August 29, 2016

World Cup of Hockey Legacy Project

I usually keep pretty good tabs on all the hockey news out there. And I also have an interest in how hockey can have various philanthropic and socioeconomic benefits at all levels.

So it shocked me when I learned about the World Cup of Hockey Legacy Project, the latest in a series of Legacy Projects by the National Hockey League and it's partners.

Usually the NHL media machine is a little more in-your-face with such good news stories. I'm sure they are in the local markets that benefit from these efforts, but being removed from such markets it was all unbeknownst to me.

NHL Legacy Projects are designed to leave a lasting effect on the city where the NHL hosts special events. They do this for All Star games, Winter Classics, Stadium Series games and so forth.

We're not just talking about fixing up a local rink or dropping off some sets of sticks for kids here.

The World Cup of Hockey project focuses on improving the education health of Toronto's youth. They, along with the NHLPA, MLSE Foundation and Hockey Canada, are transforming a vacant 42000 square foot facility in Toronto's Moss Park neighborhood to house sporting courts, classrooms, office spaces, a nutrition hub, and multipurpose atrium.

Hockey-centric programs will be heavily featured here, of course. And this is the type of neighborhood where these parties do need to make a difference. 42 per cent of the neighborhood population are new Canadians, with Chinese and Filipinos making the bulk of that number. They will be introduced to hockey and Canadian culture at what is being dubbed MLSE LaunchPad. Perhaps they will embrace our game as a participant or as a spectator as they have embraced our country.

Hockey isn't the only focus, and not even the ultimate goal here. Promoting healthy minds and bodies through sports while integrating life skills programs is ultimately more important. After all, hockey is a game that unites us all and teaches lifelong lessons such as goal setting, teamwork and sportsmanship.

It is wonderful to see the NHL, the NHLPA and the various business partners seeking ways to contribute to their communities. We need more stories like this.

August 26, 2016

Top Ten Games Played In September

Hockey in September? How can a world-class tournament be held at such an unusual time of the year. The Canada Cup and World Cup have given us some Septembers to remember.

Here’s a look at the ten greatest games in Canada Cup/World Cup history:

Sept 9, 1976 - Czechoslovakia 1 – Canada 0 – This hockey classic is considered to be one of the greatest games ever played in the Montreal Forum and in Canada Cup history. It was a nearly technically perfect game featuring brilliant goaltending by Rogie Vachon and Vladimir Dzurilla. The atmosphere was simply electric until Milan Novy quieted the crowd by scoring the round robin game’s only goal late in the third period.

Sept 15, 1976 – Canada 5 Czechoslovakia 4 (OT) – After the classic round robin match, Canada blew out Czechoslovakia 6-0 in game one of the 1976 finals. Game 2 returned to classic status with a dramatic end of the third period and exciting overtime. Czechoslovakia came form a 2-1 deficit to take a stunning 4-3 lead late in the third period. Bill Barber was able to pounce on a misplayed puck to force the extra frame. In overtime Darryl Sittler scored one of the most famous goals in Canadian hockey history to capture the inaugural Canada Cup.

Sept 11, 1981 – USSR 4 – Czechoslovakia 1 – Everyone talks about the Cold War between Canada and the Soviets, but the rivalry between the Soviets and Czechoslovakians was always intense as well. The Czechoslovaks started the game with a blistering pace, and were cheered on by the Ottawa crowd. However Vladislav Tretiak turned in one of his greatest performances, stopping 26 of 27 high quality shots in an exciting game that saw the winner advance to the finals.

Sept 13, 1981 – USSR 8 – Canada 1 – The Soviets greatest victory over Canada ranks as Canada’s most humiliating defeat. To make matters worse, it came in Canada’s Cathedral of Hockey – the Montreal Forum. Sergei Shepelev scored three times and Vladimir Krutov made Guy Lafleur look foolish on another en route to the Canada Cup championship. The Soviets celebrated and were truly the most dominant force in hockey.

Sept 13, 1984 – Canada 3 – USSR 2 (OT) – Heralded as the greatest game ever played at the time, Canada dug down deep to upset the Soviets in the qualifying game for the finals. Outside of the 1980 Olympics, the Soviets had dominated the international scene since 1979, and included a convincing 6-3 round robin victory over Canada. But a gutsy effort saw Canada come from behind to force overtime. In overtime, Paul Coffey, of all players, came up with one of the biggest defensive plays in tournament history when he broke up a Mikhail Varnakov – Vladimir Kovin two–on–one and, with the relentless help of tournament MVP John Tonelli, turned the play into a Mike Bossy winning goal. Canada would go on to defeat Sweden in the anti-climatic Canada Cup finals.

Sept 13, 1987 – Canada 6 – USSR 5 (Double OT) – With Russia capturing game one of the best of three series, Canada needed a victory to force game 3. Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were teamed together full time for the first time in the tournament, and the result was pure magic. This game was so entertaining even the 17,000 plus fans in Hamilton left the game exhausted. Regulation time saw end-to-end rushes and dramatic action. Canada was clinging to 5-4 lead when Valeri Kamensky scored one of the most famous goals in tournament history to force overtime. The pace in overtime never slowed. Halfway through the second overtime Gretzky sets up Lemieux for the winner. It was Lemieux’s third goal of the night, and Gretzky’s fifth assist. Gretzky would call this game the greatest game he ever played.

