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Monday, August 10, 2015


Warning:  This blog will be meandering and likely drift from sports to none sports.   Can't say there will be much Junior Hockey in this one, though there will be some tidbits.  Lots of items over the summer have caught my attention. Some commentary will be a little lengthy.  Others will be quite succinct.  So let the rambling begin. 


Ah yes, the Summer of 2015 brought about a bountiful amount of rape culture and victim blaming.  Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane is being investigated for an incident at his home late one Saturday evening.    As news, or supposition trickled out, it was alleged that there may or may not have been a sexual assault being investigated.  That was all it took for all the social media lawyers to pile on the victim and rush to the defense of their boy Kaner. (Kane could get laid by any woman.  He doesn't need to rape was one of the takes:   It all got to a ludicrous level as nobody really knows what happened and the police investigation remains tight lipped.   Regardless, of what happened, I think people need to be educated about consent and rape/sexual assault. From where I stand, and what I know about Canadian law , consent is ongoing.  This means that whatever was consented to at one time, has no relevance later on.  If a person does not consent and the other person "persists" then you're looking at a crime.  For the sake of this argument, the rape laws of New York State are mentioned here only for reference and not for any sort of clarification. The notion of consent is mentioned in every single type of sexual assault.  I've got too technical for something that is only an active investigation at this point and nothing further

Just when you thought the acronym FHIRTP was permanently shelved, another reporter found herself to be the target of an on-air disruption.   BC Reporter Megan Batchelor was reporting for the CBC at a music festival when a young man decided to rush the flustered reporter and deliver a kiss.    I'm on the side of the reporter on this one.  What the young man did was assault/sexual assault, or at the very core harassment.   That's the letter of the law and I commend Ms Batchelor for making a report to the RCMP.  Predictably Twitter vitriol was in full effect and some of the stuff was plain nasty. Others saw it as no big deal to which I invite anyone to invite me to their workplace, I will have a few drinks, get shirtless and sweaty and rush you and kiss you, and then run away.  Doesn't sound as much fun does it?  Anyways, good news and a somewhat satisfactory conclusion as the young man apologized, the reporter accepted and we move on.  Now the onus must shift to the workplace, in this case the CBC, to provide a safe environment for their employees. 

Here is the incident and the apology:  CBC Reporter Incident and Apology

Oh yes, these are heady times in Blue Jay land.  The team has won eight games in a row, just swept the Yankees and shut them out two times in a row, trail them by 1 1/2 games and are in a playoff spot.   David Price jerseys are likely flying off the racks, along with Troy Tulowitzki.  Alex Anthopoulos has become Alex the Great instead of An-sloth-opoulous.   Crowds will pack the Rogers Centre for the rest of the year no doubt.  All heady stuff for a team that is still only 9 games above .500.   There has not been too many moments of celebration for Toronto sports teams, but the last two weeks show that Toronto is starving for a winner, they will pay for a winner, and they follow that winner through the shadows of the valley of death! (Yes, I quoted Gangsta's Paradise by Coolio- That's how amped up I am !!).   Sportsnet is boasting audiences well in excess of 1M, peaking at almost 1.5 M for Sunday's win over New York.  Can the good times of '92-93 return when people's biggest complaint were the corporate types who showed up in the 3rd inning and left in the 7th?  If the Jays fade down the stretch, and do not reach the playoffs, then the bandwagon will empty in a hurry.  As I said before Blue Jay fans will pay for a winner.  They will buy tickets, drink overpriced beer, learn how to say Tulowitzki, forget about Kawasaki and back this team for all its worth.  Fun times indeed!

Good for Luca Caputi, the IceDogs alum and former Penguin/Leaf has retired and joined his old junior coach Mike Kelly in Guelph as an assistant coach.  Caputi played his best hockey my first season with the IceDogs and he remains the only Niagara IceDog to top 50 goals in a season.  A 4th round pick of the Pens he had a cup of coffee with Pittsburgh and the Leafs before bouncing around a while.    I thought Caputi had a real shot to have a solid NHL career, and this is why I would not make a good scout.  I saw his 6'2 frame and ability to work the cycle down low with great leg strength as assets he could carry forward.   No knock on Luca, as the injury bug hit him, and I think playing for the Leafs put pressure on him as a local product.  That said, he and Michael Swift were magic that first year in Niagara. Both topped 100 points and their chemistry had people leaping as best they could from hard wooden benches at the ancient Jack Gatcliffe Arena/Gatorade Garden City Arena.   We all see stories in pro sports about people who sort of lose their way after their professional careers are done.  Great to see Luca still have the passion burn within him to remain in hockey and coach.  

