Sunday, January 30, 2011

Les Enfants Terrible

                                     A spin on Star Trek's "Borg" Nursery?
                                     photo from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette/ Bob Crytzer

Now that the NHL All Star weekend is over, some might turn their attention to the upcoming Super Bowl 45 Weekend in Dallas. I know H& contributor, Jan Snyder will be keeping up on the event: her hometown team, the Pittsburgh Steeler’s will be playing in the big game next Sunday.

She forwarded the above photo to me this weekend, and it really explains how early they get the kids into the black and gold over there in Pittsburgh

They swaddle them in Terrible Towels, people!!!

All Star Surprise!

photo: Michelle Reaney, Thunderpeep Designs

by Lisa Ovens

The 2011 NHL All Star Weekend kicked off on Friday evening in Raleigh, North Carolina, and if there was one thing on my mind, it was the element of surprise. This was a nice change of pace for the predictable annual hockey celebration. The designated All Star captains, Eric Staal and Niklas Lidstrom, along with their assistant captains, selected their teammates to form the two teams set to compete through the skills compettition, Saturday and then the game on Sunday. This I liked alot. I liked the idea of not knowing who would be playing with whom, right up until the start of the weekend.

Although TSN's televised fantasy draft event came off looking under produced (and it did contained one severe case of wrong shoes: the red dress girl - can't help it, I notice shoes and her big, chunky, black platform wedgies had me seriously wondering, no, hoping those were " call ups" because the "starting" pair had some sort of "lower heel" injury), it did do one thing; it made me totally NOT want to miss the Sunday game, because I just had to see how Team Thunder Bay and Team Blue stack up against each other on the ice.

Yeah, I nicknamed the teams: Thunder Bay is the mother ship to my big family, as it is to the Staal's (with the two families now inter-related), and Team Blue because I just love those blue jerseys, they are the best jersey (and the team apparently has the best Sedin Twin in Henrik, to boot). (Oops, I think I've used up my bracket quota for one day).  Anyway, who doesn't love surprises and the league's decision to go with the team selection format was a great move.

I can accept TSN's production of the Fantasy Draft because it was what I expected it to be. Let's face it:  aside from the Winter Classic and HBO's 24/7 four part lead in, every other hockey event comes across as under produced with multiple dashes of awkwardness because it seems the people in that side of the business are deathly afraid to try to do anything new or employ different people than  they would normally use. Eespecially the Canadian broadcasters. It'll be the death of them if they don't listen to me! And speaking of that HBO series...we hockey fans have been spoiled by it now. We want everything hockey to look that slick.

The thing is we know many NHL players aren't masters of ceremony. Many are young and are not the most articulate of speakers just yet. In the case of the fantasy draft, TSN might have done more to entertain the players and the audience rather than rely on the players to be the entertainment. My choice might have been to employ a professional, hockey fan comedian to preside over the event and use host James Duthie as the guy who explains what's going on. I probably would have given the Panel a night off, or just have the panel close the show, with a segment analysing the newly created teams. That's just my two cents.

Onto Saturday's Skills Competition...

Racing goalies? Sweet! The scene of Cam Ward and Tim Thomas racing against the clock was a spectacle. Though I did find myself imagining them skating while holding a spoon with an egg, then pairing up to do a bizarre three legged race. But after seeing the Challenge Relay portion of the competition, those kind of kids sports day activities would have fit right in! Following twitter, the best tweet from the hockey peeps I follow came from New York Islanders blog spot reporter, Dee Karl after she saw those tiny, little nets set up for the passing portion of the relay...

"Oh look, its Barbie's hockey"

What a thrill to see Vancouver Canuck, Daniel Sedin go four for four in the accuracy competition! But the split screen presentation was a little much for this fan, who's been languishing in the depths of the final week of January Blahs, still recovering from the bout with pneumonia earlier this month. I had a hard time keeping up watching two at once. Was it always this way? I can't remember, but I guess they had to save time for the drawn out Ellimination Shootout Challenge.

I'm still not sold on the breakaway challenge mainly because they often don't get the puck past the goalie into the net after showcasing nifty stick n' puck handling. Here's a crazy idea...why not just have them shooting at an empty net.

The All Star Game

Wow...Ryan Kesler, Daniel Sedin on a line with Alexander Ovechkin! This is the kind of surprise I was talking about! And this line scored the first goal, too!Then it slid into your typical NHL All Star Game for me. That is until the second intermission and Stan Lee began speaking about the Guardian Project. Then my TV was hijacked by an evil, red- eyed anti-hero!

