Posted in Life, Parenting, Sports

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.


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.

Posted in Life

Toronto Blue Jays Ship Anthony Gose To The Detroit Tigers For Their No.1 Prospect

Just heard that the Toronto Blue Jays have traded speedy defensive centre-fielder Anthony Gose to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for the Tigers top ranked second base prospect, Devon Travis.

Travis, 23-years-old, spent last season in double-A ball with the Erie Seawolves where he hit .298 with 20 doubles, seven triples, 10 home runs and 52 RBI.  He also swiped 16 bases.

Travis was selected by Detroit in the 13th round of the 2012 first year player draft. In his three minor league seasons, he has a career average of .323 with 92 extra base hits in 257 games with 139 RBI, 41 stolen bases and an OPS of .876.

Gose, for those of you familiar with the Jays, has been up and down between the Jays and the triple A squad in Buffalo.  At just 24-years-old, Gose has established himself as an excellent defensive centre fielder, with a ton of speed, however unable to hit MLB pitching, with a .226 battering average, a .311 on-base percentage and only appearing in 94 games with the Blue Jays last season.

Pretty sure Travis is in line to be the every day 2B and the moving of Gose frees up CF for Pillar and eventually Dalton Pompey.

Posted in Sports

Hockey Talk: Kovalchuk, Neidermayer and their Legacy on the Devils and Maple Leafs.

You have probably heard by now that New Jersey Devils superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk retired from the NHL 3 years into a 17-year, $102 million dollar contract, having received $23 million in salary – leaving $77 million on the table.  He went back home, to Russia, and is expected to sign with the KHL right away.

Turns out he loved playing in Russia so much during that ridiculous NHL lockout that he felt homesick upon his return.  Well done, NHL/PA.

What you may not know and is impressive if you toss it into a conversation with someone, is that the Devils paid quite a price for Kovalchuk.  First, they traded Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, a 2nd-round pick and a 1st-round to the then Atlanta Thrashers for him at the 2010 trade deadline (The Devils did receive a 2nd-round pick and Anssi Salmela from the Thrashers at that time).

When Kovalchuk’s contract expired at the end of the 2009-2010 season, the Devils re-signed him to a 17-year $102 million contract which the league rejected because it was back-loaded and circumvented the NHL’s salary cap.  Then the NHL amended its Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to disallow other organizations from utilizing this loophole.   The NHL punished the Devils who were forced to forfeit $3 million, a 3rd-round draft pick and a 1st-round draft pick.

So let’s do the math:  The Devils invested: Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, a 2nd-round pick, two 1st-round picks, a 3rd-round pick, a $3 million fine, $23 million in salary and got in a large fight with Gary Bettman and the NHL over this.

It’s safe to say that this list was not worth it, considering that Kovalchuk retired with 12 years and $77 million remaining on his contract.

The Devils will now have a lot of salary cap space but if they knew this, would they have let forward David Clarkson become an unrestricted free agent?  Clarkson was signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs a few days ago at the start of the free agent signing season.  So now the Devils have to find 2 premier players instead of just one.

The Maple Leafs, on the other hand, must have felt a little nervous when signing Clarkson from the Devils given the fact that Scott Neidermayer was elected to the NHL Hockey Hall of Fame this week.

How do the 2 relate, you might be asking?

Well, the Leafs known for terrible trades and horrible drafting have made some pretty sketchy decisions, since 1967’s expansion, such as; sending Lanny McDonald to Colorado or Owen Nolan from San Jose, or trading goalie Tuukka Rask and keeping Justin Pogge, while getting Andrew Raycroft in return, or trading 2 high draft picks Vesa Toskala in 2007, but the one that hurts the most, in my opinion is this one.

On October 16th, 1989 the Toronto Maple Leafs traded their 1st round draft pick in the 1991 NHL entry draft to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Tom Kurvers.  That pick turned out to be Scott Neidermayer.

