Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hallowe'en and Hockey Decorating Tips

by Lisa O.
There's still time to scare up a lawn display for this weekend. Here's the work of Mac, a hockey player in Nova Scotia.  Her "The Ghost of Injuries Past"  creation just might spook trick or treaters this weekend. In Mac's words...

Doug and I drove by a place that had a Halloween dummy out front that looked like a hockey player. I thought it would be neat if we had one, only this one has injuries similar to what I've had in the past. Think the neighbors might get a kick out of it, as they know my history.

And if you still haven't taken the knife to the pumkin yet, there's always the classic hockey mask look....
Okay, mine isn't the greatest (the one on the right). Here is a link to a stencil to print out for your orange gourd masterpiece (not the same one I used)
hockey mask stencil
And here's a link to a hockey player pattern...
hockey player pattern
Have a safe n' Happy Hallowe'en!

Monday, October 25, 2010

What They are Saying about the Oiler's Cheer Squad

by Lisa Ovens

I put up my winter photo early this year...its cold, stormy weather in Vancouver right now!

Before I get to what people are saying, I can't help but want to help the Oilers consider other options so they don't upset a portion of the fanbase so much. So I'm working on that for a column for later this week.

Hockey fans everywhere have an opinion about the Oilers adding a cheer squad to their game presentation. After surfing around the Internets, here are a few popular reasons for not adding the squad to the game...

1) Its Canada, hockey doesn't need it as a marketing gimmick
2) Its demeaning to women
3) We're supposed to be focused on the game
4) We're Oiler fans, we know how to cheer when we see something to cheer about

There are people who don't care as long as the squad doesn't block their view of the game. And there are plenty of guys who love the idea and are hoping for hot ladies in tiny costumes.

I also checked on a couple of hockey writers as they weigh in on the controversial issue, one in the United States and one in Canada.

Leslie Silvey (the Hockey Mom) in Washington DC is no stranger to dance teams, the Capitals include them in the game's Leslie's take

Musings of a Hockey Mom

The Cantankerous Canuck wonders if the addition of an Oiler dance team is a sign of desparation.

Cantankerous Canuck

And you can see what hundreds of people have to say on the petition page, which is now up to 771 signatures.

Oilers Petition Page

 Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's Right About the Vancouver Canucks Ice Team

by Lisa Ovens

As I am following the Edmonton Oilers Cheer Squad story (and I certainly have heard from my friends who are not pleased with The Oil at all) I can't help but think of my home team, the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks got it right when adding this ice squad element six years ago. Introducing the current version of the Canucks Ice Team...

This photo is from the ice team's page and can be viewed here

The most important point of all: the Vancouver Canucks are an equal opportunity employer: both males and females are working together on the team. The Canucks know both males and females can possess the qualities found in great promotional representatives, and they are giving both genders an equal opportunity to gain valuable experience for their careers.

They are dressed sporty, and the girls are provided with jackets, too, so it's their choice to cover up or not. I have never seen the team wear shorty shorts or mini skirts which is also very, very good.

The Canucks Ice Team do the Canucks proud when they get busy at the games and in the community. I've seen them in action and they are a great example for other teams to follow.

So when I read Edmonton Oilers president and CEO, Patrick LaForge say "the cheerleading team is a great way for the Oilers organization to stay current" I am surprised.  I think what the Vancouver Canucks have done is current. Being an equal opportunity employer is a "current" thing to do. Treating the female members of the team with respect by providing a sporty, respectable uniform to wear is current and progressive minded thinking.

Go Canucks!

Oiler Petition update: as of 2:30pm PST Sat. Oct.23,2010 the list is now up to 395 signatures. To view the list please click here

Sig number 355's comment was interesting...

"Hockey Purist in Arizona - Doesn't work here either!!"  Jeff in Phoenix

The NHL Is Paying it Forward

by Jan Snyder

What a Great Idea!

The National Hockey League collectively and the individual teams do their share of giving back to the community. Initiatives like Hockey Fights Cancer and Hockey is for Everyone make a big difference. Each team does its share of hospital visits and school visits striving to build awareness and help where they can.

But the program that caught my eye is Rock and Wrap It Up! The NHL has partnered with this organization to fight hunger across the United States and Canada, with all 30 teams involved.