It's the 10th of August...there's nothing going on.  Training camp starts in 20 odd days. Not much of an update!   TV Cogeco will add one exhibition game to their broadcast schedule on Saturday September 19th with Oshawa or Kitchener , I honestly cannot remember which.  Broadcast time is 6:30 or 7, and we may or may not have a pregame show.  That might be the worst promo ever written.  Just tune into TV Cogeco on Saturday September 19th on 6:30pm and there will be hockey on ok?  

One of my favourite sites to visit is .  Great content, and the place for anyone interested in sports media and its nuances.    There are two greater bloggers:  TSM , or Toronto Sports Media who created the site out of his own self-interest and posts on a regular basis.  His content is sharp and opinions legitimate. Plus he seems to have sources  and can unearth some pretty good scoops.  Weekend columnist Mike (In Boston) has become must read.  I know that he has become must read as I now make sure I have my morning coffee before reading.  The best part is the discussion thread is civil and anyone who gets out of hand is called out by either TSM, Mike (in Boston) or other regulars.  It's a rare treasure to see a site with intelligent discussion.  For those who wish a sample, here is the latest column:   

Personally, I decided to take on a new tactic when it came to pursuing opportunity.  I contacted the usual suspects that I normally do every summer (TSN , Sportsnet etc) to see what was up.  Then I decided to put my research hat on, research every single broadcasting director/decision maker I could in the NHL and introduce myself.  Hardily ground breaking, but I thought that you can't get your stuff looked at if they do not know who you are. So far I think I've hit 27 teams, received 7 responses and one phone call. No offers, but that was not the object of the exercise.  The object was to let people know that I am a working broadcaster with a desire for the next level.    Not too shabby, and I've felt that I am really taking a step forward.  Now, no more trade secrets from me!  


  • Can't call myself a huge Jon Stewart watcher, but I was a fan, used him a lot in my class, and laughed every time I watched.  He was a satirical genius, his political commentary was cutting and he handled serious situations with aplomb.    He will be missed. 
  • Stay safe Ferguson, Missouri.  It is the one year anniversary of the Michael Brown death and things are getting violent.   
  • I am typing this blog while following Bachelor in Paradise and following the lame plot lines perfectly.  This was after I switched over from wrestling.  Not exactly challenging my brain tonight
  • Speaking of wrestling, RIP to one of the great ones in Rowdy Roddy Piper, the best villain, and one of the best promo men in the business.  He once said in an interview that he would not live past 65 and this became sadly prophetic when he passed away at the age of 61. 
  • Go Canada Go. No, not hockey, but women's basketball.  They are in Edmonton right now trying to qualify for Rio and the Olympics next year.   Kia Nurse is set to be the next Canadian breakout star.  She's already an NCAA Champion at U Conn, and a PanAm gold medalist, and she's 19 years old.   You got next big brother Darnell!!
  • I could give a damn about the election right now. 82 days of false promises, white teeth, Justin Trudeau's hair ,  Stephen Harper's permanently frozen hair, Tom Mulcair's beard.   Oh, I will vote.  I always do, but it is all a bit much right now.  I am begging for another Elizabeth May weird moment like when she may or may not have got drunk at a function and went off! That's what we need.  Booze these leaders up, let them debate and then you will get some truth. 


A sure sign that the Summer of 2015 is slowly drawing to a close was the conversation heard between my brother in law and nephew about the CNE.  The Grand Old Lady is set to begin in a week and half and will usher out the summer and will be clumsily and warily enter a fall of uncertainly in the school system.   You see we teachers are on work to rule, we think.   As of July 20th, we were to cease all school related activities.  Now, what that meant I am not so sure as normally I have trouble tracking the days of the week in the first part of summer, I care so little about school.  Yet, there we are working to rule.   You would think that there would be a sense of urgency to get to the table.  But outside of a meeting between Premier Wynne and the union leaders along with a very vague commitment to bargain, there has been precious little to report. Premier Wynne has spent a fruitful summer with PanAm photo ops and LRT unveilings.  No wonder the public is pissed off! Now, it is not exactly shocking to see idling negotiations.   Many times it takes a drop dead date to get the ball rolling.   As the first day of school approaches, maybe that will shake the trees a little bit.  Maybe, maybe not, I'm not sure.  I am sure if I care or not here.  There's a lot of blame to go around. I'll stop there, lest I get in more trouble. 

This article by the acerbic Sue Anne Levy (that was the kindest way I could describe her).  Sue Anne likes to write about City Hall in Toronto and this time decided to lend her alleged talents to writing about labour and union strife.   So she pieced together some old quotes, one or two new quotes, a couple of no comments and some information that may or may not be correct and presto, an article got churned out   Sue Ann likes to taunt people on Twitter with a tired mantra of faux vitriol and "the lefty conspiracy".  Try to talk reasonably to her, and you won't get a response.  Respond angrily and you get Sue Anne do the Twitter equivalent of throwing cats at you.   

