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‘He’s incredible’: Bedard once again turning heads at Canada’s world junior camp


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MONCTON, N.B. — Connor Bedard’s highlight reel has been hard to miss.

Already the presumptive first overall selection at the 2023 NHL draft, the 17-year-old phenom with a bullet shot and an ability to make the puck look like it’s on a string – often leaving defenders chasing shadows and goaltenders looking foolish – has taken his game to new heights this season.

Video of his jaw-dropping skill splashes across social media on what feels like a near-daily basis. And there’s almost certainly going to be more viral clips when Bedard takes centre stage with Canada at the 2023 world junior hockey championship later this month.

His exploits have also already entered the NHL conversation.

“We have guys in the Kings dressing room talking about him like, ‘You get to play with Bedard kid,'” said Canadian defenceman Brandt Clarke, who was loaned to the men’s under-20 national team by Los Angeles for the tournament.

“I’m not going to name anybody.”

So, was the teammate in question Kings defenceman and noted hockey geek Drew Doughty?

“(He) did say that, actually,” Clarke, 19, added with a laugh. “(Bedard’s) already getting that kind of recognition.”

With good reason.

Coming off a 51-goal, 100-point performance at age 16 for the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats in 2021-22, the silky smooth centre from North Vancouver, B.C., has gone next-level this season.

Bedard was held off the scoresheet in Regina’s opener, but has scored 27 times and added 37 assists since as part of an outrageous 27-game point streak.

Before joining up with Canada, which will be looking for its 20th gold medal when the world juniors open Dec. 26 in Halifax and Moncton, Bedard had five points in an 8-2 victory last weekend.

Canadian world junior hopeful and Seattle Thunderbirds goaltender Thomas Milic was asked about Bedard’s shot.

Turns out he has first-hand experience from the WHL this season.

“It’s pretty, pretty, pretty good,” the 19-year-old said with a smile. “There’s a picture online where the shot was taken and I’m still looking for it and it goes right by me.

“Hopefully that one doesn’t circulate too much.”

During one recent on-ice session at Canada’s world junior selection camp in Moncton, a simple rush drill saw Bedard effortlessly collect a wayward pass by drawing the puck between his legs up to his stick without breaking stride – one of countless subtle moments that feel ordinary, but certainly aren’t.

Shane Wright, the No. 4 pick by the Seattle Kraken at the 2022 draft, said Bedard has teammates in awe.

“Such a good player, but you’d never know,” said the 18-year-old centre, who was also loaned to Canada for the tournament. “Such a down-to-earth guy and such a fun guy to be around.

“He cares about taking care of himself properly and cares about his game. We see the talent on ice, we see the moves he makes and all the clips, but there’s so much that he does off camera – behind the scenes – that allows him to be that good and be that successful. He’s incredible.”

One of 10 returning players from Canada’s gold-medal winning roster that won the reimagined August world juniors pushed back eight months following a series of COVID-19 outbreaks that shelved last year’s event, Bedard is a lock after working hard to earn a spot 12 months ago.

But he taking nothing for granted.

“Always want to come in with that tryout mentality,” said Bedard, the first player granted exceptional status to play in the WHL a year early at age 15. “Still trying to prove myself and show everyone here what I can do.”

What he’s done over the last few years – Bedard even travelled to Sweden during the pandemic to train and find games when the WHL shuttered operations – is demonstrate a drive and determination that mirrors his talents.

“A player that wowed us last Christmas, a player that wowed us in the summer,” said James Boyd, a member of Canada’s management group. “He’s got the game-changing ability. What’s exciting is that he’s a better player now.”

Director of player personnel Alan Millar said the next step is honing his play without the puck.

“When you get into those key games, matchups are important,” Millar said. “The offence and a skill, we all know. But I think you’ll see a young man whose game has matured and is that much more complete.”

While that’s been a point of emphasis, Bedard is doing his best to keep draft talk at arms length.

“You have such a big focus on winning,” he said. “That’s outside noise. I’m so focused on the room with the Pats and here with the Team Canada.

“It’s pretty easy to block that stuff out.”

Adam Fantilli, a freshman forward at the University of Michigan expected to be in the conversation for the No. 2 spot at the draft, and Bedard are friends off the ice.

The pair watched Regina’s game Friday when Fantilli couldn’t get Michigan’s matchup against Michigan State on his laptop.

“Great guy,” Fantilli said.

“It’s kind of funny when people put us against each other,” Bedard added. “We joked about it a bit, but we’re both cheering for each other and now we’re on the same team.”

