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Alberta

Could our sports history be … history?

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Could our sports history be … history?

What began as a simple question was turned suddenly into a discouraging truth. The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has not received any support from the provincial government this year and no discussions have been held about when – or if – the money might arrive.

The question was: “What chance is there that the annual banquet (postponed because of COVID-19) will be staged before the end of 2020?” Tracey Kinsella, who became executive director of the Hall last summer, responded that many existing lockdown issues would have to be cleared up, and some funding would be required. Then she pointed out that the Hall of Fame, which sits on the edge of Red Deer and has honoured athletes and sportsmen for decades, has been operating without funds. And she also pointed out that she has had little communication to date with any government representative about the cost of staying in business.

Given those simple facts, it takes no large dose of imagination to see the possibility that the Hall of Fame, which sits on the edge of Red Deer and has honoured athletes and sportsmen for decades, will not exist much longer. Alberta’s annual contribution is a mere $302,000,  peanuts in the budget of any provincial government.

Of course, this is not just ANY government. It has bigger problems than most. The United Progressive Conservative government is locked in vital struggles over billions of resource revenue and thousands of jobs. Before the coronavirus interfered, facing a debt level already out of control, the UPC dismantled the Alberta Sports Connection board of governors, which provided years of experience in administration, public service and fund-raising, then oversaw the dismissal of at least one high-ranked staff member who served ASC with integrity for more than 25 years.

Moves to fill those gaps, if any, have been made in silence.

To put the record straight, this reporter spent five years as chair of ASC, the last two under control of an NDP  minister so disinterested he once told hundreds of Leduc residents, “you know, of course, that I’m not in politics because I care about sports.” My term ended on schedule, before the UPC was elected.

In times like these, where major issues such as COVID-19 collect almost every available ounce of governmental focus, it is easy to look beyond issues that supposedly don’t matter. But, if provincial history and recognition of many who have contributed is important, some attention must be paid soon.

Kinsella, who has been involved in sport as an administrator and unpaid supporter for years, replaced veteran Donna Hately. She entered with enthusiastic ideas about “investments in the Hall.” Her concept would provide entertainment and education for youngsters while also upgrading the building, completed in 1997.

In recent years, she said, attendance at the annual induction banquet had not been “any kind of money-maker.” Other funds were raised in the annual Hall of Fame golf tournament. “Now, we’re doing whatever is necessary” as she looks toward the future. “I think we can get by at this level for about a year and a half, but it won’t be easy.”

Initially, the Hall of Fame induction banquet was scheduled for May 29. To be recognized whenever a date can be set are four athletes, three builders and two to share the Bell Memorial Award for media excellence, as well as individual Achievement, Pioneer and Legacy Award winners. Click for this year’s inductee’s. 

Click here to make a donation to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

Editor’s note:  John is an Alberta Hall of Fame member, inducted in 1988 with the Bell Memorial Award for media excellence. 

Click to read more of John’s stories.

Todayville has a many stories about the inductees over the past few years.  Since 2017, we have produced a video of each inductee.  Click here to find some amazing stories. 

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Alberta

Lightning the latest to learn Dallas Stars’ defence can be downright offensive

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EDMONTON — The Tampa Bay Lightning are the latest team in the NHL playoffs to discover how much the Dallas Stars’ defence can be, well, downright offensive.

The Stars scored twice via defenders jumping into the play en route to a 4-1 win over the Lightning in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.

Dallas head coach Rick Bowness calls it a high-risk, high-reward strategy change born out of necessity in the modern game.

“We had to change the way we were playing with the puck,” Bowness told reporters Sunday on a Zoom call.

“Since we went to (return to play training) camp on July 11 that was the focus, and it continues to be the focus.

“In this league, you better have your fourth guy joining the rush or you’re not going to create enough chances off the rush, and you’re not going to spend enough time in the offensive zone.”

Dallas is three wins from the Stanley Cup in a playoff run powered by the offensive production of defenders like Miro Heiskanen, John Klingberg, and Jamie Oleksiak.

Heiskanen, 21, is the team’s top playoff point-getter, with five goals and 18 assists. Klingberg is tied for third (three goals, 17 points). Oleksiak has five goals in 22 playoff games after never getting more than five in any regular season in his eight-year NHL career.

Bowness said the strategy carries high risk if everyone isn’t in sync. The forwards have to gain the zone and dish the puck and fill the gap when the defence activates. If a player loses the puck or doesn’t rotate, the dominoes can fall on a disastrous odd-man attack headed at high speed the other way.

“Some nights it’s there, it works, and some nights it doesn’t. But they’re coming,” said Bowness.

“We’re after our D all the time to keep coming, and when that happens you’re putting a lot of onus on the puck carrier to make the right decisions.

“We’re here where we are because of the play of our defence and their chipping in offensively when they have to.”

With Dallas, the defence can play offence, but the offence can also hustle back and play defence, as evidenced in the third period of Game 1. Tampa Bay found its legs in the final frame and leveraged three Dallas minor penalties to blitz Anton Khudobin with 22 shots on net in 20 minutes.

Khudobin stopped them all, but credited teammates with clearing out rebounds and stopping pucks at the point of attack. The Stars allowed 35 shots on Khudobin in total but blocked another 26.

Dallas forward Jason Dickinson said they are succeeding in keeping shots to the perimeter and collapsing in on the net when pucks got through.

“We’re all on the same page. We don’t get running (around). When we’re in doubt we pack it in and we’ll expand from there and protect the house first,” said Dickinson.

“When it does open up, we have (Khudobin) there to shut the door for us.”

Khudobin, a journeyman backup in his 11th season, is having a storybook post-season, starting 19 games for an injured Ben Bishop and racking up 13 wins. Against the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference final he allowed just eight goals on 161 shots for a .950 save percentage.

But Bowness said even keeping shots at a long distance is not good news.

“When we’re seeing that, we’re on our heels and that’s not how we play the game. We play the game on our toes going north,” he said.

The Lightning have yet to lose back-to-back games in this post-season, which has seen teams play in so-called isolated bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto to prevent contracting the coronavirus.

Forward Blake Coleman said they’ll be a different team in Game 2 Monday night at Rogers Place.

“Nobody is proud of the way we played, and we have a very proud group,” said Coleman.

“I expect every guy to look in the mirror and bounce back and play better than they did in Game 1.”

Looming over the series is the question of whether former two-time league scoring champion and Lightning team captain Steven Stamkos will return.

Stamkos has been out since March after undergoing surgery for a core muscle injury. He’s skating with the team in practice.

Will he play in Monday’s Game 2? Tampa head coach Jon Cooper was asked.

“I guess there’s always a chance, but as of now I don’t think so,” Cooper replied.

Bowness said they’re planning for him: “We’re expecting Steven to play at some point.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2020.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

RCMP in Alberta say man dead after he called 911 and told police he wanted shootout

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CALLING LAKE, Alta. — RCMP in Alberta say a man is dead after he’d called them multiple times, telling them he wanted a gunfight with police.

Police say officers in Athabasca, Alta. received multiple 911 calls from a 51-year-old man who asked police to come to his home in nearby Calling Lake.

They say during those calls he made comments that he wanted to engage RCMP members in a shootout.

Police allege the man exited the residence multiple times before ultimately confronting RCMP members on the street.

They say that confrontation led to an RCMP member discharging a service firearm.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene, and no other injuries were reported.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, the province’s police oversight agency, says it has been directed to investigate the officer-involved shooting and will provide more details later.

RCMP, meanwhile, say they will continue to investigate the actions of the man and the events leading up to the confrontation.

The Canadian Press

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