Article is here, and believe me you will not need your dictionary for big words: 

Until next time

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Lets get one thing straight.  I love the CBC!  Always have and always will.  For an educator there is no better resource to use than CBC's excellent News in Review. There is also no better investigative show than The Fifth Estate and their documentaries are outstanding.  For an aspiring broadcaster and sports fan, the soundtrack of my youth was Hockey Night in Canada and iconic voices like Bob Cole, Ron MacLean, Jim Hughson, and Howie Meeker.  For amateur competition the signature voices of Don Wittman on Track and Field and Steve Armitage on Swimming.  That said, at times, you even have to give a little grief to the one you love.  So, CBC, I say with great trepidation, but with strength resolve, You Messed Up!  There, I said it.   

CBC dropped the ball on PanAm games coverage two days in a row.  The first such occasion was not showing the gold medal match between the United States and Canada in Men's Baseball.   Forget the bizarre ending that saw no less than three errors on the final play allowing the hometown Canadians escape with the gold medal.  You had a high profile sport, with traditional rivals.  You had to show that game live on the main network!  Too many story lines to ignore and live sports TV, in particular the PanAm's are all about story telling.   CBC got rapped on the hands by no less than great Canadian baseball superstar, arguably the best position player to come out of Canada in Larry Walker.  Larry went to Twitter to convey his displeasure that there was no live coverage. 

Lesson learned and we move on to the United States and Canada Gold Medal game in Women's Basketball.  Surely the network would not make the same mistake twice, Hold the phone there junior! They did it again! 

Again, a  high profile sport as Canada was going for its first gold medal in PanAm women's basketball AND Kia Nurse, the next great Canadian superstar was a feature performer.  CBC opted for other coverage, and even on Sportsnet who CBC farmed out some of their coverage to, had Men's Soccer and what turned out to be a lacklustre and meaningless game as Canada had already been eliminated from competition and sleepwalked their way through a 2-0 loss to Peru.    You could stream the basketball game, and I am sure many did, but there was a real opportunity to draw a huge audience to a game that turned out to be sports theatre at its finest.  Kia Nurse, 19 years old, and already a star at the University of Connecticut dropped 31 points, Canada won the gold medal and a raucous patriotic sold out crowd made for outstanding visuals.  It deserved to be on the main network.   It was not, and once again people took to social media to vent (myself included).  All Trevor Pilling, head of CBC sports could offer was the fact that the game would be replayed on the main network at 11:30pm.  That did not serve as a great alternative.  CBC has painted itself into a corner as well. As the Men's Basketball Tournament starts, Canada will field an outstanding entry that will include NBA stars Sim Bhullar, Anthony Bennett , Andrew Nicholson as well as budding star and Kentucky commit Jamal Murray.   Should Canada advance to a Gold Medal game, CBC should show a gold medal game on the main network.  If they do, they run the risk of favourable coverage to Men's sports, if they do not, they risk the ire of a basketball loving nature.  

By and large, CBC still does a great job covering international events such as these, and they do it on a budget that is a fraction of what it should be.  Blame old "hair in the fridge" Stephen Harper and the Conservatives for that as they have slashed and burned the budget on the CBC to the point cutbacks are norm rather than the exception.  A recent position paper suggested that CBC seek out its own revenue streams.  No surprise this paper was authored by a large PC contingent. CBC has had to be creative and cut programming while increasing its digital exposure in a country that still craves their programming on conventional TV as well as via online or streaming forums.  

 Basketball is on the rise in Canada.  Both National Team programs are starting to move in circles normally reserved for the World's elite.  TSN has grabbed the rights to Canada Basketball and their quest for Olympic qualification.   Canadian entry into the NBA and WNBA is increasing and two semi pro leagues and the NBA D League will try and establish fan bases all over Ontario. The national network should have recognized this and captured some of the rising tide of momentum. 

Yep, it was hard to take a shot at something that I love, but it had to happen.  Now its time to forgiveness, and if you'll excuse, me I've got some CBC News in Review and Fifth Estate to catch up on. 