Yes another surprise and I will admit it; I was sucked in and felt a little frightened by the debut of the NHL's new gimmick, the Guardian Project comic book saga... and I kind of liked it. The evil Devan Dark reminded me of a scary few minutes I experienced in  the Alien Encounter attraction at Disney World. If you aren't familiar, well, let me tell you, that frightening attraction was featured in an intelligently produced documentary about fear. Disney closed it down in 2003.

 Hope the kids, both small and big are dialled into the Guardian Heroes

Then I spent the rest of the game on the phone with Michelle, who is a fan of the Guardians, just not a fan of the video premiere. I kind of don't blame her: she's a Leafs fan, and the Leaf Tree Guardian...well, I just don't know about that one...

That's another All Star Weekend for the books.
 Team Blue: 11   Team Thunder Bay: 10.

The Blue jersey is the best ;o)

 I really want to attend one of these one year, and I decided to make that a one year goal: to attend All Star 2012 in Ottawa! Wish me back to the regular season.

Happy Hockey :o)

Friday, January 21, 2011


...but has trouble with shootouts ;o)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eat Pray Love Hockey: Part One

She was sick. It came on when she was at the Calgary Flames/ Canucks game with Michelle. It was the first Canuck home game of this new year and it was swell of Michelle to treat her to a hockey game. She put on a brave face. Surely the hockey would help.
Michelle, a Flames fan was sympathetic. Nice of her considering the Canucks easily beat her Flames 4-1, and somewhat embarrassing them in the process. 

Lisa: I’m so sick.
Michelle: I know you are.
Lisa: But the Canucks sure look like winners…for now.
Michelle: it’s not easy being a Flames fan right now, with all the Oli Jokinen joke photos and gifs out there. He’s my fave, you know. Did you say something?
Lisa: Oli “Joke” inen. Haha.

photo below from HF Boards

She made her way home on the bus. The Triple O burger weighed her down. He body resonated with every movement. A fever was coming on. Feed a cold, starve a fever? As full as she was, with the burger and yet another convincing Canuck win, she never felt emptier.

The weekend came and she was bedridden. But at least she made it to the doctor. The huge pills ( take two, with food, by mouth, once per day until finished) left a horrible metallic taste in her mouth.

She set up her netbook attached to a large monitor on the coffee table so she could watch the Canucks/ Red Wings game while curled up on the sofa. This was good. At least she got out of bed for Hockey Night in Canada.

As sick as she was she enjoyed the Elliot Friedman piece on Red Wings head coach, Mike Babcock. She always liked Babcock and thought his voice and manner of speaking was so unique, just like her voice and manner of speaking.

Lisa: Wow, Babcock and I should be hosting a show together – our voices together, alone, would kill!

As it turned out, she watched the Babcock segment several times over the next week, only because it was a great moment in sandwich…and it lifted her spirits from the sad place that was her soul...

Great Moments in Sandwich: Mike Babcock Makes a Sandwich

by Lisa Ovens

Who would of thought the subject of sandwiches would come up twice at this blog? Actually it would be three times including my review of the Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwich in the old school Lisa’s Lounge. Okay...if you really is the link to Old School Lisa’s Lounge and the column with the breakfast sandwich review. It fits in right now because Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and that was my 2007 Valentine's column post.

The other Great Moments in Sandwich occurred earlier this season, with the recipe for Sidney Crosby’s favourite sandwich involving Dempster’s bread (there was also a contest to meet Sidney in on that). As far as I know, I didn't win the contest to meet Sid in March. Now you have to wonder how Crosby will be feeling at that point in time due to the effects of his first concussion. They say its a mild one, which is a good thing, but it still doesn't solve the problems surrounding head injuries...

"The 43 concussions sustained since the exhibition season began in September puts the league on a pace for about 77 for the regular season, near the average of 75 in recent seasons and below the 82 last season, according to Dr. Ruben Echemendia, a neuropsychologist who directs the joint N.H.L.-N.H.L. Players’ Association concussion working group". From a NY Times article by Jeff Klein

Before the subject of concussions de-rails this post on sandwiches...on to Babcock's Great Moment in Sandwich...
...because unfortunately for Sid the Kid, Mike Babcock making a sandwich is the crowned KING of Great Moments in Sandwich.

Okay I got a problem here guys. I got warm toast and no butter, man. This is a major crisis for me. Unbelievable.”

-Mike Babcock

HNIC's Elliotte Friedman's story on the coaching ways of Mike Babcock revealed more than the dedicated and hard working personality of the Red Wing's Stanley Cup winning coach. It showed how Babcock gingerly dries lettuce in a tea towel, and how he reacts when things go horribly wrong in the kitchen...
Watch Elliotte Friedman's HNIC Inside Hockey piece on Mike Babcock here

That aired on Sat. January 8th, 2011prior to the Canucks/ Red Wings tilt at Roger's Arena in Vancouver. The depleted Wings beat Vancouver 2-1 (shoot out victory). It was an exciting game to watch. After seeing so much Mike Babcock in one night, I was reminded of a quote of his...