The Maple Leafs were a terrible team and with the recent addition of Europeans were easy to play against in the rough, tough Norris division.  The coach, John Brophy, known for being tough himself insisted the team get tougher and that began with the laughable trade of speedy centre Russ Courtnal to the Montreal Canadiens for goon John Kordic (whom I met on the Toronto subway on the way to Wrestlemania 6 at the SkyDome.  Kordic since died from an overdose)

Known for being a coaching carousel, the Leafs fired Broph after a 10 game winless streak and replaced him with Leaf legend and former captain George Armstrong – which didn’t matter with a terrible team as the Leafs finished last in the Norris division.

Over the summer, GM Stellick was fired, and Armstrong was not asked to return.  Instead, the Leafs promoted their chief scout Floyd Smith to be the GM and they hired former New Jersey coach Doug Carpenter to run the team.

With Borje Salming and Chris Kotsopoulos leaving TO to sign with the Detroit Red Wings, and defenseman Rick Lanz deciding to play in Switzerland instead of Toronto, the team needed to add blueliners so they began with Rob Ramage, Al Iafrate, and they pushed along some young but unproven defensemen in Luke Richardson and Todd Gill.  The Leafs also added Brad (no helmet, can’t skate) Marsh and tough guy Brian Curran – whom I remember as always having a broken jaw from fighting.  Coach Carpenter knew the Devils well, and pointed to Tom Kurvers, who had already moved from the Canadiens to the Sabres and on to the Devils where as an offensive defenseman, managed 34 points during the 1987-88 season and 15 points in the playoffs.  The following year, Kurvers lead the Devils in points from the defense with 16 goals and 50 assists.

So after losing 4 of their first 5 games in the 1989-90 season the Leafs and Devils agreed on a trade with the Leafs getting Kurvers and the Devils getting the Leafs 1st round draft pick in the 1991 entry draft.

Kurvers finished second to Iafrate in defensive scoring that year with 15 goals and 37 assists, helping the Leafs make the playoffs and finish 3rd in the Norris Division, however, the Leafs lost to the St. Louis Blues in 5 games – if you are around my age you will remember the Sergio Momesso slapshot from just past centre ice that goalie Alan Bester let in.  That deflated the team and they were done in the series.

Toronto returned for the 1990-91 season with virtually the same roster, except Bester, who was demoted to Newmarket and was replaced by rookie Peter Ing. Unfortunately, the success of the previous season did not repeat itself. The Leafs again fell flat early in the season, going winless in the first seven games. After a win over Chicago, they lost another three games in a row and Carpenter was fired and replaced by former Vancouver and Winnipeg coach Tom Watt.

Watt was unable to pull Toronto out of their crash dive and by early November, the club was 2-15-1 and well on their way to finishing dead last in the league, which would have allowed them to draft the top prospect that year which was Oshawa General centre Eric Lindros.  But with that debacle looming, panic set in and GM Smith traded over half the Leaf roster to avoid finishing dead last.  Some of those trades included;

November 9, 1990 – Leafs trade John McIntyre to Los Angeles for Mike Krushelnyski

November 9, 1990 – Leafs trade Steve Bancroft (former 1st rounder) to Boston for Rob Cimetta

November 10, 1990 – Leafs trade Ed Olczyk and Mark Osborne to Winnipeg for Dave Ellett and Paul Fenton

November 17, 1990 – Leafs trade Scott Pearson (former 1st rounder) and their 1991 and 1992 second round picks to Quebec for Michel Petit, Lucien Deblois and Aaron Broten

December 17, 1990 – Leafs trade Lou Franceschetti and Brian Curran To Buffalo for Mike Foligno

In the end, the Leafs finished 11 points behind Quebec, with a 23-46-11 record, meaning Quebec drafted first (no draft lottery yet), while the expansion San Jose Sharks received the 2nd overall pick.  The New JerseyDevils drafted 3rd with the Leafs pick from the Kurvers trade.

So what about Kurvers?  Well he too was shipped out of Toronto, to the Vancouver Canucks for center Brian Bradley.   Kurvers was traded at the end of that season to the New York Islanders, where he averaged over 40 points a season in his final three NHL seasons before he retired.

