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Bruce Dowbiggin

A Great Save And The Formula To Save Best-on-Best

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What a great story to start the New Year. A Seattle Kraken fan watching Vancouver from behind the Canucks’ bench on Nov. 23 noticed something on the neck of the team’s equipment manager. Pre-med student Nadia Popovici was concerned with a mole on Brian “Red” Hamilton’s neck.

“It had irregular borders, and it was discoloured and fairly large,” Popovici, 22, told Postmedia Saturday. She caught his attention, but Hamilton at first dismissed the idea. After showing the mole to his wife Hamilton had a biopsy done. Which revealed a dangerous malignant melanoma—one removed by doctors.

On Saturday Hamilton and Popovici were re-united as the Canucks trainer announced he’s arranged for a $10,000 scholarship to the woman who might have saved his life. Popovici was shown on the big screen and the Hockey Night in Canada cameras focused on her.

A cynic might say watching the back of a trainer’s neck instead of the game is symbolic of a hockey season tortured by the insanity of Covid constrictions. On a nightly basis we see half a roster playing three-quarters of a roster. In many cases the players not allowed to play are asymptomatic and no threat to others. But, whatever.

The other hockey casualties of Covid craziness are the Olympics and the recently cancelled mens WJC and women WC. As we wrote earlier the uncertainty of Covid quarantines in China is welded to the possibilities of athletes, journalists and officials being scooped and incarcerated by the CPP. Do the names The Two Michaels ring a bell?

So the NHL said, sensibly, it wasn’t going to go to Beijing for the men’s hockey tournament without guarantees that Connor McDavid might not be quarantined for five weeks or some club official tossed in jail for saying that maybe Hong Kong needs better treatment. Those assurances weren’t forthcoming in any sincere manner.

Certainly NHL owners won’t weep if their players aren’t exposed to sickness and Beijing’s bad air in February. The current plan for filling Olympic mens hockey is rosters of Who Dat’? and Is He Still Alive? The women’s hockey tournament is said to be unchanged, but as long as the U.S. and Canada get there who cares?

Which allows us to re-visit a solution to the Olympic mens hockey riddle. To wit, how does the NHL play a tournament each fourth February that fits its schedule, doesn’t exhaust its players and gives the Olympics the chance to hand out medals? Because the current formula is only working for the IOC. They can choose to hold a Games in an autocratic communist dictatorship looking for a PR triumph, and everyone is supposed to adapt to their caprice.

But with the NHL backing out on them for Beijing— after avoiding the 2018 Games in South Korea— even the IOC is probably thinking this system is broke. Everyone wants these best-on-best showcases, so how to make it work?

The IDLM formula— which we’ve endorsed for over a decade— is to have the NHL schedule a mid-February tournament every four years in either North America or Europe— where, coincidentally, all the players and fans are. It can run concurrent with the Winter Games that year. The IOC can hand out their medals to the winners.

The TV audience— the real prize— doesn’t have to watch the best live hockey showcased at 3 A.M. The advertisers get a captive live audience. The tournament can be staged in Toronto, NYC, L.A. or Frankfort. The NHL players aren’t obliged to fly 14 hours to Asia in the middle of the season and then return two weeks later. As a cherry on top, stage a World Cup same time, same locations in the intervening two years.

Best on best guaranteed. Imagine.

If all that common sense is just too much for the suits of the IOC then tell them that the mens Olympic hockey tournament will be the WJC for that season. Send the best U20 players— who’d otherwise be playing the annual tournament in December/ January— in February to the locale the IOC has been bribed… er, has chosen to stage the Winter Olympics.

There is precedent. Mens Olympic soccer faced a similar dilemma of getting the best to the Games. Now they stage a U23 tournament as the Olympic event. Great young athletes, word class skill, a riveting TV spectacle. And bragging rights. If it isn’t ideal it’s workable. And who the hell says anyone has to please the IOC?