Hockey’s next big talent – Bedard has been compared to Connor McDavid in terms of what he might do to alter an NHL’s franchise future – is just getting started.

And already a big talking point across the sport.

“He’s as advertised,” Clarke said. “He’s so smart with the puck, his released is unmatched.

“I’m really looking forward to the rest of his career.”

The next step is trying to secure another gold on home soil.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 10, 2022.


Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Celebrity Owners– Fun, Yes, But The Equity Is Even Better

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In case you hadn’t noticed. Celebrity Sports Ownership is all the rage. When the Ottawa Senators were for sale Ryan Reynolds, Snoop and The Weeknd were all mentioned among the bidders (that eventually went to Montreal businessman Michael Andlauer). LeBron James now holds a minority position with Liverpool FC.

Jay-Z owns part of the Brooklyn Nets, Usher a piece of the Cleveland Cavaliers while Fergie of Black Eyed Peas fame also partly owns the Miami Dolphins. Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Marc Anthony, and tennis superstars Serena and Venus Williams are owners of pro sports teams. Famously, Elton John owned Watford FC, although he’s now just an honorary chairman.

And, of course, Reynolds and Rob McElhenney used a documentary TV series that showed their Welsh Wrexham soccer team promoted to the FA’s League Two. What’s the attraction?

Clearly a little PR is always a good thing. But sports team ownership has also become a lucrative equity play. As BMO reports, “The average compound annual growth rate since the last purchase price…  is 15 percent, a meaningful outperformance to the TSX and S&P.  Forbes estimates the Toronto Blue Jays are currently worth US$2.1 billion or roughly C$2.85 billion.

Based on recent sports franchise transactions, expansion fees and annual estimations of franchise values by Forbes Magazine, an $8 billion enterprise value is easily defendable for the Jays’ owners MLSE (who also own the Maple Leafs, Toronto FC and Argonauts).”

It’s the same across the major pro sports leagues. The estimated average franchise value in the NFL since 2013 is $5.1B with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16 percent; in the NBA it is $2.9B with a CAGR of 18 percent. For MLB it is $2.3B with a CAGR of 12 percent; the NHL is $1.0B with a CAGR of 11 percent; while MLS is $0.6B with a CAGR 21%.

But, BMO cautions, owning a sports franchise is considered “an equity investment strategy rather than a cash flow or income play.” In other words, don’t think that ticket sales and hot dogs are going to make you rich. (Although the NHL’s salary cap, which guarantees owners’ profits is a sweet deal.) The key is sports media which is thriving despite the move to cord cutting..

Sports media rights contracts have grown in tandem with franchise valuations. Not to be ignored in the advertising growth and viewer interaction is the bear knowns as legalized sports betting. Betting companies are flooding the airwaves with commercials while bettors tune in to watch how their selections work out. The casinos and online shops have replaced lower-paying traditional advertisers who’ve dropped off.

In Canada, league or team ownership of broadcast properties is still common. For that reason the real value of those broadcast rights is often opaque. (We had some irritated pushback from Rogers and Bell for writing on this tidy arrangement in the mid 2010s, forcing some limited disclosures). Rogers Sportsnet and TSN own (via MLSE) own a stable of teams in MLB, NHL, CFL and MLS. Good luck finding out what they pay themselves for media rights.

It’s more open in the U.S. Since the New York Yankees pioneered the YES network in 2002— sparking multiple imitators in other markets—the move in the U.S. has been away from outright ownerships of regional sports networks. A number of RSNs in the U.S. are either in bankruptcy or nearing it. Digital and network sources are now absorbing these sources. ESPN, via its owner Disney, is looking to find partners for its many broadcast properties as their bottom line in general has suffered.

Still, ESPN’s legacy business generates revenue and operating income of approximately $12.5 billion and $4.0 billion in 2023. It remains to be seen what new model emerges in the U.S. to answer cord cutting and the death of conventional TV. The NFL’s experiment on Monday, having two MNF games compete on separate networks is one experiment.

In Canada’s monopolistic market, “TSN/RDS penetration rates have declined at a quicker pace than ESPN over the past 10 years. ESPN penetration has dropped from 81 percent of U.S. households in 2013 to 56 percent in 2022, while TSN/RDS penetration has decreased from 89% of Canadian households in 2013 to 49 percent in 2022.

In addition, BMO admits that cord cutting is a thing. “SportsNet subscribers have decreased -23 percent to 5.8 million over the same period. Subscriber and advertising revenues are 60 percent and 40 percent of total revenue, respectively. Since 2017, TSN revenues have increased 13 percent. TSN subscribers have decreased -29 percent to ~7.8 million over the same period.”