Sept 15, 1987 – Canada 6 – USSR 5 – Game 3 of the 1987 Canada Cup will always be remembered for Wayne Gretzky’s and Mario Lemieux’s last minute heroics. The game itself was a notch below the entertainment standards of the game two days earlier, but the drama experienced by Hamilton fans was just as intense. The Soviets stunned Team Canada with a 3-0 lead by the eight-minute mark. But Canada, led by grinders like Brent Sutter, Rick Tocchet and Doug Gilmour clawed away at the Soviets’ lead with one of the gutsiest efforts in hockey history, and to set up the Gretzky-Lemieux dramatics.

Sept 7, 1991 – Canada 6 – Czechoslovakia 2 – The 1991 Canada Cup saw the emergence of the Finns and Americans, and downfall of Russians, and was anti-climatic if only because Canada was never really challenged. This game was one of the most interesting as Eric Lindros played in his first game in the province he refused to live in. Montreal fans booed the Team Canada teenager loudly, but Wayne Gretzky put on a show to put the political sideshow aside and help unite Team Canada. Gretzky scored 2 goals and 1 assist. Lindros left the crowd in silent amazement with a thunderous body check that put Martin Rucinsky out for the series.

Sept 7, 1996 – Canada 3 – Sweden 2 (Double OT) – The Canada – USA showdown in 1996 almost never happened, as Sweden put in an incredible effort against Canada in the qualifying game. Philadelphia fans witnessed Curtis Joseph and Tommy Salo engage in a class goaltending duel, which lasted 13 seconds shy of a full two overtime periods. Paul Coffey set up Theo Fleury to snap home the winning goal just seconds after Sweden had 4 tremendous opportunities to capture victory.

Sept 14, 1996 – USA 5 – Canada 2 – In the new political world Team USA emerged as the new hockey power and managed to dethrone Canada in game 3 of the thrilling finals of the first World Cup of Hockey. Montreal fans were disappointed to see a solid Canadian effort fall short against the Americans. MVP Mike Richter put in one of the greatest performances in tournament history, repeatedly stoning a barrage of Canadian scoring opportunities. Brett Hull, Derian Hatcher and Tony Amonte finished strong tournaments with strong performances to give USA hockey supremacy for the first time.

August 25, 2016

2016 World Cup of Hockey Coverage Coming To GHL

When it comes to the World Cup of Hockey, I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert. After all, I did write the book about it.

Back around the turn of the century, co-author Patrick Houda and myself set out to write an encyclopedic history of the Canada Cup tournaments. The publisher, Warwick, wanted to spin it more to the World Cup or American audience, even though at that time the 1996 tournament was the only incarnation. Hence the change of focus. I don't even think the publisher exists anymore. Shows you what they knew.

By 2002 the original book was published. A revised edition came out in 2004, just in time for the 2004 tournament.

The book, like my other print book Legends of Team Canada, was remaindered some time ago, so copies are hard to get admittedly.

Point is, I want to return to my roots. While I - like many of you - have mixed feelings about the World Cup of Hockey's return, I, too, will return, if you will. And that I am very much looking forward to. 

So stay tuned to GHL for growing collection of original writing on the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

World Cup of Hockey Headlines

Here's your World Cup of Hockey Headlines:

August 18, 2016

A History Of The Canada Cup

1976    1981    1984    1987    1991

Paul Pooley

Paul Pooley is perhaps better known as a long time coach on the American collegiate hockey scene.

But he was a pretty impressive student athlete himself, too.

Pooley was a 1984 Ohio State graduate, earning cum laude status in accounting and marketing. Honors came on and off the ice for Pooley. From 1980-84 he was one of the top players in the CCHA. As a freshman he shared the rookie of the year award. By his senior year he led the nation with 32 goals and 96 points in just 41 games.

He was also a three time member of the CCHA's all academic team.

As the school's all time leading scorer in goals, assists and points, it comes as no surprise he was inducted into the Ohio State Athletic Hall of Fame. He was named to the CCHA's all decade team for the 1980s and he was the first Buckeyes' hockey player to have his jersey retired.

Despite his excellent hockey resume, the Exeter, Ontario native was never drafted by a NHL team. Upon graduation he signed with the Winnipeg Jets and played two seasons with their AHL farm team in Sherbrooke, winning a Calder Cup in 1985. He also got into 15 games with the Jets over those two years, collecting 3 assists.

He would play one more season of minor league hockey in Fort Wayne, captaining the Komets to a regular season.

Pooley went on to a very successful collegiate hockey coaching career.

He initially returned to his alma mater and served three seasons (1988-91) as an assistant with the Buckeyes.

For eleven seasons (1994-2005) he was head coach at Providence College, leading the Friars to a Hockey East title in 1996. Twice with Providence College he was a finalist for the national hockey coach of the year award.

He then went on to a long tenure as an associate coach at the University of Notre Dame.

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