Steve Clark- Steve is the play by play voice of the Niagara IceDogs and has called games for the Hamilton Bulldogs, as well as a number of university sports.  One of his fondest memories was calling Canada's Women's Basketball Team Olympic Qualification Tournament in 1996. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


Happy birthday to me! Well, belated happy birthday to me as I marked my 43rd birthday in Detroit on Sunday thanks to a wonderful birthday gift from the most understanding wife on earth.  There I was 30 rows from home plate in Comerica Park rooting on the Blue Jays who were trying to salvage a game from the Tigers.  I will even ignore the slightly ulterior motive of my beautiful wife Larissa as she has been a huge Tigers fan for many, many years.  This has led to what I call the October ritual of becoming a temporary Tigers fan/band wagon jumper come playoff time as inevitably the Tigers qualify for the post season and just as inevitably the Blue Jays are mathematically eliminated by Labour Day.   This process, by the way, repeats itself around April with the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs.   The game itself was largely forgettable as the Blue Jays built a large lead and lurched their way towards a 10-5 W.  Maybe it was largely forgettable as at the precise time the Jays were laying waste to Justin Verlander with 6 runs in the 5th, I was trying mightily to digest a Coney Island Hot Dog and usher my four old onto the in-stadium merry go round.  All in good fun.

Detroit is clearly on the bounce back from a city that declared bankruptcy.  Comerica Park/ Ford Field , the casino and the Fox Theatre all create a vibrancy in the downtown area highlighted by Chris Chelios popular bar Chelli's which is across the street and has a huge patio party at ground level and on the rooftop.  That said , beneath all of the revitalization around the downtown core lies not a seedy underbelly, but more of an unfortunate bi-product of a city getting back on its feet. Not 10 seconds out of our cab we got approached by a guy claiming to be from the Shriner's, but really was a dude in a wheelchair looking for money, and then by some teenagers looking for a signature for something and also a small donation of some sort.  That sort of scrounging for dollars can be found in most major U.S. cities, but it was a little unnerving having that happen as we were trying to navigate our four year old towards Chelli's for a pre-game pop or two! That said, I'd go back again for sure, maybe leaving behind my daughter and enjoying a little of the Detroit nightlife, which at my age means a sports bar until 11:00pm!

The Halifax Rainmen of the now flailing NBL have declared bankruptcy and are looking for new owners.  The Rainmen have been stalwart members of the league and were the leagues best drawing card at one point.   Attendance and brand credibility have dwindled thanks to the Game 7 that never was versus Windsor as the team from Halifax refused to play in the championship deciding game citing safety concerns after a pregame shoot around dust up . The slew of fines and bans have not helped the cause.  Does Halifax keep its team?  Is there another Nova Scotia city capable of handling a team?  Time will tell. Right now the league has teams in Windsor, London, Niagara and Brampton and Halifax (for now) , PEI, Moncton and Saint John.  That is one unique geographical configuration.  Throw in the fact the Mississauaga Power are no more, ceding their spot in the league and welcoming Raptors905 and the NBA D-League into the Hershey Centre.  Butch Carter's CBL is expected to tip off in the late fall with teams in Waterloo, Hamilton, Scarborough and Ottawa.  If you are keeping score, in Southern Ontario/GTA you have options in the CBL, NBL, NBA D-League as well as the OUA, OCAA.  That is five different basketball options potentially, which is either good news or a disaster waiting to happen as these leagues fight for fans and a foothold in the market.   

Very excited to see an all sports network come to Hamilton.  Can the Steel City support all sports?   You've got a population of over 700 000 to draw from up and down the Golden Horseshoe which is where this station will be looking as it would be a wise move to distance itself from the GTA sports talk audience.   Who knows, maybe there will be a spot for me, depending on what sports they plan on covering.  They've got McMaster U, the Tiger Cats, the Bulldogs (though the rights holders are 900 CHML) and a potential pro basketball team in  Hamilton (see above).  That's a lot of sports, but also a lot of time to fill. Good luck to them. With the TSN brand behind them and a vast city of sports and personalities to cover, there should be no shortage of good content!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Image result for cross roadsImage result for sports broadcastingImage result for Stephen Clark Sports Broadcaster

I realize that I have been blogging a lot about my other career (teaching), when this blog is entitled "Thoughts From the Broadcast Booth"  This means that I am supposed to be talking about sporting issues of the day.  The IceDogs are well into their off season, so there is little to report on there, save for the improved health of Coach/GM Marty Williamson (get well soon Marty!).  The Bulldogs of the AHL are Newfoundland bound and there is very little news on the Bulldogs of the OHL, except for the hiring of Hamilton native Troy Smith as an associate coach.  I always like when good things happen to Troy as I worked with his mom one summer and Troy and his brothers were regulars at MacNab Recreation Centre's swimming pool.   That pretty much covers off sporting news, because I really do not think people care about what I think of the hiring of Mike Babcock as Leafs coach.  I will say that my wife has a crush on the craggy looking coach, and is a huge Red Wings fan.  She is none to pleased at his departure.  The Jays? Next. The Argo's at BMO?  Don't get me started, as I thought it was supposed to be the national soccer stadium.  The rest of the equation?  A rambling, stream of consciousness.  Putting things on paper helps me work out things percolating  in my mind.  It also has the risk of taking on a maudlin, woe is me tone, so I will try and avoid that, if I can.  