But! In the last five years, TSN and SN have increased advertising revenues by 13 percent and 15 percent respectively. The same figure for the top five Canadian non-sports channels (collectively) is six percent. Thank you legalized wagering in Ontario. So who wouldn’t want a piece of this action, especially in Canada?

The red flag in this surging equity market comes in the form of smaller Canadian NHL markets. The Senators sale for $950 suggests a healthy interest in owning, but the Sens sale was also tied into the new LeBreton Flats arena. Ownership or control of a Canadian arena means more than NHL games. It also includes revenue from concerts, rallies, monster-truck events etc.

Even with that can Andlauer produce a winner just two hours from the Montreal Canadiens market? Likewise, the Winnipeg Jets are desperately in need of a larger arena to replace the 15,321 Canada Life Centre. Having Canada’s richest man, David Thomson, as an owner is no guarantee of getting one. And should Thomson tire of being the saviour of a losing Jets hockey property, who in that market has C$1-2B lying around needed to fund the franchise properly?

Likewise, the Calgary Flames. Despite the political press conference this summer about as new agreement the arena that management promised by 2013 has still not seen a shovelful of dirt turned over. The latest gaffe was architect’s drawings for the rink being rejected by the NHL due to inadequate dressing-room space. Start again.

Should the rink not be available till 2025-26 will an evolving ownership group still be interested in shelling out the money to keep the Flames (and Stampeders, Roughnecks and Hitmen) operating in Calgary? And if they don’t, because losing sucks? While energy-rich Calgary has plenty of billionaires, few will want to risk the money needed to keep a competitive team in a small market.

Connor McDavid’s brilliance plasters over the same small-market crack in Edmonton. Yes, they have their new building, but can owner Darryl Katz fund the moves need to keep his stars and build a winner? Vancouver, owned by the Aqulini family, has a larger market base, but with Seattle Kraken just two hours away can they too write the cheques needed to create the first Stanley Cup winner since the Canucks entered the NHL in 1970.

If these Canadian markets do survive longterm it might have to be with foreign ownership. Certainly there is money to be made riding the equity train. But there also no guarantees that those carpetbagger owners might replicate the Montreal Expos and scoot to richer markets.

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via

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Red Deer

New Chiefs logo for Red Deer Minor Hockey designed with guidance of indigenous leaders

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News release from Red Deer Minor Hockey Board of Directors

Red Deer Minor Hockey Commission proudly announces the unveiling of their new Primary Logo, paying homage to the indigenous heritage and peoples of the region.

The revamped logo is a result of two years of dedicated efforts to align with the values and traditions of Treaty Six and Seven peoples, who are the original founders of the land on which we live, play, and work.

In 1967 in our Centennial Year, Red Deer Minor Hockey’s Earl Chadwick, with the permission of Chief John Samson, adopted the Chiefs name and logo as a tribute to the indigenous community’s and their rich cultural heritage on the Treaty 6 and 7 land that we play on.  Since then, the Red Deer Minor Hockey Chiefs have strived to maintain a strong connection with the indigenous peoples of the area.

Recognizing the need to further honour and respect the indigenous heritage, the Red Deer Minor Hockey Chiefs embarked on a comprehensive logo redesign project. The objective was to create a logo that not only represents the team but also reflects the values and traditions of Treaty Six and Seven peoples.

After extensive consultation with indigenous leaders from Treaty Six and Seven, the Red Deer Minor Hockey Chiefs are proud to unveil their new logos. These logos symbolize the unity, strength, and resilience of the indigenous community, while also paying tribute to the original founders of the land.

The Red Deer Minor Hockey Commission expresses their gratitude to the indigenous leaders for their guidance and support throughout this process. Their blessing and endorsement of the new logos reinforce the team’s commitment to fostering inclusivity, diversity, and cultural appreciation within the hockey community.

The Red Deer Minor Hockey Board of Directors along with Chief Wilton Littlechild along with the Treaty 6 and 7 Chiefs invite our members and friends to join them in celebrating the unveiling of their new logos on Friday Oct 13 2023 for the Home Opener of our U18 Optimist Chiefs at the Servus Arena.  The Red Deer Minor Hockey Commission remains dedicated to promoting a positive and respectful environment for all players, coaches, and fans, while honoring the indigenous heritage and peoples that have shaped the community and land we play on . We will provide the Celebration details as soon as we have finished the plans.

Red Deer Minor Hockey Board of Directors

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