The effort has got to equal the opportunity

He said that way back in 2003, when the team he was coaching, the Ducks, had lost their third straight game in the Stanley Cup Final. (They would battle back and win the next three, but ultimately fell to the New Jersey Devils in game seven).

If there is one saying the Vancouver Canucks could tattoo on their hands or scribble on their gloves, it would be that, the effort has got to equal the opportunity. Keep saying it boys, over and over, with each shift you take...imagine Babcock's voice, his John Wayne like tones (but a more hyper sounding Duke? No, maybe not like John Wayne.Geez who does he sound like?)  The effort has got to equal the opportunity...

Not a bad quote. A quote we could all remember with each task we do. Just make sure there's butter handy ;o)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Catching Up with Hockey! NHL All Star Weekend

by Lisa Ovens
photo by Lisa Ovens

I didn't expect to begin my new year with an intense case of pneumonia. Its put a damper on a few things, let me tell you. And now that I am feeling stronger I face a mountain of dishes to do, not to mention other neglected household duties. But for now, let's forget about all that and talk a little hockey!

Canuck All Stars

Congratulations to the Vancouver Canucks for having three players and one coach representing at the upcoming All-Star game. Both Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler will be first timers, and they're lucky to have two time all star Henrik Sedin to show them the ropes. Canuck coach, Alain Vigneault will be co-coaching with the Flyers, Peter Laviolette.

It's All Star month so that means everyone and their dog is busy plotting new ways to present this event because everyone and their dog is tired of the festival. I've heard some say they'd like it to morph into an outdoor game. I say no. That would just bring out new complaints about All Star weekend because there are a bevy of fans out there that don't even like the Winter Classic. Let's not make it any tougher on those peeps than it already is.

I like the way the All Star weekend is, they just need to beef up  a couple of things: one -  the red carpet. We need a good hour of the red carpet telecast. I want to see the selected stars, all of them parade slowly up the red carpet, greeting fans, signing autographs, posing for photos, doing fun little interviews. CBC Sports doesn't present nearly enough of the carpet action. Yet we get to see Ron MacLean grill Gary Bettman about everything Ron thinks is wrong with league operations every year. This interview does one thing: put a damper on the affair. Thanks for that, Ron.

Two: the skills event should be twice as long. What they could be doing is there usual skills events, but also blend in some big screen video action as well. The videos would present a contest of the best goals scored, the pucks saved, the biggest clean hits, and the most entertaining fights of the previous season. Whether the best was performed by an All star or not, too. This could be a social media marketing strategy, becasue leading up to the event fans would be voting on their favorites, and then the top three in each category would be decided between events during skills competition. Should a non All Star make the top three, well, then they get a free trip to the weekend and be a part of it.

Well there's my two cents on the NHL's All Star Weekend. That and I really would like to go to one, one of these years. If anyone out there would like to take me to All Star Weekend in Carolina, please let me know...soon :o)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The 2011 Winter Classic: A Firsthand Account

By Jan Snyder
photos by Jan Snyder

According to the calendar, spring follows winter. At the Winter Classic, the opposite seemed to be true. As we drove up to the parking garage, the temperature outside on the evening of January 1 was 56, a cool spring type of temperature, not what one would expect on a winter’s night in Pittsburgh.

But all that would change over the course of the evening. Walking from the garage to Heinz Field took about 15 minutes. We were surrounded by 68,000 other fans longing for the same fantastic experience we were about to have. My sister, Kim, and my brother-in-law, Don, were my hockey companions for this special evening. The streets and sidewalks were chock full of fans – Pens and Caps. Most everyone was in a festive mood that first night of the New Year with the occasional, “Let’s Go, Pens” cheer bubbling up or “Let’s Go, Caps” depending on where one happened to be. As we strolled along, some Pens fans behind us started an “Ovie Sucks” chant aimed at a lone Caps fan in a #8 sweater. Good natured fun, no harm intended. But I think the fan may have felt a little outnumbered. Keep in mind that we walked toward a football stadium to watch a hockey game, but the guy’s comment was still a little strange. His comeback to “Ovie Sucks”? “You might think he sucks, but wait till he scores in the first inning!” Okay, maybe it was the beer talking.

Music blared, horns honked, people cheered – just another exciting sporting event in Pittsburgh. Once inside Heinz Field, we began the walk up the ramps to our seats. No matter how often I’ve seen it, the Pittsburgh skyline always takes my breath away. The city served as a perfect backdrop for the big game about to be played. As we climbed, we stopped to take pictures and other fans asked us to take their picture with downtown as the background. Pittsburgh shines in prime time!