You know what, I could go on and on about how I am at a crossroads in my teacher career, but I will not go there. You have read enough about teachers, teaching and labour disputes to fill a novel.  Safe to say these are difficult times in the profession, and the last time there was such labour turmoil, or disruption it was during the Mike Harris years and a number of people left the profession in droves, and new grads, like myself, were ushered in.  Who knows?  That might be my fate too, but as teaching pays the mortgage, unlikely that's happening anytime soon,

This one is about crossroads in broadcasting.  I seem to write a "crossroads in broadcasting" blog once every year it seems, and I know it drives some people nuts when I talk about it.  This one is a little different.  I have no intention of leaving broadcasting anytime soon, though I will be cutting back a lot on account of my daughter getting involved in a lot more activities that I want to be a part of.  I love broadcasting, and still love the rush of a live game, the thrill of play by play and live TV, and the people I work with.  No issues there at all! The real question is whether or not broadcasting loves me.  While you are working with a team of people, broadcasting can be something of a lonely call in life.   I am not on the road like many full time broadcasters, enduring long bus rides, or the luxury of plane travel and long road trips (not sure you "endure" that). I drive to the game alone, do my thing, and then drive home.  This is the fall/winter/early spring routine 1-3 x a week, on top of a full-time job.  Getting compliments and being on live TV is awesome, don't get me wrong, and I get the best seat in the house.  Personal fulfillment has eluded me.  That is more of a personality/character thing with me.  Getting compliments is nice, but I do not fully believe them.  That's just me, and I'm wired to believe the glass is half-empty. It's something I need to work on, but I am also fighting 42 years of cynacism, and yes I was very cynical even as a baby.  I also do not get the perks that others get.  I would love to go to the Memorial Cup or the NHL Draft as a media member, but there is no invitation for me.  That is reserved for a chosen few.    At the end of the season, I am left with an empty feeling, that there could have been more.  Again, I know no one is going to feel sorry for me, considering broadcasting is a gig that a lot of people would love to do, and I know that my job would be filled in a nano second, should I chose to leave the booth.   

Recently I applied for two jobs. One was to be the play by play announcer for TV and the radio for the Dallas Stars, and the other one was as an sports anchor with Global News in Toronto.   Now, I 've been told by some in the industry that I have an NHL calibre voice,, in that I have the chops the elite level,  but opportunity is so rare, that just having the voice does not guarantee that you will get to that level.  I interviewed last year for the Calgary Flames radio experience, and felt like I had an excellent interview, just not a knock it out of the park interview. At that level, you have got to really rise above and beyond expectations because many apply, and only so many get even a sniff at an interview.  I met expectations, but did not rise above those expectations.   I did take a lot from that interview and set the bar pretty high for future interviews, and opportunities.  At this point, anything short of getting an interview for me is falling short of expectations.   Now, its good to have expectations, but maybe not so good to set them so high in an extremely competitive industry because you can get constantly disappointed and that can wear on you. I refer you to the aforementioned comments about my cynical personality and glass half-empty attitude.

With the Stars application, I worked hard to put together a solid demo, following the advice of picking your best and most recent stuff.  I tirelessly found good clips, tried to show variety, tried to show my personality and then edited it all together myself.   I even got ahead of the curve when it came applying by jumping the queue and getting my name in as soon as it was learned Ralph Strangis, the incumbent play by play man had left.   I received acknowledgement and a promise to look at my demo from both the Broadcast Producer and the CEO.  I felt I had at least positioned things well. I utilized a contact whom I knew in the Dallas area to help leverage the situation and also put together a very solid list of references.    After the initial response, contact stopped.  Email enquiries, and requests for phone conversations went unanswered, and it was learned that the Stars were looking at, and negotiating with a national broadcaster.  The fact it was a national broadcaster did not bother me.  Gotta look for the best guy, with the biggest profile sometimes, especially in a vibrant market like Dallas.  What bothered me was how quickly I may have been dispatched from the process.  Had my demo not resonated?   Had I somehow missed something when putting it together and the demo was not truly represenatative of NHL calibre broadcasting.  Who know?  This is where the crossroads part comes in.  The jump from OHL/AHL to NHL is massive when it comes to broadcasting.  There are only approximately 60 positions available at the NHL level, with either a team or the network level.  Supply exceeds demand exponentially! 

The very real question that I do not want to ask, but will force myself to ask is whether or not this is the end game.   Will I ever bridge that massive gap between OHL/AHL to the NHL considering right now I only do it part time?   Like any athlete forced to hang them up , or accept that they are not at the top of their game, this is a very real question many broadcasters like myself are forced to confront.


