Category Archives: Hockey

The National Hockey (Association) League: When public history misinterprets history

There is a plaque in Le Windsor, an office building in downtown Montreal that used to be the grand Windsor Hotel.

Unveiled in 2017 by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in conjunction with the National Hockey League, the plaque commemorates the founding of the league during a meeting at the hotel 100 years earlier.

“Founded here in November 1917, the NHL holds a special place in Canadians’ hearts,” begins the English wording on the plaque. It goes on to define the NHL as “the world’s predominant hockey league, growing through radio and television broadcasts and captivating generations of fans with the speed and skill of the game.”

The National Hockey League’s historical plaque in the former Windsor Hotel in Montreal.

Every word on the historical plaque is true. For me, though, the plaque is noteworthy for what it does not say – for what has been deliberately left out of this prominent expression of public history.

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Not really real: The trouble with popular history

I’ve been into music and sports for longer than I can remember. I used to dream about playing hockey for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but when that dream didn’t come true, I fantasized instead about being a rock and roll star. I learned how to skate and shoot a puck, and how to play the guitar and sing, but fame and fortune eluded me at every turn.

That didn’t put an end to my passions – it just redirected them. I became very proficient in sports and music trivia, which I recognize now as the start of my interest in history as a discipline. I absorbed facts about music and sports as fast as I could read them, along with the stories associated with those facts. But something has become clear to me as I have turned from journalism to professional history – a lot of the stuff that I read and thought I knew was not necessarily true.

Popular history has been populated by legends and myths that have been passed down through the generations, and rarely if ever being questioned. These may have been stories that were reported accurately at first, only to become exaggerated over time. Or maybe they were sensationalized from the very beginning. Either way, they were accepted as fact. And when that happens, they become extremely difficult to dislodge from the public consciousness.

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Flashback: Chris Neil joins the Durham Thundercats

Flesherton native Chris Neil retired last week from the Ottawa Senators and the National Hockey League, a veteran of more than 1,000 regular season games. My Owen Sound Sun Times article, from January 10, 2005, recalls his short stint with the Durham Thundercats of the WOAA Senior Hockey League during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

* * *

MILDMAY — Kevin Sutter grew up in Eugenia and knows the four Neil brothers from nearby Flesherton well, having played hockey alongside one or more of them for most of his life.

That’s why the Durham Thundercats captain was only too happy to welcome the youngest of the brothers, Ottawa Senators right-winger Chris Neil, as his newest teammate here on Sunday.

“The more Neil boys we can get in the dressing room, the better,” Sutter said prior to Durham’s 5-4 win over the Mildmay Monarchs in WOAA Senior Hockey League action.

“(Chris is) a good guy, and you’ve got to give him a chance if he wants to play.”

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Here’s an opportunity – how badly do you want it?

How does a hockey play reflect something that invariably happens in our personal and professional lives?

I write about varsity sports at the University of Guelph. For the past week-and-a-half, I’ve been thinking about something that I saw during a hockey game at the Gryphon Centre.

It was November 25, and I was covering the Guelph Gryphons as they played the visiting Nipissing Lakers. Midway through the second period, with the Gryphons already leading 1-0, Guelph forward Tryg Strand took a pass from teammate Marc Stevens just inside the Nipissing zone. Here’s a video of what happened next:

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Great day for hay: Jared Keeso’s “Letterkenny” hits the small screen



The focus is on Jared Keeso.

And that makes him uncomfortable.

It’s an unusual attitude for someone who makes his living in the performing arts, but it’s Keeso’s reality. Tonight is one of those times when he has to face up to it.

The 31-year-old actor is sitting in a chair on a stage in a packed theatre at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. Family members, friends and admirers have filled the 220 seats, and they’ve all just watched the world premiere of Keeso’s new CraveTV comedy series, “Letterkenny.” (Season 1 begins streaming on Super Bowl Sunday.)