I grew up in a family who wasted nothing! I don’t remember any food ever being thrown away unless it had gone bad. My grandparents immigrated from what was then Czechoslovakia and instilled in their children the importance of sharing and not wasting. Obviously, that mentality was passed down to the grandchildren as well. My grandparents grew all their own vegetables, many fruits and raised chickens. We ate everything they grew including grapes, raspberries, blackberries, pumpkins, bean, peas, etc. My “Bubby” made jelly, juice, preserves, you name it. Her pies were out of this world and she could make anything taste like gourmet food.

So seeing that “waste not, want not” mentality growing up has led me to feel the same way. I hate to see food go to waste especially in an economic climate that finds so many families struggling. I’ve been lucky enough to spend some evenings in suites at different venues. At the end of the evening, more food is leftover than ever should be and I would leave the event feeling badly about that.

But now, through Rock and Wrap It Up!, that’s all changed. The teams are packing up all prepared but unsold concession food on game nights for redistribution to local shelters and places of need. After the first two games in the new Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh alone, 1150 pounds of unsold food found its way to the Pittsburgh Food Bank. What an incredible difference that can make times 30 teams!

Rock and Wrap It Up! was founded by Syd Mandelbaum, who began the program in 1991, by redistributing food leftover after rock concerts. Then the program moved on to the sports venues. Both of Syd’s parents were Holocaust survivors who almost starved to death in Nazi concentration camps as teenagers. The experiences of our elders always leaves it mark on us and Syd decided to try to make a difference in the States, who accepted his parents in 1950, after they spent five years in a displaced persons camp in Germany. Now he is the difference maker for so many people who need help. Pay it forward is a great concept!

If you want to get involved with volunteering in your city, simply visit your team’s website. There is so much to be done that we all have to do our share.

please visit Rock and Wrap it Up's website

Monday, October 11, 2010

Step Back from the Ledge!

by Jan Snyder

Okay, so the Pens have lost their first two games. If this had happened in the middle of the season, would a two game losing streak be enough to panic over? I think not. Let’s take a big, deep breath and see what happens next.

The second game in Consol was much feistier and closer than the first game. After all, a Pens/Flyers game with no fights?? No matter how much the players tried to downplay going up against Montreal, while I was watching, I couldn’t help but think that loss that put the Pens out of the playoffs was still at the forefronts of their brains. The Pens played better, more shots, etc., but again, the goalie, this time Carey Price, was the difference. Geno raced around like a demon and the defense looked more together than they did during the first game. Let’s remember we have several new defensemen trying to learn the system and they are doing just fine.

I thought booing P.K. Subban the entire game was a little over the top. He accidentally cut Jordan Staal’s foot last year – hardly enough to indict him for a crime! Maybe once would have been enough! But then a penalty was called when it looked like Subban fell onto a Pens’ stick, but he was bleeding, and that led to the penalty and more vitriol aimed at him the rest of the night.

So back to the Consol. I explored a little more during the second game, hoping to run into ESPN hockey guy John Buccigross, who was attending the game, but I never saw him. We did find Dairy Queen and the sushi bar! Jim, my son-in-law, tried the Pittsburgh Roll – what made it a Pittsburgh Roll? The seaweed was gold/yellow and there was a splash of something black on top! Jim’s review was okay, not great.

I found more Pens Gear places scattered around, not just the one big store on the first level. We noticed too that the vendors who walk the aisles hawking beer, cotton candy, etc. seemed to be fewer in number, but maybe that was just our imagination.

The two new Zambonis are sponsored by some company that makes armor and heavy metals – don’t quite see the connection, but whatever. Also, during the first game, the arena announcer kept saying, “Ok, fans, the Pens are on the (sponsor name) Penalty Kill!” What?? It’s bad enough to hear, “Fans, the Pens are on the (sponsor name) Power Play!” but at least we, as fans, can get a little excited about that. But the penalty kill? At the second game, we were not urged to do whatever it was they wanted us to do during a penalty kill! I realize this sponsoring stuff brings in big bucks, but it’s so annoying. And I’ve only ever heard it before in the minor leagues.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in Canada! Hope you stuffed yourselves with turkey!

I happened to be watching the Caps/Thrashers game when the Atlanta goalie fell to the ice. What a scary sight that was! He was so still and so many people were rushing onto the ice that I expected a really bad outcome. Glad to hear that it was a fainting spell and Pavalec was released from the hospital.