Niedermayer became the only player to win a Memorial Cup, World Junior Championship, IIHF World Championship, Olympic gold medal, Stanley Cup and the World Cup.  He won the Norris Trophy for the best defenseman in the league in 2004, as well as helping the Devils win 3 Stanley Cups(1995, 2000 & 2003) and the Anaheim Ducks win one in 2007.  He also won 2 Olympic Gold Medals for Canada in 2002 and 2010.

So while I wish Kovalchuk success in Russia, and Neidermayer congratulations for being elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, I also feel a little frustrated knowing he could have been a Leaf.

Of course my Maple Leaf cynicism also has me doubting that the team would have developed him in the manner the Devils did, or that he would have had a player with the skill set of Scott Stevens to help him along.

Or maybe, the Leafs don’t panic and pick up Kurvers and instead draft Eric Lindros 1st overall…

Sigh.  Say what you will New Jersey, but being a Toronto sports fan sucks!

Posted in news, Sports

Blockbuster Baseball Trade Puts Blue Jays into AL East Contention Right Away

Current Blue Jays logo (2004–present)
Current Blue Jays logo (2004–present) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wondered what GM Alex Anthopolous was doing to the roster this offseason.  He seemed to be tinkering quite a bit considering there were a lot of holes in the roster.

That was until tonight.

The Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins pulled off a massive, blockbuster trade tonight which sees the Jays become instant contenders in the AL East and the Marlins payroll as of right now go from $100 million to $16 million dollars. 

If you were a Marlin and you made any money, you are now a Blue Jay.  ESPN reported that “Toronto owns Miami.”

In this deal, the Jays got:

Starting pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher John Buck and infielder Emilio Bonifacio.

The Jays sent to the Marlins:

Shortstop and homophobic eye-black artist Yunel Escobar, pitcher Henderson Alvarez, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, catcher Jeff Mathis and minor-leaguers Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick and Anthony DeSclafani.

This deal brought in an additional $164 million dollars of contract commitments to these players, who ironically, Miami had signed (Buehrle and Reyes) as free agents last December.

The former Chicago White Sox pitcher, Buehrle has been one of baseball’s most durable and consistent pitchers over a 13-year career. His career ERA is 3.82, his WHIP 1.273.  In 2012, Buehrle was teriffic, with a 13-13 record, a 3.74 ERA for a terrible Miami team where he logged 202.1 innings, with a 1.17 WHIP.  He also won his fourth consecutive Gold Glove Award.

Johnson, 28, owns a career ERA of 3.15 and a 1.233 WHIP. In 2010 he had the lowest ERA in all of MLB with a 2.30 ERA.  Johnson missed most of 2011 with shoulder problems but came back last year to log a 3.81 ERA in 31 starts.

Reyes, a career .291 hitter with a .342 on-base percentage, gives the Jays star-calibre stability at shortstop and he could be their long-sought after leadoff hitter and he joins Jose Bautista (if healthy), Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie as anchors of an offence that could still need an upgrade in left field and personally, I think in centre field as well because I’m not a fan of Colby Rasmus. 

So what do the players think?  

@JoeyBats19, “Its a good day to be a bluejay!” 13 Nov 12
Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, @Giancarlo818 had a different take; “Alright, I’m pissed off!!! Plain & Simple”

Miami pitcher Ricky Nolasco, @RNolasco47, had this simple opinion of the trade, “Huh?…….”

Posted in Community, Daddy, family

The Urban Daddy Halloween Recap: Tips for Parents Included.

Pumpkin Harvest
Pie Pumpkins make GREAT cookies!!!

Under the category of better late than never, here is the 2012 Urban Daddy Halloween re-cap.

For those of you who are frequent readers of this blog, you might recall that I hate Halloween. 

I always have.