They love what they’ve seen, and now they’re watching Keeso. He appreciates their appreciation. But he doesn’t particularly enjoy being the centre of attention in this environment. He sits hunched forward in his chair during the entirety of a question-and-answer session with the audience, unable to completely relax.

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Slim fast: Chet Couture drops 90-plus pounds in as many days

Logan Couture can’t wait to return from his broken ankle and get back on the ice.

And not just for obvious reasons. The San Jose Sharks centre is looking forward to welcoming his father back to the team’s dressing room and showing him off.

Chet Couture has undergone a remarkable transformation, shedding almost a third of his body weight in a “Biggest Loser” challenge at a gym in the family’s hometown of London, Ontario.

The elder Couture saw his weight plummet from 301 pounds to 208 – a 93-pound loss, which he accomplished in only three months this past summer.

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Creating heroes: Own The Podium CEO Merklinger honoured for her efforts

SMC Journal

Originally published in Sports Media Canada Journal, November 2014.

Anne Merklinger says she is in the business of helping to create heroes.

The chief executive officer of Own The Podium didn’t imagine that, along the way, someone might consider her to also be a hero.

“To receive this kind of recognition is very humbling,” says Merklinger, the Executive of the Year as chosen by Sports Media Canada.

“I’m very fortunate to be working in a wonderful organization with a great team,” she says. “I love what I do.”

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Sustained success as last: Actor Jared Keeso is finally breaking through

Jared Keeso as Ben Chartier

Jared Keeso is a big fan of second chances.

It was a second chance that gave new life to his acting career after his award-winning turn as legendary hockey coach/broadcaster Don Cherry in two well-received CBC movies.

And it was a second chance that allowed Keeso’s newest project to find a home on the airwaves. “19-2,” a police drama set and filmed in Montreal, debuts later this month on Bravo and CTV.

Keeso is a native of Listowel and a former junior hockey player who used his on-ice expertise to win the role of Don Cherry in the movies “Keep Your Head Up, Kid” and “The Wrath of Grapes.” After those successes, his career seemed to stall while CBC tried to find another project for him.

The network came up with “19-2,” an English adaptation of a popular Quebec series of the same name. Keeso was hired as one of the series’ two leads, a police officer named Ben Chartier. But then CBC pulled the plug after filming the pilot episode.

“That’s one of those things that, as an actor, it’s just so heartbreaking,” he says. “You do great work with great people, and then all of a sudden someone tells you that you can’t do that anymore. So it was pretty crushing.”

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Sochi hopeful Logan Couture finds motivation in rejection

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Logan Couture took note on Monday when Hockey Canada announced its tryout camp roster for the upcoming world junior championship.

The San Jose Sharks centre paid special attention to the names of the players who were not invited to the camp.

He knows how those players are feeling. He knows it’s a tough pill to swallow, to be told you’re not good enough when your heart and your brain are telling you otherwise.

“To this day, I sit back and think about the world junior teams I was left off, how I didn’t even get an invite to any of their camps,” Couture said on Tuesday, prior to the Sharks’ 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.

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Team Canada cuts Tessa Bonhomme, ‘Face of Women’s Hockey’

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Only a year ago, Tessa Bonhomme was the subject of a cover story in The Hockey News, which called her “The Face of Women’s Hockey.”

That face is yesterday’s news as far as Hockey Canada is concerned.

The axe unexpectedly fell on Bonhomme on Tuesday as the veteran defenceman was one of three players cut from the national women’s team. The others were fellow blueliner Brigette Lacquette and forward Jenelle Kohanchuk.

It was unexpected in that, while cuts were looming as Team Canada decides on its roster for the Sochi Olympics, the 28-year-old Bonhomme certainly did not suspect she would be one of the players cast aside.

Then again, a move like this probably should have been expected. Surprise roster moves in advance of big tournaments are commonplace for Hockey Canada and its national women’s program.

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