In my column about Opening Night, I completely forgot to mention the beautiful hand-forged commemorative tickets we fans received as we entered the building. What a fantastic keepsake from a really special evening.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Out with the Old, In with the New

                       Mario Lemieux, opening night, the new Consol Energy Center

by Jan Snyder

The Pens season finally began after what seemed like an eternally long summer! Going to the new Consol Energy Center with all the other fans created in my head a New Year’s Eve-type feeling. As we look ahead to the new, we leave behind the old.

Walking to the new arena while walking past the old arena left me feeling a little disquieted. In the dark of night, the Igloo, without any lights or activity, gives the appearance of a UFO that dropped out of the sky onto Center Avenue! I couldn’t help but sense that the Igloo felt like Cinderella at midnight! Everyone ignored the old arena that was so filled with wonderful memories and tossed it aside for the shiny new toy that is the Consol. I think if I looked closely, I could see little teardrops on the roof of the Igloo (okay, that’s just me and my overactive imagination!).

Back to the shiny new toy – what a delight to enter and immediately see a large Pens store – no more Pens Station – but all the same goodies and more. To the left is the eye-catching Mario’s Mural, featuring several photos of Mario Lemieux made out of tiny pictures of fans.  Anyone could send in their photo with a donation of $66 and be included in the mural. All the money goes to the Lemieux Foundation. We could barely walk by because everyone was taking photos! Front and center in the picture is Mario holding the team’s first ever Stanley Cup over his head.

Up the escalators to our seats – we stopped briefly on the suite floor to admire some of the great art work hanging on the walls. One group of pictures I liked showed Jordan Staal taking a shot, but the picture next to it showed only his stick that isn’t seen in the first photo. Just a neat artist’s eye view of a scene, I thought.

Concessions stands were everywhere – no more just hot dogs and nachos! Now we can get Tim Horton’s coffee, Country Time Lemonade, chicken tenders, burgers, pizza, fruit plates, salads, sandwiches, and of course, the Pittsburgh standard – Primanti Bros. These are sandwiches on fresh, homemade Italian bread, with the sandwich meat, plus your cole slaw and fries inside the sandwich! Delish!

I really can’t say that I took in everything. The Consol was sort of overwhelming on my first look. As we made it to our seats, the view of the ice was wonderful! Everyone can see, no poles or other obstructions. To the right of us, we could see the Captain Morgan’s Club and to the left, the First Niagara Club seats. Below us were the suites and high above, the press box – way bigger than before.

All the banners adorned the top of the arena, as well as the two retired sweaters, Briere’s and Mario’s. The scoreboard is huge and in HD. Great for replays!

We fans were asked to be in our seats at 6:45 for the pre-game Opening Night Show. I couldn’t wait to see what they had in store for us! I was truly not disappointed!

The show began with the workers removing the ice from the Igloo and dumping it into an underground collection bin. Then highights from the former players winning the Cup as the water dripped into a bottle. Each player added his own “drops” until the bottle was full. We were so entranced by the show, that we failed to see that Mario Lemieux had skated to center ice! Then the lights came up – and there he was – holding up the bottle of water. He theatrically turned and showed it to all four sides of the place, and then he poured the old “memories” water onto the ice at the Consol! Reminded me a little of the pensieve in the Harry Potter books. Don’t you wish we could all use that device and relive the player’s memories?

Then Mario skated off and the 2010-2011 team was introduced.

Mario returned with the Commissioner to drop the ceremonial first puck and then the game was on!

The place rocked and chants of “Let’s Go Pens” began in different corners. Although the Flyers scored first (Briere, much like the retired jersey) and more (3-2 final score), the answer to the trivia question will always be Tyler Kennedy. The question? Who scored the Pens first goal at the Consol?

After all the hype, the pre-game festivities and a game against our biggest rival, losing was no fun, but the experience was unforgettable. I’ll be back on Saturday and report more then and hopefully, I can talk about a Pens winning goal too!

Hockey is back!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Long, Hot Summer is Over

                   Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh Lake Fong/Post-Gazette

by Jan Snyder

Hockey season is finally back! After a particularly long, hot summer here in Texas, I couldn’t be happier to have October arrive and hockey begin. Already the memory of the Blackhawks hoisting the Cup is fading and I’m clearing out space in my mind to find places to pile up the 2010-11 memories.

