Why I Hate March Break!


I have to be honest with you, and with myself when I say that I hate March Break.  I always have, and to be honest, I likely always will.

Growing up, I attended public school and we had March Break, but my family was not big into travelling so we never went anywhere, never had programs to attend to and never did anything interesting which at the time suited me and my anxiety just fine!

Yes, I spent the week playing street hockey from morning until dark and that was awesome, but that was all that I needed.  The break from school was much needed.

Fast forward to having children, all of which attended private secular schools which did not celebrate March Break (we had our break over the holiday of Passover instead), so while we were working and the kids were in school, people were heading south to the warmth and sunshine while we shovelled snow and continued living life as normal.

Now, with one child left in a secular school and the others in public school, I have some of us in school and some of them on break and my wife and I hard at work.

So now, March break consists of driving the kids to, and from programs, work, work and more work, and whenever I check social media, I see friends and family living it up down south in the sun, sand and surf.

It’s very much like previous years’ where March Break is not a time to go down somewhere warm and sandy but couldn’t because the kids had school and we had work.

I’ve asked all the travellers to please bring back the sun and warmth…

They’ll all likely forget because they’re having such a great time, or at least their social media posts depict a great time.

On the positive side, I was able to spend a considerable amount of time this March Break with my middle child at his hockey camp.  He attended Creative Hockey Development’s (creativehockey.ca) March Break camp – which was put on by my friend, Dusan Kralik, and his new business partner Daniel Erlich.

The camp was incredible!

The hockey skills and pace of the camp were fast and the players even faster.  I think Dusan found a match in Danny as someone who possesses an incredible hockey IQ to go along with his world class skills and speed.

The camp was well run, the kids came off the ice tired and they learned more than just hockey this past week.

Now, as for March Break itself…

Going forward, I’m have to make sure that I refrain from checking social media that week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Absolute Best Hockey Instructor on the Planet: Dusan Kralik’s Creative Hockey development


I just signed up my middle and only child who plays hockey for March break hockey camp with the absolute best hockey instructor on the planet, Dusan Kralik, and his Creative Hockey Development program.

My son, you see, is entering his 3rd year in organized hockey, his 4th year skating at all, and all of his improvements have been due to his desire to get better (certainly not to my pushing him) and because Dusan is an amazing human being.

Dusan, has a very lengthy background in hockey, and he would have been a fantastic pro player if it wasn’t for injuries.

Instead of moving past hockey, Dusan moved to Canada from his native Slovakia and wound up playing on my ball-hockey team where we won a whole bunch of championships.  Playing with one healthy hip, Dusan was magical in the arena, and when I finally got to see him on the ice, I was in awe.

He’s incredibly talented, unbelievably gifted, and he’s trained many, many current NHL players whom you might have heard about – Subban, Tavares, the Tanev brothers, just to name a few.  In fact this past April, he trained Conor McDavid prior to the World Cup.

If he can train them, he can train my son.

Dusan is not just an on-ice genius, as he has presented at International Coaching Symposiums, has had many a conversation with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, and each summer he travels to Carolina to train the Carolina Hurricanes prospects.

Dusan, is a future GM in the NHL, so it’s best to get him while he’s still training!  Dusan travels worldwide to train – I know he trained the Israeli Hockey team, as well as the men’s and woman’s hockey teams for Seneca College.

His website is under construction, but I strongly recommend you follow him on Facebook, here; https://www.facebook.com/CreativeHockeyDevelopment/

If I’m lucky, he’ll let me assist at the camp as I did last year with some of the coaching (not on ice), or I’ll just look forward to watching the expert work his magic with a bunch of wide-eyed kids.

 

This is GREAT! Now only if I could add more hours in the day…


All things being considered, the past week was a pretty darn good one for The Urban Daddy.

He has the WWE Network.

He found Impact Wrestling.

He gained 8 points in his hockey pool.

 

The only problem is that there is not enough hours in the day for all of these “events”.

 

I showed my kids the WWE Network and they cannot quite understand the concept of 24/7.

“Every time I turn to that channel, there is wrestling on…”  Yup.  For the kids that means they get to see all the wrestler I have been talking about for years, and they get to see the wrestlers who belong to the wrestling figures they play with.

For me, it means no more reality TV when I morph into The Urban Daddy at night time.  No more Kardashians, no more Honey Boo Boo, nothing to do with fixing household problems, no more cooking competitions, and no more I can’t believe I was… (pregnant / fat / thin / dead / an alien / a boy / a girl…)

As the Miz would say, “Quiet on the set.  Quiet on the set!”  AWESOME!

 

As for Impact wrestling, at the start of the new year (2015) Impact left Spike and headed off to nowhere land with a Canadian World Champion and other Canucks on the roster without a TV deal for us Canadians.  More importantly, Impact has FINALLY ditched the “TNA” part of their name (Total Non-stop Action) and the most important change was the removal of their terrible announce team!  I’m okay with Taz, and Josh Matthews will grow into the role, but I hated the old announcer whose name thankfully escapes me.

Now I found out that Impact has set up a Canadian-only link so we can view their shows.  The link is here:

http://www.impactwrestling.com/videos/Canada

I’m watching their most recent show now!  It’s apparently updated Saturday mornings at 10am.

YAY!

 

And finally, I’m out of last place in my hockey pool, thanks for some key players who have gotten hot (Kris Letang, Alex Barkov, Wayne Simmonds, to name a few).  I’d be much higher than 10th out of 15 teams if I had selected better goaltenders.  I chose the Edmonton Oiler goalies, who remind me of that old joke out of Detroit when the Red Wings had a struggling Chris Osgood and Mike Vernon as their backstoppers.  The comment was that the Wings were going to play Osgood or No-good, and the Oilers goalies have me so far in dead last in all goalie categories that my other 2 goalies, Robin Lehner in Ottawa and Kari Ramo in Calgary cannot help me out of.

