Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tryouts for Canadian Women's Hockey Team Rigorous, Sacrificing Process

By Mike Burse

For the 26 Canadian hockey players invited to try out for the team that will compete at 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, this is the chance of a lifetime.

Eighteen of those 26 players are moving to Calgary, sacrificing many other aspects of their lives for this camp including families, as many have children or are graduating from college.

The oldest player on Team Canada, Becky Kellar, at 34, even has her parents moving in with her to help care for her two sons while she focuses on making the Olympic team.

Prior to Team Canada opening the Olympics against Slovakia on Feb. 13, they will play a 61-game schedule not including practice and dry land training.

Of these 61 games, 30 will be played against the 18 teams of the Alberta 'AAA' Midget Hockey League. These games will include a four-day tournament at Calgary's Father David Bauer Olympic Hockey Arena from Sept. 24-27.

The AMHL has also indicated that the first time an AHML team faces off against the National Women's Team it will count toward the AHML standings (not including the four day tournament).

This will ensure that these games get truly competitive and allow the women the competition they need to be ready for the Olympics.

Body checking will not be allowed in games against the Women's National Team but there will be plenty of body contact to go around during these games.

The first test of this 61-game schedule is a match against Sweden's Women's National Team on Aug. 15 in Calgary. The Swedes are staying in British Columbia to train for the upcoming Olympics in February.

Out of all the countries involved in women's hockey, Canada, USA, Finland, and Sweden will be the only ones with a shot at taking home the gold medal.

To purchase tickets for any of the 61 games the Women's National Team will play, head over to www.hockeycanada.ca. Hockey Canada is thrilled to make this possible.

“We’re excited today to announce a partnership between Hockey Canada and the Alberta Midget Hockey League,” says Julie Healy, director of female hockey with Hockey Canada. “The series will be an important part of the schedule for the National Women’s Team as it works toward the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.”

According to Healy, the Women's National Team budget for the lead-up to the Olympic games in February is $3.5 million.

Each of the 26 players on the National Team will receive base funding of $1,500 per month, and on top of that they will receive $2,650 living and grocery allowance from Hockey Canada per month. Hockey Canada wants to make this their full-time job up to the Olympics.

It is good to see that these women uprooting their lives and dreams outside of hockey will be well taken care of from a financial perspective. Some of the luckier women also have corporate sponsors that will provide funding to them.

National Team Head Coach Holly Davidson will not reveal when she will whittle down her roster to the 21 players who will represent Canada at the Olympics.

The coach says, "It'll be when they are ready,'' she said. "I really don't like picking a date. Players just focus too much on it. Even as staff, you focus too much on it. Let's just have fun, train every day, get better and see where that takes us.'' 

This will surely be an exciting time for all the players trying to crack the Olympic team. As we get closer to the Olympics, check back for more updates regarding the Canadian Women's National hockey team and their quest for gold at the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Leafs Make a "Monster" Signing

By Jack Porter

Sportsnet is reporting that the Toronto Maple Leafs have won the Jonas Gustavsson sweepstakes.

"The Monster" has signed a 1 year deal with the Leafs worth $810,000 with a signing bonus of $90,000. The 24 year old was said to be looking at Toronto,Dallas,Colorado and San Jose as his destination,but ultimately chose

Toronto.Gustavsson was the best goalie in the Swedish Elite League this season. He posted a 1.96 goals against average and a save percentage of .932 and helped lead his team Farjestad to a league championship.More News Will Come On The Story Soon.Welcome to Leafland Jonas.

Leafs Being Investigated For Tampering

By Mike Burse

The Globe and Mail is reporting that the NHL is investigating the Maple Leafs for tampering regarding comments made of the Sedin twins prior to July 1 free agency.
The comments made by Head Coach Ron Wilson while he was on the Fan 590: "You're hearing right now, and this sounds very contradictory but, there's a real possibility, I would think, that we would be going after the Sedins. Let's just speculate there." This comment was made only one day prior to the free agency period. Apparently it is enough for the NHL to warrant an investigation.

Speculation of this investigation has been confirmed by Leaf General Manager Brian Burke: "The league has indicated that they are looking into it, so we will have no public commentary at this time." That is the statement that Burke gave to the Globe and Mail.
Have the Vancouver Canucks filed a complaint to the league regarding the Maple Leafs possible tampering? According to the NHL's Deputy Commissioner the answer is no,

No, the Canucks have not filed tampering charges." The League has also declined to make any further comment at this time.

So what does this mean for the Maple Leafs if these allegations are upheld? There is a possibility of the NHL using draft picks as punishment. Earlier in the season the Maple Leafs lost $500,000 and a fourth round draft pick as they signed Jonas Frogren to a contract over the NHL's entry level limits.

Just to clarify the Frogen situation, the NHL believed Frogren to be an entry level player as he was drafted by the Calgary Flames in 1998 and never signed an entry level NHL contract at that time. Although the Leafs and Don Meehan at the time believed Frogren to be an unrestricted free agent and signed him to a contract over the $875,000 entry level limit.

If the Leafs lost $500,000 and a fourth round pick for a contract infraction, then one would have to assume that they stand to lose much more than that for tampering.

In 1994 then New Jersey Devils General Manager Lou Lammoriello launched an investigation of the St. Louis Blues after they had made an offer sheet to then restricted free agent Scott Stevens. Four years later the NHL awarded the Devils $1.4 million, their choice of one of the Blues' first round picks from 1998 to 2003, and the ability to swap first round picks once during that time period.

The big difference here is that the Sedin twins resigned with the Vancouver Canucks. Therefore you would have to assume that the compensation would be less if the Leafs were found guilty.
This will be an interesting story to watch unfold over the course of the off season.

Monday, July 6, 2009

New Leaf Enemy?, Kovalev a Sen?

By Jack Porter

According to the FAN590 Alexei Kovalev has come to terms with the Ottawa Senators. Alexei was replaced along with Saku Koivu and Alex Tanguay by Montreal through the additions of Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri. 

Ottawa GM Bryan Murray is going to make a "major team announcement" at 4:40 pm at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.

It looks like the Dany Heatly saga may be close to coming to an end with the signing og Kovalev.

Leafs sign six players including Nazem Kadri

By Jack Porter

The Leafs made some minor signings today re-signing Ben Ondrus and Ryan Hamilton. They also signed three free agent forwards in Tim Brent, Jay Rosehill and Richard Greenop.

The 23 year old Rosehill played this past season with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals and Toronto Marlies scoring  seven goals and eight assists with 275 PIM.

Brent led the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs in scoring with 20 goals and 42 assists for 62 points. The Cambridge native is 25.

The 20 year old Greenop, who ranked sixth overall in the Ontario Hockey League in PIM, was a member of the Memorial Cup winning Windsor Spitfires.

The Leafs also signed 2009 first round draft choice Nazem Kadri to a three year entry level contract.  The 18 year old scored 78 points in 56 games this season with the London Knights of the OHL. He added another 21 points in 14 playoff games. 

Francois Beauchemin, The Newest Leaf

By Jack Porter

According to Rogers Sportsnet the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed defenseman Francois Beauchemin to a three year deal worth something in the area of $10 million.

Beauchemin played in only 20 games last season but recorded 5 points and a -3 rating. Beauchemin is the third defenseman Toronto has added this offseason leading to the speculation that some current Toronto defenseman are being shopped, including long time Leaf Tomas Kaberle.