What better place to begin than by seeing the brand spanking new Consol Arena in Pittsburgh on opening night! Taking on the Flyers in the first game would be special enough but doing it at Mario’s place will be twice as nice. I’ll stay for game two against Montreal and then report back to those of you who haven’t seen the new arena in person yet. Can’t wait.

The Pens will make an appearance in Dallas in November – sounds like a mid-week road trip for me! Can’t wait.

As visions of sugar plums dance in my head, all I want for Christmas is the Winter Classic! And classic it will be at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The wind coming in off the river will make for a chilly day that will see the rivalry between the Pens and the Caps heat up. Having played in late December, the two teams will already be in a feisty mood on January 1. Caps fans aren’t far away – they will be there in droves to cheer on Ovechkin and company. Can’t wait.


We’ll all enjoy watching the season play out for all the teams. Who will be better than we thought they’d be? Who will fall apart, maybe because of injuries? What rookie will play like a ten year veteran? Most importantly, who will be playing for the Cup in June?

While perusing my three favorite sports magazines, The Hockey News, The Sporting News, and ESPN the Magazine, I couldn’t help but see a theme – picks to win the Stanley Cup include the Caps, the Pens and the Canucks. Here is the breakdown per magazine:

The Hockey News

Media Picks: Penguins, followed by the Sharks and Caps in a tie
Fan Picks: Canucks, Caps and Pens

The Sporting News

Canucks over the Red Wings; Caps over the Pens; Canucks to win the Cup

ESPN the Magazine

E. J. Hradek: Pens vs. Blackhawks; Pens win the Cup
Barry Melrose: Caps vs. Canucks; Canucks win the Cup
Mathew Barnaby: Pens vs. Red Wings; Pens win the Cup

Verrrrrrry interesting….

And the Winner Is...

Let’s flash forward to June – the Pens have won their second Winter Classic, eliminated the Caps in the playoffs and are playing for the Stanley Cup. Out west, the Canucks have taken out the Red Wings and are playing for the Stanley Cup.


The Pens vs. the Canucks for the Stanley Cup? I gather that many hockey people see this as a likely scenario, and I have to agree but here at Hockey and High Heels, this could mean BIG TROUBLE! You see, Lisa Ovens lives in Vancouver and the Canucks are her team. I, on the other hand, although living in Texas, am a Pittsburgher and the Pens are my team! Are you beginning to see the potential problems here?

Can a friendship between two female hockey writers who root for opposing teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs make it through a seven games series?? Will I go to Pittsburgh or Vancouver to see games in person? Will Lisa go to Pittsburgh to see games in person? Will we still be speaking??

Will the Canadian Canuck fans turn on their Olympic hero, Sidney Crosby? Yes, I think they will in a heartbeat if it means winning the Cup. Will they also turn on the likes of other Canadians like Max Talbot, Marc-Andre Fluery, Pascal Dupuis, and Kris Letang? What about their long lost pest, Matt Cooke? And native son, Mario Lemieux? You betcha!

And Pens’ fans won’t enjoy seeing the double-trouble the Sedin twins bring nor the highly talented Roberto Luongo invading the crease in the Consol Arena.

But there are still other problems. Can we stay awake for a coast-to-coast series?? Will we have to call in sick after games played in Vancouver??

Can Lisa be broadminded enough to publish my columns after a Pens win? Can I pretend not to be a sore loser after a Canucks win?

No matter how many problems this situation could potentially create, wouldn’t it be fun? Maybe for Pens and Canucks fans, but this is the time of year when every team and their fans think they will win the Cup and I don’t want to rain on that parade at all, so…

Let’s Slow it Down

Back to present day – just a few days before the drop of the puck for real. The Pens have come through their exhibition season 5-1, off to a good start. No Jordan Staal for 10 or more games will hurt, but we know he’s coming back soon. Can’t wait to see the two new defensemen in action. Can’t wait to see Geno and Max rebound from so-so seasons. Can’t wait to see how Sid reacts without Guerin’s counsel. Can’t wait to see Mario welcome us to the new place.

So much to hope for, so many dreams all around the league. Whatever team you root for and whatever you can’t wait for, I hope you get your chance to see it all start to unfold at a rink near you really soon!

Good luck, NHL!