The other job I applied for really gave me pause for thought.  Now, I know that I am not trained, or much of my experience comes in terms of being a sports anchor. Live play by play is different from being an anchor.  Play by play is fluid and much of the on camera stuff is framed by guidelines and improvised.  Being an anchor means being more poised, articulate and smooth within severe time constraints.  It is a different skill-set all together, though I feel one complements the other. I applied on the Shaw Media website online in the afternoon and got the rejection letter the very same evening!  That was swift, decisive and led me to believe that my resume had not resonated on any level, even to the system that picks out key words and either keeps you or eliminates you.  I highly doubt my CV got seen my human eyes.   That knocked me for a loop, and even though  I joked about not even getting my "days of false hope", that one actually stung a little bit.  That said, a lot of resumes have to go through automated eyes, and my resume and cover letter did not resonate enough or include the key adjectives they are looking for.  I am sure that the company is going to get a savvy, solid well-respected Sports Anchor.  

To conclude, two job openings, two applications, one positive conversation and one very swift , and apparently decisive rejection. It makes me think as to whether to turn to other forms of broadcasting.  Maybe radio is my thing, though I do not have the chops or the experience for sports talk radio, even though I think teaching translates well to the medium.  Maybe I need to think of channelling my interest in law into something unique, or to return to creating and hosting a TV show.  I guess the good news is that the creative mind still is very alert, and thinking of new and hopefully innovative forms of what to do with my broadcasting career.  The downside is a true crossroads.  I am 42 years old, soon to turn 43 and sports broadcasting has started to become a younger mans game.  I cannot think of too many people who a) broke into the NHL level from a freelance, part-time, community channel approach or b) at my age.   It gives you pause for thought and that is why my crossroads come into play.  Is it time to calibrate my expectations and enjoy the ride that broadcast gives me, or is time to calibrate those expectations and switch gears into another form of broadcasting.  Questions, questions, questions but no epiphany here, at least right now.  

Hope I haven't wallowed too much.  
Until next time, or the next chapter!
Steve Clark

Monday, June 1, 2015


Image for the news result
A little IceDogs business to take care of before we get to the heart of the blog today.  There was a buzz around IceDogs rookie camp on Saturday and it was unrelated to the fine talent assembled.  Coach/GM Marty Williamson made a surprise appearance at the camp after some well documented and very serious health concerns.  Marty was recently in the ICU after some complications around his recent heart surgery.  Reading about him being out of ICU and making even the briefest appearance was outstanding to see.  Now, get home and rest up Marty!  There's no timetable for your return, so you better follow doctors orders!   Seriously, lets hope he is on the road to recovery.  His surgery sounded like it was not unlike what my dad almost 8 years ago, and it did take him quite a while to recover.  The curmudgeonliness of Clark sr. came back right away, the physical effects took a little while to fix. With the CHL season finishing when Oshawa won the Master Card Memorial Cup, the next order of business will be the releasing of the league schedule which normally comes out mid to late June.   It will be a schedule of interest this year as new teams Hamilton and Flint will be part of the loop, ironic as Hamilton and Flint have long competed annually in the CANUSA Games.   Smart marketing would dictate the two teams tying in the CANUSA Games to the games that they play.  

Bill Potrecz of the St Catherines Standard writes about Marty HERE

River Lions ready to build winning team for Niagara

It was announced that last Thursday the newest basketball team in the NBLC would be called the River Lions and the new Coach and GM would be long time Niagara Region familiar face Ken Murray.  Murray helmed the Brock Badgers for well over twenty years, winning two CIS Championships during that stretch which is mighty impressive considering Brock is a small school.  The last one in 2008 was especially sweet considering his son Scott played on the team.  The new coach/gm comes out of retirement to embrace the challenge of the newest team in the NCBL.   Filling the wonderful Meridian Centre will be one challenge for the new team.  Another one will come on the heels of Butch Carter's rival league which will set up shop in Ottawa, Scarborough, Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton.  The concerns are not necessarily geographical in terms of stealing basketball fans, but there will be competition for sponsorship dollars and media coverage.  The NBLC is trying to right the ship and build credibility after their latest season ended with Windsor winning the championship by forfeit over Halifax who no showed game 7 in Windsor sighting safety concerns after a morning dust up during pre game shootaround.  To tell the whole story on this would take pages, and pages.  The NBLC is trying to turn the corner and the first steps were adding Niagara to the league and installing former Brampton boss David Magley as the new Commissioner. 


