Well, the Oscars are on and seeing as I have not seen a first run movie in an actual theatre in over three years, the glitz, glamour, posturing and posing mean absolutely nothing to me. The last movie I saw in the theatre was a Stars and Strollers afternoon feature watching Horrible Bosses. My wife and I bought our then four month old baby to the theatre and enjoyed an afternoon of solitude and Kevin Spacey playing a grade a prick with other parents and their young ones. Just before that I saw Hot Tub Time Machine and seeing as Hot Tub Time Machine 2 just got released and did not crack the best picture list, I'm out.
This gives me lots of time to pontificate and ruminate on a variety of hockey related topics.
1. HOW ABOUT THOSE ICEDOGS?
Remember when the IceDogs were 2-13, the pitchforks were out and everyone should have either got traded or fired? Seems like forever doesn't it. Since then the IceDogs have rocketed to above .500 look to be cinch to qualify for the playoffs for an 8th consecutive year and have put the fear of God in a good portion of the Eastern Conference. Today's comeback 6-5 victory over North Bay might have been the most special victory of the year for a number of reasons. Down 4-1 entering the 3rd the Dogs pounded Jake Smith for 22 shots and five goals, winning the game with :57 left in regulation with Carter Verhaeghe's 2nd of the game. Not too many times you can claim a comeback of that magnitude over a Stan Butler coached team. It was also a nice feather in the cap for assistant coaches David Bell and Billy Burke who were filling in for Marty Williamson. Marty was in B.C. doing some scouting. It was a smart decision by Marty to look at the schedule, see a trip to North Bay and Barrie in late February and then book a trop to B.C. to check out some hockey. The team has three lines rolling and a fourth line that chips in and rarely has a bad shift. Pouring in 5 goals of more has been a regular occurrence and good times reign at the Meridian Centre, where the team has won 6 straight. Marty Williamson has his crew rolling and peaking at the right time.
2. HAMILTON BULLDOGS PLAYOFF PUSH
Oh it could be a busy playoff season for yours truly if both the IceDogs AND the Bulldogs qualify for the playoffs. The Bulldogs have been playing very well as of late and at the time of this writing are one point out of the 8th final playoff spot in the Western Conference currently occupied by the Chicago Wolves. Daily standings checks will be necessary as the 7-12 spots in the conference are separated by just 8 points. Hamilton had been on a roll, winning 9 of 11 before getting dropped in back to back games in Grand Rapids, picking up one point in a 3-2 OT loss. Hardily a surprise as the Bulldogs have had a number of key personnel called up to Montreal. Jared Tinordi, Greg Pateryn, Christian Thomas and Jacob DelaRose are all up with the Habs right now. Such is life in the AHL. Getting any three of those guys will be a boost to the Bulldogs. Not sure if some of them are being showcased as potential trade bait as the NHL Trade Deadline is March 2nd. Lots of AHL franchises could either get decimated or receive an unexpected boost come trade deadline, so a lot of players start looking over their shoulders and checking the transaction pages on a regular basis.
3. TANK NATION
The less said about the Leafs the better. It truly is a franchise low point to the point that I have lost track of their record over the past couple of months. It is something like 4-22-0-2. What I can say is that I have never embraced the concept of tank nation with any team that I have supported. I am wired to compete, not embrace of cheer losing. As a long time Leaf fan this is a very difficult run of hockey to accept. And I cheered for the team in the 80's and there were some horrific teams then. In fact back in grade school or early high school, I would wear my Mike Palmateer or Wendel Clark Leaf shirt every time the team won. In those days that meant plenty of time to have the shirt washed and dried between wins. Heck, I could have sent it out for dry cleaning and still would have had time. A true sign it was the 80's was that I would wear either a crisp white or blue turtleneck underneath my Leaf shirt. Couple that with a stunning pair of acid wash jeans, and I was strutting...right into fashion oblivion.
DEAN BLUNDELL- SPORTS TALK SHOW HOST
In a surprise move The Fan 590 uprooted their incumbent morning show with Greg Brady and Andrew Walker for Dean Blundell and Company, scheduled to debut on Monday March 2nd. It will feature Dean Blundell and, well, Company as no one else has been named yet to man the morning show with the acerbic Blundell. Blundell was formerly with the 102.1 The Edge as the morning show man and owned the 18-34 demo with a combination of shock jock, push the envelope humour. Hilarious on one day and running afoul of the censors there was no question that Blundell delivered ratings. The Edge and Corus Entertainment finally had their fill of Blundell after a couple of bits that were homophobic and sent him packing. Will his brand work on sports talk radio? Will it me a less controversial Dean Blundell? Will he be able to deliver compelling sports talk to a savvy audience? Time will tell. Who the rest of the "and Company" part of Dean Blundell and Company is will determine the direction that the show will take. As for Brady and Walker? I cannot tell whether this qualifies as a demotion for them. Radio ratings are driven by the A.M. drive and the P.M. drive. Right now there is a strong possibility that they will helm the 1-4 show, replacing Tim and Sid who will take their act to TV
The dog days of the season are upon us and that means a busy two weeks with six broadcasts in nine days (2 Bulldog and 4 IceDogs). I am very much cognisant of the fact that I am very lucky to call OHL and AHL hockey for a local and provincial TV audience. The reality is that juggling a full time job, raising a family and numerous times at the arena can be a grind. As both teams are playing well and are right in the middle of playoff races (see above items), motivation will not be a problem. Trying to turn four suits (three fit well, and one well, is a bit of a tight squeeze) and a number of shirts and ties into a new and fresh ensemble will prove to be a challenge, particularly if you are standing beside Ed Burkholder! Standing beside that guy people are going to bring their taxes to me at tax time, as I'd look pretty darn conservative!
See you at the rink!Steve Clark