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

BRUCE DOWBIGGIN Award-winning Author and Broadcaster Bruce Dowbiggin's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience . He is currently the editor and publisher of Not The Public Broadcaster website and is also a contributor to SiriusXM Canada Talks. His new book Cap In Hand was released in the fall of 2018. Bruce's career has included successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster for his work with CBC-TV, Mr. Dowbiggin is also the best-selling author of "Money Players" (finalist for the 2004 National Business Book Award) and two new books-- Ice Storm: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Vancouver Canucks Team Ever for Greystone Press and Grant Fuhr: Portrait of a Champion for Random House. His ground-breaking investigations into the life and times of Alan Eagleson led to his selection as the winner of the Gemini for Canada's top sportscaster in 1993 and again in 1996. This work earned him the reputation as one of Canada's top investigative journalists in any field. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013) where his incisive style and wit on sports media and business won him many readers.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Trudeau’s Pandemic Accord: Selling Canada By The Pound

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“The #PandemicAccord process is at the very beginning of a multiyear Member State led negotiation, which will only be finalised in 2024 after multiple public hearings around the world. And all voices will be heard”–@DrTedros WHO

Some are born great. Some have greatness thrust upon them. Then there’s Justin Trudeau, the Trust Fund Fruit-Loop. You know you’re out of your depth. Worse, you know that everyone else knows you’re out of your depth. You know that they know you have a resumé thinner than consommé. You have multiple skeletons hidden back at the ski chalet. They only want you for your name.

So what do you do to win respect? You rent yourself out to the fashionable, the witty wind therapists, the glib retainers of the media. The unelected armies of NGOs and Davos cowboys who live off free money and private jets. The positively furious grad-school Marxists.

“Make me into a man,” cried Pinnochio. “Not this wooden son of Margaret Trudeau that I am now.” So his handlers got to the work of making chicken salad from chicken… er,  stuff.

Making the Pinocchio conversion much easier was how a tattered Liberal Party, the party his father had helped to crater, was looking around for something, anything, to retrieve their hustle from the dread Stephen Harper. So Trudeau literally threw himself into the arms of the calculating Cape Breton fixer Gerald Butts and a coterie of Kinsey-style influencers and leeches.

Using Justin’s coming-out performance as the sobbing son at Papa Pierre’s casket, they put him on a trajectory to dominate Instagram and eTalk. The urban hives of Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal were tired of apologizing to their progressive pals elsewhere for a leader who wore sans-a-belt pants and gloried in policy. The Hill Media Party wanted someone with a little sizzle.

His fixers’ only instruction? “Shut you mouth and keep your hands to yourself.” This proved difficult for Justin. But an acquiescent media corps buried his sexual faux pas faster than Hunter Biden burying his meth lab.

So Justin boxed the hapless Patrick Brazeau to firm up his macho bonafides. He did cupcake photo apps with his soon-to-be-estranged wife in glossy U.S. periodicals. He stopped openly dreaming of the Communist Chinese government model. Voilà. Trudeau the Younger won the prize.

Ensconced as PM, Justin resorted to his entitled past, taking free trips from the Aga Khan, getting jiggy with a female reporter, calling off the Mounties’ investigating Quebec’s SNC Lavalin. And sucking up big time to the global elites by destroying Canada’s energy industry. Always protected by media he’d paid off in advance.

To make up for lost Liberal seats in future elections he recruited the hapless Jagmeet Singh and his NDP faculty club into a non-aggression pact. He was free to embrace all the fashionable frippery of the Woke radicals. With another term— and Singh— in hand it came time last fall to pay off his real constituents: the Reset Regime. The suits who give him gravitas. Luminaries such as WEF honcho Klaus Schwab, who bragged at having “penetrated” Trudeau’s cabinet.

Enter the WHO’s wildly ambitious Pandemic Accord. Never heard of it?

