 29 teams. Since the 33 year-old veteran won the Vezina back in 2002, with the Montreal Canadiens, he has seen his stock rapidly go down over the past eight years. Once regarded in Montreal as the next Patrick Roy, this Laval, Quebec native spent two full seasons with the Colorado Avalanche; before the Capitals decided to take a chance on him. After getting off to an average start, in his second season with the Capitals, Theodore caught fire and since January 13 has been one of the best goaltenders. Since that time he has solidified his hold, as the number one man in Washington, by posting a 17-0-2 record with a 2.42 GAA. Including Wednesday night’s impressive 4-3 shootout win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Theodore has gone 7-0-0 with a 1.95 GAA and a .937 save percentage in his past seven starts. After his 38 save percentage against the Pens Theodore, who now has 27 wins on the season, got some special praise from team captain and leading scorer Alex Ovechkin. “I think he saved us most of the time this game,” he said. “I think we didn’t play our game at all. Jose keeps us in the game and it’s nice when we can win — when we don’t play well.” Theodore’s best moments on Wednesday came in the first period, when he stood tall in stopping all 17 shots directed at him. In reflecting on his play after Wednesday’s game, the veteran was his typical humble self. “The team is playing well and I am feeling really good out there, so I am trying to do the same thing game in — and game — out,” Theodore said. “Guys are scoring big goals and everything is gelling together right now, which is good.” Washington coach,  Bruce Boudreau didn’t say if Theodore would be the starting goalie come play-off time, but he did say that his veteran is –“Playing great.” While Theodore is encouraged by the way he’s been playing he doesn’t want to jinx himself by thinking too far ahead. “I had some stretches where I was feeling pretty good, but it’s just a fun time right now towards the end of the season,” he said. “I’m getting the wins, and I feel I’m playing the way I should play every game.” With Vezina trophy type goaltending, along with the explosive scoring that they have, there is a strong chance that the Capitals will be celebrating this summer with — the Stanley Cup.

Teemu Selanne with 600

A special congratulations goes out to future hall of famer, Teemu Selanne, who recently became a member of the exclusive 600 goal scoring club. This 39 year-old, who first made headlines, back in 1993, by scoring 76 goals as a rookie with the Winnipeg Jets. He scored that 600th marker last Sunday, in what was a 5-2 win for the Anaheim Ducks against the Colorado Avalanche. “I was a little nervous that if it didn’t happen tonight, it might not happen here (at home) at all,” said Selanne. He now trails his boyhood hero, Jari Kurri, by only one in the all time goal scoring list. “It’s great, but it’s way more special happening at home. It was a big relief for me — for sure.” Selanne, who is only the 18th player to hit 600 career goals, became the fourth player in the past four campaigns to hit the milestone. (Three other players are Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan and Joe Sakic). Always being known as  popular with his teammates, this grizzled veteran, who helped Finland win the bronze at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, has recently made it known that this will likely be his final season. “He’s a great guy, and we definitely were pulling for him,” teammate Scott Niedermayer said. “There is an underlying feeling when you’re on the ice with him. He knows how to score goals.” Showing what kind of unselfish person he is, Selanne gave his teammates heaps of praise after he accomplished that latest milestone. “It’s amazing the way my teammates have been feeding me the puck.” Selanne said. He now has 21 goals in the season.  “I think they wanted this more than I did.” The goal was scored on Craig Anderson, who became the 133rd goalie to be victimized by Selanne, who is the all time Ducks’ scoring leader, with 373 goals. If this is Selanne’s last year, then there is no doubt,   that in a few years he will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

NHL Notes

1.       Flyers Without Carter For Up To Four Weeks

Approximately one week after losing their starting goalie Michael Leighton the Philadelphia Flyers suffered another huge setback involving key forward Jeff Carter. This 25 year-old who is the teams’ leading scorer with 60 points will miss the remainder of the season along with possibly the first playoff round due to a fracture in the arc of his left foot. This mishap occurred after Carter bravely blocked a shot on Sunday night against the Atlanta Thrashers.

 2.       Langkow Out Indefinitely With Injury

The challenge of making the playoffs got that much harder for the Calgary Flames who are currently four points behind the Detroit Red Wings for that final spot. With only about three weeks remaining in the season Calgary lost impact forward Daymond Langkow to a severe neck injury. This 13 year veteran who has 37 points this season got injured during a loss to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday when he was accidently struck by teammate Ian White’s shot from the point. Afterwards Langkow remained on the ice before being carted away on a stretcher.

 3.       Senators End Five Game Losing Skid

Brian Elliot was the story on Monday night as he made 29 saves in leading the Ottawa Senators to a critical 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens. Ottawa who now owns sole procession of fifth spot in the Eastern Conference has been slumping badly since the Olympics as they have now won only two of their last 10 games. Scoring for Ottawa was Peter Regin and Erik Karlsson.

Ozzie Guillen Talks to Son, Oney

Approximately two weeks before the Major League Baseball season begins, Chicago White Sox manager, Ozzie Guillen, is already making headlines. This former All-Star shortstop, admitted that he approached his 24 year-old son, Oney, on Friday, and asked him to step down from his position within the White Sox organization. Oney, who apparently was in the scouting department, was given this firm fatherly advice, after he wrote some controversial comments about the team on Twitter, that apparently didn’t sit well within the organization. Ozzie Guillen spent some time speaking with his GM, Ken Williams, and team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, in smoothing things over. The Chicago Sun-Times printed that Orney was very alarmed and upset that the club was monitoring his Twitter comments about the team. The Senior Guillen said that he stuck up for his son with Williams and Reinsdorf, even though he made a big mistake in his comments, that apparently were critical about the players and front office. “Wrong or right, I’m behind my kid 100 percent,” Guillen said in relation to Oney. “I think (Oney) will find a job, because people are calling left and right.”