Not because it’s a Pagen holiday or anything deep like that, but more because I don’t like dressing up in costumes, nor does the whole concept of Halloween appeal to me – as a child or as a parent.  There are some things that as parents, you try to enlighten your children about in order to allow them to make the right decisions as they grow older.  God knows there are enough stupid people in this world, and as parents our goal is to make sure we don’t add to that total.  So wearing a disguise and begging for food at the doors of strangers is right up there among things that as a kid I didn’t like doing, and as a parent I really don’t think my kids should be doing.

I trust my kids, don’t get me wrong… It’s the stupid people out there I don’t, you know, the ones who put razor blades in food, or who drive through the streets weaving in and out of children.

But will all that being said, it’s my issue only, so in order to enjoy the occasion, we decorated the house two-weeks in advance, this year.  The decorations survived the Frankenstorm and all the water that came our way during that stormy week.  Then it started getting darker earlier and that prompted Stewie to wonder why we even have decorations up since it will be dark by trick or treat time and no one will see them.  He was ready to take them down.  LOL.

We were fortunate enough to be able to add 10 pumpkins to our front stairs in time for Halloween night, after purchasing them for my son’s Cub troop.  On October 30th the Cubs had a meeting and my responsibility for that meeting was to come up with a Halloween-themed game and I created pumpkin bowling.  The game consisted of 3 small roundish pie pumpkins (I cut off the stems) and a hula hoop.  Each team had to roll their pumpkins into the hoop and to win, each team needed the 3 pumpkins in the hoop at the same time.  Needless to say, the game was a hoot and the kids loved it.  Score one for this urban daddy!

By the time Halloween night rolled around we still had the 16 pumpkins on our stairs, however, of the 5 gourds we started with, only 3 remained.  They were squirrel fodder.  On the Saturday before Halloween we came home from the boys morning swimming lessons just in time to catch a squirrel climbing the tree beside our house with a gourd in its mouth. 

We laughed.

Linus yelled to the squirrel; “Hey stupid squirrel, put down our mini-pumpkin” which scared the squirrel and it dropped the gourd right into a giant bush on our neighbours side.

We looked at the squirrel.

The squirrel looked at us, and then we heard a loud noise coming from across the street which sounded like a squirrel fight and it wasn’t until we turned around that we saw what looked like the partner of that gourd-thief, flipping out at it for dropping the gourd.  He He He.  Stewie wanted me to check the security camera on the front of the house to confirm it was the squirrel…  I thought maybe he wanted to press charges?!?  Odd little boy.  🙂

On Halloween night, now three weeks into that worst flu that I had ever had, we decided that my wife was going to take the three kids and 2 of their friends our trick or treating while  I stayed outside and gave out candy.  We keep two bowls of treats, one regular and one nut-free.

In addition to the pretty nifty decorations, I grabbed my laptop and showed a scary Halloween themed video from YouTube to add to the insanity – while I hacked and coughed all over everyone.

Once Halloween was over, in order to fulfil our promise to the Cub troop who let us keep the pumpkins, Linus and I cut up a bunch of those pie pumpkins, took out and roasted the seeds, and we made some treats for the nanny / baby Halloween party at our house, and for the Cub meeting the next week.

I peeled and cubed the pumpkins, then boiled until soft.  I let it cool then strained and tossed into a blender.  I used 16oz of fresh pumpkin to add to the cake mix I had, the brownie mix I had and to make these incredible cookies;

The cookies went over so well, that we baked 4 dozen more for the Cub meeting the following week.

We collected all the kids candy upon completion of their neighbourhood tour, sorted it, and took the really awful stuff (that we wont eat) and tossed it into the bowl to give away for the late trick or treaters.  We let the kids pick a number of candies equal to their age, then they traded us the rest of their candy – the good stuff – for a toy that they selected.  That way we all win!  They get a few candies to eat over a couple of weeks and they get a toy they really want.  We get rid of the candy we won’t eat and we gobble down the good stuff.

To be honest, they must have forgotten about the candies because the bowl way up in the top of the cupboard is still quite full. 

By 3 days after, all the decorations were packed away for next year.

How do you deal with candy for children who are allergic to nuts?  Do you buy nut-free or let their parents sort it out?  How about the candy after the trick or treating?