According to WHO director-general Dr. Tedros, the Chinese puppet running the WHO, the Pandemic Accord is an urgent project. ”The last few years have taught us about our own collective fragility and the threat to economies and security of not working together… The essence of the proposed #PandemicAccord is to improve cooperation, coordination, and the sharing of data, information, biological materials and lifesaving tools.”

If you’re looking to parse that word salad, rest assured that the Pandemic Accord will not be consulting local knowledge the next time a virus rolls through. It will be “one size fits all” lockdowns, vaccines and travel restrictions mandated in Europe. And the funding for the Accord will be a sinkhole, not unlike the current UN.

(If you’re thinking this surrender of sovereignty is just a Justin thing, 154 other sheep nations have also signed up for this “1984” tribute. Australia’s PM Scott Morrison sums up the enthusiasm for Covid Kool-Aid on the pandemic treaty: “The WHO should have those powers and authorities,” he announced. For an intellectual non-entity like Trudeau this is a train he needs to get on board. He’ll get to hang with the big guys.)

Now if you haven’t heard of the Pandemic Accord, you’re not alone. Because it has the power to upset naïve citizens, the arrival of this monstrosity has been covered up by the war in Ukraine. Wondering if the Bono was why Trudeau kept flying to Ukraine? In part, yes.

But he was also meeting with European leaders and global financiers about the Accord and handing over sovereignty to unelected suits. And how he can get a piece of the action when he leaves the PMO. You didn’t know his stint as PM was simply a job application to hanging with the globalist crowd? What are you, a trucker? Shame on you.

While Skippy is burnishing his CV in Europe, in his home province the Quebec government has decided now is the time to squeeze non-Francophones again. “Bill 96 would impose tougher language requirements on small businesses and companies in federally regulated industries, such as banking and telecommunications, as well as governments and schools.

If passed, companies with 25 employees or more would be subject to “francization” — government certification that use of French is generalized in the workplace — down from 50 currently. The bill also assigns new powers to the French language watchdog and sets tighter language rules for professional orders.

The cost for a roughly 50-employee company would range between $9.5 million and $23.5 million, according to estimates from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. The bill is expected to pass before the legislature breaks for the summer.”

It’ll all be fuelled by a snitch culture that turns neighbours against each other and on companies. To help Premier François Legault navigate any legal or Charter issues, the PM has said they’ll move the deck chairs so it can pass without a problem.

But that and soaring gas prices is all just a sideshow for Trudeau. The big action— and respect— lies in Europe. And he can’t wait for you to give him a lucrative send-off.

 

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

 

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Bruce Dowbiggin

We Have Met The Goalies, And The Goalies Have Won

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The NHL’s problem, Boston Bruins GM legend Harry Sinden told us years ago, is that there are 30 teams. But just one Stanley Cup. That makes for a lot of disappointment.

As Toronto fans can now attest, that disappointment stings worst when you have a team with a likely Hart Trophy winner and an impressive regular season. By rights a healthy Leafs squad should have disposed of the defending champions from Tampa Bay, who finished five  points below them in the standings.

But the NHL is no place for favourites. Analytics have found that, generally,  you’d have to play a best-of-51 series before the higher-seeded NHL team would have the advantage. (The NBA is much more favourable to the chalk.) So, given enough time Toronto would have outlasted the Lightning. It could/ would have taken till August to do so, however.

Why? Because the NHL— despite fitful attempts to redress this discrepancy— has created a Frankenstein playoff model that allows lesser teams to clog the ice, funnel shots from bad angles and get away with fouls that wouldn’t stand in the regular season. Using the rules today, a defensive-minded team can clog the front of the net, blocking as many shots as does their goalie.

In Toronto’s Game 7 loss to Tampa, the Leafs directed 57 shots at impenetrable goalie Andrei Vasilevsky. He stopped 30 of 31 that reached him. His defence almost matched him, blocking 26 shots. (Toronto blocked 13 shots while goalie Campbell stopped 20 of 22 shots that rewashed him.)