I need a goalie.

Other teams want all my good players for little in return because they know I’m ready to shed salary, but I’m waiting for a really good return so I can make up some group this year and have the best group ready for next year.

 

So, who needs sleep?

WWE, Impact, and all the west coast hockey games…

Awesome!!

What Is In Your Child’s Hockey Bag?


I’m new to the concept of being a “hockey parent”.

A year ago my son could not even skate, and today he’s in a Learn To Play hockey league and he’s doing just fine, thank you very much.  For a child who doesn’t like to watch hockey, or know much about the sport, he has become the complete opposite of me, who was a diehard hockey fan, but never played the sport.

Growing up in the Great White North, I never really learned to skate and I never played ice hockey as one would expect every Canadian man, woman and child would have.  At all.  No organized hockey, no shiny, I’m not sure if I was even on ice with a stick and puck more than once or twice in my entire life until I turned 20 and decided to help coach a kids ice hockey team (at 5am and 6am on Sunday mornings).

I helped teach the kids to be better hockey players – skill-wise, understanding the game and reminding them to be nice on the ice and not to play dirty or take short-cuts, and they taught me to skate.  I had taken and completed my level-one Coaching Theory Certification for a Canadian Coaching Certification, and I liked the coaching which I did for 6 years until other things came along.

Fast forward to the children, and to my chagrin, my kids never took an interest in the sport so I was off the hook… Until last year.

Now, we happily take him to his practice / game and he loves it. (Although I still can’t get him to watch hockey on TV, or to call he puck a puck and not a ball).

But over the last couple of weeks he’s forgotten things in his hockey bag – neck guard one week, then his hockey pants the following week – so I made him write down the contents of his bag so he won’t forget anything  from now on, and this is what I got:

Top of the page “Hockey”

Underneath the title started the list;

“helmet”

“Jersey”

“Neck g” (guard?!?)

“Chest pad” (Looks like it was a chess pad first)

“Skates”

“Jok” (giggle – Jock)

“Socks”

“elbow p”

“leg Protect” (or shin pads)

“gloves”

“pants”

Nice!

I added the water bottle, towel, skate towel, and pj’s to wear underneath).  I also told him for the umpteenth time that in Grade 3 we had to pick French names for French class, and since my name, Warren, doesn’t really have a cool French name, I wanted “Guy” for Guy Lafleur, but my best friend – a HUGE Canadiens fan – chose Guy so I got Jacques.  Jacques Strappe was name French name for the next 2 years… UGH.

Oh, and he scored last game.  Could not have been more proud!  Of him and for him.

#3

Nowhere To Go But Up: ESPN Ranks The Toronto Maple Leafs the worst sports franchise in North America


ESPN The Magazine has released its “Ultimate Standings” for 2014, ranking sports franchises in Major League Baseball (MLB), The National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL) and the National Hockey League (NHL) according to a variety of categories and in a couple of them, the Toronto Maple Leafs ranked dead last at 122, and fared poorly in most of the rest of them.  Great.

To come up with these rankings, ESPN took the following steps:

First: Consulting firm Maddock Douglas surveyed 1,002 North American fans to form 25 criteria for what you want most in return for the emotion, money and time you invest in the 122 MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL teams.

Second: Teaming with NetReflector, an opinion research firm, ESPN.com asked fans to rate their home teams in each area and more than 101,000 did.  They grouped grades into the categories listed below.

Third: In order to determine the “Bank for the Buck” calculation, ESPN.com used calculations developed with Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center to figure how well teams turn fans’ money into wins.  Then they combined each team’s score across all categories into a weighted average.

The Categories, plus the highest ranked team and the lowest ranked team.

Affordability
Price of tickets, parking and concessions
1. Memphis Grizzlies (NBA)
122.  Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)

Coaching:
Strength of on-field leadership
1. San Antonio Spurs (NBA)
122. Florida Panthers (NHL)

Fan Relations
Courtesy by players, coaches and front offices toward fans, and how well a team uses technology to reach them
1. San Antonio Spurs
122. New York Knicks

Ownership
Honesty; loyalty to core players and the community
1. San Antonio Spurs
122. Florida Marlins (MLB)

Players
Effort on the field, likability off it
1. San Antonio Spurs
122. NY Knicks

Stadium experience
Quality of venue; fan-friendliness of environment; frequency of game-day promotions
1. San Francisco Giants (MLB)
122. NY Islanders (NHL)

Bang for the Buck
Wins in the past year, per fan dollars
1. Indiana Pacers (NBA)
122. Toronto Maple Leafs

Title track
Championships won or expected within the lifetime of current fans
1. St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)
122. Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)

A review of the ESPN website revealed that The Leafs fared poorly in every category. They placed last in both bang for the buck and affordability; second-last in title track; in the bottom 10 in fan relations, players and coaching; and 105th and 109th in ownership and stadium experience, respectively.

Possibly because this was done by ESPN and the majority of the respondents came from the US, all Canadian teams fared poorly in their rankings with the exception of the Montreal Canadians who appeared in the top half of the list. Here are the rest of the seven teams’ rankings at 55 out of 122.

The other Canadian teams ranked as follows;

Toronto Raptors – 74

Toronto Blue Jays – 81

Calgary Flames — 89

Ottawa Senators — 92

Winnipeg Jets — 97

Vancouver Canucks — 112

Edmonton Oilers — 115

 

The last 2 teams were the New York Knicks at 121 and the Toronto Maple Leafs at 122.

At least at last there is nowhere to go but up.  At 121, the Knicks could drop.