Game On
January 31, 2014

This column first appeared in the Jan 31 edition of the Friday AM in Salmon Arm, BC

For me, hockey is the ulimate game of collaboration. The blades with the ice, the puck with the stick, the players, the coaches, the trainers, the refs, the score keepers, the zamboni driver, the spectators, all playing with their own speed, skill and determination.
It’s the team effort that really matters. Were a roster made up of forward players only,  many goals would be scored but few games would be won. Something to think about. In fact, if our own lives were like a hockey team, couldn’t it be said that we tend to field rosters of players who play positions most like ours. Similar points of view, similar incomes, similar backgrounds, similar interests and professions. I think we’d field a much better team if we took more time to skate with those who play other positions. When, for example, was the last time you had a conversation with someone whose views you don’t share and whose circumstances you’ve never experienced. Wouldn’t it make for a better team overall? To reach out, to discuss and engage, to stick handle the issues and improve the game.
I think we could do a better job of team building by sharing our strategies for success, our game plans. Any team works better when everyone knows the plan for the win. What’s more, aren’t we all a bit guilty of focussing on the minutes of play rather than the hours of practice. Could we not do a better job of staying focussed on our winning strategies rather than our momentary distractions? Too often, the proverbial gloves are dropped and the war of words erupt. Most of those on ice scuffles could be avoided had we just stuck to our game plan in the first place. If you’re going to win the game, you have to know the rules. Sometimes you cross a line and the whistle blows. Ignore it at your peril. Make amends. Sit in the box and feel shame. It’s two minutes. With lessons learned, you’re back on the ice in no time.
My favourite part of any game is at the end when the players shake hands with their opponents and the referees. We don’t do that enough in life. Not nearly enough. I can think of many situations where a good hand shake at the end of a challenging contest would have left me feeling a great deal better about my play.
This is why Salmon Arm’s Hockeyville nomination is important to me. I’m not a player, nor am I a parent of children in minor hockey. But I like to think I’m part of Salmon Arm’s team. When I drive by the rink I’m always struck by how busy it is. It’s a community centre. A place, unlike work or even school, where people want to be. Not where people have to be. And that’s why it’s so meaningful. So lace up and skate on over to, join the Shaw Centre community and tell a story about Salmon Arm’s 110% game-winning attitude. Your team needs you.

NHL owners “go to the box and feel shame”
December 6, 2012

This NHL thing is such a mess.

Only in Canada, would an impromptu breakdown in talks be breaking news on the national news network.

Remember the Chiefs from Slap Shot? They're behaving better than the owners.

Remember the Chiefs from Slap Shot? They’re behaving better than the owners.

The Fans should have a negotiator at the table. I’m not even a fan really – but I enjoy watching people enjoy hockey. And it’s a bummer for them.

Fans watch your games. Some fans can even buy tickets. Fans pay the parking. Fans support the local bars and restaurants nearby. Fans buy the jerseys. Fans buy the products that the advertisers and sponsors promote. In some cases, fans even build you arenas (which means taxpayers should probably have a say at the table too).

But most of all, hockey fans are hockey. They even make own their hockey players for heaven’s sake. And drive them to the rink and buy the equipment and coach them and cheer them on and volunteer for minor hockey and raise money and sell cookies and shovel sandbags and sell 50/50 tickets. And every now and then, one of those wonderfully hardworking players gets called up to the big league. It must take a village or two to get a kid in the NHL. It must.

Those are the people getting the “unacceptable” deal – and if there were no more NHL, there would still be hockey and there would still be good hockey. And generous sponsors, and happy advertisers and rinks full of fans to watch the games. And there’d still be a Stanley Cup too (doesn’t belong to the NHL) and fans could be happy again.

And then Bettman wouldn’t have a job, and neither would any of those owners. Then at least they’d understand how the fans must feel and have to find something else to do. But if they loved hockey, they’d make the deal and appreciate who really owns the game. Which is a huge difference from who makes the most money on it. In this case, it’s not the same thing. Not the same thing at all.