We found our section and row, but our seats were about in the middle, so we had to maneuver through some other fans. As I walked by, I thanked everyone for standing to let us by. One older gentleman said, “No matter, the important thing is that you’re here!” Very sweet sentiment – I think he should be employed out at the entrance way to make people feel welcome and comfortable.

I looked out at the field and was dazzled by the white of the ice against the black of the sky. The stands packed with Caps and Pens fans rocked in anticipation. Caps fans seemed to be in packs throughout the stadium. My sister described it nicely when she said the pockets of red looked like an infection spreading through the crowd! The large group of Caps fans seated in front of us were having a great time. They cheered for their team and urged them on – I have no problem with that – I would do the same in their rink – or football field. I don’t like it when one team picks on the other, but I respect everyone’s right to cheer. I did feel like these fans could have been a little more original than, “C-A-P-S – CAPS, CAPS, CAPS”. If one of them were dressed as a fireman, I wouldn’t have been surprised. (J-E-T-S – JETS, JETS, JETS).

The whole experience of the Winter Classic was, well, classic – not to mention classy. After the anthems, one lucky soldier strode out to center ice along with Mario Lemieux, Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis to drop the ceremonial first puck. Mario heard the chorus of “Mar-i-o, Mar-i-o” as he walked off. And of course at Heinz Field, any Steeler is treated well and these were two very special ones.

Although the ice looked shiny and wet, the game began and play seemed to be normal as usual. Even though we sat in the end zone opposite the scoreboard, we could clearly make out the player’s numbers as they zipped along the ice. Terrible Towels waved in encouragement for the Pens!

Heinz Field is quite the open air stadium; no cover overhead. I dressed warmly, including a toque and sweatshirt with a hood. The rain never seemed that serious, we weren’t drenched or anything, it was more annoying than anything. Intermittent at first, then it rained fairly seriously in the third. By then the temperatures began to fall and the wind off the river picked up, making the conditions a little more uncomfortable.

On the ice, Evgeni Malkin scored a pretty goal for the Pens to open the scoring, followed by three unanswered goals by the Caps. Between the Caps lead and the damp weather, Pittsburgh fans seemed a little down, but the whole build up to the game and everything that went with it made it all worth it. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world – would go again in a heartbeat. Those three periods, even with intermissions, sped by.

Other moments –


• Some funny comments behind us in the stands from Pens fans. When

Mike Green was called for a penalty, they wondered if he would ride his little scooter over there!

Generation Gap

• The blond Russian girl covering the game in the stadium obviously doesn’t appreciate classic rock. She introduced the band as “The Styx”. She also left out the important words “Sporting Goods” after “Dick’s” when she introduced “Dick’s Trivia”.

Aiding and Abetting

• For those of you who may not know, Pittsburgh has its own language called Pittsburghese. As a native, when I return, I fall right back into it very easily. So when the heel of my boot detached from the sole, I asked the girl standing beside me if she happened to have a gum band. She looked at me like I had three heads until my sister explained to me that the girl was a Caps fan, not a Pittsburgher. Undaunted, I said, “Do you happen to have a rubber band?” She said no, but then realized she had a hair band. She unwrapped it from her hair brush and gave it to me to wrap around my boot. “Now, how can I root against the Caps when you’ve been so nice?” I asked. She replied, “I’m not really much of a sports fan anyway.”

Tailgating Fever

• As we drove to the ninth floor of the parking garage, we were greeted with the smell of burgers and kielbasa cooking as carload after carload grilled, drank and partied before walking to the stadium. As we came back after the game, many of the tables and all the fixin’s, including buns, mustard, ketchup, etc. sat on the same tables, undisturbed by anyone.


• One sweet little girl Pens fan held a stick containing a white-faced Bruce Boudreau on it – with a nice trickle of barbeque sauce running down his chin. Bruce says it was eczema – okay.

Not Terrible, Useful

The Terrible Towel was invented to bring good luck to the Steelers during playoff games. Since the 70s, it’s morphed into a Pittsburgh sports icon and shows up at all Steeler games. Since the Winter Classic was played at the Steeler’s home, fans were urged to bring their Terrible Towels to the game, which we did, in droves. But besides waving it when the scoreboard flashes, “Whip it!” there are so many other uses for it. For instance, I dried my wet stadium seat with it, then later put it on my lap to keep the rain off. It’s handy for twisting, turning, biting, chewing on during tense moments. If you didn’t grab enough napkins with your nachos, the Towel can even wipe off cheese sauce!