Image result for tsn radio hamilton

Sports media enthusiasts and/or nerds ( I qualify as both by the way) take note ! There will be a new all-sports radio station and it will be in Hamilton.  TSN branded radio will take over the dials previously held for a long time by 1150 CKOC, so unfortunately those who crave their oldies will have to look elsewhere.    This is big news for Hamilton as it adds something of a competitor to the venerable 900 CHML, though CHML does mostly current events shows, and some live sports.   The bigger news is that the Hamilton Tiger Cats will move from 900 CHML to 1150 as the new station looks to build in some anchor programming.    How much local /new talent needed remains to be seen as TSN Radio can simulcast some of their key programming.     Hamilton, I've always felt is a fiercely proud local market who wears their Hamilton colours with pride.   If I am TSN Radio,  I make sure that the local presence is very strong and anything simulcasted is carefully picked.  The listening market, to me, for this station stretches along the Golden Horsehoe to the Niagara Region as much as the GTA region, so there is a wide range of listenership in the area.  Other key sports properties right now are McMaster Football and Hamilton Bulldogs hockey, both with 900 CHML.No idea what the contract status of either one of those is at this time.  Butch Carter's CBL has four franchises signed up for the 2015 season, one of  which is in Hamilton, and you have to wonder if he will seek out the new station for some media coverage.  McMaster Basketball could also be another viable sports property that already draws decently on local cable channel Cable 14. Right now the Leafs and Raptors game that are not on The Fan 590 will be on TSN Radio , and that includes the Hamilton market.   The launch is expected to be for the Fall, so there should be lots of announcements over the summer. 



By the way, if the new station needs someone who knows their hockey, basketball, football, soccer and pro wrestling (maybe I should leave that part out), I'm available.  

Steve Clark

Friday, May 8, 2015

In Defence of the Classroom Teacher

I am going to attempt the impossible.   I am going to try and write some meaningful prose on something positive about teachers.   Positivity about the teaching is severely lacking in the rhetoric surrounding labour action and education.  I am going to try and do it without undermining anything in education. So,  there will be nothing inflammatory about the government, education minister, boards of education and the union.   Maybe I should stop right now, or leave the rest of the page blank and have it be the ironic joke?   Or, you know, I can attempt to say something positive about something without resorting to cheap rhetoric.   Lets try that and see where it takes us. 

The sad thing is that there is not too much positive press in the media today.    Right now a lot of teachers or people in education are sharing a wonderful essay written by CBC News Anchor Peter Mansbridge in support of teachers.  While the essay is beautifully crafted and filled with a plethora of positivity, it was also written back in 2013.  Do teachers really have to find an article from two years ago to use as one of their rallying points?  

I'd say that teacher articles whether they are from the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, National Post or the Toronto Sun for the most part are very critical of teachers and the teaching profession.  I particularly love the ones that spend 3/4 of the article criticizing the profession and then have a disingenuous line saying that most of the teachers they know are wonderful.  You know what?  The throwaway line is not enough to erase the previous part of the article where you essentially tore the profession a new one.  Comment sections run about 80% negative, on average, with the only positive, supportive ones coming from teachers with the odd parent thrown in there.   

I am not going to get into stuff like the hardworking teacher burning the candle at both ends and marking/evaluating late into the night, because I know a lot of people do jobs that require them to work long hours, so no pity parties here!  I've said before and I will say it again, those teachers who start the conversation with their own personal itinerary of their long day only serve themselves and really want to promote themselves.  I look at teachers as people who should quietly go about their business without a lot of fanfare of credit whether it is running a club, field trip, charity event, sports team, school dance etc.    No credit needed.  The satisfaction of making the school a better place and community should be enough.  There are a ton of teachers, by the way, who do this.    

Here is the deal, and here has what has been lost when it comes to education.   Like many of  those in other professions, we get up in the morning with our family and get them ready for the day, be it at school or work.  We eat our breakfast, drive to our workplace, prepare for our day, be the best we can be for that day, and then go home at the end of the day.  We get our kids ready for soccer, hockey, baseball games, dance lessons, swim lessons.  We cheer them on, or we help coach the team.  We kiss our kids or our spouses, or our pets goodnight and we get ready to do it all again the next day.  Sound familiar?  That pretty well covers a lot of people's work day.  Really, teachers are no different from any other profession when it comes down to it.   We also have social circles, engage in social media and read the newspapers, and watch the TV.   We get hurt by the constant negativity and bashing of the profession.  We get frustrated by what is simply untrue,  We get frustrated when people underestimate the profession.  We look in dismay as much of this goes undefended, including by those who should be defending us.   Right now there are those in our profession who are standing on the picket lines, and I feel terrible that they are out there taking the slings and arrows for the rest of us.  I hope that people are giving you support, and that you stay strong.  