Toronto buzzed the scoring zone, dominating puck possession.  They dominated faceoffs, winning 61.8 percent. In the end it meant zilch, be cause Vasilevsky was a brick wall.

It was the same for the Pacific Conference champion Calgary Flames against 23-year-old goalie Jake Oettinger and the Dallas Stars— who only snuck over .500 on the final day of the season. In Game 7 Calgary sent 129 shots toward the net, with Oettinger making 64 saves into OT. And his defence blocked 32 Calgary shots on Sunday.

On average the Flames outshot the Stars (272 shots) by over 20 shots in each of the seven games.  Yet the lower-rated Dallas almost escaped with the series win, because Oettinger was otherworldly. It took a bad-angle goal from Johnny Gaudreau in OT to propel the favoured Flames to a Round 2 Battle of Alberta with Edmonton.

The NHL shows no inclination  to reward hight-ranked teams, preferring to lionize the grinders and bangers by letting them hit opponents late and charging guys along the boards. If there were a goal that epitomized this credo it has to be  Gm.4 of the Kings/ Oilers series when Carl Grundstrom slid on his belly into goalie Mike Smith, pushing the puck under the Oilers goalie with a two-handed shove. Ugly? Yes, but effective against the massive goalies.

Of course, what are scorers to do when faced with 6-foot-5 goalies like Smith and his towering peers blotting out the sun? The epidemic of skilled giants wearing huge equipment has led to teams not shooting till they can screen the goalie or knock in a rebound. It was something we wrote about in February of 2021 following publication of an article by Ken Dryden in The Atlantic entitled “Hockey Has a Gigantic-Goalie Problem”.

 

“The problem isn’t the game. The problem is the goalie, who is changing the game”, declared Dryden. “This game, one that allows for such speed and grace, one that has so much open ice, is now utterly congested… Never in hockey’s history has a tail so wagged the dog.”

Dryden reviews the evolution of the position from goalies’ bodies protruding above the cross bar to having their entire body below it. “Pads that had been made of heavy leather, deer hair, and felt were replaced with nylon, plastic, and foam rubber. These lighter materials, which made the pads less awkward to move around in and less tiring to wear, could then also be made bigger. And bigger equipment, covering a body now in position below the bar, filled even more space.”

Dryden explains how a properly positioned 6-foot-3 or taller goalie can now block all avenues for the puck— from his knees. “But really, in that equipment, with those body strategies, why get up? Why move? What better puck-blocking position could he take?”

The response from coaches and shooters? “Rush the net with multiple offensive players, multiple defensive players will go with them, multiple arms, legs, and bodies will jostle in front of the goalie, and the remaining shooters, distant from the net, will fire away hoping to thread the needle, hoping the goalie doesn’t see the needle being threaded, because if he does, he’ll stop it

It’s not a formula Dryden likes. “All the players’ amazing skills, developed in hours of practice, visualizing and dreaming in basements, on roads and local rinks, in drills with coaches and expert teachers, their minds and hands now able to move as fast as their feet, to find and use all the open ice that is there. But with so little open ice where open ice matters, for what?”

He contrasts how basketball solved its size problem: introducing the three-point line to open up scoring in what was becoming a stalemate beneath the hoop. “If a big guy can’t pass and shoot, there’s no place for him. With big guys dispersed and away from the basket, little guys now even get rebounds. All 10 players are involved. All 10 players can have a role. All 10 players, on the best teams, and on even better teams in the future, need to have a role to win. This NBA game, played on a much smaller surface than a hockey rink, is now far more open, much less congested.”

Dryden’s solution is a reluctant one. “The clever cat-and-mouse game between goalies and shooters has run its constructive course. The goalies, by winning, have changed the game.” So the net must be made bigger. “Maybe only six inches or a foot wider, maybe only six inches higher. And only for those in junior and college leagues and above.”

Whether the NHL can see beyond its cherished myths of grinders and role players to admit it has a problem is the question. A question that, as long as Gary Bettman is commissioner, will never be answered.

 

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

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