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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shake up in Leaf Land… TML Trade Caption Dion Phanuef to the Ottawa Senators in a 9-player deal


Just when I finished telling people that the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to forge forward with Captain Dion Phanuef, the team proves me wrong as they ship out Caption Dion, along with Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey, Ryan Rupert and Cody Donaghey to the Ottawa Senators for Jared Cowan, Colin Greening, Milan Michalek, Tobias Lindberg and a 2nd round pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft.

Early reports indicate that neither team will be eating salary from their departed players.

I’m a bit, okay a lot surprised that the Buds found a taker for Dion’s salary which represents a $7-million cap hit through the 2020-2021 NHL campaign.

Clearly the Leafs are serious about re-building for good (finally) and while I’m not a fan of Dion, I certainly can appreciate the difficulty of playing in Toronto and being named captain so quickly.  With Karlsson the bona-fide #1 defenseman / rover in Ottawa and Boroweicki the tough-to-play-against hit machine, Phaneuf will fit in just fine there on the 2nd line where his value and contribution will be significant.

This is a great deal for both teams, as the Leafs get rid of salary, they get a 2nd round pick, and they get younger.

The Sens get a stud who will shine in Ottawa as they serve notice to the league that they are for real!

Question: Who will the next captain of the TML be?

My Son Was Traded This Morning!


I know hockey and I love hockey.  I’ve never played ice hockey but I have coached ice hockey – 6 years while in my early 20’s because my sports physiotherapist needed someone to open and close the bench doors.  I had always thought it was because he didn’t like the 6am and 7am games!

I learned to skate while teaching the kids how to play the game, and how to be winners on and off the ice.

In those 6 years we won one championship and made it to the finals 5 times because we never had the best players in the league, nor the top select players, but we made these kids buy into the team concept which meant all the players, no matter how good, bad or new to the game, were a key part.

Hockey is, after all, a team sport!

My wife found it unusual that with my love and passion I hold for hockey, I never pushed my kids into the sport.  I tried, trust me, but they didn’t like it.  They hated staking, they didn’t like watching the Leafs and they had no desire to shoot around a ball in the basement.

Then something changed…

The school my kids attended arranged for skating lessons during the day, and my middle child, Stewie’s class was full of top ranked hockey players, kids who could skate, shoot, pass and play the sport better than other kids their age and Stewie always felt awkward skating around his classmates.  He’s a tall kid for his age and watching him stand on skates reminded me of a newborn giraffe trying to stand for the first time.

I was there, on the ice with him at his school’s skate day when his classmates skated over to him and instead of making fun of him, helped him stand, brought him the on-ice support and were giving him tips to be a better skater.  I could see in his eyes that he was very appreciative of their support and he was determined to skate without support.

From that day came lessons after lessons, plus a learn-to-play hockey program and finally this season a debut in house league hockey.  He’s a much better skater than 2 years ago, and his hockey sense is quite high for someone who refuses to watch the sport.  He continues to get better and better each game, practice and lesson and he knows he has a long way to go.

He also knew that on his 0-7 team there was a very good chance that he was going to be traded.  Not only were a lot of the kids on the team together from previous years, but he understood that to get new players, better players, you would have to give up your “lower-skilled” players (his words) and not the “worst” players.

Then came the news!

He was traded.

From a 0-7 team to a 7-0 team.

He’s not all that pleased about it either.  You see, he is worried that his new teammates will not know that he’s just learning the sport, but they will see a very tall kid who tries very hard but is not the fastest, not yet able to deke players out, or who can raise the puck.

He’s worried that they will think he sucks and that the best players left the team because of him.

UGH.

So I have reached out to the convenors, trying to get the new coaches contact information so I can let them know that they are getting a kid who wants to learn the game and who will do whatever he can to be better and make the team better.  It’s been 2 days and no one has reached out, oh, except his old coaches who have asked for his jersey and socks back.

So what would I do in this situation?!?

I would do what is right for the children!  I would have a really long look at the coaches who have volunteered to coach these teams to make sure they are looking after the kids best interests and not their own.  I see teams playing poorly in hopes that their team won’t be broken up by trades and wonder aloud who does this help?!?  Does that coach get an award for stocking his team while other teams struggle, or worse, what message does that send to the kids when they see a coach trying to lose in order to protect the core of the team…

I would rather the league NOT make the trades, but instead work with the coaches to teach the children to play as a team.

Sure, little Johnny can only score 3 goals, then any goals he scores after that do not count, but does it benefit the kids on either side if Johnny still dekes the entire team, then stands by the side of the net waiting for a teammate to skate to the net so that Johnny can pass to him or shoot the puck in off of him?

Does it benefit the kids that the league will not post the score when it exceeds a 5-goal differential?  Nope, the kids know the real score so they might as well post it, but would it hurt the other coach to take his better offensive players and teach them defense, or passing instead.  By doing that, his team learns proper positioning and the defensive team can also learn proper positioning.  That would be a win-win situation!

Instead, we let the coaches run wild, we make the better kids feel special and we make the lower kids feel useless all in the name of hockey instead of using this special position of leadership to teach the kids to be good teammates, and to help their team win without rubbing it into the faces of their opponents.

I’ve applied to be a part of the convenor team because of how strongly I feel about the opportunity to teach kids to be better kids and win, lose or draw.

I guess I know who will be coaching next season…

No trades please!  We’ll be fine.

Normally I’d Be Insulted! However…


Normally seeing this parked right in front of my house all day would prompt me to think mean thoughts relating to the amount of air in the tires, or the number of eggs that I could bounce off the windshield from my front door, however… Considering the state of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who can argue with supporting a Canadian hockey team even if it IS the dreaded Montreal Canadiens.

Habs flag on car

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