I think that there are a couple of reasons for the negativity of some towards teachers.   Everyone went to school, and everyone had THAT teacher , the one who was not up to the challenge, did not seem to care about the students and seem to hit the back door when the bell goes.  That one teacher gets personified and blown to represent the whole system. I get it and I will never forget Ms Petaharych for throwing away my admittedly crude clay pot into the garbage in front of the whole class when I was in Grade 7.   That was over 30 years ago and I will never, ever forget it.   That , however, does not mean that all my teachers were like this vile woman.  Teaching is like all professions in that there are always those who do not carry the load or work to their full capability.  That is not an indictment of the profession, that's life!  Look at your own personal work place.  You know who is, or who is not pulling their weight.  Sure you do.  Doesn't mean your whole workplace is painted with the brush of this person though.   

The second reason for teacher bashing, negativity is the mass media.  I cannot think of too many movies, television shows that picture the profession in a positive light.   Was it Pink Floyd's "Brick in the Wall" that started this? (Great, great song by the way).   Remember Degrassi Jr High/Degrassi High?   Teachers were portrayed ok, but certainly not great.  Didn't take long for the creepy fondling supply teacher who take the forefront in a major storyline.  How about Boston Public?   The show that was supposed to celebrate the teaching profession.  Story lines included the teacher sleeping with the student, a racist teacher who should have retired, a teacher with mental illness and on, and on.  Celebrating the profession?  Hardily.   Saved by the Bell?   Next!  90210?   More allegations of teacher/student relationships and an attempt to portray a "cool teacher" (He had a beard, and was young, so he must have been cool).   Mr D?   A parody/send up of the profession.  Glee?   Oh brother. Has it really come to this?    Sure there was the odd Mr Hollands Opus, but for the most stereotypical views of the profession have been portrayed.   

In the end, there are a lot of people doing a lot of good work, who do not want to promote their own agenda and how much they do to keep the students engaged inside and outside of the classroom.   Overall, we are just like you.   Think about that the next time you have a large social gathering, or even Facebook conversation.     I do not criticize your profession. I do not bash small business owners, customer service, accountants, lawyers etc.  Please do not criticise my profession.  I am proud to be a teacher, and should not have to flinch or brace myself every time I say that I am one.    

Friday, May 1, 2015

NBLC Just Can't Help Itself

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So many clever phrases, euphemisms and metaphors could be used.  In the end it came down to " death by a thousand paper cuts" or "self-inflicted wounds" .  For the purposes of clarity and having it fit the narrative, "self inflicted wounds" wins out.  

The NBLC just can't seem to avoid self inflicted wounds (see how that worked out! ).  Already  a league on shaky ground financially and in terms of publicity and marketing, there seemed to be the beginnings of stability, and even expansion as Niagara had joined the league.  They may have undone all of the good will they have built with the farce that surrounded Game 7 of the championship series between Windsor and Halifax.  When you think "Game 7" , stirring words such as "going for broke" "winner takes all" "intense" "gritty" are ones that come to mind, the word "farce" should not.    The fact that the Game was not played would not be in the realm of possibility would it?   Sadly, that is exactly what happened.   The actions that led to the Halifax Rainmen hitting the highway instead of their free throws are beyond comprehension and explanation.  In fact I cannot bring myself to type out the details.  Fortunately there are those that did, and the details are here:   

Morris DallaCosta London Free Press:   NBLC "black eye"

Bob Duff:  Windsor Star Another Black Eye...

Neate Sagar Yahoo Sports Game 7 Cancelled

Monty Mosher Halifax Chronicle Herald:  Rainmen /Express Brawl

Suffice to say that having a team fear for their safety (and I bet there's even more to the incredulous account reported in the newspapers) to the point of not playing in a Game 7 for all the marbles is a tremendous cause for concern and may add the final nail to the Halifax Rainmen coffin as they had not been faring too well in Halifax.   Reporters like Monty Mosher and Morris DallaCosta are very good reporters who have brought tremendous credibility and honesty to the league.  Their words should be measured very carefully in terms of how credible the league is.  

Sad thing is that I was looking forward to having the Niagara franchise in the league and even hoped to call a game or two should any be televised.The owners seemed to genuinely thrilled to be bringing pro basketball to the region and had set up a naming contest for the team, and would play out of the beautiful Meridian Centre.  They were in Windsor and got a first hand look at what they invested their hard earned money in.  I cannot imagine that they are too thrilled with this turn of events.   

In the midst of this Butch Carter continues on his own path of getting a professional league for Canada. The CBL hopes to start up this fall, and while the league's franchises have not been officially named yet, there is a TV deal with CHCH ready to go.  For those who truly are invested in seeing professional basketball in Canada, Butch Carter maybe its best and only hope.